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The “Henry Rollins” Success Formula

April 13th, 2007 by shawn · 1 Comment


I love punk rock. While I really do enjoy many forms of music, and while I truly do love listening to talented musicians of all kinds…there’s nothing like listening to loud punk music. I’m talking about bands like Screeching Weasel, or the Circle Jerks, or Black Flag.

Black Flag! One of the first punk bands I heard back in high school became a major musical influence in my life. (In fact, the first concert I went to was a Rollins Band show at the now-long-gone New Orleans Music Hall.) But I digress.

The cool thing about Black Flag is the sheer intensity of Henry Rollins. There’s perhaps no one from the Black Flag-era of punk music that gets around more today than Henry Rollins. He’s stayed active musically, he’s written books, he’s acted in movies, he’s been interviewed on TV and in documentaries, he’s done spoken word performances, and basically had a steady job doing whatever it is that he happened to feel like doing since the early 80′s. (Without ever being called a “sell-out” to boot.)

Why do you think that is? Why is the guy a success in so many areas of life? Is Henry Rollins just lucky? Or is it because he has a few other traits we might be able to emulate?

Well, I think Mr. Rollins’ and his band Black Flag have a few lessons to offer us. Here they are:

1. Hone Your Skills. Black Flag was known for practicing their music. Not many other contemporary punk bands cared to obsessively practice in their free time and get better, but Black Flag as a band was always faithful to practice every day – even when they were living out of a van! Application in Business: Gain knowledge each day. Improve your skills in your profession. Make self-improvement a routine part of your life. Always be on the lookout for wisdom, mentors, and life lessons.

2 . Use the Resources You Have. Raymond Pettibon was a younger brother of Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn. When Black Flag needed artwork for flyers, they asked Pettibon to do the drawings for them instead of finding a “real” artist and paying real money. The Pettibon-Black Flag collaboration turned out to be a good relationship; Pettibon’s art is now highly collectible and valuable and he’s a well-known low-brow artist. He gave Black Flag many memorable album covers and even came up with their name and logo. It’s fair to say that neither Black Flag nor Pettibon would be successful without the other. Application in Business: When you need help, look to friends and relatives for short-term jobs. You might know someone who can help with part-time labor or freelance graphic design and you can benefit each other.

3. Don’t Limit Yourself. Henry Rollins is a guy who can do everything from singing to acting to writing. He’s funny, intimidating, intelligent, and just generally cool. But he’s actually no better than anyone else – he just places higher limits on what he’s allowed himself to try and do. I firmly believe that the reason people aren’t successful is largely because of the limits they place on themselves; if we try more things in life we might find we have more talents than we knew about. Application in Business: Know what you do well and do it, but don’t be afraid to try new things or attempt endeavors which are unfamiliar. You might be successful at something no one else in your town can do, but you might have to be the first one to even try it!

You can learn something from everyone, even from people who are in a different field than you. In this case, you might be surprised what you can learn from a punk rock band. If you want to read a great article about making it when things are hard, read A Twelve-Step Program in Self-Reliance about how Black Flag made it through the early years. It’s an excellent article which I’m sure you’ll enjoy from both a business perspective and if you’re a hardcore/punk fan you’ll enjoy it from a musical perspective.

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    1 Comment

    Comment by free ipod classic
    2008-01-01 23:00:43

    i’m a u2 fan and for whatever reason, henry has a problem with bono. what henry apparently doesn’t realize is he’s henry rollins and bono is bono.

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