7 Leadership Lessons From Being Backstage With Imagine Dragons

On July 29, 2013

7 Leadership Lessons From Being Backstage With Imagine Dragons

Backstage with Imagine Dragons

It’s been a long time since a band as good as Imagine Dragons has come around.  My friend Louie Lovoy turned me on to them a while back & together we have watched them go from obscurity to mega-stars.  This band doesn’t just play good music, they are leaders.  They are influencing a generation of people with music, lyrics & art.

7 Leadership Lessons From Imagine Dragons:

1. It took 5 years to become an “overnight star”

They started in obscurity in 2008.  They have invested the last 5 years playing crappy clubs & festivals; however, they kept pushing.  The lesson is this… Don’t give up.  If you feel like you are playing crappy clubs in your life right now, keep playing… keep putting out new material… show up every night!

Obscurity is where your character is tested & formed.  Keep going, your big break is right around the corner.

2. It takes more than a frontman to be great

Dan Reynolds put an eclectic band together.  Dan is an amazing frontman but he built a crazy good band.  Wayne is a mad scientist guitar player. Platzman is a film scoring percussionist.  Ben is a rare bass player find.

How diverse is your team?  Do you have super talented people that do what you can’t do?  Learn from the Dragons & create diversity on the team.

3. Don’t wait till your product is perfect to sell it

These guys created three EP’s while in obscurity.  This means they wrote & recorded songs & sold stuff before it was perfect or high quality.  One of these EP’s ended up in a major record producers hands & that led to there breakthrough album.

Get your products & services to market now.  Sell something.  Start when it’s crappy.  If you wait till you have it all together as a leader, you will never start.  If you don’t start, you rob the world of your gift!

4. Be vulnerable with your tribe

Dan Reynolds builds brand loyalty through tweeting, singing & talking about real stuff.  At a recent concert I attended, he had 2 amazing moments of vulnerability with the crowd.  One moment was about a friend of the band that recently died of cancer.  He told the story, dedicated a song to this kid & then created a relatable moment with the crowd.  He said, “I know you might not be going through cancer but we all have doubts, fears, highs & lows.”  In this moment, thousands of people could relate with Dan & it created a memorable bond.

How vulnerable are you with your customers, donors, & team?  Do you just share the upside?  Do you just share the success stories?  I would propose to really open up & talk about your fears & failures.  People connect with an authentic heart.

5. They have an Angie

I met the nicest tour manger on earth, Angie Warner.  Angie has been a tour manager for some great acts like Kayne West & Jay Z.  She treated me with class & gave us first class treatment for no reason.

Angie is a great tour manager because she treats people great but runs a tight ship.  She was open to letting me meet the band but she was looking out for their time & energy level the whole time.  She could read them & knew when enough was enough.  She is world class & maybe one day I can interview her about how she manages fan experience & band energy. Amazing person!

Who is protecting your time & looking out for you behind the scenes?  Who buffers crazy customers & fans from you?  I would suggest employing an “Angie” so you can be at your best always.  My Angie is Renee Weber.  Renee is the absolute best manager on earth!

6. Be willing to change your style 

Alex-da-kid is a huge record producer that usually does hip-hop records.  He heard the bands EP & approached them about working together.  This is an ODD paring but it created the mega-hit album Night Visions.  He took the rock band & added electronic magic.  Together they went further faster.

Are you willing to give up a little money & style preferences to hit it big time?  Who could you partner with that isn’t in your comfort zone that would take you to the next level?  I would suggest paying leadership coaches that are VERY different from yourself.  Diverse partners & coaches stretch us!

7. Do what you love or quit doing it

You think being a big band is glorious?  Think again.  It’s very hard work.  They spend every day on a bus or airplane flying from city to city away from family and friends.  If they did not absolutely LOVE what they do, they wouldn’t make it over the long haul.

Do you love what you do?  Really… Do you absolutely love waking up & doing what you do?  If not, change your focus.

I know learning leadership lessons from a band isn’t the norm but I believe if you take these 7 lessons & apply them, you will be better off for it!

Comment Question: Which lesson do you relate the most with?

P.S. Alex-Da-Kid, Imagine Dragons, & Angie… What you do is important.  Keep creating culture & memorable moments for people!  Your work matters! 



  • By caseygraham  1 Comments   


    Posted by Casey Graham on
    • Aug 11 2013
    Mark, I love that documentary. I watch in a few times a month :)

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