Leadership Secrets of ‘The Eagles’

The market staged a nice rebound on Thursday. Much like last Thursday, stocks saw some nice, broad-based buying in a reversal of the recent aggressive downtrend.

A lot of today’s buying can probably be attributed to bargain-hunting, short-covering or portfolio managers trying to "rent" long exposure. Still, it was nice to see the Dow up some 250 points midway through the trading session.

When the final bell sounded, the Dow was up 148.75 points, or a little under 1%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq saw smaller gains, but it was good to see green across the board. In fact, the only S&P 500 sector to finish in the red was financials, and that was a small 0.2% loss.

Of course, we’ll continue monitoring these volatile markets to see if the "2016 selling flu" is over, or if today is just a repeat of last Thursday’s brief encounter with the bull.

Whatever the outcome, there remains a plethora of headwinds on this market. Plunging oil prices, China’s economic slowdown and currency devaluation, and the potential for a lackluster corporate earnings season are still very much in play.

We just have to take it easy, and enjoy a relatively uneventful day when we can get one.

Speaking of "taking it easy," I want to bring up the loss of yet another great of the music industry.

Glen Frey was the Eagles’ guitarist, singer, songwriter and co-founder. His passing comes just a week after music fans suffered another great loss, iconic musician and trendsetter David Bowie.

Upon Bowie’s passing, we wrote about the lessons he taught us about how to approach life. His willingness to stretch out and try something innovative, unexpected and even dangerous in career terms was unparalleled.

Today, we are going to explore the some of the leadership lessons we can learn from Glenn Frey’s expertise in making the Eagles one of the most popular and successful rock bands of all time.

In a nice article in the Washington Business Journal, Managing Editor Robert J. Terry described Frey’s leadership of the Eagles as:

 … the unquestioned CEO of the most successful American rock band ever, a visionary, funny, at times ruthless leader with much to teach any chief executive in any line of work.

After having watched the outstanding documentary "History of the Eagles," last year when it aired on Showtime, I completely agree with Terry’s observation.

In his article, Terry points out six key leadership traits that Glenn Frey possessed that helped him steer the band through the many years of lows, highs, internal conflict, personnel changes, obstacles and rewards.

Here’s a short list of some of Frey’s best leadership characteristics:

1) Ability to explain things clearly and succinctly. He was essentially the leader of the group. And he never hesitated to make clear decisions about things such as the direction of the band and its projects.

2) An eye for talent. Frey’s selection of über-manager Irving Azoff, lead guitarist Joe Walsh and bassist Timothy B. Schmit showed that he knew what personnel would work well with the existing band members. Of course, the group had its share of BIG disagreements and problems. But strong talent wasn’t one of them.

3) A sense of humor. Frey’s affinity for humor came through in the documentary, as he often joked with his audience and fellow bandmates. While few CEOs are known for their sense of humor, it can be a difficult thing working for someone without one. So, if you are a leader, keep in mind that a good laugh now and then helps morale and fosters camaraderie in the workplace.

4) Demand of high standards. A good CEO always gets the most out of his/her employees. Yet to get the best, you have to demand the best. That’s what Frey demanded of his bandmates. Terry mentions an incident Frey had with bassist and vocalist Randy Meisner. One night Meisner refused to sing the hit "Take it to the Limit" out of fear he couldn’t hit the high note at the end of the song. Frey told him to sing it anyway. Meisner quit the band shortly after, and Frey replaced him with Schmit.

5) Strong ego, but ability to keep it in check. Frey was a great singer, guitarist and songwriter. But he knew that his skills weren’t the right fit for certain things. Over time, most of the lead vocal duties in the band were taken on by drummer Don Henley. Frey was good with that, because he realized how great Henley was, and that this would be the best thing for the band. That kind of humility and delegation ability is a rare quality in any CEO.

6) Strong work ethic. Nothing great in life comes without some serious hard work. Frey discovered this early in his music career by observing what he described in the documentary as "Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence." This he learned by observing his friend and fellow music great Jackson Browne as he set about writing a song. The key to Browne’s genius, as Frey surmised, was his strong work ethic, and the ability to keep at a song until it sounded great.

Finally, although the passing of people that influenced our lives and our culture can be very sad, the lessons they leave us via the lives they led will remain forever.

If we are wise enough to learn from them, we’ll all be much better off.


What lessons have you learned from people in your past, and/or public figures, about how best to approach life? Is there one big takeaway you want to share with fellow readers?

I’d like to find out the one (or more) thing you’ve learned in your life that will get all of us thinking. To do so, just leave me a comment on our website or send me an e-mail and tell me what you think.


The broader U.S. markets were flat to positive across the board. The energy sector was the day’s biggest gainer, with the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) adding more than 3%.

Elsewhere in the news …

•  ECB President Mario Draghi suggested that Europe’s central bank may add to its monetary easing program as soon as March. The announcement helped European stocks climb, and the euro decline.

•  Facebook (FB) said it has created The Facebook Sports Stadium. This new avenue inside the social network lets sports fans congregate and follow contests together. The service will let people follow a chronological stream of posts and comments from each other and from team members, journalists and other public figures.

•  Oil futures saw their largest one-day spike of the year. WTI crude for March delivery gained 4.1%, ending the day at $29.53 per barrel. But one energy expert now says oil could quickly plunge to less than $5 a barrel… gasoline at the pump could soon be priced in mere cents rather than dollars…and that this massive plunge in prices will change how we drive, build our houses, and even run our military.

•  Starbucks (SBUX) saw a solid 3.6% gain in front of its after-the-bell earnings announcement. But even though its results topped analysts’ estimates, shares are down about 3% here in late-day trade.

•  Winter Storm Jonas could deliver blizzard conditions for D.C., New York and Baltimore. Surrounding areas are also set to see high winds, snow, ice and potential flooding this week. "Thunder snow" is also a real possibility for the D.C. metro area on Saturday. Consider postponing any travel plans or outdoor activities until next week. And please stay safe, wherever you are.

Good Luck and Happy Investing,

Brad Hoppmann


Uncommon Wisdom Daily

Your thoughts on “Leadership Secrets of ‘The Eagles’”

  1. Always think before speaking, particularly in moments of anger or distress. Once you have said something, you can’t take it back and, in some cases, may regret it the rest of your life.

  2. Your eulogy of Glenn Frey is the best evidence yet of all that is wrong with “popular” for the last 70 years, that it’s truly an industry, not an art. You got the word “industry” right, but for you and all grown-up, warmed-over, wanna-be groupies of such plastic acts, your word is spelled MU$IC. The Eagles are the sultans of slick, Monkees on steroids, cheap, shameless imitators who know to plumb the depths of the lowest common-denominator. That’s were the money is, after all.. I’m sorry when anyone dies, but be assured that Frey and “Who the hell is Don Henley?” and the rest are leaving the world lesser than they found it. Now, back to staring at your net worth – you have your reward!

  3. I Don’t have to go far. My parents were the president & chairperson of our ” organization” The family . They set the rules &regulations , established some boundaries & good guidelines for everybody to observe & comply with during the formative years of the children . Once the principles are deeply embedded in them, they don’t forget these guidelines. Humor in the organizatio

  4. Dr Wayne Dyer once said “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change”. After one year of being sober I found out my best friend was sleeping with my girlfriend and it devastated me. I headed down to an AA meeting to see if I could hear something profound to take the shock and pain away and a lady introduced herself to the group as a person from alanon; a support group for victims of alcoholics , and I wanted to tune out because I thought she didn’t have anything I wanted to hear! Reluctantly I listened anyway and what she said changed my life forever. It took me over one year to be ready to hear the truth and all she said that changed everything for me was, “I’m so grateful for this program because my husband is so understanding today and more loving and caring for his family.” I realized at the moment that I was playing victim and it’s not just about me. How have I changed since I sobered up? Am I understanding, forgiving, honest and loving or was I still that same selfish narcissists I was always trying to run from by drowning myself in booze and self loafing? Ya I had a difficult childhood and a sad story but everyone has a story and mine wasn’t the only difficult one! We all have struggles. Can I be a better person and practice spiritual principles like: forgiveness, acceptance, humility, integrity? I felt like I finally stepped into adulthood that day at the ripe ole age of 31. Life is good.

  5. Thanks for that little tribute to Glen Fry and the lessons to be learned. To the list, I would add:

    Small, seemingly insignificant changes can have a big effect on an outcome. Always be tweaking the system a little and watching the result. Each change won’t work as expected, but at least you won’t be bored.

  6. It is my understanding that Randy Meisner was sick with the flu and felt he could not perform the demanding high notes. If that is true, I do not feel it was good to force him to do so.

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