Mike Landman

Mike Landman

Observations On Business. Maybe a Little Preening. And A Few Lessons Learned.

Doing Things Right

So I learned something last night that I suppose I already knew. But it still made an impression.

There are 2 ways to do something. Kick-ass or every other way. And the thing is, kicking ass makes you feel like you matter. Kicking ass equals success. Kick-ass counts.

So we know this. It seems trivial. And a lot of times, not kicking ass seems like the smarter way to go. But it always catches you when it counts. Ask GM. So here’s my story:

There were a lot of successful bands in the 80s. Among them were Motley Crue and Prince. I happened to see both of them last night (It’s helpful to know that I have what Seth Godin describes as an Authentic Fringe Bias).

Motley Crue played a huge arena. They had fireworks. A throng of cheering fans. Probably a really big bus. But the whole show was really kind of sad. A lot like watching your parents trying to be hip.

They started at 8:00 (I’m kind of a concert snob, and starting at 8:00 is, well… it sucks). They played all of their “hits.” Everything was perfectly scripted, and it was an exact replica of their shows in 1989. But the thing about art is this: Replicas suck. I don’t really understand why, but they just do. And that concert was a replica. No soul. A lot like GM or Delta or Compaq. Looks successful on the outside, right? But how do you sleep at night knowing you just went through the motions?

Prince, on the other hand, was the opposite. For starters, the show was something of a secret. We only stumbled upon it because we were a block away. It was in a very small venue. The man didn’t go on until 12:30 and played until 3:00. He created. Right there on the spot he was making up music. He exuded vibrant creativity and it was pouring out into the audience. He was the opposite of a replica. And you know what? You can tell that he does it for all the right reasons. I mean if Prince went on a “hits” tour, he could sell out football stadiums. But he doesn’t. He goes on creating for the sake of it, and I’ll bet he sleeps like a baby.

Here’s the thing: If you spend 1/3 of your time at work, shouldn’t it matter? Shouldn’t you positively affect everyone you touch? Wouldn’t you rather be Apple or Chipotle or BMW? The thing that businesses and business people forget is that a company can have a soul. That a company should have a soul. That it’s better to count than to simply produce.

So here was the lesson that was reaffirmed to me: No one lies on their

deathbed wishing they had played it safe. Or wishing that they had more

money. Everyone who is lucky to live long enough to even have regrets

wishes they had mattered. Everyone wishes they had kicked-ass. You can kick-ass. I can kick-ass. It’s just a little harder. But you know what?

It’s worth it.


  1. kenny

    Companies that have “soul” usually seem to be able to change with the times easy, and therefore to me, seem to stay profitable in the long term. The ones that don’t have “soul” seem to resort to other means to stay in the game, like the MPAA/RIAA trying to delay the failure of their ability to stay relvent in the face of changing technology, per p2p networks being the new Recording tapes of the day. Or the US motor vehicle companies with their failure to make engines more efficient than their overseas counterparts. An example would be a 2005 Ford Explorer 5 person vehicle vs a 1970’s Volkswagen 7 seater Van that somehow got better mileage than the current Explorer-as seen on tv last year(things like such stick in my mind).

    Being stagnant leads to destruction of your existence, per your relative environment. Evolving the way you think, move, feel, and do things leads to a longer more fufilling life for some, or shorter life for others depending on the paths they took, but less regrets like you said.

    I would perfer to be the company that tried to evolve, failed, yet insured the future existance of new companies or others that existed with me who also strived for change, leaving good memories; rather than the company that tried to hold out, and became irrevelant in the end and being in excessive debt and leaving a sour taste in other’s mouths.

    Empires that stay Stagnant die in ways of thinking through, say, traditional ideologies of trying to keep things the same-dull-unchanging-existance

  2. Kritz

    I tend to agree w/ Gates. This article takes his comments out of context and tries to spin it to make him a money monger. Down with Mac and 3rd world countries.


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