On Rock Bands, Kindergarten and Startups


Entrepreneurs are no different from other creative types. They are startup idea machines. We all are, really, until we start growing up and listening to the rest of the world talking about how uncreative they are. The drive to create is at increasing odds with the longing to fit in, thus we settle in and cease innovating. That’s the thing to do, if you’re “normal.”

Some of us (I choose to think of us as “the fortunate ones”) never really grow up. This childlike creativity carries with it the requisite full range of emotions and behaviors, notably self-centeredness, delusions of grandeur, possessiveness, as well as gregariousness.

Children love to play together until they get sick of each other.

The Rock Band Startup Metaphor

Ready to Conquer the WorldPutting together a rock band means assembling a group of people you’re going to be spending a lot of time with, chasing your dreams, adjusting your course, “pivoting,” for better or worse. You can bet there is going to be quite a bit of “worse.”

My own musical career case study involved witnessing (and, admittedly, playing an active role in) bands throwing away any chance of success by allowing their emotions to get in the way. Some great music was made amidst the chaos of flying fists, exchanged romantic interests, and shifting alliances, but ultimately, attention spans were short, much like those of Kindergarten classes. Ultimately, bands broke up because we weren’t emotionally prepared to stick it out through the rough times. Indeed, this is why most relationships end.

Kindergarten is the Only Education You’ll Ever Need

If you’ve never volunteered in a Kindergarten, give it a shot. There’s a crash course in human behavior, lessons you may have forgotten over the years. Go get a refresher.

Kindergarten students can be remarkably focused when there is a clear task at hand.

They’ll even work together, happily, and share in the joy of completing things, before moving onto the next endeavor.

Who Do You Want to Spend Nearly All of Your Time With?

There needs to be an emotional contract amongst co-founders. Choose wisely. You will be sharing some trials and tribulations. Your initial ideas are merely seeds. The real question is whether you can get along through thick and thin, inspire each other, maintain some optimism and above all, not give up – unless you’re really not meant to be together. Avoid the initial impulse to break up. Don’t do what my bands did. There were at least a couple of them that may have amounted to something if only they didn’t get carried away and make rash decisions.

Twenty years later, I still speak to my old band mates. With few exceptions, we regret those decisions to this day, all of us left wondering what might have been.

Can your inner child sit still long enough to preserve valuable working relationships?

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