By Steve Kakos – Vice President
“The Beatles were so lucky, man. Imagine if they had got Phil Spector. Instead, they got George Martin – and he was brilliant!” – Trevor Horn
Music geekery out of the way: among many worthy candidates (Stu Sutcliffe, Brian Epstein, Neil Aspinall, Billy Preston), George Martin was the Fifth Beatle. He invented the role of the modern audio producer and had more impact on the sound and creative direction of The Beatles than anyone else not named John, Paul, George or Ringo. He made them their best. They needed him to make them their best. The Horn quote nails it for me.
It feels great to be a star. While I’m lucky to have had occasional skirmishes with really feeling stardom in my life, if we’re being honest, I’ve had way more moments where I’ve supported other stars and that feels just as good – if not better.
Of all the great sins blithely committed within organizations, the failure of people to be there for each other because they don’t believe it serves their own interests tops the list for me. And the truth is, of course, that it’s ALWAYS in your interest to be in service to others (if you’re a raging Ayn Rand-er who wants to argue that point, you need desperately to quit reading this LinkedIn puff piece and go back to the fundamentals).
At Second City we use phrases like Being Others-Focused and Got Your Back. Being part of an ensemble is sacrosanct here. This sounds like common sense, but I know from experience it’s far from common practice – and would have been downright controversial in at least a couple of my past lives, where we had things drilled into us like we had to “go out and put blinders on and _____ !” (insert your own favorite individual-focused, hyperbole-drenched goal here).
Better to think and act as a true team rather than a mere collection of individuals – and hold each other accountable for thinking and growing together no matter the specificity of individual role or task assigned. No one cares about being an all-star on a lousy team.
Going back to Martin, one of the countless contributions he’s credited with for the success of The Beatles is seeing early on that neither John, nor Paul, nor George were the front man. Martin knew from experience that they were only unique and interesting when they were up front together. Though there may have been tremendous backstage rivalries over the years – and there were – imagine how much worse they would have been if there was one dedicated and anointed lead singer. Perhaps more than anything, that decision early on let them be great – and do great things later on.
So, if you’re one of the George Martins in your organization, thank you. And if you need some help creating the ensemble hidden within your organization, let us know.