Cliff Goldmacher demonstrates skill traits that innovators and songwriters share

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

What skills do songwriters and innovators in business have in common?

It’s an intriguing question that was answered in a most unique and fun-filled way during yesterday’s edition of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s “EC Speaker Series” that featured Cliff Goldmacher.

In a rapid-paced and lively session, the more than 25-year GRAMMY-recognized songwriter, music producer and educator introduced “The Seven Essential Skills of Innovation” to a combination in-person and virtual audience, explained how each innovation skill aligned with songwriting, and had the participants collaborate in writing a short song titled “No Matter the Cost.”

Here are the seven skills (highlighted in bold), their songwriting counterpart, and an explanation for each:

  • Lateral thinking and the metaphor mean reimagining the concepts or issues from a new angle to think differently and find new solutions.
  • Both creativity and the verse employ storytelling through images and details.
  • Communication and the chorus involve refining and distilling the key message, whether about a company or in a song, to only the most essential and compelling elements. In business like a chorus, Goldmacher said the message should be short and summarize just the key points.
  • Empathy and observation are designed to better understand needs and issues so that the business or song can provide what is needed. “Songwriting is all about observation,” he said.
  • Both collaboration and co-writing involve leveraging the skills of others to create something greater than the sum of the individual participants.
  • Risk taking and vulnerability require individuals to step out of their comfort zones. “Without constant change, you have a real chance of falling behind,” Goldmacher said.
  • Diffusion and performance spread ideas in ways that effectively communicate with the intended audience. “Songs are designed to be shared,” he explained.

The concepts were incorporated in this chart (Seven Skills). Goldmacher has also published a book titled The Reason for the Rhymes that captures these principles. The subtitle says it all: “Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.”

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