Why Lady Gaga is my business hero
July 13, 2012 in Startup
Lady Gaga. Talented pop star provocateur. This was my impression of the icon.
Then I happened upon a television interview with Gaga. I was surprised and intrigued to find out the real story of her success. For someone with such a rapid rise to super stardom, it was easy to think that she had it easy.
Yet this was completely wrong. Lady Gaga endured a series of setbacks and roadblocks. Her ability to navigate and find creative solutions to the barriers reminded me of any successful entrepreneur. Her story shows tremendous lessons for business. Not only have I gained a newfound respect for the woman, I have also taken the following lessons from her journey for my business.
Learn from Major Failures & Persevere
Lady Gaga was a student at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at the New York University. When she decided to take her chances at a full-time musical career, she dropped out of school (NOT the business lesson here).
After being signed to a record label, Gaga was dropped just months later. This experience, she says, triggered a time of depression for her. Her recent song â€śMarry the Nightâ€ť chronicles her this dark period and her realization that she must acknowledge her weaknesses.
Ultimately, as the song says, Gaga realizes she must not give up on her life and continue to persevere.
Gaga went on to play smaller clubs in New Yorkâ€™s Lower Eastside. It was during this time that she took on her stage name, Lady Gaga, and honed her song writing and performance skills.
While playing at a club one night, Gaga became increasingly frustrated that people were not listening to her performance. So to make a statement and get noticed, she started taking off her clothes (again, NOT the business lesson here). The room stopped and stared. Gaga started belting out her song â€“ demonstrating her talent â€“ and everyone started cheering.
Later, Gagaâ€™s outrageous outfits and hairstyles started getting covered by the tabloids. She was undoubtedly getting noticed in a crowded sea of artists trying to break in.
Have a Singular Vision and Focus
When Gaga was signed to Interscope, Gaga declared that â€śshe was going to be the biggest pop star in the worldâ€ť. And within two years, she arguably was.
Gagaâ€™s sights were clear and channeled her hard work to achieve her goals. In this sense, her life has been very intentional. She even studied fame and how others handled it to prepare herself for the road ahead.
After Gaga was signed to her label, she received resistance from DJâ€™s â€“ no one, apparently, wanted to listen to dance music on the radio.
To counter this, Gaga started playing smaller gay clubs. Soon she started to gain an increasingly large following of gay men.
Thereafter, she met Perez Hilton, who helped support her in many ways. By being a champion for Gaga, Perez helped her eventually break into the mainstream and gain radio play.
Recognize Roadblocks & Find Creative Solutions
While her songs were finally being played on the radio, Gaga started to encounter another issue. She felt she was being stereotyped as a one-dimensional manufactured pop star. To be seen as a talented artist, Gaga demanded that when she performed in public, she must be able to play her songs ad lib.
At her piano, she would craft new and creative arrangements of her songs live in front of a live audience. After these performances, there was no doubt that Gaga was indeed very talented.
Of course it is important to note that the choices and maneouvers in Gagaâ€™s journey were not all her doing â€“ of course, Gagaâ€™s team is also responsible for her success. Yet the strategies paid off immensely. Her first album sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and she has enjoyed much success since. Gaga has also used her celebrity to draw awareness to many important causes, such as bullying.
As her song Born This Way says, â€śWe are all born superstarsâ€¦ so hold your head up girl and youâ€™ll go far.â€ť