50 Years of Stadium Rock, from the Beatles to Springsteen


The Wall Street Journal has a great story slated to be in tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) paper about the historic Beatles concert at Shea Stadium 50 years ago in August, 1965.

While I enjoy several Beatles songs, I certainly would not consider myself a Beatles fan. But after reading the story, it makes me realize what a tremendous impact they had on the music industry.

Prior to their 55,000 seats sellout at Shea, the biggest concert prior to that had been Elvis playing at venues half that size.

No one knew if the concert would sellout, what the logistics of such a concert should be, what type of security was necessary, and I am sure there were a host of other unknowns.

But it worked and paved the way for all the great stadium concerts that have been performed over the past 50 years.

I also thought the most interesting fun fact about the concert was that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were there; I’m sure such an event got them thinking about what they could do in such a setting.

One other fun fact – the Beatles played 12 songs, performing for a total of just 37 minutes. My guess is that if a headliner did something like that today, Twitter would be overwhelmed with millions of nasty comments about such a show.

Thankfully, we’ve got bands like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, who routinely play for over two and a half hours, with a record-setting four hour concert in Helsinki in 2012, when Bruce was 62 years old!

Stadium rock has come a long way in 50 years, but we have the Beatles to thenk for staring the phenomenon.


The Secret To Happiness in Denmark?


The people from Denmark have consistently been voted among the happiest in the world for several decades. As recently as 2013 they were voted number one by the World Happiness Report.

While there are likely several explanations, The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide to Raising the Happiest Children in the World by Jessica Alexander and Iben Sandahl, gives an eye-opening look at Danish parenting and life philosophy that appears to yield some pretty powerful results.

The Danish Way of parenting lays out the groundwork for how to raise happy kids, who go on to raise their own happy kids and the cycles repeats itself naturally. The authors use an easy to remember acronym, PARENT, to desribe this approach.

Alexander provides some brief insight into this approach in an article in Mother magazine

  • Play –  considered one of the most important things a kid can do (and learn from), even into high school.
  • Authenticity – Danes ‘keep it real.’ Everything doesn’t have to have a happy ending. Reading books that deal with hard topics helps parents cover a wide range of emotions with their children and this has been proven to improve their empathy skills
  • Reframing –  a way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions to find more positive alternatives (from Wikipedia)
  • Empathy – Danes actively teach empathy in school, starting in pre-school. It is as important as teaching Math or English.
  • No ultimatums –  spanking became illegal in 1984 in Denmark. Danes use a diplomatic, avoiding ultimatums approach. As a result, they are a very non-violent culture.
  • Togetherness, or hygge – one of their highest and most important values as a cultural norm. That is: Cozy time where the focus is ‘we’ not ‘me.’

It sounds like a wonderful approach, and I know my wife is excited to read the book, since she is a big proponent of teaching empathy to her pre-school students, as well as the importance of play and non-violence.

I think I may read the book as well, since research on happiness is one of my favorite subjects to read about.

With the United States ranked 15th in the latest World Happiness Report, perhaps we could all benefit from reading the book…

Surprise! Venting Is Bad for Us


A story in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal (yes, that’s right; you can read the next day’s Journal late in the evening on the night before) is titled, ‘Don’t Hit Send: Angry Emails Just Make You Angrier’,written by Elizabeth Bernstein..

The basic point of the article is that venting is bad for us, but most of us do not know that, and thus do not act accordingly.

Berstein notes that venting has an ancient history. Aristotle believed in catharsis—the purging of emotions. More recently, Sigmund Freud believed that if someone holds anger inside without letting it out, it will build to dangerous levels, much the way steam in a pressure cooker will build if it is not vented.

Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus, says most people still believe this to be true, even though there is no scientific research to support it.

Dr. Bushman notes that “just because something makes you feel better doesn’t mean it’s healthy.” He has conducted multiple studies that show that venting anger or frustration isn’t beneficial.

The problems of venting are magnified today with the easy access we have to online and social media communication tools.

Since many of us have ready access to a phone with such tools, we are able to “e-vent” almost immediately, before we’ve had a chance to calm down about someone or something that bothered us. We think “e-venting” is private but a rant posted on the Internet is just a click away from being shared. When it is done in private we are also unable to get immediate feedback from the recipient, thus potentially causing us to keep venting beyond an acceptable level.

So what do do instead to avoid e-venting (or venting in general) ? Here are some recommendations from Dr. Bushman:

  • delay our response by counting to 10 or 100
  • taking deep breaths
  • listen to calming music
  • turn off your computer or phone until your anger has subsided
  • read a nonviolent book
  • work on a crossword puzzle
  • take a walk
  • kiss your sweetheart
  • help someone in need
  • pet a puppy
  • eat something healthy

I must admit that I have always thought that venting was supposed to be good for you, even though I rarely engaged in it myself. As a result I often thought that I was creating problems for myself further down the road by not venting my problems or concerns. But apparently not venting seems to be the right approach after all.

Talk about dumb luck…

When In Rome, Bribe Like The Romans Do??


Economists have shown that corruption reduces growth in developing nations. Stefan Zeume, a faculty member at the Ross School of Business at University of Michigan, wanted to study the supply side of bribes—specifically, the need of bribes for doing business.

The World Bank estimates that $1 trillion is paid in bribes every year. In an attempt to fight the economic consequences of corruption, some developed nations have implemented unilateral regulation punishing the use of bribes; other nations— such as, China and India—have not. Opponents of anti-bribery regulation argue that unilateral regulation puts affected firms at a competitive disadvantage on the grounds of bribes being indispensable for doing business in certain regions or industries.

Zeume used the impact of the passage of the UK Bribery Act 2010 that required firms to implement internal controls aimed at preventing the use of bribes to examine if indeed such anti-bribery mechanisms put UK firms at a disadvantage.

  • Zeume found that UK firms operating in high-corruption regions of the world displayed a drop in firm value after the Act’s passage.
  • He also found that relative to comparable continental European firms, UK firms expanded their network of subsidiaries less into high-corruption regions and their sales in such regions grew six percentage points more slowly.
  • Finally, Zeume found that non-UK industry peers competing directly with UK firms in specific corrupt countries experienced positive benefits from the passage of the Act.

Zeume concludes that the results suggest that bribes are indispensable for doing business in certain regions. The consequences of unilateral anti-bribery regulation, such as the UK Bribery Act 2010, warrant attention from policy makers for the competitiveness of affected firms.

The UK is not alone in having such anti-bribery regulations. The United States has what is known as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA makes it illegal for companies and their supervisors to influence anyone with any personal payments or rewards. The FCPA applies to any person who has a certain degree of connection to the United States and engages in foreign corrupt practices. The Act also applies to any act by U.S. businesses, foreign corporations trading securities in the U.S., American nationals, citizens, and residents acting in furtherance of a foreign corrupt practice whether or not they are physically present in the U.S.

There have been several high profile FCPA cases in the United States. For example, Wal-Mart has been charged with paying bribes in Mexico and Hewlett Packard has been charged with paying bribes in Russia.

Zeume’s research seems to indicate that if the U.S. has tougher anti-bribery regulations than some other countries, such regulations put U.S. firms at a disadvantage when competing in such countries where bribes are relatively commonplace.

So the question is do you lighten up on such regulations until the consequences are similar across the globe, or do you continue to legislate in a way that you believe is the most ethical, but puts your country’s firms at a competitive disadvantage.

I don’t think the answer is a simple one, and I certainly don’t have a suggested solution.

But perhaps there is something to the old saying, si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sicut ibi, (if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there”). 

After all, that saying allegedly dates back to 387 A.D., and the FCPA didn’t come into existence until 1977…

Once More, the Power of Gratitude


Janice Kaplan, the author of the soon to be released The Gratitude Diaries, had a great article in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The article discusses the power of showing appreciation at the workplace.

She shares the results of some interesting surveys and research:

  • In a 2013 survey of 2,000 Americans on gratitude sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, some 80% agreed that receiving gratitude makes them work harder, but only 10% managed to express gratitude to others every day.
  • Researchers at the London School of Economics analyzed more than 50 studies for a 2011 paper that looked at what gets people charged up at work. They concluded that we give our best effort if the work gets us interested and excited, if we feel that it’s providing meaning and purpose, and if others appreciate what we’re doing.
  • Adam Grant, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, notes that ““A sense of appreciation is the single most sustainable motivator at work.”

Kaplan notes that the best way to show gratitude at work is to be specific about what someone has done and to give honest and sincere appreciation. I like that she points out that Dale Carnegie noted this in his still top-selling “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, written in 1936.

Proving once again that the keys to success are usually pretty simple, and have been around for along time.

We just need to be made aware of them, and then follow through.

Thank you Janice for sharing with us the value of expressing gratitude; it’s always helpful to be reminded of such timeless lessons.

The Best Laid Plans…


It was a beautiful day to go for a walk on the local trail with my wife and two of our sons. It was a nice opportunity to enjoy nature and each other’s company.

We were talking about our upcoming vacation, and I even announced my plan to go for an early morning walk each day along the beach.

But a few minutes later I stepped on a tree root, twisting my ankle and falling to the ground. It it didn’t seem so bad at first, and I was able to keep walking for the final 20 minutes of the hike.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I’m at the E.R. where I find out I’ve sprained some ligaments in my foot.

So it looks like those early morning walks will have to wait a few days, but the result might be that I’ll be able to put a serious dent into The Brothers Karamazov while I’m laying around RICEing my foot (rest, ice, compression, elevation).

And it could have been worse; I could have been stuck reading Beowulf

Thundercrack by Springsteen, Then and Now

Bruce Springsteen Archive

Since it’s Thursday, I thought I’d spend a little bit of time searching around for some vintage music videos, and I came across the following video of Bruce Springsteen performing his classic song Thundercrack in 1973. His talent and love for performing was obvious even back then.

While I was watching the above video, I noticed a link to a 2012 live performance of Thundercrack in Philadelphia. (Fun fact, the sign about Iraq at the start of the video is being held up by neighbors of ours!)

It’s fascinating to watch someone perform the same song, 39 years apart. What’s even more amazing is to notice that Bruce still has the incredible talent, passion, and obvious love for what he does now that he had as a 24-year old.

I wonder how many of us could hold up to such scrutiny after 39 years, and be proud of the lifetime of work that we have created.

Yesterday I wrote a post about how we should live as if your kids are watching; and after watching the two Springsteen videos above, I realize I should have also included your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. (Gary Vaynerchuk even briefly alludes to this idea in his classic video.)

So once again, thank you Bruce, for the gift of your music that you have shared with us for so long. I wish you many more “glory days” ahead.

Live As If Your Kids Are Watching


Sallie Krawcheck, Chair of Ellevate Network and Ellevate Asset Management, posted a great article to LinkedIn this week, “Why You Should Work As Though Your Kids Are Watching.”

She relates two stories about her children and realizes that unbeknownst to her, they had been observing her “at work”,

The first story is about her son, a young teenager at the time, and how she discovered at dinner one night that he was not a fan of Wall Street and some of its people, When she asked him if she realized that she worked on Wall Street, he said that he did, but that he had googled her and found out that she was one of the good guys.

The second story is about her daughter, who is currently interning for her mom at Ellevate. When Sallie was telling her daughter of all the perks she had in her former career on Wall Street (big office, a driver, a jet, fresh-baked cookies), and noting how different it is in their cramped space at Ellevate, her daughter replied, “So what? Sure, the money’s not as good, but look at how much happier you are, Mom, than in your last job. You’re creating something and you’re trying to make a difference in the lives of women.”

Sallie then realized that we should work as though our children are watching, because they are. Even if we don’t think they are, they are.

After reading the excellent post, one of my first thoughts was that it could have gone further.

We shouldn’t just work as if our kids are watching, but we should live as if they are watching, because again, they are.

I think most of us want our kids to be proud of us, and we want to set a good example for them. Imagine how different many of our decisions and actions might be if we knew our kids were watching our every step.

I have often made decisions after considering what my kids would think of me as a result of such decisions.

And if you think your off the hook because your kids are all grown up or because you’ve never had kids, then I’ll leave you with this thought from H. Jackson Browne, author of Life’s Little Instruction book,

“Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.”

So whether your kids are watching or no one is watching, do the right thing…

*photo courtesy of theskinnyconfidential.com

Is There Room for One More Voice?

If You Build it They Will Come... Just Kidding...

You’re into marketing and inspiring others to make a difference, so you read Seth Godin’s blog every day, and tell yourself you could do that.

You’re into technology and venture capital, so you read Fred Wilson’s blog every day and tell yourself you could do that.

You’re into social media and and believe in the value of hard work, so you watch Gary Vaynerchuk videos and tell yourself you could do that.

So you give it a shot; you start writing a blog or create a YouTube channel. You pour your heart into it, creating original content that you are proud of and that you want to share with the world.

So what happens if after building it, nobody comes?

Here are some cold, hard facts:

  • According to Blogging.org, there are 31 million bloggers in the United States and 500,000 new posts every day on WordPress.
  • According to YouTube, there are more than one million channels earning revenue from the YouTube Partner Program and 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • Seth Godin has 488,000 followers on Twitter; Fred Wilson has 473,000, and Gary Vaynerchuk has almost 1.2 million.

How do you get people to start looking at your content? People are busy, and if they are already getting what they need/want from Seth, Fred, or Gary, then why do they need you?

Is there room for your voice, and if so, how do you stand out from the crowd?

Do you just tell yourself you’re too late to the game; that Seth, Fred, or Gary have already captured the audience that you want?

Well here’s some additional facts, just looking at the venture capital blogsphere..

Charlie O’Donnell started writing his This Is Going to Be Big blog about venture capital in 2004, a year after Fred Wilson had started his blog. Apparently Charlie thought there was room for one more voice, and he now has over 32,000 Twitter followers.

Brad Feld also started his venture capital blog in 2004, noting in his first post, “I’ve been following many of my VC colleagues blogs and others for some time… I’m still not sure if the world needs my musings, but because you have complete control over whether or not you decide to read this, here goes.” Apparently a lot of people have decided to read, at least measured by his 214,000 Twitter followers.

Chris Dixon started his WordPress VC blog in 2009; he currently has 186,000 Twitter followers.

None of these people thought “Well Fred Wilson already owns the VC space, so I’ll just work on something else.”

They all had something to say, and were willing to share their thoughts with the world through their blogging.

There are certainly advantages to being the first to market with a new product, service, or idea. But that does not mean their isn’t room for more products, services, or ideas.

It does seem however that one of the keys to success in social media, at least using the people noted above as examples, is that they had already achieved success in their profession (marketing, venture capital, wine sales), and then started sharing their “secrets” to success on their blogs.

Perhaps that’s why I only have 740 followers, but it’s an improvement from 250. You’ve got to start somewhere…

It’s What You Do – Not When You Do It


This is the 20th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

Ted Williams, at age 42, slammed a home run in his last official at bat.
Mickey Mantle, age 20, hit 23 home runs his first full year in the major leagues.
Golda Meir was 71 when she became Prime Minister of Israel.
William Pitt II was 24 when he became Prime Minister of Great Britain.
George Bernard Shaw was 94 when one of his plays was first produced.
Mozart was just seven when his first composition was published.
Now, how about this?
Benjamin Franklin was a newspaper columnist at 16, and a framer of The United States Constitution when he was 81.
You’re never too young or too old if you’ve got talent.
Let’s recognize that age has little to do with ability.

There’s certainly many more names that could be added to this list; here are a few from just the past couple of years.

Malala Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17.
Jordan Speith, at 21, became the youngest golfer to win the first two majors of the year, the Masters and U.S. Open.
Yuichiro Miura, a Japanese mountaineer, became the oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest at the age of 80.
And just this past month, Evelyn Jones became the oldest person to ever throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, doing so for her beloved Seattle Mariners.

The beauty of these old versus young comparisons is that you may look at Malala or Jordan and think to yourself, ‘wow, when I was that young I hadn’t accomplished anything’, but then you look at Yuichiro and Evelyn and realize you likely still have a lot of time left to pursue your dreams and passions.

And I would have to slightly disagree with Harry Gray when he states, ‘You’re never too young or too old if you’ve got talent.’  While talent may help, I think the more important attributes to have are commitment and determination.

And as people are proving every year, age has little to do with what one can accomplish.