ROCKSTAR MINDSET: MONSTER DRUMMER MARK SCHULMAN PLAYS EVERY NOTE LIKE IT MATTERS
MARK SCHULMAN is a monster drummer who has toured the world with some of the greatest rock and pop performers. He has played before crowds as big as 225,000 and has shared the stage with artists like P!NK, Billy Idol, Cher, Stevie Nicks, Foreigner, Simple Minds, and others over his 32-year touring career.
Mark is also amazing on another stage – as a speaker, where he delivers a rock show disguised as a keynote. "I have learned about the importance of attitude as part of the touring family with these great performers," Mark says as he unpacks the secrets of rockstar performance. His presentations translate lessons learned during a remarkable career into valuable tips for organizations, teams, leaders, and those who want to be their absolute best.
CULTIVATING THE ROCKSTAR MINDSET
The one thing that really stands out with rockstar performers, Mark explains, is consistency. How great performers do anything is how they do everything. There is no on-off switch where some things matter and others get a pass. With the greatest rockstar performers, there are no small moments. Every detail is critical.
Billy Idol really drove that point home to him when they were working on some music in Mark's studio years ago. Billy was talking about his early performance experiences and said something that completely shifted the way Mark looks at performance forever. Billy looked at Mark and said, "You know, mate, I used to get on stage and sing every single note like it was the last note I'd ever sing." And Mark thought, "That's a serious level of commitment." Then Billy repeated it, "I would sing every single note like my life depended on it – like it really mattered."
Mark had never thought about his performance that way, but then he wondered, "What if I did?" That's when he realized that for rockstar performers, it truly is not about what they play but about how they play. That sums up the rockstar attitude!
A CHANGE OF HEART
Mark made a commitment right then and there that every single time he sits behind that drum set, every single note he plays matters. He took that as a metaphor and carried it even further and thought, “What happens if I treat every note, every word, every action, every thought like it matters?" By attaching a sense of purpose to every single note, word, thought, and action, he found that he became more passionate. The passion fed the purpose, and the purpose fed the passion. Many people talk about the importance of passion, but passion is fleeting. Purpose is the expansion of passion. So, the key is to have purpose feed the passion and have the passion feed the purpose - back and forth. That is how to look at life. That is how life literally becomes a performance.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
When Mark was on the road with Foreigner, he probably played "Feels Like the First Time" a hundred times – talk about irony. One night, as he was about to start playing, he froze and looked at the audience. It dawned on him that for the audience, it really was their first time, so how dare he have a substandard attitude performance. All he had to do was shift his attitude, and he would have just as much fun as everybody else, and everybody wins. It's like when he gives a speech. He has given over 2000 speeches, but every time he gives a speech – every word matters, every inflection matters, every bit of body language matters, every pause matters. It's all about attitude.
WE'RE ALL PERFORMERS
Mark loves to tell people this true story to make the point. His daughter, who is now 13, said this to him when she was seven years old, "Daddy, we're all performers, but it's so much more fun even if nobody's watching." And Mark stopped and thought, oh my God, what an acute kid.
It made him realize that if people take a moment when they're about to engage in some sort of event – a pitch to a client, a conversation with one of their employees, a job interview – to just stop and think, "I'm going to treat this like a performance," well, guess what? Just intuitively and innately, they have more fun with the experience.
LIFE CHANGES – OUTCOMES CHANGE WHEN YOU'RE HAVING FUN
Musicians got into the business to have fun. If everyone can adopt that attitude – if everyone can have a little bit more fun with so many events in their life, just think about the endorphin rush! Just think about the oxytocin boost! Just think of the health benefits! Just think of the emotional benefits!
If people can just, at some point, stop and have that awareness that what they are doing is actually a performance, they will literally change their life. Mark learned so much from playing with the world’s top performers, yet he got the greatest nugget from his daughter, who on her own accord offered that amazing insight. It just reminded him, when he gets up to speak or when he talks to a client, he's performing. When he goes out to walk the dog, it could be a performance. If he sees somebody on the street, it could be a performance. It just depends on how he positions it. Because the truth is these really are all actions – and any action can be construed or defined as a performance.
PERFORMANCE IS WHAT ENGAGES
There's so much talk about engagement – employee engagement, customer engagement – and this component of looking at life as a performance fits in perfectly. If people look at what they are doing as a performance, it begets more engagement. They literally become more engaged and have more fun. And others become more engaged with them. So, they can use this performance metaphor as an opportunity to really create greater and more powerful engagement.
About Tony D'Amelio
Tony has spent his career putting talented people and audiences together, first in the music business and later representing the world's leading speakers. After concluding 27 years as Executive Vice President of the Washington Speakers Bureau, Tony launched D'Amelio Network, a boutique firm that manages the speaking activities of a select group of experts on business, management, politics and current events. Clients include: Mike Abrashoff, Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour, Mariana Atencio, Chris Barton, Geoff Colvin, Daryl Davis, Suneel Gupta, Ron Insana, Katty Kay, Polly LaBarre, Nicole Malachowski, Ken Schmidt, Bill Walton, and Bob Woodward.