What Do Tom Petty and Running a Business Have in Common?

So I went a Tom Petty & the Heartbreaker’s concert.

I’ll just end the blog post there because it’s already pretty awesome, right?!

No doubt it was one of the better concerts I’ve ever been to – a true testament to American Rock ‘n Roll.  And to think it wasn’t even a life bucket list of mine to see him, but it was to my girlfriend, Mandy!


We made a mini vacation up to the Twin Cities for the show.  It was a day that continued to build on itself until Tom and his crew hit the stage about 30 minutes after Joe Walsh and his crew got us warmed up (I never knew Joe Walsh had so many classic hits either).

Fueled by some great food and a couple beers from local craft breweries, the stage was set for the main event.  The music phenomenal, as Tom & and the Heartbreakers sounded like they were playing straight from a CD.  I felt a boatload of appreciation begin to sink in as I realized I was at a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers 40th Anniversary Tour (yes, that means they’ve been playing for over 40 years) AND that I was able to be a part of this Mandy (TP was a dream concert of hers).

It was one of those nights where you didn’t want it to end.  Every song was crystal and done with emotion and energy.  However, it wasn’t the music and experience that really hit home the most with me, even though I just noted how absolutely incredible and lucky I was to be there.

It was the fact that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were together again.  Playing music.  40 years later.

40 years is a long time for anything, especially a band or business.  A band and a business are a lot alike in that sense.  To really dive deep into my thoughts, it was when Tom introduced his band in the middle of his set, starting with his amazing back-up singers.

He introduced them as he and the Heartbreakers being lucky enough to have them accept their invitation to be a part of the Tour as the back-up singers were sisters from England.  A great acknowledgement of his appreciation for them, but it didn’t stop there.

His next introduction was to his rhythm guitarist/keyboardist/harmonica player/back-up vocalist Scott Thurston who’s been in the band as 1994.  Tom said Scott was the guy that can do everything and keeps them all together.

The next introduction was to who Tom called “The New Guy.”  The New Guy was always the guy who members of other bands they were touring with wanted to meet and talk to.  The New Guy has been in Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers for nearly 24 years, and he’s the drummer, Steve Ferrone.

Next up was the bass guitarist and back-up vocalist, Ron Blair, who was with the band since the day Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were formed.  He mentioned how Ron was the backbone and the greatest piece to the band since Day 1.

Then we ventured to the man behind the keyboards, which were an essential part to any rock ‘n roll band in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.  Tom didn’t just introduce Benmont Tench as the keyboardist (he is also a back-up vocalist), he instead told the story of how he had to go to Ben’s house and “beg his parents to let him go on tour with him as a Heartbreaker and thankfully I must have said something right because look where we are now.”

The last introduction went to lead guitarist, Mike Campbell.  It was another story: “Mike…Mike’s been a part of the band since we began.  We didn’t even recruit Mike.  He didn’t even try out for us.  We found an ad at a local music shop for a guitar player.  There wasn’t a number or anything, just an address.  So we just showed up at his house, unannounced and said ‘Hey, we saw your ad.’  Then he played a couple songs for us, right on the spot.  And I said, ‘You can be in my band FOR…EVER.’

I’ve been to plenty of concerts, seen hundreds and hundreds of bands, but never have I experienced a moment like that.  I had goosebumps.  And this blog post doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.

My biggest takeaway was twofold (apparently my entire Saturday of TP & the H all came in two’s):

  • The humbling appreciation he had for his bandmates…his teammates…his staff, and
  • The ability to do what they love for over 40 years strong.

In business, you want to surround yourself with people who you not only trust, but those who you can develop a strong, open, and honest relationship with.  You want to create a team of extraordinary individuals who can complete the circle, ones who can polish up the edges and rid the business of any weaknesses, particularly the owner’s.  The same goes for a successful team in any sport, workplace, or activity.  You want to find those who are passionate about their career, their life outlook, the opportunity, and the greater mission.

That’s who Tom found when he created Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers over 40 years ago and they’re still going strong today.  My goal as a business owner is to do the same.  To begin with a mission and then find those who are trustworthy, open, honest, passionate, focused, energized, and great human beings who want to come along for the ride and make a difference in this world.  And then continue forging our way ahead as we continue to change the way fitness is done!

Thank you to Tom and his crew for bringing that important theme into even more of a realization for me – it’s obviously something I’m still thinking about.  And thank you for the amazing show.  Last, but not least, a special thank you to Mandy for letting me tag along on your bucket list show – it was worth all the 80,000 pennies (it’s only fitting that when she finally purchased the tickets to the show that Tom Petty came on the radio…and as I finished up the last sentence of this post he came on again…must be a sign!)!!

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