Joaquín Rodríguez Kierce

A blog about productivity, meaning and making things happen.

Archive for the month “July, 2011”

What business people can learn from rock bands

Last night I couldn’t sleep (food poisoning, bah) so at 4 am I watched Foo Fighters’ documentary “Back and Forth“.

At 7 in the morning I went to bed feeling inspired, tired, somewhat angry, happy….and better from the food poisoning. Most of all I went to bed thinking that there are a few lessons there, especially for those of us in the “business / corporate” environment with all it’s “should be’s”, “better not’s”, “if I were you’s”.

1. WHERE’S YOUR PASSION????????  SHOW IT!!!!!!!!

I’ll come back to this one later. It’s the part that got me inspired and angry at the same time.

2. It’s your life. Live it.

Had Dave Grohl’s listened to and obeyed all those pundits who damned him for starting a new band 9 months after Nirvana the Foo Fighters wouldn’t exist and we wouldn’t get to enjoy their music.

Just imagine the drummer of THE band of the decade in their scene (which they defined) changing roles and being a front man for a new band. Come on! Get a job! Exactly. Well, he didn’t. He just went to a recording studio and created a demo tape with 8 – 10 songs that would become their first record. Great record, by the way.

Our time in this Earth is limited. Might as well make it count. For you. There are no life templates. You need to create your own.

Does the work you do inspire you?

Is it scary to answer this question?



2. Work in your own voice.

Soooo….you start this new band and…’s it supposed to sound?????

a) Like other people want it so sound (Nirvana-ish)

b) Like whatever comes out of Dave’s head

Turns out Dave went for b). Yes, he hired Nirvana’s former guitarrist, but they haven’t been making A F D songs eversince.

Are you limited by your “roles and responsibilities” description / by your title? Are you being a good dog and singing in the key you’re told but it doesn’t resonate with you?

Is it scary to answer this question too?


3. Money comes later

When Pat Smear joined the Foo Fighters he was broke. I bet you he has a cool car and money in the bank now after they’ve sold out Wembley twice, but at the moment money was just an accessory (which he didn’t have). I bet he wasn’t happy about it, but he was definitely not freaking out. He just went and played music, his passion. Money came in later.

Easier said than done. I know.

Money comes when “your right people (anyone you like and appreciate who likes and appreciates you)”, as Havi Brooks likes to put it, appear. And they WILL appear.

What’s your relationship to money? Do you feel less than your peer down the hall because he’s “made it” and he’s driving the Mercedes?

Do you feel stuck in that position because you need the six figures a year even though you’re not feeling any realization from the work?


4. Create something!

Like Hugh MacLeod says “we are all born creative. We are all given a box of crayons in kindegarden”.

The Foo Fighters are in their seventh album. Step by step. Little by little (touring their butts off, too).

What are you planning to create beyond that Excel report? (nothing wrong with Excel, I love it)

What legacy would you like to leave? Have you ever asked yourself this? If not, how uncomfortable do you feel now? Why?

“Yes, but how!!!?” you might ask.

Well, do like the Foo Fighters did, or as Pam Slim likes to say: Blow up traditional careers in favor of bodies of work



5. Trust other people

So they finish this GREAT album “Wasting Light” and here comes Alan Moulder to mix it. He’s a legend but the songs already sound a certain way in their heads. They have to leave this “baby” to this guy and let him do his thing so every instrument sounds at a certain level in each part etc. without freaking out because “oh my god! he’s going to screw this and our work will go to waste, oh my god!”

Are you leading a group of people? How scary is it to delegate and see what they can come up to? How sure are you that the result will not be better than what you are envisioning?

Is micromanaging your religion?


6. You also have to trust the process / Enjoy the ride.

When Dave Grohl created that first cassette in 5 days he had no freaking idea where this would take him. It went much farther than he’d ever wished for. Hey, HE.SOLD.OUT.WEMBLEY!!!!!! TWICE!!!!!!!!

How’s your thinking small preventing you from going all the way to where that voice inside you tells you you’re capable of going?


7. People come and go / There’s life after your current gig

Drummers and guitarists have come and gone. At some point someone realized things just weren’t ((clic!))ing.

So someone left the band. Good times, bad times, resentment. Sure. But the band went on and people too.

Are you attached to your Company? “I can’t leave because this company is such a part of me”; “I’ve dedicated 20 years of my life to this”; “they won’t hire me anywhere else!”; “I don’t know how to do anything else”.

Is this you? Why?

What could be a very small first step to get over it?


8. Work on something bigger than yourself

Sorry, the market for egos is saturated (have you watched E! online lately?).

Create and put something out there that is bigger than you.

Foo Fighters is bigger than Dave or Taylor or Nate. They all contribute to it and create great music. Each one has a role and understands they couldn’t do it without the others. Heck, they couldn’t even do it with others.

What is it that you contribute to? Company’s mission, vision, blah, blah…

What is it that YOUR work do that you go to bed at night with that sense of purpose and alignment with your calling?

Ok, the passion thing. I couldn’t get this out of my head when I went to bed. I was inspired and angry at the same time at us, “the business people” for not showing enough passion on a daily basis. It’s just not there. Agendas, egos, politics, regulations, whatever, get in the way of us really putting our hearts into what we do.

No, our Marketing campaigns can’t disguise it. Neither can a well-written and hollow meaning mission statement.

It’s what we do everyday and how we do it.

If we are to achieve whatever it is we are set to do on this Earth and have a fulfilling life (which I think is in the intersection of meaning and productivity) we in the “business world” ought to take a look at rock bands like these and be inspired by the way they approach their craft.


There were these and many other things in that documentary.

Thank you Foo Fighters.


Questions and Energy


– We agree that we are enerty

– We know that low energy gets us nowhere


– Why are we content with low energy states?

– Why do we keep telling ourselves things that deplete our energy? (everyday examples: “I’m not good enough for that”; “they won’t like what I have to say”; “I haven’t figured it all yet so I better postpone it”; “That project will never succeed”)

Is low energy addictive?

Or else, can we learn to ask ourselves the right questions that lead to higher energy states?

I’m with this last one.

Go ordinary

Just for today, don’t try to be extraordinary. Rather, be comfortable with the ordinary.


The challenge is being able to contemplate the extraordinary in that one small step you’re taking today.

Go ordinary. That’s extraordinary.

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