All I Really Need To Know About Business I Learned Listening To Bruce Springsteen

September 23rd, 2009

Today is Bruce Springsteen’s birthday. He’s 60. That’s remarkable for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which is the fact his most recent tour has lasted about two years — during which he’s been performing high-energy concerts that push close to three hours … without intermission.

(It’s been said there are two types of people: Bruce Springsteen fans and those who’ve never seen him live.)

Work ethic is just one of many reasons why the Springsteen canon has become the soundtrack of a generation and why he continues to create five-star albums while so many of his contemporaries have drifted off into the nooks and crannies of retirement and classic rock radio.

The energy, passion and dedication he brings to his work is unmatched in the entertainment world. We’d all love to bring the same kind of energy, passion and dedication to our own work, whatever it might be.

Which brings me to one of the generally underrated components of Springsteen’s music: his lyrics. When he’s on his game, which is more often than not, Springsteen’s words create vivid and layered images that only the best short stories and films can match.

For example, “The River” is much more than a song about the singer and his circumstance, it’s about anyone who’s ever had a dream. “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true / Or is it something worse?” is one of those all-time great rock lyrics that cuts right to the core of some of life’s most fundamental issues.

But this is a blog about “marketing and more,” not existentialism. So with that in mind, here are a few lessons and observations about work and career that can be gleaned from The Boss’ catalog:

“Thunder Road” (from Born To Run) –“It’s a town full of losers / And I’m pulling out of here to win.” Unless you really enjoy working for a company like Dunder Mifflin, how can this lyric not resonate in the workplace? When it starts to resonate more often than not, it’s time to start job hunting.

“Reason To Believe” (from Nebraska) — “Struck me kinda funny seemed kind of funny sir to me / How at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe.” We all have lousy days on the job now and again and we all have days that make us wonder why we bother doing whatever it is we do. But at some point, even if we don’t always recognize it when it happens, we tap into that reason that makes us get up the next morning and keep going.

“Leap of Faith” (from Lucky Town) — “It takes a leap of faith to get things going / It takes a leap of faith you gotta show some guts / It takes a leap of faith to get things going / In your heart you must trust.” A perfect chorus for anyone facing a difficult decision: Do you take that new client? Do you ask for that promotion? Do you try for that new job? Do you start that new company?

“Working On A Dream” (from Working On A Dream) — “I’m working on a dream / Though sometimes it feels so far away / I’m working on a dream / And how it will be mine someday.” This one doesn’t really need any explanation, does it?

“Land Of Hope and Dreams” (from Live In New York City) — The song from which this blog gets its title. “Dreams will not be thwarted / Faith will be rewarded.” Isn’t that a great mantra for every entrepreneur? You start with a dream, then weld to it the faith in yourself and in the team you assemble that you have what it takes to accomplish that dream.

There are dozens of other examples that can be found in the hundreds of songs Springsteen’s written, but I think you get the idea. We draw inspiration and recharge our work brains from all kinds of sources. You could do a lot worse than to have the Springsteen catalog as one of them.

Happy birthday, Boss. Thanks for the soundtrack.

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4 Responses to “All I Really Need To Know About Business I Learned Listening To Bruce Springsteen”

  1. Julia Says:

    “Dreams will not be thwarted / Faith will be rewarded.” Isn’t that a great mantra for every entrepreneur?

    Yes, it is. Watched a film documentary (The YES Movie by Louis Lautman ) about today young entrepreneurs & dreamers. Better than get stuck in a non-sense nine to five job.

  2. Kate Says:

    Love this post! So many of Bruce’s lyrics are all about the blue collar life, dreaming big, and working hard. I find new meanings in his words all the time. Just one more, from “Lucky Town”:

    “When it comes to luck, you make your own /Tonight I got dirt on my hands, but I’m building me a new home”

    Nothing comes for free, that’s for sure. And Bruce proves that by working hard at every single concert, rocking sold-out 3-hour shows at age 60 — He’s great!

    Thanks for the post!

  3. Andy Gradel Says:

    Great post… I’ve always been a fan of “Well from small things, mama, big things one day come.” Used that in a presentation last year about how doing 10 small things to improve our company’s website accomplished more than focusing all of our energy on one big project.

  4. Barbara Says:

    Loved this post and reposted yours on FB. Seeing the lyrics from the perspective of work really interested me. Thanks <>

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