Before I got into the habit of reading loads of books for fun (yeah I am a big nerd) I had this huge appetite for music. The one band that got me into music properly was Oasis.
To me, the Gallagher brothers are the most comically entertaining musicians in the world. Not only did they make the most melodic music to my ears, their antics made them seem like they were from a different planet. It was also the classic rag-riches story, from nothing – growing up in working class Manchester to icons of the 90’s – that made them so fascinating. I always find the environment successful people come from to be telling. Noel Gallagher, is actually left-handed. He just learned to play a right handed due to them being poor, and that was the only guitar in the house, which was owned by his children abusing father. Below is one of the most candid interviews I have ever seen of Noel, asked how this upbringing affected him. Note the 6 min 30 sec mark especially.
Now Noel to me is a hero, unlike Kurt Cobain who sang about how terrible life is. He wrote life affirming tunes that shook the music industry off its depression and made something out of the very little he had. This kind of attitude appealed to me when growing up. Not gangtsa rap music, not the my life is so hard – grunge/emo music scene. It was about living forever, feeling supersonic, a champagne supernova in the sky.
The constraints of being poor, nothing to lose mentality, hard focus on music, resulted in the classic Definitely Maybe. The second album was also recorded with constraints – in 15 days, one song every 24 hours. Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger came from this album! Oasis were then given keys to the Bank of England, after the huge international success, and what happened? They came out with the bloated 70 minute diabolical Be Here Now. The creativity was reduced when they were given too much. You don’t have to work as hard, when you can throw money at a problem. To be fair as well, it was all fitting in accordance to what the public had built them up to be. They were a monstrously-hyped band at that point and they responded with a monstrous defying songs to capture all of the essence and hype which had been created around them. Noel bragged at the time of having 30 guitars overdubbed onto the song My Big Mouth! Now as much as I still love that tune, the excess made the music not as appealing as those first two killer albums. Too much fat, not enough muscle.
Same lessons can be applied to business as well. You don’t need as much as you think. These limitations force you to focus on the essentials, instead of using that extra time to get distracted by the latest email. It just makes you more creative. This also all leads to why I can’t wait to pick up the debut book released today by the founders of 37 Signals, Rework, that talks about, amongst other counter intuitive topics, the advantage of having constraints.