Business Lessons I learned…from Karaoke #1

Make a habit of singing a new song every time out.

You have your favs but if you sing U2, Seline Dion, or Pat Benatar every Wednesday you are going to do two things. You will end up hating the great music that gave you such joy for so long, and you will sacrifice a very special growth opportunity. Perhaps its implications are less severe for karaoke than your business, but it’s definitely more than a silly metaphor. My Karaoke hobby has been an unexpected educator for my business and its growth. And If you think risk, and knowing your lane and limits is significant for your business, than feel good about reading this karaoke trope.

Historically, It’s fifteen minutes after the first call and I’ve got one of three songs on the set list but in hindsight I was just posturing, game recognizes game. I wanted my first song to be impactful, calling out all the other karaoke pros. Now it seems silly, and wasteful because G. Michael’s “Careless Whisper” is a unique gem of a song, not a yardstick for self aggrandizing karaoke nerds. Now meaningless, I ruined this song for myself, and never look to sing it. It’s overplayed. The fun, surprise and fulfillment of each performance changed when I changed my perspective. It wasn’t until I stopped singing Matt’s karaoke top 5 that I began to realize how karaoke can affect my business.

When the audience is not the outcome, in consequence, you become what’s important and significant . What I’m positing is that don’t let the audience determine the outcome and how great or terrible you feel about the performance. The audience and all the karaoke fans are just an echo of your voice. It’s guaranteed that at least 25% are gonna hate the song you pick and another 25% are gonna clap regardless. Therefore, make the experience about your journey, your lack of range, or heights of falsetto are still out there for you to uncover. Those moments on stage are for you to find yourself, and it’s impossible if you stay in the comfort zone.

If you subscribe somewhat to this Karaoke mantra you’ll notice that the songs become just vehicles for you. The song isn’t the statement, you are. Many people can sing a James Taylor song, but can Fire and Rain really be anything but JT’s song. This is why it’s about you and your performance at that moment on stage. Don’t try to make the song somebody else’s, try to make the performance your own.

While I’m setting the table for a business analogy, this shift in focus can be applied in and out and up and down our lives. Forget about emulate, make it a creation. Don’t make uniqueness the goal but take every opportunity to explore, understand, reinforce, and grow yourself. This is often conflated with expression items like tattoos, piercings but truthfully, it’s not the same thing if you regret it at middle age. These are the lessons that will propel you for a lifetime, presenting, engaging, relating and elevating.

Shouldn’t be a surprise to you that I’m a bit of a performer and that this character trait often extends to business. I speak to relatively large groups of people, I make videos of myself and my clients and I always feel a tinge of excitement when given these opportunities. My success and failure is often determined not as much by the content but by performance at my speaking engagements. And I’ve noticed a great deal more success when I aim for memorable rather than directly advertise my service and benefits. As a result, I have sung, chanted, rehearsed, and danced in front of whoever I’m selling to or through. And my karaoke experience has been a great place to not just trial new songs, but other aspects of showmanship, hands, eye contact, space and movement, breathing.

Like every Wednesday night, but usually Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and not in a dark hole with a beer soaked floor, but a board room or hotel conference room. My goal is to be remembered, not as James Taylor, James Brown, or Jaime Spears or James but as me. I don’t focus on the content or the words but how they are delivered. Who’s listening is significant but I focus more on my range, my pace, my inflections, taking a breath. I want to make this as unique to them as it is to me. And what’s changed from the day I started this business a couple years ago is that my confidence and delivery has never been better. While I could list everything that my profession does and how it improves the listeners business, I might as well place weights on their eyelids and cotton balls in their ears. I understand now that my most valuable asset is not my products or services but me and I’m selling.

Trying new songs every crazy karaoke Wednesday is great to learn and new songs. But it’s real value to me is what I learn about myself. If you are a business person who presents products or services and have always struggled in front of large crowds, karaoke is a great way to really work on those skills. Don’t focus on the quality of your singing, since every great performance has much more to it than a great voice. Look at your posture, when you need to breath, what are your arms doing. A great performer uses the space, makes eye contact, anticipates reactions. Karaoke has showed me how impactful these details can be. So next time you see a pro on the mic, a true karaoke nerd,…take notes!