Singers have made plenty of noise over the years about how crummy bosses can be. Think of Roy Orbison’s “Working for the Man” or Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It.”
But that doesn’t mean the boss shouldn’t listen to these artists for a little advice now and again.
The tactic worked well for Rhino Records co-founder Harold Bronson. In building the company, “some of the most important tips didn’t come from business executives,” Bronson wrote recently in Zócalo Public Square. “They came from a less common source: rock stars and their producers.”
Bronson noted that British pop star Peter Asher schooled him on the importance of controlling his own fate in a ruthless industry, leading Bronson to launch his own company. Record producer Mickie Most imparted invaluable advice about building on success. And Marc Bolan of T. Rex taught Bronson to be open to the possibility that good ideas could come from anywhere.
And they did. For instance, when Bronson was putting together a movie soundtrack, a parking attendant recommended he listen to a certain song by Frankie Lymon. “The parking lot attendant was right,” Bronson recalled. “I included the song.”
Peter Drucker was always a big advocate of expanding one’s vision, especially by incorporating as much outside information and counsel into work as possible. “An important factor for the entrepreneur in the new and growing venture [is] the need for independent, objective outside advice,” Drucker wrote. A company founder needs “people with whom he can discuss business decisions and to whom he listens. Such people are rarely to be found within the enterprise.”
This was also a good way to avoid “tunnel vision,” which, in The New Realities, Drucker described as “the degenerative disease of specialists and the price they pay for ‘professionalism’ and for their narrow focus.”
And, as we’ve explored, Drucker also stressed the importance of physically leaving the office and hitting the ground. When you’re an executive in need of outside information, Drucker wrote in Management Challenges for the 21st Century, “there is, in the end, only one way to get it: that is to go, personally, on the outside.”
How much do executives, in your experience, genuinely look outside for information and advice?