Painting of William Shakespeare

The Hokey Pokey as written by William Shakespeare

Painting of William ShakespeareO proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heavens yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the poke — banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, ’tis what it’s all about.

– by “William Shakespeare”

This was written by Jeff Brechlin. Jeff won the Washington Post’s Style Invitational contest which invited readers to submit instructions – for anything – written in the style of a famous person.

I found it on Facebook. Go figure.

opera

3 Things Business Can Learn From Opera

Not many people know that I studied opera. A supremely proud coloratura soprano (E flat above high C? — no problem),  I envisioned a future as the next Lily Pons. That was Monday through Thursday. On the weekends I dreamed that I would be discovered by Seals & Crofts as the perfect backup singer to their smoky lyrics. I lived with what was considered a weird dichotomy of musical interests for many years before Sarah McLachlan came along to legitimize opera as a foundation for popular music.

Fast forward a couple of decades and I’m living on the opposite coast dedicating my time to growing people and business. At first glance there may not seem to be a connection between studying opera and an abiding addiction to business – but here it is:

Both opera and business depend on having a well choreographed plan, getting the right people in the right roles, and – most importantly – knowing when to let someone else’s voice shine over your own.

When I read an opera score (yes, it’s true – I like to read them) I see an intricately-structured business plan with an intentional outcome. Alto, tenor, soprano, bass — they read like job titles. Recruiter, Sales, Admin Assistant, Manager… The score gives you timing – not just how quickly or slowly things should be moving but when to bring in new players or when to exit others. And then there are the divas. There are always divas.

In my singing days, the people I sang with – especially my friend Sami – were at the centre of everything for me. Sami and I studied with the same voice coaches, Leo and Norma DesJardins. She and I spent many hours, actually years, singing together. We sang everything from Rigoletto to Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit. Those were great days with great people.

It’s still all about the people.

And variety.

Here’s a little treat for Seals and Crofts fans.