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5 Management Lessons from Hamilton

If you don’t want to throw away your shot, listen up.

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BY Suzanne Lucas - 19 Mar 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

I had the envied opportunity to see Hamilton in London this weekend, and while the play itself was a masterpiece, I couldn't get out of Evil HR Lady mode. So many management lessons stood out to me, so I just had to share.

Your Ensemble Makes or Breaks You

I had no doubt that the stars would be outstanding and they were. (Special shout out to Rachel John, who played Angelica Schuyler. Wow.) But what amazed me more was the perfection of the ensemble.

While the stars were off stage from time to time, the ensemble was practically always there, always dancing, and always singing. And their dance moves were so well done it was hard to believe this was live theater with no chance for re-shooting.

If the ensemble hadn't been perfect with their performances, the stars would have fallen flat.

Lesson: You may be the star and you may want to hire stars, but the show--and your company--will be a disaster if your support staff doesn't have it together.

You Don't Need to Have Every Skill to Be a Success

You know who didn't dance and still brought the house down? King George, played by Michael Jibson. Just by raising his eyebrows and twirling his scepter, he had the audience under his total dominion.

He stood stock still for most of his songs, and yet every eye was fixated on him. He stole the show, honestly.

Lesson: Companies often have impossibly long lists of qualifications for every position, afraid that if a particular candidate can't do every skill, they'll fail. Well, it's not true. Jibson didn't need to dance, rap, or jump off tables in order to perform his role, and if they had focused on finding someone who could do all of that--or wanted to do all of that--they would have missed out. (Side note: For all I know, Jibson could do all that, but he didn't need to.)

Everyone is Expendable

Hamilton wouldn't be Hamilton without Daveed Diggs' rapid-fire rapping with a French accent in Guns and Ships, right? Well, wrong. He was replaced by Jason Pennycooke who managed it just fine, as did every other cast member. (And Pennycooke's portrayal of Thomas Jefferson, sans French accent, was amazing.)

Lesson: How many companies have been involved in scandals and lawsuits because they ignored sexual harassment complaints in order to save their superstars? You can't even count it's so high. You may think a particular person can't be replaced, but you'd be wrong. Everyone can be replaced, including you.

If You Make a Great Product, People Will Line up to Get It

We live in Switzerland, so it was a short flight to London to see the play. The woman at UK immigration asked me the purpose of our visit. "We're here to see Hamilton!" I said. She replied, "So many people come through here to see that!"

London was hit by a cold snap this weekend, which meant it was below freezing. That didn't stop ticket holders from lining up an hour early to make sure there were no delays getting in.

Lesson: Marketing is super important in getting your business running, but if you come up with a truly remarkable product or service, people will go to great lengths to acquire it. Don't underestimate the power of good products.

You Really Can Destroy Your Own Life

Hamilton had an affair, ended up paying blackmail to keep it quiet, and then when Jefferson and others accused him of financial impropriety he published a pamphlet that detailed the affair and emphasized that he wasn't financially corrupt.

Not surprisingly, this did not go over well with his wife. It also destroyed his political career.

While you may think the pamphlet was the problem, the real problem began when he allowed himself to get involved in an extra-marital affair. Once you start making bad choices, the consequences can always catch up to you.

Lesson: Ever heard the statement "Everything happens for a reason and sometimes that reason is you're stupid and make bad choices?" Well, yes. When you slack off at work, don't pursue the education you need, are mean to your co-workers, or discriminate against people illegally, you'll destroy your own life. Don't assume that because you didn't get busted today, it won't destroy you later on. While other people may be out to get you, sometimes people destroy their own lives.

Use a few of these lessons in your own life and you won't throw away your shot.

 

 

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