You just never know where or when inspiration is going to strike. Late last year, I--and I'd like to think almost every Brooklynite!--sat down to watch the first Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks game. There were a few minutes until the game started, so I wasn't paying close attention…but then I perked up. I was hit by the great music the Nets were bumping!
The music set the perfect mood, thanks to the Nets's new music supervisor, J.Period, who has garnered a lot of attention for the next-level music he's been serving up at games. Moreover, it made me think of just how important a role music has played in my business, and the lessons that all of us can learn from entrepreneurs hustling in the music industry.
When my wife and I were first starting out, our hours were absolutely ridiculous. All-nighters were of course too common. As is the case with many couples, we thrive at different times: my mind is crisp in the early morning, hers late at night. So especially when we were up alone, music not only provided us each companionship, but also calmed our minds and kept us energized so that we had what it took to get through our gigantic to-do lists.
That's why I have to encourage my fellow entrepreneurs not to sleep on the way music can help you achieve business success. As long as the work's getting done, a little Pandora never hurt anybody.
During our early days, Curtis Mayfield's "Keep on Pushing" was a great tonic that I used to keep discouragement away. A couple hours out from submitting a big proposal, you just might have found me pumping Biggie's "Hypnotize" to keep my energy up. And an all purpose pick-me-up tune was Roy Ayer's "Everybody Loves the Sunshine." The point is, especially during start-up mode, I had a musical match for most tasks--particularly the most difficult ones. Silence has its place, but so does music.
We've all heard the disappointing, too-frequent stories of people in the music industry struggling financially despite topping the charts, filling up huge arenas, and selling millions of albums. While they were definitely working hard, perhaps they weren't working strategically--as a savvy entrepreneur must learn to do.
That's why I have to give J.Period his props, because by redefining the role of the DJ in the digital age, he embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that the music industry offers. Rather than sticking to the hip hop mixtapes that he's most famous for, he is also a composer and producer who's branched out and had his mixes featured in video games, films, and of course, on stage and in basketball arenas.
He's also managed to keep it meaningful…as he travels the world performing for public and private audiences, he takes the opportunity to give talks at high schools and colleges about his field. When he's home in Brooklyn he's just as dedicated to serving his local community: he speaks at local high schools, speaks to prospective Stanford students on behalf of his alma mater, and just recently did a Hurricane Sandy benefit with Questlove.
This is why even to this day, I still try to keep some musical "flava' in my ear" as much as possible while I work. And I draw inspiration from the folks hustling in the music industry--similar to the wine industry, it entices many due to its fun, sexiness, and potential for big bucks. However, in both industries, a topical knowledge definitely won't cut it, especially if you're going solo or have a small business. The folks who dabble in these industries almost always fizzle out fast.
It's the entrepreneurs that dig in, soak up as much knowledge as they can, and go hard and for the long run that succeed. This is the classic definition of an entrepreneur.