Four Business Lessons From Freddie Mercury

Next week, Bohemian Rhapsody hits theatres, telling the incredible story of Freddie Mercury.

Freddie Mercury is widely regarded as having one of the most amazing voices in the history of rock music. You can discover the unreal range of Freddie in this fascinating 10 minute YouTube video from Polyphonic.

Looking back at Queen after all of these years, some very cool things stand out that can be applied to almost any business today.

  1. Be amazing. Not only was Freddie an incredible vocalist, but the entire band was considered amongst the best at their craft. Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon could play with the very best of them. There are very few business secrets anymore, and customers expect you to be great. No exceptions. You need to deliver, every time. The days of accepting mediocre service are long gone.

  2. Stand out. While it is important to be amazing, it is equally important to stand out from the crowd. There were plenty of people who loved Queen, but plenty of other people disliked the band. It is, however, almost impossible to find people who don’t know about Queen and don’t have any opinion on the band. They stood out in a way that forced people to pay attention them. That’s the essential first step for any business! Stand out!

  3. Persevere. All these years later, the song “Keep Yourself Alive” from Queen’s 1973 debut album stands up as one of their all-time greats. But at the time, the album was considered a flop. It sold poorly. In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Keep Yourself Alive” as the 31st greatest guitar song in rock history! But in 1973, nobody seemed to care. Despite the initial lack of success, Queen kept forging ahead. They were not deterred. And perhaps a greater example of perseverance is the song “The Show Must Go On”, recorded while Freddie was gravely ill and barely able to walk. Does failure deter your team? Great businesses accept that failure is simply a sign that you’re trying new things and pushing the envelope. Plenty of smart people believe that if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough!

  4. You can’t replace the irreplaceable. After Freddie Mercury died, Queen has continued to perform live… but never as “Queen”. They toured with Paul Rodgers singing under the name Queen + Paul Rodgers. Today they tour as Queen + Adam Lambert. They continue to honor Freddie’s legacy during every performance. They never try to pass off this version of Queen as the original thing, despite the fact that Brian May and Roger Taylor are still there. You can’t replace Freddie Mercury, and Queen has always acknowledged that. Your business needs to know what parts are replaceable and what parts cannot be recreated. Customers have certain expectations, and if you can’t meet them because of a change you need to acknowledge that… not hide the reality.

Bohemian Rhapsody opens in North America on November 2, 2018.

If you’d like me to play some Queen music and talk to your group about the connection between rock history and business success, just click here and we’ll make it happen.

And if you’d like to read more on the topic, you can order Brand Like a Rock Star here.