14 January 2016

I am old enough to have experienced the phenomenon that was and will always be David Bowie. You may have loved him too – perhaps you changed your mind back and forth when he changed his look, his music and his art.

On a personal level, he was and is an inspiration. In business and in life, we can all learn from others, take heart, be inspired, and be spurred on by the energy and positive examples of how others approach and live their lives.

They don’t have to be world famous like Bowie. I don’t know your mum and you never knew mine (unless you are a relative of mine). I am certain you have learnt from parents, siblings, friends, teachers, colleagues and business associates. I know of David Bowie and maybe you do too, so you will understand why I am talking about him in the context of business success and what we can learn from him. Here are my thoughts:

  • He knew where his talents lay – he embraced them and developed them.
  • He was prepared to take chances to be true to his own vision and stayed true to himself. It’s said that he normalised weird.
  • He networked, collaborated, and took advice and direction from other people who could help him achieve. There were so many – but notably the male dancer Lindsay Kemp who in the late 1960s taught Bowie how to use his body and introduced him to the Art of Kabuki.

‘Bowie never became a great actor, but he did become a great poseur, in the best sense of the word; he always moves with peculiar grace. Without the influence of Kemp, he might not have made the next step in his career, merging rock music with theater, film, and dance’.

The Invention of David Bowie by Ian Baruma.

  • He recognised when something wasn’t working and changed it.
  • He never gave up and fought to be recognised first in the UK and then in America. It was a battle but he kept on trying until he made it.
  • He never allowed himself to become stale – he was a future thinker and he set the trends.
  • His ‘product’ was more than music. It was art, fashion and culture and it was all delivered to the highest standards possible.
  • He knew what was happening in his industry and adapted. In 2002 he predicted a big change in the music industry that would happen by 2012 and was quoted in The New York Times:

“Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again.

“You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen.”

  • He took a break (10 years) and his music come-back in 2013 was amazing.

“Bowie wasn’t simply a musical genius; he was an astro-visionary and interplanetary philosopher, and the stars really do look very different today.”

Antonia Hayes ‘Relativity’

I could go on and on but I know you get the picture. With respect and thanks for his life and the gifts he gave us.

David Bowie 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

Nwes Business Advisor, Jean McNeil

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