Thursday, June 28, 2012

Offending candies

I was in a conversation today and someone brought up a story that most of us have probably heard of in some form or fashion.  It is eccentric and over the top so that would lead to the story being twisted many times in its retelling.  It doesn't matter how you twist it the genius of the story is still there and it escapes most people.  So with that, I thought that I would let you see the wisdom of the story so that in the future it may help you identify the method behind other events that may seem absurdly eccentric.

Have you heard the story of the "Rock Star"  that requests that at each show there is a bowl of jelly beans or m&ms with a certain color removed?  The rocker checks this bowl and finds the offending treat and promptly cancels the show, calling it a breach of contract.  I have never seen such a genius move but I am willing to bet that there are many other situations where a small insignificant detail is a deal endear.

If you consider what a contract for a major rock band must look like, it would be amazing to even find the small snippet about colored candies.  But what about all the smaller details like the weight that the stage has to hold?  how about the power levels and requirements for the sound gear and engineering restrictions that make the show safe for the band and the audience?  If the promoter is so incompetent that they miss the small details like colored candies, they have most likely missed seemingly insignificant details that could end the show on a bad note.

So if the first thing that the rocker checks is the candies it is a good indication that they must check every little detail to have a successful show.  More importantly to avoid a disaster or lawsuit. Pure Genius!

How does this apply to you,  if your boss is asking for an absurd seemingly insignificant detail in his coffee order this might mean that he is testing your attention to detail.  If you are the boss and you need to make some cuts this could also be a detail test to ensure that you don't cut the most valuable players.  Why would you need a test?  Because as we all know, the one who gets the credit for an outstanding job rarely acted alone and may have a habit of accepting misplaced accolades.  NM


  1. Excellent perspective, and while I had heard this story many times, I had not pieced together the importance of why they would ask for something so seemingly silly. Thanks for this dissection of the story, I think you have helped me a great deal.

  2. You point out a great life lesson. It is often some little detail that "get's you" in the end. Contracts are notorious for that, and is why the legal profession in our country is numerous and well compensated.

    However, having said that, I doubt the "Red M&M" story is nothing other than one of arrogance and abuse by those who "won the lottery" of fame and fortune (fleeting as both may be for this kind of individual). There is also value in humility and putting things in perspective.

  3. The band in question is Van Halen, the contract calls for the removal of all brown M&M's, and it really is to verify that the technical specifications have been met. In 1981, when the band was on tour, they had a concert scheduled in Pueblo, Co. At the time, they were bringing about nine trucks of equipment, and one of the specs concerned the strength of the flooring. Roth went backstage, found the jar with the brown M&M's still in it, and cancelled the show. He also trashed the dressing room. The thousands of dollars worth of damage he caused to the dressing room was minimal, but the stage collapsed doing $80,000.00 damage to the arena floor. Arrogance has NOTHING to do with it.