You, young entrepreneur, may believe that the company(ies) you create and you position as President/CEO will last until you draw your last breath. Such is your energy, motivation and (dare I say) ego, that you believe that the company will last as long as you do (and vice versa). While it's true that some create solely with the intention to sell at a huge profit, the really smart among you know that you have to have a great product and create a real, solid business model and your passion makes you want to see it through as long as you can. Once that model is created and appears successful the real entrepreneurs feed on this success. Soon, the drive is what rules your lives.
Success really is addictive and once your personality is consumed by your value of 'what you do', instead of 'who you are', you are most likely to continue to follow that intoxication and believe that you are invincible.
In your youth, you can never picture how your health will limit whether and how you meet all the challenges in front of you. You can never imagine a time when you'll be getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, every night. Or that in the morning your body will hurt no matter what drugs you take. You will start forgetting dates, times, places and people not just because you are getting older but because, like a hard drive, there is so much more information that your brain stores and processes everyday. You'll start to repeat many stories to new and old acquaintances to the point where your spouse (and kids) may just want to (at best) leave the room.
This reality was never in my playbook!
In my business (a true "young man's game") an artist was generally about 25 years old, got a record deal, became famous and then watched the career go away in an arc that would last maybe 5-7 at best. Not because the artist lost his way, but because the fans were so fickle and always looking for the "next big thing". This is what separated the business model of my world and the business model of a non-entertainment based business.
Most companies don't put a time limit on their dreams. But there's a time limit in rock and roll. The Who famously sang "I hope I die before I get old." The rallying cry of the Woodstock Generation became "Don't trust anyone over thirty." But for me, rock and roll has had a lifespan I didn't expect.
Twisted Sister, as you know, recently lost our drummer AJ Pero to a heart attack. Not a young man's illness. His death had me thinking about a conversation that happened in a dressing room a couple of years ago with several members of Quiet Riot and Dio, and a couple of other bands. The conversation at the time made me chuckle (almost to the point of wanting VH-1 to film it as "The Real Behind the scenes Conversations at a Classic Rock Concert Dressing Room")
The conversation sounded like this: "so and so died of prostate cancer," "so and so had a heart attack," "my thyroid count is really low," " my PSA is too high," "I'm taking a beta blocker," "I need Viagra,"....on and on...
It sounded like I was in a doctor's waiting room in Boca with my aunt and uncle.
So this is how it all winds up?
This wasn't how the dream was supposed to end. We are all going to make millions of dollars and retire before reaching 30 and just dabble in our own luxurious pursuits while traveling the world in our yachts.
Rock bands were only supposed to last around 5 years. The Beatles, as far as Americans knew them, were only around for 7 years and that seemed like an eternity to the millions of musicians that they inspired, many of which became famous rock stars themselves.
Yes, we lost many great ones early on to "Sex, Drugs & Rock n Roll" -Jimi, Brian, Janis, Jim- to name a few-all young and beautiful. I don't think any of the baby boomer generation thought that bands could or would last more then 7 years at the most and yet.........here we are....Twisted Sister will celebrate our 40th anniversary next year joining KISS, Judas Priest and AC/DC.
Nearing 50 is Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and Scorpions,
The Grateful Dead & the Who are all celebrating 50 years.
And then there is that wonder of wonder "The Rolling Stones".
If one band wasn't supposed to make it, it was The Rolling Stones. In fact the Rolling Stones fans are so old, they don't clap after the band finishes a song. They're afraid that the lights will go on in the arena.
Keith Richards, to point out the obvious, is the poster boy for "Early Exit of a Rock Star." Yet there is, still playing and touring at 70!
I recently met Keith Richards gastroenterologist at a party. I admit that the three words that I thought I would never hear in one sentence were: Keith, Richards, gastroenterologist. This doctor never approached me with his resume. A follow doctor pointed him out to me and I went over and said hello. I said that I had a couple of questions about Keith that didn't violate Dr/patient confidentiality. The doctor looked at me and said that he doubted he could respond under any conditions. I said "Fair enough, but I'll give it a try."
Question 1 was "Are even you amazed?"
The doctor thought about that for a minute and then replied, "Yes."
Question 2 was "Is it fair to say that as long as Keith is still breathing, there is medical hope for the rest of mankind?"
He started to laugh and nodded his head. I walked away with hope in my heart.
To all my fellow entrepreneurs who vowed to "work til I drop," get ready for that scenario to be far less glamorous than you imagined when you launched your company. Make arrangements to enjoy your old age now - or your motto, like mine, will be "Sex, Prescription Drugs, and Rock and Roll.”