Tag Archives: determination

Bon Jovi Celebrates 50th Birthday Today

2 Mar
Jon Bon Jovi in the 1980s and now

Jon Bon Jovi, then and now

A 50th birthday seems like a good time to reflect on your life so far, and Jon Bon Jovi certainly has nothing to regret in terms of accomplishments. He’s led one of the most successful rock bands for over 30 years, which has sold well over 100 million albums; he’s amassed a net worth of roughly $120 million; he’s received acclaim and awards for his solo albums; he’s enjoyed cross-over success on a number of songs; and he’s had a bit of fun dabbling in television and film acting.

And the fruits of his labor have extended to charitable ventures as well. He started the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006 in an effort to help America’s homeless, hungry, and poor. Then in late 2011, with his wife and personal chef, he opened Soul Kitchen, a “community restaurant” in New Jersey to offer those with little or no money the chance to enjoy better food through a “pay what you can” model. (The food is mainly donated by Whole Foods, with much of the vegetables grown on the property.) The concept allows people with low incomes to enjoy a restaurant meal that’s not fast food, while people with more means can pay a suggested price, or more, to help those who can’t. Incidentally, Panera Bread has been successfully operating several restaurants under the same model for a few years.

Bon Jovi exemplifies a number of key traits that mark every successful entrepreneur:

  • Hard work—He is a noted workaholic among his band and peers, diligently tending to his music business and other ventures.
  • Ethics—He doesn’t use his industrious nature as an excuse to run over people, treating those around him with due respect, especially his band mates who as a result have mostly been with him since the beginning.
  • Brand management—His flagship venture, his band, has been handled magnificently over the years, perhaps only matched (at that level) by U2, AC/DC, and Aerosmith. Though his and the band’s look and music has evolved over the years to keep up with the times, their core values have not. Bon Jovi’s middle-class, blue-collar, Jersey roots still run through all that he does both on stage and off stage; he never relocated to Los Angeles and adopted a Sunset Boulevard lifestyle.
  • Leadership—Aside from his solid ethical grounding, his band members attribute their loyalty to his leadership. He has a strong vision for Bon Jovi (the band) but has also allowed the others their creative room to breathe in side projects. He’s demanding, and yet doesn’t expect his band mates to share his workaholic nature.

Though he’s now eligible for membership in AARP, it’s highly unlikely Bon Jovi will be retiring anytime soon. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if he has another 50 years of meaningful contribution to music, business, and society in him.

Overcoming Setbacks and Failure

14 Feb
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl rose from the ashes of Nirvana, achieving his own success

If you’re like most people, setbacks and failure can rock your world and sometimes permanently. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you are more resilient but still susceptible to quitting. But if you’re like successful entrepreneurs, you simply don’t give up. Notice I didn’t write “most” successful entrepreneurs—because successful ones are partially differentiated by the fact that they just don’t throw in the towel. Now, they may quit a project, quit developing a product or service, quit pursuing an idea, and quit many things, but they never give up their quest for entrepreneurial success in some way. In fact, as Seth Godin points out in The Dip, successful entrepreneurs (and successful people in general) quit often; the key, however, is they know when exactly to quit and shift their resources elsewhere. It’s a fine line, balancing dogged determination with flexibility.

Rock stars arguably encounter more severe setbacks than most entrepreneurs. I say this because they have, as an industry, a disproportionate number of unexpected deaths—the ultimate setback—to contend with. When was the last time you heard of an entrepreneur dying of an overdose, throwing the entire company into potential chaos? Even Steve Jobs’ death, as striking as it was, was somewhat anticipated, at least within his inner circle. And Jobs left Apple with a plan for continuity after his passing. I’m guessing Jim Morrison didn’t do that.

This all comes to my mind in the wake of Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters winning their Grammy this week. There are many debates about the Grammys—that they are highly political, that they aren’t a fair measure of artistry and significant contribution to music. But it still remains true that you don’t win a Grammy if you aren’t successful in some way. And so it is with Grohl and Foo.

It’s almost hard to remember that Foo Fighters rose from the ashes of Nirvana, and if you’re under 25 this isn’t even part of your memory. But imagine what it must’ve been like for Dave Grohl on that fateful day in April of 1994. Of course, the overwhelming tragedy was the loss of his bandmate and friend Kurt Cobain. But swirling in that personal loss was also the loss of Nirvana. Few bands have lost such a major member at the peak of the band’s stardom. And more important, it was truly impossible for Nirvana to carry on; there simply could be no Nirvana without Cobain.

Dave Grohl epitomizes the intrepid spirit of all successful entrepreneurs. He quit (Nirvana) but didn’t quit (his pursuit of greater success). Do you know when to quit but not quit?

Learn from Joan Jett and Be a Runaway

21 Jan
Joan Jett rockin' in the '80s

Jett rockin' Norway in the '80s

I finally got around to watching The Runaways—the 2010 film starring Kristen Stewart, of Twilight fame, as Joan Jett. Because Jett was one of the executive producers, we can reasonably expect the movie to be a realistic portrayal of her start in rock and roll. It’s worth noting, however, that the film leans far more toward the tale of The Runaways lead singer, Cherie Currie (played by Dakota Fanning). This makes sense when you learn the film was based on Currie’s autobiography, but will probably surprise viewers who expect more of Jett’s tale.

But the story still does give us a good idea of Joan Jett’s drive, ambition, and take-no-prisoners desire to be a rocker. (Consider this in light of her only being 16 years old when she started The Runaways.) And it was these traits that played a part in Jett’s becoming the first female rocker to start her own record label (at age 21), with the help of manager Kenny Laguna. This was their response to 23 record labels rejecting her solo album (after The Runaways had split).

Fast forward over 30 years to today. Unlike Joan Jett, we have so many more opportunities to produce and publish our own work, and at far less cost. Even promotion is easier with the Internet and social media. Have you been rejected by “23 labels”? Perhaps your “album” is a business idea turned down by investors. Perhaps it’s a book turned down by publishers. Perhaps it’s a product turned down by businesses in that space. Or perhaps it’s an actual music album. Whatever the case, maybe the signs are pointing toward being a runaway—and taking matters into your own hands.

Of all the lessons we can learn from rock stars, perhaps the biggest is to embody or emulate their incredible belief and investment in themselves. Otherwise, the means to success are really all there—we don’t have to press our own vinyl records, print the sleeves and covers, and sell them from the trunks of our cars, as Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna had to. But the one thing Google+, PayPal, CreateSpace, Twitter, Etsy, Kickstarter, WordPress, or any other tool on the Internet can’t give us is belief in ourselves and our ideas. This is what ultimately separates the rock star entrepreneur from the one who doesn’t ever quite make it.

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