Dave Matthews I remember the first time I heard the Dave Matthews Band – it was a summers day driving along the South Coast with Mike (see his post on DMB). I could not quite figure out why this band resonated with me. Boasting a gruff voice, tainted with mud, Dave is not an ordinary musician. He is not easy on the ear, and the way the Band comes together can lose you in its complexity. But what grabbed me was the way that he had constructed the band – in commercial terms, he’s the quintessential talent networker.

What Dave Matthews did was to find awesome talent in genre’s that you’d least expect to find in a band: a classically trained violinist built like a brick shithouse; a reserved saxophonist that won’t show his eyes; a drummer that chews gum prodigiously; a bassist that doubles as a coffin kid. And then there are the guests: a guitarist that embodies two enlightened guitarists in one set of hands and a pianist who can sense music better than Stevie. What Dave did was to bring this motley crew of talent together, allow them to feel each other out musically, and then find their own combined sound … a rocking folk sound is the best I can describe it.
What can we learn from Dave about finding and developing talent in our businesses? Well:
1 – It’s all about the music. They’re not in it for the cash – despite it being a GREAT perk. They’re in it for the passion, love and pain that musical enlightenment brings. And so great talent is in it for the work – fulfillment and success in the work is paramount. Look for the talent that loves the work!
2 – It’s about freedom. Each member of the Band is an individually accomplished musician in their own right, each with their own pet solo projects. So the band spends time apart on their own work, sometimes combining the two, to come back as a stronger team. What does this say about talent and the need or talent mobility? Talent needs freedom, and the payback on this freedom is better talent!
3 – It’s about surprising each other. The DMB tours constantly with one of the most hectic tour schedules around – they are playing the same songs every second night with just as much passion and enthusiasm as when they first wrote the songs. The surprise is that they seem to outdo each other on stage – and they love it. Talent revels in the discovery of new talent. Find talent that is secure and genuinely loves seeing the other develop.
4 – It’s not about the glamour. The DMB are not lookers. They are not style gurus, and they do not set the trend. They often define ‘weird’. So, the best talent is often not in the places you’d like to look. Talent will be weird because it’s in that weirdness that innovation flourishes (for local weirdness mixed with unbelievable talent check out The Missing Link guys).
And so, the talent managers are people who will double up as networkers: finding people with passion, creating environments of freedom and mobility, reveling in seeing talent develop more, and more, and more, and more, and then not being afraid of the weird ones.

TomorrowToday Global