Category Archives: General

Herbie Hancock: Get Out Of The Way When Your People Are Learning

Today’s guest blog is from John Baldoni, leadership development chair at N2Growth, first published at Forbes.

If you want your people to grow and develop sometimes the best thing to do is to back off.

Herbie Hancock, the legendary jazz keyboardist, tells two stories about trumpet virtuoso and bandleader Miles Davis that illustrate this point. Hancock was an up and coming player and got an invitation to audition with Davis and his band. Davis was already a legend but Hancock was still cutting his chops.

Told to report to Miles’ house, Hancock met the band and Miles played with the group for a few minutes then as Hancock told an audience on Sirius XM Radio, he threw down his trumpet on the couch and went upstairs. The band kept playing. Miles did the same thing a day later. And after a few days he invited Hancock to cut a record with his band. Hancock says that he learned twenty five years later that Miles’s disappearing act was purposeful. He went upstairs to listen to the group via his intercom. He knew that young musicians could be intimidated by his presence so he removed that distraction.

Another lesson Hancock shared with his audience (in conjunction with his new memoir Possibilities about Miles was his gift of teaching. Miles would seldom give musicians a complete answer when they questioned him about something musical. His strategy was to let the musicians learn by themselves or with the band. Hancock now a veteran performer and teacher himself says that when you learn something on your own you remember it better. The lesson becomes lasting.

What managers can learn from these stories is that young performers, or those new to a team, need to be given a certain amount of leeway to show what they can do. This of course is after you have recruited and trained them. Some may be more independent than others but all benefit when the boss steps away.

Furthermore if the boss is always hanging around, looking over their shoulder, he or she may undermine the employee’s confidence. Or because the boss is present may set himself up as the hands-on tutor ready, willing and able to answer all questions. Support is good; “hovering” is limiting.

There is something else unsaid in the stories about Miles Davis. He had his pick of the best musicians. Managers do not always have that luxury; they often must work with the talent and skills HR provides them. Some of those folks, unlike a Herbie Hancock type, do need more hands-on development. But there comes a time when that initial development period ends. The employee must think and do for him or herself based upon what he or she has learned. If they are unable to do so then they are not a good fit for the team.

“Every artist was first an amateur,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is up to the manager to provide that amateur with what he or she will need to become a true professional. Hard work and diligence – coupled with talent – will power the transformation.

Learn more about leadership at John Baldoni’s SoundviewPro course Do-It-Yourself Leadership.

Turn Your Mobile Device into a Classroom


It’s been five months since we launched SoundviewPro, to provide free video business courses for people looking for efficient ways to improve their business skills.

During the past several months, we’ve added many courses on leadership, management, personal development, professional development, computer skills and more. Courses are being added weekly as we continue to build a strong base of content to match the needs of our business customers.

Every course is free of charge and consists of a group of classes broken up into short video segments. The short videos allow for easy display on mobile devices and tablets. Each trainer is an expert in their field and Soundview brings that expertise to bear in these concise skills courses.

When a customer signs up to take a course, an account will be established for them which includes their personal information and also tracks their courses and stage of completion. They can view a course one class at a time, viewing videos as they progress. While customers can view courses for free, supplemental learning materials including tests, additional readings and a certificate of completion are available for purchase.

Here is just a sampling from the subjects now available at SoundviewPro.


Leading Successfully Through Challenges and Obstacles with Paul White

Helping Successful Leaders Get Even Better with Marshall Goldsmith


Solving Today’s Employee Engagement Challenges with Les Landes

Installing an Accountability-Based Culture for Success with Julie Miller & Brian Bedford


Becoming a Powerful Business Presenter with Stanley Ridgley

REAL Talk – Creating Real Conversations for Results with John Stoker

Personal Development:

Building Brand [You] with Cyndee Woolley

The Five Keys to Experiencing Extreme Personal Productivity with Jones Joflin

Technology Skills:

Microsoft Excel 2010: Introduction with Robert Devine

Microsoft PowerPoint 2010: Fundamentals with Donna Zarbatany

Please check out the courses and let your colleagues know about this free resource. Our goal is to transform the way business people learn the skills they need to move forward in their business and career.

Watch Less. Learn More.

During a recent business meeting with some close colleagues, someone asked me a tough question: “What is your company doing today that will ensure it is still operating in 15 years?” My answer was lengthy and tangent-filled, but the short answer was that our core market is changing rapidly—more so than at any time in our company’s 35-year history—and that we must be prepared to adapt, welcome risk, and most important, anticipate the demands of our future customers. While that may sound rather simplistic on the surface, the reasoning goes deeper and applies to many industries—probably even yours. Let me explain.

Our company specializes in taking large amounts of content centered on business and professional skills and condensing it down into manageable bites people can easily retain. Historically, we have done this through business book summaries, short booklets, and more recently through short videos and webinars. For years our tag line was “Read Less. Learn More,” and we continue to deliver on that implied value proposition. However, times are changing.

Our company was built on “flat content,” meaning text content either in newsletter format or on a computer screen, and this format continues to be the most popular way our customers consume our product. But that is slowly changing. More and more customers are utilizing our audio and video formats each quarter, and our age demographics are starting to trend down for the first time since our initial customer survey in 2000. For a business owner, this trend is good news.

My intuition tells me that Generation Y (also called Millennials) and future generations are going to source and consume self-help content very differently than today’s professionals. Generation Y has become accustomed to answering questions and problems within seconds thanks to their proficiencies with mobile devices and the Internet. What is the capital of Greenland? I would hate to be in the globe business, because a Galaxy S4 or iPhone will have the answer (Nuuk) within 10 seconds.

When this generation has a problem, they turn to technology to solve, or help them solve, the issue. And this problem-solving methodology will carry with them as they enter and advance in the workforce.  They will want a clear, direct answer as fast as they can get one. They are not going to go to the local bookstore to buy a Microsoft Excel for Dummies book to learn how to utilize Pivot Tables in Excel or sit through a two-day Excel course at the local Hilton. They will pick up their internet-connected device of choice and google “how to do pivot tables” and will have thousands and thousands of results at their fingertips. Some of these results will be of low quality, but a surprising number will be of high-quality and relevance. That Millennial just saved herself, at the bare minimum, the price of a book by watching a 30-minute IT video on YouTube … for free.

Fast, relevant, accessible, multimedia-based, and free (or at a very low cost of say $0.99) is how Generation Y is shaping the market. These market drivers are a far cry from our Company’s founding in 1978, where quality, timely delivery, and rarity were driving the purchasing decisions for our products.  Therefore, while we execute to meet our short term objectives, we must also consistently look to the future and set our sails on long term success, even if some of those ideals contradict our short term objectives.

It is easy to get bogged down in the daily grind, so we leaders need to climb into the bosun’s chair and head up the mast to see if we can anticipate our future customers’ needs. It can be refreshing, scary, depressing, and energizing all at the same time, but the perspective is necessary to ensure future success.

Focusing on our future customers will help us meet their demands when they enter the market, while adding some assurance that we will have a thriving business in 15 years.  The writing is on the wall and we must begin to adapt our existing products for the Generation Y’s while creating new products to meet their future demands. I am sure that when my daughter enters the workforce and needs to learn how to “lead a team,” she will be turning to her tablet or phone for a 10 minute video.

Need to learn how to replace your hot water heater? YouTube will get you there fast.


SoundviewPro is a fast-growing library of video training courses focused around business and technical skills necessary to succeed in the business world today. Every course is free of charge and consists of a group of classes broken up into sections. Every section contains a short video, which allows for easy display on mobile devices and tablets. Each instructor is an expert in their field and Soundview brings that expertise to bear in these concise skills courses. Accelerate Your Career now! Visit