A Conversation with Ken Kragen, Legendary Organizer of “We Are the World”

City-columnAmong his many other achievements, Ken Kragen is the legendary organizer behind “We are the World”, with an illustrious career that transcends the music and entertainment industries where he has managed several notable entertainers including Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Olivia Newton-John, The Bee Gees and Burt Reynolds. Ken was a recent guest on my podcast show, All Access Radio, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite parts of our talk. (more…)

Thought Leadership as a Differentiator

City-columnFirst of all, what is a thought leader and why does it matter in the business world?

A thought leader often refers to an individual (or sometimes a firm) that is recognized as an authority in their unique business niche and whose expertise is often highly valued and sought out within that business niche.

The reason this matters is that it’s important from a branding and repute standpoint to be stand out as a credible industry expert with rich knowledge and curated opinions of value on select topics to contribute. This allows us as entrepreneurs to stand out, differentiate ourselves in an otherwise crowded marketplace, and to be sought after as experts and authorities with value to offer clients, the media, and our peers. You don’t typically call yourself a thought leader; it’s an acknowledgement that others grant you. Bottom line: someone who rises above the din and is probably worth listening to. (more…)

Beatles Fans Rejoice — Plenty of Reasons to Celebrate!

beatles-fans-2Many people in my world know that the Beatles are far and away my favorite group of all time; in fact, I’m known as a “Beatle-ologist” given my vast knowledge of far too much trivia having to do with the band. Like so many others, they inspired me to pursue my career in music from a very young age (I can recall being very deliberate about that choice as early as when I was 8 years old as a direct result of the Beatles).

The Beatles have never really gone away (well their music hasn’t anyway), and to that end Beatle fans have a couple of reasons to celebrate of late including the following: (more…)

Serendipity at Airports and on Flights

Boing 747 London - BangkokThose of us who fly often have learned that it pays to stay observant and opportunistic when you’re on flights and in airports. Most people are in their own little world — focused on their laptops, Kindles or iPads, or immersed in their smartphones. I enjoy looking around and experiencing what’s going on around me — you never know who you may bump into. (more…)

Observations from the set of “The Voice”

the-voice-setUnless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years (or just don’t watch network TV), you’ve probably heard about or watched the wildly popular TV show, “The Voice” on NBC; where aspiring singers compete for a recording contract with the help of four successful artists as coaches. Having been an A&R exec at EMI Music in my past, my role was to scout, sign and develop artists for the label — so I’m intimately familiar with the process that these aspiring artists are going through in an attempt to become a star in the music industry For awhile, we had “American Idol” and “The Voice” on air at the same time — but since Idol wound down, “The Voice” has reigned supreme in this category. The current celeb coaches are Blake Shelton, Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine.

Recently I was invited to take a tour of the set and watch a taping of the show as a member of the studio audience. I’ll admit right upfront that I’m a bit jaded as I’m in the industry, and it wasn’t my first taping of a show; whereas nearly everyone else participating was a tourist where this was a first time event and a really big deal for them.

Having been a talent producer as well for decades, honestly I couldn’t stop myself from wearing my ‘behind the scenes’ glasses. (more…)

Get Out of Your Own Way — Allow Things to Flow Easier

letting-go-balloonsHave you ever noticed how we can make things more difficult than they need to be? Either by overthinking something, making it more complicated than it needs to be, getting worked up in a way that doesn’t serve us, or otherwise being fixed on things having to be a certain way in our lives? That’s how we sabotage the good things that want to come our way. We can actually stop our good from getting to us because we don’t allow it in when it shows up on our front doorstep! Conversely, when we take time to ‘pause’ and reflect on a situation (and what we most want to have happen), when we trust our hearts over our heads to make the choice that will serve us best, and trust that the Universe is doing its best to deliver us what we say we want — things can flow to us more readily and with much less struggle and strife. (more…)

Slow Down to Speed Up

450px-slow_down_sign_reed_college_portland_oregon_2013Many of us move, work and live at breakneck speeds, often to our detriment. We create or participate in accidents, we make mistakes, we create stress in ourselves and others, we create tension and illness in our bodies, and we simply don’t do our best work in that state. It’s true that my favorite business magazine ironically is “Fast Company”, but I’m also a fan of the Slow Food movement which started over 30 years ago now.

The truth is we do have enough time and we can get everything done (more…)

The Power of Collaboration

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

One of my mentors, Alan Weiss, is about to come out with a terrific new book called “Lifestorming” co-authored with Marshall Goldsmith who is himself one of the most sought after executive coaches on the planet. This veteran author duo have collectively published nearly 100 books on human behavior. Neither needs the other, but they opted to come together to create something of value to their shared audience. This collaboration between two very successful juggernauts in the business world should produce a pretty powerful result given what each of them has achieved on his own. We’ll find out when the book comes out on May 1st!

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of collaboration — to harness and leverage the gifts of two (or more) talented individuals to create an outcome that’s even more valuable and impactful than if each was crafting something on their own.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are another great example of this; there would have been no Beatles (or arguably they wouldn’t have been nearly as successful) if those two hadn’t come together — pun intended. (more…)

Embracing Serendipity: Seizing Opportunities as they Arise

forest-path-238887_960_720Have you ever stopped to notice how things are always working in our favor? It may be time to start doing so. A chance encounter turns into the creation of a new friend or collaborator, a flight delay turns into creating a client, and a flash of intuition can even save our life by avoiding an accident or some other mishap. Maybe you’ve experienced some of this for yourself, and almost certainly you’ve heard of others who have.

In my own case, a dramatic example is that I avoided getting on Flight 93 on 9-11 (the one that crashed over PA) simply because I had a very strong intuition that led me to abort my trip to NYC to participate in producing a big Michael Jackson event — and I’d been booked on that flight to return home afterwards. (more…)

Honoring the 48-year “Marriage” of Shep Gordon and Alice Cooper

pollstar-live-17-keynote-image-with-captionEarlier this month the annual Pollstar Live event took place in LA; if you’re not familiar with it, this is the largest gathering of concert industry professionals in the world. It’s a chance for colleagues to come together and exchange best practices, get current on the latest goings-on and network with each other. I’ve been co-producing the annual Awards Show that caps it off for over 15 years. The Keynote at Pollstar Live is typically one of the highlights of the whole event and this year was no exception. It was Shep Gordon (aka “SuperMensch”) and his longest client, Alice Cooper, coming together to share stories about their 48 years of working together.  (more…)

Talking with Uber Drivers

driver-and-dashboardYou know how when we used to take cabs and you’d never make eye contact with the driver let alone have a conversation with them. I’m not sure what’s changed in the transition to Uber, but I’ve noticed that in virtually every ride I’ve taken via Uber, I find myself having fascinating conversations with the drivers. Maybe it’s just me, but the ones I’ve had rides with inevitably have surprisingly interesting stories and backgrounds. It’s easy enough to hide behind your smartphone and detach, but I’ve come to enjoy engaging with my driver more often than not.  (more…)

Add Accountability to Adopt New (Improved!) Habits

habitsThis is a time of year when many decide to shift habits with the best of intentions, but unfortunately good intentions alone won’t do the job. Ingrained habits need more than a nudge to bust through in favor of replacing them with those that will support us with where we want to go. One powerful tool that will help you go the distance is accountability. The acronym SMART comes to mind — Specific, Measurable, Action, Relevant, and Time-based; and all that is true. A way to manage all of that is by creating a simple accountability matrix that you review and track daily; it only takes a few minutes. (more…)

A Conversation with Beth Harrington, Producer, Director, Writer

beth-harringtonI met Beth Harrington at the Portland Creative conference last year where we were both honored to be speakers, and we clicked immediately. I knew she would make a great guest for my podcast, and last week I had the pleasure of interviewing her on All Access Radio.

Beth is an independent producer, director, writer, singer, and guitarist. Her love for American history, music and culture has led to a series of award-winning and critically acclaimed films including her most recent film, The Winding Stream, The Carters, The Cashes and the Course of Country Music. (more…)

Resolutions — Time for a Different Approach?

new-year_resolutions_listEach year at this time many of us sit down to make a list of resolutions for the new year. And then that list gets filed somewhere, not to be re-visited, and we go about our lives throughout the year mostly status quo. By February the gym returns to its normal flow of truly committed fitness mavens vs those who are merely well intentioned. The thing is, resolutions require new habits to be adopted; taken on with commitment and consistency. And that takes a little rigor and grit, especially during the first 30 days — after which science shows the new habit has taken hold. So this year, what can you do to ensure that by the end of the year your intentions are in alignment with your results? (more…)

Wrapping up the Year

tieing-ribbon-boxEach year about this time, as we wind down the year and get ready for the next one, many start to think in terms of goals and resolutions for the New Year. What you’d like to have happen next year that didn’t happen this year. And that’s fine, but I’d like to offer a few thoughts to consider. (more…)

A New Lens On “When One Door Closes”

Hand_showing_lens_demonstrationWe’ve all heard the phrase “when one door closes, another opens” — but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Certain doors close on us with respect to jobs, relationships and opportunities — and they’re meant to close and stay closed because they weren’t right for us (even if we didn’t see it at the time). (more…)

Athena of BlissQuest Shares Her Vision for Creatives – No Longer Needing to Sacrifice Their Passions!

athenaLast week’s guest on All Access Radio was Athena, CEO and Founder of BlissQuest Publishing, and author of Pillars of Dawn and Murder of Crows. As you know, I work with creative people who have big visions and Athena’s vision is certainly no exception. At the cornerstone is her company BlissQuest, which she founded after receiving multiple market-based rejections from traditional publishers for her book, Murder of Crows. By self-publishing she gained more control over her work, and more royalties in her pocket, and she hasn’t looked back since. Fair trade is her passion and a large focus of BlissQuest –which is a publishing house in concept and will be the first ever anywhere to offer healthcare benefits and retirement planning to artists and writers — including a 50/50 royalty split. (more…)

Harvest Summit 2016

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the Harvest Summit — an outstanding intimate invite-only event (its first year) — held at a private estate in Sonoma County. The event was the brainchild of Jessica Kilcullen, whose husband John Kilcullen used to run Billboard Magazine (where we first connected), and it was designed to bring together innovative thought leaders in a variety of fields from tech, entertainment, sustainability, food and wine, and a host of forward-thinking authors and visionaries. The goal was to foster inspiring conversations about trends and issues shaping our future — by those who are leading the charge (all of us present). Examples of some of the intimate conversations included:

(more…)

Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit 2016

vanity fair new establishment summitLast month I had the privilege of attending a fantastic relatively intimate invite-only event. The third annual Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit was held in San Francisco. This event brought together some of the most successful and influential philanthropists, thought leaders from technology, politics, business, media and the arts for truly inspiring conversations about trends and issues shaping our future. Examples of some of the intimate conversations include:  (more…)

An Intimate Chat with Greg Kihn

greg kin croppedNBC has described Greg Kihn as Rock’s True Renaissance Man” and I could not agree more. With a career that spans the dawn of punk and Indie rock, to the disco of the 70’s, to the glory days of MTV, you may know him best for his worldwide #1 hits “Jeopardy” and “The Break-up Song”, and for those of you local to the SF Bay Area, you likely tuned in to DJ Greg every morning on KFOX Radio during his 18 years with the station. He’s also a published author of four novels, the most recent being Painted Black, a mystery/thriller about the death of Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.

I interviewed Greg recently on All Access Radio to discuss his career, his life philosophy and what he’s up to these days. I’ve been a colleague, collaborator and supporter of Greg’s for many years so it was great to have him in the hot seat for a change to catch up, and to be able to share with you insights from someone I think is one of the greatest success stories in music — a true renaissance artist. (more…)