Latest Remix: Live from 34,000 Feet

Making music is truly the best way to pass time on transatlantic flights, although you so sometimes get strange looks depending on the setup you are using at the time  :-)

This time I leveraged a Traktor remix deck (faster then cutting up the track yourself), double checked the timing in Traktor, then imported the deck into Bitwig Studio (which is rapidly becoming my fave DAW). The first pass of the remix was then done using a Launchpad S, much to the amusement of the flight crew, who kept stopping by to see what I was doing.

 The mobile setup.

The mobile setup.

How To Lead Your Team Through Change

Abigail Phillips gets it right in this article on leading through change.

Business demands fluidity, which requires leaders to embrace change and take risks. Put simply, if you’re not ready to lead change then you’re not ready to lead full stop.

Mark Zuckerberg once said, “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks,” and he was right. Leadership is not a static endeavor. Successful managers not only acknowledge the need for business development but also are willing and able to navigate their team through change.

The prospect of change can be daunting. But if managed correctly, the process doesn’t have to be painful. In today’s fast-paced society, the difference between success and failure can lie in a company’s ability to adapt.

Fail to grow your business and adjust to new ways of thinking, and your business will stagnate and die. Change in the business world is not an option, but a prerequisite for success. And leading change effectively is essential for development.

She goes on to highlight a simple but useful roadmap:

1. Create a plan.

Every business requires change in order to survive. If a company doesn’t innovate and react to changing market demands, it will collapse.

But make sure to not to make changes just for the sake of it. Before embarking on a journey of transformation be sure to have a solid business plan. Identify the areas of the business that need to be updated and put a plan in place for its execution.

2. Understand the end goal.

It’s critical to understand the end goal and objectives before starting out. Ask, Where is the company today and where does it need to be?

A change leader must have the confidence and capability to change tack, though, if another path looks clearer and makes more sense. Listen to employees, be bold enough to adjust the direction the company is headed toward and dispense with pride if another route makes more business sense. The path for change and innovation is not set in stone.

3. Communicate clearly.

Communication is king when it comes to corporate change. From Day 1 it’s critical to have all members of the team be behind the leader. Be sure to keep everyone fully abreast of developments and ensure that employees understand the end goal.

Keeping the lines of communication open and involving employees in the change process makes it more likely employees will get on board. Give them the opportunity to share ideas, concerns, comments and suggestions throughout the period of change.

Corporate change should be an exciting, rewarding and worthwhile experience, with effective communication being critical.

4. Identify key players.

People react differently to a transformation in the workplace and the leader’s duty is to identify change advocates as well as potential saboteurs. Get key players on board from the beginning and take the time to walk them through the anticipated changes.

These team members are likely to be instrumental when new processes are put into practice and can encourage skeptics to participate and help sustain the morale of the rest of their departments.

5. Delegate tasks.

Leading from the front is important. But an individual leader cannot implement change alone. Delegate tasks to individuals across the team and assign firm deadlines for completion. Be sure to follow up with each individual and provide support when necessary.

While going through this period of change, be on hand to answer questions, provide guidance and offer support. By giving people responsibilities, more will get accomplished as others are encouraged to take ownership of the prerequisites for change.

6. Set realistic objectives.

The leader should not set up himself (or herself) and the department for failure. During a period of change it’s reasonable to expect key team members to put in extra time and effort, but set realistic targets.

If the expectations are too high, not only will quality be compromised but also deadlines won’t be met, morale will plummet and people will become alienated. The result? A despondent, unhappy and floundering workforce.

7. Manage expectations.

The worth of any business leader can be measured simply by analyzing his or her ability to manage expectations. When leading a department through change, managing expectations is more critical that ever. Clarify what is expected from employees, and conversely figure out what they expect from the leader.

8. Hold people accountable.

Hold employees accountable for implementing change. To do that, equip them with the proper tools, talent, resources, responsibility and authority necessary for finishing the race.

Couldn't agree more ...

Mark Ronson's TED Talk: In Defence of Sampling

Mark makes a strong argument that sampling isn’t and has never been about copying music, but rather adding to the ongoing narrative of it. It isn't about “hijacking nostalgia wholesale,” but rather "about inserting yourself into the narrative of a song while also pushing that story forward."

Worth a watch, including his beautifully executed mashup of  15 TED Talks.

If you are interested in other TED talks related to music, you can find the full list here.


Exploring Bitwig Studio - Day 2

Spent a few hours on Easter Sunday re-mixing Plumb's beautiful song, Cut.

This is tough material to work with, and it was particularly challenging to respect both the content and the spirit of the song. I started by using Traktor to cleanly break apart the original song, then used Bitwig studio to re-arrange the parts (the first pass of which was triggered by a Launchpad S session). I then added new elements (piano, strings, etc. played in from a Novation Impulse) leveraging both Bitwig's stock instruments and some Kontakt 5 sounds. Needs lots of work still ... and is a very basic mix at this stage ... but was a fun project to work on, and (the original at least) is a beautiful piece of music to work with.

For those of you who have not heard the original, here it is.

Experimenting with Bitwig Studio

Bitwig Studio has been in the works for some time. In fact, it seems as though we have been waiting forever for what has been touted as the next generation in music creation software.

It does not disappoint. In many ways, it is a cross between Ableton and Logic ... offering the best of both worlds. Simple, intuitive and fun ...

I played around for a few hours today, and here's a quick snippet of the tool in action ... 

Fun With TV Commercials

Over the past couple of years heading up Wonga in Canada, I've had the opportunity to work on 3 TV commercials with the amazing team at SID LEE. 

In over 15 years as a startup tech entrepreneur, I've never really considered TV as part of our customer acquisition toolkit, so it's been very interesting to explore the power of this medium, especially as it pertains to rapidly establishing a new brand in a competitive space. 

When building the ads for Canada, we tried to find a balance between amusing/engaging and educating the audience. In this case, we were introducing a fundamentally different short term loan (faster and on-line, simpler and more transparent, materially less expensive and far more flexible) than those already on the market. We wanted to deliver a serious message in an amusing and engaging manner.

Although we were able to leverage some stock footage from the UK, we had to remake the commercials for a very different market stage, a different product offering and a subtly different sense of humour. They were completely re-scripted.

In the first spot "The New Intern" , we introduced the three Wongies (Betty, Earl and Joyce), establishing a humorous tone for the company, and beginning to flesh out the characters ... in this case, Betty's fascination ("he's hotter than a teapot") with Earl (the new intern).

In the second spot, we introduced Joyce, the (seemingly) more serious of the bunch, who revealed the potential of a more vibrant side ("this beat makes me want to crumpet"). We'll hopefully have some fun with Joyce over time.

In the most recent commercial "Saucy Devil", which started airing this week, we continued the Betty and Earl storyline, with Earl finally revealing his feelings for Betty. We were left with Betty's somewhat ambiguous response.

In each ad, we tried to end with a memorable line, one that hopefully would drive some social media pickup. For weeks after each release, we were encouraged to see "he's hotter than a teapot" and "this beat make me want to crumpet" playfully picked up in Tweets and Posts on-line. We're hoping "saucy devil" will have the same take-up.

Of course ... there is a message embedded in each of these ads ... the storyline is just there to provide an engaging experience.

What's next? A torrid affair? Stay tuned ...