- Can you tell us a little bit about you?
My name is Peter Cook, I am 53, married with two precocious boys. I started life as a chemist, led teams of scientists to develop life saving drugs and worked my way round the world doing this. For the last 17 years I have worked as a business school tutor and led a business called The Academy of Rock, which blends world class ideas about business, leadership and personal excellence with music. This makes the learning go down much better than the normal methods and stays with people forever. I’ve written four books in my time – Best Practice Creativity, Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll and Punk Rock People Management. The latest book is available FREE via the Punk Rock link.
- How did you first get involved in your career and why?
My transition from science innovation leader to business consultant was indeed unusual, requiring me to start over and accept a large pay and grade cut. If you want something badly enough, sometimes you have to take one step back in order to take two forwards. Looking back, what I have really done is to combine my three passions into a career which earns me money i.e. science, music and management.
- What is the most challenging thing about your work?
Getting people to realise that my conference keynotes are not just a musical jam session. What I do is both serious and hugely enjoyable. Without a solid results agenda, it would simply be entertainment, for which my clients could simply hire a celebrity.
- Can you tell us about any interesting people you’ve met through your work?
I’ve enjoyed tea with The Rt Hon Peter Jay, shared a taxi with Evan Davis of Dragons Den, made programmes for BBC Radio 4’s In Business and BBC One Breakfast News. I’ve presented my books to Sir Bob Geldof , Andrew Neil, Max Clifford and Prince. I sponsored a monumental failure of a world tour for cult punk rocker John Otway, performed with the singer from Meatloaf’s “I’d do anything for love” and have got to know Tom Peters. Most importantly I have become a friend of the great Bill Nelson, who led Pop Art group Be-Bop Deluxe and who has been a major influence on people such as David Bowie, Kate Bush, The Darkness and Big Country. I also greatly value my work and friendship with John Howitt, a session musician who has played for Celine Dion, Anastasia, Shirley Bassey et al.
- What do you do when you aren’t working?
What’s that? Work IS play for me! J But to be serious, I like to spend time with my family. Being self employed doing something I love means that I must be quite disciplined in this area. I also like to play guitar at music jam sessions, which are my ‘laboratory’ for trying new things.
- What is your most favourite thing about your work?
Watching other people release all their innate creativity in business and through music performance. You can see an example here at Unilever at an aftershow we did following a strategy keynote.
- And the least?
Packing up the amps from a corporate event. Most consultants have simply to unplug their laptop. I need some roadies! 🙂
- If you hadn’t chosen this career what would you like to do?
I started in science and music, became interested in business and management, have brought business, management and music together, so I still fancy deepening my knowledge of / involvement with science in my ‘3rd age’.
- What tips would you give to someone looking to get into your career?
My main career advice does not come from the MBA textbooks or so-called career consultants, but from the singer George Michael – “Enjoy what you do” from “Wham Rap”.
- Is there anything else you would like to share about your career choice that you haven’t already mentioned?
Stay focused as well as following your dreams. I am easily distracted so I use structures and routines to keep myself on track.
The Fun Questions
Q. What did you have for breakfast?
A. All bran with nuts and raisins added. All Bran on it’s own tastes like cardboard, even though it is good for you. A few mixed nuts and some fruit gives it a lift!
Q. Who would win a fight between pirates and ninjas?
A. The Ninjas of course, as they are women and much more intelligent!
Q. If you were a tree what tree would you be?
A. I’d be a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine – the longest living tree in the world at 4844 years. We are here for such a short time, we should make the most of every minute.
Q. What is the last book you read?
A. The Little Big Things by Tom Peters – Tom was very kind to send me an endorsement for ‘Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll’. For someone of his stature to respond to such a request speaks volumes about his graciousness and humility and is a hallmark of the man. It really does point out that little things often mean a lot.
Q. Which of my blog posts is your favourite and why?
A. I especially like your post on music – music is indeed the language of the emotions and your post particularly brings this out.
Q. What is your favourite song at the moment?
A. What a tough question – I am watching Prince whilst writing this, but it has to be a little known piece by Bill Nelson called The October Man – I helped Bill sell out an ITV Classic Rock Legends concert earlier this year and it was a true joy to see this piece performed, which truly inspires a whole range of emotions in me, for reasons beyond my explanation.
Many thanks to Peter for participating in this interview, please pop by and say ‘hi’ at one of Peter’s websites, blog or on Twitter:
The Academy of Rock Website – Conferences and Events with a difference!
Human Dynamics Website – Business and Organisation Development
Thank you for reading! If you have enjoyed reading this post please share it with others who may be interested and I always enjoy receiving feedback and comments 🙂