Recently I saw Eric Marienthal perform in an informal jazz session with other musicians, and I began to think about the similarities between a jazz musician and an entrepreneur.
Jazz is visionary and demands cutting edge performances; a successful session requires leadership, collaboration, and nimble thinking. Musicians must often shift course on a moment’s notice.
And so it is for the entrepreneur; you’re the the CEO of your vision, the leader of your company. Market shift? You have to respond – and fast.
In these shifting economic times, what gives a team its rhythm? Success starts at the top. A good leader knows how to set the tone, on the bandstand or in the boardroom.
So, borrowing from our jazz masters, here are five keys to making making beautiful music in business:
- Creativity – The successful set begins with every team player bringing the best of their creativity to the effort. A good leader allows creativity to flow, encourages ideas, and rewards creative thinking. (Need help on getting the creative flow going? Find ideas at What Inspires Creativity? )
- Collaboration – Why can’t we all just get along? That’s right, it starts with team work. Creative synergy is the goal, to produce through collaboration an experience or product that’s finer that what could have produced alone. Whether you’re a solo performer or lead a team, few musicians or business people really go it alone. For example, successful solo authors build a team that includes an editor, agent, financial counselor, and attorney, as well as marketing and publicity pros. And don’t forget the consuming public – the reviewers and readers. (If you’re an author, here are five tips for authors.)
- Improvisation – Jazz musicians are known for improvisation; it’s a hallmark of their craft. The successful CEO or founder must often improvise. Resourceful thinking is key. The entrepreneur doesn’t hear “no,” they hear “how?” How can we raise the money, find right people, create the right product, achieve success? Those questions are music to the ears.
- Interaction – Entrepreneurs often dance to a different tune. Having trouble with your fellow players? Instead of “my way or the highway” thinking, find a common ground for interaction. The musician who’s off key destroys the synergy. During a jazz set, talented backup musicians often get a chance to strut their stuff. Try this in the real world – you may discover a gem of an idea when you yield the spotlight and listen to the riffs.
- Transformation – When musicians are in the groove together, transformation occurs, the music takes flight, and the players and audience alike are emotionally transformed in the presence of true artistry. This requires mastery, a high point where each person is contributing their excellence. If you hit a sour note, keep going, but take time to learn. How can we improve? Is there a new instrument, or skill, that needs to be learned? True mastery takes commitment. (Read more on how to master new skills.)
All that Jazz
Making beautiful music is a process. Whereas an orchestra requires more regimented corporate thinking, jazz demands resourceful creative thinking and teamwork. That’s when transformation occurs.
And that’s the beauty of achievement.
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Love to hear your comments. How have you improvised on a project? Any tips for improving collaboration?