Tag Archives: Academy of Achievement

In Music & Business: Treat Everyone Well (A Lesson From B.B. King)

It’s well known in the world of sales that you should treat all people with respect and kindness – First and foremost because it’s the right thing to do – But also because you never know who can influence a sale or refer business to you.

In this excerpt from an interview from the Academy of Achievement, legendary blues guitarist/singer B.B. King discusses how he applied that concept and built a successful and enduring music career:

“I worked very hard to try to make people like me. I worked very hard. I’m kind of like the little dog that goes and gets the paper. He brings it back, you pat him on the head and say, ‘Nice doggie, nice doggie.’ He’ll go back and get two the next time. That’s the way I am, and I try to do that even today. I try to be as nice as I know how to be.

“I love people. I’ll tell you something I don’t tell people often, but I believe all people are good. Sounds funny coming from a Mississippi boy, but it’s the truth. I believe all people are good. Just a very few do bad things. And you know what I believe? They couldn’t find a man like my teacher Luther H. Henson. I could listen to him and I could hear him, and I believe if those bad people could find someone – because there is someone out there I believe that they will listen to. I truly believe that.”

Salesmanship: Sheryl Crow & The Universal Lessons of Music

In my research for the book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, Genevieve Thiers, CEO and founder of Sittercity.com and opera singer discussed one of the lessons of her music experience that served her very well in starting her company – the concept that the process of auditioning helped her develop a thick skin and a fearlessness that was invaluable in establishing her start-up business.

This theme was consistent enough in our research that we identified salesmanship and branding as one of the 9 Common Lessons of Music that Translate into Success.

Pop/Rock recording artist Sheryl Crow echoes those sentiments in this excerpt from an interview at the Academy of Achievement:

“My mother says I have a lot of “chutzpah.” I did. You know, I was really naive about my career. I just figured if I kept working hard, and if I just seized moments, that things would happen, and that is really the way it worked. I was doing a recording session for a jingle, I believe, and I overheard some singers talking about an audition that was closed, supposed to be on recommendation, and I found out where it was and I went, and that’s how I got it.”

Read the Sheryl Crow interview transcript, or watch video or audio excerpts at the Academy of Achievement website

Listen to Genevieve’s thoughts on Music Education & Success

Find Your Mentor at Achievement.org

The Academy of Achievement (Achievement.org) is a great repository of interviews (transcripts, podcasts, and videos) with achievers, leaders, and innovators from the worlds of business, the arts, public service, science & exploration, and sports. Here’s a fun tool from the website called “Find Your Mentor.” Select from pull-down menus to identify the pursuit, the personality, and the challenges faced by their database of achievers to determine which ones match your own criteria to find your “Academy of Achievement Mentor.”

Mentor tool link at the Academy of Achievement website.

Steve Case and the Significance of a Liberal Arts Education

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Steve Case, founder of AOL, regarding the significance of a liberal arts education in a rapidly changing world. The interview is from the Academy of Achievement website.

Steve Case: “Williams College is a classic liberal arts school, so there is nothing really business-oriented about it. There’s no business classes. There’s no marketing classes. It’s really a more traditional kind of thing. So my degree was in political science, which I think was — the closest I could come to marketing is politics. You know, for better or worse, a lot about marketing and positioning candidates and so forth, but I was sort of interested in it anyway.

“So, I wouldn’t say that any specific course really was instrumental. I do think that a general liberal arts education is very important, particularly in an uncertain changing world. I think what a liberal arts perspective gives you, is you know a little bit about a lot of things, and look at the world as sort of a mosaic and kind of see how the pieces come together. I think that gives you a perspective that I found to be very valuable. And so in one sense, there’s nothing specific that I learned that was applicable. In another sense everything I learned was a useful foundation. Because I do think — not just in building AOL — but just the world in which we live is a very confusing, rapidly changing world where technology has accelerated.”

Link to interview at the Academy of Achievement website

Wynton Marsalis on Jazz, Romance, and He and She

Wynton Marsalis’s album He and She is music interspersed with poetry, and a poignant take on relationships and romance. In this excerpt from an interview with Achievement.org, Marsalis discusses the respectful approach that jazz takes toward courtship:

“There is so much in jazz music to be studied and to be learned, and so little education. I could go on and on and on, just about what Duke Ellington did. And, also the romantic connotations of the music. The music had the effect of liberating a lot of the people from this Victorian image of sexuality. But, for some reason people still think they need to be liberated from that. This is something jazz music was doing around the turn of the century. And, now it’s degenerated in the modern era to the type of vulgarity that is represented by rock and roll, which parades under the guise of giving you sexual freedom, when it’s really, truly, sexual repression.

“Sexual freedom is found in the sensuality and the romance and the lyricism of the great songwriters like George Gershwin and Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, and of the great instrumentalists like Louis Armstrong and Lester Young. These people had a truly romantic conception that was based on elevation of the relationship between a man and a woman, rather than the denigration of it into just some abusive adolescent sexual discoveries.”

To read the entire transcript go to Achievement.org.
To sample Wynton Marsalis’s He and She album, click here.
To read my review of He and She for Where Y’at magazine in New Orleans, click here.
To read my interview with Wynton’s father, Ellis Marsalis, Jr., including his thoughts on raising children, click here

Quincy Jones on Music – Just Start Playing

Most people who have achieved anything will tell you that greatness is just about getting started and plugging away. This interview segment from the Academy of Achievement with Quincy Jones is another testiment to that concept:

How did you learn to play in the first place?

Quincy Jones: “I just started playing. Just do it. Just blow in it and sound bad for about a year and then make it sound a little bit better, and you get a little band together, and then you get a few jobs. You take four guys that sound half bad, but if they’re 25 percent each, they can give 100 percent, you know? There were four guys, including Charlie Taylor and Buddy Catlett; we got together and we practiced every day.

I was writing this thing called “A Suite from the Four Winds,” and on the trumpet parts I put a little asterisk and said, “Play all B naturals a half step lower because it sounds funny if you play it B natural straight.” I didn’t know there was a key signature of a flat on the third line that would take care of all that. But, you know, you just learn step by step. Somebody finally said, “Idiot! You know there are key signatures. There’s one flat, two flats, three flats.” And, “Oh yeah, key signatures. That’s a great concept.” It’s 500 years old, right?”