Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Adele: Lessons in How To Achieve Success

After only 10 months since its release, Adele's album 25 achieved diamond status - 10 million copies sold.  This is a remarkable achievement in an era where many consider the album format to be almost extinct as people purchase or stream songs instead.  Many albums take years to go platinum 10 times but Adele did it in less than a year.  

What was the last album to reach diamond status?  It was Adele's own 21.  It has sold 14 million copies so 25 may surpass it in a short time!

Adele kicked off her 56-city American tour in St. Paul, Minnesota this year to rave reviews, such as in Rolling Stone.  Unlike other singers, she uses her band, her voice and a cup of tea as a backdrop.  It definitely shows how you don't always need fancy lights and a cast of thousands when you let you talent shine through.

Her appearance on the March 2016 cover of Vogue gave an insightful quote into her absence and how she's comfortable now with her success and trying to prove herself.

“I didn’t miss being in the spotlight, but I really missed that side of myself. I was happy to be lost in the wilderness for a while, but I was a bit frightened that I was never going to get back. I suppose there was lots riding on what to follow '21' up with. Once ‘Hello’ came out, I felt like I’d got nothing to prove. I’m just going to sing now because I want to, and I’ll make records when I want to and not because someone is forcing me to do it. Not that anyone ever has. I’d fire them if they tried!”

She also has sold out her 56-city North American tour in a matter of minutes.  It should be pointed out that this isn't a tour of theaters or clubs but rather full-size arenas.  She sold out a record-breaking 6 nights at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, the same place where the L.A. Lakers play.  From St. Paul, Minnesota to Mexico City, every arena has sold out and there are still tens of thousands of fans who were left out because of the huge demand.

What's also remarkable is that this tour is without the promise of a huge spectacle or a massive glittering stage show with all the bells and whistles.  Adele could perform the tour all by herself onstage singing acapella and it wouldn't make a difference to her fans.  They might even prefer it!

All of the above is remarkable for a singer who had her last release 4 years ago and has been basically under the radar during that time period.  Compared to singers like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, Adele has been virtually invisible.  In this fast-paced world of social media where you must be constantly online or be forgotten, that is a remarkable achievement.

What Lessons Can Be Learned?

1) Be Yourself And Let Your Talent Speak For Itself

Adele began singing at age four and hasn't looked back since.  For her, it was about the music and the performance and not the glitz or glamour.  She sings without back-up dancers or an overwhelming display of pyrotechnics.  She can easily sell out arenas without needing an elaborate stage show or a dozen costume changes.

Adele simply needs to be honest and to be herself.  She doesn't feel the need to maintain a perfect body image or to do anything outrageous.  Nobody believes that she needs to do those things and as she remarked, "That’s my worst fear: people not believing me,”.

She definitely doesn't need any props or to sing on a horse.  That's not to see that every singer should have the same minimal approach but make sure that you have the basic talent to have success in your field.  Make sure there is steak along with the sizzle.

Katy Perry has an elaborate stage show but she also has the talent to go along with it.  If you wish to be a successful singer or artist or even a successful business person, make sure you have the training and the talent.  This will take some hard work but there has to be a solid foundation to anyone's success.

2) Sometimes Less Exposure is More

Her last album '21' sold 30 million copies worldwide but she only released 3 singles and two videos. After the success of the album, she stayed out of the limelight and only came out to record and sing the James Bond song 'Skyfall'.  Even then, she did not appear in the video although she did perform at the Oscar ceremony.  Her interview this past week with i-D Magazine was her first in 3 years.  In these days of countless talk shows and numerous online entertainment sites, that's quite an accomplishment.

In this age of social media, there's a fine line between being overexposed and leaving the pubic wanting more.  Kim Kardashian does not leave people wanting more but there is still an insatiable demand for her and her family, for the time being.  How long will it last until it burns out?  Nobody knows.

Adele, with her talent, has set herself up for a truly long career.  It wouldn't be surprising if she's still this popular when she's in her seventies, like a Barbra Streisand.  We can all definitely enjoy her singing but we can also learn some lessons in success from her remarkable and inspiring story!

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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Lessons in Success from James Bond and the James Bond Franchise

"Bond...James Bond"

The iconic phrase was first uttered by Sean Connery in the 1962 film Dr. No, where he portrayed a character introduced 9 years earlier in the novel Casino Royale.  Author Ian Fleming based the novel on his own wartime experiences in Naval Intelligence during the Second World War and got the name 'James Bond' from the author of the book 'Birds of the West Indies'.

From this almost innocuous beginning, movies starring James Bond have grossed almost $5 Billion  and the latest Bond film 'Spectre' added another $1 Billion in worldwide revenue.  Declared dead more than once over the past decades, the Bond franchise is as popular as ever more than 50 years after Dr. No's release.

In July 2017, it was announced that Daniel Craig will return as James Bond in a movie that will have a November 2019 release. This will be Craig's fifth movie in the title role and it will also be the 25th film in the James Bond franchise. As one theme song put it, nobody does it better.

What are some lessons that can be learned from this success?

1)  Stick With What Works

James Bond works with the British Secret Service with a license to kill.  He basically beats up the bad guys, gets the girl, saves the world and looks suave throughout.  James Bond was introduced during the Cold War and his adversaries were usually Russian agents, the international crime organization Spectre or mega-villains like Goldfinger.

When the Iron Curtain came down, the villains may have changed but James Bond remained the same.  The audience still wanted Bond to wear his tuxedoes, enjoy his drinks and vanquish the bad guys, usually with a quip.  The later films had some characters make remarks about Bond being a Cold War relic or a misogynist but he always remained the quintessential Bond that everyone grew up with.

You may tweak a product or an idea but it's always best to keep the essential aspects that made it popular in the first place.

2) Change Will Happen But Make It Work To Your Advantage

Sean Connery was the perfect James Bond for many but he wasn't going to play the character forever.  By the time Goldfinger came out, he was tired from the overwhelming public pressure and the negative effect he felt playing an icon was having on his acting career.

What happened next?  The producers decided on Roger Moore after a strange interlude where George Lazenby was hired, fired and Sean Connery was brought back only to quit again after one film (more on Mr. Lazenby later).

Roger Moore was not Sean Connery Part 2.  His Bond was more suave, had a lighter touch and less prone to use his fists.  The franchised was re-energized and had massive success with films such as The Spy Who Loved Me and Octopussy.  At times, the Roger Moore films went a bit far for Bond purists, especially with the sexual innuendo, but the franchise was as popular as ever and survived the absence of Sean Connery in the title role.

When Roger Moore retired, the James Bond movies kept rolling by using actors who brought different facets to the character but kept the essence.  Whether more suave or more brutal, the franchise kept itself fresh by not recycling the same exact Bond character all the time.

Some older fans may never have accepted any Bond after Sean Connery but younger fans definitely don't have the same stubborn loyalties.  They are entertained by the tried-and-true formula of the James Bond movies and perhaps have never seen any of the movies starring Connery or Moore.

3) Keep Up With The Times

James Bond is old-fashioned but he can't be a fossil.  Like a business product or idea, the Bond franchise has to keep up with the times.  When the Cold War ended, Bond found other villains.  When the Shuttle made space travel easier in the 70's, Bond went into orbit. When technology changed, Bond adapted (even Q become a tech wizard in Spectre as opposed to the gadget wizard in the older films).

Customers and clients may sometimes say to leave things as they are, but it's a fast-changing world and nostalgia can't always play a major role.  As stated before, adapt but keep the essence.  A 2015 Ford Mustang is different in many ways from a 60's version but's still a Mustang.

4) Dream Insanely Big And You Just May Reach That Goal!

George Lazenby was 22 when he saw Dr. No on a date in 1962.  Seven years later, he was the new James Bond.  How did that happen?  He was from Australa, not England.  He had no acting experience.  He was the son of a railway worker, certainly a far cry from the suave British gentleman spy.  How did such an unknown take over such an iconic role that had unprecedented world-wide popularity?

According to the interview, Lazenby got the part because he wanted it, wanted it more than anyone else.  When he saw Dr. No, the date didn't quite work out as planned but he now had the goal of becoming the next James Bond.  Watch the video (it's just over 2 minutes) to see how a seemingly impossible goal can be reached simply through desire and perseverance.

If an unknown non-actor could replace an icon like Sean Connery to become the next James, then anything is certainly possible for anyone, if you want it.

Spectre will be released in November 2015 and promises to be one of the most successful films of the year.  The James Bond franchise has maintained its popularity ever since the first film in 1962.  There have been peaks and valleys and rumors of its demise over the years but following the simple rules of success have allowed it to thrive and likely be a viable force for another 50 years.

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Friday, 2 October 2015

Quotes From Famous Athletes About Achieving Success

Success in life has many paths and it usually involves hard work and some sacrifice.  Successful athletes embody these principles and more.  Like in business, getting to the top isn't easy but it's very possible as long as you put in the effort and set your goals high enough.

There is no athlete who achieved success who said it was easy or a piece of cake. It is the same with life.  If someone sets a goal high enough, they will reach a greater level of achievement.  Nobody ever won a championship or created a successful business by setting a goal of just showing up.

Hard work and passion can lead to great things.  Put in the time and effort, and, most importantly, believe in yourself. The results will be well worth it.

Like Hank Aaron said, keep swinging.

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