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Leadership topic - Nat King Cole

Nate King Cole was born in 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama.  If you know your history, being black in Alabama was not exactly easy for anyone, but particularly for a musical prodigy.  Luckily his family moved to Chicago when he was 4, which coincided with his first performance – on the church organ – Yes, We Have No Bananas!  His mom was the church organist in his father’s Baptist church, so that helped, and they saw his promise early.  He got into lessons on piano at 12 in jazz, classical, and even ragtime piano.

How he made it from that background to changing music, particularly Christmas music, leads to thinking about Persistence this week. The key is setting that intention, in flowery or other speech…as is the Persistence to keep focused on the outcome until it is achieved. It is critically important to teams and leaders no matter where you are.

Songwriters and song singers were separate – well into the late 60’s.  The idea that you could actually do both, well, was thought to be crazy.  As such, songwriters would work hard to pitch ideas for songs to artists that could get their songs into the top spots on the charts.  By the late 50’s, Nat had his choice of songs to record given a long string of hits.  There was competition for the right orchestras and studios, and that meant that the labels also had immense power.  Nat benefited from this as he could get songs onto multiple charts (race, Jazz, Pop).

Which is another topic for us to consider in leadership – Preparation.  I learned over and over again that talent is the universal solvent for all problems and opportunities.  You have to constantly keep your eyes open for great people, because when you need them – and when they are ready – rarely overlap… without Preparation.  So in both Persistance and Preparation, Nat will provide some amazing musical accompaniment.