Month: September 2018

Life is Not a Rehearsal

Tommy Emmanuel is one of the world’s best guitarists, yet he’s not widely known in a field that often places glitz above skill.  As Emmanuel explains in the opening to a very entertaining TEDx talk, when he told a fellow traveler in business class that he made a living playing the guitar, he had to respond to the question “What band are you in?” with the fact that he played solo guitar. His seatmate looked at him as if Emmanuel had stumbled into the wrong section of the aircraft. But as he thought about it, Emmanuel explained that he does, in fact, play in a band.  A one man band. In his TEDx talk he showcases the amazing skills that have made him so in demand by demonstrating how he plays the bass line, the drummer’s riff, the fills from a rhythm section, and the melody line all at once. If you’re like me, your jaw will drop with the complexity of the music and you’ll laugh at the line “look at how much money …

Better Living Through (Better) Email

Virtually everyone I know in the working world believes there are too many emails and too many meetings.  Yes, I know, this isn’t exactly breaking news. I’m fascinated by our love/hate relationship with emails.  We all get too many emails, and yet we inevitably send them out and contribute to the clogged up boxes of our colleagues. I’m exhibit A in that regard.  While I fume at times about the quality (or lack of quality) and the volume of emails, I send out an email to my colleagues like clockwork on Monday morning.* How can we use email more effectively to make our lives easier? First, to state the obvious the only effective email is one that is read.  Thankfully, the internet is full of great suggestions as to how to tailor your email messages to be effective. When I’m writing I try—but don’t always succeed—in getting to the point, in making good use of the subject line, and in trying not to overcommunicate.  I think how we write is important. But how we manage …

The Important Part of Fishing

For many years I’ve been fascinated by the prospect of fly fishing. Watching a perfect cast—with rod and line all moving in synchronized motion set in the midst of a swiftly moving river nestled among rugged mountains—encapsulates for me beauty, artfulness, peacefulness, and all that’s right with the world. Trying my hand at fly fishing has long been on my bucket list and last month I finally had the opportunity.  Were my casts perfect?  Far from it.  Did I catch any fish?  Nope, even though I had a bite or two.  Did I get to spend about 3 hours in one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever seen, experiencing moments of utter wonder and peacefulness?  Absolutely. Given the importance I place on our work to save Nashville’s Music Row, you won’t be surprised that I know of a country song that has a take on what’s important about fishing.  The first verse goes like this: “The important part of fishin’ ain’t the fish, but the fishing. The important part of lovin’ is the love. …

Music Row’s historic character is disappearing. Here’s what we can do.

NOTE:  My op-ed for the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the future of Music Row ran in today’s Nashville Tennessean.  You can see the original here.   Balance. Harmony. Character. These are essential elements of any great song or musical composition. They are also essential to any great neighborhood. Unfortunately for Nashville, the Music Row neighborhood is out of balance right now. In the last five years alone, 43 historic buildings that housed music related businesses – the lifeblood of Music Row – have been demolished. Only one single threatened building – the venerable RCA Studio A – has been saved from demolition. And that “save” was achieved not by public policy or by city initiative, but solely through the efforts of private citizens intent on preserving irreplaceable heritage. Forty-three to one is not balance. High-rise residential condominiums in a neighborhood of small-scale business is not harmony. Demolishing five more historic buildings in the heart of Music Row is not the way to protect neighborhood character. It is definitely not the way to celebrate the unique and extraordinary cultural heritage that …

He Sows Hurry and Reaps Indigestion

Labor Day is seen by many as the start of a new year.  School begins for teachers and children. The summer break is over and schedules ramp up.  Everywhere we look we’re called upon to pick up the pace. In this day and age, work/life balance is a major theme of Harvard Business Review articles, TED Talks, HR seminars, and more.  We may think this is a new phenomenon, arising from the astonishing leaps in technology which work 24/7 even if we aren’t capable—as humans—of keeping up.  But the question has been around for a much longer period of time than just the 21st century.  A colleague and I were discussing the need for her direct reports—who have major responsibilities and work very hard at their jobs—to take time off.  She mentioned that one individual told her that he had not taken a vacation because “the place couldn’t run without me.”  I smiled and suggested that she pass along the advice I heard from my grandmother, who liked to say, “The graveyard is full of …

Only Two Kinds of Music

Today is bittersweet, as our Andrew prepares to leave tonight for London and his graduate studies at conservatory. Over the past month, we’ve been savoring both his presence and his music. When we were in California in August, we had the chance to attend the final concert in San Francisco’s 2018 American Bach Soloists’ Summer Bach Festival, the stirring Mass in B Minor.  Andrew joined three other musicians for the Benedictus.  This tenor aria comes near the end of the mass, and Andrew’s beautiful singing was supported by just a flute, cello, and double bass. Then just this past weekend, Andrew had a call to sing the state funeral for U.S. Senator John McCain at the Washington National Cathedral. He had turned in his badge and music at the cathedral, where he most recently was one of the tenors in the men’s choir. But his replacement had not arrived from out-of-town so Andrew had the chance to sing his third state funeral (Reagan and Ford, while a boy chorister, were the others) to go along …