The John Mayer Concert: The Rhythm of Good Business

Mar 11, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

John Mayer New Orleans
John Mayer New Orleans

I went to the John Mayer concert last night at the New Orleans Arena.  My brother-in-law went through John Mayer’s fan club to get us 4th row center floor seats.  It was this new paperless ticket process so we were actually nervous it wouldn’t work and somehow we wouldn’t get in to the concert.  When I sat down in my seat and was only about 20 feet from the microphone I exhaled and decided I liked the paperless process!  And I am glad I have a brother-in-law who would take the time and put in the energy to join the fan club just to get these seats for us (he didn’t even go).  Anyway, the paperless tickets were the first in many high quality business applications I experienced.

Here are a few others:

  1. Successful people make things work, even if everything around them doesn’t work.  I don’t know anything about sound technology, but early in the Mayer concert, something was going haywire with the sound and the electric guitars.  You know, that high pitched unpleasant squealing.  After about 30 seconds of people messing with his amp, John Mayer says “Let’s go acoustic” and out comes an acoustic guitar and he starts singing.  Everyone else left the stage – drummer, singers, bass, keyboard.  It was just John and his guitar.  It was awesome and between songs he looked at one of the team, took a swig of water, and started another acoustic song.  Apparently that one look communicated “We haven’t figured it out yet, sorry… keep going!”  And then, on the 3rd song, an electric was handed to him and he turns to start singing without even looking for his band.  They just all floated back on stage and started in unison with his lead.
  2. Leaders have physical presence in their environments.  Some call it confidence, others may see it as a swagger…but true leaders have an recognizable physical presence.  John Mayer has this on stage.  He doesn’t have to scream things to the audience to gain attention.  He didn’t need props, a choreographed show, or any pomp and circumstance.  He just connected with the audience and shared his confidence through his craft.  Even when he was the only one on stage – the energy level didn’t change.  And it was funny, because I heard many people claim that John Mayer made eye contact with “them”.  Like he was singing just to me!  People are entertaining.  But I believe that people gravitating to you, feeling connected with you, and having appreciation for your gifts is a sign of the “presence” of leadership.
  3. Smooth operations and logistics are a foundation for success. The opening band for John Mayer was fine, but you could see the difference in their system compared to John Mayer’s.  The opening band leader had to look at his group to signify “let’s start playing”.  They actually spoke to each other on the mike giving instructions to each other and to the people helping with logistics. (I think there is a name for the people who run around on stage, and off, getting the band what they need but I don’t know what they are called.)  Flash over to John Mayer’s team.  He never had to communicate with anyone.  The entire band knew their individual parts.  John stayed focused on the audience and everything around him just occurred like a well oiled machine.  Even with the audio glitch, everyone seemed to just know what they were to do.  AND THE POINT HERE is that STUFF happens.  In our businesses we will have problems.  God doesn’t promise us that we will not have suffering and Satan does promise to cause it if he can.  The key to delivering incredible value to your customer is the ability to seamlessly work through the problems, issues, glitches, so that it is invisible to the customer.  The result they are expecting is still DELIVERED.

You may be thinking that if you had the capital and resources of John Mayer you could pull off minor miracles too!  But he didn’t start off with these resources.  I don’t think he wielded the same power and control when he was 18 years old and starting out.  However, I do believe he did work on these principles since day 1.  I think that:

  • making lemonade out of life’s lemons
  • letting his confidence in his craft reflect in his leadership presence
  • and paying attention to the details of excellent execution

were always a part of John Mayer’s vision.  And I am sure over a decade later he is happy to have abundant resources to help insure that he delivers to his audience’s expectations, but remember it started with a musically talented kid with a dream.  And now he has created a rhythm for his business that transcends the beat of the music.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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