Raw Talent vs. Passion – And The Winner Is…

I went to a Van Halen concert last spring.  It was a huge letdown after waiting 28 years to see the first incarnation of the band, and I won’t be seeing them again, EVER! If you are not a Van Halen fan that is ok, this is a broader message than just about their music. I have wanted to see The Van Halen brothers with David Lee Roth since I first heard of them as an eleven year old in 1984. I am still not sure how I was able to convince my parents to buy me a cassette tape with a baby smoking on the cover!

The show did not come close to meeting my expectations. Would they have been incredible if I had seen them in late 1984 or early 1985 before they broke up? I have a hunch it would have been amazing. But this is 2012, and it seemed like a job to them, and they “had to be there”. There was no chemistry between David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, and they seemed to be going through the motions.

The hastily introduced “Jump” as the last song and did not even come out for an encore! News broke a week later that they had cancelled their summer tour. “Allegedly” there is serious infighting within the band. Other reports are now saying that fatigue has been an issue for band members, and the tour will take up to two years.  They are taking precautions not to burn out.

Rewind to 2004 when Van Halen was touring with Sammy Hagar once again, and Michael Anthony was still playing bass. It was my birthday, and I had an incredible time. The band was in synch, they were having a great time, and Sammy was signing autographs for the fans in the front row. There were already rumours surfacing that Sammy and Ed were not getting along, but I did not get that sense that fall evening in Edmonton, Canada.

Eddie Van Halen is one of the greatest guitarists ever, but I have never gotten a warm and fuzzy off him. Sammy is not a guitar playing or singing virtuoso, but is an above average musician and vocalist. What he lacks in raw talent, he more than makes up for with passion and love for his “career”, and the fans that have supported him for over 40 years.

Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony have formed a new band named Chickenfoot with Joe Satriani and Chad Smith (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and their shows are electric. They are having the time of their lives, and care deeply for those they are performing for.

I had a chance to see the band in Vancouver when my friend was working for them, and I did not go. I am still kicking myself. I hope to see them again in the future. If I had a choice to see Sammy Hagar/Michael Anthony or Eddie Van Halen/David Lee Roth perform one more time in my life, hands down it would be Sammy and Mike. Eddie may play the guitar like no other, but raw talent is not the only criteria where I will spend my hard-earned dollars on. It is on my bucket list to go see Sammy Hagar play in Cabo in Mexico at his birthday bash one year. And that WILL happen. I can’t wait!

How does this all relate to business? You don’t need an “off-the-charts” IQ, or raw talent to achieve massive success. You need to show up regularly though. You have to care about those paying for your products and/or services, and be willing to go “that extra mile” when they need you the most.

The passion that you exude for your audience/customers, the depth that you are willing to go to help them get to where they want, will pay dividends in the long run. I needed Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth to “knock it out of the park”, and they let me down.

  •  What band’s concert have you attended, or company have you “dealt with” that just  blew you away?
  •  On the flip side, what band let you down at their live show, or company disappointed you, and you will never “deal” with them again?



About Tim Mushey

Dynamic and energized sales rep, mentor and leader since 1999. This blog will be about sales, social networking, personal branding, leadership, music and having some laughs! Don’t be surprised if I mix it up on occasion, and talk about something totally different! I thrive on being part of successful, forward thinking teams. I am ready to go from the moment my feet hit the floor each morning, with the expectation that new adventures will be coming my way. It is rare that there isn't a smile on my face, as I take it all in, and have some fun along the way!

Posted on August 14, 2013, in Rewind, Success and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. Excellent Post!!! The way you summed it up at the end, Awesome. Learning experiences come in many different fashions and I think you found the good out of the bad!!! Take care and God Bless…

  2. There are few things more upsetting than going to see a band you love and being disappointed because they “phoned it in”.

    • Hey Chris I totally agree. I am very lucky to have not seen many less than impressive shows over the years. I usually try to pick the ones that I know “will rock”.

  3. I was just thinking about a related topic today.The ones who seem to succeed most in life, are the ones who clearly demonstrate their passion for whatever they do. What they care about infuses the “air” around them, and you cannot help but be swept up in it. Great post – really enjoyed it !

    • Thanks for the compliment John! Glad you liked the post. Passion is so pivitol to success. I love your it “infuses the air around them” comment. Love it! Thanks again for stopping by.

  4. Dead on Tim. You can see it every time in networking situations. I don’t give someone who is not passionate about what they do much of chance to prove to me how good they are. It’s not arrogance it’s just that the lack of passion repels me and I find myself talking to others who are excited and exciting.

    Examples: Westjet vs Air Canada aircrews. I fly Westjet if I can and not only because they are generally lower cost. I just prefer the end-to-end experience.

    Last example: Why do we get so upset by our team not trying? It’s when our passion in the stands seems to exceed the passion of the players on the ice/pitch. Screw talent, they have that but they aren’t showing the passion and that gets annoying.

    The challenge that I find in my work though is that when you ask almost anyone over 30 what they are passionate about they have a real hard time answering it. Following your passion is for wasters – real people put their nose to grindstone and work hard until they forget what adrenaline is.

    It took me 18 months of earnest searching to remember what I am passionate about and now I live a happier life than I could have imagined 3 years ago.

    I happen to believe that passion and talent tend to go hand in hand but I fully agree that if you had to have just one then passion is the only one that matters.

    • First of all Rupert, thanks for leaving such a detailed response! Your comments are always greatly appreciated on my blog. I agree with you 100% about gravitating to those who are passionate and exciting.

      Westjet over Air Canada in Canada is a no brainer in my books. I used to work at an airport and witnessed the differences first hand every day 🙂

      Sports stars who do not have passion drive me INSANE! I would give anything to be in their position and just seeing them going through the motions is very frustrating!

      Your last comments are so true as well. I am glad that you remembered what you are passionate about. It is certainly critical to happiness rather than having “groundhog day” each and every day and living a life you don’t like.

      Passion will trump talent, but if people have both, then bonus! Thanks again Rupert…

  5. Moosh, Excellent post! Sometimes it is easier to “go through the motions” than it is to really deliver. Your lesson here is right on point. Always give everything you got and you won’t disappoint!

    I had the opportunity to see “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen during the Born in the USA tour and it was one of the best shows I have ever seen. The Boss is the ultimate performer and you walk away with the feeling that he gave you everything he had and that your dollars were very well spent. I also had the opportunity to see Elton John (although I wasn’t a huge fan at the time) when I was in High School. He played for 3 1/2 hours without a warm up band or even taking a break. Entertainers like these that give it their all are what truly make Rock Stars , well Rock STARS!

    Happy Hump day!

    • Hey Bruce… going through the motions sucks, but that is the way “many people roll”. I have heard that “The Boss” and “EJ” leave it on the stage every night, and I have the utmost respect for those types of performers. With the going rates of concerts these days, unfortunately we often don’t get the “bang for the buck” like back in the day. Thanks again!

  6. I experienced something very similar seeing The Rolling Stones in Montreal for the first time several years back. No encore at the first show after returning from a hiatus was a faux pas in my books.

    Peter Gabriel, Jonas, Green Day, George Thorogood etc. knocked my socks off. The best way to observe this phenomena is at those mega-concert shows when they have 4+ bands perform. You can absolutely separate the passion from the raw talent at these events.

    • Hey Kevin… to me, encores should be mandatory. No, I don’t need a one hour encore like bands occaionally do. But coming out to pour your heart and soul in to 2-3 more songs is very cool in my books. Sounds like you have seen some great shows. I agree, mega-concerts are the best, and I have seen a “couple” over the years 🙂

  7. Hi Tim…it seems that the expression ‘long in the tooth’ applies to some aged rockers. if you want a fantastic performance from an aged blues dude check out John Prine in a venue near you…i did not see him when he was in his prime but according to him he was pretty wild. He has exchanged his wildness with story telling and wit and still delivers.

    By the way, I like your blog and am now a follower!

    • Hi Alice! Thanks for taking the time to comment, and for following my blog! Yes many aged rockers are well passed their prime, but that is all the know, so they keep doing it in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Now if they still deliver, I am ok with it.

      I will certainly check out John Prine. Thanks for the tip! Keep up the great work on your blog and stay in touch…

  8. I have to agree, excellent post. And it kind of ties in to the post that I wrote this week about a business woman who knew that she should fold her business but waited another year.

    Business is much like the entertainment business, and for that matter sports. Sometimes it’s just time. If your passion is gone, it’s really hard to find it again. You know that your passion is gone but more importantly, your customers know that your passion is gone and why would you do business with someone who is just going through the motions.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Hi there great comments! Thanks for stopping by. You are correct in saying that business is much like entertainment and sports. You need to know when it is your time, and step away gracefully! When they are just going through the motions, I certainly tune it out. Thanks again!

  9. Tim, great thoughts as always. Talent is required: it gets you in the game, but it’s passion that separates you from the rest.

    Funny you should mention Van Halen. Kris Dunn of HR Capitalist recently put up an HR related take on the band comparing potential vs performance at three different stages in their career. Must be the old great minds think alike thing. Worth a read when you have a moment: http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2012/05/performance-vs-potential-van-halen-david-lee-sammy-and-gary.html

    • Thanks for the link Broc! I will certainly check it out.

      And yes, passion does seperate you from the rest. I have had the good fortune of seeing the likes of Bon Jovi, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, Bryan Adams, The Stones.. the list goes on and on… and the leave it all on the stage every night. I just love a great concert!

  10. Best band: Santana in 1982 (?) at UMass, The Rage in the Cage. Europa went on forever and the buzz was great.
    Worst band: Bob Dillon in 2011 at UMass Lowell. Couldn’t understand a damn word.

    Curious, Tim, was D Roth wearing those…um pants? That would be nasty.

    Great post–great story telling. And, yes, a band can even let down the customer.

    • Thanks for your comments! Santana back in the day would have been fun! And to answer your question, thankfully DLR was not wearing those pants. I believe they were yellow in the Jump video! I was let down by VH, and will have to remember the glory days. Have a great night…

  11. My wife introduced me to the Indigo Girls a few years ago and I’ve fallen in love with their music. Living in Britain we have few opportunities to see them however they did a UK tour a few years ago and we found out about it at the last minute. We hastily arranged babysitting and drove to Sheffield and a tiny venue.

    The girls were no more than thirty feet from us – they even commented on the venue (in a nice way). However what the venue lacked the girls made up in passion, enthusiasm and generosity.

    And I agree with you Tim – these are all the components that make up a great relationship whether in business or entertainment.

    • Hi there thanks for taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it. Passion, enthusiasm and generosity are very cool traits for a band to have. Glad you liked the show.

      By the way, my favourite rock band ever calls Sheffield home, and has been passionately performing for audiences for over 35 years now! 🙂 Thanks again for your comments…

  12. Hi Tim,

    Great Blog! Luckily I caught one of the first Van Halen shows this year when they were still energized and having fun. They were great; unfortunately not classic Dave and Eddie great but great none the less. Sorry to hear that your experience was dreadful but there’s obviously a reason why this incarnation broke up in the first place. I went to several shows from the Sammy Hagar version of Van Halen and they were all awesome! The OU812 show was over 3 hours long and never lacked for enthusiasm or passion. Sammy was non-stop, up in the rafters and even Eddie was having a good time. That was one of the most incredible shows I’ve been to. Kiss and Aerosmith were close second though.

    Thanks for the interesting post!

  13. Fantastic post, Tim. It is unfortunate in business today that “going the extra mile” isn’t even necessary to stand out most of the time. Being consistent and delivering on your brand’s promise will usually make you better than most of the competition.

    It amazes me that delivering a simple recap after the job is complete to one of our clients can create astonishment on their part. They are so numb to the average lack of care from their other suppliers that any sense of attention will get them to take notice.

    I’ve seen many, many bands go through the motions. Not to make excuses. However, I’m not sure it is the lack of caring on their part as much as it may be trying to get in too many shows and miles over a short period of time. The music business leaves very little room for an artist to earn a living other than touring. Many of them try to maximize their time to the detriment of their show.

    The Police were this way on their last tour. I saw them early in the tour. They were full of energy. It appeared the years of animosity had faded. When I saw them later in the tour, it hardly appeared they even realized their bandmates were on the stage.

    It’s like a couple trying to get back together after a breakup. The relationship ended for a reason the first time. Getting together again may be good for a beer. Any longer will probably only make you realize why you broke up in the first place … even when you’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it. It all begins with caring.

    • Hi Eric! Thanks for the reblog of this post, and thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed comment! I think you hit the nail on the head with the bands. They try to cram in too many shows with too much travel, and it becomes exhausting for them. The thought of not lilking each othe much is of course still relative. Great analogy to personal relationshis as well!

      Doing things that your customers would never imagine your competitors doing certainly sets you apart from the rest!

      Have an awesome day and thanks again for your support.

  14. Reblogged this on Podcast Talent Coach and commented:
    Tim Mushey has created a fantastic blog post on caring for your customer. The experience is centered around seeing Van Halen in concert. Tim makes a great point.

    It is unfortunate in business today that “going the extra mile” isn’t even necessary to stand out most of the time. Being consistent and delivering on your brand’s promise will usually make you better than most of the competition.

    It amazes me that delivering a simple recap after the job is complete to one of our clients can create astonishment on their part. They are so numb to the average lack of care from their other suppliers that any sense of attention will get them to take notice.

    I’ve seen many, many bands go through the motions. Not to make excuses. However, It’s like a couple trying to get back together after a breakup. The relationship ended for a reason the first time. Getting together again may be good for a beer. Any longer will probably only make you realize why you broke up in the first place … even when you’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it.

  15. Hey Tim… great post. I was lucky enough to see VanHalen on that 1984 Tour and was blown away. My buddy and I got there super early to get good seats. This was in the old general-admission-I- hope-I-don’t-get-stampeded days.
    We were sitting on the floor with our backs against the wall in the lobby. I stretched my legs out and asked my buddy “Who’s going to be the first hard ass to step on my legs?”
    “Here he comes,” my friend replied.
    This dude with huge hair, wearing sunglasses and camouflage pants came walking towards us. His foot brushed up against my ankle as he stepped over me. I gasped as I realized it was Eddie Van Halen! I just sat there in shock as he disappeared out the lobby and a few fans went chasing after him.

    They opened up the show with “Unchained” and it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen.
    I’m pretty sure none of those guys walk through the lobby a few hours before the show just for a laugh anymore.

    I saw Van Halen with Sammy Haggar on the next tour and it was again fantastic. I was in the front row in front of Eddie who was trying to give a pick to this dude next to me who was freaking out, nearly in tears. Fortunately, Eddie put the pick in my hand instead. That pick and the sock Eddie brushed up against on the previous tour were proudly displayed on my Van Halen poster for many years. Much to my wife’s dismay, I still have that sock somewhere.

    Sadly, I saw Van Halen a few years back with Sammy Haggar and it was terribly different. Sammy was drunk and couldn’t remember the words. He tried to laugh it off like it was cool. I didn’t think it was so cool since I paid over $100 for tickets. Guess, I’m getting old.

    I thought I’d get my daughter and myself a couple tie-died concert shirts.

    “That’ll be $100,” the guy behind the counter said.

    “No. No. No. I just want TWO shirts.”

    “Yeah… $100.”

    Long story, short. My daughter didn’t get a t-shirt but mine is still in great shape. I never realized Honduras was known for their quality t-shirts until now.

    I think if you are buying from anyone who has been doing their thing for a long time, don’t be surprised if they are “milking” it. But if they are genuinely passionate, enjoy it. It might not last.

    • What awesome comments to my post! Thanks for taking all the time to share! Sounds like you have had some diverse VH experiences over the years. I still regret not seeing them in 1992 on the Poundcake tour with Alice N’ Chains when they were on top of their game.

      I saw Sammy with them on the reunion tour in 2005 and although it was excellent, it was common knowledge that he and Eddie were already fighting. You know my thoughts about the recent tour!

      Milking it has kind of become an issue in the music industry these days, and I hope that changes soon!

      Once again, thanks for your insightful comments, I really appreciate it..

  16. I knew it had to be Passion. The title of this post is very catchy which is what drew me to this. I have no clue whose these artists are, but enjoyed reading it nevertheless! 🙂

  17. Nice article Tim, but you make me feel old. My very first Rock concert I went to was Van halen in 1984, I was 16. One of the greatest shows I’ve seen, they were larger then life at that point. Flash forward, I went to see them last February on the first leg of the new tour. The sound was off, but the song selection was good and they had good energy, it wasnt 1984, but it wasnt a dissaster. They miss Michaels harmonies terribly, he was the glue to those great chorus’.

    • Hey thanks for stopping by here Greg! I can’t imagine how cool it would have been to be at that show in 1984. As you know, I was less than impressed last year. We saw them right before they cancelled the rest of the tour because of “exhaustion”. That is code for Dave and Ed hate each other. Nonetheless, it is what it is. It is just too bad that they did not stay together all these years. Thanks again for stopping by!

  1. Pingback: Saturday Music Memories – Road Trips Home « Sell, Lead, Succeed!

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