People


mervgriffin_100px.jpgMerv Griffin passed away this week at the age of 82 (nice video obit at CNN). When I review everything he’s accomplished in those eight decades, I wonder how the man ever slept.

In addition to being an actor, singer, and television host, he found a myriad creative ways to be successful in the entertainment world as well as the business world at large.

He not only dreamed up two of the most ridiculously profitable game shows of all time – Jeopardy and Wheel Of Fortune – his vast empire included everything from horse breeding and gambling to real estate and television production.

Music was also in his heart – he composed the theme song for Jeopardy, a little ditty that had earned him “close to 60 or 70 million.”

His story inspires me to stay creative, to keep pushing my boundaries, to keep trying new things.

A man who is still quite alive and relevant, Quincy Jones is someone who hasn’t let his age put a damper on his creative demons.

quincyjones_100px.jpgOne of the masters of music production of all time, Q is still pushing, still engaged in the present, still expanding his influence and reach.

The Man Himself is offering video podcasts… giving us mere mortals a glimpse behind the scenes of some of the most successful albums of all time (check out his myspace page for more, or read more about it at CNet).

He’s even gotten involved in my little niche of the music world, with a production music library of his own.

We’re given such precious few days in this life. All of us watch history passing by – very few of us make history. Take a cue from these extraordinary people and aim a little higher than maybe you have been this week.

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For the past 10 years or so, Nick Cave turned his raucous career into quiet, beautiful (albeit dark) ballads. It’s sort of a typical phase of an artist growing old and mellowing out. I followed for awhile, and then drifted away, as I’ve still got a taste for the raucous. During this 10 year phase, I saw him on Letterman a few times, at a grand piano, telling a story I doubted the tens of millions of viewers were likely to get, or be interested in. Nonetheless, his songwriting was inspiring to me, and I trusted everything he did. I just stopped listening.

Then, along comes 2007, Cave grows a fu-manchu moustache, and starts a garage punk band called Grinderman. It is one of the greatest rock and roll albums I’ve heard in a long time, capturing the energy of his early Birthday Party stuff, as well as highlights of The Bad Seeds peak moments of intensity. Pleasantly brutal stuff, and a total surprise for him to whip this out after a decade of winding down. Genius. I’m listening again.

Who of us will have the energy for this level of reinvention when we’re the age of Mr. Cave? Who of us even has it now?

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs

The video of the entire, historic interview with both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (available for free at iTunes) had me enthralled last evening, keeping me awake well into this morning.

One of the things that struck me was the genuine admiration the two share for each other. At one point Gates is quite candid in revealing that he is awestruck by Jobs’ ability to see things that others simply don’t, to map a path through the future in a way that makes total sense after the passage of time, but in the moment is seen as a visionary and daring move.

I am curious what Steve Jobs has in common with sports greats like Wayne Gretzy. This article at Wired makes quite clear that there are those among us who visualize the future with such insight that even their most successful contemporaries sit in wonder… “how’d they do that?!” Anyone who captures this elusive trait in a bottle will surely make a fortune.

A discussion point : I’d be quite interested what you think Steve Jobs and Wayne Gretzky have in common, what they “get” that us mere mortals struggle to understand even when it is explained in explicit detail.