success-strategiesMy last couple of weeks have been a blur of excitement, hard work, wearying travel and great satisfaction!

Bucket List Item #1 – Perform On-stage in Nashville

As a teenager in a rock ‘n’ roll band, I hit the familiar fork in the road – get an education or try to make it in the music business. My dear departed father pushed me hard to take the former course, while I pushed back to take the latter path.  He won – because I knew he was right.  And he was.  But some 47 years later, thanks to a burning passion, great friends and relationships, and a lot of luck, I’ve been able to rekindle the missing element – a chance to perform.

Without going into the gory details, I formed a wonderful friendship with a consulting client and amateur musician.  That led to a ‘garage band.’  That led to a chance to go to Nashville, TN for the Summer National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show, and in turn to an invitation to perform on the main stage at Nashville’s incredible Honky Tonk Central!  I doubt that many, if any, of the drunken revelers will remember our band and its performance, but we surely will!

Relationship Lesson #1

Business relationships are often so much more than business relationships!  Most of the CIOs and IT leaders I’ve worked with have lives and passions outside of their “day jobs.”  If you can surface what these are, sometimes they link to your own interests or passions, and the relationship grows beyond that of client-consultant, to client-friend, client-golf partner, client-tennis partner, or, is my case, client-band mate.  When you look beyond the obvious, you often find something far more enriching and rewarding – and longer lasting!

Bucket List Item #2 – Perform with YES

In my early 20’s I became obsessed with the music of British progressive rock band “Yes.”  I had grown up listening to and loving the music my parents introduced me to – Tchaikovsky, Bach, Stravinsky, etc., and the music I was hearing and seeing live in and around London, England – Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis, Graham Bond Organization, etc.  On hearing Yes (and it took a few hearings to make sense of it!) I’d discovered that there was a whole different slant on rock music – far from the 3 minute, 12-bar blues, verse-chorus-verse-bridge staple.  Instead, Yes music was long (often 20 minutes per piece!) incredibly complex, with multiple movements, time signature changes, key changes and other surprises – all played by virtuoso performers, and magnificently recorded.

Anyway, I had a fantasy about being on stage and performing with Yes.  Last week, that fantasy came true, thanks to Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, where I got to rehearse and perform with members of Yes at the MGM Grand.

Relationship Lesson #2

I discovered Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp back in 2005 when I was burned out with constant travel and 25 years of non-stop management consulting, and was looking for a sabbatical.  I saw a television clip (on an airplane, or course!) about RRFC and decided that was just what the doctor ordered!  It was a life-changing experience and got me back into guitar and bass playing and musical performance.  But I could not lose my consulting hat, and I approach the camp’s producer, David Fishof, some weeks after the camp with ideas about how to expand the concept and give more people the opportunity to experience the camp. He liked some of my ideas, and we formed a relationship that endures today.  The camp experience also led to long-lasting relationships with the other band members I was thrust together with for 5 days of forming, storming, morning and performing.  Lesson learned – don’t just go through the motions of your work and play – dig deeper and look for the mutually value-creating relationships.  They are everywhere – but you have to be ready and willing to see them!  And to be real and lasting, they have to create mutual value in some way.

Bucket List Item #3 – Deliver a Business Relationship Management Training Course to a Group of Master BRMs

OK – maybe claiming this as a bucket list item is a stretch, but after 20 years of consulting and training in the BRM space, I wanted to “give back” and facilitate a group of master BRMs and trainers.  And that happened last week, when I led the Certified Business Relationship Manager® training on behalf of Business Relationship Management Institute.

This was an incredible experience – not because of my leading the course, but as a result of the unique mix and skills of the participants, their passion for the subject and their willingness to share.  We had some absolute expert BRMs, with 7+ years of experience in the role and true mastery of the art.  We had some very seasoned IT professionals that were new to the BRM role, who asked powerful questions that led to great discussion and rich insight.  We had some master consultants with deep experience working with clients in this space, who shared war stories and their tips and tricks. We had expert trainers and “gurus” in the IT Service Management and Operating Model space, who helped connect the dots between BRM, ITIL and COBIT.

We had a diverse group of people, including those from Sweden, Scotland, Canada, Philippines, and from all over the US.  We had young (reasonably) and old (very – me!) male and female, black, white and brown.  But most importantly we had 16 participants (plus my BRMI co-founders, Aaron and Aleksandr) who held a deep passion about the subject, and came ready to share and learn from each other.

Relationship Lesson #3

When you co-found a company with the word “Relationship” in the title, and run a certification course that contains that word, you know that relationships are going to be important.  As I look back over the whole genesis of the non-profit Business Relationship Management Institute, the virtual relationships among us co-founders that had formed around a LinkedIn group, it became clear that shared goals, shared risk and rewards, and a deep passion about relationships and business value was a formula for not just strong relationships, but strong partnerships!  After a lifetime of chasing the dream of financial profits, I’m finding that chasing the reality of strong relationships is opening doors I never dreamed of, and creating opportunities rewarding well beyond financial wealth!

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