Lessons From MCA

On Friday Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of cancer.  He was 47 years old.  In my case, the drag is that this is one of the bands that was just starting out when I was in college.  It is a stark reminder to me that the clock keeps ticking.  I guess were are reminded about that all of the time.

In this case there are a number of things worth recalling about the Beastie Boys when they came on the scene and learning from.

Foremost, the Beastie Boys were completely revolutionary.  A bunch of white guys fusing rock and rap – it almost didn’t make sense.  And yet they connected.  They did something completely original and found an emotional level that has resonated for more than three decades.  A lesson that completely translates into Entrepreneurship – be original, do something that gets to a base need – duh.

Maybe you don’t know this, or maybe you did – for the first couple years, the band couldn’t play a note. It took MCA and the boys a couple albums to acquire those chops.  They relied on producers, studio musicians and samples of other peoples music (which was hugely popular at the time).  As we translate this into Brooklyn Startup speak, I wouldn’t go as far as to say ‘no technology, no problem’, but I do think building a demo or a mobile app can be outsourced for a short time until technical talent is brought in house. Initially, (for some companies) that’s just not the most important part.

Let’s finally touch on talent.  I wouldn’t call them talentless, but come on, “you gotta fight for your right to party”?  And the truth is they weren’t exactly melodic. It sounds like kind of barking into a microphone.  They essentially made something out of nothing.  At first they did it by force of energy and enthusiasm.  They did it by perseverance.  They did it by hustle.  Then they backfilled. But the thing is… they did it.  They took a chance. They had a vision.  If you have a vision – now is the time because the clock keeps ticking.

And finally, the Beastie Boys were (and are) from Brooklyn.  They were proud of it.  They were the epitome of that gritty, tough, smart, working class and creative class that we often brag about today.  They are part of the identity of Brooklyn.  That’s plenty.