Business Lessons from fab Four

For The Nashville Ledger

When local real estate guru Richard Courtney followed his dream of writing about his passion, The Beatles, out came a book about passion, business acumen and life lessons that surprised even those close to the Fab Four.

Courtney, who co-wrote Come Together: The Business Wisdom of The Beatles with business writer George Cassidy, is currently on a press junket promoting the book that includes interviews with The New York Times, the New York Post and other national outlets.

The book, which just hit bookstores, is doing well, says Courtney, managing broker for Nashville’s Fridrich & Clark Realty and author of the 1992 book Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too!, The Truth About Buying or Selling Your Home.

“They are designing the dust jacket for the third printing,” Courtney says, adding his publishers likely underestimated the power of the concept. “On Amazon, we are No. 2 in business books.

“This is a guide to life and business, any industry or any person,” Courtney explains. “That’s our strong theme that you have to find “your tree” [a metaphor from Strawberry Fields Forever], the thing and the passion that makes a person different from everyone else.”

Courtney, a renowned Beatles fan who previously has incorporated the group into his local real estate columns, also is founder of the Nashville Fab Four Festival, which attracts expert speakers and fans from across the country.

The authors interviewed George Harrison’s sister, Louise Harrison, Beatles’ co-workers and friends, Apple executives and others for the book.

“I had gotten to know them, and I heard more and more contradictory things about the Beatles’ business acumen,” Courtney says.

The book, being greeted as one of the most unique takes on the group, also is getting attention for uncovering facts about the group not previously known. One is that Let it Be was the group’s last album. In fact, their last recording was Abbey Road.

“We do have quite a bit of information about The Beatles that neither George nor I had ever heard,” Courtney says. Let it Be was supposed to be their swan song, and it was just pathetic, so they called [then manager] George Martin and said ‘We want to record one last album.’”

At 100 chapters, the book gives attention to The Beatles’ timeline. Courtney and Cassidy take their audience through the early stages of their career to the end, bumps and all, and manage to tie what looked to the rest of the world like barely-manage chaos to an unlikely business model.

First, Courtney says, The Beatles had a mission statement from the beginning to be the “greatest rock-n-roll band in the history of the world.”

“A lot of it was not accidental,” he says. “They articulated it, and they weren’t going to stop until they were ‘the topper most of the popper most’ as they used to say to themselves. There was a drive and the passion and, of course, the talent.”

“The next thing is to brand that image and get the right management to help you,” Courtney adds. “The popular myth is that they [the Beatles] were horrible business people mainly based on Apple closing.

“In the course of their career, they created a business model that anyone can follow. They created this great image, a walking brand in themselves, and all the way through when there became a painful time – when it became a time to let some of the early members go because they were able to get better people – they did.”

All of the above could not be factored without a strong work ethic, Courtney maintains.

“In one year, they made two full-length movies, recorded three albums and toured the world twice,” Courtney says. “That’s just impossible.”

The book also addresses the importance of partnerships – and ego.

“McCartney was impressed with Lennon because he had that rock-n-roll swagger, and when Lennon met McCartney he knew that McCartney had more talent. Musically, he was a better guitar player and a better singer. He had to make the decision: ‘Do I partner with someone who is better than I am at the risk of not being the best for the good of the band?’ It’s sacrificing ego for the good of the passion.”

According to Courtney, one principal to be learned from The Beatles is knowing when one can manage oneself and knowing when to bring in help.

“When The Beatles were their own manager [after Brian Epstein’s’ death] and they did Magical Mystery Tour, they started to really flounder,” Courtney adds. “In the book, there is a section on the importance of representation.”

Including, of course, public relations.

“More popular than Christ [referring to Lennon’s famous quote] was not a very good idea, needless to say,” Courtney adds. “In the book, we have a PR angle on the importance of it and how they handled those things.”

As well, the two writers don’t leave out knowing when to quit.

“They knew they needed to split up at the point that they split up,” says Courtney. “It was over.”

The rest is history.

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