Food cooking and eating – stories and ideas from a passionate foodie

Cool friend – Peter Cook – The Rock’n’Roll Business Guru

Rock’n’Roll and business guru do not feel like happy bed fellows in the same sentence.  I have seen Peter Cook in his various guises, and have enjoyed being thought provoked by his stage performances. It really does make you think in a very different way – and I wanted to dig a little further into this seeming dichotomy – is there really a link between business and Rock’n’Roll that organisations can learn from? OK – I had bought his book as well – because “Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll” is an intriguing title, isn’t it?  I wanted to find out more, so interviewed Peter about how this all fits together.

Peter – what’s your unique difference?

I bring three things together in ways that are hard to beat:  Years of experience working as a  scientific R&D Leader and troubleshooter on a worldwide basis; very qualified in business and management both as a practising leader and business academic at MBA level and; the x-factor of writing and performing music.  The first two may be in reasonable distribution, but the third ingredient gives be a hard to copy edge.  There are many parallel lessons from music and leading edge ideas from the world’s business school.   My science background also gives me a hard edge to critique so-called advances in business and management theory, some of which are just fads.  It’s a confusing world out there with many ‘great pretenders’ attempting to sell ‘wonder cures’ for leadership and business.  Our approach is about what works and fits with a particular company culture, not an attempt to install ‘business plug-ins’ rather like the way we use memory sticks on computers.  It simply does not work in the long term.

You style yourself as “The Rock’n’Roll Business Guru” – what’s that all about? – And do people always ‘get it’?

I deliberately chose these words since they pinpoint the ‘sweet spot’ or nexus of business thinking and music.  For example, in music, people tend to like songs that remind us of music we already own e.g. The Beatles and Oasis, Madonna and Lady Gaga. The same is true in business and marketing.  People invent new products and services that don’t have a ring of “the familiar” at their peril, unless they have sufficient money to force them into existence.  One of the things we do is to help clients improve the success rate and impact of their innovations.

Somewhat sadly, people do usually ‘get it’.  I say sadly, since my regular experience is that people know more about rock and pop music than they do the great and good of business and management thinking.  It should be the other way round if you are a serious business leader.  I usually smile a little when people the world over can recite all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody, but they don’t know anything about what Tom Peters, Charles Handy or Peter Drucker said on management, as happened recently at one event I ran for some people, where we actually got 600 people singing the Queen song with a Ukelele.  Check this out: 

How has this approach worked in organisations – is it a practical model of thinking?

99% of the time it works just fine.  On the few occasions over 17 years where it has not been popular, clients have had a distorted view of what I do – thinking it to be pure entertainment or some kind of ‘corporate x-factor’, despite the fact that I always go to great lengths to explain that it is both intelligent and fun and not a circus act.   There are plenty of those out there.  It has worked well in some fairly heavyweight organisations.  We have done global science conferences for Pfizer blending ideas about creativity from science with music.  We recently have delivered Riffs and Myths of Leadership to Imperial College Business School, Laing O’Rourke, University of Kent and Ashridge Business School.  Here’s a clip of an aftershow event we ran for Unilever in Rome following a strategy keynote and teambuilding event.

You know that I link cooking to order and business level thinking – do you have a favourite meal you can share with us?

For a great winter dish, I don’t think you can beat my cheese, onion and potato pie.  In summer, I’m rather partial to coleslaw made with Kohlrabi.  Another light favourite is pan-fried Jerusalem artichokes with fresh garlic.  We are fortunate to have Luddesdown Organic Farm – a great supplier of organic produce who have expanded our taste buds beyond expectation.

Where can we find out more?

My new book “Punk Rock People Management – A no-nonsense guide to hiring, inspiring and firing staff” is available FREE by contacting me via the website

We also have my current book “Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll”, acclaimed by Tom Peters available on AMAZON – so basically my message is ‘buy one, get one free’.

More details of our corporate events and musical experiences at My serious business consultancy, training and coaching website

Phil and I occasionally work together as The Two Cooks, delivering exceptional corporate events and keynote speeches that blend business, music and cooking.



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