How to become an icon (4 business secrets from The Boss)

By Lori

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When you’re an icon, you have fans in high places.

Not your boss. The Boss.

Bruuuuuuuce Springsteen.

Icon of the music world.

What can you learn about business from a music legend?

How about how to outsell, outlast, add heat to the seats and love every frickin’ minute of it.

Read on, friends.

1. Get to the woodshed

We all have a secret fantasy that we’ll burst onto the scene, be immediately asked to keynote a major conference or have clients seek us out, saying the magic words, “I’ll pay any fee.”

Reality check:

The road to conference keynotes and six-figure clients is paved with sweat.

And even what seems like a big opportunity is sometimes wasted, when you don’t have the ability to capitalize on it.

Bruce knew this.

Early in his career, back in 1972, he opened for the then platinum selling group, Chicago, at the artist’s pinnacle, Madison Square Garden. Dream come true, right?


It was a disaster. The crowd was indifferent. Nothing he could do onstage broke through their passivity. He swore off playing at big venues.

“It was time to woodshed, time to build an audience through constant, intense performance in clubs, small theatres, and university gyms.”

Constant, intense performance. That’s how you build an audience.

Put it into action:

Speak, anytime you get the chance, anywhere that’ll have you.

Write. Articles, blog posts, ebooks.

Offer your insights to media outlets. Over and over again.

2. Always be creating

According to a knockout profile of Bruce Springsteen (Bruce Springsteen at sixty-two) in the New Yorker, at an age where compatriots like the Rolling Stones go on tour, drag out their string of hits and cash the checks, Bruce is writing songs, crafting new albums after 47 years in the business.

“He continues to evolve as an artist, filling one spiral notebook after another with ideas, quotations, questions, clippings, and, ultimately, new songs.”

Put it into action:

Make jotting down ideas and inspiration a daily habit. Go old school with a spiral notebook, record audio notes on your iPhone, or track in Evernote.

3. Get your inspiration from a wide variety of sources

Too, too many companies and service providers have relegated themselves to the echo chamber of their industry. Coaches speak coaching language in their marketing, and universally offer their services as “programs and packages.”

Professional service firms (attorneys, CPAs, consultants, engineers, architects and the like) are myopic in most of their business practices. They market the same way, offer services the same way and charge the same way.

These echo chamber dwellers could take a page from Bruce’s brand book. He doesn’t look to his fellow rock and roll singer-songwriters for his inspiration.

“…Springsteen quotes from Irish rebel songs, Dust Bowl ballads, Civil War tunes, and chain-gang chants.”

Put it into action:

Seeking innovation in a vacuum isn’t easy. Pick two industries outside your own and scour them regularly for ideas that you can steal.

4. Do You

All around us there are blueprints and systems that promise to be plug and play. There are also people who, when you see and hear, you recognize

“I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” ~Jon Landau, 1974.

that they are only parroting others.

For long-time guitarist “Little Steven” Van Zandt, Bruce’s intensity was a lure. He recognized in Springsteen a drive to create original work.

In the band’s early days, Van Zandt said, you were judged by how well you could copy songs off the radio and play them, chord for chord, note for note:

“Bruce was never good at it. He had a weird ear. He would hear different chords, but he could never hear the right chords. When you have that ability or inability, you immediately become more original. Well, in the long run, guess what: in the long run, original wins.”

Put it into action:

Look at one aspect of your business where you’re doing something because “that’s how it’s done in my industry.”

It might be offering prospects a free consultation, meeting for get-to-know-you lunches, offering three packages or submitting proposals.

Take just one of those and invent a way to do it differently (and not doing it counts!)

Your fame boosting assignment:

Pick one of these four business secrets and put it into action this week. ‘Cause you’re an icon in the making.


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