Okay. Let me start by making a confession: I'm not actually a rock star--not even part time. But over the years I have played lead guitar in a variety of different bands, starting many moons ago with garage bands when I was in junior high school, to the epic Halloween and other occasional gigs I play today with some of my friends.
While music (specifically, rock 'n' roll music) has been a source of great joy for me, I have also learned some important lessons that have been applicable to me in business and in life. Here are 7 of my favorites.
1. Be on time
When you're in a band and you're scheduled to perform at a bar or other venue, there's a set schedule that you need to adhere to. If you're supposed to be on stage at, say, 9:00 pm, then you shouldn't be just arriving at 9:15 pm. I like to arrive early, get my amplifier and other gear set up, and then I can relax and enjoy myself. That's also my approach for business appointments. Get there a little early, settle in, and relax.
2. Know your part
There's nothing worse than playing with someone who doesn't know the music, but who tries unsuccessfully to fake it. Not only do they pull the rest of the band down--making us all sound bad--but they spoil the experience for our customers. It's just as important in business to know your stuff. And if you don't, then take time to learn it.
3. Practice makes perfect
As we prepared for our Halloween gig this year, our drummer (a CPA in real life) requested that we play "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Knowing that my slide guitar part was going to be critical to the song's success--and also knowing that I had not learned the part (see #2 above)--I said, "Sure, let's do it." The week before our gig I got serious about practicing the slide guitar part--listening to it multiple times and then practicing it over and over again until I felt like I had it down. I did. The song went off without a hitch.
4. Be ready to improvise
As the old saying goes, "stuff happens." Sometimes one of my bandmates will lose power to his rig, or a string will break, or the singer will throw in an extra verse out of the blue. You've got to be ready to roll with the changes--in real time, as they happen--and improvise to keep things on track. You know you've succeeded when no one even notices that there was a mishap in the band--or in your business.
5. Play songs your audience likes and can dance to
This is really Sales 101--sell the products that your customers want to buy. In a band, you get instant feedback. If no one is dancing, then you know you'd better play a different song-- and quick!
6. Don't hog the spotlight
Although I love nothing better than stepping out in front of the band and taking a solo, I know that I need to share the spotlight with my bandmates. That gives everyone a chance to shine. The same goes for your colleagues at work. Give them a chance to enjoy the spotlight and to shine.
7. Have fun
Ultimately, playing music in front of a crowd of appreciative listeners is all about having fun. If you're not having fun, after all--whether in a band or at work--then why bother?