A graduate of Harvard Business School, Ken Kragen’s illustrious career far transcends the music and entertainment industries where he has spent many incredibly successful years. He has managed some of the world’s most important entertainers, including Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Trisha Yearwood, Olivia Newton John, The Bee Gees, Burt Reynolds, The Smothers Brothers and many others. He was the creator and organizer of the historic humanitarian projects “We Are the World”, “Hands Across America”, and Cisco System’s “NetAid”. Amazingly over 95% of the acts he managed have become stars, and 90% of the projects he created and spearheaded have achieved success.
I Am Driven By | Having fun doing something. Being passionate about what I am doing. Being excited to tell others about it and engage their involvement and help to make it a success. Learning something new about the world, the universe or the person next door.
My Highlights | I always feel that receiving the United Nation’s Peace Medal for my work organizing “We Are The World,” “Hands Across America,” parts of “LiveAid” was one of the proudest moments of my life. Being the father to a healthy, smart and now successful 25-year-old daughter is also a terrific accomplishment.
A Key Talent | Honesty! Being someone who people know they can trust has served me better than any other trait. I teach a large, very exciting career course to undergraduate students at UCLA and one of the sessions is titled “How to get caught telling the truth!” I explain that honesty is the best and cheapest tool you can use to get business to beat a path to your door. I show them examples of situations where it would be easy to lie about some mistake I made or thing I forgot to do but that I am delighted to be able to be honest about what I’ve done, even when it doesn’t seem in my own self-interest, and how that builds trust in a client, a partner or a family member that I will benefit me greatly down the line.
Lessons I Have Learnt | The breakthrough concept I discovered years ago that hasfueled my consistent success is something called “The Magic of Threes.” In fact there is a true magic to the number three – the Holy Trinity; Three Wise Men; Three Strikes and You Are Out in Baseball; Three beats to a good Joke; and on and on. Last year astronomers even determined that there is an actual “Law of Threes” in the Universe. Where I use it is much simpler. I find that you can’t get anyone to take any action in today’s busy world unless you reach them at least three times in a concentrated period of time from different directions. I have many examples of this but perhaps the best one is from Lionel Richie’s career. In 1984 Lionel performed the #1 song “All Night Long” to close the Olympics. Several billion people saw that performance but there was nothing else around it for Lionel – no other press, no record release, nothing else – and it didn’t advance Lionel’s career at all. Six months later he hosted the American Music Awards show on television; was on the cover of TV Guide (then the biggest selling magazine in this country); recorded the song he wrote with Michael Jackon, “We Are The World” that night after winning six American Music Awards; did several press conferences the following week and then won three Grammy’s at that show a few weeks later. No where near as many people saw the AMA’s, Grammy’s and other things as saw the Olympic finale but Lionel’s career soared because people saw multiple things in a concentrated period of time. The “Magic of Threes” works. I means surrounding one major thing with all sorts of others to truly get attention and create action.
Dealing With Doubt | I have a core belief that “EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A GOOD REASON!” I find that everything that happens, even the most negative things, is an opportunity and that you can turn roadblocks into building blocks buy starting to think that way. Here in the US the whole Home Shopping Industry was created when an advertiser didn’t pay his bill to a radio station and the station manager too the product (electric can openers) and sold them directly on the air. He made more for the station that he would have with the advertising dollars and eventually took this idea to television and made literally billions of dollars. In another example, Mothers Against Drunk Driving” was created when a group of mothers who lost their children to drunk drivers turned this tragedy into an organization to save the lives of others. And so on.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I use everything from newspapers, books (on my iPad), songs, lectures I attend, and the Internet to learn constantly and to be inspired to be creative. I seemed to find new things everywhere that help me on the numerous project I work on. I belong to a terrific men’s group called METal (Media, Entertainment, Technology, alliance) that meets once a week to learn what’s new and to hear the top speakers in the world. Great networking and wonderful information.
I Am Inspired By | My parents were my first and most important inspiration. My mother was one of the most giving and loved people I’ve ever known. My dad showed by his actions the importance of doing the things in your life that you truly cared about. When I was just 15 he left a position as a senior partner is one of the most important law firms in Hollywood to move us back to Berkeley, California to teach at the University of California Law School for a fraction of the salary. He was there teaching for 42 years until he was 87 and chaired committees until he was 95, passing away at nearly 98.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | That you can “Do Well By Doing Good.” That when you give from your heart it always comes back to you in amazing ways. Find something you are passionate about that serves to improve the world or at least the lives of those you touch and make that a key element of your life and career.
Useful Links |