July 2014

* uranus

"Good music is very close to primitive language."
(Denis Diderot)


Partners are a major source of uncertainty. They are also the most important factor for your startup's success. What can we learn from rockers about minimizing partner risk? Invest in the connection with your partners. In 1995 Anthony Kiedis, singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was in rehab for heroin addiction. He was the singer of one of the biggest bands in the world, with a new album coming out and a tour to embark on. His band mates needed Kiedis to do his job. Part of the rehab center's recovery process was to invite friends and family for a group session. Flea, The Chili Peppers' bassist, showed up. When the group session began, the therapist asked Flea, "How does it make you feel when Anthony's out there using drugs and you have no idea where he is or if he's ever going to come back?" Kiedis cringed in his seat. He figured Flea was going to rant about how mad he is that Kiedis is ruining all of their hard work. And he would be right.

But Flea burst into tears. "I'm afraid he's going to die on me," he sobbed. "I don't want him to die." Flea cared about Kiedis as more than a means to an end.

Truly great bands such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers treat each other like family. That's where their resilience comes from. Flea wasn't happy about what Kiedis's behavior was doing for the band. But first and foremost he was worried about him as his friend.

The same goes for startups. Other people are not just there to get the work done. They are not disposable parts. If they are, the team will have zero resilience for when times get tough. Without a strong relational fabric, the team will collapse at the first bump in the road.

Why does caring matter so much? Because it brings out the best in others. It facilitates others by giving them the support they need so that they can contribute at their highest level. It also creates a safe environment for making mistakes and experimenting.

Caring comes with playfulness, which helps with burnout and also opens up the team's resources and creativity. And caring increases loyalty. When band members look out for each other, they build a reservoir of goodwill that they tap into when times get tough.

Rock stars may not be eager for us to see them as business people. They want us to see them as loose and intuitive. They sell youth, and they need to represent. But if we look beyond the myth at the work that goes into their success, we can learn valuable lessons for how to start and grow all kinds of successful businesses.
(Ruth Blatt, What Rockers Can Teach Entrepreneurs)


"People hate being lied to, conned, or tricked. They also do not respect someone who lacks toughness. Great leaders can take on the challenges thrown at them and rally the team after a setback. (Note: the leader takes the responsibility for what transpired, of course.) "Resilience--the ability to hang in there when things are difficult--is critical in a career, and if you're spending every hour of the day pretending to be someone you're not, you'll be exhausted and won't have the energy needed to face your real work," Lazarus tells HBR. "On the flip side, if you're genuinely excited about what you're doing, and have that light in your eyes, it will attract other people to you, and motivate them."
(BY WILL YAKOWICZ, Personal Branding is a Sham)



"When we started, our goal was to become the industry," RZA says. "We started in my apartment. I didn't have no power, didn't pay the light bill. No one cared. No one knew any different. Making demo after demo, people just rotating through. I'm the only thing that was always there. And that's how 36 Chambers was formed-in the demos, in going into the studios as one. We recorded them again. Our own way. The whole industry. To take it [away] from people who had nothing to do with us. Record executives, managers, engineers. We took it. One army."

Here and now, RZA is a kind of prince. At forty-three, he is regal, elegant, contained-the embodiment of a prince. On this afternoon, there's a robe twisted all the way around him, held at the collar. Him sitting high in a chair, back set rigid, upright. An attendant at his side, a lieutenant dozing along a low garden wall. A woman brings drinks. This on a terrazzo set beneath a trellis, all of that sitting at the top of a tiered garden.

The past-how he got here-described as a kind of long spiritual pilgrimage, detailed in a long ramble. Like:

"I was spiritual before I became a performer, know what I'm sayin'? And that was after Christianity let me down. The teachings of it didn't work when I weighed it against the people who was teaching it to me. It was like saying, 'You exercise the body enough and everything be fine, you thrive' - only you saying it and you don't got no muscle. Anybody can see how weak you are, know what I'm sayin'? I'm a boy then. Ten, eleven, twelve. I'm like, 'What the fuck you talking about? It doesn't add up. It's not being practiced.' And it got to the point where I came to feel I was being persecuted by the people who were teaching me Christianity."

(By Tom Chiarella, It all Flows through Rza)

"Confusion is a gift from God. Those times when you feel most desperate for a solution, sit. Wait. The information will become clear. The confusion is there to guide you. Seek detachment and become the producer of your life."
(The RZA, The Tao of Wu)


I guess the way I would describe it is that when I was a kid, I would hear music on the radio -- as far back as I can remember, when I was three. There was a song on the charts that was all made with synthesizers back in the '70s. I just zeroed in on it; I just loved the sound of it. Every time I ever heard these kinds of sounds on a record, I went nuts for it. So I guess I was kind of born for it. A lot of TV shows I gravitated toward used a lot of electronics in them. When I finally saw what was making these sounds, I was hooked. I'd always wanted to make electronic music.

When I was thirteen, a friend of mine managed to get a baby synthesizer, and we spent three weeks making music in his house. We had Commodore computers, and we were making all kinds of electronic sounds -- just trying everything we could to sort of make music. We had no idea how to make it and whatever. But those were my first experiments, and I've been developing it up to now.

Advance and Follow I regard as my demos and not really our first album. I started formulating what VNV Nation is with Praise the Fallen. I say 1990, but officially, I can't say the band and the modus operandi I've used since happened until 1995. But I'd been playing electronic music and samplers; I think I got my first sampler in 1988. I had a job and sort of got it on a pay-as-you-go sort of plan.

At the time, as with a lot of musicians, it was making music that sounds like your idols rather than coming up with your own style. That's the whole point -- you try out different things. I guess I was heavily influenced by what was big in the day, which was Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 and a host of other music I loved, not just the industrial stuff.

I knew synthesizers already, but samplers were the kings of the '80s. Sampling movies and doing all that kind of stuff that sounds really lame right now, and you look back and think, "Oh, God, what were they thinking?" It's in retrospect that everything sounds out of date. But if I ever come across any of those experiments, I have to laugh or cringe or both.

(VNV Nation, by Tom Murphy)

"The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness."
(Fyodor Dostoevsky)