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Leadership topic - Santana

Scott Eblin, a good friend, defines Leadership as 1) Define Reality, and 2) Provide Hope.  But exactly what is Hope? I like to add this definition another friend provided me:  “Hope is a confident expectation of a future good’.

Santana has a record that even the Beatles didn’t achieve:  their first 3 albums were Platinum, selling over $1 Million copies each in their first years. But it all started with him hanging around Fillmore West as a 17-year-old where Bill Graham drafted him to replace a drunk Paul Butterfield for a Sunday matinee show.  Once he had that start, his Hope was a work ethic that started in Mexico where he was born in 1947…

..his music was such a unique blend of jazz, rock, and rhythms from Latin music, and came from his friends.  The mixing bowl that is America put all those elements in front of him, and he started pulling all the pieces together.  Getting a standing ovation for his substitute bill, Graham got them signed to Columbia where they had recorded some tracks through the early part of 1969 but nothing that was ready for release.

The festival schedule for 1969 included a new show in upstate New York who wanted to book the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane – also managed by Graham.  He insisted that Santana be included, and much like his first set at the Fillmore, they were substituted for another band and played mid-day Saturday – to another standing ovation.  The album was released just after that in late August, the perfect timing for one of the “overnight successes” coming out of Woodstock.

And paired with Hope is often Change – not just a clever phrase, but the actions that come along for the ride. And almost right on queue, Santana decided to turn away from Rock, and dive headlong into jazz, and more importantly spirituality.  So how does he and the band navigate that Change?  Perhaps his music and these stories will give you some ideas for you own leadership.