Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Songwriters on Songwriting

Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo/Da Capo Press, 1997

Since I was weaned on the Beatles I always looked at songwriting as the most accessible and yet challenging form of artistic expression I could potentially undertake.  I got this book in Ann Arbor around 1997 or '98 when I wanted desperately to be a songwriter but was apparently too scared to actually try it, so I instead obsessed about craft.  Still, it's become might be the most valuable book I own, the closest thing I have to a personal artistic bible.  Every interview, whether it's Bob Dylan, Jimmy Webb, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, is such a window into the creative process, revealing everything and nothing.  It affirms for me there is no one right way and just like any other form of writing, you do whatever it takes to 'deliver the payload' as Cohen put it.  I was fortunate enough to be able to do my own version of 'Songwriters on Songwriting' years later in the form of a creative writing interview series called On the Fly.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Branding in the new normal

This talk by Sasha Strauss is the best description of branding I've come across; clarifying what you believe and what you bring to the discussion of whatever it is that you are in the business of.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Don't take control, take responsibility

Some people aspire to leadership because they just want to be in charge.  They think they know what's best, what we ought to do, who should sit where, and that being in that position of authority is all it will take because then everyone will have to listen to them.  I say good luck with that approach, because formal authority might (might) ensure compliance, but it won't create trust and loyalty.

Taking responsibility is something different than taking control.  What needs to happen that isn't happening?  What action can we take now?  What questions aren't being asked?  Who will take ownership of a problem or issue (even if it is just picking up a piece of litter) and commit to making the needed change happen?  And when things go wrong, who focuses not on the blame but on the lesson and finding the path to keep moving forward? 

The thing you really need in order to lead- trust- can't just be given to you; you cultivate through your actions. Taking opportunities, taking initiative, and above all taking responsibility.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

You don't know, until you know

If you are determined to do something you haven't done before, and it's important, you have to be willing to admit that you don't know...what steps to take, how it will all work, or if it will even work at all.  And that admission will put you at a disadvantage if you care about being perceived as someone who always knows what they're doing.

But if you can live with that temporary discomfort of admitting some naiveté (and it is temporary, because as soon as you admit what you don't know you start learning), you can open yourself up to get the help or the answers you actually need.  

The kind of commitment it takes to make meaningful change happen means inquiring, trying, sometimes failing, learning, and moving forward.


Freedom and accountability: can't have one without the other

This freedom and accountability matrix shows how I think these two concepts come together in the most successful working relationships. Pe...