For years I have been fascinated by this guy.
I have written about him, presented about him, made videos involving him, read several books about him and watched lots of documentaries. I had the good fortune to see him and the Stones a year or two ago, and they, and in particular Keith, were in fine form. It is no mean feat to run around “The Tongue Pit” at 70 odd, still playing your guitar.
Keef is no saint, we all know that, and his long struggle with drugs of addiction is well documented. He has been clean for more than 35 years, but is still referred to as the human laboratory. He basically invented and remains a leader in rock and roll guitar in its transition from the black american stars like Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and T-Bone Walker to the British Invasion of the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. For me though, his longevity, his obvious remaining passion for what he does, and the depth of his thinking about his craft are absolutely fascinating. Some people are inspired by Jobs or Gates, for me it is Keith Richards (well today anyway).
There are lots of “Keefisms” which can give us inspiration in business, in fact I will likely write about more of them in the future, but the one which popped into my head today came from an interview he did with David Letterman recently. When asked “What song do you play when you’re alone at night with your guitar”, Keith’s response was “The next one”
Some might think that was just a flippant answer, but I am betting it was exactly right. Keith has been writing songs (mostly, but not always with Jagger) for nearly 60 years, and he continues to do so. He has never been one to look back. Sure, they still play all the old songs, (there would be a riot if they didn’t) but there are new albums coming out regularly with new songs no doubt written by Keith alone with his guitar. If you listen closely, you will still hear echoes of Chuck Berry in the playing more than half a century after those echoes were first cited as an influence, but even Chuck couldn’t keep up the momentum of what he had pioneered.
The thing is that in business, we need to not only remain passionate about what we do, and proud of our achievements to date, but we need to keep moving forward, keep reinventing ourselves, keep writing “The Next One”. We also need to be respectful of those who have helped us to get to where we are, and acknowledge their part in our success. We can take the lessons that others have learned and craft something new, not always better (that is not always the point), but different. We can take our time alone as an opportunity to think and invent and create a better business, otherwise we might find ourselves consigned to the bargain bin, or, heaven forbid, playing the oldies circuit.
Sometimes “The Next One” takes a while to emerge. It will begin as an echo, or a half heard chord, but if you worry at it for long enough, it will come to you, and who knows, it might be a hit. The process often begins as a solitary one, but collaboration can often help to refine the germ of an idea into something of substance. Keith would be the first to admit that guitar riffs may have been the beginnings of a song, but input from his band mates made them what they were.
Next time you are contemplating doing what you did last time in your business, why not consider working on “The Next One”
I would love to be part of your success.
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