The Beatles as a Business Model

Here, three ways to use the Mop Tops’ wisdom to assemble a top-notch team of your own.

by Beth Dreher from Reader's Digest | August 2011
The Beatles as a Business ModelKeystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

You may not think of the Fab Four in Fortune 500 terms, but George Cassidy and Richard Courtney, authors of Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles (Turner Publishing), say there’s a lot about the band that translates to the office. Here, three ways to use the Mop Tops’ wisdom to assemble a top-notch team of your own:

Get the right mix. McCartney had guitar chops and a reserved demeanor; Lennon excelled at songwriting and craved the spotlight. George Harrison and Ringo Starr completed the picture in their stellar backup roles. And when the Fab Four decided that bass player Stuart Sutcliffe was holding them back, they let him go. “The band was much better for having that combination of talents,” says Cassidy. In the professional world, surround yourself with people of different strengths, and recognize when other people can do things better than you can.

Find inspiration. Between tours, McCartney attended plays and read poetry, Harrison learned the sitar, and Lennon studied the music of Brian Wilson and Bob Dylan. When they reconvened, each brought creativity to the task at hand.

Embrace your role—or go solo. McCartney and Lennon rarely allowed Harrison to contribute much in the way of songwriting or singing, but Harrison found other ways to expand his role. “He was the first one to introduce Indian instrumentation and bring in outside musicians like Eric Clapton,” says Cassidy. If you find yourself working for a Paul or a John, channel George and find out-of-the-box ways to express strengths, and if all else fails, keep a list of your good ideas. Case in point: Harrison released a chart-topping triple album in 1970, the year the Beatles broke up.

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  • Your Comments

    • Raela Drigger

      Ha ha, well that’s an interesting way to find knowledge regarding business. Of course, it does work. It’s important to take note how The Beatles found success, and take care not to avoid any mistakes that the band might have encountered. That way you can find the success you want.

    • Nikki817

      This should have been a better article.  In essence, there were six Beatles.  John was the driving force.  It’s known that he would always say “to the top, boys;  we are going to the top!”  It seems that Lennon was also the most secure of the group.

    • nikki817

      Best was never fully told why he was dismissed, as the only reason Epstein stated was, “The lads don’t want you in the group anymore”.[45] Epstein subsequently claimed in his autobiography that Lennon, McCartney and Harrison thought Best “too conventional to be a Beatle, and though he was friendly with John, he was not liked by George and Paul”.[46] It has been documented (notably in Cynthia Lennon’s book, John) that while Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison usually spent their offstage time together in Hamburg and Liverpool, writing songs or socialising, Best generally went off alone. This left Best on the outside, as he was not privy to many of the group’s experiences, references, and in-jokes.[57]

      Regarding Sutcliffe,
      Sutcliffe’s popularity grew after he began wearing dark Ray-Ban style clip-on flip-up sunglasses and tight trousers.[36] Sutcliffe’s high spot was singing “Love Me Tender”, which drew more applause than the other Beatles, and increased the friction between him and McCartney. Lennon also started to criticise Sutcliffe, making jokes about Sutcliffe’s size and playing.[37] On 5 December 1960, George Harrison was sent back to England for being under-age. McCartney and Best were deported for attempted arson at the Bambi Kino, which left Lennon and Sutcliffe in Hamburg.[38][39] Lennon took a train home, but as Sutcliffe had a cold he stayed in Hamburg.[40] Sutcliffe later borrowed money from his girlfriend, Kirchherr, in order to fly back to Liverpool on Friday, 20 January 1961, although he returned to Hamburg in March 1961, with the other Beatles.[37]On April 13 1962, Kirchherr met the group at Hamburg Airport, telling them that Sutcliffe had died a few days before.[39][63] Sutcliffe’s mother flew to Hamburg with The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, and returned to Liverpool with her son’s body.[48] Sutcliffe’s father did not hear of his son’s death for three weeks, as he was sailing to South America, although the family arranged for a padre to tell him when he docked in Buenos Aires.[64] After Sutcliffe’s death, Kirchherr wrote a letter to his mother, apologising for being too ill to attend his funeral in Liverpool and saying how much she and Lennon missed him: “Oh, Mum, he (Lennon) is in a terrible mood now, he just can’t believe that darling Stuart never comes back. [He's] just crying his eyes out…. John is marvellous to me, he says that he knows Stuart so much and he loves him so much that he can understand me.”[65]

    • Benjamin Lukoff

      It was drummer Pete Best they let go, not bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. He left of his own accord. And it was McCartney who was interested in Brian Wilson, not Lennon. Book sounds interesting, though.