Surprising Leadership Lessons From Jazz.

  Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership lessons from Jazz. Frank J. Barrett Fix your business like a Jazz musician improvises.  In his book Yes To the Mess, Dr. Barrett,  a Management Professor, and accomplished jazz pianist, talks about performing and experimenting simultaneously. Miles Davis, the great trumpeter, bandleader, and composer, had a favorite saying about jazz musicians: "If you're not making a mistake, it's a mistake." "The improviser may be unable to look ahead at what he is going to play, but he can look behind at what he has just played; thus each new musical phrase can be shaped with relation to what has gone before. He creates his form retrospectively."  In other words, if you made a bad decision, fix it creatively. I was once taking a jazz guitar solo in a workshop of fellow jazz enthusiasts. I was feeling good about my uptempo solo to Golson's "Whisper Not". So, after…

Continue Reading

Why Key Managers and Young Owners Need To Be Thinking Succession.

      Try to have a conversation with a 20 or 30+  owner or manager about the business exit strategy, and you're bound to get blank looks. At last winter NAMM, I got my share. Here's a typical conversation. Scenario 1. JB- Hey Lew. Are you enjoying being the general manager at the music store? Lew- Yea. The only problem I see, is that I got the promotion, I got the raise, but the owners are still doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I guess it's hard for them to let go. JB- Have you spoken to the owners about it? Lew- Believe me I have tried. They just keep telling me they are too busy. So now I'm thinking-  that's the reason why you promoted me- Isn't it? This scenario is all too common. Young key managers, who are supposedly being groomed to take over the the music business,…

Continue Reading

Peer Accountability With Individual + Group Support= Succession Success.

Recently I've noticed an increase in the number of  music retail sharing groups, who are expressing an interest in having me add a succession planning component to a member meeting. Having participated in several, I'm a huge fan of the sharing group format. Often, other music retailers, those who are in the trenches every day, are your best advisors. Sharing groups are nothing new.  Business owners long ago recognized the value of peer accountability and support. In 1946, Bert Scull a C.P.A., started bringing some of his non-competing clients together to share ideas. Today some groups are sharing or buying groups only, and some are hybrid. For example, MIIG, Music Industry Insights Group, has been around since 1960 and is considered a sharing group. On the other hand, AIMM, the Alliance of Independent Music Merchants is essentially a marketing/buying group and alliance of retailers and manufacturers. Joe Lammond, NAMM President/CEO is also a…

Continue Reading

Winter NAMM Preview: “But What If I die?”— Succession Tips For Music Retailers.

It's hard to believe that a year has gone by since my debut talk at last winter NAMM. If you missed it, click on the video link for the short reader's digest version. Those who attended my talk, or who read my Music Inc. column, may remember that in my previous life, I was a school music dealer, and attended NAMM as a member in the 1980's. So my reunion with my fellow NAMM members is special and personal. For winter NAMM 2017, I'm really pumped, because I will have the opportunity to co-present with music retailer accountant Guru, and my buddy, Alan Friedman, CPA and partner at Friedman, Kannenberg & Co. If you have attended any one of Alan's many NAMM presentations over the past years, you'll know you'll walk away with important music retailing financial and business info delivered in a most entertaining way.. Throw me in the mix and…

Continue Reading

Thinking Different. Expanding your audience.

  The Sound of Money® An Artful Way To Talk About Money. Jaimie M. Blackman “Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here!” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Meet Kevin Higgins. Kevin  lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident 19 years ago.  The horrific phantom pain from nerve damage caused by the traumatic amputation caused a downward spiral to a life filled with pain medication and failed relationships.  Until the day Kevin walked into a Yamaha music store and played one of the few songs he remembered from childhood piano lessons, “Open Arms”, by Journey.  Kevin realized that while playing the piano his pain went away. He returned to the music store day after day for relief from his excruciating pain.  When Kevin’s mom shipped his old piano 300 miles to his home, Kevin’s life turned around forever.  Music saved…

Continue Reading

Too Busy To Think About Your Exit Strategy? It just got easier.

It's late. I'm tired. I had a full day. All I can think about is my nice soft pillow. I'm just about to shut my smart phone off and begin the ritual of night charging. But wait. The smart phone is forcing me to come between my beauty sleep, and yet another annoying technology task. It's insisting on an update. I have to make a decision. Now, or Schedule it.  No "Later" option. The image command is not going away. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Shut the damn phone off and go to sleep. Still, you know that annoying command is just going to be there when you wake up. It's now, or now. I'm being forced to act, to make a decision even though I really don't want to. Sometimes, I wish I had a venue to promote the same type of forced action when it comes to longer range…

Continue Reading

Your Business Does $5 Million Gross. It still may be worthless.

After my talk at the last winter NAMM show, members from the audience came up to me for a friendly chat. Most had grey hair. A few were young. So you may think it's odd why a 30 year old should be having to worry about a decision he or she may need to make decades into the future. Is this thinking correct?  Absolutely! As Joe Lacerda from Manchester Mill Music in New Hampshire says- Your business is always for sale. In other words, build your business to sell it. If you were a buyer, would your music store be appealing to you if it couldn't make money without the owner? If you were a key manager, would you feel you were ready to own the store if you haven't been trained  properly?  I'm mindful of Eric and Alyson Jay, the heirs and key managers to Stan Jay, deceased owner of…

Continue Reading

Masters of Change

  This month, I had a fantastic conversation with a fantastic person; Liane Rockley. Rockley Music Center, is based in Lakewood Colorado.The business has been family owned since 1946. Liane is Vice President and owns the business with her husband Tobin Rockley. Her insights may help, as you struggle through  your multi-generational succession planning. Read all about the twists and turns  in my November column of Music Inc. Masters of Change.          

Continue Reading

Valuation Is Easy: The greater the perception of risk- the higher the reward.

At the last Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) I gave a talk on Succession Planning. And as usually the case, folks come up to speak to me after a talk. Here's how a typical conversation goes. Bob- Jaimie I enjoyed your talk on succession planning. My store grosses about $1,000,000 a year.What's the most I can get for my store? Jaimie-  Sounds like you built up a successful business. Congratulations but I believe you are asking the wrong question. Bob- What do you mean? Jaimie- I mean a much better question to ask is- under the right terms and conditions, assuming we get everything right regarding the running of our business, over the next # of years, with solid re-occurring cash flow & earnings, what's the maximum value I can create for me and the new owner? Now that is a more elegant question, is it not? Valuation is easy to…

Continue Reading

What Can Curious George Teach Us About Finding Your Successor?

He was a good little monkey and always very curious. He came down from the tree to look at the large yellow hat. Carefully George lifted the latch - and before he knew it, ALL the pigs had burst out of the pen, grunting and squealing and trying to get away as fast as they could.* It's not uncommon for me to hear business owners saying that finding a successor amongst their current staff is difficult.  I’m told that members of their team lacked the passion, or the initiative, or perhaps their employees couldn’t be trusted to make the right decisions. This very well may be the case. But ask yourself this question; how well did you do during your first year in business?  Were you trained properly or did you have to learn by trial and error? How long did it take you to  be confident? How long did it take…

Continue Reading
Close Menu