How The Mighty Fall

I just finished Jim Collins’ truly enlightening book, “How The Mighty Fall”. It’s a short read covering the five steps to an organization’s decline, and is one of the best books I’ve read in a LONG time. It’s just too good not to share, so below are some quick notes I took while reading:

How the Mighty Fall

THE FIVE STAGES OF DECLINE

1. Hubris Born Of Success

  • Biggest mistake is confusing what and why
  • “We’re successful because of what we do so well” replaces “we’re successful because we understand why we do specific things, and under the conditions in which they would no longer work.

2. Undisciplined Pursuit of More

  • Leaders stray away from the key to success: disciplined creativity
  • The company dives into areas where they cannot be excellent or are outside the scope of work that made them successful to begin with

3. Denial of Risk and Peril

  • The company and its leaders discount negative data, amplify positive data, and put a positive spin on ambiguous data

4. Grasping For Salvation

  • Leaders panic, and begin to take bold leads into unknown/unmastered territory, look for mergers/acquisitions, and pursue untested strategies.
  • Only hope left at this stage is to go back to disciplined creativity

5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

MISC NOTES:

  • You can be profitable and bankrupt. You pay your bills with cash.
  • The best leaders feel a sense of urgency in both good and bad times.
  • Recovery lies in sound strategic thinking.

MISC QUOTES:

“Circumstances alone do not determine outcomes. We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our setbacks, our history, our mistakes or our staggering defeats. We are freed by our choices.”

“The point of struggle is not just to survive, but to build an enterprise that makes such a distinctive impact on the world it touches, and does so with such superior performance, that it would leave a gaping hole – a hole that could not be easily filed by any other institution – if it ceased to exist.”

RELATED POSTS:

1) Why Ignoring Labels is the Best Way To Get Signed

2) The Golden Circle: Why Are You Doing What You’re Doing?

Fanbases are Conversations

In the important book, “The Cluetrain Manifesto“, Doc Searls writes, “Markets are nothing more than conversations.” When I read that sentence, it blew my mind. Not only is that powerful in a general context, but it is potent if you replace the word “markets” with “fanbases”.

Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines, blogs, forums, comment sections and reviews blanket the internet. Everyone is talking, and every brand (i.e. artist) is held at the mercy of these conversations.

If you take a moment right now to stop looking at your fanbase as purely a demographic, and instead actually imagine a real, living, breathing human being with a family, goals, and values, things begin to change. What does that person care about? What is worth her time? And, most importantly, what does she talk about with her friends?

open-conversations

At this point, there are two hard questions to ask yourself.

1. Are you doing anything worth talking about?

This sounds like a harsh or demeaning question, but it really isn’t. It’s a plain and simple one. It’s good to zone in on the art you’re passionate about creating, but, once your creation exists in the world, it’s difficult to shift that passion into something that transcends yourself and touches others. You can complain that having good music isn’t enough to get noticed, or you can face reality, be resourceful and creative, and do the work you’re capable of. It’s completely your choice.

2. Can you provide your fans with shareable tools that spark conversation and connection?

People love discovering and connecting with members of a common circle. This is why it’s exciting when you meet someone who loves the same restaurant, movie, or random author you’ve been reading for years. As a musician, you have the rare privilege and opportunity to actually be the source of this connection between two strangers. Don’t take that lightly. Think about the types of values your fanbase has, what they talk about, and what they care about. Then, think creatively about what you can provide them with (aside from your songs) to spark a conversation.

Your fanbase will grow as people share your music with friends. Then this fanbase will begin to feel more like a true community, and the opportunities are endless from there. Most powerfully, you’ll be able to see these conversations in real-time all over the internet, knowing you were the spark that caused them all.

 

RELATED POSTS:

1) Passive Supporters, Active Fans, and Super Fans

2) Beyond Music

The Icarus Deception: 10 Lessons For Artists

I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10, but below are several of my favorite quotes from Seth Godin’s fantastic new book The Icarus Deception.

  • We assume that what makes us comfortable also makes us safe.
  • Art is an attitude, available to anyone who chooses to adopt it.
  • There isn’t a pain-free way to achieve your goals.
  • The art of moving forward lies in understanding what to leave behind.
  • The scarce resources today are attention and trust, not shelf space. People want your humanity, not your discounts.
  • An artist can say, “Here, I made this.”
  • A little more emotional labor is often worth a lot.
  • What matters is how much people will miss you if you aren’t back tomorrow.
  • Rejection says something about the critic, but not about you.
  • Six Daily Habits For Artists:

– Sit alone; sit quietly
– Learn something new
– Ask individuals for bold feedback; ignore what you hear from the crowd
– Spend time encouraging other artists
– Teach, with the intent of making change
– Ship something that you created

  •  Habits of a Successful Artist:

– Learn to sell what you’ve made
– Write daily
– Fail often
– See the world as it is
– Connect others
– Lead a tribe

  • Art is a leap into the void, a chance to make magic where there was no magic before. You are capable of this. The very fact that it might not work is precisely why you should and must do this. What a gift that there isn’t a sure thing.
  • Without understanding the realities and points of view of all the players involved (in your industry), the artist willingly becomes a helpless pawn.
  • Understand that it’s a choice.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree

In his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman discusses, among other things, the collision of westernization and tradition that is found in developing nations. He concludes that the best society is one that takes full advantage of technology, interconnectivity, and creative entrepreneurship, while preserving tradition, and finding genuine value in its individual significance, both historically and culturally. The “Lexus” represents modernity and technology, and the “Olive Tree” represents culture and tradition.

As an artist currently emerging in our social media-heavy world, it is very important to realize that social media’s main function is simply to amplify offline activity. Photos, videos, and almost all of the content you share and consume online are simply isolated snapshots of something that was done offline. Social media is the vehicle to connect the physical world to the digital.

The best offline asset you have is your live show. It must be great. The live show represents the “Olive Tree” in two ways. First, as I mentioned above, it is the key offline aspect to your band that people can view online. But secondly, and on a larger scale, the live show is the single area of the music industry that is not being drastically destructed by technology. This is because the intangible charm of standing in a dirty club with hundreds of like-minded strangers is impossible to authentically replicate through a laptop at your desk.

While it is easy to get caught up in social media, it is important to remember to constantly polish your live show. Find creative ways to bring a glimpse of that live experience online, with the ultimate goal being to get people offline, and out to your show. If you can build any sort of community surrounding you and your music, either digitally or physically, you’re golden. Just like a nation westernizing, bands must find the balance between the Lexus (social media) and the Olive Tree (live show) to achieve success in today’s music industry.

Stop Stealing Dreams

Just finished the amazing e-book “Stop Stealing Dreams”, which is all about issues with our education system and what our colleges (and world) need more (and less) of.

I think every parent should READ THIS.

My favorite piece of the book – worth sharing:

When we teach a child to make good decisions, we benefit from a lifetime of  good decisions.

When we teach a child to love to learn, the amount of learning will become limitless.

When we teach a child to deal with a changing world, she will never become obsolete.
 
When we are brave enough to teach a child to question authority, even ours, we insulate ourselves from those who would use their authority to work against each of us.
 
And when we give students the desire to make things, even choices, we create a 
world filled with makers.