RIP JJ Cale: Recognize The Quiet Talent In Your Company


Almost everyone wants the spotlight.

But every great business has unseen stars who contribute in powerful ways to the company’s success.

JJ Cale passed away this weekend, dying of a heart attack at age 74.

Cale isn’t a face, or even a name, that many people would recognize.

Yet JJ Cale influenced an entire generation of rock musicians. His songs were recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, Santana, The Band, Johnny Cash, and most famously, Eric Clapton.

Cale wrote “Cocaine” and “After Midnight”, two of Clapton’s biggest songs.

In memory of this quiet legend, take a moment today to consider the JJ Cale’s in your organization.

Who are the less-visible people who, thanks to their selfless and incredible behind-the-scenes work, are irreplaceable to your company?

Don’t let those people get away.

Others may not see their genius, but don’t worry about that. You do. And your vision is part of what makes your company great.

In this video, the incredible Cale sings “After Midnight”, backed up by Eric Clapton.


Eric Clapton, JJ Cale 110 Comments

Seven Things Your Business Can Learn From Rock Stars


They fill stadiums with screaming fans.
They make millions of dollars.
They are synonymous with excellence.

Rock stars.

The premise of the new book Brand Like A Rock Star is that business can learn a tremendous amount from the experiences of the legends of rock. The book deals with specific bands, specific brands, and provides specific advice to apply to your business in actionable ways.

But from a big picture perspective, what can the average business learn from the rock star? Why does the business/rock star relationship make sense?

Here are seven things you and your business can learn from rock stars.

1. Do what you love. If you do what you love to do, you’ll do it more passionately than anyone else. And if you do something with passion, the odds of doing it successfully go up infinitely. Rock stars love to rock. That’s why Mick Jagger is still singing. Do what you love.

2. Be larger than life. There’s no excitement in average. Nobody notices the business that looks and sounds like every other business. Foo Fighters is a stupid name, but unforgettable. Same with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Hootie & The Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies for that matter. Go the distance. Stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to be larger than life.

3. Screw being better, just be different. Bands like the Grateful Dead and KISS weren’t at what they did, they were the only bands who did what they did. If you do something totally unique, there’s nobody to compare you to. There will always be someone better than you, but there is nobody exactly like you. Celebrate that. Be different.

4. Practice really hard. The Beatles played Hamburg for months at a time perfecting their craft. Metallica played every dive bar on the west coast before they made it big. You just don’t get to the top without a lot of practice. The same applies to business. Whatever you decide to do, perfect it. Practice really hard.

5. Find a producer. Great bands had great producers, engineers, managers, and record labels. You need people like that to see your work from the outside. Business owners are like bands, they see themselves from the inside. That’s the worst view in the world. You need a George Martin, just like The Beatles did. Get outside advice. Find a producer who isn’t afraid to tell you when you suck.

6. Take it easy. Being an up-and-comer isn’t a picnic, but real rock stars get first-class flights, penthouse hotel suites, and backstage buffets. There’s plenty of down time for true rock stars. Lenny Kravitz has a place in Bahamas. Eric Clapton kicks back in Antigua. Great business leaders know when to relax and rejuvenate their spirits. Minds that relax are minds that are open to learning and growth. Find the time to take it easy now and then.

7. Work with your friends. Eric Clapton played guitar on a Phil Collins song. Mick Jagger contributed background vocals on a Carly Simon song. Johnny Cash did the lead vocals for a U2 song. When you work with friends, you not only benefit from their contribution but you also learn from them and develop new skills. Hire great people that you love to work with and let them help you shine. Avoid unhappy people who bring you down, and work with your friends instead.

Take these seven lessons from the legends of rock to heart, and watch your business rise to the top of the charts.

Brand Like A Rock Star is now available via Amazon. You can have your copy within 24 hours! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! It arrives at retail on October 1.

I’d love to speak directly to your company or conference about building a powerful brand using the lessons learned by rock’s legends. Contact me directly for details.

Upcoming Brand Like A Rock Star events:
Tuesday, September 27 – Calgary, AB
Wednesday, September 28 – Red Deer, AB (morning)
Wednesday, September 28 – Drumheller, AB (afternoon)
Thursday, September 29 – Edmonton, AB
Friday, October 7 – Las Vegas, NV at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – BOOK LAUNCH EVENT!

Monday, October 17 – Moncton, NB
Thursday, October 20 – Charlottetown, PEI (Chamber of Commerce Biz2Biz Expo)
Friday, November 4 – Anchorage, AK (Alaska Broadcasters Association Convention)
Wednesday, November 23 – Winnipeg, MB
Thursday, December 15 – Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Barenaked Ladies, Eric Clapton, Foo Fighters, Hootie and the Blowfish, Johnny Cash, KISS, Metallica, Mick Jagger, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beatles, U2, Uncategorized 147 Comments

Hearts Over Heads: How Customers Make Buying Decisions

Music appeals to the heart, not the mind. We don’t love Eric Clapton or Stevie Wonder or U2 or James Taylor because it makes logical sense to. We love them because they touch some nerve inside of us and connect with us.
In that respect, brands are exactly like bands. You might think you love a certain brand because of logic and reasoning, but in reality all of us make most purchasing decisions based on our hearts.
If we made purchasing decisions based on our heads, we would all buy pretty much the same thing… the logical choice. The best product. Instead, we buy things that connect with our hearts and speak to us in some powerful and emotional way. There’s no logic to buying a gas-guzzler, a $10,000 Rolex, and stainless-steel appliances, is there? We use our head to justify the decision, but the decision is made by the heart.

If you tolerated this post please consider subscribing to Brand Like A Rock Star by email. I swear I will never share your contact info with anyone. You can also subscribe by RSS feed using the button on the upper right portion of the page.

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The Million Dollar Niche Market

If you enjoy this post, please consider clicking here and subscribing to receive “Brand Like A Rock Star” updates via e-mail.  I’ll never spam you or share your information.  But I will send random subscribers free copies of the book when it is published as a small gesture of thanks.  Now on with the show…

 Rock stars don’t start out trying to appeal to everybody. But so many brands do. They don’t see the value in niche.
The irony is, if you try to appeal to everybody, you’ll end up appealing passionately to nobody.

In brand research, there is a dreaded group of responses about brands and products called “generic positive”. It is the kiss of death. It is the verbatim answers like “it’s okay” or “I like it”. Brands who get high “generic positive” scores generally don’t do very well.

The problem is that people can’t tell you WHAT they like about it. They just kinda think it isn’t altogether bad. If people can’t say exactly why they like you, you are probably pretty easy to replace.
Rock stars are popular because they do something specific and unique. They appeal to a very small group of people, in the beginning. Through hard work, luck, sacrifice, and marketing, their music reaches a larger audience. And if they are smart, they don’t compromise their music.

Their once tiny audience becomes larger as word spreads.

Soon that niche band is playing for tens of thousands of people.

Consider one of the most enduring and popular figures in modern music, Robert Nesta Marley.

Bob Marley started out, reggae music wasn’t even on America’s radar. And throughout the 60′s as Bob’s career took off in his home country of Jamaica, the rest of the world paid little notice. Despite Chris Blackwell’s Island Records promotion of reggae music in the UK, the genre remained very much a niche interest. Bob Marley & The Wailers were the big fish in a very tiny pond. He drew massive crowds in Jamaica, but was a relative unknown off the island.

Reggae broke through into the mainstream in the early 70′s thanks to two factors. First, the Jimmy Cliff movie “The Harder They Come” generated significant buzz. Second, in 1974 the song “I Shot The Sheriff” (written by Marley) became a worldwide hit for Eric Clapton.

As reggae grew in popularity, so did Bob Marley. Fans discovered his new music, as well as a back catalog of songs they had never heard before.

And as Bob Marley’s star grew around the world, and he remained true to his reggae roots, his popularity amongst his earliest supporters grew even more. Marley rose to a religious-like status in Jamaica for his commitment to the Jamaican culture,
Rastafarianism,and social justice.

Bob Marley could have compromised to try and become a bigger star. But he didn’t. And that’s part of the reason he became such a huge star.

It sounds like a contradiction.

Start out with a small audience, and be true to them all the way.

As you become bigger, continue to stay true to what you stand for.

Resist temptation to change what you do in order to appeal to more people.

Imagine what a disaster it would have been for Bob Marley to record a disco song in the late 70′s simply to appeal to the American mass audience! His true fans in Jamaica would have never have allowed it! There would have been rioting in
Nine Mile, Jamaica.

But you see it every day with major brands.

Kentucky Fried Chicken can’t resist the chance to try and appeal to health nuts with grilled chicken.

McDonald’s couldn’t resist the chance to try and appeal to pizza lovers by offering the ill-fated
McPizza in the 1990′s.

Jeep is having a hard time resisting the chance to appeal to more urban buyers who want a car with a Jeep label, so they’ve created the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot.

All bad moves, destined to weaken great brands who stand for something. And all in the name of appealing to more people.

Ironic.Bob Marley’s little niche brand is making over $10 million a year long after his death.

Maybe rock star John Mellencamp said it best… “You’ve gotta stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything”.

Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Island Records 981 Comments