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Suits That Rock: Using Rock Music to Understand Business

What can rock music teach us about business? Joining us on today’s episode is John Domaschko, managing member of the incredible initiative Suits That Rock, a fundraising concert for charity whose performers are business and professional leaders. When you have a VP, or managing partner, or a CEO up on stage performing at a rock concert, it’s quite an experience, and they’ve now raised over $900,000 so far for arts programs for young children. In 2019, the Suits That Rock will cross over $1 million dollars raised for the music education programs at The Carnegie


The idea began with the question, wouldn’t it be fun to have five or six people perform for an hour within somebody’s fundraiser, and get the shock value on the faces of the people in the crowd when they see the president of their company or the chairman of the board up on stage? By the time they had found a charity and a venue that agreed to the effort, more people had volunteered: from five or six people, there were now about 20 interested musicians. So what was once an hour-long set evolved into an annual four-hour long concert.

Music as a metaphor for business

Being in a rock band is a group of people accomplishing a result together, and bringing all their individual skills to the stage, which are better than any one of the individual skills by themselves. And that’s the fun part — starting with a clean slate and coming up with something that highlights the skills of the people involved: how can we make everything work in a way that enables people to give their best performance?

And that’s the goal in any leadership situation as well. Every leader’s job is to get the obstacles to the team doing their best out of the way, to make it conducive to everybody being able to perform at their maximum level.

Serving on boards

John enjoys the process of watching more than one person come up to a solution with a problem. Together, people can come up with better solutions that one person could have done on their own. Often, the thing that spurs the most creativity is somebody coming up with the craziest idea you could ever come up with, and having that prompt someone to say, maybe that won’t work, but this could. In board meetings, everybody has a different superpower, and they bring those superpowers to the meetings.

John recommends serving on a board  — but don’t get on one that feels like drudgery. From the beginning, get on something that interests you, and act like you’re getting six figures to be there. You’ll have more fun, and the more engaged you are, the more you’ll get out of it. You’ll learn more and probably get more opportunities on other boards to do the same kind of thing.

Getting the right people on the team

Another thing that translates from the music world to the business world is getting the right people on the team. If you have a group of people that have mutual respect for each other and are growing in the same direction and addressing the same problems with their different skill sets, it’s magic.


John Domaschko (LinkedIn)

Suits That Rock (Facebook)

The Carnegie in Covington, Kentucky

Metropolitan Club – Cincinnati

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