Business leaders today are faced with the task of continually exceeding multiple stakeholder demands while endeavoring to create a sustainable future for the organizations they serve. To gain a competitive advantage, many will look outside the boundaries of their current organization to other seemingly dissimilar industries capturing new ideas and strategies for integration into their own organization. With this in mind, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing rock legend Kenny Loggins to hear his perspectives on business of his music. Was there a difference between what has worked in the music industry for the Loggins organization and what we as a cross section of business leaders are faced with in our industries? Let’s take a look.
When it comes to sustainability, Kenny Loggins has proven track record of his ability to succeed. He has performed for audiences around the world over the last 4 decades, had a “Top 5” hit in the in each of those decades and has produced 12 albums, all of which have gone Platinum. If this wasn’t enough, he was also honoured with his industry’s highest achievement earning 2 Grammy Awards for his efforts. Outstanding results by any Performance Management Metrics!
The following is our discussion on his music, his current take on business and life, and what it takes to meet the demands of his stakeholders.
You have been a Grammy award winning writer and performer now for more than 30 years. As a business leader, you are unique in that you and your talent are your product. How do you reinvent yourself to maintain your fan appeal, and what motivates you to continue at the pace of 100 plus performances per year?
The difference between me and a company leader is that my “product” can change from release to release. In a sense, I rethink and reinvent my product each time. Therefore, the focus for me has got to be on where my heart is musically and lyrically. A number of years ago, I became aware that my motivation had to change. As a young man, I was motivated by power and sex. In my 50’s, my motivations changed to be primarily about what makes me feel good. Exercise and creativity switched from being vanity inspired to being about survival and quality of life.
In business there are many measures of success, some tangible and some not so easily measured. How do you measure your success in your business?
Dollars & cents (laughs). I believe that success is measured in a number of different ways. Of course, sales are still a factor, but I also have to include how I feel about my art and the lives that are being touched by it.
What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of and why?
The Leap of Faith period was my most “in the zone” time for me. I felt artistically guided, and it was a very joyful time in my life.
Your recent album release “How About Now”has a country feel. What was your inspiration for this project?
A few summers ago, I did the Loggins & Messina reunion tour. It was during that time that I realized what a huge audience was still interested in the style of music that I used to make with Jimmy Messina. If I could get back in touch with the way I used to write songs, I could tap into that audience again. That led me to Nashville to write with some of the best songwriters in town.
Many associate your music with the soundtracks from Footloose, Top Gun and Caddy Shack, but there is a large population who treasure your children’s album, Songs from Pooh Corner. Tell me about this time in your career?
I got my “bright idea” for a children’s CD after Leap of Faith, while my second wife, Julia, was pregnant with my fourth child. When I realized I was about to be immersed in Raffi CD’s once again, I panicked and decided that I better make my own. When I presented the idea to Columbia Records, they dropped me from the label! I still knew that it was a good idea, so I continued to pursue it. When that first kid’s CD hit a million units, Sony Wonder asked me for a second album. Now that Return to Pooh Corner is at 2 million units, we’re now in negotiations for a third CD.
What has been a significant learning for you as a business leader when it comes to leading your organization?
About 15 years ago during a conversation someone made a comment referring to the people who “represented” me. The word “represented” struck a chord for me and I quickly realized how important it was for me to have the right team of people in my organization. I wanted people who shared my passion for the business and that would positive representatives for my organization and what it stood for. I have made a conscious effort since then to ensure that I don’t compromise this principle.
As corporate leaders, what is one to take away when looking at the business of Rock and Roll? The metrics may be different, but the concepts for success, and ultimately sustainability, aren’t really too different:
Constantly reinvent yourself, or your product
Pay very close attention to the needs of your audience or stakeholders
Surround yourself with people who represent you and your company values
Tap into your emotional intelligence, and be passionate about what you do
Create milestones and positive memories, and take time to enjoy the journey
Know when to go with your instincts, however unpopular they might be
Pay attention to the dollars and cents; sustainability requires cash.
In closing, I would like to thank Kenny for his insights and candor and wish him well on his latest installment of “reinventing himself”, as he has teamed up with Nashville songwriter Georgia Middleman and award-winning songwriter Gary Burr, to form the band Blue Sky Riders. Look for their January 29, 2013 album release, “Finally Home”.
What is your experience in this area; have you looked outside your industry and had success in finding examples that transform your thinking? Please let me know.