What if Elvis was your mentor? What advice would he have? You can learn from anyone, no formal mentoring relationship required. Just pick an unlikely mentor and be amazed what you will learn. Read below what I learned from Elvis: how to identify where my passion lies, what real goals are, when I can criticize others, how to sell and innovate, what I can take for granted or change about my job, how easy success comes, how to structure messages and how I should be like.
I love Elvis’ music, his movies, the way he sings, talks, moves, looks, laughs… I desperately try to find anything I might have in common with him. So far I can only claim that I went to school in the town where he met his future wife for the 1st time…ok, not spectacular at all. But how about being mentored by Elvis?
You can learn from anyone, no formal mentoring relationship required. Recently I read a post about management lessons from working with rock musicians by James G. Bohn. It inspired me and got me thinking what I could learn from a mentor in the music business. My choice: Elvis. I read dozens of quotes and here is what I learned:
- How do I know what my passion is?
“Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.” – Elvis
Lesson: What is it that you can’t help but move to? What is it that you enjoy most, can talk and read about for hours? In other words, what is it that you are passionate about? We know that we found it when we can’t help but “move to it”.
- How do I know what my real goal is?
“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.” – Elvis
Lesson: There are goals and “real goals”. You might have a goal but if you are honest you are not prepared to put effort into it to make it happen. That’s just a goal = no V8 engine. A “real goal” is where you actually put effort in to make it happen = has the V8 engine.
- When can I afford to criticize?
“Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.” – Elvis
Lesson: Put yourself in others’ shoes, don’t judge too quickly. You can only offer acceptable criticism if you have some experience of something. Otherwise you come across as arrogant or incompetent.
- Why should others support you?
“I learned how important it is to entertain people and give them a reason to come and watch you play.” – Elvis
Lesson: How do I get support from others for something I want, e.g. business case, sell products, customer approval…? You need to find the reason, the real reason. Is it something others want, need, miss, desire, are jealous of, enjoy…..
- How to innovate?
“Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do ’em all together, I guess.” -Elvis in 1956, talking about his way of moving on stage.
Lesson: Elvis’ movements on stage are legendary, were never seen before at the time, called vulgar by the older generation. To innovate you don’t have to reinvent the wheel but might just have to combine a few existing features to make something better. Obviously, his style struck a cord at the time…
- What can I take for granted?
“The Lord can give, and the Lord can take away. I might be herding sheep next year.” – Elvis
Lesson: Be humble, nothing is for granted. There are many people much worse off than you are. Be grateful for what you have. What goes around comes around.
- What can I change about my job?
“I’m used to it. I’d kinda miss it if it didn’t happen. To me it’s part of the business, and I accept it” – Elvis about giving autographs
Lesson: There are some things that you may not like about your job but you cannot change them. So you just need to accept that they are part of the job. Buckle down and get it done so you can continue with the part you like.
- How easy does success come?
“We do two shows a night for five weeks. A lotta times we’ll go upstairs and sing until daylight – gospel songs. We grew up with it…It more or less puts your mind at ease. It does mine.” – Elvis
Lesson: There is a plaque in Las Vegas that states that Elvis performed 837 consecutive sold-out shows in about 6 years. And that’s next to TV shows, tours, movies…success does not come easy, you need to work damn hard for it.
- How should I deliver my message?
“Well, since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell. It’s down at the end of lonely street at Heartbreak Hotel.” – from the song Heartbreak Hotel
Lesson: Your message needs to be simple so everyone understands it. A lot of the lyrics are really simple, even trivial. The way they become special is by the way Elvis delivers them, he makes the trivial unique with his voice and moves. So, it matters what you deliver and how you deliver it.
- How should I be like?
“I don’t sound like nobody” – Elvis to Marion Kessler, the first time he enter Sun Studios
Lesson: It feels like there are as many Elvis impersonators as people on the planet. None of them sound like him, most of them not even remotely. We all need to find our own uniqueness. That’s how you sell, be an icon, by being unique and just yourself…
Happy New Year 2017 everyone! Release your inner Elvis.
Last but not least here are a few Elvis facts, how many did you know?
First commercial recording in 1954 (“That’s all right”). In the same year his first professional performance took place and his incredible shaking legs move was first seen. He caused a riot after a concert in 1955 finishing a show saying “Girls, I’ll see you backstage.” First golden record in 1956 with “Heartbreak Hotel”, followed by 69 gold, 43 platinum, 13 double platinum, 9 triple platinum, 1 quadruple platinum, 1 quintuple platinum and 1sixfold platinum albums. He made 33 movies between 1956-72. Met his future wife Priscilla in 1959 while being stationed in Friedberg, Germany. He is the Most Charted Artist (1,155 weeks on the UK singles since 1956) and has more than 600 fan clubs…..