episode 3 – two beats ahead | Michael Hendrix and Panos Panay
In this episode, Michael Hendrix, a partner, and Global Director of Design at IDEO, and Panos Panay, Senior Vice President for Global Strategy and Innovation at Berklee, speak with us about what businesses should learn from the music industry, how failure is necessary for learning, and how we can create better partnerships. In 2021, Panay and R. Michael Hendrix, global design director at IDEO, co-wrote and published Two Beats Ahead, a book that covers what the musical mind can teach about innovation, featuring interviews with top creatives including Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Gloria Estefan, Imogen Heap, Radiohead, T Bone Burnett, Hank Shocklee (co-founder of Public Enemy), and Jimmy Lovine.
[00:00:00] Nir Hindi: Test, test, test, test
and of course, science has shown that that is not true at all. Yeah. I think, it is, I always say it is two, 200, 250 years of industrial evolution that, kind of channeled. No, it is siloed channel specialization. So, yeah. Anyhow, I do not want to take too much of your time. First, thank you very, very much for taking the time to chat with me.
What, what I was thinking, first, a few kinds of technical things. What I do normally is that I also mentioned it to Kimberly. Normally I also use the zoom to a code. So maybe in the, in the future to use it as kind of a promotion material, if it is okay with you, I might say in the middle.
Okay. Let us take a short break. Normally I use it to save. Eh, the file besides that, eh, it is, it is not a [00:01:00] live podcast. So, feel free to rephrase things to stop, or maybe, kind of maybe even decide I will, I will try to alternate all the time. The questions between both of you, I guess you already know each other so long that the dynamic between you is much easier to, to manage maybe just kind of, eh, to make sure. Can you talk a bit, eh, Michael, and then Panos, I would make sure that we have everything kind of a working?
Michael Hendrix: Hi I am Michael Hendrix global design director at IDEO.
Nir Hindi: Great. Panos, can you say something?
Panos A. Panay: Hello, I’m Panos A: Panay. I am senior vice president for global strategy and innovation at Berklee college of music.
Nir Hindi: Great. I think everything is, is okay. Now normally what the, normally the way I do also the podcast I kind of record the opening after our own a conversation. So, I kind of will do [00:02:00] it, eh, immediately.
Hey Panos, hey Michael, welcome to the Artian podcast. And then you say, and then I would tell you can, can you introduce yourself? Briefly, and then you can speak about yourself and then we will start from there to the podcast to the questions. So, I kind of just, I will kind of give you the flow and obviously if there are things you want to tackle, let me know. It will be, I want to kind of set the context. How did you do a meet and then speak about the book?
And we will speak, the book was already published. I will publish this podcast probably in, in, in April after the book is coming out. And then kind of a, we will ask you the reason why to publish this book and then kind of break down and take some of the lessons that you discovered you, as I mentioned in the email, how do they think, how do they act?
And then maybe discuss, eh, the listening, the collaboration, experimentation teamwork and then obviously feel free to, if [00:03:00] there are more or less than you want to address. And I think. Again, one thing that is important, maybe I will ask you. Okay. What is the lesson you learned about listening? And then you would say, okay, how is it relevant for business so we can speak about the lesson you learn and then apply it to business.
Panos A. Panay: Sure.
Nir Hindi: Great.
Panos A. Panay: Nir a quick question from my end, how long is the podcast?
Nir Hindi: Normally, I try to keep it to 45, 50 minutes max.
Panos A. Panay: Okay.
Nir Hindi: So, I normally book 90 minutes just for the, those conversation. And then if we have technology issues, et cetera, that’s…
Panos A. Panay: It sounds good. Yeah. Yeah. We can. If there is a way for us to finish in about an hour, I would appreciate it because I am a.
I have a bit of a nutty day, but I am sure Michael, and I can keep you entertained for as long as you need.
[00:04:00] Nir Hindi: No worries. So, we have one hour, I think it will be more than enough. Okay. Hey Panos. Hey, Michael. Welcome to the Artian podcast.
Michael Hendrix: Thanks.
Panos A. Panay: Thanks. Excited to be here.
Nir Hindi: Great. So, we have exciting topics today of music innovation, some of the leading figures in music in the world, but before we dive into the music and innovation, I am interested to understand how did you two meets?
Michael Hendrix: So Panos and I met at a conference, a business conference about how creativity was the engine for success in Massachusetts where we are. And we both ended up not really wanting to go, to be honest, I will let Panos tell his side of the story. But I did my spiel on stage and then I was getting ready to walk out and I saw a guy from Berklee was on stage talking about entrepreneurship.
And I thought, I have been wanting to bring my design and music [00:05:00] career together, and I know something about entrepreneurship, so I am going to stick around and listen to this guy.
Nir Hindi: Okay. Great. Then your photos, why did you think,
Panos A. Panay: It was, I do not know, near what you have spent any time in Boston, but it is a, it is a beautiful city with a horrible climate.
So, it was one of, it was one of those days that, if there was a tourism Bureau promoting the, the, the worst climate day of the year, I think that would have been that day would have been a poster child. So, it was one of those things whereas Michael just said, you are, ah, I do not really want to be there.
And I went that, I did this panel, which was quite fascinating and fun. Talk to you about creativity for ownership. And then I saw Michael in, I guess what I would say backstage, if there was such a thing in the venue that we were at and introduced himself and said he was from IDEO and, I have been the IDEO fan slash groupie for a while.
So, the minute he said that I just got [00:06:00] excited and I thought well, he kind of looked the role of an idea or, he was, and, and we, we, we also seem to have had this almost intuitive connection of just finishing each other’s sentences. And that instant feeling that we had or at least I had when I met Michael, just has not really gone away even after all these all these years.
Amazing how your instincts and it is something that we talked about in the book. Often if you are in in tune with them really do speak very loudly.
Nir Hindi: Great. So, before we dive deep into the book maybe tell us Panos what exactly you are doing in your day to day.
Panos A. Panay: So, my role is senior vice president for global strategy and innovation at Berkeley college of music, which is the world’s largest contemporary music dance theater.
And I will say Sonic technology school that, that is out there. And [00:07:00] honestly, I think I have one of the most fun jobs on the planet. I am responsible for developing the institutional overall institutional strategy. I oversee our presence and global footprint outside of the main Boston campus.
So, this includes our campus in Valencia, Spain, where we have several masters programs, our campus in New York city, where we took over a legendary recording studio called power station and have kept it as both a commercial studio, as well as a remodeled educational facility. I oversee our campus in Abu Dhabi.
Which is another part of the world where the work that Michael and I have intersects that is our newest campus that we opened about a year ago. And I also oversee our expansion in China, as well as new sectors, such as B12. I am responsible for coordinating the, the, the sort of incorporation of new [00:08:00] technologies within the, the educational sphere of the college.
So, in some ways I am, I am a, I am a kid in a candy shop, or as a musician, I am a kid in a guitar shop. There is all these cool colors and all these cool flavors, and you cannot wait to try them on.
Nir Hindi: Great. And Michael, we already know kind of an insight from IDEO. What exactly do you do?
Michael Hendrix: Well, I am a partner.
I am the global design director for idea, which means part of my job is ensuring that our capabilities across the firm are at their highest, especially in the creative fields. That would include any kind of expression from our industrial design and graphic design to our, business programs, our systems, design organization, et cetera.
So, the big question I am always asking is how do we continue to be as creative as we possibly can? How do we discover new methods? How do we attract new talent? That is where my head is.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. [00:09:00] Not an easy question to deal with, but exciting one. Great. So, you are both obviously a collaborated for a few years now, and you are immersed and operate and work with the world of music.
And you have a new book as just Panos mentioned Two beats ahead: what musical minds teach us about innovation. In which you interview some of the leading figures in music’s, Dr. Dre, and Jimmy Lovine, Beyonce, Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, Bjork, and many, many others. First, congratulation. How does it feel to see your book out there in the world?
Panos A. Panay: Well, we are both musicians and we are musicians that grew up in an era where LPs and cassette tapes and CDs were things that you found on bookshelves. So, for me it just, it feels. The same as if it, the, this is 1987 and I walked into a tower [00:10:00] records or an agent V and I saw my LP there, my record there, it just feels awesome.
And at times you must pinch yourself. Personally, it has been a lifelong ambition to Publish a book and sometimes careful what you wish for. So, it is a super exciting time to be able to put this out there and hopefully stimulate a conversation.
Nir Hindi: You ready? We started to speak about it, that you ran away from it and it came, it captured you, it did not let you go.
Michael Hendrix: Yeah. I mean, we were not going to do this book initially, or I was not, and I pointed some agents to Panos and then upon, I said, I will do it with Michael does it. And so, we ended up working together on that, which has been awesome, but the, I, Panos has mentioned that we are both musicians.
I think anytime I make something throughout, out in the world, I have these feelings of excitement and fear coexisting. And I feel the same way about the book. It’ s you get this thing, [00:11:00] you’ve worked so hard. It is so excited to see it done. And then it was, Oh my gosh, people are going to read this.
Or people are going to listen to this. What is going to happen. And so, I am in that mode right now, just waiting to see what kind of response we get.
Panos A. Panay: Have you ever, have you ever, sometimes you just have these thoughts that go through your head. And you are, God, I, I wonder if people could read my thoughts, what they think, maybe they will think I am completely insane.
Putting out a book this is kind of equivalent of, of sort of capturing all these thoughts that you have had for years. And you are saying world, here it is. And then you just sit back and wait and see what kind of reaction that you are getting. Hopefully, a, the reaction we get is that we are two rational.
Human beings that ought to be kept outside in society and not put away. But you never know.
Nir Hindi: Oh, I am positive people will love it. It is exciting topic. I can totally relate to the excitement and fear. When I published my book in Japan, I was, all the time going to the [00:12:00] Amazon to see if someone wrote and then with Google translate, trying to understand what is going on over there.
So, I have kind of a fundamental question. Why did you decided to write a book about innovation and music? I mean, I know all it is then from what I do. I know that it is undoubtedly a book for everyone, especially for businesspeople, but I am interested to hear your point of view. Why publishing a book about innovation and music?
Panos A. Panay: Sure. In many ways near, I feel that there are a few things happening today that created an urgency for us to put this book out. Number one, we are faced with real big challenging seemingly intractable. But if you are an optimist, you also believe that there are solvable problems, but there are unlike many that [00:13:00] humanities ever faced before, largely because of this confluence of different forces, not just things the dynamics that have existed for as long as humanity has existed, but also social changes brought about because of technological changes. So, you really feel this pressure cooker of, of issues coming up.
And we think that there needs to be a different way of approaching them in a different thinking that you need to apply to tackle them. The other for me is sort of a diminishing urgency around the value of creative education and what this means, not just for people consider themselves creative.
But also, for the rest of, of, of, of people out there who are creative in business, do not know about it, but what distinguishes us from other [00:14:00] species is our creativity is our ability to imagine and dream things and then kind of sort make them happen. Right. And we are seeing that the pendulum swung too far.
Towards one side of, of science technology, mathematics engineering. That is fantastic. But there is this the C component that is missing the creativity. And then the third at least me teaching in a music school or being part of a music school, or I would say music, dance, and theater school. I have experienced firsthand.
Being a graduate of Berkeley, the applicability and transferability of the skills that I learned that I never quite applied as a, as an ongoing working musician, but I sure as hell applied them as an entrepreneur. And I believe there were key too whatever success that I experienced. And when I went to Berklee, part of what drove me [00:15:00] was the desire to show to students that the very instincts that they have, they are not just applicable to them as performers or creators, but they are, they are also applicable to them as humans and as entrepreneurs and as actors in society, if you will and responsible citizens. So, these for me were, were the reasons what I will say, the urgent reasons that compel us to put this book out there.
Nir Hindi: Great. I think you are spot on with a many of the things that you mentioned. So, we are going to hear some of those skills and lessons that you discovered on your way, how music and what musicians are doing.
And how it is relevant for business. And in, in the summary of the book you say, and I quote, they do not think like we do, and in the creative process, they do not act like we do. And I am interested, Michael, how do they think? Why, what makes musician think different?
Michael Hendrix: When we were working on this book, we were [00:16:00] conscious to not make it a book of methods. That it, it really, we felt needed to be a book of mindsets a way of seeing the world a way of processing the world. And so, I am happy that you pulled that quote out because I think it does summarize what we are interested in.
The mindset of a musician, I think, is very much one of curiosity, discovery a, little bit of opportunism, the ability to see an opportunity, and take advantage of that moment. And what we try to do in the book is break down some elements of those mindsets into a creative process.
So, how you get inspired through listening, how you might experiment with those things you I get inspired by who you might, how you might choose to work with somebody else to help manifest those ideas, whether that is a direct collaborator or even a production collaborator how you might build on those ideas and develop them further, what [00:17:00] failure looks or what failure looks.
We do not actually believe in failure. It is one of the mindsets in the book et cetera. So. The three is a quote from Pharrell. If you would not mind, I can read it.
Nir Hindi: Go for it.
Michael Hendrix: All right. I love this quote and I want to read it because, he said it and he was taught, he was talking about, in this instance, he is talking about all the things he does outside of music.
So, he does. He is a creative director for Adidas. And there is a lot of other things, but he says, I treat all projects, just like I do music. You have a collection of sounds. And it is your own Lego block building system where you just sort of color coordinate. First, you have an idea.
You have something that you feel is missing. And from there, you sort of figure out what the schematic is going to be. The blueprint. And then you sort of color code it and build it. And I find that making a chair, it is not different from making a song, there is a hook there’s legs, there is the seat.
There is the [00:18:00] versus the hinges or the screws or the glue is the chord structure. That is the musician’s mindset. And that, that really is the glue of the book. Being able to help you, the reader builds that perspective to see the world in that way.
Nir Hindi: Great. So. Now we spoke about this the way they think this, this, this mindset, and you also said, eh, The creative process.
They do not act we do now I am positive there are many kinds of lessons that we can learn from, and I want to try, maybe break the way they work or act. And one of the things that obviously is natural and fundamental to music is the ability to listen. What did you learn about listening Panos?
Panos A. Panay: Well, it took me a long time to learn that. And it is I always felt that what distinguishes a great musician from everyone else [00:19:00] is not so much what they say, but how they hear and, and how they listen and what they pick up. And even in the book, we talk about the importance of silence in between the notes and Miles Davis famously said that it is not the notes, it is really the space between the notes, that is the music.
And in my experience as an entrepreneur, this ability to sort of sit back and absorb and, and, and truly listen to the environment. To what somebody is saying whether it is your employee, whether it is a prospective partner is maybe key to being able to address their, their respective needs. Right. And a musician, many ways that is what they are doing. They are listening and they are responding. They are responding to an audience or responding to their environment and they first listen and, and then express.
[00:20:00] And I feel that we are at a moment in time right now, where there is almost too much broadcasting and not enough listening and not enough receiving people are too content to put information out there, but not necessarily absorb information first.
It is sort of the annoying friend who asks a question. And before you answer it, they are off to another question. It is clear. They never cared about the answer. They just cared about answering, asking you the question, just because it is a nice thing to do. My pet peeve being an immigrant in America is when I first went there, it would be, so how are you?
But they never really cared to hear about how I am. It is just, it is a way of saying hi and that always annoyed me. Right. So, I think it goes back to that, right? That musicians are imbued with this beautiful gift of listening. And it is based on that, that they create. And we feel that as humans, we can benefit by, by paying attention to, to that.
And, and, and thinking more like your [00:21:00] musician if you will, when it comes to our listening skills.
Nir Hindi: So, Michael, do you have a kind of a tip how we can develop our listening skills based on music?
Michael Hendrix: Yeah. I mean, the quote that Panos used for Miles Davis the space between the notes. That is a great strategy is starting to look for, what is not there versus focusing on what is there.
So, we give an example in the book of, Jimmy Lovine and Dr. Dre developing beats, and I will not tell you the story, but well, insights are amazing. The they just recognize in a, in a, in a new era, when everybody was wearing earbuds or headphones all the time because of the iPod, nobody was hearing music.
They were hearing music in the studio is the artist intended. It is a very simple observation, but that observation led to a series of decisions they made that eventually led to the launch of beats. And I think that is often the [00:22:00] way I have seen that work happen in our, in our innovation work at IDEO it is.
When you are looking for a new opportunity, it is, it is often you are looking for what is not there, not what does exist. So that is why we go to people’s homes and do interviews to do observations there. Or we might, we do observations in the workplace because we are not trying to listen for what is being said, we are trying to listen for what is being unsaid.
And what that often looks is you will discover something, you will see You’ll see, you might see a way a person organizes their space and that tells you something about the way they see the world, or you might see a way a person, some habits they have as they go on a commute. And that might reveal something about how they bank for example because maybe they’ve I know when one example we discovered in one project where a person that chosen a bank outside of their commuting [00:23:00] range because it made it harder for them to go withdraw money.
And that was a budgeting strategy. They would have never told us that, but in starting to understand how they travel and how they make the choices, you can start to understand. What is not there and what is not there as the most interesting thing.
Nir Hindi: No, it is very interesting because in, in painting and drawing, you have, what is called the negative space that instead of drawing the, the, the chair itself, you draw the spaces in between the parts of the chairs to get. So, it is, it is very interesting to see the similarities in music, the space between the notes.
So. Obviously, I think that one of the prominent characteristics of artists is there a natural tendency to experiment. Now you both work in innovation and, that experimentation is super, super, super important, and it takes a significant role in this space. However, the business world obviously is [00:24:00] less, let us say less embracing these experimentation methods.
Why we can learn from artists, or what did you learn about experimentation from all the conversation you had Panos, you have some thoughts about that, around that as a musician by yourself as well.
Panos A. Panay: Well, I think that in many ways, We look at failure as people or rejection as an end and we are conditioned in many ways to want to avoid it at all costs. And there are even all these expressions often found in business: failure is not an option.
But you realize that in music, even from the very way that you learn music, that [00:25:00] failure is not so much an end, but it is truly a means to learning, to creating. There is no such thing as creating anything without failing.
So, you can look at it as if you flip it and you, and you see it as a process of getting to an outcome rather than as an end, then you tend to approach this concept of failure and experimentation from a very different angle that you realize that only through this constant desire to try something, fail at it, learn from that failure, and get up and do it again.
And again, and again, which maybe if you take the string of actions, you will say that’s experimentation do you arrive at an outcome. And I am not even going to say a desired outcome [00:26:00] because often you do not even know what your desired, it is only when it presents itself. And you are, that is what it is.
I think part of the fun of experimentation and what musicians do is that they do not approach it forcefully right there because they are not trying to attain a preordained outcome and therefore, they do not see it as failure. They are just seeing it as trying. And then when that outcome is evident, they just know it when it appears rather than having tried to preordain it.
And, and you see this in music, but if you take that approach in your everyday life then you realize that all your failures ultimately lead you to where you are. And you tend to look at the, the action all so-called experimentation from a different, a different standpoint.
Nir Hindi: So, Mike and I have a question for [00:27:00] you. You were quite often with, with companies from all around the world. What, how, how company can, or a business professional and integrate experimentation in their own environment, what they should be aware of? Well, it is as Paul has mentioned earlier, it is Pretty dynamic environment right now.
Michael Hendrix: And it has been even pre pandemic, the expectations for results that improve the bottom line have accelerated significantly from, say the mid-century last, last century. So yeah., the way it used to work you which I still believe a lot in places like bell labs would allow scientists to experiment for years without a lot of guidance.
And the results of that were world changing things x-rays and microwaves and we are literally world changing ideas that came about by creating space for people to explore and discover, I recognize that not every [00:28:00] business can be bell labs and let us let someone explore for five to six years.
Although I would argue that places like Google and Apple still do adopt that. But for those of us who are not multi-billion-dollar corporations we have to be on a faster cycle and that is where. I think the ideas that a musician has, which are, to make a demo of a song, to go from an idea to something they can share can apply.
So, when you, when you have intention, you have an idea, and you have intention behind it. That is all you are trying to do with a song demo is communicate that intention. It could be as simple as a melody sung without any accompaniment, but it is, it is at least developed enough that someone can hear it and respond to it.
And that is what you are trying to do when you are trying to experiment and iterate quickly, just make something tangible enough for someone else to respond to it so that they can either build upon the idea with you or say something that might inspire you and help you get to them [00:29:00] next level. In the book we write about Charles Eames, I guess if, if you have bought any furniture from vitro, you may have bought some Charles and Ray Eames furniture.
Right. But they were proponents of this idea of iteration never really seeing failure as an outcome. And so even to get those little joints on the bottom of the chair, that would hold the hardware to the shell of the chair, they would experiment and, do a hundred different versions of the same thing to try to get it.
To its outcome. And often songs are developed that same way too, right? First you have the melody, then you try some accompaniment, then you try different versions of the, that you might bring a different voice, et cetera. None of those are failures along the way. They are just trying, they are trying to move us to a point where we, we experience something new.
And I think that is another important aspect here is, I think in the business world there is often especially in brainstorms, people think if they have an idea they are done. Or if they can have the best idea they are done. [00:30:00] And that is just the starting point most of the time. And, and recognizing that it is not enough to have an idea what is important is to make that idea tangible let other people respond to it and work with it, to take it to its next level.
And then it is next to next is the only way new ideas get into the world. Otherwise. They are just noting on paper or conversations and that does not actually make any difference in the business world. Yeah, no, you are talking, and I am asking myself if it is not the artist that invented the lean startup and not the start of that invented the lean startup,
Nir Hindi: Great. Let us take a short break and we will be right back. One second. Let me save.
Panos A. Panay: Pull up something else too. So, for experience, if you are going to ask some question about experimentation, I will, I will ask Michael to go first and then we will.
Nir Hindi: Okay, so you want to give it because now I can ask you, okay. Michael. Can you give us an example for the book? And then, and then the next [00:31:00] one, I will ask you about collaboration and then maybe you can give us things about the collaboration and mentioned, I do not know, one story that find that you found very interesting about how the artists collaborated.
Sound good. Cool, great. So we are, we are back with Michael and Panos and we were just talking about experimentation. And one of the things I think that Michael and Panos were fortunate, not only on what they are doing is that they got to speak with some of the most amazing, I think, living artists today and I am interested in Michael, can you tell us.
Something that, eh, one of the artists you spoke with did around experimentation, or maybe listening, whatever you want. I am interested to hear what you learned from them.
Yeah. I will
Michael Hendrix: I can tell you a little bit about, there was we were interviewing Imogen Heap about her one of her breakthrough songs, her breakthrough song.
And what was interesting is she tells a story about she had been working on a new record for roughly Over a month [00:32:00] and she had it for some, for some reason she had not saved anything. She had been recorded at a hard time crashed and she lost everything in an evening, and she thought to herself, well, rather than just letting this be the end of my day, I am going to do something else today.
So, she, she grabbed the piece of gear off the shelf that one of her friends had loaned her. And it was basically a vocoder and She started to sing along with that vocoder and within an hour had a rough melody and a new idea for how that song should sound. And what was interesting about it was it was a complete, it was a complete experiment, right?
It was just an emotional response to a bad situation, but her willingness to not wallow in that, in that moment, but to just pick up something new and try it. Took her in a new direction that opened all kinds of new doors for her. And we have seen this regularly. I mean, context can be everything for [00:33:00] success in this when you are experimenting, Radiohead, we are curious to find out, How they would develop songs of our time, and one thing that happened for them unfortunately is they had one of, some of their files stolen a couple of years ago when they were so during the anniversary of OK.
Computer. But there were 18 hours of demos and live recordings from those sessions that were released. And One thing that was evident from that is they, they had so many rich ideas that they did not try to use them all at one time. The context for when those ideas felt relevant changed. So, I did, they had in 1995, some of them made onto an okay.
Computer, 1997, but some were not released or further developed until 2001. On kid or in 2010 or in brain rainbows, or even in 2016 on a moon shaped pool. So, one song was 21 years old. [00:34:00] True love waits. They wrote it in 1995, the context just was not right. And I think that is another important part about experimentation that we must remember is that all these ideas we try or ideas we have, the post its on the wall that you do not use.
They are worth saving. They are worth remembering. I had a client once. That just kept a notebook of all his ideas, and he would go back 10, 15 years and read them again to see if they made any sense today. They did not make any sense at the time. May, maybe they were too far ahead.
Technology, technologically, maybe the company at the time, was not set up to achieve what he was looking for, but he could look at it now and see, Oh, this makes perfect sense. In this moment with the market conditions. Same. The same idea of Radiohead holding us on for 21 years. I often think we throw away lots of good ideas because we do not understand their relevance in that moment.
But we must believe that they will be relevant someday or they can be relevant someday. And that can be the key to having great ideas consistently down the road.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. So [00:35:00] interesting. It is suddenly I think about experimentation is building your own creative database that you can always go back and pull sorry Panos. You want to say?
Panos A. Panay: Yeah., in, in the book, we, we, we have this part where I am interviewing Justin Timberlake at, at Berklee. And I think it encapsulates everything that we are, we are, we are talking about in one phrase that he used, and it says I’ve, I have learned, or he says, dare, dare to suck. That is the big advice that I have.
And I remember when he said it, I thought, what a cool way of capturing this, this concept, that you, it takes bravery to experiment.
and put yourself out there. And he is just something in the book [00:36:00] along the lines. And I am reading this here. I do not want to do the same thing twice. I want to continue and learn and be creative. Sometimes it can be impossible with myself, but that is okay too, but I am still making things and I do not move until I see it until it all starts to make sense.
Okay. This is for me, sort of the whole idea behind experimenting that it takes bravery to do it, but it also takes faith. That it will lead you to an outcome that as we were talking about earlier is not necessarily preordained, but when you see it, as Justin says, it just makes sense. But until you get to that point, you just must keep trying and trying, and, in business, we never budget for failure.
We only budget for success. So many ways, right? But even in the truest way, when an artist books studio time, they budget for a [00:37:00] lot of failure. Expect they are going to go and cut the song from start to finish it. That is, it. As a matter of fact, a studio is a place where you can experiment. And you can fail because it is often in that failure that you discover cool things.
We are just, by the way, the reason why so many artists have home studios, because they know that sometimes that moment inspiration just comes at any time, but in business we are not, we do not approach it that way. Our offices are not placing where you can always. Easily experiment. We are afraid of failure.
When you hire people, you hire them to be successful. You do not hire them to fail. When you put your projections for the year, it is usually your best projections. And, and, and eh, failure is not necessarily ingrained in the P and L. What if it were, what if it were, So that is, that is where I think we are, we are, we are [00:38:00] talking about make space for, for failure.
Nir Hindi: I think maybe there is a need for shifting conversation to remove the word failure and just use different words. And kind of do not look at that at all as a failure, but rather kind of a research path experimentation space, whatever I have a, I have another kind of a question to ask you, because one of the things that I encounter is that the perception, at least in visual arts, okay.
Of the solo artist. Okay. Not when, obviously in music, especially music, I think it requires. A lot of collaboration. I mean, it is not only one person often. It is not one person that create from the beginning all the way, till the end, everything I am interested to hear. What are the lessons that you had from all the conversations about [00:39:00] collaboration, artistic collaboration, creative collaboration, business collaboration, maybe in the music world?
Michael Hendrix: there is I think a through line in what we have learned about collaboration is this idea of pursuing excellence in others. So, if you have not read Miles Davis’s autobiography, I really recommend it. It is a very colorful he is a straightforward communicator. But also, it is clear, his pursuit of dizzy Gillespie from when he was 18, ultimately led to him being able to perform with them.
And then, many would argue out, shine him., Beyonce is very good at this too. She is very good at choosing her collaborators because of who they are. Not, not just because of what they can do. And this is this idea of mutual respect of pursuing somebody that has mastered something else and then wanting to collaborate with them.
I think that is often missed in collaboration. I mean, I’ve [00:40:00] had, I have done talks about collaboration and had people in the audience come up to me afterwards and they will say something, yeah, but what if everybody worked with is horrible? Or what if everybody, or you do not them or, whatever that condition is.
And, and there is a value, there is a validity in that question. I am learning. To surround yourself or build a network that has people in it that you admire is the first stage to true success in collaboration. I mean, go ahead Panos, I do not mean matter, sorry.
Panos A. Panay: No, there is, there’s a, there is a cool quote that.
T-bone Burnett the thing that’s producer gave to us that we, we talked about in the book, that again, I think encapsulates the way that a musician approaches collaboration and he said something along the lines of, I do not care what anybody plays, I just care who is playing it. And there’s just that trust that if you [00:41:00] bring the right people together, something interesting will emerge.
And again, it is not preordained. You do not force it. And I think that in business, we to force outcomes and often interesting things happen when you just sort of sit back and watch, watch what happens when you bring interesting people together. What if you hired the way that musicians choose collaborators?
. Where it is often not necessarily based on what they do or who they are, but ultimately, it is, it is a belief of an additive element that they can bring to the process of, of creation. And I think that again, in business, we tend to hire people based on roles. And, and, and, and we say, well, we, we need to hire a salesperson.
We need to hire a an engineer, a [00:42:00] finance person. That is fine. But Michael and I have been successful partners, not because we thought about in a spreadsheet, what each other brings to the table or our backgrounds or our resumes. But we just had an intuitive understanding and connection with each other that.
We sort of trusted what the outcome could be of this collaboration. And that expressed itself in a book, in a class, in an Institute in so many different forms, but we’ve never sort of set out to accomplish any of this stuff. It is just that our, our natural partnership and I would say musician instincts led us to believe that something cool could arise.
And that’s how musicians collaborate. What did we bring that element? In another sphere in a, in a, in a social sphere, in a business sphere and in the governance sphere, it, trust is the key element to collaboration in music. But unfortunately, we live in a, in a post [00:43:00] trust world.
How can we recapture that?
Nir Hindi: So, so I want to play maybe a devil’s advocate over here and say, yeah, I mean, maybe musicians can choose who they want to work. I am just an employee in a company. I do not choose who I can work with. What is the, what is the advice you give to those people? How they can build meaningful collaborations inside a given situation.
Michael Hendrix: Yeah. I think Panos hit the nail on the head when he started talking about collaboration outside of roles. So, where I see a lot of creativity and collaboration within organizations break down is when they are siloed by department., because this department is working on this project. This department is working on this project and then here is another one working on another, oftentimes in an unhealthy organization, you will see people keeping their progress separate from one another because they are, they feel they must quote own it, this, or their success.
[00:44:00] But most successful organizations have figured out that collaborating across the silos, not only across the silos, but being inclusive across the silos, meaning that good ideas can come from anyone in a, in a department. It is not the boss has to have the good idea or even the quote expert in the field, which often happens must have the good idea they can come from anyone.
And that comes from looking at the characteristics of people’s personalities. Their interests, their willingness to participate and contribute their generosity of ideas. Those are not things that roll to fines and CV. Exactly. Exactly. So that is where you must be creative in your situation, if you, if you do not the team you have been assigned, I think you can make a strong case.
To build a different kind of team. I wrote about this in 2010, believe it or not. And [00:45:00] There’s a business school in Toronto called Rotman and have a business journal. And I wrote with Jane Fulton, Suri, we talked about the, identifying the sensibilities and people you work with because often the sensibilities reveal more about how they can contribute to new ideas.
So, for example, if you, if you work with somebody. And you just think one day, they always throw a great dinner parties at their house., I do not know how they do it. They invite good conversation with the guests. They have, they are somehow the, the theme of the food always matches what we are talking about,
And it turns out this person is a, in a role that may, maybe they are in a reception role who, and normally would be overlooked as an idea contributor, but often people may no one likes to live defined by the rules. And they often if given the chance we will rise to the occasion creatively.
And I think that’s part of our job. If we are leaders in our role in our companies or. Whatever is here. We have, our job is to be [00:46:00] looking for those characteristics and people around us and helping then participate with us because we admire what they can do.
Nir Hindi: Yeah, I see it quite often, especially among the young generation that they are the one that tried to break these silos and going to MIT and studying engineering and art, or participating in a bio, bio biology major, and an art minor kind of trying to mix a different discipline.
Panos, Michael we are getting into the end of the podcast. And I still have a few questions. I want to ask you two questions and it is I want to hear from both of you okay. And. Again, you spoke with leading creative minds and I am interested to ask you, first, what is the most important revelation you have discovered from this process of writing this book from those artists Panos?
What was your most important revelation?
Panos A. Panay: That what I thought [00:47:00] was just the way that. I was able to sort of perceive my musicality, if you will, as a, as, as something that was liberating and applicable in so many other ways, that that was something that existed among all the people that I talked to. And, that it had an intuitive and resonant.
Connection to people and, often in life you have hypotheses, right? But your expressive envisions do not really resonate with anybody. It was fascinating for me to talk with so many musicians and so many creators and begin to realize, okay, what I am thinking, what I am sensing. What I, what I, what I that I have suspected is [00:48:00] beyond that it is, it is, it is in fact, something that we all commonly share, and there is something beautiful about realizing that the, especially talking with so many people and so many musicians in this process, some of whom are world renowned.
Pharrell and Justin Timberlake and, and, and, and several others, and some of them are up and comers, but you realize that irrespective of who these people are, they all have this connection and that both their connection to creativity and to music as well as the way that they emote and relate to the world.
There is a commonality and its community almost around it. So, it was beautiful for me to kind of observe or almost a warm glow from, from talking to these people, because you realize the, the that we share this bond as creative beings, but then taking that and expressing it to others [00:49:00] and seeing how they intuitively resonated with this idea.
Because I do believe that music is. Is, is within all of us. And we intuitively resonate with it that immediately this message just hit home for everybody. So that, that to me was the biggest revelation.
Nir Hindi: Hmm. Great. And Mike, and what was your biggest revelation from this process of writing the book?
Michael Hendrix: We wrote a chapter about producing and I, I was surprised by how relevant it was to my role as a creative leader in a design innovation company. So, one of the interviews, so that to me was with Hank Shocklee, who is a, a member of the bomb squad, founding member of public enemy record executive marketing executive.
He, he had this philosophy that he shared with us. I just have not been able to get out of my head ever since he [00:50:00] said it I have used it repeatedly. And he started with a metaphor. He said, what we, what we know about the known universe is that if it is 3% matter and it is 97% something else call it dark matter.
We do not know what it is. You cannot see it, but we know it is there because we do the math. Right. He said, when he works with an artist, he uses that mental model. And he sees the artists as the 3% and he sees everything else around the artists is the 97%. And he said, my job as a producer is to manage the 97%, not the 3%.
Nir Hindi: Amazing.
Michael Hendrix: And that has really stuck with me. It reminded me of another musician Brian Eno, who.
Nir Hindi: I have his cards over here. The cards, that he did, I have it over here.
Michael Hendrix: The strategies. So, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. I use these cards also when I get stuck.
Michael Hendrix: So, there is a card that says gardening, not [00:51:00] architecture, and I have always interpreted it in this way too, that your, your job is not to control the.
Building of the thing you are trying to create your job is to create the conditions for growth. That is how I have always interpreted that phrase, gardening architecture. And I think Hank Shocklee is saying the same thing. It is the conditions around creativity. It is the condition conditions around people that determine whether they are successful or not.
And as a creative leader is any kind of leader. That is your job, your job is not to micromanage what that individual does, your job is not to get them to execute upon your idea, which I see a lot of that happen. Your job is to make them as successful as you can, by putting the people around them. The frameworks around them, the conditions around their workplace to be successful.
And to be the most creative people they can be that has. So, resonated with me and that has become my driving philosophy in the way I [00:52:00] work.
Nir Hindi: Great. So, I think in a way, Michael, you already answered my second question. Who is the, the person that surprised you the most from the book, the book that you interview, and I am interested to ask you this question Panos, who was the, the artist producer, a musician that maybe surprised you the most in this process?
Panos A. Panay: Ah, gee, that is like asking, which is my favorite child. Because there were, there were all surprising in their own way. They all said something that made you sort of go, Whoa. Okay. I did not expect that. I would say Hank Shocklee. Perhaps was both inspiring and, and surprising. So much of what he said captured almost the entire premise of the book.
Right? So, with some of the other people [00:53:00] that we spoke to. In they sort of, it was, it is funny, in your head your kind of could see where they fit in the book that we were working on. But in talking with, with Hank almost from start to finish or what ended up being, I think a two-and-a-half-hour discussion, it was a long time.
It was fun. I mean, we could not stop talking and. It was almost like Hank was the embodiment of everything that we were trying to say in the book, but in one person. So, to me that was perhaps maybe the most fun and surprising interview. We had.
Nir Hindi: Great guys. I have so many questions more to ask you, but we are running out of time.
Any last thoughts message you want to share with our listeners, Michael?
Michael Hendrix: I hope that if [00:54:00] you do read the book, when you do read the, when, when you read the book, when you read the book. No, thank you. Thank you. Nir That you come out of it feeling encouraged. That that was one of my hopes for why we got into writing this book in the first place. I believe that most people do not give themselves the chance to truly.
Find their creative potential they’ve and the people holding them back are themselves. They have told themselves repeatedly that they are not creative, or they have told themselves that their life is somehow compartmentalized, that the thing they do at home does not apply to what they do at work.
And what I want everyone to go away thinking is that is not true. And in fact, in this era, when we talk about fluidity and we talk about intersectionality and we talk about. The flexibility and agility and so many, yeah. Apply it to yourself, apply it to yourself. That is the [00:55:00] secret.
Nir Hindi: Great.
Panos your thought, your, your last message, at least for this podcast.
Panos A. Panay: Well, for me, I will use something from my meditation. It is this idea of the blue sky, right? That no matter what, no matter how gray a day is it rainy and cold. And when we restarted this podcast with a gray, rainy cold day in Boston, maybe we are finishing it with one, no matter what the weather is in Boston.
I always know what the weather in Cypress is, which is blue, sunny skies, blue, sunny sky, everywhere. It is just obscured by clouds. And I think the same thing about creativity, we are all creative. It is just that years of learning to behave in a certain way [00:56:00] and years of, of, of adding. Have created all this stuff on top of her creativity that covers it.
So, it is not so much about creating your creativity, if you will, or forcing it, it is just removing all the stuff that is covering it. And to Michael’s point, create the conditions for it. To spring up. It is always there. It shows that it is covered just the blue sky is always there covered. And, and this is what I have discovered through the journey of writing this book, that everybody is creative.
It is just that the people that we call creative, the musicians in the book, they just find ways to keep their creativity vulnerable and uncovered. And the rest of us, we build these shells that is part self-protection. But at the same time, it is, it is, it is, it is [00:57:00] covering our own creativity. So, my parting message is to be vulnerable.
Learn, learn to be okay with putting yourself out there. It is the only, it is the only way if you ask me to, to exist and to feel alive.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. Great. So exciting, eh, to have this conversation two beats ahead: what musical minds teach us about innovation is available on Amazon and leading bookshops. Check it out.
Links will be on our website as well. Panos, Michael, thank you very, very, very much best of luck with the book. And first, at least for me, thank you for putting art and music on the map on. On the business innovation world. Thank you, guys, very, very much.
Michael Hendrix: Thank you.
Panos A. Panay: Thank you Nir.
Nir Hindi: Great. One second. Let me save [00:58:00] it.