The Beatles: 3 Lessons in Business Success | Lexicon Late Night Episode 9

David: Hello. Welcome to another episode of Lexicon Late Night. I’m here, as always, with my esteemed colleague Justin.

Justin: Hey hey, David. Esteemed, I like that.

David: Oh, yes. So today we’re here to right a wrong, potentially. In a recent episode about BLACKPINK, we compared them, or I compared them, numerous times to the Beatles.

Justin: The Beatles.

David: Oh, yes. And that video went pretty wild on YouTube. Lots of comments. The Blinks didn’t appreciate the comparisons because obviously BLACKPINK are…

Justin: Better than the Beatles.

David: Exactly. Yeah. So here today we’re going to talk about the original pop phenomenon, which is the Beatles.

Justin: Yeah, I think it is. I don’t know if it’s righting a wrong, but it’s certainly a bit of a course correction, because BLACKPINK was our first foray into something that’s actually kind of new. And then they broke up. And then they broke up, and now we’re way throwing back to before we were even born, taking it back to the 60s with the greatest band, not even arguably, definitely the greatest band, biggest social impact, biggest cultural phenomenon, probably ever.

David: By every metric.

Justin: Yeah. Record sales, number one hits. And all of this happened in the course of a single decade or eight years, really so.

David: Crazy. Crazy. And a period of huge historical change too, coming out of the Second World War, going through the psychedelic era of the 60s, free love and an ending that as the 70s started, a whole new type of person was evolving. The hippies were growing up. Uh, I’m sure there’s some things we can’t say about that era, but.

Justin: Yeah, well, I mean, an era of great change and hope. And then at the end of it, not the greatest of endings.

David: Yes. So I think we can use the word psychedelic.

Justin: Yeah, sure. And then the psychedelic evolved into other more downer type things. Yes. Which definitely took its toll on the band itself. I don’t know if we need to be speaking in code here.

David: We probably don’t. Everyone’s a grown up. It’s fine. Yeah, but should we get into who they were then before we break down the lessons today. Lexicon Late Night is where we take the greatest storytellers from history and apply three lessons that all business leaders can learn from. So we’re going to get into that soon. But before we do that, for anyone who doesn’t know who the Beatles are.

Justin: You don’t know the Beatles. So yeah. So a rock band formed in the late 50s actually is when they formed in Liverpool, England, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and then obviously their final line up with George Harrison and Ringo Starr. But before they became the Beatles, they were the Quarrymen. They were. I don’t know that we need to get into that too much, but then the core of the Beatles was always Lennon and McCartney, right? And then Harrison joined in. They had an old drummer, Pete Best, and maybe we should talk about, because in the BLACKPINK episode, maybe we should jump into the first lesson here even.

David: Okay, sure. Yeah, sure. So in the BLACKPINK episode, we spoke about the 10,000 hours rule from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers book, which I think was an applicable lesson for them. They really did spend seven hours, seven years in the boot camp, dancing eight hours a day. So they put in the hours to become these perfect, perfectly choreographed, talented dancers. The Beatles were referenced in the book as a prime example of what that means. So the 10,000 hours rule is you have to have the ability, the opportunity, but most importantly, the effort, the perseverance, the perspiration, the dedication.

Justin: Perspiration, blood, sweat and tears.

David: Oh yes, oh yes. So the Beatles literally are the example given in the book of the ultimate form of the 10,000 hours rule.

Justin: Yeah, we mentioned it a little bit in the previous episode, but so they played long sets six, seven days a week. Was it? Yep, eight hours a day. So they started in Liverpool, but then they got these residencies at Go Go bars, right? in Hamburg, Germany. Pretty much. Yeah. And they were just playing to these raucous crowds, very unruly folks in the crowd. And they had to they had to be on point every night to succeed with that audience in front of them.

David: Yeah. Eight hours a night. And this is in the late 50s. Right. So there wasn’t that much music, right? Just 20 years earlier. It was like the Vera Lynn kind of slow music. Rock and roll was only a few years old, right? Right.

Justin: Sure. Well, you had you know, Elvis was obviously a massive cultural phenomenon. Guys like Chuck Berry and all of that evolved from the Blues. But then the Beatles took it and put their own sort of unique spin on it, which they honed and mastered during their time in Hamburg.

David: Because they were playing eight hours a night, though, they they literally played every song that you could play at that point, from the blues, from the rock and roll that existed. Because obviously we’ve got a iPods just date ourselves a little bit. We’ve got our iPods in our pocket, our phones with Spotify, infinite Music on it. They, there’s probably only a thousand songs they could even pick from at that point. Right. And so they just knew them all. They knew every single type of way to. Every single type of instrument that existed at that time. So they were truly masters of the craft. The first to do it, in fact.

Justin: Yeah. And then so whenever a band comes on the stage and blows up the way that the Beatles did, although they, they blew up more than anybody had ever before or since, people tend to think, oh, wow, these guys came from nowhere and they really didn’t. It’s a testament to all that work that they put in. But then when they really did kind of come on to the scene in the early 60s. So around 62 was when they released their first album and then 64, The British Invasion, coming to the States, doing The Ed Sullivan Show. That appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was seen by 73 million Americans. So that’s more, it’s more than a third of the entire country watching that performance. It’s hard to overstate the impact of that. Like we say that the BLACKPINK are the Beatles of the 21st century. You made a good case for that. But it’s not like a third of the country watching their Coachella headlining performance or something like that. Like you just can’t have that kind of impact anymore.

David: Yeah, and we’ll get into trend setting later on. But they. They were the first of so many different things. We’ll come back to that in a second. But the 10,000 hours rule, they came out of the gate and they just were unique in style, in sound, in everything. And they did lead the British Invasion. They were the first of many. I think the Rolling Stones came soon after. And yeah.

Justin: And the animals and others that are less big, the Rolling Stones probably being the biggest one.

David: Beatles wrote their first hit song, by the way.

Justin: The Rolling Stones. Really? What song is that?

David: I can’t recall, but it was on the second Beatles album too.

Justin: Oh, we’ll put it up on the screen in post. But yeah. So another quick thing I wanted to mention on the 10,000 hours point. So Ringo, their drummer, joined a bit later, so he wasn’t with them in Hamburg. But the core thing here is that, that’s where they they mastered playing together, especially Lennon and McCartney, and where songwriting together really, really started to gel. But then Ringo coming in, it’s not like he’s coming in without having put in his own 10,000 hours. And just a little fun fact here Ringo is left handed. Paul is left handed too, so half the band is left handed. Maybe that’s why they’re so creative. But for Ringo, he played a right handed drum kit. But he’s left handed. So even though he’s playing fairly simple beats, he’s got his own completely unique sound. And then that propelled the band to be even more creative on top of those beats that he’s producing. I also read somewhere you mentioned that you had seen that too that Ringo was extremely precise as a drummer, something like to .001 seconds of like perfect being on beat. So the man was a human metronome.

David: Yes. Yeah. He could hear anything that Paul and the rest of the guys were playing and immediately tune into it, find the right speed, the right style. Even though they were all over the place style wise, he could always dial it in. I think an important lesson that we didn’t bring up last time, though is that what Gladwell says about 10,000 hours, it’s not just that the more hours you do, the better that you get. It’s the more hours that you do, you’ve made every kind of mistake you can make. So once you’ve done 10,000 hours, you’ve messed up in every conceivable way. But you’re confident enough at that point to know how to fix it, too. So it’s not necessarily that you keep getting better and better and better. You may plateau at a certain point.

Justin: You just get better at hiding your mistakes.

David: Exactly. Yeah. So the Beatles, when they were in Hamburg, had mastered the technical stuff. They knew how to play together. They had the camaraderie. They knew that they could figure out eight hours of music every night, but they didn’t yet know how to play stadiums or go on TV or to be a huge boy band. They figured that stuff out, too, and at a certain point, which we’ll get to later. They knew they couldn’t fail, which allowed them to push on to these even more creative heights. Right.

Justin: Yeah. It’s that confidence in your abilities. Yeah. And also the chemistry of working together, having done it for so long.

David: Yes. Exactly. So lessons for business people. Yeah.

Justin: They’re good. Yeah. I was wondering when we were going to get to that.

David: Be the Beatles.

Justin: Yeah, yeah. Be the best. Make every conceivable error and then know how to cover up your mistakes artfully. No, that’s probably not the message. I think the lesson is probably something that we’ve said in previous episodes, but we can expand on it, is that if you’re a business leader, you’ve put in your 10,000 hours, so you have done all of those. You’ve already made every conceivable error. You know, the way to success and you know, more importantly, how to help your clients succeed. So you’ve put in the work. Now it’s time to just show your expertise. Show your brilliance. Show that you’re somebody worth following. Show that you’re a worthy guide.

David: Exactly. Yeah. So act with confidence because you can’t fail. Pretty much. At least you know how to fix it. And the guide thing is really important. I was going to mention that myself too. I think we probably mentioned it in previous episodes.

Justin: I think we’ve mentioned it in every single episode.

David: Good. So one more time is acceptable. And so the guide is always a bit silly. I’ve said this before.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, sure, but no, worth restating.

David: Obi-wan Kenobi, the genie from Aladdin. They’ve been there and they’ve done it for 10,000 hours, so they’re on an adventure. They’re taking the young rookie hero on a journey. The hero is nervous and certain. The guide’s always funny. They’re always relaxed for that same reason that they know how to do it. And even if things go wrong, they can pull it together really quickly. So if you are a business leader, whether it’s in marketing or in any scenario, you know, the confidence really matters. It matters for people to follow you, but also matters for you to be able to reach your potential, your ultimate goals. Don’t plateau, push on.

Justin: Yeah, and that actually brings us nicely to our next lesson. But before we get into that, of that just confidence of being kind of nonchalant in the face of what seem to be insurmountable challenges just because you’ve been there, done that, you’ve seen it all before. You can be sort of happy go lucky and silly because you just know that ultimately you’ve got what it takes to succeed. Especially important to have that kind of positioning as a business leader when you’re in the B2B space, right? Because this is stuff you’ve talked about in other videos, not on Lexicon Late Night, but B2B decisions, purchasing decisions are made over a longer course of time. It’s not like you’re selling gum or potato chips or whatever where it’s a spur of the moment thing. No, you have to really position yourself as an expert in your field over a long period of time, show that you’re worthy of somebody’s business, give away free help and advice, and then ultimately, when the time comes for potential clients to make a decision, you can be top of mind.

David: Exactly. Be Gandalf.

Justin: Be Gandalf. But do not plateau. As you said a minute ago. So that brings us to our second lesson here, which is: continue innovating. Continue being a trendsetter. Don’t rest on your laurels. Always try to find new boundaries to push and expand your horizons. I said the same thing several different ways there, but that’s exactly what the Beatles did. Obviously, their first few albums were innovative in their own way. It’s a new approach to something that has already kind of been done. It’s just the natural evolution of rock and roll, which grew out of blues, right? But somewhere in the mid 60s, they started expanding their minds. I’ve read somewhere that meeting Bob Dylan, they were all big Bob Dylan fans, and Bob Dylan was a fan of theirs as well. And so them meeting each other sort of led to both of them emulating each other in some pretty interesting ways. So right around 1966 was where Bob Dylan went electric, sort of copying the Beatles style, and then the Beatles, their sound matured. I read also somewhere that Dylan was the one who introduced them to marijuana. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence or not. Obviously you can see it in the content of the John, especially where… George as well, where they they start being a little bit more out there with their ideas, but also with their music, right.

David: Yeah, absolutely. And as you said, they started off as a… They are the archetypal prototype of a boyband. Yeah. Four pretty boys kind of wearing the fashion of the time, doing the thing. And it was when we hear those first couple of albums. It sounds old now. It sounds old, it sounds cheesy, you know. I want to hold your hand kind of thing.

Justin: Twist and shout. Exactly.

David: But yeah, it’s hard to put yourselves in the context of that being a new movement like, oh my God, these guys have got long hair. Yeah, that was a big thing. Wow.

Justin: And they don’t even. It’s just like a little bit over their ears.

David: Yeah. Those videos of, like, the girls at the airport screaming and fainting and stuff. Yeah. That phenomenon was new. It hadn’t happened before. You hadn’t had a boy band? Well, Elvis had done the same thing as an individual, but as a Northern English fellas going over there doing that. That was new. But yeah, to fast forward to. It’s legal now we can talk about it, right? They started to smoke marijuana with Bob Dylan and then they got a lot more creative with.

Justin: Rubber Soul is probably the first one that’s sort of in this psychedelic phase. But this also coincides with what they call the studio era. Right. Because. I don’t know if this is worth getting into, but they actually they were doing these big shows, but they actually stopped doing shows and focused on studio recording. Why is that?

David: So there’s a few reasons. One was that John had said they were bigger than Jesus, which caused a lot of problems. Oh yeah. A lot of protests everywhere they went and that kind of stuff, which was annoying. But in terms of trend setting, they were literally the first band to ever play a stadium, which meant that the acoustics weren’t right. Right.

Justin: So sound engineers didn’t know how to set up.

David: Exactly. So you’d have a couple of speakers on the stage, and otherwise it was coming out of the PA? Oh man. It sounded like an airport playing some music.

Justin: And you’d probably hear yourself back two seconds later. It’d be a nightmare. Exactly.

David: So the monitors weren’t set up properly so they couldn’t hear anything. And the music that they were making, it didn’t really sound good at that time, because it wasn’t meant to be on that kind of level. The sad irony is, if they’d played the stuff later that they made in the studio, they never got to play it live because they quit. But if they’d played like she’s so heavy in a stadium now. Yeah, it would be pretty heavy. Yeah, for sure the place would melt. Um, so yeah, they stopped because they were ahead of their time in terms of technology, in terms of the music they were creating. And so they… what was sad for anyone who wanted to see them live was a gift to us 60 years later because of the music they went on to.

Justin: Right. Yeah. And we’ve already mentioned this, but they’re averaging more than an album per year, and these are some of the most iconic albums of all time. Right. I’m not sure if my chronology is going to be correct here, but you’ve got Rubber Soul, you’ve got Sergeant Pepper’s, which is… a lot of people like Rolling Stone voted it the greatest album of all time. Magical Mystery Tour, Abbey Road no. Magical Mystery, Sergeant Pepper’s, Magical Mystery Tour, White Album, Abbey Road, and Then Let It Be. Although ” Let It Be” was recorded earlier, but they just released it afterwards. So in terms of just being creative and pushing boundaries in those stretches of albums, they’re doing stuff in the studio that no other band had ever done before. So, you know, they’ve got this psychedelic sound, you mentioned She’s So Heavy. It’s like a prototypical kind of heavy rock song. They’re incorporating just orchestras, especially on the Sergeant Pepper’s album. They’ve got weird double tracking going on all kinds of backup vocals. Some really like weird sounds as well, and just doing something that nobody had ever done before. And so, yeah, when we look back, like you said to the earlier stuff, I want to Hold Your Hand. Please, Please Me, you know, Help all of this stuff. It does sound old, but the psychedelic stuff that they put out still sounds fresh today.

David: Yeah, the stuff from the late 60s. It sounds incredible and I want to get into this too much because it’s coming in point 3. But I recently saw the Beatles documentary Get Back and it’s digitally remastered, so it looks like it was made yesterday. But to see technology… them working with technology to like in terms of stuff like synthesizers and they’ve got early video cameras that are recording this whole thing. They’re always pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved, including recording on the roof. And it sounds amazing.

Justin: Yeah. Yeah. How did they manage to record such good quality audio on the roof of a building outside?

David: It makes no sense. Like I’ve Got a Feeling sounds unbelievable. But it’s recorded in January on a roof in London. It must have been so windy. It must have been so cold. But all you hear is just pure brilliance.

Justin: I guess that’s just how good they were. Yeah.

David: And yeah, to talk about that to the evolution we’ve got, as you said already, Lennon and McCartney were the driving force. Harrison was the quiet Beatle, but by this end era, Harrison’s been with Bob Dylan extensively, with Eric Clapton extensively.

Justin: He’s also been meditating and.

David: Yeah, they’ve had the Indian phase where they were over there and getting into all that stuff. So by the time that they start to wrap up, he’s also evolved massively. He’s gone from being the quiet one to arguably in that period being the most creative. Sure. Yeah.

Justin: Well, Here Comes the Sun. I think that’s what you’re hinting at. Here is arguably their best song. And you know, Dylan, sorry, Lennon and McCartney had so many iconic songs and it was cool that from the beginning they decided to share writing credits, although it’s pretty obvious who wrote which one, because they’re the one singing on it.

David: And it’s a lot weirder from Lennon.

Justin: And it tends to be weirder from Lennon. Yeah. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. And then McCartney, so many beautiful songs, Blackbird Yesterday, all of these beautiful songs. But yeah, Harrison became a major contributor as well. And yeah, Here Comes the Sun is like a really mature song and a mature sound that also still sounds fresh to this day.

David: Yeah, it’s got double the amount of listens to any other Beatles songs on Spotify. Oh, really?

Justin: Yeah. I wonder why that is.

David: Was it in a movie or something?

Justin: Yeah, maybe. Maybe it was in a TikTok video or something.

David: Oh, God, that would be sad.

Justin: Maybe BLACKPINK did a dance cover of it.

David: Yeah. Probably true. Yeah. Probably true. So, yeah, it’s a. It’s a beautiful story and it’s just a… it’s a tragedy in a way that it was so short lived, but maybe it was for the best. But in those eight years, they went from that teeny bopper clean cut image. They smoked weed, they did other psychedelic things, and they came out of it towards the end, just bursting with all this creative talent. And just right at the end, they’re getting more and more creative. We’ve got Here Comes the Sun on the final album. We’ve got She’s So Heavy on the final album. We’ve got the what’s the very silly song on the album?

Justin: Is it Ob-la-di Ob-la-da?

David: Octopus’s Garden. Oh, Octopus.

Justin: Yeah we should. We’d be in remiss not to mention, Ringo does have some songs, but they tend to be. They tend to be pretty silly. Yellow Submarine and Octopus’s Garden.

David: Yeah, that’s what makes it so beautiful. Like you’ve got all these brilliant different types of people working together. It’s just a shame they couldn’t hold it together. and we’ll come back to why that is in the third lesson. But what lessons can we teach? What can businesses learn from?

Justin: It’s. Yeah. So it’s just pushing boundaries. It’s not being satisfied. So yeah, you’ve put in your 10,000 hours. You are an expert. But what are you going to do with all of that work that you put in? You’ve got to keep building upon it. Right. And also, you know, in the social media world, you’ve got to keep people interested. So you’ve got to find creative ways to deliver your message. So I’m not saying that you should use gimmicks or anything like that, but maybe you should. Right? If you’re in a space where all of your competitors are sounding the same and you’ve got basically the same message and you’re offering the same services, you should not be afraid to get creative because that’s the only way you’re going to stand out, right?

David: When they zig zag.

Justin: Yeah.

David: And yeah, most industries evolve rapidly. I mean, that eight year period of crazy evolution is probably what we’re going to see with AI, maybe even more quickly than that. Yeah.

Justin: That’s another good point. So to be innovative. You’ve got to stay on top of all the latest trends and use whatever tools are at your disposal.

David: Yeah, and, you know, we can’t say in a law firm is the Beatles, for example. But you can change, if you’re the market leader, you can change the dialogue, you can introduce new services that didn’t exist before. If you’ve got the 10,000 hours, if you’ve got the confidence, and if you have the right people like don’t rest on your laurels. Things change. Test stuff out. I think William Malik says you always have to be investing 5% of your budget in the future, even if it doesn’t work out because you never know what’s coming. So you’ve got to keep someone’s got to keep an eye on what everyone else is doing, what other industries are doing, so that you’re making sure you’re always ahead.

Justin: Yeah, sure. And then you can have the first mover advantage.

David: Exactly, exactly. So the Beatles had the first mover advantage. They were crushing it. Everything was going great, but they broke up after less than a decade of success.

Justin: Yeah, yeah, it’s maybe that’s why maybe they knew it was coming. So they’re like, all right, we got to squeeze as much creativity out of this group as possible while we’ve still got it. While we’re still together. Yes. And so the documentary that you watched, I haven’t seen it in its entirety, but it does show that the end is sort of coming. It foreshadows that a little bit.

David: Yeah. They don’t know it’s coming, but watching it. Yeah, it’s coming for sure. And one of the main reasons is that they were discovered by Epstein.

Justin: Yeah.

David: Brian Epstein.

Justin: Brian Epstein. Not to be confused with the other one.

David: Yes. So Brian Epstein discovered them in Liverpool. He owned a record label.

Justin: Yeah, well, he was hired as their manager, I think, in 62. And just a quick funny anecdote, I was reading their Wikipedia page in preparation for this. So he got them out of some other contracts that they were in. And then he was shopping them around to record labels. And apparently an executive at Decca Records, a big record label at the time, said, I’m not going to sign these guys. Guitar music is on its way out. That’s hilarious to say that in 1962. This is before Hendrix and everything else that came in the 60s.

David: So yeah, he owned a record shop, not a record label. Okay. And then he shipped them around, and ultimately EMI signed them. And he was the one that managed all the business stuff for them. So you guys go and focus on putting your hours in, trendsetting, pushing things forward. I’ll handle the boring stuff. So record contracts, touring schedules, setting up the movies they were going to be in, all that kind of stuff. So he was the one that was keeping things organized. But unfortunately, he died, I think it was ’67.

Justin: Yeah, I’m not sure. But somewhere around that time.

David: So around the same time the Beatles were launching their own record label, their own business called Apple Inc, which was everything.

Justin: Yeah, it’s funny that that’s not trademarked.

David: Yeah, it is, it is weird. Especially because Apple does music these days. So that was not just music production for themselves, but they were going to hire other artists, they were going to produce. They were going to make movies. They were going to publish books, all this stuff. But now they don’t have a manager, so they’re managing themselves. So they’re trying to create, you know, three albums in a year, basically towards the end. Plus manage all this business stuff. Plus they’re all kind of burnt out and they’ve gotten this crazy journey from local Liverpool lads to global megastars who are still under 30, figuring out who they are. They’ve been smoking weed, doing acid, meditating. They’re in this crazy headspace and they’re at the peak of their powers, but they’re also now serious managers. So ultimately the failure, in my opinion, was it was a lack of management. Right.

Justin: So does that stem from you need somebody in the management role, you can’t have four equal partners calling the shots because that’s inevitably going to lead to conflict. You have to have someone that you trust managing you.

David: Yeah. And it’s the right person, the right seat too. Like, they can handle the creative part of it, but they probably didn’t want to handle the accounting. Yeah. That’s not. 

Justin: Yeah you don’t want John Lennon in his Yoko Ono era doing, crunching the numbers there.

David: Exactly, exactly. So yeah, in the Get Back documentary, just if you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s a fascinating, fascinating case study, not just on the Beatles and their music, but just on creative people coming together. They’ve got 30 days to write a whole album, produce the whole album and then record it at the end of 30 days. Yeah. So it’s a documentary basically. It’s like a ticking time clock kind of thing. Right.

Justin: Yeah, it’s like like 24.

David: Yeah, yeah, exactly. You got 30 days.

Justin: Or like the South Park six days to air, which we mentioned in a previous episode. Why did they do that? Why put themselves in that situation?

David: So Paul was leading it at that point. And Paul was kind of the de facto manager because John was a bit out of his head at that point. George was blossoming, and he’d been in America working with Dylan and producing other artists. So I think Paul might have known that they were in their moment. Plus things were kind of falling apart. So I think he was trying to get them all together as much as possible to keep them together. I think that was his goal because if they weren’t recording, they weren’t touring either, so they weren’t seeing each other. So the more time apart, the more they’re going to grow apart. But they’d also performed three months earlier, the first ever global satellite broadcast where they played All You Need Is Love. Oh yeah. Yeah. Have you not seen the video for that where you got all these people coming around them? Yeah. Yeah, sure. Pretty cool. So they enjoyed the experience of playing live again. So they were like, okay, let’s give ourselves a challenge. Let’s do 30 days, we’ll produce an album. Then we’re going to this huge concert somewhere. Originally, the concert was going to be in some kind of amphitheater in Yemen or something crazy like that. Right. That was the original goal. But the time was running out like it was, okay, it’s 15 days to go, ten days to go. Where are we going to play? There’s three days to go. Where are we going to play? And somebody eventually says, oh, let’s just go on the roof. Right.

Justin: And then so they put that together in three days.

David: Yeah. And they go on the roof and they put together this incredible their final performance ever. So it shows that they can still work together. But it’s really hard work for Paul because George quits halfway through because he didn’t feel he’s getting enough respect. Which is true because it’s Lennon & McCartney. Lennon’s there with Yoko, but he’s out of his head pretty much. He’s checked out. You can just see clearly.

Justin: Everyone always likes Ringo, though. He’s always cool.

David: He’s cool, yeah, he’s friends with everybody because he’s just, like, happy to be there.

Justin: I’m just the drummer. I’m not sure on my Liverpool accent there, but.

David: Ultimately it is actually not just lack of management that they break up or where they break up over management because John meets this guy, Allen Klein, who’d worked with the Rolling Stones before and brings him in as the manager of at least the Beatles, maybe Apple Inc. Even Paul immediately says, no way. I don’t want anything to do with this guy. He’s a crook. Count me out. And that’s ultimately why they break up. Paul ends up suing the rest of the Beatles to be removed from Apple Inc because of this guy, Allen Klein, who he doesn’t trust, who turns out to have actually been fraudulent and messed them all up. So it was lack of management that kind of sowed division amongst them because Paul was the leader, but they didn’t really want to see him as the leader because they were all equals. So that made it difficult. They started to come to the studio late. Yoko started to be there. They had to drink too much, do too many drugs because there was no leader.

Justin: No leadership, right.

David: But then they brought in a leader, but it was the wrong leader. And then they ended up all hating each other for the next five years.

Justin: So I guess the lesson here for business leaders, which you mentioned earlier, is just right people in the right seats.

David: It really is. And we can say that for Lexicon perspective, having seen a lot of people in other seats over the years. Musical seats. Yeah. You need in a company various types of people to succeed. You need a CEO with a vision. You need a COO who can help pull that together. If you’re going to be a big company, especially if you’re a thousand people or whatever, you need a good CFO, good COO, good CEO, and they’re very different skill sets you wouldn’t want to have probably the CEO being the CFO, because one guy needs to be seeing the future, and one guy needs to be kind of seeing the past a little bit. Sure.

Justin: Yeah. Or at least reconciling the past.

David: Yeah. So management, everyone thinks these days, “Oh, you know, if we can get rid of management, everyone will be happier.” Maybe. But you will be no company.

Justin: You’d have no direction. Yeah.

David: Yeah. You need someone to set the goals. Someone to make sure that stuff gets done. Someone says pick the right team. So we mentioned earlier the the importance of thinking about a company as a team, not a family. Yeah. And I think they probably started to lack that towards the end, where they were probably just thinking of themselves as a family where everything goes so John can be out of his head, Paul can be domineering, George can be demotivated. If they had someone there who was like pulling them together like, hey guys, we’ve got 30 days. Yeah. We need to get this done. None of your nonsense. Let’s get working. Yeah, it wasn’t really anyone doing that.

Justin: No nonsense. You need someone calling the shots. Yeah, another little sub lesson there is just the fact that they gave themselves 30 days to produce this album. There’s something to be said for creating deadlines for yourself. For sure. Especially if you’re a creative person. Like, if you have unlimited time to make something you’re going to end up not making anything. So if you go, okay, well, this video production Bangkok has to go live on this date, then you kind of put yourself into a corner where you have to create your way out of it. And we saw with the South Park guys, and we see here with the Beatles that often that’s a recipe for brilliance.

David: Boy, it’s amazing what they did create in those 30 days. Like it’s some amazing songs on there. And the rooftop performance is so delightful. It’s such a charming thing to see because they were all, it’s their last ever performance that kind of falling apart. But when you get them together and you get them on the stage, just the the synergy between them, it just pops all this organic stuff going on, just the little segues saying to each other. It’s a piece of musical history and a piece of piece of cultural history that they pull it together in 30 days, even though they kind of hate each other in many ways. They just. They were just that bloody good.

Justin: Yeah. Yeah. And that fits in with the team analogy. Like despite their differences, these are star players at the top of their game. So they pulled it out in the end.

David: Yeah I’d love to have seen where they went. Like if John was to leave. Like George could have possibly stepped up into the John role. They could have stuck together that way. If they hadn’t got this manager guy if Yoko hadn’t come around. There’s all these ifs and buts and maybes because they all had successful careers afterwards. All of them have platinum albums after the Beatles, so they still had loads more left in them. If they’d taken a year off, a couple of years off, or done side projects that come back, the best could have still come.

Justin: Yeah. Yeah, but. You know, 60 years after the fact, I don’t know if it’s worth crying over that potential milk there where we could just be glad that we got those eight years of unprecedented brilliance from them.

David: And there’s 12, 13 albums, I think. Yes. Ridiculous. Yeah.

Justin: Yeah. Crazy. Yeah, yeah. So just to recap here on the lessons for business leaders from the Beatles: 1. Put in your 10,000 hours, you’ve got the expertise, show it to your audience. 2. Don’t rest on your laurels. Always keep innovating. Try to use new technology. Try to stay ahead of trends. Always be researching. Always be doing development. Stay ahead of the curve and set trends. And then 3. Importance of management. Right people in the right seats.

David: Exactly, absolutely. And if you haven’t heard of the Beatles before, go and check them out. They’ve got endless great songs and there’s layers and layers and layers to it. One of their final songs especially we saw George kind of come to his peak right at the end, which was called Here Comes the Sun.

About the speakers.

The speakers are members of Lexicon’s executive team with over 40 years of marketing experience between them. Lexicon is a leading digital agency in Bangkok, Thailand. 

David Norcross is Lexicon CEO and an award-winning entrepreneur with a focus on B2B storytelling.

Justin St-Denis is Lexicon Director of Digital Storytelling, a former journalist and an experienced social media strategist.


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