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Business Insights in Unexpected Places: What I learned from Carsie Blanton's "Smoke Alarm"

I'd like to say that I enjoy all kinds of music, and for an occasional listen, I do. But when it comes to my old reliable, every day, in the car playlist, I definitely have a type.

I like independent, folksy-sounding singer songwriters (you may roll your eyes here). I love piano players, though I don't mind a guitar. But what I really love is a songwriter who makes a compelling case for a point of view that, I suspect we've all considered, but that we rarely talk about.

That's exactly what grabbed my interest the first time I listened to Carsie Blanton's 2012 release, "Smoke Alarm." (How did we ever live without streaming music services, by the way?)

The song is a frank and direct answer to anyone who's ever asked the question, "what would happen if I just stopped worrying about, well, everything."

On its surface, the song is clearly about an amorous relationship, BUT I started think (as I often do) that there might also be lessons here that we could apply to business.

So, without further ado, I present, lessons I learned about business from Carsie Blanton's Smoke Alarm.

  1. EMBARCE THE AUTHENTIC YOU The main theme throughout the song is simple, we're literally all headed for the same place, a headstone. Why do we spend so much time sweating the small stuff? Heck why do we spend time sweating the big, yet inconsequential stuff? In business, it's important to be authentic and true to your values regardless of what's trendy or commonly accepted. Building a brand that reflects your true identity, passions, and beliefs will attract customers who resonate with your message.

  2. SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES The worst will come. The best will also come. Often, which way it goes isn't within our power to the extent we'd like. Life is long and twisty that way. So, when an opportunity comes to partner with another entrepreneur or business, to launch a new product or service, or to take advantage of some other opportunity in your market, why not be ready to make the most of it?

  3. FOCUS ON THE PRESENT How easy it is to fret over the past and how tempting it is to look ahead to the future. While both are necessary for growth, they often cause us to overlook something just as important, what's actually happening today. It's important to focus on the present and take actions that will drive success today. While it's essential to plan for the future, being present and mindful can enhance decision-making and productivity.

  4. DO THE HARD THINGS FIRST So much of running a business is hard, but perhaps the least comfortable things we have to do deal with other people. Hire slow and fire fast is great in theory, but everything looks easy on paper. Remember that dealing with a toxic staff member, a problem client/customer, or a problem partnership will never get easier, you're just giving yourself more time to worry about it when you put it off.

  5. LET GO OF FEAR In life and in business a lot of what we do for the benefit of what the outside world sees, especially in the online age. While I certainly wouldn't recommend taking unnecessary risks for no reason, I do think we can stop letting fear drive where we focus our attention. Set YOUR OWN expectations and then meet them. Understand what you're promising your staff and clients and then worry about meeting THOSE expectations. Rather than spending time worrying about what people are going to say, focus on giving them something genuinely amazing to talk about.

Are these lessons going to be easy to incorporate immediately? Maybe not, but every day is an opportunity for us to reconsider what's important in life and in business and to adjust our focus in those areas.

And remember, music has the power to inspire and teach us in unexpected ways. So, even if you don't follow any of these recommendations, go out and find a song that inspires you and get to work!

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