Into the Mystic with Robert Plant

I have seen Robert Plant in concert six times throughout his adventurous solo career. As I watched Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters with my family February 20 at The Riviera Theatre, I thought of the lyrics to the Traffic song “Dear Mr. Fantasy”:

“Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything, take us out of this gloom

Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy”

I sat in the upper recesses of the dark, crowded Riviera Theater alone, as my family and I could not find seats together. To pass the time waiting for the golden lion to take the stage, I got lost in my mobile phone, foolishly getting immersed in the news of the day. It’s harder and harder to go to a concert and block out the ugly realities that define modern-day American society. We live at a time when school children practice active shooter drills and adults fear they cannot afford the cost of growing old. Shutting off the stream of depressing headlines is not always easy in the digital age.

But the moment Robert Plant stepped onstage, I was pulled out of the darkness and transported to another time and place. For watching Robert Plant is like being with a beguiling Elizabethan minstrel who charms the audience with charisma, swagger, and song.

Tuesday night belonged to the fiddle, the dobro, the bendir, the tambourine, and to Plant’s voice, willowy and sweet, tinged with huskiness. He brought us into the mystic, with songs in the tradition of blues and folk such as “The May Queen,” “Little Maggie,” “Fixin’ to Die,” “Gallows Pole,” and “That’s the Way.” He played music of the earth, which he has described as music that grows organically from a mélange of sources, such as folk, world music, and blues. As he shook his mane, glorious and golden, he would not have been out of place playing in the streets of a Renaissance Faire.

He moved about the stage as if he were born there, a shaman comfortable in his own space, nodding with encouragement to his fellow Sensational Space Shifters, such as when guitarist Skin Tyson performed an extended flamenco guitar workout during “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” For a brief moment, he seemed to gyrate in sync with fiddle player Seth Lakeman and guitarists Billy Fuller and Justin Adams, almost like snakes entwined. He and the Sensational Space Shifters made the stage their own world, emanating shafts of across the dark auditorium.

I sang. I cried. I laughed. I forgot where I was as I willingly joined Robert Plant’s brotherhood of song for a night.

Robert Plant is more than a musician. He is a magician who casts a spell of song to take us out of this gloom. He scatters songs into the air like flower petals for us to catch, hold, and savor, before they flutter back to earth to be reborn.

Here are more posts I’ve written about Robert Plant:

The Golden Shaman: Robert Plant’s Journey,” September 25, 2015.

Are You Willing to Fly Blind? Career Advice from Robert Plant,” September 2, 2010.

Amazon: One Industry to Rule Them All?

For once, Amazon is playing catch-up.

The great disruptor is just another player in the entertainment space. Amazon Studios, its TV and movie arm, is still looking for a blockbuster like Game of Thrones to compete in an elite league defined by HBO, Hulu, and Netflix. Amazon Music is a follower behind Spotify and Apple Music.

But recently Amazon has made some moves in a bid to transform itself from a follower into a leader. Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

Virtual Reality Helps U.S. Athletes Train to Win Olympic Gold

When U.S. Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won a Winter Olympics gold medal in the giant slalom race February 15, she also achieved a victory for virtual reality.

She is among the members of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team who have used a virtual reality (VR) training regime from STRIVR Labs to prepare for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, according to the team.

The team’s deployment of VR training, reported widely, also shines the spotlight on VR’s potential to improve performance in sectors ranging from sports to retail. Continue reading

Blessed Are the Change Agents

Years ago, an agency asked me to define its target buyer as part of a brand repositioning. My client wanted to do business with companies eager to innovate. I recommended that my client stop thinking of its buyer in terms of a formal title such as CMO and instead seek out a persona I referred to as the change agent — which I described as a leader who is in a position to effect behavioral change needed for a business to grow and innovate. Find the change agents, I reasoned, and you find the wellsprings of innovation inside a company.

So I read with interest a new report from Brian Solis, The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto. It turns out that over the past few years, Brian has been interviewing about 30 change agents (with a focus on digital change agents) to better understand them – and to provide a road map for change agents to flourish.

A Revelation

Brian’s report is a revelation. Here is a report that helps businesses identify change agents inside their own organization and set them up for success. His report is also a rallying cry for people who believe they are change agents or on the path to becoming one. Brian maps out the attributes of a change agents, calls out stumbling blocks to success, and identifies 10 mandates for change agents to prosper. Although he focuses on digital change agents — because of the distinct challenges and opportunities digital presents — the report is a manifesto for change agents of any type.

Why You Should Read Brian’s Report

Business leaders should read Brian’s report for one simple reason: at a time when digital disruption has become the norm, companies that can find and support change agents more quickly than their competitors will possess a distinct advantage. Companies that fail to nurture and support change agents will lose these visionaries to someone else who can. And change agents don’t exactly walk around wearing “Ask Me about Change” buttons.  In fact, they might be flying beneath the radar screen, by choice. Brian’s report will help a C-level executive find and uplift them.

Continue reading