In 1988 I was fortunate enough to be involved in a very unusual project. Junior Achievement in Rockford, Illinois had taken over part of a local radio station and a group of us got involved as high school students. We each had a role to play, from promotions to production, on-air talent to sales & marketing. I recorded a one-hour “classic rock” show Thursday nights that would air Sunday afternoons. It was then that I fell in love with the radio industry…but my love of rock & roll had been formed years before!
Fast forward a whole bunch of years, and after a long and exciting career in radio sales, marketing & management, I stumbled into the Organization Management industry as a speaker and consultant. Fortunately for me, while the two certainly appear to be worlds apart, I’ve found some recurring themes and learned some valuable lessons along the way that have helped me make the transition. Turn on some tunes, crank the volume to 11 and get ready to have your mind BLOWN, baby! I’m laying down 6 KILLER tracks with limited commercial interruption:
Kansas, Carry On Wayward Son: No matter what those voices in your head say, keep moving forward. The song says “There’ll be peace when you are done.” If you know you’re doing the right things for your organization, stay the course. Some of the greatest men and women the world has ever known were ignored in their own time. As organization executives, our efforts are not always appreciated as often as we’d like them to be.
Sammy Hagar, I Can’t Drive 55: I learned this one early and I’ve passed it on to my kids from the time I coached their Little League teams. Sammy Hagar can’t drive 55, my players couldn’t jog on the field and YOU, as Chamber & Association professionals have only one speed. Once we’ve decided we’re moving, we’re moving at full speed! Don’t slow down until you get where you’re going. Don’t let doubters, detractors or anyone else keep you from playing the game at full speed.
Styx, Renegade…If you don’t keep things “above the water line” (thanks Sarah Birnbach) it’ll catch up to you eventually. All the speeding around and ignoring the STOP signs we’ve talked about above are GREAT, but we have to be sure we’re doing things for the right reasons and doing them the right way. Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in off-mission, “below the water line” activities. It’s your ship…steer clear of the icebergs!
Cheap Trick, I Want You to Want Me: Yes, they’re talking about a girl, but don’t we all want our members to want us as much as we want them? Isn’t that what this is all about? One lesson we can take away from this classic is that we don’t always TELL our members that we “want them to want us”. We don’t show them how important it is for us to be that important to them. Communicate that with them today…and often…and don’t let them forget you.
Fleetwood Mac, Go Your Own Way: This one’s a Two-Fer! Yes, sometimes we have to part ways with people who once fit so well, but we also have to understand that sometimes we need to walk our own path…go our own way…do what needs to be done even though some would question our decisions.
Bob Segar, Turn the Page: The song talks about how everybody sees the rock star on stage, but never quite grasps the rigors of that lifestyle. The same can be said for Chamber & Association executives, seen by most in one light all day long, but caught up in the solitude of the position the majority of the time. Being the executive can take its toll on you. It can wear you out, leave you vulnerable and make you question yourself. But when you get back up on the stage again, and you hear the crowds shouting your name and cheering for you, it makes it all worthwhile.
So there you have it…proof positive that if you look hard enough, you’ll find messages and lessons in some of the most unexpected places. Rock on, organization professional! Listen to the Music and remember: You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!