retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

I’m sure you are been in this exact place: you have a critical opening on your team and need to hire someone quickly. Incredibly, you find a great candidate only the interview doesn’t go well. The great candidate demonstrates none of the passion necessary for your team or your business.

So, what do you do?

That was the exact dilemma faced by Bruce Springsteen in one of the interesting chapters of his new book, “Born to Run.” While some of you may not be fans of Springsteen’s music, you’ll appreciate the challenges he faced as a small business owner that are sprinkled throughout the nearly 600-page book.

Now obviously The Boss did not write his book to provide business lessons, but here at MNB we find those lessons everywhere. And frankly, Springsteen’s don’t even require much of a stretch.

For instance, the autobiography traces Springsteen’s rise to superstardom, but also the business difficulties he encountered along the way. Like many of us, he was not born to run a business or a team. He needed to learn.

Springsteen made terrible mistakes on contracts and learned the importance of getting good and intelligent advice. He struggled with finding the balance between being one of the guys and running the band.

Most strikingly, he learned to understand his strengths and weaknesses, which helped fuel his rise. As Springsteen admits, he doesn’t have the world’s greatest voice, nor is he the best guitar player around. What he learned in the course of his growth is that he authentically believes in his songs and that authenticity endears him to an ever-growing audience.

And that passion for his songs, his bands and his audience is what fueled the lesson on hiring.

Late in the book, Springsteen recounts the painful loss of Clarence Clemons, the band’s saxophone player and a critical cog in the sound and vibe of the group. While mourning his friend, he faced an important business decision - a replacement had to be found for future concerts.

Luckily, there was an obvious choice: Clemons’ nephew, Jake, who occasionally filled in when his uncle was ailing.

But on the day of his audition him, Jake arrived an hour late, saying he got lost. Springsteen, like many of us, accepted this excuse even while his blood pressure rose. And then things only got worse.

When asked if he felt comfortable playing some songs Springsteen asked him to prepare, Jake said, “Somewhat.” The Boss exploded.

In very colorful language, Springsteen started yelling about what he feels makes “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band” so special. It’s about the passion for the music and the promise to deliver the best concert possible each and every time. Being “somewhat” ready doesn’t approach that level.

Springsteen told the young man to come back when he is far better prepared. It took a few weeks, but Jake returned, auditioned, and secured his place with the E Street Band.

Now clearly, none of us are hiring for a position as coveted as a spot in Bruce Springsteen’s band, but the lesson is so clear. Like the Boss we need to instill and express our passion to those we hire. We need to remind them what our customers expect from us.

Just like Bruce, we need to remind them that all jobs matter and success - theirs and ours - depends on us actually caring and trying to do our best.

You can’t be a rock star any other way.


Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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