This week, we're going to take an impromptu break from the miniMBA. This is an email I sent in 2020 and upon rewatching The Last Waltz last weekend, I wanted to share it again as the message seems more relevant than ever.............................

On Thanksgiving night, November 25, 1976, The Band gathered for one last live performance together as the original five, which would come to be known as The Last Waltz. In our house, it's a Thanksgiving tradition to watch this concert during dinner. Directed by Martin Scorsese, with sets from the Opera La Traviata and a rotating cast of majestic musicians of that era, it is considered one of the greatest music documentary concert films ever made. It is hard to pick a favorite performance from that concert, but I always land on The Weight featuring the Staple Singers. The Weight is probably one of The Band's best-known songs, but it's Mavis Staples that steals that performance about 3:50in. The song is said to be about, among other things, the burdens we all carry when we take on responsibility.


The word entrepreneur is derived from the French word, entreprendre, which can be translated "to undertake responsibility." And with responsibility, there is always a weight. How we experience that weight tends to rely on how we analyze our own business. The less clarity in that analysis tends to bear a greater weight on the entrepreneur. While more clarity on the analysis tends to lighten the weight.

The problem with analysis in entrepreneurship is that we often have a narrow view of what we measure. Often times it is our own fault, our financial records aren't as detailed as they could be, we don't know the key numbers to analyze for our own business, we haven't found the smallest increment to catalyze change, and we don't know how to connect the dots between our production, financial, and marketing analytics.

But lately, I've been thinking that it's not just a problem with basic data recording and analysis, but in entrepreneurship, we tended to overlook what we would call in research: a qualitative analysis. That is because it is easy to measure productivity which is quantitative. But last week, during a rousing book club discussion, we spent some time with the statement: you measure what matters. It reminds me of the central theme of Clayton Christensen's must-read: How Will You Measure Your Life

Creativity is often said to be difficult to measure, but maybe we aren't looking at a complete set of metrics. When I was in college, I was a research assistant on a study about the quality of life for breast cancer patients. This was early 2001 and we used what is known as the FACT-G scale to measure the psychological, social, emotional, and functional wellbeing of patients during their treatments.

Are we missing out on valuable insight by not setting metrics to measure the impact our creativity has on our psycho-socio-emotional well-being as leaders and as humans? Why do we see business as something that should only be measured by productivity and not the impact of our creativity? As I prepare to launch another class in *2023*, these are metrics we'll spend time analyzing and understanding how they actually do contribute to productivity. 


Which brings me back to The Band and The Weight. The Weight is full of biblical references: A traveler in Nazareth who can't find a bed, Moses, Judgement Day, and the devil himself. But Robbie Robertson, who wrote the song, claims that the Bible didn't inspire it, but more by the surreal films of Luis Bunuel. Regardless, it's a divine mix of the spiritual and the real and it is that combination that can help us understand how to see productivity and creativity as two sides of the same coin. To become disciplined and productive isn't about our willpower, or our ability to hack, or to optimize ourselves or our own productivity. It is about our devotion to our own culture and vision, and how we measure the impact of those on not only our lives but those of our employees and our consumers. 

And once you can do that, you too shall be released


The Last Waltz



If you've been following along with the bite-sized lessons from this miniMBA, now you can join us for the full program launching in January. This is the 9th year of the program, and you can find out more details here and read the full Program Manual here. Registration is now open! 


How is it the end of the year already?! This November, we'll read Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Marie Brown. This free event will be hosted on Tuesday, November 29th at 7PMEST via Zoom. Please email me to register. 

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