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engaging Together

by | Dec 13, 2021 | engage, Ray Charles, Together

“Oh wow. That is going to really cost you”. I had just gotten a call from the recruiter for the role that would take my career to the next level. Having made it through most of the interviews, I had won her over, and it was now down to the “final” interview: dinner with my family at the home of my boss and my peer, the CTO – Together with their families. They both had smaller kids – 8 and 6. Having started early (surprising you right ?) my kids were now mostly grown… so who would I take with me? And would I be able to pass this “charm” interview?

When I started really focusing on writing Leading With Music, I would mix songs from multiple artists around specific themes. It allowed a freedom that was interesting, but by now you know I like challenges. When I thought about spending an entire week on just a specific artist, that let me work in a lot more detail about the band and the players. I then found groups that I could write for more than 1 week about – and some hated that because an artist like Journey that you didn’t like 😉

This week I am engaging something new – all music not just from one artist, but Together on only one album. Now, there is a wrinkle – all of these are great songs by other artists that were covered here on one of the most important albums in music, according to … well, me. And my wife. She was looking for a gift for me to celebrate something, and of course, tricked me by asking me what album I thought was most important in such a way that I didn’t even remember it. But this gift was pivotal in my new role.

Tech people are chronically late, arriving at 9 or even later. I am not – as you may notice these articles mostly come out before 8, sometimes before 7 even. My best work is done between 6 and 9, and the rest of the day is downhill. So when I would arrive at my new office before 6:30, I was often the only person in the building. I had received a great gift when leaving from a previous role at Fannie Mae – a beautiful Sony receiver/CD player that looked much nicer than the cheap one I dragged into that office…

… my routine was to put on this CD every morning, at almost full volume, and the very first cut is today’s cut. Many of you never click through to hear the music – today you HAVE to do that, please. And all I am asking for is 3 seconds. The very first 3 seconds. You may know this song, and you may think it is schmaltzy and that would be true. Written and recorded by The Everly Brothers, it was recorded at RCA studios in Nashville, the home of Country Music particularly by the ’50s…

Ray’s version starts with a resounding “HUH!!!” … a command to the band and to himself, Together, to bring it… That became the starting gun for my day – each day. I would come in, plug in my computer, turn on the stereo… and press play. That started literally every day for the first few months of my starting the role that would come to be the penultimate of my career, pulling Together all of the various things I had learned and experienced to date. And where so much of what I come back to over and over with leaders in my latest path of Executive Coaching comes from.So this week, come along for a ride through one of the most important albums of all time, and one you may or may not know about. Ray was by this point a hugely popular star… and yet started his career in a 2-bit Country and Western Band on the West Coast. His journey to this point I will tell a bit about, but frankly, he is one of those that I could probably write even more than 2 weeks about, as there are so many lessons for leaders to consider.

For the dinner, my wife accompanied me, and my daughter who was actually in college volunteered to come Together with us. While I am sure it seemed awkward to her, she was very much at ease, and charming. Truthfully, I was completely panicked – I knew this role would put me onto a whole new level – and very uncharacteristically, I was speechless. She saw that and carried the conversation, and me, through the evening. I seriously could not have done it without her – a reminder that Together is my most important value proposition. If I had done this alone, you would likely not be reading this or much of the insights I have now put into nearly 500 of these postings.

As we head into this week, I know many of you are thinking about something new for you in the coming year. Winding down a role that is not working for you, starting a new role that you need to start gearing up for, or simply starting the process of thinking about what you should be doing. All of that plays well into the theme I want to really focus on. Nothing I have done has been done alone – it has ALWAYS been done with others – Together. And so as much as I would love to focus on leaving, it has always been about where I am going. Even this sad song has an upbeat spin to it as it encourages you to think about your own starting gun… Bye Bye Love.

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