Eddie Van Halen

I was reading the obituaries a few days ago and chanced upon the review of Eddie Van Halen’s life.

I knew nothing about Eddie Van Halen, but I knew some of the music, knew his band was huge and thought that there may be something interesting to learn.

All the usual excess of rock and roll was there, but there was one thing that struck me above all else, and suggested to me the kind of man he probably really was, behind all the glitz and glamour.

The obituary read:

\’In 1983 he provided the blasting solo for \’Beat it\’ it from \’Thriller\’. He asked for neither a credit nor a fee. He said he had done it as a favour – and he seemed untroubled when \’Thriller\’s success meant that his own album, 1984, was kept off the top spot. He was, he liked to say, a musician, not a rock star\’.

I love that: ‘I am a musician, not a rock star’!

So, what has this got to do with ‘Slow Selling’?

I think it embodies the whole ethos of ‘Slow Selling’.

  • The beliefs of slow sellers: ‘We’re not here to sell things, we’re here to do something so well that you want to buy it from us (and tell all your friends)’
  • The emotions of slow sellers: ‘It’s not what we want that matters … it’s what the customer REALLY wants: if we can design our systems around that, then we’ll really be winning’.
  • The actions of slow sellers: ‘Forget the marketing, hype and shouting: let’s just instead focus on getting better one step at a time both for this customer and in all our systems. Then, and only then, will we be successful in the long term’.
  • The measures of slow sellers: ‘Results today only matter for today: what really matters for all time is our reputation, our remarkability and our relationships’.
  • And if we do all that well: then, and only then, will we be successful.

I think it’d be fun to compare the ‘Eddie Van Halen’ mindset to some business models:


  • Trad mindset: profits from efficiency and maths … growth from brand and marketing.
  • Eddie mindset: profits from being the most trusted and hardest searching … growth from loyalty, reputation and referrals.

Social media agencies:

  • Trad mindset: profits from continual activity and changes in the market … growth from offering the quickest of fixes and the ‘next big thing’.
  • Eddie mindset: profits from being a genuine partner and making life easy for customers and focusing only on results not activity … growth from loyalty, reputation and referrals.

Pubs and restaurants:

  • Trad mindset: profits from margin management and merchandising … growth from brand and deals.
  • Eddie mindset: profits from being attentive and focusing on quality and experience … growth from loyalty, reputation and referrals.

It seems to me that larger businesses, maybe owned remotely, or those who start becoming too large to keep close to the customer in the boardroom, can so often fall into the ‘traditional’ mindset. And smaller, independent businesses, who don’t have their marketing power or other support systems, often aim for the ‘Eddie’ mindset, in order to be able to compete.

Which of course makes sense.

And one more thing about Eddie Van Halen: it seems he was self taught and was famous for being a virtuoso guitar player: how did he do that? By continual hard graft, learning what needed to be learnt, step by step, inch by inch, and always seeking to get better …

So, whatever your business is: what can you change, step by step, week by week to get better and follow the principles of Eddie?

I am a musician, not a rock star…

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