The Schiller Summer Concert Series crossed the river to Camden last night for Jimmy Buffett’s annual stop at the Susquehanna Bank Center. With 15+ years of shows under my grass skirt, I’m no stranger to the Parrothead subculture, and nothing beats a pre-show tailgate with 6,000 new best friends. From blenders to baby pools, coconuts to Coronas, there’s something mystical about the annual pilgrimage Parrotheads make to their local amphitheaters to see Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band.
At 65, Jimmy’s no spring chicken, and it’s certainly occurred to me that his touring days could be nearing an end. Parrotheads around the world thought the same in 2011, when Jimmy took a header off a stage in Australia. Fortunately, his concussion wasn’t life-threatening, and after a handful of postponed shows, he continued the tour, seemingly without missing a beat.
In the event that Jimmy decides to retire to his home in St. Barts, surfing by day and counting the royalties he earns from beer, shrimp and casinos by night, here are several business lessons we’ve learned while wastin’ away in Margaritaville…
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
There’s nothing wrong with a little escapism. Give your customers a reason to want to work with you, not your competitor. When I worked with the team at AB+C, John Hawkins once said to me: “Stacey, the most fun your client should have in a day is when we come in for a visit.” Heaven knows Jimmy understands and trades in the currency of escapism.
The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful
Keep your sense of fun. A bit of self-deprecating humor puts everyone at ease, particularly when employed by an intimidating CEO or high-powered executive. Jimmy understands that – after all, he’s made a gazillion dollars on sophomoric song lyrics – and he didn’t hesitate to incorporate his Australian fall into his act. In fact, last night’s rendition of “Margaritaville” included several lines about his tumble Down Under.
It’s My Job
Give the people what they want. Jimmy continues to put out albums and while he peppers his set lists with newer songs, the favorites are always on deck. When asked if he ever gets tired of playing “Margaritaville,” his biggest hit, Jimmy says no, adding, “It has paid the rent for a long time and seems to put a few minutes of joy into this troubled world when sung by fans at a show. I feel very lucky.”
A Pirate Looks At Forty
Know when to hang it up. When your heart’s no longer in it, your clients suffer. As long as Jimmy’s able to keep Parrotheads flocking to his shows and gobbling up his merchandise, he’ll still be strummin’ his six-string on our (collective) front porch swing.