Business Lessons From Pop Songs 1: Girls Aloud – ‘The Promise’

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October 30, 2013 by Colin Kelly

When Brian Higgins and Miranda Cooper sat down to write ‘The Promise’ by Girls Aloud, they treated it like a cup final.

They worked and trained and prepared for 3 weeks to ensure they’d be at the top of their game when the day they’d chosen to write the words arrived.

Despite having as much time as they wanted and absolutely nothing forcing them to deliver excellence at a particular time on a particular day, that’s what they chose to do, and the results speak for themselves.

‘The Promise’ is widely regarded as the perfect pop song and was a huge success.

Often, the creative process is open-ended. You can’t put a deadline on inspiration and brilliance; when it strikes, you go with it, and when it doesn’t, you go for a walk or do something else.

You can’t force it.

But that sometimes means we fall into a malaise, an introspective paralysis and work that should take half a day at most ends up rumbling on forever. It never quite feels right and when we finally get the client to sign off, we’re glad to see the back of it.

What if we tried the Higgins/Cooper approach and decided we were going to do the whole thing in one day.

Maybe it’s easier when you’ve got a 4 minute pop song. They might argue that makes it harder.

Why should any of it be hard at all?

Whatever you do, it’s supposed to be your area of expertise. For them it’s a pop song. For you, it could be designing software, writing a book, an essay, painting, designing training materials or anything else.

Higgins and Cooper don’t use the ‘cup final’ approach for every song they write. In fact, they make a point in keeping things varied. But I think there’s something in it. Prepare yourself to be brilliant on a particular day and get the whole thing done.

Train yourself. Practice. Rest.

Then deliver at a higher level than you ever have before.

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