Why your sitar & tabla lessons are the most important training for business

We all want to succeed in business. Unfortunately, many people who aspire to create a startup lack the discipline or skills to be able to succeed. Many people want to have a huge success in a short period of time. They want to take a magic pill and have something miraculous happen in their business. In real life business success is built on a foundation. Without that foundation, your business will crumble. But, how can you build that foundation?

Bad English = Bad Work Skills
So many people email me using incorrect grammar saying, “Give me job.” Or they email me without knowing how to spell my name. How can you succeed in doing complicated outsourcing tasks when you can’t even spell English correctly? If you do data entry and there are formatting issues with the email you sent me, why would I believe you could do data entry? If you do programming, but there are syntax errors in your email you sent me, then there will be syntax errors in your programming too. To do well in business you need discipline, refinement, and skill. But, how can you develop these? Children of the upper-middle class typically take music lessons to develop exactly these types of skills which benefits them for the rest of their lives. Those who study music typically do well as doctors, attorneys, business people, and in other professions as well.

Sitar Lessons Teach Discipline
To learn to play the sitar or any other musical instrument requires years of arduous practice. Practicing requires extreme patience and can also be physically taxing. Beginners typically make their musical instrument sound horrible while Yo Yo Ma can make even the most inexpensive cello sound like a million bucks. Learning to play the sitar is a little like learning to grow a business. It takes two decades to become good at the sitar. It can take two decades to learn to become good at business. There are so many factors involved in being a good business person. There is management, marketing, human resources, finance, and more. If you are weak in any one of these aspects, you will lose everything. Basically, if you have the discipline to master the sitar, you’ll have the discipline and sensitivity to master anything.

Listening Skills
The study of any musical instrument including sitar or tabla requires listening. Listening involves paying attention. If you are not trained to pay attention, your business won’t do well. If you don’t return emails because you are lazy or not paying attention, you’ll lose prospective clients. I generally am the one to have to chase people down to get them to finish their work and return emails. It is ironic that people in industries who are begging for work won’t even return an email. If you have a musical background, you will realize right away when your call center agents are talking to loudly, softly, unclearly, or with the wrong tone. Your sitar lessons will make you more sensitive to subtle differences in tone which can help you in any business — except perhaps the concrete laying business or mafia related jobs. Additionally, in business you have to listen to what the client wants. If you only think about what you want, you’ll lose the client. Being sensitive and aware of your clients’ needs is one of the components to your ticket to success in business. Sensitivity can be learned through sitar or tabla lessons.

If you play music with others, timing is critical. If the pianist plays several notes, and the violinist is supposed to respond with a few other notes, the music will fall apart if the violinist is late. In business, I have programmers and call centers do tasks for me. The problem is that I have to bug them or I never hear from them. If they had a sitar playing background, they would respond right away. You also need to be able to coordinate the timing of small and large projects. You can imagine how difficult it is to coordinate computer projects involving a dozen or more programmers. Their work needs to synchronize with the other programmers or the entire project will be a failure. If one of the programmers drops out, the project will be done late as well.

Listening skills lead to sensitivity. But, sensitivity can also apply to business analytics. I analyze stats all the time. However, when I really look more deeply, sometimes I’ll discover patterns in the data that I never noticed before. This cannot happen without sensitivity, inquisitiveness and attention. If your employees show signs that they are not interested, if you are not sensitive, you might not pick up on those signs. Knowing when to fire someone, or when to watch someone is a critical skill in business. If you have been in business for a long time, it becomes intuitive and natural. But, you need to develop a sensitivity within you to be able to see people lose interest. Once an employee loses interest, their work will suffer and then they usually quit. Catch this trend before it happens!

Many companies hire employees who don’t get their work done on time, give wrong answer to questions, quit at the critical moment, etc. In music, if there is even one wrong note, the entire performance is ruined. In business, most companies make multiple mistakes all day long. Having a sitar or tabla playing background can help you be a much better business person by helping you to train yourself to be accurate — and rhythmical! If your business is accurate while the others are not, you have a better chance to grow by leaps and bounds.

Classically trained musicians earn more
The average person in the United States makes about $40,000 per year. When you talk to them they just seem average — partly because they are average. People who play classical music as a hobby typically make around $120,000 per year average — and are more “in tune” as well. They are often professors, doctors, attorneys, researchers, and sometimes music teachers as well (the music teachers don’t make that much, but the doctors typically do.) So, one could say that studying classical music as a child can triple your income as an adult. I’m not sure that’s a fair comparison, but there is some truth to it.

The myth that classical music isn’t sexy
Many people think that classical musicians are very prudish and straight. There is some truth to this fallacy. However, many musical instruments have a G-string, and there is nothing as sexy as one of those! On the other hand, if you play the sitar, that involves playing a drone — that is okay just as long as you also don’t talk like a drone (or have one deliver pizza.)

The moral of this article is that studying classical music helps you to refine, perfect, listen, be sensitive, and be on time. These traits will help you in anything you pursue in life — especially business. So, if your business is doing well, or not doing so well, I’m sure it would do better if you dust off your sitar that’s sitting in the closet and start taking lesson. And if you don’t like the sitar, play the veena.

“I’m Ravi Shankar and I approve of this message!”

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