This week I’m writing to you from the heart of Vienna, renowned not only as the City of Dreams after Sigmund Freud but as the City of Music because of its musical legacy, including the wonders of Schubert, Johann Strauss and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, not to mention Mahler, Brahms and Beethoven.
I always find we can learn a lot from history and those with a brand that has survived their own death.
I have been struck by how unnecessary it is to have an ‘out in front leader’ when seeking to build any entity capable of living way beyond any one individual personality.
This was a key conclusion of Jim Collins in his superb book analysing multi-generational business successes ‘Good to Great’ which identified the lasting impact of the ‘servant leaders’.
At the Spanish Riding School for example, the only institution in the world which has practiced for nearly 450 years and continues to cultivate classical equitation in the renaissance tradition, it is the horses who are the real stars, the spectacular and precise results are delivered by acute attention to the finest details, relentless preparation and what must be endless training and re-training.
They do say that repetition is the mother of skill, and boy does it show.
There was something highly enchanting and emotionally engaging about listening to the small orchestra pump out a lilting waltz or an aria of Strauss and Mozart.
There were no stars, just the music manuscript, some highly skilled musicians and an unassuming conductor.
Equally, it was fascinating to visit the small apartment in which Mozart had lived and where he created some of the most enduring music.
His experience and how he set about building a reputation for his product is an exemplary and powerful illustration of networking and story-telling to create a brand image and attract the numbers of raving fans of which any business today would be justly proud.
Mozart was linked in to everyone important and his face was booked by the great and the good.
But for this relentless building of “Team Mozart” I suspect his extraordinary talent would today have washed into the sands of time like so many before and since.
If even Mozart was at it, the talent behind great services and product amounts to nothing without a strong focus on networking, team building and brand building.