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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Transparent Vulnerability

To be genuine, you can't only be "part" of you

Saturday, September 3, 2022, represented something that I look forward to every year: the opening weekend of college football. To me, it's more than just the sport as it also symbolizes the onset of autumn and the cooler weather that comes with it. Honestly, other than Christmas, I think it's my favorite day of the year. However, from 10:30 AM until 4:00 PM, I barely noticed football.

It's a relatively well-documented fact that I love music of all kinds, genres, and sounds. From Frank Sinatra to Metallica, The Beatles to American Aquarium, Pink Floyd to Pink, Neil Diamond to Rush, Johnny Cash to Josh Abbot Band, and Elvis to Foo Fighters, I genuinely love it all. Music has the ability to transport me to a specific time and place like a round, vinyl time machine. Just as meaningful, music can heal, which is why I ignored most football that opening weekend.

You see, Saturday, September 3, 2022, was also the day of the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert. If you're unfamiliar with Taylor Hawkins, he was the drummer of the Foo Fighters who suddenly (and tragically) passed away on March 25, 2022, at 50. You can read my blog about him here: There Goes My Hero.

I had planned on watching the live stream of the London concert until the first games started at about 11:00 AM, but that went out the window the second the remaining Foo Fighters, led by Dave Grohl, took the stage to kick off the show. While the crowd listened, an understandably tired-looking Dave opened the show with transparent emotion:

"Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we've gathered here to celebrate the life, the music, and the love of our dear friend, our bandmate, our brother Taylor Hawkins. For those of you who knew him personally, you know that no one else could make you smile or laugh or dance or sing like he could. And for those of you that admired him from afar, I'm sure you've all felt the same thing.

So tonight, we've gathered with family and his closest friends, his musical heroes, and greatest inspirations to bring you a gigantic fucking night for a gigantic fucking person. So sing and dance and laugh and cry and fucking scream and make some fucking noise so he can hear us right now."

If the language offends you, I'll sort of apologize for including it. I say "sort of" because I think that removing it would neuter the rawness of what Dave Grohl expressed and that's not my place.

Over the next six hours, there were many emotional moments:

  • Wolfgang Van Halen flawlessly performed two Van Halen songs (one of Taylor's favorite bands) for the first time, honoring both Taylor and his own father, Eddie Van Halen, who passed away almost two years ago.

  • Video tributes from Elton John, Chad Smith, Stevie Nicks, and many other luminaries who couldn't be there in person.

  • Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson from Rush (another one of Taylor's favorites) reformed with Dave Grohl on drums after the passing of drummer Neil Peart.

  • Brian May from Queen sang with the entire audience, "Love of my Life."

  • Paul McCartney performed the Beatles' "Oh Darling!" for the first and only time alongside Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders and backed by the remaining Foo Fighters.

However, there were two moments of this transparent emotion that stuck with me and will for the rest of my days:

  1. Dave Grohl visibly broke down during the beginning of "Times Like These."

  2. Shawn Hawkins – Taylor's 16-year-old son – played the drums with Foo Fighters for the song "My Hero."

Two moments and two VERY different emotions.

The first was, frankly, very difficult to watch. Hawkins was more than just Grohl's bandmate; they were best friends. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried along with Dave, and, as painful as it was, it was a point of healing. The second moment was a sheer delight to view as a now fatherless son sat behind his dad's drumkit, perfectly playing a song that meant so much to him, with the band that made his pop famous. There's a moment during the song when Dave turned his back on the audience to watch Shane, showing him a look of encouragement, pride, and healing.

Honestly, this is why so many people love Dave Grohl. He's not afraid to show us that he's beautifully human.

So, why am I sharing this in a blog this week? First of all, it's my blog, and it's what I want to write about – so there's that. Joking aside, I am writing this because people often ask why I'm comfortable sharing my failures, struggles, and emotions. While it's factual to say that I don't know any other way to be, it's also factual that being comfortable enough to be vulnerable has set me free to be a more complete, compassionate human. It's allowed me to be a better listener, more empathetic, a more invested business partner, and be, well, the real me - warts and all. I've not only become comfortable with that, I've embraced it.

We live in a time where people are encouraged to be authentic, only to be punished when they comply. However, as I wrote above, the reality is that people relate to Dave Grohl BECAUSE he's so beautifully, tragically, and unapologetically human. Similarly, your clients are no longer tricked by slick sales tactics or connect with the overall phoniness of salespeople from a bygone era.

It's time to stop being so harsh when people are vulnerable and allow ourselves – and the people around us – to be transparent with emotions. At times, it's difficult and painful. However, in the long run, it will lead to stronger relationships, empathy, and, just like the concert, healing.

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