Riffing to find new ways

A couple of weeks ago, I headed to New Jersey to hear my boss play. Besides his gig at WPP, he is a prolific jazz guitarist.

On this night, he had pulled together a trio—his guitar, bass and drums—and as jazz musicians tend to do, they played together for awhile, and then they broke apart. “Trading 4’s”. Breaking away from the actual song and into solo riffs.

And they make it look so effortless to spin off without hesitation—to make it sound like part of the song, like it’s meant to be there…yet completely unique, its own thing. Sometimes even better, touching on a new variation of an old melody.

It takes skill to be able to do this, you know. You can’t riff until you know the basics. Until you know every millimeter of your instrument and every note so well, you can play it out of your element, learn new ways, grow as a musician.

So, a meeting is like a riff. Think of your day to day work as the basics. Attendees know how to do their work. And so you invite them out for their ‘solo’, away from the security of following the notes back at their desks. With breakouts and inspiring speakers and networking and training, attendees (and meeting stakeholders) get to try new things, explore…and maybe find themselves even better, touching on a new variation of their old ways.

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