Family Businesses can Learn Plenty from Top New Orleans’ Bands

Apr 30, 2019 | Growth Tips

This week I’m down in New Orleans for my annual trip to The Jazz Fest (which is as much about creole cooking, new music and good friends…as it is about traditional jazz and blues.)

I was struck this year by how many bands had their sons and daughters on stage with them.

  • Some were pre teens—I saw an 8 yr old on the washboard playing between his mother on guitar and father on accordion.
  • Some of the children were around twenty—the band Bonerama (a trombone band) were waling on Led Zeppelin covers, with one young son singing lead, and another son on guitar. (Photo)

These musicians do a far better job of succession than most family businesses.

Here are five important lessons you can apply to your business, whether you have siblings, off spring (or simply want to bring in the next generation of management.)

  1. Let each family member discover her or his unique talent, and give them a specific role. Don’t try to produce copy cats.
  2. Share the spot light. Bring the next generation on stage. Hand over the mic early. Let them get a taste of leading the band, even for one song.
  3. Make them do the hard work: be the roadie, do the practice, and make sure they go to school.
  4. Ensure they rub shoulders and learn from other great band leaders. They can’t truly grow by only learning from you.
  5. Lastly, When they grow up, they may want to start their own band, that’s fine. But If you want them to stay in your company, you need to make ample room.

If you want to create a family dynasty, your business must be based on joy, community and something larger than the paycheck. Though in these changing times, there is a far more important lesson to be learned….

YOUR CHALLENGE. All bands have to evolve and change in order to stay relevant. Same goes with your business. The next generation must have room to lead that change, otherwise you may set them up to fail.

Brass Band, with Next Generation on Recorder

8 yr old Playing with his Parents.