Wynton Marsalis: “How I Work”

*** From Coach O: On Nov. 1, I posted an article about Howard Schultz (Starbucks). This article was part of a series, “Secrets of Greatness – How I Work” on Fortune on CNNMONEY.com (October 2006). They interviewed 12 accomplished people to get a glimpse into their work habits and mindset. Today, we will look at Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director, Lincoln Center:












Wynton Marsalis – “How I Work”

Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center

Executive summary: Challenge each other — but don’t hold grudges.

You don’t want trumpet players and musicians being your primary business decision-makers. It’s not possible for me to do that and write music, program the season, and conduct the band. I really do let people do their jobs, so when we come together, we know what each is supposed to do. But I weigh in on everything.

I’ve never sent an e-mail. I have a computer but haven’t plugged it in. I do have a cell phone. I just learned how to text on it. I do everything longhand or talk it out with my staff, and then they type it.

I have to do a lot of other work besides playing and composing — like speeches and fundraising — but everything is for jazz. Even if I’m talking about American culture or American people, it’s really about jazz. So it all goes to what my skill set is. I’m really not an organized person. For me, my philosophy is “Just do it all, all the time.”

I rely on my team. Right now we’re writing a script about Count Basie’s music for a young people’s concert. Phil Schaap, the curator, is responsible for the history element. I explain the music — riffs, breaks, calls and responses, orchestration, short chords — those things I’ve taught many times. We all talk it together, get an outline, and then revise from that.

In terms of managing the Lincoln Center orchestra, we’re part of that continuum of jazz. Our thing is to create the sort of relaxed environment that’s part of our music. Most of us came from jazz people, so we have that in us naturally. There are always tensions that come up. Part of working is dealing with tensions. If there’s no tension, then you’re not serious about what you’re doing.

But there’s a certain warmth in there too, and a familiarity. We challenge each other, we fight, but we don’t have a lot of grudges. The music is about improvising and being able to create new things at the spur of the moment with other people. There’s not a long line of people who can do that in the context of a groove. To find a groove means practice, practice, and more practice. I’m very serious about this.

We rehearse a lot, and everybody comes to rehearsal. And I will send you home if you’re not playing right. Now, I do lose my temper. If the young band members aren’t practicing, aren’t playing right, I will cuss them out. But I’m not volatile. We have the same system of understanding, the music, and a love between each other. It’s a flow.

 — Interviewed by Ellen McGirt

For the complete article, “Secrets of Greatness – How I Work” visit: http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/02/news/newsmakers/howiwork_fortune_032006/index.htm

The Advantages of Rising Early



Brooklyn Bridge @ Sunrise (c) m baumser


This is from Coach Bob Starkey’s blog (http://hoopthoughts.blogspot.com) He gleaned it from Zenhabits: http://bit.ly/U33Ec. Thanks again, Coach!!


1. Greet the day.

I love being able to get up, and greet a wonderful new day. I suggest creating a morning ritual that includes saying thanks for your blessings. I’m inspired by the Dalai Lama, who said, “Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

2. Amazing start.

I used to start my day by jumping out of bed, late as usual, and rushing to get myself and the kids ready, and rushing to drop them to school and come in to work late. I would walk into work, looking rumpled and barely awake, grumpy and behind everyone else. Not a great start to your day. Now, I have a renewing morning ritual, I’ve gotten so much done before 8 a.m., my kids are early and so am I, and by the time everyone else gets in to work, I’ve already gotten a head start. There is no better way to start off your day than to wake early, in my experience.

3. Quietude.

No kids yelling, no babies crying, no soccer balls, no cars, no television noise. The early morning hours are so peaceful, so quiet. It’s my favorite time of day. I truly enjoy that time of peace, that time to myself, when I can think, when I can read, when I can breathe.

4. Sunrise.

People who wake late miss one of the greatest feats of nature, repeated in full stereovision each and every day — the rise of the sun. I love how the day slowly gets brighter, when the midnight blue turns to lighter blue, when the brilliant colors start to seep into the sky, when nature is painted in incredible colors. I like doing my early morning run during this time, and I look up at the sky as I run and say to the world, “What a glorious day!’ Really. I really do that. Corny, I know.

5. Breakfast.

Rise early and you actually have time for breakfast. I’m told it’s one of the most important meals of the day. Without breakfast, your body is running on fumes until you are so hungry at lunchtime that you eat whatever unhealthy thing you can find. The fattier and sugarier, the betterier. But eat breakfast, and you are sated until later. Plus, eating breakfast while reading my book and drinking my coffee in the quiet of the morning is eminently more enjoyable than scarfing something down on the way to work, or at your desk.
6. Exercise.
There are other times to exercise besides the early morning, of course, but I’ve found that while exercising right after work is also very enjoyable, it’s also liable to be canceled because of other things that come up. Morning exercise is virtually never canceled.
7. Productivity.
Mornings, for me at least, are the most productive time of day. I like to do some writing in the morning, when there are no distractions, before I check my email or blog stats. I get so much more done by starting on my work in the morning. Then, when evening rolls around, I have no work that I need to do, and I can spend it with family.
8. Goal time.
Got goals? Well, you should. And there’s no better time to review them and plan for them and do your goal tasks than first thing. You should have one goal that you want to accomplish this week. And every morning, you should decide what one thing you can do today to move yourself further towards that goal. And then, if possible, do that first thing in the morning.

9. Commute.

No one likes rush-hour traffic, except for big oil. Commute early, and the traffic is much lighter, and you get to work faster, and thus save yourself more time. Or better yet, commute by bike.
10. Appointments.
It’s much easier to make those early appointments on time if you get up early. Showing up late for those appointments is a bad signal to the person you’re meeting. Showing up early will impress them. Plus, you get time to prepare.

Secrets of Greatness: Howard Schultz


Howard Schultz

I enjoy reading about successful people and their work habits. Let’s face it, folks: “success leaves tracks”. Fortune on CNNMoney.com produced an article in 2006 called, “Secrets of Greatness: How I Work”. In the article they interviewed 12 accomplished people and examined their work habits. I refer to this article often when I am feeling stale and it invigorated and inpires me immediately…I hope YOU enjoy it too!!

Today we will look at Howard Schultz, of Starbucks:



Howard Schultz

Chairman, Starbucks

Executive summary: Rise early — and have the occasional jolt of joe.

 I get up between 5 and 5:30, and naturally the first thing I do is make some coffee; depending on my mood, it’s either an espresso macchiato or one of our Indonesian coffees in a French press. I’ll take my coffee, read three newspapers — the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times — and listen to a voicemail summarizing sales results from the past 24 hours. This has been my routine for 25 years.

 There are always Starbucks with their lights on somewhere around the globe, and we open five new stores every day. So I’ve learned how to leverage my time. In the early morning I focus on Europe. I’ll call Greece or Spain or wherever, either at home or on the drive into work, to talk about challenges — do the numbers make sense? — or to congratulate them. These personal conversations are very important.

 At work the first thing I do is read the flash report, which is our roadmap of what we do that day. We manage day-to-day in our business. I’m proud that we are so nimble — we have great information flow to make that happen. So we attend to U.S. business during the day, and of course at night I’ll be speaking with Asia.

 I’m always stopping by our stores — at least 25 a week. I’m also in other places: Home Depot, Whole Foods, Crate & Barrel. I was just in a great [home improvement] store, Tokyu Hands, in Tokyo; it’s fun and it grabs you. I try to be a sponge to pick up as much as I can. I’m traveling internationally now one out of every seven weeks. China is going to be very significant for us, and it’s something I’ve been spearheading.

 The travel can be brutal — I got back from China five days ago, and I’m still a little under the weather. The airplane is my time to read, which I do voraciously. I carry a Treo powered by GoodLink, which works well globally. I’m not a big e-mailer, though; it’s a crutch that hinders person-to-person communication. I don’t really have any secret tools or books or tricks — other than I could always use a good cup of coffee.

 — Interviewed by Andy Serwer