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Leadership Lessons from the Beatles

Inspiration comes from unlikely places.

For some, nature is a source of ideation. For others, family and friends can give a twist of insight into something unrelated to your actual discussion. For me, I constantly find nuggets of wisdom in music — sometimes in lyrics, sometimes in a pattern, and sometimes just in the way an artist or band goes about their day. Maybe it’s that I’m a jazz musician by training. Maybe it’s just that I’m in the car so often and listen to a lot of music.

Today’s spigot comes from one of the greatest bands of all time: the Beatles. They are one of the most revered bands to ever play music, and they forever changed the landscape of rock ’n’ roll. Not too shabby for four guys from Liverpool. So what can we learn from them about business?

Push the boundaries. John, Paul, George and Ringo completely shattered previous conventions. Their sound was different from anything that preceded them. This is important because they shifted the landscape as they came on the scene, but even more so, always reinvented their own sound. When they burst on the scene, their pop sound was upbeat and had an even tempo — songs like “Twist and Shout” had a generation of teeny-boppers screaming for more. As they continued to create music, they constantly evolved, moving on to a much more complex and innovative sound.

Show up fully. No matter what they were asked, the Beatles never half-assed it. Regardless, the foursome always delivered on the promise 100%. Do you do this with every client? How about every employee’s request for development and growth? Have you given your all in every media appearance? If not, you’re missing an opportunity for success — take a lesson from this group and get your game face on.

Surround yourself with great people. The Beatles were insanely talented, but their success wasn’t earned solo. They had a prolific record producer in George Martin, and they had the biggest media ambassador on earth in Ed Sullivan. While recognizing their own strengths, they also knew their own weaknesses. To solve for those, they leveraged the strength of others — and it paid off, in full. Are you surrounded by A players, or is your network full of B-listers?

Build and nurture a fan base. Screaming girls. Frenzied fans. There wasn’t anything like it in history. The Beatles realized they were always on stage, and they recognized the importance of this. As such, they were always effective in building their brand. Do you view yourself as always auditioning?” If not, you should be. Every time you come in contact with someone, they could be a customer, adviser, mentor or advocate for you. Are you nurturing that interaction? Does your product or service create a frenzy like the Beatles? How could you improve it to get it to that point of WOW?

Keep it simple. Above all else, they used their creativity to make music that was accessible. Their instrumental gifts could have produced far more complicated songs with more technical riffs, but instead, they knew their music was for the masses — and as such, they created their music for that audience. They communicated with crystal clarity. And in turn, people the world over loved their music. In 10 seconds, could you tell me what your company does? Would I understand it right away? If not, start over.

The Fab Four certainly “whispered words of wisdom” far beyond their music. Embrace their leadership approach to boost your own magical mystery tour.

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  • Josh Linkner To Josh Linkner, creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of all human progress. As such, he’s spent his career harnessing the power of creative disruption. His journey has been non-traditional at every step. As the founder and CEO of four tech companies, Josh built his businesses from a blank page into a combined value of ... more

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