My ‘Digital Disruption’ Playlist – Intro

I played keyboards in a high school rock band. That was a time when groups like The Beatles, the Animals, The Monkeys, The Eagles, and The Byrds dominated the music scene. We named our band The Peeple. It seemed cool at the time. 

Having just turned 15, I was the oldest band member. Our bass player was 12. But we were very good; we even had a fan club. In the Pittsburgh Battle of the Bands sponsored by Lipton Tea, we were one of five bands to make it to the finals at Westview Park. All the other musicians were in their late teens or early 20s, had been performing for many years, and were using top-of-the line equipment. We finished tied for third place — or tied for last, depending on how you look at it.

Soon after the battle, I was recruited by another rock band. I was the youngest one in the group. They could all drive, buy beer and get girls. But unlike The Peeple, their music sucked. I faced my first important career decision: should I stick with a band that had great potential, or leave to join one where I knew I would have a blast? It took me all of 30 seconds to decide to leave. Don’t hold that against me. Remember, I was only 15.

My new band practiced every day but was never good enough to get a gig. That is, until we auditioned for the Pittsburgh Association of the Deaf’s annual dance. Our music may have sucked, but we had a strong beat that resonated across the dance floor, which in turn made it easy for the hearing impaired to dance to. It was the only gig we ever won.

I had my first beer the night of that dance. And my second, and third, and I don’t remember how many more after that. Near the end of the evening, one of the chaperones asked if I would perform a keyboard solo. Electric keyboards were a novelty at the time, and so I agreed.

I tottered over my keyboard and turned on the power. No one danced. Instead, they all huddled close to me, reaching out to place their hands on my amplifier so they could ‘feel’ the music. I pressed my volume pedal to the floor and began pounding the keyboard to play something that did not even closely resemble a song. After a few moments, I noticed my audience had started to politely withdraw their hands and put them in their pockets. Soon there was not a hand left on the amplifier. I took the hint and retired from rock bands the next day.

I still love music. My favorite time of year is summer at Cape Cod, spent sitting by my fire pit with friends, drinking wine and listening to playlists I’ve mixed over the winter. I try to tell a story by selecting and sequencing songs that create the message I’m looking for and mixing them in the right way. 

I’m now Executive Chairman of Rocket Wagon. They asked me to write a series of blogs on business transformation and innovation. Since it is still winter in Boston, I thought I’d try to tell that story by mixing a series of blogs into a “Business Transformation Playlist.” Our goal is to help you uncover and gauge new insights from the innovative methodologies and technologies that are transforming today’s businesses — and the ever-shifting industries they occupy.

I’ll be sharing the playlist in a series of blog posts. As Mick Jagger says, “Start Me Up.”

Business Disruption Side A – Lyrics by me

·    “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones

 · “Don’t Worry. Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin – Want to be a Victim of Digital Disruption? Just Follow these 4 Easy Steps

· “The Times They Are a-Changin’” by Bob Dylan – Why is Digital Disruption So Difficult?

· “Imagine” by John Lennon – Why Is It So Difficult to Uncover Breakthrough Ideas?

· “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen – How Do You Decide on Which Ideas to Pursue? And How Do You Protect them from Premature Burial?

· “Are You Experienced” by Neil Young and “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash – Why Most Corporate Startups Fail

· “Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home” by Patsy Cline – What My 12-year Taught Me About Killer App’s

· “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd – Implementation Challenges