Tag Archives: grateful dead

A Sales Lesson From Hunter And Garcia

Every once in a while I like to make business points based on something I pull out of music. As you might be able to tell from a few of my previous posts, often those lessons come from the music of The Grateful Dead. Today is no exception.

Robert Hunter

The song “High Times” was written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia and was in and out of their concert rotation beginning in 1969. It has nothing to do with drugs despite the title but as you’ll see it has quite a lot to do with sales.  This is the first verse:

You told me goodbye
How was I to know
You didn’t mean goodbye
You meant please don’t let me go

While the song is about loss and is a plea for a significant other to come back, there’s also a message for anyone who is selling something.  That message is about listening for the meaning behind the words.  In this case “goodbye” meant “hold me tighter, convince me to stay.”   How often do we hear “no” and not understand, as marketers or salespeople  that “no” means “not yet”?  It’s not an invitation to walk away.  “Too expensive” doesn’t mean cut your price.  I take it to mean “show me more value.”

The ability to listen and to read the meaning behind the actual words is a critical skill we probably don’t teach or practice often enough.  Someone who asks a slew of questions is demonstrating a keen interest to buy.  We need to probe to find out what is keeping them from satisfying that need.  We need to hear meaning and not just what was said.

“How was I to know” is a pretty easy question to answer but getting the meaning isn’t in many cases.  Does that make sense?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a comment

Filed under Helpful Hints

Jerry Is 70

Happy Birthday Jerry Garcia, wherever you are!

Jerry Garcia in 1969

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve spent any time here on the screed you’re probably aware that I’m a Deadhead. I’ve written about them a lot and I often find business thoughts inspired by their music and their business practices. Besides liking their music, I have a real appreciation of their acumen as business people. Marketing Secrets Of The Grateful Dead is a must-read for anyone who is trying to understand the marketing paradigm these days and Jerry, despite his reluctance to say so, was the leader of the band. In fact, in their own words:

I’m gonna sing you a hundred verses in ragtime
I know this song it ain’t never gonna end
I’m gonna march you up and down the local county line
Take you to the leader of the band

Jerry had his struggles with drugs and food, so much so that they killed him at age 53.  While the band continues on in various forms, it’s not the same without him and the remaining band members would be the first to tell you that.

Since this is a business blog, let me interject a business thought.  I’m sure when the Dead started making music in 1965 they didn’t think that we’d be listening to recordings of their live shows almost half a century later.  Nevertheless, recordings of shows from the late 60’s all the way through 1995 when Jerry passed are a staple on their own Sirius XM channel and the band continues to release CD’s of them.  The fact that they took the time to assure high quality recordings would be placed in an archive long before they were a huge act shows that they appreciated what they were creating.  How many other bands have/need an archivist or have their own collection at a university?  You might know they also allowed fans to tape their shows, going so far as to set up a special “tapers” area to encourage it.  In tech terms, they created huge redundancy of their product in case their own system of soundboard recording ever failed.

The business point is this.  While many businesses find themselves pivoting – altering their business plan to suit changing tastes or market conditions – you can’t assume that what you’re doing today will be gone tomorrow.  The Dead changed their sound and styles over the years – Shakedown Street‘s disco beat is very different from Dark Star’s spacey vibe – but their core appreciation for their product and their fans never changed.  The Dead on a bad night are really awful and those recordings are out there, often issued by the band.  They’re far outweighed by the good nights and the great nights trump them all.  That transparency and looking at their work through their fans’ eyes is long-term thinking regardless of today’s product.

Jerry was far from a saint.  He died in drug rehab with a couple of failed marriages and shaky finances.  He’s also the most recorded guitarist in history, with 2,200 Dead shows, 1,000 side project shows, and other studio work totaling some 15,000 hours of playing preserved for our enjoyment.  So Happy Birthday, Jerry, and thanks for the gifts.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Filed under Reality checks, What's Going On

Dark Star

I went to see the Dark Star Orchestra not long ago,  For those of you unfamiliar with DSO, they deliver what can best be described as the Grateful Dead experience, often better than The Dead themselves did.

lighting bold in red and blue square.

Image via Wikipedia

They play Dead shows – we saw one from May, 1972 – as the band did.  They look like them, they sound like them (and in fact are way more consistently good on a night after night basis) and if you shut your eyes, you can be at a Dead show from whatever decade they’ve chosen to present.

“Interesting,” you say, “but what’s the business point?  Good question. Continue reading


Filed under Thinking Aloud