June 27, 2021

Three years ago I attended an Ed Sheeran concert.

If you don’t know who he is, and you are over 50 years old, you are not alone (as I found out before, during and after the concert).

I was 60 years old at the time and I was clearly in the top 1% of the oldest people there…which I wore like a badge of honor.

I love his music, his demeanor and despite my daughter thinking it was a bit silly that I was attending, I could tell she was super jealous too.

And I’ll believe whether it’s true or not, that she gave me a few points for being just a little cool.

The show was great and I highly recommend you check him out if you get an opportunity to see him live.

Now that doesn’t mean I am sending you an affiliate link to attend his next show.

However, I was reminded about the concert when I received in my email this morning a link to a video of his brand new single, Bad Habits.

Click here to watch it (although you will have to deal with an ad—not endorsed by me).

Truth be told, Ed Sheeran doesn’t need me to distribute his new songs or sell concert tickets for him…he’s doing just fine on his own, thank you.

Although maybe I can open up the 60+ demographic for him. I need to check on that with his marketing team. 🙂

The memory of that concert three years ago is etched in my brain forever, not only from the music and the experience, but for a lesson I took away from it (which I shared with you at the time).

If you don’t recall reading that post, or even if you did, I believe it’s a lesson worth repeating and rereading.

I don’t know about you but I hear too often people making excuses for young entrepreneurs (and less experienced business leaders) not “getting it” in a variety of ways, specifically in the areas of acknowledging and compensating people properly who have helped them achieve great success in very short periods of time.

Just go down a Google rabbit hole and check out a quote or idea that you think some online guru created (because he or she said so), only to find out it was Confucius or Winston Churchill who originally said it or penned it.

The real way to take credit is to acknowledge the original source…which I have written about most recently in Invention is overrated.

Those who want to give the benefit of the doubt in the case of someone in their youth taking credit for someone else’s idea, use as the excuse:

“They are young and just don’t get it yet.”

I learned at that concert that age has nothing to do with “getting it.”

Ed Sheeran was 27 years old way back then (which makes him 30 now according to my math)…and he gave me a new perspective on the relationship between age and wisdom.

The warmup band for Ed (I’m so cool I am on a first name basis with him) was Snow Patrol.

I had heard of them before, I have a couple of songs from them on my phone and my wife and I were excited when they were announced.

Near the end of their set, before they played their biggest hit, Chasing Cars, they thanked everyone for supporting them in their career which we learned spanned 25 years.

Did you know Snow Patrol had been around that long? I didn’t.

(And that’s assuming you even knew of their existence at all.)

They thanked Ed Sheeran profusely for having them on tour with him.

Hmmm…the star of the show was 2 years old, mainly eating and pooping, when his backup act was already rocking and rolling.

Shortly after Snow Patrol left the stage, Ed Sheeran hopped on to the stage, with amazing energy, and played non-stop for 2 hours.

At some point during his set he paused to mention that when he was “young” (I guess like 8 years ago when he was 22?), it was Snow Patrol that took him on tour when he was a nobody and just starting out.

I heard reciprocal gratefulness to what I heard from Snow Patrol’s lead singer.

I also heard a 27 year old who “gets it.”

That he understood at such a young age that you have to be on the shoulders of giants to get so far (and so fast) was beyond refreshing.

And he also understood that there are countless ways to sincerely reciprocate along the way.

I don’t know if Sheeran is a great guy or not…he didn’t tell me…but he showed me (and 50,000 other folks in the stands) something that could never be expressed with words.

Through his behavior it was clear how much he understood gratefulness and appreciation; and that he also knows that acknowledgement of others during a lifelong journey is part of the success formula…and that formula is not just for rock stars.

But it is how you become a “rock star”…in anything.

In the days after the show, something popped into my head which is related. I was reminded how painful it was to write the acknowledgements section of my book Overdeliver.

Not painful because of the love and support I’ve gotten throughout my career from so many people and in the creation of the book; but painful because when I handed in the final manuscript, with over 500 acknowledgments, I still forgot to mention some people who I owe something to for some success I’ve had over 40 years in direct marketing.

Ed had it a little easier with only 27 years of accumulated support and wisdom contributing to his success—but his life will get much more complicated assuming he lives the rest of his life with the philosophy of never forgetting how he got there (wherever he ends up getting to).

His relationship capital account will far exceed his bank account by a wide margin if he keeps playing the game this way.

And his bank account is pretty hefty already.

I wish him well and will follow him for many reasons (two in particular):

1. I want him to keep making great music that I know millions will enjoy, especially me.

2. I want to see how he keeps paying it forward.

I also have a different appreciation for Snow Patrol, after attending that concert, a group I liked and now a group I will love and respect forever–and I don’t care if they ever record another song.

Again, they didn’t tell me what great guys they are either…but what they showed to the audience by being there and playing full out, was a brand of humility and grace we can all emulate.

So thanks for allowing me to do some “thinking out loud” on this topic (pun and hyperlink intended)…click on that link and let me know if you think Ed is the bomb (like my daughter does).

I know 50,000 people at MetLife Stadium thought he was just “perfect” (click on that link too for more stylings from Ed).

And thanks for allowing me to think out loud about Snow Patrol, who was content to chase Ed Sheeran after Ed chased them…while “chasing cars” for the better part of 25 years.

You know who they are now, right?

Well you definitely know them now and not just for the chasing.



P.S. You didn’t expect rock videos this Sunday morning did you?

Hope you clicked on the music of Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol above (and that you didn’t wake up anyone in your house).

The other thing I couldn’t help think about given this multi-generational kinship talked about above was something I said in a previous post which I sent on my 60th birthday and titled it, “Too many of my mentors are dead”.

I have copied and pasted an excerpt here in the context of today’s post:

My mentor, Marty Edelston, often said to me, in order to be sure that I had the right idea about aging:

“I love getting older since it means I am only getting smarter.”

And if he was still alive today, he would once again explain the difference to me between “60 years of experience” vs. “one year of experience for 60 years.”

What that means:

Knowledge and wisdom are cumulative assuming you are a lifelong learner.

Marty was a lifelong learner and he taught me to think that way too, which at its core means always having insatiable curiosity, always hanging out with people smarter (and often older) than yourself and never letting your ego get in the way of learning.

And it’s OK to gain wisdom from those who are younger than you too.

While there are prodigies who can make huge differences for thousands by the time they attend their first prom (or even if they are a “late bloomer” like Ed Sherran at 27!), most mortals like you and I need some age (and wisdom) to get there…and not just doing the same thing year after year.

And Ed has the power to reach millions which comes with even more responsibility (at a young age).

I am often the oldest person (by chronological age) in many of the rooms I hang out in these days (and even sometimes in a large football stadium at a concert too).

However, in those rooms I am usually hanging out with some of the most phenomenal marketers in the world—which is something I am proud of and I no longer make jokes about everyone in the room being young enough to be one of my kids.

A better perspective:

I am getting my Ph.D. in areas of marketing from others who may not have put in the hours or years (yet)… but they have achieved expertise way beyond what I know in their short time on earth about at least one thing (or more than one thing) that I am clueless about.

Maybe Snow Patrol will let me join their band?

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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