One thing I enjoy doing is studying excellence. There's something about unique, extraordinary human achievement that I find fascinating.
I love studying it, dissecting it, and extracting lessons from it. It's what attracted me to write about Napoleon. It's what led me to explore lessons from Einstein. And it's what leads me to dive into lessons from The Beatles.
Like them or not, nobody can argue that The Beatles didn't achieve amazing feats. I doubt there will ever be another musical group that could rival them for sheer impact on the music scene and the world.
They were the first pop artists to record in stereo. They were the first band to experiment in the studio. They were the first band to list lyrics on their album. The list goes on and on.
But what made them so successful? And are the lessons applicable to building successful and innovative individuals and teams in business? Here are 21 lessons that answer definitively "yes."
1) Focus on Strengths
- They focused on their strengths, doing what they do best (songwriting and performing).
2) Engage a partner
- They got help (from Brian Epstein, their manager, and George Martin, their producer). They couldn't have achieved such heights on their own.
- They dared to be different, whether it was their suits, their hair, the instruments they experimented with, their neverending search for new chords, and so on.
4) Have key values
- They stuck to principle themes, such as love, peace, and the search for truth.
5) Adopt a cause
- In the band and in their solo careers, they always had a cause that they were passionate about, whether peace, vegetarianism, eastern philosophy, or some other passion.
6) Worship change
- They weren't afraid to change, even in the midst of success. At the top of the moptop craze, they changed their style, then they changed again with Sergeant Pepper, which was a virtual celebration of change.
7) Broaden your horizons
- They continuously sought self-growth, learning new philosophies, new chords and instruments, etc.
8) Be passionate about everything you do.
They treated each deliverable (i.e. song) as THE
hit, which is why their "B-sides" did better than most people's A-sides.
9) Embrace conflict
- They readily embraced creative conflict and friendly competition. It was precisely the conflict and competition between Lennon and McCartney that made each of them strive for new heights.
10) Keep moving - Fast!
- They recorded constantly, always looking for some new and unique angle. They recorded first and asked questions later.
11) RMF (Risk Magnificent Failures)
- They experimented with new chords, new concepts, and had some celebrated failures (Revolution #9-although some liked it; the Magical Mystery Tour Movie, in which they filmed everyone on a bus in the hopes that something neat would happen--nothing did). In a sense, each album was also an experiment in some way.
12) Aim for the Skies
- They thought big ("To the toppermost!" they used to say) and they believed it! Similar to Napoleon Hill's principles in Think and Grow Rich
, they aimed high and got there.
13) Talent matters
- When all is said and done, they had the right talent. All the other elements wouldn't have helped if they didn't have a natural talent for music. Luck helps, but if you have the right talent in the right job, the luckier you get.
14) Use your whole brain
- They used the left and right sides of their brain---using the right side when freeflowing creativity and innovation were needed, and the left side when the proper structure was important.
15) Have Fun!!!
- Above all, they had plenty of fun, and even stressed the importance in the song "She's Leaving Home" (about a girl who left home to explore "something inside that was always denied for so many years---She's having fun, bye bye.")
16) Never Conform
- They didn't conform to standard education, which led to their unorthodox style. In fact, I've noticed most great pop musicians hold their instruments "the wrong way." Tom Peters pointed the same thing out about great Tennis players and their rackets.
17) Field the right team
- They were built for synergy -- each were different but shared the same values. The whole was truly greater than the sum of its parts.
18) Get noticed!
- They wouldn't have gotten anywhere if they didn't get noticed in the first place. How did they get noticed? By playing in public, where they could
get noticed. This should stress the importance of networking. Be seen.
19) Prototype and Test!
- They prototyped and tested zillions of versions of their songs. For each hit, there were about 20 alternate takes in different styles and genres. And they practiced each version over and over.
20) Study the greats, Then forget them.
- They didn't begin in a vacuum. They studied their idols, such as Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, and others. If you want to succeed at something, a good place to begin is studying those who have succeeded before. But then make your own way, just like The Beatles did. Carve your own niche.
21) Be Authentic
- They were authentic to who they were - British lads from Liverpool.They could sing colorful lyrics about places like Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, and could talk about TV shows like "Meet the Wife" ("It's time for tea and Meet the Wife" from "Good Morning"). They could sing about these things because it's who they were, not because they were trying to be cute or clever. It's important to be true to who you are, not who you'd rather be.
Labels: business-impact, creativity, einstein, growth, innovation, job, learning, managing-conflict, napoleon, passion, principles, project-teams