Tag Archives: Everything We Needed to Know About Business We Learned Playing Music

Craig’s Thought for the Day

“The greatest innovations often come when you leave the harbor of predictable outcomes and sail into the sea of uncertainty.”

Craig M. Cortello


Musicians are risk takers. They lay themselves on the line and subject themselves to the scrutiny of others every time they perform. Improvisation is also a risk. Yet musicians understand that risk is the only path to growth.

“Risk acceptance” – one of the 9 common lessons of music education that translate into success.

Arts for Healing Celebrates 10 Years!

One of the 32 people profiled in my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music was Karen Nisenson, founder of Arts for Healing, a creative arts therapy center that treats people with developmental disabilities ranging from down syndrome, autism, and Alzheimer’s through the application of music and arts therapy.

The non-profit recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. Karen raised 5 children as a single mother and somehow still managed to start this wonderful organization in New Canaan, CT. Congratulations to Karen and her staff for their success!

Music & the Creativity Lens

Family Practice Attorney Sands McKinley

Music and the arts are powerful means of cultivating your creative abilities. But it’s important to understand that those abilities can transcend the arts, even in endeavors considered “left-brain” dominant or activities using the “logic” part of the brain. It is said that Albert Einstein played violin when contemplating complex physics concepts, and often had (physics) breakthroughs during those (music) sessions.

In this excerpt from my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, family practice attorney Sands McKinley discussed how his musical background and songwriting helped him approach the practice of law and everything else in his life through a “creative” lens.

“It’s part of the filter of the lens that you see the whole world through,” he hypothesized. “So when you’re seeing everything with an eye toward creativity, an eye toward innovation, and an eye toward creating something out of nothing, that’s a far more relevant and practical reason to want to have music and art instruction in schools than trying to make people better in math.”

Sands also pointed to the aspect of the discipline required for music education and the correlation with business. As we’ve discussed previously, those who have the discipline to work at their craft are generally more creative than their counterparts who idly wait for inspiration to strike like lightning.

“The discipline and focus that you need to master an instrument – I definitely brought that to the practice of law as well as to the creation of the firm,” he said.

Golden Periods: Music as an Agent for Social Change

(The following article features an excerpt from Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, printed with permission from the author. The book is a compilation of 32 profiles of CEOs and business professionals who played music as a child or adolescent and view that experience as a defining one in preparing them for success in their business endeavors).

Pop Music and music in general are often a conduit for social change. For many adolescents, music expands their awareness and interest in social issues in a very tangible way. It expresses the concerns and angst of their generation.

Michael Guillot is a partner at Gadd-Guillot, a consulting firm assisting non-profit organizations and board members. He is also the former Vice-President of Patron Services at the North Carolina Symphony and a member of an outstanding vocal ensemble during his high school years, the latter an experience that shaped his understanding of the pursuit of excellence.

In this excerpt, Michael discusses the unique role that music played as a conduit for social change during his adolescent years:

“Art reflects life,” said Michael. “It was expressing that era of heightened change, of personal discontent, of grappling with core issues, of looking around you and not making a connection between what you saw and what you felt. Some of that had to do with justice issues, of race. Some of it had to do with equity issues – how come so and so has this and other people don’t? We claim to be the land of opportunity. Part of what we were striving for to identify in those days was how equitable was that opportunity.

“And of course, we were pressed on by a war,” he added. “That war for me and many other Americans was not just an abstract exercise. We knew people who had lost their lives in that war and their families who had been affected. And of course I was at the age where I was eligible for the draft, so it was not an academic exercise.

“So to find any art form, but particularly one as accessible and as present as popular music to begin to tussle with those issues [was important]. At the same time you had the Beatles; Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Pete Seeger. You had the emergence of folk music becoming protest music, and popular music sort of echoing those themes. So Rock and Roll goes from just a mere expression of youthfulness to an expression of serious political and sociological issues,” he observed. “It was a profound time. Many researchers call these periods golden periods, where a convergence of things happens. You look at Athens, you look at Rome, you look at the Renaissance, periods where art and civic and commerce and all these things come together. The 60s and all that it meant represented that time in the world. The first time the world had to stop and look at itself since WWII, and not necessarily liking what it found. You had a lot of art trying to tussle with that.”

For additional information regarding this article and the book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, including speaking engagement requests, contact ccortello@LDV-Enterprises.com or visit www.BusinessMusician.com.

To listen to excerpts from the audio interviews with these CEOs and business leaders discussing the correlation between music education and success, click here.

More from Sir Ken Robinson: The Education Revolution

In my book, Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, I articulated that the greatest benefit of arts education is that the participants develop tools of introspection. There is nothing more important in education than to give children the ability to look inside of themselves and to determine their special gifts and unique calling in life (more on this thought in tomorrow’s blog post).

In this video that is a follow-up to a previous lecture posted here, the brilliant Sir Ken Robinson discusses the personalization of education and the need for an education revolution. Everyone who cares about education should view this video!

Music Education Budget Consideration: Keeping Students Engaged, Motivated, & Present

In a previous post, we featured a video interview of Roger H. Brown, President of Berklee School of Music in which he articulated why music education belongs in public schools. He stressed that the most important element of effective learning is a motivated student:

“If you care about people doing well academically, being prepared for careers, and having a successful life, the number one thing that you need to do is find something that gives them energy, that lights them up, that makes them feel animated. A sullen student sitting in a classroom being drilled on Algebra isn’t going to happen.”

Brown stresses that music is often the conduit that opens the student up to the concept of learning.

In my research for the book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, Bob Massie, CEO of Marketing Informatics echoed those sentiments when reflecting on his own academic experience:

“Music just completely filled my life,” he stated. “That was life in the small town. I did school just because that’s what you were expected to do, but I did it only as an obligation. Every waking moment I wanted to be involved in music someplace.”

It would seem that the “student motivation/effectiveness of learning” argument alone, as expressed by Brown, would justify funding of music education programs. Massie’s sentiments take it a step further – consider that in many cases, we might lose students altogether if we don’t provide the programs that energize them about participating in school at all.

It is worth noting that Massie’s company has been recognized in Inc. magazine as one of the 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies on several occasions and has been recognized for outstanding achievement by the Harvard School of Business, The Kelley School of Business, and the Indianapolis Business Journal.


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

Why Music Education Belongs in Public Schools

This brief video interview with Roger H. Brown, President of Berklee College of Music, articulates so many of the key reasons that music education in our schools is important. Interesting ideas that we also articulated in Everything We Needed to Know About Music, We Learned Playing Music include:
– The importance of finding ways to motivate students if we want to effectively educate them
– The idea that many students that don’t respond well to traditional education assessments often have exceptional talents
– Roger uses the term that it is “criminal” that we can’t make music educators available to students, a thought echoed by S. Neil Vineberg in the book.

Genevieve Thiers, CEO of Sittercity.com, Opera Singer

Interesting profile of Genevieve Thiers by Chicago Business. Genevieve is the Founder/CEO of Sittercity.com and an opera singer, and one of the 32 CEOs and business leaders profiled in my book, Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music.

Music Education & Success: Dean Deyo, President, Memphis Music Foundation

Continuing with our series of audio excerpts from the interviews conducted in the research for my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music: Dean Deyo, President of the Memphis Music Foundation & Retired Division CEO/President of Time Warner Corporation discusses the role that music had on developing his communication, poise, confidence, and public speaking abilities needed to succeed in business.