Do You Ride Shotgun?

Last week, I taught BE A BOSS in Nashville. I stayed an extra day to celebrate my birthday and go to a show. On the days I teach, I leave it all on the field, so to speak, and I felt drained as I arrived at the venue that night. I even wondered why I’d thought this was a good idea.

Three hours later, I decided I was brilliant. As it turns out, the show was a celebration of those who ride shotgun. It wasn’t billed that way – that’s just my takeaway. Let me tell you about it. If you ride shotgun, too, I think you’ll relate.

The show we went to see was at 3rd & Lindsley, a classic Nashville live music venue. We heard a random group of musicians – all “older than dirt”. We had never heard of any of them before, and you probably haven’t either. There was a guitarist (Jack Pearson), a drummer (Duffy Jackson) and an organist (I don’t have a clue what his name was – haha). At any rate, being older than dirt as a musician means you have a lot of time on task…and these guys were MASTERS.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of shows in my day. My husband is a drummer, his mom was an organist, and my father-in-law was a jazz aficionado. And me – well, I love rock and roll. So we have seen literally hundreds of groups. We’ve been to stadium concerts & multi-day music festivals and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve attended lots of intimate venues and even house concerts. These guys had mastered their skills like nothing we’d ever seen, so I started googling to read more about them. Here’s what I found:

Jack Pearson (the guitarist) has played regularly with groups including The Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman, Vince Gill, Jimmy Buffett, Tommy Emmanuel, Keb Mo’, Delbert McClinton, Earl Scruggs, Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Ronnie Milsap, Gov’t Mule, Shelby Lynne, Lee Ann Womack, Martina McBride, Taj Mahal, Trace Adkins, John Hiatt and Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Duffy Jackson (the drummer) has made appearances with Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Buddy Rich. He played with Lena Horne and Milt Jackson, and was on TV with Sammy Davis Jr. for two years. He’s also played with Lionel Hampton, Al Jarreau, and The Manhattan Transfer, and toured with the Count Basie Orchestra multiple times.

Now, you may not recognize all those names I just listed, but they are royalty in the music world of Southern rock, blues, country & jazz. And here’s the thing. Even if you recognize the names, it’s highly likely, like us, that you had never heard of Jack Pearson or Duffy Smith because they are the guys who ride shotgun. They are the ones who are normally behind the scenes, playing their hearts out, so that someone else can have the spotlight and shine.

My thoughts are never far away from the Executive Assistants and Directors of Operations I teach and coach, and I couldn’t help but reflect on them as I sat in this dive bar listening to these amazing musicians. I was watching what I see on a daily basis in my own world. Here’s what I noticed:

1. Those who ride shotgun have no ego. They have servant hearts. They are happy to let someone else get the credit, knowing inside they have made a significant contribution to whatever success is happening. These musicians onstage never once name dropped all night. If I had not googled them, I’d never have known of their pedigreed histories. They were happy to be playing and to be kicking a%% musically, taking pride in what they were creating on stage together, and doing so humbly, quietly (well, not really so quietly – lol) and with incredible mastery. Just like my Ops Bosses. Let me tell you, it’s not always easy to do that. It takes someone really unique to be happy riding shotgun.

2. Those who ride shotgun understand teamwork. These musicians intimately understood the harmonies of both their voices and their instruments. It was truly spectacular to watch as they played together and then highlighted one or the other musician individually. Each person had his time to shine. You could see them watching and enjoying each other with respect and awe on their faces. You could hear the unselfish musicianship that was going on, each adding or stepping back to ensure they were playing in unison, not just playing as a group. This is what Ops Bosses do. They are integral to creating teams from groups.

3. Those who ride shotgun are as committed to the process as they are to the results. We chatted with Jack after the show. He still practices for hours every single day, and often goes home after a show and practices some more. For him, it’s not about the glory, the accolades, the awards, or the shows. It’s about the music – the love of creating, writing, singing, playing and learning. It’s about growth and sharing his gifts and talents to make the world a better place. That’s pretty much what Ops Bosses do daily.

4. Those who ride shotgun shine together. This show was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen. When those who are used to playing second fiddle come together in a group, magic happens. In that bar in Nashville, I found a little group of musical unicorns. Boy, did they shine. The venue was only about half to three quarters full. It didn’t matter. In fact, it may have contributed to the magic. They were with like-minded people, doing what they do best. It’s the same thing I witnessed last month at our Ops Boss Leader Retreat when 110 COOs, DOOs & high level EAs gathered. My own Ops Boss said to me “I thought you told me these people are often introverts and quiet. This group is fun! And I’ve never worked an event where so many people offered to help me!” That’s what happens when we are “in the zone”. We shine.

Lessons for Agents:

If you are an agent reading this, here are the lessons:

1. Those who ride shotgun don’t need the limelight. They DO appreciate being appreciated. Learn their Love Language – and use it. Small, purposeful gestures go a long way. And every once in a while, turn the spotlight on them. Instead of you taking the stage once again, suggest their name as a speaker or panelist. They have a lot of wisdom to share.

2. Those who ride shotgun are your secret weapon to teamwork. They are leaders. Empower them to use their gifts and talents to develop your team. Retention is a challenge for many team leaders. Your Ops Boss can help you dial this in.

3. Those who ride shotgun are committed to process. That’s an asset you can leverage when it comes to accountability for lead gen and all sorts of things. I always tell my Ops Bosses they are the Captains of Consistency on their ships. Lean into that.

4. Those who ride shotgun shine together. Are you pouring in to your Ops Boss? Do they have their own coach? Are they going to training as often as you are? Are they coming to our 2nd Annual Ops Boss Leader Retreat in 2019? Be purposeful about encouraging and enabling them to be in rooms with other ops unicorns. It will pay off for your business in spades.

Ops Bosses – I take my hat off to you. You are my heroes. Rock on. Keep riding shotgun. It’s the BEST place to drive <wink>!

Christy Belt Grossman

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  • Jennifer Martin says:

    What a great analogy! Riding Shotgun….your thoughts are right on and love the lessons for an agent. I will take it to heart.

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