Rock Your Business: Lessons from Legends (2 of 2)

By Eric Johnson

Contributing Writer

Rock Your Business: Lessons from Legends (2 of 2)

Nobody can rock your business more than you.  In part two of this star-studded series, we will dive into more wisdom and insights extracted from top musical artists.  Time to build up and amplify your inner entrepreneurial rock star.

Ozzy Osbourne:  Be persistent.

As a young child, I remember walking into my older brother’s room and seeing the “Blizzard of Oz” album cover.  Fear and dread engulfed me in that moment as I was pretty sure the gates of hell had opened up in the Johnson household.

Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” life and career has been rockin’ since 1968, when he was 20 years old. Over forty years in the music industry is powerful proof of staying power.  What has Ozzy lived through?  A lot.  This includes being fired from Black Sabbath, along with parents claiming his music glorified Satan.  Once, he drunkenly bit the head off a dove (which perhaps is tied to Prince’s song “When Doves Cry.” Ok, so I’m not a comedian.)  Pegging him as a villain, various lawsuits were filed against him.  His first marriage collapsed, of which he is very remorseful nowadays.  Randy Rhodes, the guitarist on the epic song Crazy Train, died in a senseless plane accident at the age of 25.  In his “I Am Ozzy” book, the night Rhodes died, Ozzy told Sharon, “I don’t think I want to be a rock ‘n’ roller anymore.” Finally, Ozzy has probably had more drugs than CVS and Walgreens combined… yet he is still ticking and has accumulated a suspected net worth of 90 million.

It’s obvious that Ozzy created many of his problems and predicaments.  For entrepreneurs, you may not realize how many issues you are facing of which the source is you.  Sometimes you create our own problems.  Once you stop creating your own obstacles, more of your energy can be allocated to overcoming all the other challenges you will face.  And that is energy you definitely need.

Beyond what we give it credit for, persistence is powerful.  It probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves because it’s not sexy or glamorous. Yet, between where you are and where you want to be, that bridge is built out of persistence; a day in and day out continuous working on your dreams.

Ozzy Osbourne's signature

Recently in 2012, I was able to meet Ozzy and get his autograph at a book signing. Despite all the years, he was super kind and friendly, and looked very healthy.  And it’s not everyday you get to ask, “Ozzy, will you sign my arm?”  Which he did.  I’ve came a long way since my “Blizzard of Oz” childhood scare.

Rock it out:  Identify what you need in order to build your persistence. What combination of tangibles and intangibles equip you for success?  How can you get out of your own way?  What is your “burning why” that will propel you forward no matter what?

Usher: Be hard working.

OMG. This former Boys and Girls Club member from Tennessee has sold over 65 million albums, won 7 Grammies and has a net worth of over 100 million.  Billboard says he was the second most successful artist of the 2000s decade.  Additionally, he performed with the Black Eyed Peas at the 2011 Superbowl.  If anyone knows about working hard, it’s this 33 year old.

There are no pills or quick fixes that can take the place of good old fashioned hard work.  There is no substitute.  Nobody can “want it” for you.  You must want it for yourself.  During an interview in the October 2010 SUCCESS magazine, Usher talked about continuously working hard, “This is just a means to get closer to what you ultimately want. It’s not just going to be given to you; life doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to work at it.  You know, there were 10 times more hard days than there were great ones that led to the position that I’m in right now.”  In other words, if you want it, you gotta hustle.  You have to put in the time, the discipline and the hours… and that will add up to something outstanding that will make your jaw drop with a huge OMG of your own.

Rock it out:  Identify any areas you are slacking. Own it. Decide to ramp up your responsibility.  What activities can you drop that are not producing?  What activities do you need to diminish?  To expand?  Is there anything you need to give up?  Are you consistently working hard in a smart way?

Madonna: Be Reinventive

If anyone understands reinvention and marketing, it’s Madonna. She’s actually been labeled “The Queen of Reinvention” and even the “constantly evolving chameleon.”  Love her or hate her, she’s been on the scene since the early 80s.  Her most recent album hit #1 thanks to guerrilla marketing and tactics, yet then had the biggest album drop ever from one week to the next, a whooping 88%.  Yet, it doesn’t matter much, as it was her 11th Billboard-topping album.

Through her career, her titles have included singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, author, record producer, dancer, actress, sex symbol, activist and more.  It’s been noted that her ability to reinvent has been the key to her achievements.  The first decade of her career generated over 1 billion in sales. As Ian Youngs from BBC News commented, “Her ability to follow the latest trends and adapt her style has often been credited with preserving her appeal.”

As our businesses move through the years, we almost always have to change and adapt. A few business’ value may be best found in keeping a long upheld tradition, or recipe, but most of us… we just gotta change.  Reinvention may be painful, annoying or downright frightening, but losing your business would have all of those characteristics in greater proportions.  One thing that never see results or makes sales is stagnancy.  The cure to being stale is reinvention.

Rock it out: How can you reinvent? Run of the mill gets lost in the shuffle, while creativity sticks out. How can you rock out some newness in what you do?  What new role can you take on?  In what fresh ways can you envision yourself and your company?

Weird Al Yankovic:  Be visionary

I know, I know. You’re thinking of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson.  However, what is more visionary than creating your own career from something that has rarely been tried or perhaps never even been done before?  This unique, weird guy with mad crazy hair completely forged his own path.  Skillfully doing what he loves, this artist has rode his parody empire to the bank and beyond.  “Amish Paradise”? “Eat it”? “I Lost On Jeopardy”?  All those songs were a small part of building a net worth of 10 million by the age of 50.  That is truly admirable and not weird at all.

You might find it weird and shocking to know that Weird Al has won three grammies, had two Top Ten albums, four gold records, and six platinum records.  A film he wrote and starred in initially flopped, yet years later “UHF” has grown to become somewhat of a cult phenomenon. Yankovic  has also directed music videos for Ben Folds, Hanson and other artists. And don’t forget he had his own TV show at one point and also, in 2011, he hit the New York Times Bestseller list for a children’s book.  Maybe weird isn’t such a bad thing after all.

My former business coach often shared this statement, “If you are not willing to look like a fool, you do not have what it takes to be in business.” Behind the word “fool” is someone who is willing to put themselves out there, get noticed, take risks and undertake bold action.  That may feel weird, but the results can potentially be incredible and feel amazing.

Rock it out:  Forget status quo and doing the usual. What decisions and implementations would make your business more visionary? More unique? What new path can be forged?  What new platform or combination of platforms can be implemented?

Nobody can rock your business more than you.

You’ve got yourself. You have your business. The stage is all yours. 

It’s time for you to rock!

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson MBA is CEO of Finish Your Project Consulting LLC.  He empowers people to overcome inner and outer obstacles and finish the projects and dreams that matter most to them.  He serves as a consultant, speaker, writer and workshop facilitator.  His signature program is called Procrastination to Purpose and Profit.  For upcoming online classes, events and more, visit To connect with Eric, visit or email him directly at

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