Archive for August, 2011
On Saturday evening, Jeff and I went into NY City to hear a classic jazz trio – piano, bass and drums — of the highest caliber at the intimate jazz room in the Kitano Hotel. The trio was led by George Cables on piano, who has played with everyone from Art Blakey to Sarah Vaughan to Sonny Rollins. He was joined by the best rhythm section in the business, Peter Washington on stand-up bass and Lewis Nash on drums.
That evening’s performance reminded me again why I love jazz. It is the single most intelligent and creative art form I’ve ever experienced – and when it’s melodic, rhythmic and it swings, it’s heaven on earth. At the highest levels, it demonstrates improvisational qualities that we can all seek to emulate and bring into our work lives. If we’re able to do that, we will surely elevate our business games.
Let me explain. I’ve heard many hundreds of live jazz sets over the years. Every once in awhile, one stands out as spectacular — beyond special. That happened on Saturday. The jazz musicians we heard this weekend have their skills honed and fine tuned to the max – as many of us do in our chosen fields. When they play their solos, their virtuosity is unmistakable. That’s job one for all of us: get our chops up.
It’s what they do in the ensemble environment that provides awesome lessons for business – and, in this political season, for government, too.
We observed the epitome of active listening. There was an intensity to it – although it seemed effortless. You could see – and hear the result of — the three listening to one another. It enabled them to pick up on a musical phrase played by one and allowed the others to echo it or bend it or transform it.
Do you think this level of listening could boost the results of corporate teams, small businesses and the US Congress? It’s not about what power I can gain by pushing my idea, but what we can all achieve together by listening to each other’s ideas to synthesize new and exciting solutions.
There were also non-verbal cues: a nod, a gesture, fingers held up in a silent count. The trio picked them all up and used them to create a polished performance that has never before or will ever again be created. It was seamless and precise. It sounded like they were reading from a score, but they weren’t. They were playing from a basic set of chords and improvising on the fly.
It reminded me of a moment a while back at a meeting with a prospective client, the owner of a business. He had invited key staff members to join us and provide their input. When they got too far from his vision and tolerances, I saw his expression change.
I chose that moment to make eye contact with him to express that I was happy to engage with his staff, but that I recognized that ultimately he was the client and decision maker. In that brief instant, he and I communicated how we would proceed together.
In an hour of music, there was also a lesson in story telling. Several of the tunes were George Cable compositions. Original works by jazz musicians fill the jazz repertoire.
Young players feel compelled to follow in this tradition but don’t really understand what makes a great tune. They think that if they write a theme — a few notes — and improvise on those notes seemingly endlessly, they’ve composed a song worthy of recording. Not!
There is only a handful of musicians who are also great composers; whose songs, in my opinion, are worth recording. Dave Brubeck is one and George Cables is another. The reason they stand out is that they know how to tell a musical story.
Their stories are about something that we can relate to. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. Go to www.georgecables.com. You’ll spontaneously hear part of one of his compositions called Song for Helen. He wrote it for his life partner, a woman whose love saw him through a liver and kidney transplant. You’ve probably never heard it before. But you’ll want to hear it again. You’ll get what their relationship is about. We who create content need to keep story telling top of mind.
The final business lesson from jazz in this post is that none of the above could happen without respect. It all started with musicians who respect one another’s talents and skills. Without that they could not have listened without ego, subjugating their own needs to what they could create as a group. Nor could they have trusted their nonverbal cues to be understood and acted upon.
The story telling part comes from self respect, which allows us to honestly communication our life experiences. I hope you enjoyed this story of a Saturday night out that led to some thoughts that could propel me into a more effective Monday.
What are your passions that give you lessons for your work life? And thanks for sharing one or two.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Welcome to Tuesday Tweets for August 16, 2011 — where we take a look at tweets from my Twitter timeline for do’s, don’ts, best practices – and sometimes just for fun. Keep in mind that what we examine here is in no way personal. We’re all learning about building audiences online. In that spirit, if you disagree with my assessments, let me have it! I’m learning, too!
If you want to stay on top of what’s going on in technology, following TechCrunch is a must. This tweet is the big one from TechCrunch, though; the one I’ve been waiting for. Finally someone’s invented a way that I the tube will mute itself when I’m lunching in front of the screen and a pharma ad comes on, complete with a long list of nauseating potential side effects. I’m already compiling my list of keywords to trigger the blessed silence.
This chick-friendly tweet from Nick Jones got me seeing visions of shopping bags dancing in my head. When I clicked the link it got me to a page with the right headline and a video that said, “The video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.” How disappointing. L But then I saw a link that said, “read the rest of the story…” so I clicked. It did get me to a blog post with links to a few bargain fashion sites, but it seemed as though – even though the post date was today — the content was recycled on this news aggregator site as the post referenced Spring clothing in the stores andHollywoodawards show glam season. It was a bit confusing. Nice idea, but it’s a good reminder to check out what’s at the end of links before we tweet them.
@dragonblogger Justin Germino Challenge me in the Random Twitter Poetry game. Send me 1 word to use in today’s poem.
A few weeks ago in Tuesday Tweets I referenced @dragonblogger’s interesting idea of twitter-sourcing a poem – and stated at the time that it was unique and looked like it would be fun to play. Well yesterday I did. I sent the word ‘vision’. Here are the subsequent tweets and the results.
The Climb is a poem about climbing the corporate ladder but doing so any way possible even at the expense of integrity or honor. This poem was inspired by the 10 random submissions (in bold) provided by the following Twitter players:
@ptaylor98 (enthusiastic), @eileencan (peck), @techwork_dk (Monday), @laraca44 (softly), @sweetnote (fiducia), @alanhbush (cacophony), @elliebpr (vision), @rajanbalana (crystal), @opinionatedant (quest), @wordzeal (salacious)
Fiducia means trust, faith
Monday‘s crystal vision
salacious quest of life
you softly peck your way
silently over the cacophony
Enthusiastic measures pay off
corporate ladder with sawed rungs
caring not for loss of fiducia
as long as you reach the top
Poem by Justin Germino
@elliebpr recommends you follow @dragonblogger who does this out of his passion for poetry. I was pleased to join the others to contribute to his creative ‘vision.’ No corporate ladders at all cost for me!!
Come on and send me some of your favorite tweets!!
The recently adopted Tuesday Tweets graphic is from Freshalex Online under Creative Commons license.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
I’ve written before about the sense of possibility I feel every time I tweet a link or hit ‘publish’ on my blog. Get that content out on the Internet and no telling where it will go, who will read it, who will connect with us as a result.
The reason I’m writing about this again is to drum up deserved enthusiasm for the content creation that’s a required element of today’s marketing. We tend to do what’s pleasurable and I want to convince you that creating content and getting it out into the world can provide you with surprising results that feel very good.
Why am I sitting here writing this post before having dinner? It’s because I’ll feel so good tomorrow when it drives new eyeballs to my blog, website, Twitter timeline, LinkedIn profile, and when it leads new and old friends to interact with me online.
Here’s what motivated me to write this. I don’t always check my @mentions on Twitter, but I did today. This shows me who has mentioned me on Twitter. I found that three times last week, a blog post I’d written was incorporated in followers’ paper.li.
What’s that? If you’re unfamiliar, paper.li is a Twitter curation software. Register on paper.li and in a minute or two you can create a newspaper format piece of content that pulls from the links tweeted each day by the people you follow on Twitter. You can focus your paper’s content by indicating a topic, hashtag or Twitter list as the source of your paper’s content. The content is culled from your Twitter timeline via an algorithm + content you refer specifically – a recent improvement.
Paper.li papers can be shared with anyone. And the creator’s followers can subscribe to them. It all adds up to expanded reach for your content. All you have to do is publicize it on Twitter. Use hashtags to help assure your content will come up for paper.li keywords.
All you have to do to take advantage of this extended distribution is to create interesting and useful content. Let me tell you that I got a kick out of discovering that my content was useful enough to be featured beyond my blog. All of this happened without anything but my initial effort to produce the content and publicize it on Twitter.
Paper.li is only one of many ways that your content can proliferate around the Internet. Make it as good as you can and open the door to opportunity.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
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