A summary of the dinner conversation at the Gale household last night:
“Dad, what music was popular when you were my age? What did you like to listen to?”
“Let me think. I liked U2 and Bruce Springsteen. Michael Jackson was really popular. So was his sister, Janet. I liked Toto too.”
“What about the Rolling Rocks?”
“You know – the guy that Jimmy Fallon impersonates.”
“Oh, you mean the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger.”
“Yeah – whatever. Rocks, Stones – aren’t they the same?” (I almost digressed into talking about the beer that was popular in my younger days but I didn’t think that would endear me to my wife.)
“Well, I like the Rolling Stones but I don’t think I listened to them much when I was your age.”
Curiosity got the better of me so I started looking at songs that were popular when I was around 10 years old. One of the biggest hits was “99 Luftballoons” by Nena. The song still gets some play on oldies stations now (ugh). Yes, I sing along and despite a year of college German, I still mumble through the German lyrics. I don’t think Nena had another hit song after her mega hit. The Rolling Stones just finished a North American Tour – 53 years after the band started. Wow.
I’ve written about short term and long term thinking before and the need to balance them in order to be successful in business (and life). But our light-hearted dinner conversation got me thinking about something else. The Rolling Stones have had members come and go (unfortunately in some cases) but the core band has stayed the same. Mick Jagger still struts and belts out lyrics. Keith Richards still strums that guitar. Charlie Watts is still keeping the beat on the drums. People still pay to see them perform. Sure, part of that is people trying to relive their youth but they’re also cultivating new generations of fans. The Stones continue to prosper because they figured out that their core competency and advantage is touring. They maintained a strong relationship with their core fan base and have added fans along the way. They haven’t released a studio album since 2005. They know what works and stick to it.
Every business has a core competency. Focus on yours and with a little luck, your business might still be going strong after 52 years.