Face The Music 15-Year Anniversary Edition
Issue 29 – June 2014
SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Face The Music Celebrates 15-Year Anniversary
It certainly doesn't feel like fifteen years (15!) has passed since we started Face The Music back in the Spring of 1999. Think about what you were doing then as we approached the dreaded Y2K...
Back in the depths of time (think ‘70's and 80's), The Kwiecinski brothers had a home-spun music routine commonly trotted out at parties in South Bend where a couple of guitars were going. We would get tired of getting requests for Neil Young and Led Zepplin songs, and we would start into our ad lib bit—making up songs and lyrics about anything.
Then we would invite the crowd to get involved, playing a background blues, partygoers would sing the blues about their boyfriends, girlfriends, jobs, clunker cars, or whatever. It created a great
esprit de corps
among the group, and perhaps satisfied a concealed desire for people to get up on stage and belt it out.
Fast forward to the late '90's, when I was working with Metasyteme consulting, and we were all about creating experiences that working teams could engage in to create something together, and through that process, learn about how they operated collectively as team system. Any exercise would do, and we did ropes course stuff, building things, problem solving exercises, etc. As I was heading to Paris to work with the French office, I figured, "Why not the old blues ad lib?"
I packed up the guitar and some percussion instruments, and delivered it to the unsuspecting gang. It turned out to be a rich exercise (with quite a bit of truth, humor, and insights), but true to my own form, I soon forgot about it and was on to the next thing.
I mentioned what I had done to Mitch Ditkoff, an innovation consultant with his company,
, and also a mentor and head cheerleader for me in getting my consulting practice going, and he laughed at the image of a dozen or so French people singing the blues at a company meeting. As he tells the story, "I was in a blues club one night with my wife, listening to a local blues band, and about the 3rd song it dawned on me—that all my corporate clients have the blues. But they don't have a really powerful, simple way to express the blues."
It was in the Spring of '99 that Mitch called a group together at his house to discuss a blues writing program for corporate events. It was a group of friends and musicians, including Mitch's wife, Evelyn, and the former guitar player from Psychedelic Furs. The ideas generated were diverse, various, and complex. From that initial brainstorming the group was culled down to a core three, including Mitch, myself, and Paul Duffy, a talented, backwoodsman, slightly madcap, Irish piano player. The three of us were all graduates of an intense self-improvement workshop, and that helped to create a wild, truth-telling, "anything is possible" culture as we devised what Face The Music was going to be. It was characterized by periodic "visions nights" that were comprised of jam sessions, with both musical and verbal riffing, plenty of tequila or scotch, and blue sky thinking about what was possible.
Out of these and other more typically run meetings, the three of us, Blind Willy Nilly, South Bend Slim, and Blind Lemon Pledge (our blues names) crafted an offering and an agenda, and we were off to pitching it to our consulting clients. First one to take the plunge was a group from GE at their Crotenville, NY learning campus. The program was a big hit with an international group of participants and we were off and running.
Things keep changing. Way back in 1999, when the world was getting ready for the new millennium, we penned the song "I'm Ready for Y2K" in response to the aforementioned Y2K "crisis"—all about getting prepared for apocalyptic power and computing failures—and performed it at our events that year. I remember sitting with the party crowd at Blind Willy's in the first minutes of January 1, 2000, after the "Happy New Year" greetings and kisses—the lights hadn't gone out; we were plugged in, powered up, and in the anticipated New Millennium— and I realized with a pang of chagrin, Ready for Y2K, that the song we thought so funny and clever, was now obsolete...
• See CNN FTM feature from 2000:
• View our first promo video:
• Get our first album for $4.99—CD or download:
• Get our 2nd album:
The 15-Year Plan
"It sounded like a great idea at the time, it was 1999 and we're on the verge of the new millennium. Besides this just might accelerate my 15-year plan into a 10-year plan. Dot COM's were making people rich and the younger investment community were saying the old ways of investing are dead".
Across the room sits an attractive woman in her late 30's wearing a women's black business suit and glasses with dark rims. The room is dimly lit and new age music plays softly in the background.
"And then" she nods quickly as if that will get the answer out of me faster. I look at her; reluctant to answer I say nothing. She looks at me square in the eyes.
"What did you put all your money into?"
I sit quietly. I hear my self-breathing and swallow as to prepare for what I'm about to say. She now sits quietly too and looks at me. It's a therapy session stand off and the inevitable is about to happen.
"Phone booths" I say.
She says "Phone booths?"
"Yes... I had bad financial advisor. He was a friend of the family. Phone booths were like his personal crusade". He always had some kind of futurist wisdom to share. This was his Phone Booth investment proverb: "People will always need to talk to someone whose not there "and with a dramatic pause he would then finish with... "Wherever they are."
"He so reminded me of Yogi Berra" I said to my therapist. For the remainder of the session we talked about all the investments I could have made. She asked what my bad financial advisor friend of the family said when I mentioned DOT COMS. I explained his response to my asking him just that question.
"Passing phase" he would say while hammering his pointer finger on to the desk simultaneously marking the words he spoke.
She looks at the clock which is located behind me and then at me and says "It's 2014, that was 15 years ago, now what?' ... As I walk out of the office which is located in beautiful country setting, I stand before my car and ponder her question, "Now What?" Suddenly I hear footsteps on the road. From around the bend I see a guy who looks like a throw back from the 60's approaching me. Under his left arm are about 5 thin books stuffed in clear plastic bags. He says, "Would you like a phone book?"
From 1st FTM Event at GE
in June 1999:
"It was out of this world! What a way to get people out of their normal mindset and onto the stage. I loved it. Completely entertaining creative way to blend education with fun. You really see people break loose."
Laura Whiteis, GE
"I didn't think it could be done. You turned a room full of analytic executives into raving blues singers for a night. Finally, a conference activity that wasn't the same old thing!"
Ralf Christian, GE
"Great business simulation. I see now how the skills and mindset needed to write and sing the blues, in such a short time, are the very same things we need to succeed in today's marketplace."
Patrick Martgel, GE
"Getting groups together to write songs is a great way to teach collaboration in a high intensity and creative environment."
Ramon Escobar, GE
"Unbelievable! You actually got a room full of corporate types to write and sing the blues. I loved the way you blend entertainment with education. I found myself completely engaged."
B.N. Manohan, GE
"Face the Music should be an annual event at my company. It was a gas to see my boss on stage, in sunglasses, singing his heart out. The high point of our conference!"
Eledra Pulida, GE
"Takes the energy and pops it to music and rhythm. Not a bad way to release the valves."
Gerard Griffin, GE
What event, initiative or challenge do you have coming up that Face The Music can add value to?
To reach us: