Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Little Drummer Boy: An Entrepreneurial Story?

As I was contemplating my latest post, I happened to be listening to The Little Drummer Boy. I can’t recall exactly which version it was, because I own several (I know you may think this is weird for a guy whose holiday season is filled with potato latkes, dreidelssufganiyot, and candle lighting). I can’t help it that I like Christmas carols—especially The Little Drummer Boy. As one of the characters from one of my all-time favorite musicals, Striking 12, says “You can’t ruin Little Drummer Boy.” He then proceeds to describe the weird version of the song sung by Bing Crosby and David Bowie as proof. If you don’t believe me, check out the video.

In any event, I started thinking about how I was going to find a clever way to connect The Little Drummer Boy and entrepreneurship. I mean, there must be something about the song’s author, Katherine Kennicott Davis, that connects to entrepreneurship, right?

When that proved to be a dead end, I started thinking about the song lyrics. A little boy with nothing more to offer but a song on his drum? Sort of like a tech entrepreneur who has nothing more than an idea to offer. No business plan, no financing, no market research, no experience. Can he make investors smile the way that the Little Drummer Boy made baby Jesus smile?

Deciding that both of these ideas were going nowhere fast, I stumbled upon this recent post by Dori Staehl. By any description, Dori is an entrepreneur. She owns her own business and describes herself as percussionist, drum therapist (whatever that is), mentor, coach, inspirational speaker, and talent agent. She also has authored a book on creativity (perhaps a future book review topic for a certain entreVIEW author I know) and plays drums for a rock band. Sounds like the resume of an entrepreneur to me! Dori seems to have done a pretty good job in her post of not only making the connection between entrepreneurship and The Little Drummer Boy, but also encouraging budding entrepreneurs to unlock the “gifts they bring” (however seemingly small) to realize their full potential. 

I also often work with entrepreneurs who fail to recognize their gifts AND see their blind spots. Don’t assume you need to be good at everything—I’ve seen entrepreneurs with tremendous people skills and vision lack the ability to even read a set of financial statements, let alone explain them to investors. 

The key is to determine what you are really strongest at and to find others (mentors, Board members, employees, advisors) who help fill in the gaps. If you haven’t stopped to do this lately, make it a new year’s resolution. It’ll probably have a more lasting impact than joining a health club that you won’t find the time to frequent by the end of January.


  1. Hi Dan. Good advice. Maybe I will try to meet my mentor at the health club. Maybe that will be my New Year's resolution.... Best for a Happy and Entrepreneurial 2017.

  2. Great advice, Dan. Having recently come off a solo-preneur venture, I found my personal board of advisors to be very helpful in guiding me on both sides (blind spots and strengths). While I'm back inside a firm as an intrapreneur, I've kept my board of advisors. Thanks for the post! (BTW, my fav version of Drummer Box is by Pentatonix).

  3. Nevin, Please make sure you're wearing a towel when you meet your mentor in the sauna!

  4. Kathy, the Pentatonix version is definitely part of my collection! Happy Holidays!!