After spending the weekend in New Orleans listening to music from all over the world, at the The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, I came to 2 conclusions that fit both life and business.
Coming to New Orleans has been a ritual of mine since I came down south many decades ago from Connecticut to study Engineering. What a juxtaposition of studying the sciences and learning to enjoy the truly American homegrown forms of music and food. Now I come back to New Orleans often in order to ground myself, meet old friends, make new friends, and refresh the spirit.
The “Jazz Festival” (and New Orleans itself) is originally known for Jazz, but in reality there are 12 stages playing music simultaneously, and each one has a different style of music: Jazz, Cuban, Gospel, Blues, Zydeco, and two stages showcasing big names in Rock and Pop. On Saturday I saw Maroon 5, and the best jazz drummer in New Orleans, all in a walk of 10 minutes.
2 important lessons.
Stay True to Your Brand.
Your company or your career got its start based on an original passion or idea that you built into something special. It gave you a kick-start and hopefully a competitive advantage in the market place. Where do you go from here?
It is important to continue to build your brand, by honing your skills, strengths, and innovations in your core area (for New Orleans it is Jazz and Blues), while at the same time diversifying into other areas that broaden your base. It is fine to diversify and it can make you a more desired company or professional with more to offer, but be careful to not let your original brand get watered down and left by the way side.
If the Jazz Festival and the city itself didn’t continue to attract world-class musicians in Blues and Jazz, it would lose its appeal. It is like building a multi-story building: keep the foundation strong and you can build a company that is eventually known for a multitude of great products, services and ideas.
When I am working with companies, I strive to understand what makes their company uniquely-desirable (i.e. why clients choose their company over others). This can come from a specific product or service, or it can be a combination of what they offer and how they offer it.
We then lay out how the company will strengthen and build on their brand strength over the coming year. Often this entails:
- Strengthening their employee bench and specific positions in the company.
- Developing relationships with specific types of clients and influencers.
- Promoting a specific company culture and pushing it down to the front line.
Stay True to Your Plans.
In the heat of the season, stay true to your plans that you set for the year. Mike Tyson is famous for the quote; “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” The rush of phone calls and work in the spring can feel like a punch in the face. Your job as a leader in your organization is to shake off the punch, work through the rush, and keep your strategic plans in front of you and your team and being executed. This may also take some mandated strategic breaks in order to re-ground your team, and keep their spirits alive.
For me, this is my annual trip to New Orleans. What do you do in the spring or summer to ensure your team stays refreshed and stays on track?
Jeffrey’s Breakthrough idea. You built your business (or your own personal brand) on a specific idea. As you strive to remain competitive in this fast changing world, keep your original passion alive, fueling your growth.
In the Blues Tent at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.