This is ridiculous skier skill on levels

Skier Candide Thovex shreds all surfaces for traveling the world for this Audi commercial.

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Todmobile and Awaken

If you are a Yes fan then this is a version of Awaken that will blow you away. It could really only come out of Iceland with it’s other worldly choir and on the ground edge. The build up at the end if stunningly good and powerful.

Enjoy.

How Being a Musician Helps You in Business

I have been a musician for close to 30 years.  A guitar player.  I was weened on music the likes of Rush and Genesis, then moving jazz which led to amazing guitarists like Mike Stern, and Pat Metheny.  This led to influences from Brazil with artists like Djavan.  Then I found more funk oriented groups such as Jamiroquai and Incognito and the lushness of groups like the insanely talented Swing Out Sister with their heavy Burt Bacharach influences.  For the harder edge I started playing even a few tunes from metal groups like Iron Maiden (very fun to play live).

In all of this playing in a group setting, I’ve come to realize that there are many parallels between playing music in a live setting and doing business.  At first you might think this is out of left field, but consider the following:

Patience and Practice: It takes time to learn a song and how to recreate the piece that was written.  There is a great quote from Thomas “Endurance is patience concentrated”.  Learning music requires patience.  Getting good at it requires patience.  Mastering it requires practice and doing it live.

Rhythm: Setting the rhythm is key to making a song work or not. It’s the same with company culture.  Set the pace, set the rhythm and let that take you forward.  Check this out (especially from 1:40 on):

Nuance: Music is full of nuances and hints to paint a picture aurally of the story behind the music.  Do you push the note or pull it?  Do you hit it hard or soft.  It all depends on the outcome you want.  It’s the same in business – know what outcome you want first then attack it the way that makes sense.  Here a great example from Al Di Meola of mastery of nuance in music.

Silence: Sometime the best parts of the music are the gaps between the notes.  This is particularly true when it comes to soloing.  It also has a lot to do with UI design where less is often more.  Sometimes you need to know when to stay quiet for best effect. Sade’s band is one of the best at employing silence for effect.

Improvisation: Jazz is full of improvisation.  The underlying song is there for you but you have to figure out what to play in real time. It’s rapid fire decision making live in front of an audience.  It’s often full of mistakes and you get to noodle your way out of those mistakes very quickly by restructuring where you are on the fly.  Sometimes it’s the same in business – you might need to improvise.  Things don’t go according to plan and understanding the song helps you know what to do – but when it’s on it’s great, like this:

Decision Making and Thinking on the Fly: Sometimes it all falls apart.  The whole band gets off track, or one guy forgets where he is and messes up the rest of the band.  It’s at this moment that the whole group has to eyeball each other and figure out who among them is going to take the lead and get the group out of the mess.  The rule in music – everyone start together and everyone finish together.  What happens in the middle can be sorted out.  Business is similar.  When the plan doesn’t work, the skill you learn in music helps you quickly assess and quickly resolve.

Multiple Ways of Doing Something:  On a piano or on the fretboard of a guitar the notes repeat themselves over and over again.  There are many ways to play any particular note or chord and you have to decide which one to play at any given time.  Playing for example an A chord on guitar in the 2nd fret sounds very different than that same A chord played on the 5th fret with open notes on the bottom.  You can color a song this way.  The way you might do business in the USA is often very different that the way it gets done in another country.  Remember there are often several ways of accomplishing something.  Writing music helps you put things in context and context in things. Like Al Di Meola playing the Beatles:

Harmony: I love the way major 7ths and minor 7ths can be mixed and blended.  Putting one chord next to another can make all the difference in the world in how the song sounds or evokes emotion.  Think about harmony in your business.  What works well and what do you need to modify to get back in harmony.  Here’s Incognito doing their thing live across that major 7th, minor 7th thing:

Left Brain Right Brain: This has always be a favorite of mine.  Ultimately music is math, but it’s also art.  It’s both.  You can technically explain to someone why a major chord is different than a minor chord, or why a major 9th sounds one way and a suspended 2nd sounds another way – but, it’s almost impossible to explain why a chord (or a series of chords in a certain pattern) evokes a feeling in someone.  It’s knowing how to manipulate this that makes all the difference.  Music has patterns and shapes.  You can see them.  Business has patterns and things shape up or not.  You develop a sense of where to steer on the fretboard just as you develop a business sense from doing it over and over.

Cadence:  Cadence is a blend of rhythm with beat that sets the tone for the driving force of the music.  In business, it’s important to have a feel for what pace to set.  Imagine you’re sitting across the table from some Chinese businessmen and you’re there to get a deal done.  What if instead of Chinese they’re American.  What about Italian?  Does the cadence change?  You bet it does. Setting the right cadence and flow might be the difference to a signed deal or not.

Signature: 6/8 is probably my favorite time signature (Check this out from Pat Metheny)  I am naturally drawn to this tempo for some reason.  What makes the author decide to put a song in one time signature versus another?  Rush is the master group at signature manipulation.  They’re so good at it you often don’t know they’ve gone in and out of multiple time signatures – you just enjoyed the song.  It’s the same in business.  Learn how to be so good at what you do, so agile, that your customers are simply blown away with how effortlessly you can get stuff done for them.  Think about a really elegant website that you like.  Why do you like it?  Mailchimp I think is a great example of how the complex and the elegance can be perfectly blended.  This is one of those times when it’s the minute details that count.  Just for fun, check this out from Rush, especially the middle part, see if you can naturally count it or tap it out:

Disonance – Dissonance is one of the strangest but pleasant concepts.  If you listen to a dissonant chord by itself, it might sound like the worst sound ever, but if you hear that same chords sitting on top of a base chord that compliments it, it becomes brilliant.  Some for notes in solos.  Sometimes you hit a note that seems completely out of place – that is until you hear it in context and magically it becomes elevated.  Listen to the guitar solo in Van Halen’s “Little Dreamer” and you’ll hear how Eddie sticks in just a few dissonance notes in the middle of the solo that take this lead from just a rock lead to something out of Bach.  Dissonance helps you stand out.  Used well it is very effective.  Think about people like Richard Branson who so often come out of left field that most people don’t get it, but the dissonance puts him in the news.

Teamwork: It’s one thing to pick up a guitar and play.  It’s another to put several people together who all have their very specific parts and make it all mesh together seamlessly.  When that happens on stage it’s nothing short of magical.  Hard to convey what a cool feeling that is when the group nails it.  Just trust me.  Music is one of the best places to combine individual craftsmanship with teamwork.  Business is no difference.  Be great at what do you and then bring it to the table as part of the larger team.  Sticking with the 6/8 tune from the Signature section above, here’s that same Metheny tune done with a huge orchestra.  Each individual here is ridiculously good at what they do, but they all come together to make one amazing performance:

In all, the experience of bring a musician, and especially a live musician help you to think about almost everything in life and business.  Everything flows and you learn to see context where it might not be obvious.  Whether you have to figure out how to launch a product, how to go to market, or perhaps how to create something new, the above elements of being a musician should not be discounted.

At the very least it’s a great way to engage both right and left brain and produce a work of art.

Photo credit | Trey Ratcliff | Stuck in Customs

Awesome Shanghai Short Film

This is one of the best depictions you’ll see today showcasing how much energy there is in Shanghai.  I’ve been to Shanghai many times and it is easily one of the coolest, most dynamic cities on the planet.  Rob Whitworth really captured the vibe in a unique and original way.  Check it out.

This is Shanghai from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.

Lyle Mays and Music

For my money Lyle Mays is hands down the best pianist in the world today.  There is no other piano player that sounds like him nor has his ability to mold time in music.  His playing is technical yet spacious, ambient, and colorful.  If someone could paint with music it would be Lyle Mays.   He’s best know as the other core half of the Pat Metheny Group but I somehow stumbled across this performance he put on in 2011 at a California Tedx event.

It might be one of the best examples I’ve seen of him that demonstrates his chops and his ability to play like no other.  Give the 18 min video your attention and you’ll see why.  It really kicks in around the 6 minute mark, then dives into great ambient music around 10:45 only to jump back up at 13:25 to an amazing Brazillian infused groove of what sound to me like an updated version of a tune called “Before You Go” from the Street Dreams album that wraps up in a finish starting about 17:00 that will have you trying to keep up with the syncopated count wondering how they do it.  Amazing talent.

Prescient Ayn Rand

Today is my 500th post.  When I started Anthidote in 2006 I did quick reviews of things I liked.  That evolved into more long-form essay style posts on subject matter that interested me.  That evolved into pulling in travel photos from adventures around the world when I blended my personal blog with this one.  For the 500th post, I thought I’d make the subject matter a little bit heavier again since we’re in such an important year in the history of the USA.

I’ve been a fan of Ayn Rand since 1993 when I read Atlas Shrugged.  That book change my life and clearly it has also has an affect on millions of others as well.   In mid-July President Obama gave his now famous speech wherein he basically openly exposed his belief that the collective is more important than the individual (when if he would simply acknowledge that successful individuals freely trading with one other automatically makes for a strong collective).  It’s as if he and his like-minded crowd keep pushing on a door that is marked “pull”.

What continually amazes me is how Ayn Rand foretold so much of what is happening in the world because she had witnessed (lived it) already it first hand growing up in the old Soviet Russia, which she has described as a truly terrifying place the likes of which modern Americans have no real understanding.  How could someone born say after 1990 have any real concept of what tyranny feels like or looks like?  It’s the stuff of history books as far as they know.

There is a scene in Atlas Shrugged that is so similar to Obama’s ridiculous speech last week that I thought I’d lay the comments side by side.

Obama:

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t…. look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” (Enthusiastic Applause from the audience.)

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t  build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

Now look at this scene from Atlas Shrugged – a scene where a government “official” is stating that the smart industrialist Hank Rearden somehow doesn’t deserve credit for inventing the metal he invented.

From Atlas Shrugged:

“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”

“Who?” 

“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”

She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

Looking at Obama’s comments, he loves to talk about roads and bridges.  Is that what Obama believes is the reason people are successful?  Because the country invested in roads and bridges? A lot of countries have roads and bridges – so what?  What Obama fails to grasp is that it’s is smart, competent people that make the world a better place not only for themselves but for virtually everybody.   It’s not because their country invested in roads – hell North Korea has roads, Venezuela has roads.

The absolutely amazing thing about Atlas Shrugged is that no matter what decade you’re in, it reads like it comes straight from today’s headlines – and today more than ever unfortunately.  The good news?  At the end of the book when the government has completely screwed everything up they finally realize that the only way to set things straight again is to get out of the way and let competent individuals forge the new path (again).  It’s a mentality shift that some have made and some other haven’t.   In December 2011 I wrote a piece here on how we should be grateful for entrepreneurs instead of casting them as somehow the bad guys sticking it to everyone else.

Sticking with the “mentality shift” theme, there are two movies worth checking out before the election that shed light on the realities of the day – the first (2016 Obama’s America) dives into why Obama thinks the way he does and how he sees his mission as President to “fundamentally change the United States of America” by essentially realigning the USA in the world.  The second (Runaway Slave) deals with the black experience in America after almost 50 years of Democratic party allegiance.

2016 Obama’s America

 

Runaway Slave

I know a dentist that keeps copy of Atlas Shrugged on his front desk where the patients check in.  The deal he offers his patients is that they can take the book for free on the condition that they pass it on to someone else after they’ve read it.