Before embarking on a career as a strategist, Chief Executive of Imprint Strategic and Being Brands, Siebert Neethling, used his natural strategic ability to earn a living by making music. Siebert shares his insights on life as a busker in London, using graphs to select songs and his love of the Beatles in this personal perspective piece.
After a few years of working as an academic I decided to go overseas on the gap year I'd never had. I ended up in London, and as funds ran low, found work in a photographic studio. To augment my wages I borrowed a guitar from a colleague and started busking at tube stations.
Initially I didn't do very well, but soon noticed that some songs brought in more coins than others, and that the pattern seemed to be consistent. I drew a graph on a sheet of paper and started plotting which songs did better than others. I soon realised that it had something to do with my market: the very young and very old rarely dropped coins in my hat. Songs that appealed to people in their thirties, forties and fifties did very well. Also, the kind of music that could be described as 'soundtracks to your life' did exceptionally well.
I narrowed my repertoire down to the ten songs that earned most money. On the very first day of doing this I quadrupled my earnings! Further refinements over the next few months saw me earning much more from music than from my job at the studio.
That experience sowed a seed. I qualified myself in business and within a few years worked myself into a strategic leadership role in a large corporation. A strategist had been born, and a little entrepreneurial spark had been ignited, all of it to the sound of vintage Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel.
Today I help Being grow, and help our clients develop transformational marketing, business and communication strategies. (You can find out more about what I do here.)
That long-haired London busker would be pleasantly surprised.