Make 2013 The Year You Rock



George Travis has been the tour director for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for nearly three decades.

His job is to keep the thing rolling, no matter the cost. Coordinating thousands of people in hundreds of cities around the globe every year, George gets them working in sync to make sure that your $100 investment in a Springsteen ticket is a worthwhile investment.

For years, he’s a had a routine that we can all learn from.

When a new member joins the crew, or when a grizzled veteran appears complacent or disinterested, George grabs them in the middle of the concert and walks with them to the very back of the arena. From there, he shows them twenty thousand fans who have paid hard-earned money to see their favorite musician perform.

Together they gaze out at arena full of fans.

Someone here will get engaged tonight. 

A group of friends who haven’t seen each other in years will reunite tonight.

For many of these people, they’ll never get a chance to see Springsteen again in their lives.

Someone here might die tomorrow.

What memory will you leave them with?

Every customer matters. Every interaction matters. Nothing can be taken for granted.

Before 2013 arrives and you toast the arrival of the New Year, take a moment to gaze out at your arena full of fans… the people who matter to you and who count on you not to let them down.

What will you do in 2013 to rise above their expectations?

What will you do in 2013 to make their experience with you life-changing?

The power is in your hands. Use it wisely. Take your job as seriously as George Travis takes his.

Happy New Year. Be a Rock Star in 2013.

Thank you for all of the support in 2012. The Brand Like A Rock Star project has been so amazing, educational, and fun. Book #2 is coming along nicely and should be published before 2013 ends. I look forward to sharing it with you!

With one click here, you can order a paperback or digital download of Brand Like A Rock Star. They only have ten copies in stock as of today, but more are on order. Grab one, and I guarantee it will change the way you look at branding, marketing, and advertising, and it will help you get 2013 off to a rockin’ start.


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When You Control The Music, You Control The Mood


Live Aid in 1985 fed millions in Africa.

In 2001, the Concert For New York City inspired us post 9/11.

The 2003 SARS Benefit with the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and Rush made Toronto safe again.

Last Wednesday, the 12/12/12 concert for Superstorm Sandy was another of of those magical moments when we call came together. We weren’t brought there by politics or religion, but through love of music and concern for fellow man.

A day and a half later, the buzz was gone and replaced by the horror of the school shootings in Newtown, CT.  So tragic. Can anyone possibly fathom where such evil grows?

The next day, Saturday Night Live made a small but powerful change to their routine. Instead of starting the show with a sketch that leads to a character yelling the famous line “Live from New York it’s Saturday Night!”, the show began with a flickering candle. Then, in a healing moment, a children’s choir sang a moving rendition of “Silent Night”.

Never underestimate the power of music.

We turn to music to celebrate the wonderful moments in our lives, like weddings and graduations.

Music gives us solace and healing in times of pain, like funerals and and heartbreaks.

Think about how music plays a role in your business.

What kind of music plays in your store? Do you just let the person working behind the counter choose their favorite songs or radio station, or do you carefully craft an audio aura that contributes to your brand? Does the music in your radio, TV, and online advertising enhance your brand and help tell a story?

Do you understand the power of music and meter in your marketing?

As my friend Roy H. Williams says, “when you control the music, you control the mood.”

These days, my mood is so mixed. I’m immensely grateful for my family and friends, deeply saddened for those who lost theirs last week, and gravely concerned about the violent direction our world appears to be going in. I don’t know if there’s a song to capture that all of that at once.

Thanks for supporting the Brand Like A Rock Star movement over the past two years. It means a lot. If you’d like to share the ideas and concepts, you can order a personal or gift copy of Brand Like A Rock Star right here with one click and have it delivered before Christmas.

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Perfect Sucks

Photo courtesy of Leonardo Chamorro


One of rock’s greatest guitar solos was recorded by accident, the tapes left rolling though the guitarist didn’t know it. As Eddie Van Halen ripped away in preparation for a gig, producer Ted Templeman captured the imperfect magic of “Eruption”. Eddie felt he could play it better, but Ted left it as-is. There is no guitar solo quite like it.


The brilliant slightly off-beat organ in Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”? Mistake. The keyboard player didn’t know the song well enough, and he had to watch the rest of the musicians for chord changes. Because of that, he played slightly behind the band. Turns out, it was incredible.


Post-It Notes. Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. Penicillin. North America. All discovered accidentally.


Plenty of amazing discoveries happened by mistake, stumbled upon while someone was searching for something else entirely.


This isn’t just self-help BS here. There’s plenty of proof that perfection is the last thing you should waste your time on. And now we have scientific evidence!


For centuries, violin manufacturers have been trying to replicate the craftsmanship of legends like Stradivari, only to have their perfect violins fall short. The world’s greatest violinists choose multi-million dollar Stradivarius violins over new perfect instruments, crafted by laser precision.


Now, research by German scientists has led them to conclude that tiny imperfections, discovered only by examining the violins using high-energy beams of light from a particle accelerator, are exactly what make these instruments sound so wonderful.


Their examinations have uncovered tiny modifications and asymmetries, intentionally made to these instruments, thereby removing unpleasant harmonics heard in other so-called perfect violins.


You aren’t perfect, and you need not pretend to be.


You are a Stradivarius, proudly layered with the tiny imperfections that make you human. Those quirks, eccentricities, scars, and flaws define you. We all have them. Some of us run from them and put on a persona of perfection. We call these people fake.

When you are trying to be perfect, you avoid taking risks, afraid of potentially making mistakes.

The brave who run from perfection are willing to stumble, fail, and endure pain on the path to an earth-changing product and an amazing customer experience.


The DNA of perfection can be studied and copied.


The unique work of imperfect artists can never be precisely duplicated.


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The Tough Times Define You

Photo courtesy of

Nobody will remember how you handled yourself when things were going great.

You will be defined based on your struggles.

Fleetwood Mac went into the studio in 1976 with every relationship in the band falling apart. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were splitting up, John and Christine MacVie were getting divorced, and Mick Fleetwood had just discovered his wife was having an affair with his best friend. The emotional turmoil was further fuelled by cocaine, alcohol, and pressure from the record label to turn in a hit album.

The result was Rumours, one of the best and best-selling albums in rock history.


In July of 1965 the “spokesperson for the generation” suddenly plugged in a guitar at the Newport Folk Festival, and Bob Dylan immediately went from folk hero to “Judas”, as one fan screamed at him a few months later in England. The controversy dogged Dylan on his next tour, audiences booing as he played loud and electric. Yet that era gave us “Like A Rolling Stone”, arguably the greatest song in rock music history.

Find Inspiration In The Chaos

How will you respond when the times are tough? Will you find inspiration in the chaos and turn in your best album ever, or will you let the roadblocks become your excuse for mediocrity? Will the people who doubt you and call you names win, or will you find strength in the adversity and create your masterpiece?

Order Brand Like  A Rock Star right now and have the paperback delivered or start reading the digital version right away.

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Change Like A Rock Star


So you think the pace of your industry changes fast?

Try being a rock star.

You write a great song. It’s four minutes long.

Now do it again, but different.

Now do it ten more times so that you have an album.

Now, as soon as your album is a hit, start working on a follow up.

While you do all of that, watch as tastes evolve and styles change. Watch as social media accelerates these changes. Watch as technology makes it possible for people to avoid paying for your album and that same technology makes it possible for far less talented artists than you to go viral.

When change hits your industry, you have two choices as I see it.

The obvious one is to adapt with the times. This is what nearly every expert says you need to do. Embrace the new technology! Change what you do to match the evolving tastes! Evolve or die!  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it is like KISS going disco with “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”. When it works, it is Apple evolving from a computer company into a technology company… or Old Spice changing from your grandfather’s cologne into your kid’s body wash. When it works, it is glorious and profitable.

The less-obvious choice is to intentionally avoid changing. Often not changing fails, and you appear out of touch with the times and irrelevant.  But consider The Rolling Stones. The Stones are celebrating 50 years together, yet they’ve only recorded four new albums in the past 25 years. That means that they made nearly every memorable piece of music in their first 25 years! Then, they decided not to change, and they became a very wealthy nostalgia act. When it works, it too is glorious and profitable.

Neither choice is right or wrong.

The only right thing to do is recognize the changes around you and formulate a conscious plan to deal with them.

It isn’t so much “Change, or die”… it is, more accurately, “Be aware of change, or die”.

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