Personal Development Lessons from Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is a music and business phenomenon. Simply fabulous electro pop and dance music. Strategy, marketing, finance, HR, operations, social media and so on, all rolled into one. Setting aside all the controversy over her music & fashion, what might we learn from Lady Gaga about personal development?

1. Lady Gaga on Innovation – Lady Gaga’s music is not completely new. Her music springs from 80s and 90s electro-pop and dance music, drawing upon a range of influences, such as Bowie, Queen, Elton John, Madonna, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson. Many people are creatures of habit in terms of their musical tastes and this makes Lady Gaga’s music a very acceptable diet for consumers, young and old.

Lesson # 1. Innovate within the familiar range of the customer’s expectation for maximum impact. Build on that for long-term sustainability.

2. Lady Gaga on Presentation – If Lady Gaga’s music is in the familiar range, the presentation certainly is not. Or is it? Sure, people are shocked to see Lady Gaga attacked during her performance and then die in a pool of fake blood. But, remember Alice Cooper’s electric chair executions and Madonna’s on stage sex scenes for ‘Like a Virgin’ on her ‘Blond Ambition’ tour? We have been here before. The difference that Lady Gaga brings is that she has learned from all of these people and improved the packaging and presentation of the theatrical elements that accompany her music. When presenting your ideas to others, the ‘theatre’ elements of the performance matter as much as the content.

Lesson # 2. Stand on the shoulders of giants if you want to improve yourself. Know that the ‘theatre’ matters as much as the content when presenting your ideas to others

3. Lady Gaga on Social Responsibility – She has succeeded in an age where society is questioning the profit imperative of corporations and celebrities. How has she done this? By cleverly combining the ‘profit and purpose’ behind her ambition. Gaga combines exceedingly clever cross branding (music, fashion, headphones, etc.) with a number of social and humanitarian causes such as the Haiti earthquake, the Japanese Tsunami and various AIDS / HIV causes. This has enabled her to withstand a number of public relations crises when others would have crumbled.

Lesson # 3. Combine your company’s social responsibility agenda with your business plan in a seamless way. Execute your plans with meticulous attention to detail.

4. Lady Gaga on HR – Lady Gaga has a shrewd approach to partnerships and HR – partnering with evergreen stars such as Madonna, Elton John and Cher. This gives her access to a much wider market for her music and legitimises her brand across generations.

Lesson # 4. Use partnerships and networks to enhance your influence in ways that benefit all your partners. Choose your partners wisely and in ways that provide genuine win-win benefits.

5. Lady Gaga on Social Media – Here she has captured the hearts, minds, souls and bank balances of several generations through the clever use of social media, in ways that major corporations can only dream of. She has given her fans control of social media such as Twitter, Facebook & YouTube. They have a shared identity (little monsters) and Gaga has allowed her fan base to operate a ‘market pull’ approach to affiliation instead of using traditional ‘push’. This is a much more effective way of developing lasting bonds with your audience/customer.

Lesson # 5. If you are responsible for social media in your role, understand that social media is social and the powerful imperative of the word YOU in social media. People like social media to interact with their own lives and values.

Pete Cook

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics – innovation management consultancy, blending leading ideas from the world’s business schools with the power of music. He has delivered keynotes and masterclasses to some of the world’s top businesses.
Author of ‘Best Practice Creativity’, ‘Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll’ and ‘Punk Rock People Management’, acclaimed by Professor Charles Handy and Tom Peters. Peter has appeared on BBC One TV, BBC Radio 4 and Radio 2 with his ideas. Clients include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, the Royal College of Physicians, BT, GSK, CIPD, the United Nations and Imperial College London

Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics - innovation management consultancy, blending leading ideas from the world's business schools with the power of music. He has delivered keynotes and masterclasses to some of the world's top ... (Read More)

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