Platt’s Perspective: Rock Stars, Passion And Keeping It Real

The Rolling Stones can teach us a lot about business, and I don’t mean branding, marketing or making millions upon millions of dollars.

The Stones can teach us about passion and business smarts. Now celebrating 50 years of performing, even the most diehard fan wonders what keeps them going. They certainly don’t need another tour to build their fan base, make money, or any other reason bands hit the road. They’re old. They’ve GOT to be tired of playing “Satisfaction” over and over again. So why bother?

Norm Brodsky, in a recent “Street Smarts” column in Inc. magazine, raised this question and concluded that passion – the internal drive that says ‘I must do this to feel alive’ – is what keeps the music playing for the Stones. I couldn’t agree more. I see that kind of passion in many firm leaders I’ve had
the pleasure of working with over the years.

Brodsky’s column got me thinking. MPs come from many different cultures, they take different approaches and have different personalities; there may not be one trait that separates them from the rest. However, I believe that successful leaders are engrossed in the “business” not the “work.” In other words, they’re not focused on getting the audit report out the door, they’re thinking about innovating and re-inventing the business so it can grow and succeed well into the future.

I believe there are many similarities between successful firm leaders and the front-man for the Stones, Mick Jagger. He has solid leadership skills, passion and the ability to adapt to changing trends and opportunities. Just as band members “get each other,” they know their strengths and weaknesses, and have a defined role to play in the band’s success – so do successful firms and firm leaders.

Great leaders understand that the entire group needs to be at the top of their game. If clients don’t get their money’s worth, everyone suffers. Partner groups need to be cohesive like a band, but if unsolvable problems arise, new “band members” must be brought in. The Stones take breaks from the business to re-energize, create new products, and create new opportunities – so should firm leaders.The band’s financial success hinges on it being run like a corporation. Foundation drummer Charlie Watts is an employee of Jagger, as is guitarist Ronnie Woods.

According to a fortune article, Jagger said, “It’s all very corporate, but in a fun, loose, New York  ad-agency sort of way.” The financial success of the band is no accident. It is the result of astute planning and strategy, thoughtful fund management and good old-fashioned hard work.

One thing I know for sure, the band understands Jagger’s passion. They see firsthand when they tour, the reason they are doing what they are doing. Like Jagger, I bring passion to my work daily. I have a passion for contributing to the profession. I want to give back something that firms can benefit from. I’m energized by that. When I wake up in the morning, that’s what motivates me, and keeps me grounded.

Firms that continue to evolve and challenge themselves to work toward a higher purpose are the firms that will prosper. These are the firms that connect with people on an emotional level and can therefore distance themselves from every other firm. With passion, hard work, a good team and excellent work, you can be a star in your own profession.