I have always considered myself to be a bit lucky. So lucky, in fact, that I was fortunate enough to have met and talked one-on-one with Bob Dylan for about half an hour. This was back in the 70s when he was just about the biggest thing out there.
The story of how this came to be is a long one, and would probably make a good post in and of itself. But the insights I gained from that conversation have helped shape my attitude towards writing going forward from there.
The most interesting things he said to me were in response to a question I asked him when we were talking about the higher purpose of writing, and I asked him what his higher purpose was. He told me two things:
- That he never thought of himself as a poet or a prophet of any kind, but more as an entrepreneur and manufacturer whose product was songs, and
- That he hoped that people would read deeply enough into his writing to see that, a lot of the time, he was just giving them some pretty simple advice based in great part on his own experiences, but housed in metaphors to make it interesting.
Bob Dylan’s Business Advice
From “Shelter From The Storm”
“The deputy walks on hobnails
The Preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much
Its doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker
He blows a futile horn…”
Now if you look at this from a business perspective, what it could very well mean is that you should always respect authority, never let religion influence your business decisions, and always be aware that if you’re not diligent, your competitors will eat you alive. Pretty solid advice, I must say.
From “Highway 61 Revisited”
“Well Mack the Finger said to Louie the King
I’ve got forty red white and blue shoe strings
And a thousand telephones that don’t ring,
Do you know where I can get rid of these things?
And Louie the King said…Let me think for a minute son.
Then he said…Yes I think it can be easily done
Just take everything down to Highway 61″
This is obviously a shrewd insight into targeting. Bob is saying that it’s critically important to understand your market and how best to reach them, and if you don’t know that, find someone who can help you with this very critical strategic issue.
From “All Along The Watch Tower”
“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion”, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, ploughmen dig my earth
None of them along the line ever offered its worth”
This tip has a lot to do understanding the true value of your business and making sure that one of your goals is to build your business into something solid that can eventually become a saleable asset or passed down through your family.
If you aren’t aware of this, a lot of people may offer you less than it’s actually worth. And what’s worse, you may sell it for that.
From “I Ain’t Gonna Work On Maggie’s Farm No More”
“I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well, I wake up in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin’ me insane
It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more”
This advice is for those people who are working for a company and dying to get out there on their own. It sympathizes with the feelings of enslavement that are often the key motivator for taking the great leap into self-employment.
From “Memphis Blues Again”
“Mona tried to tell me
To stay away from the train line
She said that all the railroad men
Just drink up your blood like wine
And I said “Oh I didn’t know that
But then again there’s only one I’ve met
And he just smoked my eyelids
And punched my cigarette”
This parable states very clearly that not taking the counsel of your trusted business advisors could get you into a situation with clients that may not be in your best interest.
In running your own business, it’s always very important to surround yourself with people who possess the kinds of knowledge that you don’t have so that you can always make smart decisions and never get stuck in a bad place.
So there you have it. Some Jim Dandy business advice from a Nobel Prize winner.
I trust you found my translations of Bob’s five great metaphoric business tips helpful. If you would like to read more of Bob’s wisdom you can find all his lyrics posted here
This, of course, is just a sampling of the wealth of advice that’s available from sources that you would least expect.
One of the things that our collective experience at Bullet Proof Consulting has taught us is that there really are all kinds of wisdom floating around out there. And if you look hard enough you will find it and if you’re smart you will use it.