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

Showtime: Time For Your Business To Deliver


If the ticket says 8pm, then sometime around 8pm (or 11pm if you’re Axl Rose), the house lights better dim and the show better begin.


If the band isn’t ready, it doesn’t matter. It’s showtime.

If the seats aren’t full, we can’t wait. It’s showtime.

When is your showtime?

When do you put down the business plan, face your fears, and throw open the doors?

You can always play for longer than planned. Your fans won’t complain about that.

Your show doesn’t need a firm end time. It needs a firm showtime.

If you don’t have a showtime, you’re business will be a perpetual state of sound check, trying to get everything perfect.

Don’t keep us waiting any longer.

Here’s a link to order your paperback or digital download of Brand Like a Rock Star: Lessons From Rock n Roll To Make Your Business Rich and Famous. It will help you learn from rock legends so that you hit the stage with your business and rock!



Axl Rose 92 Comments

Brand Like A Rock Star Radio

rock star image hugh mcleod compressed


A few months ago, it occurred to me that while a blog and book were excellent forums, a discussion about the connection between great music and great brands should really have an audio forum.

With that in mind, I am very proud to introduce Brand Like A Rock Star Radio, a new daily program available to radio stations worldwide through Envision Radio Networks.

Based on the book, each of these quick 60-second programs illustrates a key branding lesson through the experiences of a legendary rock band. You can click here to listen to a sample.

You can learn more about Brand Like A Rock Star Radio by calling Envision Radio at 216-831-3761 or email



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How To Make Your Business Remarkable


If you want to be remarked about (aka “word of mouth”) then you need to be remarkable.

You need to deserve to be remarked about.

Unfortunately, in business that is often equated with quality.

Some of the most remarkable moments in rock history had nothing at all to do with quality.

Queen played one of the greatest live shows in history at Live Aid, highlighted not by note-by-note perfection, but instead by the raw energy and stage presence of Freddie Mercury.

The Rolling Stones had one of YouTube’s most viewed videos recently, a video of the band playing “As Tears Go By” with Taylor Swift. Perfect? Not really. You can hear a few missed notes if you listen carefully.

If you are already great at what you do, being better probably won’t get you to remarkable status.

Being different will.

Surprising people will.

Doing ordinary work with extraordinary flair will.

Being intentionally unusual will.

But are you brave enough?

It’s easier to spend all of your time trying to get incrementally better than it is to become truly remarkable.

Queen, Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift 3,844 Comments

Songs or Anthems?

Detroit-Windsor fireworks photo from Wikipedia commons


This is fitting, since both the USA and Canada celebrate their independence this week. Yesterday was Canada Day, and Thursday is Independence Day.

You’ve heard the national anthem play a thousand times. Or more.

Yet every time you hear it, you pay attention. You stand tall. You remove your hat.

Some singers create anthems. Anthems force you to pay attention, and when you hear them years later you pay attention again. Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Foo Fighters, Elton John, and Pearl Jam sing anthems. They create powerful pieces of music about things they really care about, and those songs connect with people on that powerful personal level.

Other singers create songs. Songs live in the moment, and they are fun to sing along to before they fade away into history. One Direction, Britney Spears, Fergie, and Robin Thicke create songs. We love them, we dance to them, we sing along to them, and when we’ve heard them enough we put them away and forget about them.

Does your business create songs or anthems?

There isn’t a right way or wrong way, but you have to choose one or the other.

You can create powerful movements about things that matter deeply to you. You can pour your heart into it, sharing your passion with others in your tribe. Your tribe might not be massive, but they will pay a premium for the special experience you provide. You’ll be making friends and fans for life if you speak to people’s hearts this way.

Or you can create consumables that come and go, serve a fun purpose in the moment, and get replaced by new fads relatively quickly. You might attract a larger customer base in the short term, but they’ll leave as soon as a shiny new thing comes along. And you’ll have to work on volume, because nobody is paying a premium for things that don’t last.

Like I said, there are plenty of cases to be made on both sides of the songs vs. anthems argument.

Just make sure you know which side you fall on, because your entire business strategy depends on it.


Uncategorized 98 Comments