Co-creation, teamwork, creative collaboration – these are words that we use a lot, both in art and in business, but the actual dynamics of it can be challenging. A lot of times, it’s because our ego gets in the way of being able to fail, fumble, and look stupid in front of others in order to hold the space for brilliant ideas to come. We see this play out in every songwriting collaboration, as well as in every board and team meeting. Joining Steve Farber in this rather creative episode, The Brothers Koren, Thorald and Isaac explain how the art of creative collaboration applies to music, as well as in business. They have an interesting take on collaboration that goes against the grain of conventional wisdom that you have to let go of the ego in order to collaborate. Instead, they look at how the good aspect of ego can be used to put contributions forward for the collaborative effort. Tag along as these three songwriters demonstrate what it really means to collaborate in an unexpectedly expected way.
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The Art Of Creative Collaboration With The Brothers Koren
My guests have been on the show before they are the Brothers Koren, Isaac and Thorald. A little bit about them before we dive in, but I just want to give you a heads up that you are about to learn something that has certainly never happened on this show before, and I bet it hasn’t happened too often, anywhere in the universe. I’m not going to tell you any more about that, except that it will be a spontaneous creative expression right here on the spot. These guys are the embodiment of creative expression.
They’re world-class musicians. They’ve traveled with Pink, toured with Coldplay. They’ve opened for Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi. These guys have been around the musical world and they are absolute geniuses when it comes to collaborative co-creation. The collaborative process is something that’s on everybody’s mind. We all want our teams and our companies to be more collaborative. We know that there’s a power of creativity that happens in the collection of human minds if we just learn how to do it. That’s what we’re going to talk about, along with the little bit of music to brighten your day. Have fun. Join us in this great conversation and a little bit of a concert with the Brothers Koren. Enjoy.
Isaac and Thorald, welcome to the show. This is an encore appearance from you guys.
Yes, indeed Farbse. Thanks for having us.
Great to see you again. I love that you call me Farbse. I’ve been on a last name basis with people for a long time. I had Tom Peters on the show. He was one of my mentors and, and he comes right out of the gate, “Hey, Farber.” He had to explain why he calls me Farber, but you guys call me Farbse.
It’s an Australian thing. You have to shorten it and add an E to it. It brings it closer and makes it very endearing.
Also, an O like Farbo but Farbse just stuck.
If I had to vote, I’d choose the Farbse over the Farbo. Farbo makes me sound like I’m about 800 lbs. I haven’t been out of bed for twenty years.
The second part is almost true. I haven’t been out of this chair in a year.
That’s why we are standing with you to take a break from sitting.
That’s a good idea but I can’t do that. As you guys know, I’ve shared this with you before I don’t wear pants. I wear workout shorts. I did a presentation. I was up early. It was a group out of Washington, DC. I put on a nice blazer, a nice shirt, and my Nike shorts. That’s why I don’t stand up. As a result, I sit on my ass for a lot of my life. To get my great cardio, I go out of the stationary bike. I’m still sitting down. It’s wrong here. Anyway, thank you for standing and thank you for standing with us. The conversation that I’d like to get into with you guys is, and we’ll take this wherever it wants to go, but the nature of your work is collaborative. I know that because I’ve participated in it. For example, when the three of us together endeavor to write a song with a group of people.
That’s purely collaborative. Also, the way you guys operate between each other because there are two of you. You may have noticed. You live in a constant state of collaboration. I know that for anybody nowadays, particularly I was going to say, particularly for people business, but I think it is true for anybody, collaboration, teamwork, co-creation, these are words that we use a lot but the actual dynamics of it can be challenging. That’s what I want to explore, collaboration in the creative process and elsewhere. Let’s start out with the collaboration between the two of you.
The space between. As you know, we’re brothers and we’ve been partners in crime. This is more important that we’ve been partners in collaboration since we were kids. We understand that’s not rare, but rarer than having a sibling that you just see in Christmas, Thanksgiving, texts and have not a great relationship with. Our whole career, we’ve noticed two reactions to the brother closeness. It’s either people that say, “Wow, what’s it like to be with your brother in a partnership?” They ask that because they have a loving relationship with their sister and brother. The other question is, “What’s that like?”We are biologically hardwired to collaborate. Even before we say, “Let’s collaborate,” we’re already collaborating. Click To Tweet
What they mean is, “I haven’t talked to my brother or sister that much since last Christmas. We respect each other, but we’re not close.” You find that the sibling dynamic, which was collaborative, like family is collaborative. The sibling dynamic is our first collaboration or this first collaborative environment that we have to survive and try to thrive in. We feel like whenever we show up and show our brotherly closeness, we challenge people or we inspire people. Isn’t that the truth? We come as these creatures that are designed to collaborate in a tribe together. We each are biologically hardwired to collaborate at first, even before we say, “Let’s collaborate.” We’re already collaborating.
I would go so far as to saying, without collaboration, all you have is an idea. We have these downloads, we call them a-ha moments. We get in the way of creative harm’s way, suddenly something comes, and who knows where it comes from. We could guess, but let’s not do that. It comes and then it’s an idea. We have a choice. We can do the lone wolf thing and go to a cabin where everyone can leave you alone. You’ll take that idea down the creative process as best you can, or you have a group of people that you trust that bring out the best in you that ask you questions, that give you feedback that says, “Yes, and.” For us, the cost of not collaborating is much greater than the cost of the struggle of collaboration.
If we’re genetically encoded to collaborate because we’re social animals, We’re tribal beings however you want to say it, there’s counter-programming that goes on. Maybe it’s a uniquely American thing, or a business thing, it’s this zero-sum game mentality that says, “In order for me to be successful, I have to be more than, or have more than, be smarter than, have more answers than the other person or people.” There’s a reluctance among many business people or people, in general, to share ideas because they want all the credit.
You have the hell of intellectual property law set up to protect ideas from being stolen. It’s only in a couple of years or so that you’ve seen open-source ideas where people share their ideas, knowing and trusting that other people are going to make them better in the technology space and the startup space. Perhaps there’s some of that, but it’s still early days for collaboration to be the norm.
You’re talking about there’s this new paradigm of collaboration in a way. I’m so happy you brought that up. Steve, because biologically hardwired within us is the desire to collaborate, to survive, and thrive. Also, biologically hardwired in us is me and, “What do I need. How much milk is for me left? How much am I going to get at dinner next to my big brother, who’s eating foster and more than me?” We’re programmed biologically in both ways at once. This is a passion of mine. At the core of what I do with Isaac and in my world, whether it’s voice music or anything else is the desire to study human behavior. It’s my passion. What you find is we’re all confused biologically. We have these alarms that want to separate us, have us compare ourselves, and compete with others. We also have this system that wants to collaborate, create, and trust that the best of us will show up with others in an environment of creating together. It’s in a way we have somehow to parent ourselves through one part of our biology to get to this other possibility of collaboration.
We have to go about it with conscious intent to be better at the collaboration, which I know sounds obvious, but in practice, it can be challenging because isn’t there a tendency in most of us? That’s an unfair question, but I’ll ask it anyway. Isn’t there a tendency in most of us to when we’re working in a group, let’s say that when we offer an idea? We have an attachment to the idea and there’s an ego attachment, in other words, that’s my idea. I hope the group accepts my idea. If the group accepts my idea, I want the group to say, “This was Farbse’s idea.” That’s what I want. Isn’t that true for most of us? It’s the group that did it. It was all of us together. We feel that.
Let’s just say that we all want at the base core, our child in us, all want to be recognized for the value that we bring. There’s nothing wrong with that. How can we retain our individuality, our sense of self-worth but not be attached to it and give in to this collective space called collaboration? That’s this beautiful tension, this magic that we’re talking about. Not to answer the question, but one of the things we’ve lent on or one of the techniques we use partially just because we’re built that way is specialization. If you go back to that tribal root of collaboration, you had this interdependence. You had your Smithy, you had your Baker, and that was passed on through family and generation.
They all depended on each other to make what they needed to create a small community of people. If you look at a community or a tribe as a creative engine, or a think tank, a band, or a company, then what we rely on in a songwriting session, for example, we lean on that one person that might find the structure or the chords, so to speak. We might lean on 1 or 2 people to mind them for the melody. We might lean on a separate person who’s more of a left-brain logical wordy to lean on them for the lyrics. We bounce it around and give everyone a sense of equality, but difference so that everyone can be measured as valuable. We don’t expect necessarily the value to come from that one person or this one person. We’re ready for a surprise. We’re ready to be surprised. We love surprises. We’re not attached to the outcome, but we also go to each person for their specialty. It seems to work for that purpose.
What we’re touching on here are the ground rules or the unspoken, whether it’s unconscious or conscious, we’d like to bring it into the consciousness like the present conscious moment. Ground rules of powerful collaboration, which requires an agreement in a way. The agreement needs to be here in this space, in this idea, at this moment, for this idea, for this song, for this event we’re collaborating on or for this book we’re writing together. We set up ground rules where everyone is safe to show up two feet in, share the best of their first creative impulse without judgment or attachment to it being used, liked, or acknowledged. In our world, with The Songwriter’s Journey and our company, you’ll be a voice. The whole spirit of that methodology is simple. It’s dare to suck, come home to this instrument that you’ve been given, which is this voice, non-melodic or melodic, dare to suck your first creative impulse idea. Let it be shed into the moment and let it be received as what it is. We may or may not use it.
What happens when we show up with that trust? The one other thing I wanted to add is that it’s not about the I or the me, but it is about me as much as it’s about you. When we see people truly showing up and collaborating powerfully, they come and they first go, “I am, and here’s my idea.” As soon as their idea’s shared, they hold the space of the moment for others to do the same. What they’re doing is saying, “I don’t know what’s about to come, but I’m going to look for the best in everyone on this team.” Often what’s happening in society is we’re taking people down instead of doing that.Without collaboration, all you have is an idea. Click To Tweet
That is the phrase we like to say, “Yes, and what about this?” There’s one distinction that we like that might help the readers take in what we’re saying is that you know how in the health world to have the bad fats and the good fats? In collaboration, we’ve got the good ego and the bad ego, so to speak to put it simply. The good ego is what Thorald was saying, “I am, and therefore, I’m going to share this without attachment.” The bad ego, that line is drawn in the sand at the attachment to it being used and being liked. It’s easy to find that line in us when we notice our attachment. It’s easy to be attached. Let’s just say that, it’s not a mortal sin to be attached. It’s very human. Can we find that line and hold that bad ego, so to speak back after? That first impulse that Thorald was talking about, that’s all good. That’s all great. It’s the what happens after.
It’s holding two conflicting apparently realities, feelings, or ideas at the same time. It’s I and we. A lot of times people, when they feel themselves being attached to their own ideas, there’s a sense of guilt that comes along with it because I feel maybe I’m not being a team player. There’s all this stuff that we’re told like one of my all-time least favorite clichés, which is, “There is no I in team,” which is a complete crock of shit. It’s true. There is no Z in team either. This idea that in order to be a part of a team, I have to completely subjugate my I-ness, my sense of self, is wrong. Every team is made up of a lot of extraordinary is, you just found a way to contribute to each other.
When you say, for example, “I’m going to dare to suck.” The way I’ve seen that play out is both a concept as in dare to suck. Let’s agree that we should all dare to have a bad idea. It sounds stupid. With all the judgments we put on it, let’s dare to suck. That’s part of it. The other part of it is using the words as in, and I hear you guys do this all the time, just daring the suck here, “How about we…” That is holding the space that you were talking about Thorald, which is an abstract term. To me, holding the space means let me through my own actions, through my own words, through my own approach, be a model of what I would like everybody to do. If I dare to suck, then now it’s your turn. You’re going to be more likely to do that.
It might be good to throw in a threat here for the business owners out there reading, say you’re sitting in your boardroom, you spending a million a year on your staff. You’re sitting around the boardroom and you’ve got to come up with some solutions. It’s 2021 and things aren’t the same. You need them all to be standing in that good ego, coming up with ideas on the spot. They’re all afraid of losing their job, of being embarrassed, of looking stupid. This might be hypothetical. What if they’re all afraid to share their idea, to speak out, to stand out, to disappoint you for their idea not to be used? Think of the cost in terms of a non-collaborative space. Think of the cost in terms of a whole team not willing to dare to suck and trust their first instinct. That cost is enormous and measurable.
It’s very measurable. You touched at, Steve when you said to be a model, and this is not just for CEOs and leaders in whatever ecology that you’re in, this is for every single person. It’s 2021, this is a time where everyone essentially is of influence to each other. Every single one of us can model standing in, daring to suck saying, “I am. Here’s my share.” This is my first impulse like, “It’s time for me to say this thing.” Instead of inhibiting myself for reasons of inhibition or not wanting to disrupt all of these feelings we have going beyond that saying, “I want to share this. I’m just daring to suck here,” or insert a different way to say that. “How about?” With the freedom to share it without it being used, you’re immediately modeling, sharing, and holding the space of collaboration. You’re holding the space at the same time as spilling melody into the space. You’re passing the space on and saying, “What do you feel?” Not, “What do you think of me but what about you? Here’s the ball. What do you do with the ball? Do you bounce it on your knee? I’m interested to watch and be a part of this.” There’s a constructive way of being together that the world has unfortunately lost a number of generations. It feels like it’s more than ever a time to pivot to this new way of being together.
I would love for you guys to model that for us and not so much in the creative process itself, but an outcome from the creative process that you go through with each other all the time, which is all just a fancy-ass way of saying, I’d love for you guys to play us a song.
While Thorald gets the guitar, we’re going to try a song that we haven’t played in a while to put us on the edge. This one came down beautifully and the chords came quickly. Thorald had this melody. We talked about the meaning and we agreed that it felt like it was this story of his late teacher. There weren’t any lyrics. There were some placeholders. I looked at Thorald, and this is an important part of collaboration is because we do need requests. I want to talk to you about the power of requests and invitations in the collaborative process. I looked at Thorald and I gave him this serious look. I said, “I’m going to go and grab lunch. You’ve got twenty minutes. I dare you to write the first verse and the chorus by the time I get back.”
I went like, “That’s a pretty good idea. I can do that for twenty minutes. Thanks for the request.”
We didn’t finish the second verse until we’re about to record months later. Here we go.
In the spirit during the suck, as I said, we’ve played this very seldomly. It’s a new song that’s yet to be released. It’s called Little Tears. By the way, by the Brothers Koren. We’re officially calling ourselves Brother’s Koren.
We’d be happy to know that Fransancisco is no longer, we are transitioning back to ourselves.
Just an editorial note, the Brothers Koren are the Brothers Koren. They’ve also been The Kin. They’ve also been Fransancisco. They’ve also been BRÅVES. This is a Brothers Koren song.
“I had a dream last night, you came back on November 8. I had a dream last night, you came back to stay. Sing of your bluebird country and we’d all hail. Hold in space into the night. We never retire until the firelight fades. I was willing to fight on the day that you went away. With all of my might, I would have traded your place. Oh, I play the songs that you loved, like a horse with no name and amazing grace. Come on broke in darken days. The tumbling hearts and little tears can’t that be flood out. It’s so spoken in space you’ve made. The quivering stars when dreaming on yesterday. Where are you now? I never felt so close, even though you’re so far away. I never dreamed that I choke when someone mentions your name, but did you see that why light coming for you that day or did you brace or live for your life no longer deprived of freedom you craved? Come on broke in darken days, the tumbling hearts and little tears can’t that be flood out. It’s so spoken in space you’ve made. The quivering stars when dreaming on yesterday. Where are you now? Where are you now? Where are you now?”
What a beautiful song.Magic occurs when you let go of control. It’s better to share an idea that’s almost ready rather than wait until it’s perfect. Click To Tweet
There’s a couple of things that occurred to me as I was listening to that gorgeous piece. First of all, when you guys think back a long time ago, when you sang that song to us, did that feel perfect to you?
Not at all.
This is an interesting dynamic. It sounded perfect to me, maybe a little something. To you, it didn’t sound perfect. That’s one dynamic, it’s all relative. Perfection is a relative thing. It comes to creativity and art. The other thing that occurs to me is when I listened to that song, and then I think about the process of creating a song or creating anything, but I want to stay with the song by way of example. It’s true in all dynamics. When I’m in the process of creating a song after listening to a song like that, I’m daring the suck, I’m struggling, I’m flailing, the words aren’t coming out, the melody sounds terrible, and then I have a tendency to think there is something wrong here because I just heard that song. That was perfect.
In other words, what we do is consume the final product. We assume that it was perfect from the start that it came out that way, in one creative outburst. The same holds true if you read a great novel, and then you try to write something and go like, “This paragraph is crap.” That person produced this incredible work of art. What we don’t see is all the pages that were thrown away in fits of angst because it sucked along the way.
I have so much to say back, but I want to touch on why I said not at all. What you’re touching here is comparison. The dis-ease of comparison within ourselves. The first thing I want to say is the reason it was not at all is because the truth is Isaac and I are taking a big risk saying that. We don’t have mastery of remembering how that song goes. We were taking a risk on trying it because I say, “I don’t think we’re ready to sing that.” Isaac goes like, “All right.” I was like, “I’ll take that as a debt. Why don’t we sing it?” I want to share this environment because it’s a way of being with each other that I’m proud to say, not only are we a model of this way of being. This is what we coach people to do, which is can you be almost ready and say, “Screw it,” and step in an environment where you know at least the gift of your experience will hold you to take a risk?
Many of us, brilliant people in their fields forget that magic might occur when they let go of control. Magic might occur when they share an idea that’s almost ready versus wait until it’s an A-plus in their mind because the truth is we are thirsty for real, not necessarily thirsty for perfect. Except perfection is behind the eyeball of the person experiencing it. We work with a lot of perfectionists. I’m a recovering one. The perfectionist dis-ease or a true perfectionist doesn’t love perfection in everything, but no one’s looking, they also love wants in all. They haven’t made recognized it. The reason it was not at all is because it was a daring thing to share. We want to share that the product collaboration is not being ready all the time, but being ready enough to show up and share.
I want to say that first and then to pass the comparison back to you guys, what you modeled is about comparison. If I’m getting ready for something, my first impulse comes out, I look at the first draft, and I immediately moved my being to look online at everyone else’s finished products that’s comparable, we lose every time. We don’t realize that what someone is sharing is something that they’ve cultivated and curated, or they got lucky and their first draft was just magic. That happens to all of us. The only way you get to that magic is trust. I’m going to pass a comparison to you because it’s a dis-ease in everyone we worked with.
The bottom line is we are incomparable and yet we’re as a culture obsessed with it. As Thorald said, it is a dis-ease because it takes away all the ease of creativity. All of the ease of being ourselves and awakening to what’s possible in the moment. We start measuring ourselves against something that we’ll never be. We’ll never be that other person. We’ll never sound like Bruce Springsteen like Thorald and I no matter what we could do. We have tried. We love some Bruce, but we’ll never have what he had. We’ll never have his voice. We’ll never have the life that he lived to get that. As you said, a work of art or any brilliant idea, or a business idea that gets judged on the market, you can’t compare it. You can’t tell what it took to get there. All of that time is compressed and incomparable. Can we get back to collaboration and looking at the song? That’s our world here. What happens is we’ll agree on some chords and there’s this tender moment. There’s a whole room of beings that are listening to these songs and you can almost hear the melodies being heard, but who’s going to be the first to open their mouth?
Who’s going to have the courage to go first?
Singing in front of others is potentially, always embarrassing if we’re willing to be embarrassed.
It’s also true among so-called professionals. The three of us had a conversation where I came to you guys and I said, “I want to focus more attention on songwriting.” I’ve been writing songs off and on my whole life. When you guys opened me up to was this reality that a lot of songwriters write in collaboration with other songwriters. These are professional songwriters. Sometimes they’re writing songs with people they’ve never even met before. The way you described that Isaac was you said, “It’s a series of awkward moments with perfect strangers,” which is a great line for a song.
By the way, it’s in the new song that I wrote with a friend of mine. You guys in your inimitable fashion, turn that discussion around into a challenge for me. You said, “Your challenge is now by the end of April, you have to write seven different songs with seven different people.” I’ve taken on that challenge. My point is that even for professionals, it’s a series of awkward moments. It’s a series of fear of being judged for having a bad idea, even though everybody intellectually understands that’s what it takes to get to the magic.
One hundred percent. Especially in the lyric department, because when we’re writing lyrics, it’s a very frontal lobe, very left-brain analytical kicks in. It’s easy to judge it. Everyone’s afraid of saying something that makes them sound stupid, not just embarrassing and emotional, but sound stupid and cliché. No one wants to come up with an idea that’s cliché. I like to think that it takes one person to suck first to say something, the first thing that comes into their mind, and not filter it to then have that in the room so that other people get annoyed with it. It disrupts their flow. They’re agitated, irritated, and guess what comes out of agitation, irritation, disruption? Something else comes out of it and suddenly we’re all flamenting off each other and then also, being the fall guy or the first to fall. Someone can go, “Not quite that, but what about this or yes, and.” You stop the dominoes from falling.
It takes 1 or 2 people to dare to look foolish in the room. That’s what we’ve found through our years of collaborating on a song is we’ve found that there are creative types. I would hazard to guess that you and Thorald are of similar type. You’re often talking out loud as you’re figuring things out. It’s important that we record everything we say. You’ll take something someone says, make it accessible, crystallize it, clarify it, embody it, make it make sense. Not that you don’t both have brilliant ideas in the inception. I would go to both of you for that reflection, the yes and, the exciter type personality.
It’s partially knowing your creative type. We could walk through some of these but to keep it broad, clearly, at the beginning of the creative process, there’s the mess-making. There is the first creative impulse, the first idea, “Something hit me. What if it’s the first thing?” Someone goes, “What if we scope that? What if into this?” that’s what Isaac’s referring to you and I, Steven.
Those people are usually high mood, high-intensity performer types that keep the ball rolling.
We can get into that. The idea moves to what we call framing. You leave invention, sculpting, and you end up in framing where it’s still high mood, but you then frame out what it might possibly be. This could be a book, a podcast, a song, or anything accompany, a new idea, beta testing. It’s irrelevant what the thing is. It’s framing. It sets the frame and starts to get a little bit more objective and constructive. It starts to be like, “Now, what would the process be from here?” Once it’s framed, we moved to making. Making is an objective. A maker, like a creative person that loves to make the thing that everyone agreed on creating.
In the music world, it’s a producer and engineer mixer. They’re all maker types.
Last a touch on it, it would be curation. How do you curate and crystallize this into? It is finished, ready, sharing. We walk hundreds of people through the creative process privately or in groups. I want to also open up the fact that me, you, and Isaac have been in collaboration with Your Big Leadership Voice, where we go in and tap the collective story. Your song as a medium at the creative process to bring everyone in together and walk them through the mess all the way through to the curation. You can model this in song. It can be fracked on and show up in every single thing we do together collaboratively out there in the world.It takes one person to suck at first for something brilliant to come out. Click To Tweet
There’s a compelling and powerful leadership principle, lots of them in what you guys just said. One of them is this idea of being willing to go first to make the initial mess. That in and of itself is a leadership act that also runs counter to what a lot of leaders think they’re supposed to do or to appear as, and that is the smartest person in the room. On the one hand, we say, “Leaders go first.” That makes sense. Model the way set the example but then there’s a reluctance if that example is one of being messy.
I need to appear to be the smartest person in the room, the person with all the answers. I don’t want to create an example of a mess, but oftentimes that is the most powerful leadership act you can take. As you said, is giving permission for everybody else to engage in that messy, creative process. We all say that we want to be more creative than be more innovative, etc., but to create that environment where people are willing to dare to suck, make a mess, respond to each other, leaders go first in that. Are you willing to jump into the mess as your own example?
One hundred percent. I thought of the love that it took, a king for example, or queen for that matter, leading her army into battle. It took the good ego, the selflessness, the non-attachment to the result to take out the front of the Army and go first. It takes so much love for the men and women fighting behind them to be the sacrificial one, to ride out their front, and valiantly go towards the enemy, which is not coming up with a solution or not finishing the song. Can you dare to throw yourself into the mess?
I’m not sure what love has to do with all these. I may ask pushing it a little far.
The love for the country.
I was checking with you until that stupid word.
I want to say, twice now I’ve thought of Oprah, and Bryan Cranston is another example, but for some reason, it’s come up twice. I need to share that. What a defining example of power, royal, a leader in his greatest quality, and yet when you approach Oprah and her way, she is being. She’s curious, not fully sure, wants to tap others is real. The word authentic ran as every of it. The truth is she’s modeling something different than the leader that you described, Steve. She’s modeling a human being thirsty to journey toward making a mess and discovering the potential power of her experience and to lead others in doing so. She’s been doing it for decades. She’s an incredible example of what a leader can be.
It’s one of the greatest ironies of leadership is that expectation that I need to appear to be smartest, I need to appear to be perfect in order to lead is diametrically opposed to what the reality is, which is the more I’m willing to embody myself to be myself, to show my imperfections, to be vulnerable the words that we like to use, is what creates a tighter connection with people. We follow human beings and this is the irony. The minute somebody appears to be perfect, they’re automatically a suspect. We know there’s no such thing. That means, “You must be hiding something,” which is why we love people who are real with us.
We can see they’re not hiding something. When somebody appears to have a wall in front of them, a mask, a facade, they’re pretending, posing as I like to say, we know that we’re not seeing something. When we don’t see something, clearly we don’t know what’s going on. What do we do? We make stuff up. We start creating our own stories to explain what’s going on behind that facade. That’s the power of being real and vulnerable is, “I’m going to tell you my real stories. You don’t have to go around and making stuff up about me. Let me just tell you what it is.” If we could do that with each other, whatever it is that we’re trying to create, whether it’s a song, a business plan, launching a new venture is dynamic.
I just want to jump in and do something outrageous. I’m going to dare a suck. This is not planned. Isaac doesn’t know. Let’s model this with no attachment. “Do what you love in the service of people do love what you do. Do what you love in the service of people to do love what you do. Do what you love in the service of people who love what to do.”
“Do what you love, because love is just damn good business.”
Steve, my favorite is yours. “Do what you love,” and you’re like, “Because love is just damn good business.” Let’s do that again, “Do what you love because love is just damn good business.” That’s a good one. Let’s do it again. “Do what you love because love is just damn good business. Won’t you say do what you love, do what you love, do what you love, do what you love because love is just damn good business.” I started something. I kept looking at what’s behind you. I felt blues. I started the idea. I sucked. Isaac picked it up, made it into something, and then it got you. You had the best idea and everything is okay. We all chose it collectively. We brought it back and even harmonized it into a cool little moment. If that’s not a model, then what is?
What the hell do you say after that? Going back to what you guys were talking about before, there’s the messiness, then there’s the framing and all that. I’m seeing a frame around that includes, you have the, “Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do,” and then that refrain “Because love is just damn good business.” I’m seeing a combination of both of those things.
For sure, and then maybe something in the end like, “Do what you love, do what you love.”
Here’s the thing, you guys do that crap all day long, don’t you?
We do. Sometimes we look at ourselves and we’re working on helping hold space and calling song. In The Songwriter’s Journey, we help someone fall back in love with them that they are. Fall in love with their voice. Fall in love with the music that’s moved them. We help hold a space for potential song ideas. Sometimes we look at it ourselves preparing for a client and we think, “We get to do this.”
Especially when it’s a whole album, we have to dig in and dive into their cosmos musical cosmology we call it and their story. We feel very lucky and fortunate to have been called to this work.
I like to make things very succinct and understandable. The work that you do in large part involves taking other people, people like me, anybody that’s got either a passion for music, not even any experience in music, but has a passion for getting some expression out and you work with them to create their own songs. Find their voice, create their songs, turn it into something tangible like a recording, and then share that with the world. That’s The Songwriter’s Journey, in a nutshell.
There are two kinds of people that we work with that is one of the types. Some people, we’ve found don’t want to write a song but they want to open up their voice. Free their voice and get over the fear of singing. A lot of people are terrified to sing and for good reason, because they’ve been shut down and told they can’t sing, think they can’t sing, or compare themselves to everyone else out there. We create a safe space for someone who just wants to reclaim their voice and sing songs that they love again.
Model again the voice is something you wake up with and you go to bed with. From the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, you’re constantly using it to either be amplified and share your voice or receptively listened to the world around you, whether it’s your family or at work. When someone gets back into the vitality of that voice, something magnificent occurs every time. it becomes like voices medicine. It shows up in your wellness when you connect back to it. We’re beginning the second launch of our course called Reclaiming Your Big Voice in late March 2021. If anyone’s interested, please find us BrothersKoren.com. Please come join us.
We created it for the people that are either terrified or just plain nervous to sing.
I want to frame this up in the context of extreme leadership or leadership development. Here’s the way I would do it. There’s this dynamic that I often talk about that you guys know, called the OS!M, which stands for the Oh Sh**! Moment. The point about the OS!M is that it’s the indicator that we’re leading. It’s the indicator that we’re doing something significant because there is no such thing as transformation, growth, or leadership without that frequent experience. The problem is that most of us shy away from it.
The way that I typically frame it up with folks is this if there’s something that you’ve been wanting to do, in your business or in whatever context it could be, there’s a difficult conversation that you’ve been wanting to have, but you haven’t had it. There’s been a job opportunity that you wanted to pursue, but you didn’t pursue it. There’s been a change at work that you’ve been wanting to make, but you didn’t take any steps to change it. If you ask yourself why, and the only honest answer you get back to yourself from yourself is because I’m scared to, then that’s the reason to do it.
In other words, if the only reason you could think of to not do something is because the idea scares you, then that’s the reason to do it. That’s what I mean by the pursuit of the OS!M. Having said that for a lot of people, the only reason that they don’t sing anywhere, except in the shower, when nobody can hear them, or the car where nobody can hear them is because they’re scared to. If that is you, dear reader, then the challenge is, can you then pursue? You loved to sing, you’re scared to do it. You’d love to create music. You’re scared to do it because you think you’re going to suck. If that’s the only reason that you’re not doing it, that’s the reason to do it. If you fall into that category, then you need to either work with the brothers directly or sign up for their program, not just for the music, but to learn how to pursue the OS!M in every context. It’s a great OS!M generator.
Yes, it is. Thank you. We can’t wait to meet you and your OS!M. You look at the things you’re most afraid of. These aren’t logical fears but fear of public speaking wins. Have we measured when you add melody to public speaking? Have we measured fear of public singing? We have of the last past years and we have incredible evidential data. We have so much data on what it means to invite someone into that OS!M. What we also have data on is what happens when they say yes, no matter how good of a singer they are, what happens to their lives, bodies, beings after they do it is so well worth the nerves.
I’m speaking from a direct experience with you guys. It seems like every time I talked to you, you turn it into some new OS!M for me. You guys have been mentors for me and re-enlivening of music in my life. What you just described is that’s my experience completely. I am very much at home onstage, in front of an audience of 10,000 people and I love it. Put a guitar in my hand and a microphone to say, “Now sing.” It’s getting a little less terrifying the more I do it but it’s terrifying. Afterwards, there’s no greater feeling whether it was a flawless performance or not, or something it’s that human dynamic of pushing ourselves a little bit further. Creating, therefore, a new experience that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. At the very least, we’re going to learn something significant about ourselves in that process.
Can we request a song then?
I started hearing March Forth.
That’s one thing I never got to hang out. We love you and we love hanging out, but we never got to hang out as brothers, with you and your brother. If you don’t mind, would you sing into the room?
I will. I’ll make a couple of adjustments here with the audio and all that. I also want to set the context for it. This is a song that’s attributed to my late brother, Bill Farber, who died on March 4th. It was quite an extraordinary experience. I was there with him, myself, other friends and family. There are probably somewhere around fifteen of us in the room with him when he passed away. It was a remarkable thing. I’ve never experienced anything like that. He and I were very close. He always loved my music. He was never a musician himself, but he was a great music fan. I played music for him in his final hours. He was almost non-responsive to everything, but he responded to my music. He did everything he could to move his head to acknowledge that I was playing. I wrote this song called March Forth to honor him. I don’t play it very often. I’m going to get the lyrics up in front of me.
“A bell is ringing for you tonight. Your friends are singing for you tonight. The band is playing never song you ever knew but didn’t have the stage to perform, but you knew all the lyrics since the day you were born. Over there on the other side of time, march forth, my brother under the open sky. Your next great adventure maybe on the other side. Let me know when you get there. I’ll be standing by. Send a tech store a postcard, or one little flicker of a light, and I’ll be satisfied. The fog is lifting for you tonight. The past is listening for you tonight, your doubt is melting like an ice cube in the sun. It’s what you always try to realize. With every breath you’ve take in, it’s the moment you arrived. Over there on the other side of time, march forth my brother under the open sky. Your next great adventure, maybe on the other side. Let me know when you get there. I’ll be standing by. Raise a flag on the mailbox but whisper in the night, and I’ll be satisfied. I can’t explain it, but it’s true. Look up. You’ll see it too. The sun is setting like a Jew and the moon is rising in the corner of this room. March forth, my brother under the open sky. Your next great adventure, maybe on the other side. Let me know when you get there. I’ll be standing by send a jingle through a wind chime or an Emissary with a sign, and I’ll be satisfied.”
The last time I played that song was we were on a webinar together and you did that, “Play that song for us.” I hadn’t played it in months and I’m like in the middle of the song go, “Crap, what’s the next chord?” I had a little bit of that here.
That was gorgeous with just one mic like that.
Thank you for modeling exactly what we were talking about and scaring the shit out of me. I appreciate that.
This has been extraordinary, as it always is. BrothersKoren.com is the place to go to find you. You’ve got your online program coming up and your music on the website for people that want to go down that catch up on all the great music that you produced over the years. That’s a great place to go for it. You’re also on Spotify, under The Kin and all that other stuff. You mentioned, I don’t want to let this go by without putting some emphasis on it. The three of us together have this experience called Your Big Leadership Voice, where we go into a company, a team of whatever, and from scratch, write with the group an original song together. Also, explore the power of storytelling in both individual stories and capturing the collective story of the group through song. I know I’m biased, but I’ve never seen another team-building experience like this. It is quite extraordinary.
The company gets to keep the song. The company gets to have a recording of the team song that everyone was co-writing and collaborating.
If you can imagine sitting down with your team and coming away from this thing with your song that you created. By the way, as you can tell readers, from these guys, these aren’t cheesy crappy songs that come out. These are damn good songs. I guess you could tell I’m excited about it.
If you have a company out there, take us up on it and learn more. It’s YourBigLeadershipVoice.com I believe.
Isaac, Thorald, The Brothers Koren, what a great pleasure. Thank you for being with us. If you could take us out just by singing a couple of lines of Do what you love. Take us out with one of your songs.
Now you’ve requested, we love that song. We’re going to have to get back in the show to find out what the idea was. Lucky it’s being recorded. That’s the other thing, always record your creative ideas. “Do what you love in the service of people that love what you do. Do what you love, do what you love, do what you love in the service of love, do what you love, because love is just damn good business. Because love is just good damn business, sing it again, let’s go out with this. Because love is just good damn business.”
- Brothers Koren
- Tom Peters – Previous episode
- The Songwriter’s Journey
- Your Big Leadership Voice
- Reclaiming Your Big Voice
About Thorald Koren
About Isaac Koren
Isaac has the uncanny ability to climb inside an artist’s head and guide them to the download of their soul’s song. His love affair with music began in dramatic fashion when a friend casually picked up a guitar, and he found himself compelled to wail the blues. He left Australia in pursuit of his studies in music theory and its affect on human psychology and physiology. His Artist Identity and Lyric Immersion sessions ask us to delve deeply to touch the place of inspiration within.
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