Three things I learned about business while playing with Prince

Tony Mosley, Senior Project Manager (and original member of the New Power Generation)

If you’re a current YA client, you probably know me as the manager on one or more of your promotional marketing projects. I’m hoping that when you think of me, you conjure up words like “effective,” “reliable” or “incredibly handsome.” (Okay, I’m just joking about that last one. I’ll settle for “reliable.”)

But, just as Clark Kent works at the Daily Planet by day and saves Metropolis from doom in his off-hours, I also have a “side gig” that’s brought me creative satisfaction, personal fulfillment and boundless opportunities.

My secret identity

I’m one of the original members of the New Power Generation (NPG), the backing band for Prince. I co-wrote several songs with him, including four songs on his multi-platinum Diamonds and Pearls and Symbol albums. I played on the road with him for many years, touring everywhere from the US to Australia, South America and all across Europe. We played at the Prince tribute at the Xcel Energy Center in October last year. And now I’m about to embark on a multi-city tour of Europe with NPG in July.

Along with millions of people around the round, I was heartbroken to learn about Prince’s untimely death. He’s had an impact on me not just as a musician and mentor, but also as a person. As I’m getting ready to take three weeks’ vacation from YA and re-connect with my musical brothers of NPG, I’ve been thinking about the things that my musical past and my current corporate position have in common.

Turn it around

My first encounter with Prince was when my buddies and I were extras on the set of Purple Rain. We were killing time in the bathroom, break dancing to music from a boom box. Prince came in, watched us for about 20 minutes, and smiled. When his manager approached us later, we were sure we were about to be fired. Instead, the manager handed us seven songs and asked us to choreograph dance routines to them—by tomorrow’s 6 a.m. call time. We raced back to my Mom’s North Minneapolis apartment, pushed all the furniture to one side, and stayed up all night working on those dances. While most of our work ending up on the cutting room floor, I think our ability to meet a crazy deadline gave Prince enough confidence in our abilities to tap us as members of the New Power Generation.

What I learned: Whether it’s dance choreography or a business deadline, sometimes you have to dig in and turn things around quickly. You never know what the positive consequences will be.

Have a Plan B

While I loved working in the music industry, as I got older, I began to look for a more stable, long-term future. I realized it was time to evolve and make the transition, so I swallowed my pride and started working a temp job at a promotional marketing agency. I moved up through the ranks and gained experience in loyalty marketing incentives, interactive marketing and claims. I’ve gained strong project portfolio management skills and have learned how to lead cross-functional teams. I’ve been with YA for thee years. And along the way, I got married, bought a house in the suburbs, and had two kids, who are now ages 15 and 17.

What I learned: The discipline and passion I brought to my music career have kept me going through a strong corporate journey, too. If you’re a rock star in one field, you might just be a rock star in another.

Stay true to your roots

While I have certainly enjoyed the 20+ years I’ve spent in the corporate world, I’ve also gotten a boost of energy from this revival of my music career at the ripe old age of 55. It’s not a midlife crisis and I’m not giving up my day job, but doing this is one way to keep Prince’s memory alive. And when I come back from my tour of places like London, Zurich, Russia and Lisbon, I’ll have plenty of great stories to share on our weekly check-in calls, I promise.

What I learned: You never know when a new opportunity will show up, so be ready to take it!

If you’d like to learn more about ways to turn even first-time customers into loyal brand advocates who take action, buy more and spread the word, please contact YA to begin the conversation. And if you want to follow the travels of the NPG on the road, visit our Facebook page or follow us on Instagram., Twitter: @Original_NPG

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