Let’s Rock-n-Roll

From Led Zeppelin to Lady Gaga, here are 11 Rock-n-Roll leadership & business quotes for you in 2021

Air guitar signed by Eddie Van Halen after one of the greatest nights of my teenage life: “To Ryan, OU812-You Kicked Ass”

I originally wrote this article as a tribute to Eddie Van Halen when he passed away in October. I had misplaced some of the quotes and this got put on hold. I found the quotes and decided to change my theme from a tribute to a kick-off. Let’s hope 2021 rocks for you. Here are eleven rock-n-roll quotes you can use this year for leadership, sales, coaching, or whatever.

#1. “Why don’t you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see” -Led Zeppelin, Misty Mountain Hop

When you want to get better at something, start with yourself first. It’s not for selfish reasons. If you don’t realistically and accurately know your own strengths and weaknesses, it’s difficult to coach, lead, or work with others.

#2. “I don’t condemn, I don’t convert” -Ziggy Marley, Love is My Religion

Your job as a leader, coach, or teammate is not to judge or condemn others ideas’ or viewpoints. You don’t always have to agree, but be agreeable.

#3. “Half my life’s on book’s written pages, live and learn from fools and from sages” -Aerosmith, Dream On

It’s really the second half of this quote that should resonate with you as a leader. This is all about listening. Do you think you learn more from fools or from sages?

#4. “What comes next? You’ve been freed, do you know how hard it is to lead? You’re on your own. Awesome! Wow! Do you have a clue what happens now? -Hamilton, What Comes Next

This isn’t exactly rock-n-roll, but it is leadership. There are so many great leadership quotes from Hamilton. What if you changed the word “freed” to “promoted”. It wouldn’t rhyme, but it fits.

#5. “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” -Rush, Freewill

This is one of my favorite rock-n-roll leadership quotes. It’s so true. There’s a good book I read called “Pushing Back Entropy”. When I got the book, I didn’t even know what entropy meant. The book was about continuing to take action as the forces of the world (and business) are constantly pushing on you. If you do nothing they continue to push, you must push back.

#6. “We look at each other, wondering what the other is thinking, but we never say a thing, and these crimes between us grow deeper” -Dave Matthews, Ants Marching

Ants Marching is better the louder it is, and the live version is better. On the one hand, you may be better off to simply wonder what someone else is thinking vs. filling in your own story and saying, “I know what this person is thinking.” That’s a leadership assumption mistake you shouldn’t be making.

#7. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been” -Whitesnake, Here I Go Again

As an entrepreneurial coach, whether working with athletes or leaders or salespeople or engineers, I want to teach them to learn from the past, but don’t dwell on the mistakes from the past. Learn from those mistakes and move on. As my counterpart Jason Cummins would say, “Let’s go make some new mistakes.” As my dad would say, “I don’t mind you shooting yourself in the foot, I hate it when you reload.” RealTime Coaching wants to invest 90% of the time in the present and the future.

#8. “I know what I like” -Lita Ford, Kiss Me Deadly

It’s the beginning of the year and a great time to get clear on what you want vs. what you don’t want. If you know what you like and what you want, it’s easier to ask for and take action to get what you want. I would call this exercise “Taking a Wants inventory”. On a scale of 1-10, how clear are you on what you want? If it’s a 1 and you don’t know what you want, how are you supposed to know what to do?

#9. “My mama told me when I was young, we were all born superstars” -Lady Gaga, Born This Way

2021 will continue to build on the movement of diversity & inclusion. Who better than Lady Gaga to remind us we are all superstars. However, you cannot be a superstar if you are in a job that is not the right fit for you.

#10. “You may be right, I may be crazy” -Billy Joel, You May Be Right

As you read this one did you keep going with, “But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for”. This is a good reminder as a leader to know you may not have all the answers. And, some of your answers may seem a little crazy. You may need to apply rock-n-roll quotes 1 through 9 and take a bigger view.

#11. “10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will, 5% pleasure and 50% pain, and 100% reason to remember the name” -Fort Minor, Remember The Name

Getting better at whatever it is you do, takes effort. It’s rare to just “burst on the scene”. At the 1995 Grammy’s, Green Day was nominated for Best New Artist. Billy Joe (who was 23 at the time) was asked about Green Day bursting on the scene and he said, “Man, we’ve been doing this for years”. You have to put in the work and enjoy the grind. Whether it’s sales, basketball, golf, coaching, leadership, customer service, or anything else, being great at what you do takes a mix of luck, skill, will, pleasure & pain.

If you have a rock-n-roll quote you’d like to add that inspires you, please add a comment.

I hope you have a great 2021. Rock on!

4 replies on “Let’s Rock-n-Roll”

I have received a few direct email comments I’d like to post:
“Cool content.” -SV

“My 2020 song of the year was “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister – BD

“I love getting The Page. You always bring new ideas, reflections and great resources. Taking your history and love of music was fun to read this month. Quotes were great!” -WM

“Excellent!” – JG (This guy is in a band so I appreciate him writing me)

“This is the best e’vah (Boston accent).”-SR Also a Led Zep deep thought…
“Yes there are 2 paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven

Loved this one Lisk! I’ll share one from Metallica for the group, from ‘Wherever I May Roam’:

And my ties are severed clean
Less I have, the more I gain
Off the beaten path I reign
Rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will
Yeah, you will

Reminds me that material wealth is over rated. Often you have to take the path less traveled and not worry what other people think; just do the right thing.

Great job on the newsletter. I tried to come up with some clever leadership lyrics without much success. Maybe Hotel California; “you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.”
It’s a stretch – but being a leader means being committed to the mission until it is complete, or cancelled, or you are removed. Many leaders “check out” or get distracted from the mission at hand instead of focusing on next steps. – RL

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