In September, 2014, Jay Jay French began writing a bi-weekly column for Inc. Magazine’s web site. This is an idea that nearly took root on an early version of, but due to the band’s reunion and subsequent performance schedule, it never came about. But every good idea eventually sees the light of day, and the inc. column is the result. Here are all of the columns from 2016.

5 Habits That Can Help Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

Do one or more of these in the new year and see results.
Originally posted on December 21, 2016

I’ve shared a condensed version of some of the articles I’ve written over the past 18 months, specifically targeting habits that might help you gain more insight your business (as they have for me).

1. Keep a Journal

The first real crisis occurred in December 1974 when I was 22 years old. In the span of two weeks my mother died, my girlfriend (who was the first love of my life) broke up with me, and the first version of Twisted Sister came to a crashing end after two band members nearly killed each other. (Check out our documentary We Are Twisted F***ing Sister on Netflix to get the whole story.) My reaction to each of these events was to purge my thoughts and feelings in a journal–a reaction that was purely instinctual. I didn’t know it at the time but this habit had become for me, both therapeutically and structurally necessary for me to master the art of survival.

Start with just one sentence. “Today was great because…” Or, “Today really sucked because…” As you catalog your experiences, over time you will be astounded at what you can learn from and about yourself. Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit when it comes to solving the problems that come up in life. You’ll discover later when you go back and read what you had written, how you thrived in the face of a challenge that you thought was insurmountable.

2. Walk

Study upon study now shows that the simple act of walking creates a physical and mental release that will not only make you healthier, but will also make you smarter.

How? While you walk, you think. When you can be alone with your thoughts and let the endorphins do their magic, you may find answers to some of the most difficult problems start to come into greater focus. Most of the solutions I found in my personal and business experiences have come during a walk. In fact, some of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made came during the process of a long walk. It’s also helped with ideas for articles for

Start with 10 minutes. You don’t need anything except a comfortable pair of shoes. I walk at least an hour a day, which includes walking to almost all of my meetings. I find when I arrive at meetings I’m refreshed and mentally sharper. There’s something about the movement of my body in the outdoors that clears my head.

3. Stop Talking

One of the greatest negotiating tools I have learned over the years is to not talk at key moments. Once you state your position, listen to what the other person has to say. You can acknowledge them, but you don’t have to say anything. People hate silence. They will start to fill up the space by telling you things they may not have intended to reveal, things that you may have wanted or needed to know that can help you in negotiations.

A comical example is from the movie Weekend at Bernie’s. In a party scene where Bernie is present–but dead, and no one knows it–and a friend mentions that he wants to buy his Porsche. Because Bernie doesn’t answer (the guy thinks Bernie is just really drunk), the offer gets bigger and bigger. A far-fetched example, yes, and one that takes discipline to remain quiet, but I’m telling you, it works.

4. When You Commit, Follow Through

One of my biggest pet peeves in business is when someone tells me that they are going to do something and then they don’t do it. Don’t be that person. Do what you say you are going to do. Always. Your reputation in business will grow when people realize that you are not just a talker but a doer!

Commitment matters. Your word, after all, is your most important asset.

5. Stay Connected

I always tell people that everyday you walk out the door, your life has the potential to change. It could be a conversation that you hadn’t planned on, and event that you never saw coming, whatever it is, it could lead to an opportunity that could change your life forever. Engage: read; become curious about current events; travel; ask questions; be open to learn.

I knew instinctively that as a high-school dropout I needed to learn as much as possible about the world around me. That knowledge has helped me understand the worldwide brand that I now run. The more interesting you are as a person, the more people will want to know what you think. The more people want to know what you think, the more influence you have. The more influence you have, the greater your ability to understand and control the marketplace.

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to connecting in the new year!

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Stop and Smell the Turkey

Tis the season to give thanks to what really matters
Originally posted on November 28, 2016

A little over a week ago my touring life ended. The decision to retire my band Twisted Sister from public performing was made over a year ago. November 12, 2016 (our final date) was not really set until about two months ago. The final night was in Monterrey, Mexico, where we headlined a festival in front of 35,000 adoring fans who stood in the pouring rain for hours.

The night came and went as all the nights had for the past 40-plus years–a blur of activity that went by in a flash. Some of the band members flew back to NYC together with very little conversation about the night; it just seemed to be as thousands of other nights have been. I thought that maybe everyone is/was collectively in denial. We said our goodbyes as we walked toward baggage claim at JFK and it was done. Over.

As I contemplated the meaning of it all and what has happened to the band during the past year, I realized that the holiday season we’re in is symbolic of the feeling that we all seem to harbor this time of year, repeating the phrase, “I can’t believe how this year has just flown by. Where the hell did it go?”

It’s a good reminder for all of us to take stock of what we’ve accomplished. Was it what we wanted it to be? Did we reach the goals we set out for ourselves? Maybe it’s time to make that list and review how the year in business panned out.

There is so much emphasis on the hows and whys we entrepreneurs do what we do that sometimes the human, emotional element gets lost. I know that there is a rush to finish those end-of-year deadlines that pressure us, but the holidays really should bring us back to the focus, to what really matters: The love of family, friendships and the relationships we have of those who help our businesses along the way.

If writing for has done nothing else for me, it has brought home a responsibility to understand the balance of work and family. Every time I sit down to write an article, I become more aware of the toll, in human terms, of what the struggle really is. We all get so wrapped up in the pursuit of our big dreams that it becomes very easy to forget the impact it has made on those we tend to rely on most to help us get through the tough days–our friends, family and co-workers.

Unfortunately, we all don’t have time (although maybe we should try to find it somehow) for yoga, deep breathing or meditation. We’ve all made promises to ourselves that “this year it will be different. I will lose weight. I will stop smoking. I will stop drinking too much.”

At the end of the day, as you go through the ups, downs and daily challenges that we get so wrapped up in that our self-worth seems to be defined by–our success or lack thereof–try to take a breather and take notice of your family, friends and those who work for you.

This holiday season in particular should be used to let everyone know how much you appreciate their efforts, or their presence. Send an email, tell them in person or just pick up the phone.

Do that today. I promise, the next workday will come soon enough, but for the actual holidays, you should just sit back, take some time and smell the turkey.

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Timing Your Own Exit

How to learn from past experiences to prepare for an uncertain future.
Originally posted on September 26, 2016

The entertainment business is as cruel as it is exhilarating. To have more than 40 years in my career is nothing short of miraculous–especially since a common mistake 99 percent of all entertainers make when they “hit the big time” is that they think the public and their fans, in particular, will keep them at the top forever. This, of course, is just a fantasy.

It’s very intoxicating to feel the love from thousands, if not millions of fans, which makes it very easy to believe your own press. You think that feeling will go on forever; and not just that love vibe, people also tend to think that the money stream, once it starts to flow, will never stop.

Many entertainers, as I’m sure is the same for entrepreneurs, receive really bad advice about their careers from people who feed off the flush of fame, or success, and whose own interests are very much caught up in this mirage. Once all the bills and taxes come due, it all goes poof–along with hundreds of your “closest friends.” You, the once-great superstar, are forced to move back in with your parents or worse, a basement apartment, all in the name of avoiding bill collectors.

Not only is this the result of poor long-term lifestyle planning but also because pop stars believe their own fame will never die. Truth is, no one ever owns fame. It’s only on loan from a very fickle public and for the majority of artists, that rental period is very, very short. I know because we had it once–and it was white hot, worldwide, super intense and short lived. I vowed, after it all fell apart the first time, that if the chance ever came around again, I would make sure the pathway would be strong, long and lucrative.

So, how was my prediction? The band started performing live in March 1973 and continued, without any real breaks, until the end of 1987. It was 14 years of nonstop playing, touring and recording. Five of those years were in the international spotlight. Then, in a flash, it was over. No great farewell tour, no kudos from our peers or fans, just another band crushed by the unpredictable nature of changing tastes in the music business. All that was left for us was the option to release carefully curated classic live and greatest hits albums.

Our “reunion” began in 2000 with a recording session for a song called “Heroes are Hard to Find,” and continued with a performance to raise money for first responders at the 9/11 Memorial in November of 2001. From there, word of mouth spread internationally and beginning in 2003 we found ourselves with a golden opportunity to come back to the world’s stage much different, but much bigger than we ever could have imaged. The band has now been actively touring and recording for the past 13 years. In my business, this career rebirth is very rare.

Under the best of circumstances and based on the history of other bands, the longest duration is usually about 10 years. Side note: At the time we had begun, the Beatles had broken up after being together 10 years (1960 to 1970), which was pretty unheard of; and the Rolling Stones and Beach Boys, each in 1972, were celebrating 10 years (1962 to 1972) with rumors of their “final tours.”

The business of rock ‘n roll stardom that I thought was only going to last five years (maybe) turned out to be a lifelong business venture, which far outlasted the work histories of most of my oldest friends in “normal” occupations. I had always hoped those five years would ultimately make me a gazillionaire and allow me to retire to my own private island.

All of this makes our story even more incredible and has given me great insight into those entrepreneurs I speak to about how they approach their work lives and ultimate goals. Some say they will invent a new product and take it to the top while staying in control for its entire successful run. Then there are some who will have a great idea, flesh it out, make it workable, and after a couple of years of great profitability, will sell the product, also for a gazillion dollars, and like me, will retire to a private island.

With this in mind, I’ve retooled my perception of what I considered to be “the end” of my career. I’ve always known that there had to be an end game of our reunion because of the physical and mental thresholds. The physical part has to do with the intensity of our performances and how our bodies react to the travel schedules and performance demands. The mental part comes into play with the stressors of dealing with the details of touring, creating and promoting new products all while being in the white-hot spotlight of the entertainment industry. The kicker is that the public could just turn its back at any moment, leaving us with no plan whatsoever.

This time, we wanted to take control. We wanted to pick the time to walk away–in glory–before being told to go. I wanted to walk away when we were still wanted, because this was a luxury we didn’t have the first time, and I wanted to leave behind a legacy; something so special that it would put us above most artists. Mastering and implementing this “farewell” however, has been a very interesting marketing challenge.

More to come…

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The Long and Winding Road

When is the right time to walk away from your dream? Part One
Originally posted on September 6, 2016

Many of you know that this year, my band Twisted Sister, is performing a series of concerts around the world that is “officially” our 40th Anniversary Farewell Tour. Because of all the work that goes into something like this, it has been impossible to write my articles on a regular basis due to the massive amount of setup and follow-up work needed to go into this tour. Oh yeah, I’m also the guitar player so the stress of performing is tacked on to the list!

But now that the bulk of the tour dates are over, I’m back in the states and the next series of articles I’ll write will be about the issue of ending my live-performance career with Twisted Sister. I’ll cover what went into the decision to end it–from the business and personal perspective–and what my emotional reaction was to it. I hope what I share will provide insight into the mind of someone who has lived and reached a dream and then, due to a variety of factors, decided to walk away from it.

Lets face it. We can’t all be winners. Everyone can’t “have it all.” Entrepreneurial business success, it seems, really is a giant pyramid where only a select few get to that top level. It really can’t be any other way. There simply isn’t room at the top for everybody to be a winner in business. And sometimes your dream of success doesn’t pan out the way you once had hoped it would from your youthful perspective.

It doesn’t mean that you haven’t found success by only having a half-realized dream or a good job, or being a good person or a role model for your kids; a great spouse, a wonderful sibling, friend, neighbor, etc. What I’m talking about is similar to the road you’re on, a path that you absolutely believe in. It’s the road that will lead squarely to all the spoils of success that you have imagined for yourself.

And to the lucky ones, and I do mean lucky ones who actually manage to get there after many hard years, that level of success says to you and the world at large that yes, you followed and stuck to your path. You made it, and after you do, there comes a moment of truth when you turn around on that mountaintop, take in the amazing view, breathe in the rarified air, accept all the kudos and enjoy the material spoils. And if you are like me at this point in life, you’ll ask yourself what it all meant, why it is that you feel that way. Now what?

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Control: The Real Secret Behind Entrepreneurship

How to harness seemingly uncontrollable situations
Originally posted on July 8, 2016

In recent years books have been taken over by endless listicles that begin with: “9 ways…” or “6 Steps…” or “7 most important…” and on and on. But thanks to our ever-shortening attention spans, the search for the single word that will somehow grab your attention is now, in my opinion, officially in full bloom. Hence, the latest motivational best seller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth. According to Duckworth, grit is the single most important factor in success. It is an interesting word and certainly a quality business people need in order to overcome obstacles and carry on in the face of nearly impossible odds.

That however, is not how I would describe my path to business success. Grit is surely necessary but I don’t believe that it is the motivational tool behind an idea, especially when you have to take in the totality of the decisions that go into fighting for your place in the business world. As a speaker and influencer, I am always asked to distill great truths into a phrase or a word that sticks.

If I had to give a one-word description of what motivated me it would be control:

  • of my life
  • of my dreams
  • of my destiny

Isn’t this really why we entrepreneurs do what we do? We don’t want to wear that suit. We don’t want to take marching orders from anyone else. What we don’t realize at first but then crash into later is the reality that there are things we can control and sometimes even more things you can’t. Forces like news events can completely derail, if not crush, near-term goals.

Let’s look at the general health of the economy for starters. I kept full diaries for 15 years starting in 1974. It wasn’t until many years later while reviewing some facts for our super hot Netflix documentary “We Are Twisted F**king Sister” that I realized there was a pattern of poor attendance, good attendance and great attendance at our live shows which mirrored, almost exactly, the heath of the general economy at the time. I wasn’t reading the papers or paying much attention to this stuff as it affected general market forces at the time. I wish I had–I would’ve slept a little better instead of just blaming the band.

Additionally, the band’s ability to draw a full house at the bars when we were first starting out was directly affected by such things as the great gasoline shortage of 1973, when you could only by gas on odd or even days of the week that corresponded with your license plate number, with all gas stations closed on Sundays. Then there were the Son of Sam killings from 1976 to 1977 that kept most young women from going out to nightclubs in the greater NYC area for over a year.

Logically, we knew conditions such as these wouldn’t last forever, but we still had to stay aware and not book our shows too far away when transportation issues would ultimately wreak havoc on attendance. In the case of the Son of Sam killings, we tried to stay out of the five boroughs of NYC where all the shootings were happening. We urged our fans to carpool, stay vigilant and convinced club owners to increase their advertising budgets. Gas station owners who were fans were more than happy to illegally fill our vehicles. They’d move those vehicles that closed off entrances to gas pumps out of the way in the dead of night in order to help us. It was all about survival and using guerrilla warfare tactics; not to mention just utilizing good ole street hustling.

The art of adapting to any outside forces that you can’t control are the difference between success and failure. But no matter what the challenges, the question you have to ask at the end of the day is “Did you achieve the goal you wanted in spite of the compromises you had to make in order to realize the dream?” The answer may surprise you.

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Passion vs. Excellence: A CEO’s Dilemma

Is one more important than the other?
Originally posted on May 31, 2016

I recently attended Inc.’s fantastic GrowCo conference in Las Vegas as a speaker.

I really enjoy these conferences because I meet great people and find myself attending many other seminars as a spectator. I always want to learn, and I pay attention to the concerns of fellow entrepreneurs who come looking for fresh advice and insight into the running of (mostly) new startups.

At the end of one of the seminars I was attending, a frustrated CEO sitting in the audience addressed the group with this very important question:

“When I first started the company, the employees were full of passion. Over time, I expanded and hired new people who now don’t seem as passionate about the product. Somehow, we have lost the mojo of the first employees. How do I teach the new ones passion?”

True, passion is the life force and commerce of brand new companies when money is scarce and the driving force behind the new product/service is the creator. It’s their job to convince the world that this new idea is something special and will succeed. That well of passion is absolutely necessary in the early stages when a belief system has to be in place in order to overcome the obstacles of a newly created business. But, once the business is up and running, the mechanics of the day-to-day operations take over and for that, an employee has to provide excellence on the job.

From the outside, one would think that working as a roadie with Twisted Sister on the stage/production crew would be a party 24/7. Not true. My crew works on a timing pattern that belies our abilities to be able to perform in front of crowds of 40,000 to 80,000 people. We have to be perfect every time. My crew consists of guys who joined earlier on (when passion was necessary) along with guys who came on much later and brought with them only their expertise. Yet, there are some nights the crew just doesn’t perform at the level we need. Why? Because a certain complacency tends to occur in companies when things seem to be going well, regardless of what’s happening internally.

We, the band members–the owners–have the unique ability to turn production problems into performance art that gets us through the toughest of times, and likely because we have more than 9,000 shows under our belt. The crew is used to us winning every night. There were, however, nights when things had the potential to go wrong–and they did. Like, when the monitors were not set up correctly so we couldn’t hear each other; or the stage set was several inches off target; or the guitars were not staying in tune; or the lights were not corresponding to the music correctly. The list goes on.

Because we always played on rental gear as we flew in to do shows, it means the crew has roughly 30 to 45 minutes to turn the stage and equipment over to us from the previous act so we can be ready. This has to happen every night. It’s always a game of precision timing and having to quickly become familiar with different surroundings on a daily basis. It means having absolute focus on the job.

A couple of years ago in Sweden, and for the first time that I can remember, I called for a crew production meeting while we were on tour. It was probably the first time for most of my guys to see me at a production meeting as we have a stage production crew chief whose job it is to run these kind of meetings. I had to speak on behalf of the band members and remind the crew about the high-stakes game we play. As much as these guys are pros, their excellence slipped away momentarily. It didn’t matter how much they loved the band or believed in us, what mattered most was that we expect them to do their job perfectly, and they knew they let us down. But the meeting was a wake-up call.

“I can tell you unequivocally that passion is overrated,” I said to the CEO at GrowCo. “You can’t teach passion but you can teach excellence!”

It starts at the top–lead by example and then accept nothing less. Your employees will respond in kind.

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Donald Trump and the Art of the Steal

How politicians use pop music without the artists’ permission.
Originally posted on May 3, 2016

Not only has this presidential primary season been crazy and negative for the masses, it’s now hit me personally because of Donald Trump’s use of our rock anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

The song, along with another one of our anthems “I Wanna Rock,” has become one of the most licensed songs from the ’80s for movies, commercials and TV shows.

Over the past 10 years however, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” has become something more. It has developed into a clarion call for the oppressed and disenfranchised; a modern day protest song–an aggressive version of “We Shall Overcome.” Such is the power of its message that its singular ability to express frustration has been coveted by both sides of almost any issue. It’s used by politicians and political groups, and almost always without a formal request to the band or the several companies that control the use of the song.

Donald Trump’s use of it at his election rallies has caused a great deal of controversy, mostly from Trump haters who accuse us of being Trump supporters, or worse, a bunch of highly paid whores solely in it for the money.

There are a couple of myths that need to be addressed (and clarified):

Myth 1 The artist has to give permission.

Truth No. If the use of a song in a venue (bars, nightclubs, gyms, auditoriums, stadiums) is covered by an agreement with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, which are public performance rights societies, then no special permission is needed. As long as the venue pays one of these societies a license fee, which varies with the size of the venue, this right covers thousands of locations and about 20 million songs.

Myth 2 The artist must get paid for each use.

Truth Nope. The performance rights societies collect royalties for the songwriter and or publisher of the song being played, but the artist performing doesn’t get anything, which would only amount to pennies per play, anyway.

So, here is the rub for the artist: If a song is used at a sporting event, there is a general understanding by the public that there is no connection to the team–not through a business arrangement and/or as a fan. But in politics, the use of a song at a rally tends to convey some sort of support and/or approval for whatever their political party association is because the artist’s song is being used. One of the first examples of this can be traced back to the Rat Pack’s special recording of the song “High Hopes” for JFK in 1960. And who can forget Bill Clinton’s victory speech ending with Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow),” which they even performed at his inauguration! Sometimes it backfires, like when Ronald Reagan incorrectly used Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” a strong anti-war song, which embarrassed many who mistakenly thought it was a pro-America anthem.

So, what should artists do if a politician they don’t support uses their song legally, but they don’t approve?

There are two options: ask the party involved to quietly stop using the song or shame them in public, complements of the media. In the past two months Adele, Aerosmith, Coldplay, Neil Young and Springsteen have publicly shamed various politicians to remove their songs from respective rally playlists. (Shaming is seemingly the preferred method since no one wants bad press.)

Political party preferences for Twisted Sister members range from the left to the right, and as such, we historically have stayed away from any band endorsement…which brings me back to Trump. Dee Snider has been on the “The Apprentice.” Additionally, Trump has both directly and indirectly helped him raise a lot of money for his chosen charity and I respect that relationship. Through back channels, Trump was informed that philosophical differences between the band’s worldview and Trump’s were proving to be very problematic. Thankfully, our band will not be added to the roster of artists forced to publicly shame a public figure to discontinue the use of broadcasting our song to benefit their cause.

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How to Master the Art of Successful Negotiations

The trick: You never learn anything by talking. So stop talking.
Originally posted on April 7, 2016

When I was asked to be a contributor for I knew I wasn’t going to be the author of yet another listicle column. “Ten ways your handshake telegraphs your emotional state” may be a good subject for someone else, but for me it’s more about those business lessons I learned through the prism of my rock ‘n roll experiences.

When I decided to take over the management of the band, I feared I would be taken advantage of since I didn’t really know what we were worth to club owners. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had to gather more information in order to truly understand what that value was. I already suspected the club owners were lying to us, since we were never told how many people were actually paying to see us perform. So I hired a friend to sit at the bar to secretly count the paying customers by using a hand clicker. I also befriended the bartenders so they could tell me how much they were making per head per night. (As far as I knew, no one else in any band was doing this.)

I told my agent about what I had done and he was very impressed that I was able to assemble this information. He had me listen in on a call to one club owner he was negotiating with to raise the amount the band was making. The club owner opened by saying we were doing OK and that our following was drawing more customers, but very slowly, which was a lie. The truth was we were actually increasing the attendance by 50 percent each week within the first month that we played there. The club owner said that we were only bringing in about 10 percent more and it could take another year of playing weekly gigs before we could realistically get a raise.

I thought my agent was going to steamroll over the guy and let him know how much I knew and how I knew it. I waited for him to say something, anything, but there was only silence. The club owner tried to justify how a raise was not in the cards for us. More silence. Then he started talking again. For me, it was really uncomfortable to sit still in all that dead space but I soon realized that people hate vacuums and will do anything to fill them. After the third bout of silence, my agent thanked him and confidently said, “The band will just finish the month and then move on.” He didn’t equivocate. He didn’t waver.

He merely spoke and waited. The club owner then said, “Wait a minute, are you saying that the band doesn’t want to play at the club?” My agent took a very long time before responding that for $100 more per night–starting with that week–we would stay, but if that number, which he used based on the information I shared with him, couldn’t be met, we would walk.

There was no long discussion, no threats made, it was just the facts. The club owner agreed to the raise immediately. I asked my agent about his tactics. He said, “Let people talk and allow them to give you as much information (or misinformation) as you can–especially if you are in a position where you know better.” This, he told me, is really helpful especially if one doesn’t have all the facts in any given negotiation. Don’t try to impress people by giving up what information you have, especially not how you came to know what you know. You know, and that is (or should be) enough. People like to talk, and will say way more than they ever intend to. You just have to sit back, listen, and be patient.

I witnessed it again with a very successful business manager during a negotiation that I was privy to. He was representing my interests and his style of negotiating reminded me of what I had learned all those years ago and I mentioned it. He said, “You never learn anything by talking.” And then, he stopped talking.

It’s a tactic I have carried with me ever since those days of playing in clubs.

Try it.

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Why Alexander Hamilton Is a Force of Will

The Founding Father is a combination of passion and intellect.
Originally posted on March 8, 2016

Ok, you can hate me. I got tickets and saw the musical “Hamilton” on Broadway. I have to tell you that I really knew nothing about this guy. Nothing. Nada. Zero. I thought he was the dude on the $20 bill, that’s how little I knew about this guy.

But now–I am the unofficial president of his fan club (if he had one). I have the soundtrack from the play and listen to it every day. I’m reading the Hamilton biography the musical is based on by Ron Chernow ( I just can’t get enough of his story. I love this guy. (Oh yeah–he’s actually on the $10!)

Hamilton’s story is perhaps the greatest story one could ever hear about when it comes to sheer resilience and perseverance. His was, in my opinion, the single greatest American who ever lived, and psst, Donald Trump, he was an immigrant! His accomplishments are nothing short of astounding:

  • As an orphan at the age of 14, he ran a trading company in the West Indies
  • He came to New York City at 17, graduated from what was then King’s college, and is now Columbia University
  • At 19 he became George Washington’s chief of staff during the Revolutionary War
  • He was a Founding Father and one of the three representatives from New York state who attended the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787
  • In 1790, at the behest of President George Washington, he created the “Revenue Marine” which became the U.S. Coast Guard, the oldest seagoing service of the United States
  • He founded the New York Post in 1801
  • He was a Founder of the Federalist Party (America’s first established political party)
  • He was the founder of the Bank of New York in 1784–Hamilton believed a national bank was necessary to stabilize and improve the nation’s credit, and to improve handling of the financial business of the United States government under the newly enacted Constitution. He is credited with creating the federal banking system.
  • The First Bank of the United States was a national bank chartered for a term of twenty years, by the United States Congress on February 25, 1791. It followed the Bank of North America, the nation’s first de facto central bank. Establishment of the Bank of the United States was part of a three-part expansion of federal fiscal and monetary power, along with a federal mint and excise taxes, championed by Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury.
  • He was the first Secretary of Treasury in 1789
  • He was one of the three writers of the Federalist Papers and contributed 51 of the 85 articles that form the basis of our constitution

There were no self-help books in Hamilton’s days. No online references. No Tony Robbins or Oprah to try to emulate. No articles by Jay Jay French. So, no. None of us will ever be able to put these sorts of accomplishments on our resumes. But what we can do is be inspired by Hamilton’s unadulterated guile and belief in what is right; the very qualities that have made people like us successful entrepreneurs.

Every challenge I have ever encountered in both my personal and professional life can be attributed to Henry Cabot Lodge’s great quote: “The source of (Hamilton’s) success was a combination of a force of will and a force of intellect.”

Force of will: The inner fire that drives the passion to fight the fight and overcome your fears while having the balls it takes to make the tough choices that only real survivors and winners possess. The proof of “Force of Will” as it relates to Twisted Sister was our “never say die” attitude that kept us going for the 10 years it took just to get a record deal. I have never heard of any other band in history that spent so much time and energy just to get signed–not the Beatles, the Stones, The Who, Zep, Floyd, Sabbath, AC/DC, KISS, the Dead, Springsteen, U2, Priest, Motorhead…etc. In the modern music industry era, not one of these bands would have lasted that long in pursuit of their dream. Just watch our new documentary to understand the full effect:

Force of intellect: The ability to problem solve, no matter how big or small, trivial or potentially dream-crushing the outcome. Problem solving and creating is the least sexy but most important aspect of success. After every rejection we as a band had to rethink our direction. We had to become our own merchandise, record and promotion company and pioneered, among many other innovations, the use of radio commercials to sound like our records were being played.

Now go forth all you Hamiltons. Turn the world upside down!

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Remembering David Bowie as an Innovator–and Entrepreneur

By 1972, his work as producer and performer was lighting up the rock scene– and providing inspiration for my own band.
Originally posted on January 11, 2016

I heard the news today, oh boy!

No sooner had I started to process the sudden death last week of legendary front man and bass player Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister of the British heavy metal band Motorhead (who, besides being a friend, single handedly made Twisted Sister cool to his many fans in 1982) but I awoke this morning to the news of the death of David Bowie.

John Lennon famously said: “If there hadn’t have been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been The Beatles.”

I can say this without any sense of overblown hyperbole: If there hadn’t been a Ziggy Stardust, there wouldn’t have been Twisted Sister.

The Beatles lifted my dreams off the planet, Bowie shot them through the galaxy.

As much as the Beatles awakened my passion for rock ‘n roll when I was 12 years old in 1964, Bowie (through his alter ego Ziggy Stardust) came along at just the perfect moment in time in 1972, when I had just turned 20, and provided the second booster rocket that carried that passion into the unexpected realms of androgyny, rock and commerce.

At the time, I was just recovering from a four- year Grateful Dead hangover, wondering what would be coming next when I decided to get a subscription to a rock magazine called Fusion. It came with 3 free albums (that’s right, you got free LPs for subscribing in those days!) The albums arrived. They were the first Lou Reed solo album–before Transformer, with members of the band Yes as his back up band…weird! An album from Mott the Hoople called All The Young Dudes and David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. While the Bowie song “Changes” was playing on FM radio at the time, the second track “Oh, You Pretty Things” knocked me on my ass. The song spoke to me an both the musical and sexual level actually having me wonder about my own sexuality.

The albums came with an issue of the magazine with Lou Reed on the cover, just as Transformer was being released. When Lou died in 2013, sad as that was, it never felt shocking. Lou’s image was almost like a U.S . version of Keith Richards, burning the candle at both ends and just waiting to get the news. Bowie, on the other hand, was like a space age version of Howard Hughes, draped in mystery and speculation, appearing only when it suited him and in a weird way, ageless. Reed’s hit song “Walk on the Wild Side” was produced by Bowie–who also played that amazing sax solo on it– and his guitarist Mick Ronson. The confluence of Bowie/Ronson-produced Transformer, Mott The Hoople’s hit “All The Young Dudes,” written and produced by Bowie/Ronson, and then the pièce de résistance, the classic album Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars created the effect that this guy, David Bowie, seemingly out of nowhere, was the most important artist on the scene since the Beatles!

Weirdly enough, there was definitely change in the air. I had spent the summer of 1972 rehearsing with an Allman Brothers cover band at a hippie commune in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and occasionally rehearsed at a studio called Talent Recon in New York City run by a guy named Satan, who looked just like… Satan. I ran into the Dolls there and noticed they didn’t look like hippies. They were wearing very cool, British style rock ‘n roll wear. This was really different to me and I wondered what was going on.

Combine this with the fact that, shortly after seeing them at the rehearsal studio, I was taken by a friend to see the New York Dolls who were playing weekly at the Mercer Arts Center in the village in 1972 with an image that was pretty close to drag queens.

So…the fall of 1972 collides with Lou Reed, Mott, the Dolls and…one night, I think I just got the Ziggy Stardust album, Bowie walks into the Mercer Arts Center to see the Dolls and sits behind me (see photo).

Bowie was in town to play his first ever NYC show. No, not the one that people think was his first (Radio City, Feb. 14, 1973, and yes, I was 4th row center for that one where he performed as Ziggy Stardust) but the much more interesting and revealing performance at Carnegie Hall five months earlier.

At that show, without any stage props to speak of, was a stripped-down, tough rock ‘n roll performance. This showed me that Bowie was dead serious about who he was and where he was going.

Of course, there is no way to tell how anyone handles the first flush of celebrity. That incendiary white hot light of seemingly instantaneous fame has destroyed many artists.

Not Bowie.

Somehow he seemed to take two steps forward, dragging us along the way, pause for a little while as we got used to where he brought us, and then come back to push again.

Only the smartest can do that.

Much has been written about the revolutionary “Bowie Bonds.” This was an investment tool created by some very smart advisers to Bowie to raise money against his future royalties. I don’t know if it was Bowie’s idea, his advisers or a little bit of both. Regardless, it got a lot of artists thinking for the first time about their economic futures.

It impressed the hell out of me.

For more than 40 years Bowie was always evolving, always changing, always pushing.

There are so few artists, or businesses for that matter, that have lasted decades let alone ones that keep pushing forward without seemingly concerned about how they are being viewed but believing that it is for the betterment of mankind.

Bowie was one of the rarest of that breed.

A brilliant musician, song writer and producer

Above all, however, Bowie was a visionary.

A trait that all successful entrepreneurs share!

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