— By Thomas Nusbaum, Creative Director, BI Media & Events
The Client... A successful mortgage lender.
The Event... The firm’s annual three-day sales meeting.
The Audience... 700 smart, young and successful sales and marketing execs.
The Message... Strength through collaboration.
The Wild Card... A hard rocking Company president who could sing, play drums, and liked to wake up his troops with a little Van Halen at, say, 8 am.
The Plan... Rock their world with a music-themed event featuring a red-hot, extremely versatile, rock & roll band.
As the production company which would execute this program, our mission was to create a powerful experience for our client. So beyond the 17 videos we produced, beyond the 21 executive speeches we wrote, beyond the world famous “action painter” we hired, there was–in our minds–one emotional center that would make or break the meeting: MUSIC.
Music is an incredibly powerful communication tool because it can evoke emotional – even visceral – audience responses.
To drive the meeting’s message, we wanted to create a powerful “soundtrack” that would include covers, customized lyrics, video scoring, walk-in & walk-out, play ons, and interaction with the client’s top executives.
Clearly, we needed more than a house band.
My first move? I picked up the phone and called Face The Music. Having worked successfully with FTM before, I was confident they would be a valuable resource. In fact, they were much more. The boys put together a five-piece rock band that blew away all expectations. And the audience.
How? Three keys: (1) Talent, (2) Preparation; and (3) Professionalism.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
The Opening... Combined music, voice over, graphics, and featured the band as a theatrical metaphor for how the Company would come together.
Award Ceremonies... The Band’s performance dove-tailed with on screen images and voice over.
Action Artist.. A tightly choreographed segment in which the band played the soundtrack for an artist who pained on stage to music.
The President... The company President sat in with the band, playing drums and singing a tribute to the audience.
Sketch Comedy... A rock & roll sketch in which the band not only played music, but also interacted with executives.
The “Candids” Module... A closing highlights video accompanied by the band performance of a custom-written song.
In the meeting production business, performers regularly boast about their capabilities. More often than not, the outcome doesn’t match the spin. But there was no over-promising with FTM. They simply delivered. And whether they were the featured performer of a given segment or playing a supporting role, they acted like pros.
The customer’s own meeting survey backs me up. Attendees and execs alike rated this sales meeting their best ever. The band received top scores across the board.
My observations: FTM was dependable–showing up on time and rehearsing relentlessly. They were flexible–modifying pieces and coming up with new material on the fly. They know the business world–that includes dealing with the client and the production company. And when the curtain came up, they rocked.
Face The Music Rocks the House at the 2005 Long Beach Mortgage National Sales Meeting
"FTM was aligned with our meeting goals. They connected with our team and added good energy and excitement. Real professionals."
Joseph A. Patti, Vice President, Human Resources, Bristol-Myers Squibb
"Keep it up -- it was a real pleasure and we got what we needed."
Harry Hutson, Consultant, Banta Corporation
"Face The Music is such a great concept! It energizes everyone. I came in to the session sitting in the back of the room, but ended up right in front! Great for team spirit!"
Nancy Piechowiak, Sales Coordinator, Panasonic
"Excellent event! A little daunting at first, but everyone got into the spirit very quickly and it was thoroughly enjoyable. The musicians were good and the whole session was very slick. I'd do it again tomorrow!”
Participant, Global Legal Counsel, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP
"I can't even begin to tell you how much fun this teambuilding exercise project was for everyone. If not for FTM, our offsite would not have been a success."
Janine Iofrida, Event Planner, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Group
"It is worth mentioning that in addition to providing a great program, the FTM team was very easy to work with, flexible, and responsive to the needs of both
senior leaders and participants. They customized the program to our needs and worked with us on all the set up details so we were sure things would go off without a hitch."
Barbara Keen, Ph.D., Director, Organization Development, Bristol-Myers Squibb
In seven years of meetings, it was one of the best and most satisfying programs I’ve been associated with. FTM didn’t just make us look good, they didn’t simply thrill the client, they connected with the audience to communicate in a way that was powerful and memorable.
In the corporate meeting business, there are house bands and then there are bands that rock the house. That’s Face The Music.
Face The Music is off and rolling for 2005. We've been to California and Texas twice each, as well as Chicago and New Jersey. In January we went to Dallas to be the house band for Long Beach Mortgage's Rock The Beach event. (See the lead article in this newsletter for details.)
In mid-February we were in Chicago for an event with Banta Corporation. Senior managers and the CEO were gathered for the Banta Forward event, which featured a meeting room transformed into a blues club and Banta managers singing the blues with quite a bit of choreography. Consultant Harry Hutson said, "It was a pleasure working with Face The Music professionally and as people. We got what we needed."
Bristol-Myers Squibb Technical Operations got together in Princeton, NJ for their Global Strategy Meeting. There was some question in the minds of organizers as to whether this culturally diverse group of engineering/technically-oriented folks would respond favorably to the opportunity to write and sing their business blues. There's no question now! They had a great time. Tech Ops HR rep, Barbara Keen, said, "We were working very hard and needed an opportunity to connect on a different level, and have some fun too. You really
made the difference for the group."
Our next event was in Houston with Bank of America. We did five events in 2004 as part of their Leader Forum series, and Houston was the first of a planned five for 2005. The Leader Forum is an intense training, and participants welcome the chance to express themselves and cut loose with the business blues. The program was followed by an impromptu dance party, with special appearances on vocals by some of the participants. It finally broke up with the guitar sorely out of tune, and having a broken string swingin' in the breeze.
In the last week we had a double-dipper in California–Wells Fargo Home Mortgage held their Retreat for Excellence
in Santa Barbara (right across the street from the Pacific) on Friday, March 18, and Roche Diagnostics Molecular Diagnostics group gathered for a leadership meeting at the Hays Mansion in San Jose on Monday the 21st. The Wells Fargo group, 120 strong, had an exuberant session, complete with awards for the best songs and performances, encores by two excellent singers, and a special performance of Hank Williams, Jr.'s Porkchop–'nuff said. A drive up the Pacific Coast Highway later, the Roche group of 30 managers seemed to relish in the chance to take a different look at their issues by writing a song together. Some musical talent was discovered in this group as well, and some of the managers will be sitting in with Face The Music on an upcoming gig.
Meet the Band —
The Integration Blues: Paul Kwiecinski
Face The Music's Managing Partner and co-founder, Paul Kwiecinski, is well on his way to accomplishing his goal of "having one life." Finding a way to integrate his two main skills and interests, business and music, has been a lifelong process for Paul, and with the creation and success of Face The Music, it's finally becoming a reality.
Paul's musical education began when he was a boy playing upright bass in the school orchestra, and bass guitar with his musical brothers (Dave and Jim) back home in South Bend, Indiana. Even way back in the 1970's, the "Kruze Brothers" as they called themselves, used to ad lib blues songs and encourage party-goers to get up and improv lyrics with the band. A harbinger of things to come.
Paul continued to work on his blues and jazz chops playing with the University of Notre Dame Jazz Band (yes, Paul's a "golden domer") and occasionally with a band led by "South Side Denny" (Snyder) now an FTM Band Regular–once opening for blues legend, Luther Allison.
Paul's dual life continued with stints as a project manager for Ford during the mid-eighties and as a "rock and roller" with now brother-in-law John Berenzy's band, Johnny Jewel, in New York City during the late 1980's. Paul and his wife, Lisa Murrell, then moved to upstate NY, and in 1993, they founded MetaSystem Consulting Group, which utilizes a unique holistic systems approach to help organizations in disciplines from teambuilding to strategic thinking. Still, Paul didn't abandon his dream of finding a way to use music in the workplace, once weaving the blues into a team development session in Paris. Paul realized, then and there, that if a group of French executives could write and sing the blues, ...ANYBODY could!
Then, in 1999, Paul got together with Mitchell Ditkoff, founder of the innovation consulting company, Idea Champions, and Face The Music was born as a formal business enterprise. Since then, Face The Music has grown with a long list of clients that includes Bank of America, Pfizer, Aventis, Allstate, Ernst & Young, Target, Moen, Panasonic, Wells Fargo, AstraZeneca, GE, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, among others.
Paul, whose blues name is "South Bend Slim," sees Face The Music as a great business tool which "creates the opportunity to speak the truth and be real" which, in turn, "allows companies to utilize new-found energy to make positive change."
The latest integration? Beyond The Blues, an FTM follow-up program which helps companies take advantage of the opening that a Face The Music session provides and follow through with a suitable change process. As Paul says, "Face The Music is the diagnosis and Beyond the Blues is the cure."
The last thing Paul leaves Face The Music participants with at every session is the thought that "if we come back here next year, make sure you're not singing the same blues. Do something about them!" One thing for sure is, Paul Kwiecinski will be doing everything he possibly can to not be singing "The Integration Blues" next year.
Note: Paul's currently writing a book based on his Face The Music experiences, featuring the blues song lyrics of his many clients through the years.
All of us at Face The Music were extremely saddened upon the recent passing of Mindy Jostyn. Mindy was an original member of FTM and brought an incredible amount of love, caring, commitment and musical mastery to the project. Yes, she was an extraordinary singer, harp and violin player. but even more than that she was an extraordinary person. Kind hearted. Soulful. Genuine. And deeply committed to the highest ideals. Her musical talent was exceeded only by the depth of her spirit and her love of life. It's hard to believe Mindy is gone...yet another reminder of how precious life is and how fragile. We love you, Mindy.. and we thank you for all we have learned from you and felt in your presence.