All in Aspirations

Lessons From Springsteen On Broadway

By the time Bruce Springsteen released his first album, Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, in 1973, he’d already had almost a decade of playing experience under his belt. He’d started playing back in 1964 with a band called The Rogues, then another, then another, ultimately morphing into the now famous E Street Band.

That first album met with critical acclaim but little commercial success. The one after (The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle) fared pretty much the same, and he didn’t really achieve commercial success until Born To Run was released in 1975.

What Is Your Ambition Based In?

I think most of us accept that ambition is a necessary ingredient for success.

Whether we’re growing a business, launching a new initiative or pushing forward on a creative project, ambition is needed to not only get the project going, but more importantly to take it to fruition. It’s a foundational requirement for creating lasting, meaningful change.

So the important question to ask is not whether or not we have the ambition needed to succeed. That’s a hygiene factor. If we don’t, there’s no point even getting started.

When Bono Went Walkabout...

“It was a great day, but I thought I had fucked it up.”

“We felt like we’d blown an opportunity to be great.”

“I really thought we were crap.”

On July 13th, 1985, U2 took to the stage at Wembley stadium for their designated slot at Live Aid, the global concert for African famine relief. This was pre-Joshua Tree, so while they were popular, they were nowhere near the household name that they are now.

Fight - Even When You Want Flight

Sunday morning, I woke up to watch the Arsenal-Spurs game, famously known as the North London Derby. It’s a game where form goes out the window and these two arch-rivals go all out for bragging rights as to who is the best team in North London.

It’s a game that hasn’t gone our way in recent years and as I anticipated the stress and emotional rollercoaster I would go through over the next couple of hours, I briefly debated staying in bed and waking up when it was all over. To just not have to deal with it all.

Just Focus On What's Next

Sometimes, the goals we set for ourselves are overwhelming. The bigger the goal or the more challenging the objective, the harder it can be to fathom how we will get there.

We get caught up in the sheer scale of our idea, or we start setting all sorts of impossible timelines and expectations that we think we need to achieve on our path there.

Living On Your Own Terms

When I got into consulting in the mid-nineties, I did so with the expectation that I was going into a field that was focused on driving change. That we were there to make a difference, and to improve the lot of our clients. And that doing so required people who were committed to that process, both within the firm I worked for and at the client. Generally speaking, that expectation proved to be the reality.

The Thing About Mandates...

…Is that there really isn’t any such thing.

In popularity contests of any significance (where a sizable population is asked for its endorsement of an individual or a subject or an action), the landslide win is not a common occurrence. More prevalent (in my admittedly unscientific assessment) is the close race, where the margin of victory is in single digit percentage points.

The Problem With Getting An Education

We have this obsession, usually rightly so, with organized, accredited education. In an era when economic disparity and the income gap is at its widest, getting a “proper education” isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.  

Which is something most of us agree on, plus the fact that a proper education is defined as not simply completing high school, but obtaining a college degree, at minimum. I think I’m on pretty safe ground when I say that.

To Inspire or To Intimidate?

Think of the most exciting job you’ve done, the best initiative you’ve been part of, the most rewarding experience you’ve had. What was the underlying basis of that experience, the focus of the leadership in that situation? Were you excited? Were you focused on moving towards something? Were you inspired?

The Myth of The Top Ten List

There are at least 15 colleges that deserve a place in the top 10 best colleges in the country. There are 20 restaurants that can credibly argue that they are one of the 5 best restaurants in your city. And if you and I were so inclined, we could absolutely name 25 guitarists who could reasonably stake a claim to being among the 10 best guitarists ever.

The Myth of The All Rounder

In school, we’re taught a range of different subjects - from history to math to science to art to music to physical education. We’re tested, judged and evaluated on our proficiency in each of these disciplines, and by the end of it, given a numerical average of our performance across all of these areas, otherwise known as our Grade Point Average (GPA).

The Path To Success Isn't a Straight Line

We tend to romanticize the path to success. We maintain this perception that getting there was a straight-forward path. Particularly when we see others achieve it. This view that these folks took step 1, then step 2, and so on and so forth, until they achieved what they set out to do. That it was a clean path. That things just happened for them.

The truth is…

"Ask If You're Crazy Enough..."

There's a cynicism we tend to have when it comes to advertising and branding.

So many brands adopt personas based on their desire to attract a certain type of consumer. These personas are fashioned on the basis of deep consumer research, canvassing their likes, dislikes, tastes, preferences and more. Some of these personas succeed, others don't.