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David Fishof On Running Your Company Like A Rock Star

Hipsters sneer when rock gets corporate, but what’s wrong with corporations getting a little more rock and roll? In his new book, concert promoter and Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp founder David Fishof shares business lessons gleaned from years of working with old-school rockers like Alice Cooper, Ringo Starr and Gene Simmons.

Rock Your Business: What You and Your Company Can Learn from the Business of Rock and Roll offers tips in chapters with Top 40-inspired titles including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Overcoming Obstacles,”   and “Every Rose Has its Thorn: Taking Fear out of the Equation.” Fishof says that business types don’t realize that rock and roll is a billion dollar industry, filled with easily transferable lessons in creativity, strategy and branding.

Give an example of a great marketing or promotional stunt that a rock band has pulled off, that corporate America could look to for inspiration.

There’s a story in my book about Alice Cooper, who couldn’t sell a ticket in London until his manager took a truck, wrote “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” on it and turned it over in an intersection. Every English broadcaster picked it up and suddenly he’s sold out four shows at Wembley Stadium.

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That’s something a company can learn from. A business can do something creative and outside of the box, and that’s rock and roll.

So you’ve worked with all these rockers, including Ringo Starr during the All-Starr Band Tour. Give us an example of a Ringo teaching that a businessperson can apply on the job.

I learned a lot of professional lessons from Ringo after working with him for 15 years. What you learn from rock and roll is team building. If you have five Mick Jaggers, you don’t have a band. You need to have Bill Wyman and Keith Richards on guitar. That’s what makes the band sync. Same thing with the Beatles. Ringo was a major part of the Beatles and added to their success as much as John or Paul.

Another thing you learn from the great bands is creativity. In today’s world you have to be more creative because of the economy.

Finally, you learn marketing and promotion. Look at the success of these bands like KISS and Dave Mathews Band. They know how to keep their brand in front of audiences.

Gene Simmons is going to be leading a Rock Camp this weekend, and of course he’s famous for his merchandising savvy. What can corporate leaders learn from KISS?

He kept his brand going with his TV series, by opening his life to a reality show. He’s kept the KISS band in front of the public and they haven’t even had a hit record out. They still sell out stadiums and arenas. Gene had a brilliant promotion recently where kids under 10 were allowed in free to the concert – that opens up the music to a whole new generation.

You had so many upper-level corporate types come to the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp that you actually started a program for executives. What do they learn?

These executives would come to the Rock Camp and after five days they would tell me that’s the best team-building exercise they ever had – being in a band. We put them in bands for two hours and have them rewrite classic rock songs and have them rewrite the words to be about their company. Putting them in a band teaches them team building and creativity.

How can corporate leaders encourage their employees to perform like rock stars?

If I walk into an office and the receptionist isn’t nice to me or the salesperson at the store isn’t courteous, my brand is going to be hurt. Every employee should be considered a rock star and they’re a part of the success of that band. And you have to listen to what the other musicians are playing. If the drummer isn’t playing the right beat – the whole band suffers.  Employees have to be able to successfully listen to one another.


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