Author Archive

We Are Everywhere: How to Spot a Deadhead

This is a delightful YouTube video created by Dead Archivist Nicholas Meriwether. †Check it outÖyouíll be glad you did.

Pre-order my book from Amazon

You can pre-order a hardback or e-book of Everything I Know About Business I Learned From the Grateful Dead on Amazon. †Publication date is November 2. Follows Grateful Dead Lessons

Last week I received my copy of the limited edition ìEurope 72: The Complete Recordings,î the giant 73 CD boxed set of all 22 of the Deadís performance from the legendary Europe í72 tour.† Itís quite an amazing package and one thatís been at the top of the wish list of Deadheads for a long time including me.† As I began to listen to the shows all presented in outstanding quality, I recognized how and Rhino have mirrored several of the Deadís business lessons I present in my book.


First is to be responsive to customers. †The Dead were nearly always responsive to fans from their earliest days in 1965 till the end of the road in 1995.† Fans grew to love their live performances and the Dead became a touring band so fans could see them play frequently rather than simply when a new album was released.† Deadheads have been wishing for the complete European tour since it happened because the band was in rare form throughout the 42-day tour.† Although the Dead released ìEurope í72î a 3-record set in 1973 and several other CDs from the tour have been released more recently, nothing came close to granting the wish and being responsive until this new, complete package.


The second lesson is to embrace technology, something else the Dead always did whether it was in their sound system, lighting or instruments.† and Rhino have really followed this lesson by going back to the original 24-track master recordings, carefully digitally remastering them, and then using new technology ( to insure the finest possible listening experience.† Iím a pretty serious audiophile, and these new recordings are spectacular just like the incomparable audio experience I always found at a Dead show where the Dead used technology to insure that everyone in the audience had the best possible listening experience.


The third lesson I recognized providing value to customers.† The Dead intentionally kept their ticket prices low throughout their history to allow fans to afford to see them play.† While the price of this boxed set is very high at $450, it works out to only $6 per CD including shipping.† Thatís less expensive than the Dicks Picks series or the current Road Trips series now being offered.† So the boxed set provides tremendous value despite the high price tag.


The final lesson I observed is to take risks and follow the advice in ìPlaying in the Bandî where Bobby sings, ìSome folks trust to reason, others trust to might.† I donít trust to nothing, but I know it come out right.î† When the boxed set was announced in January 2011, it was a big gamble for and Rhino.† With such a high price tag, no one could really predict the demand, and 3,000 copies needed to be sold to break even.† Yet the limited edition of 7,200 copies sold out immediately and many more fans were disappointed to have their orders rejected.† So and Rhino took the risk and it paid off showing that sometimes, things do ìcome out right.î


To see all 10 of the lessons I learned from the Grateful Deadís business practices and how your business or organization can benefit from them, you can pre-order my book on Amazon.† It hits the bookstores November 2.

Leadership & Garcia

On August 16 I presented a paper titled ìTranscending the Power of Hierarchy to Facilitate Shared Leadership: The Historical, Counterculture Case of Jerry Garciaî at the annual Academy of Management meeting in San Antonio. †This is a very large gathering of management academics from around the world, and theyíre all pretty serious scholars. †So I was very pleased to be able to present this paper I co-authored with four colleagues. †The topic of Garcia and the Dead being presented in this setting shows how times have changed and how their legacy is shifting from ìhippies who never left the Sixtiesî to more serious business and entrepreneurial successes who might actually have pioneered some things such as shared leadership.

Garcia always claimed he wasnít really the leader of the Dead. †We all knew and the band knew he WAS the leader but his humility and charisma allowed him to create an extremely unusual but successful approach to creating a community of trust and of sharing leadership that offers important lessons for businesses and organizations today. †We say we live in a democracy, but we spend most of our lives at a job where we typically have no vote. †That wasnít true in the Dead organization where EVERYONE had an equal vote.

Chris and Bobby

My wife, Chris, and Bob Weir before our last concert on July 6, 1995.

My wife, Chris, and Bob Weir before our last concert on July 6, 1995.

16 Years Ago – August 9, 1995

August 9, 1995 was the saddest day of my life. †Jerry Garcia died that day and it meant the end of the moveable feast that was the Grateful Dead. †Having followed the band for 21 years seeing 194 shows, making many close friends and always looking forward to the next tour, it was a heartbreaker for meÖand many, many others.
So what business lesson is there in this? †The Dead created a community of followers, an extended family, a tribe of Deadheads that were loyal enough to follow them across the country for 30 years. †Would your customers follow your business with that sort of dedication? †There arenít many businesses today that have created that degree of customer loyalty. †Who can we nameÖApple, Zappos, and TOMS Shoes come to mind, and of course there are more. †But think about all the things the Dead did to create customer loyaltyÖthey respected their fans and made it easy for fans to feel part of the band. †In the days before the internet, the Dead had a telephone Hotline that kept Deadheads informed about upcoming tours. †They had a mailing list and kept fans informed via a newsletter and even sent them records from forthcoming releases. †They created a mail order ticket service so fans like me could order tickets for out of town shows which was unheard of in the 80s and 90s.
Jerry is gone, but his legacy and the Deadís legacy lives on. †Iíve learned so much from their example. †And you can too.

The Business Genius of the Grateful Dead

When I finally ìgot itî listening to and seeing the Dead perform their unique form of improvisational rock and roll, I knew at some non-verbal level that there were special lessons for businesses in what they were doing. †How could a group of six guys stay together so long and be so creative each and every performance? †Since I worked in corporate America and was also pursuing an MBA, I was fascinated with this question because I wasnít seeing anything like it on the job or in other businesses. †So I began my journey to understand how they did what they did and to articulate it in a way that would be easy to understand and perhaps, influence organizations to try some of the Deadís special way of running a business. †Itís taken me more than 25 years to finally do it, and you can be the judge of how well Iíve explained it. †To give you a quick overview of the forthcoming book ìEverything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Deadî Iíve made a 10 minute video I call ìThe Business Genius of the Grateful Deadî and Iíve loaded it to YouTube. †I hope youíll check it out. †Hereís the link:

The Beginning of My Long Strange Trip

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been more than 37 years since I first saw the Grateful Dead perform in Des Moines, Iowa on June 16, 1974.† There was the Wall of Sound, and they played nearly 4 hours, but I must admit I wasnít all that impressed with that first show; at that point I didnít yet ìget it.î †All thatís changed, so itís even harder for me to believe how that performance began such a radical change in my life, and how ìlong strange tripî has become so apropos for my lifeís journey.

On November 2, 2011 my new book Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead: The Ten Most Innovative Lessons from a Long Strange Trip will be published by Business Plus.† The book is my attempt to describe part of my strange trip as I explain some of the unique a remarkable things the Grateful Dead did as a business, and how their business was strongly influenced by their improvisational music.† I hope youíll check my blog from time to time as I describe how dramatically the Dead changed the direction of my life, and how telling the story of their business become a major part of my lifeís purpose.