The Dave Grohl School of Leadership

The Dave Grohl School of Leadership

by Mark Fornasiero

Did any of you catch SNL last week? It was amazing to see Foo Fighters, looking as fresh, energetic and relevant as ever, decades after their breakout in 1994. This post was inspired by that performance…

The Dave Grohl School of Leadership – Biz 101 with the Foo Fighters


Let’s consider for a moment the commercial success of the band’s leader, drummer / guitarist / singer-songwriter Dave Grohl. Did you know that Nirvana and Foo Fighters have combined to sell over 85 million albums worldwide? To reach that level of success in an industry that has gone through the degree of gut-wrenching changes that the music business has been through is nothing short of remarkable. The fact that he has done it while maintaining a high degree of integrity and creativity means there are probably more than a few lessons the business world can take from Mr. Grohl.


In fact, I recall an interview he gave a few years ago in Rolling Stone that struck me at the time as being awash in leadership and business advice (though he probably didn’t see it that way). So, let’s go to business school with rocker Dave Grohl and his band, Foo Fighters. Here are some quotes from that article and the implications for leadership and business strategy:


1. Dave: “I might be an earnest and nerdy guy, but it’s worked for the past 20 years.”

Lesson: Being genuine and truthful in life, or business, leads to lasting success. People want to associate, align themselves, and do business with, the real deal.

2. Dave: “Just remember, all it f**king (he swears a lot, let’s give him the poetic license) takes is for you to turn someone else on to something that’ll change their f**king life. Imagine all the s**t you can turn your friends on to…”

Lesson: Look for ways to impact people’s lives. The journey you will take them on will have huge rewards for both of you.

3. Pat Smear (Foo Fighters’ guitarist): “Dave has a vision. Our job is to meet that vision, or do something that exceeds it.”

Lesson: You know what Pat is describing there? An aligned culture. The leader sets the vision. His team fully buys into it and wants not only to achieve it, but EXCEED IT! How many business leaders reading this have their employees/team members talk like that about where they want to take their business?

4. Butch Vig (legendary record producer): “People follow him because they believe Dave is sincere. He wants to make records that have relevance.”

Lesson: Integrity. Honesty. Vulnerability. Do people in your company talk like that about their boss in this way?

5. Dave: “I would walk into interviews (for the HBO documentary) with real questions I didn’t know the answers to. I looked at them as lessons.”

Lesson: The guy behind two of the biggest bands of the last generation is looking for lessons anywhere he can get them. Life-time learner. Endlessly curious. Sounds like he should be heading up your innovation program.

6. Dave: “…there is so much opportunity in America. Why not find the thing you don’t know how to do and do it yourself? The opportunity is there.”

Lesson: He doesn’t want to keep repeating himself. He wants to get good at things he doesn’t know how to do. Tell me this guy couldn’t run a wildly innovative, creative, ground-breaking company in any industry he chose.

7. Pat Smear: “Dave told someone in another band not long ago, ‘You need to get a band that makes you sound really good. That’s what I did.’”

Lesson: Surround yourself with great people. Hire people who are better than you and let them do their thing.

8. Dave: “The great thing about being surrounded by people you love is you can come to them and say, ‘I have an idea, ‘trust me’, and they say, ‘OK’….

Class dismissed.


Mark Fornasiero is the co-founder of ACE Coworking and an independent consultant specializing in growth-and-exit strategies for privately-held enterprises. Mark also provides professional consulting to entrepreneurs looking to launch and operate their own independent coworking spaces. 

4 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

4 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

Lucky you! We’ve asked some of our talented members to share their expertise with you each month. In this series of posts, you get to pick some super-smart brains. Our first contribution comes from Roger and Sarvy Van Maris, of Piece of Cake Digital Marketing and E-Commerce.

Image by Renata Pollock

It’s About “Click Through”

Remember this term. It’s the primary purpose of every good email campaign! You can’t sell or convert from an email. But what you can do with an effective email is entice your reader to “CLICK THROUGH” to your website for more information. That should be your #1 goal. Include just enough enticing content in your email to interest your reader to visit your site. There they can
find all the detail they desire, which will hopefully lead to a possible sale or conversion for you.

Focus on a Singular Message

Do you often receive emails with multiple offers, numerous information items, and/or a list of great articles? We do, and we cringe. All this variety only serves to confuse readers and lose potential conversions. The days of the rambling newsletter email are gone – your audience is trusting you to provide concise and valuable information and insights. Focus on a single specific purpose and call to action. You might highlight a product, a tip, a promotion, an article… but pick just ONE, not all. Besides making your message clearer, focusing on just one thing allows you to track your results very precisely. Bonus!

Keep it Short

It’s an act of generosity for a subscriber to give you their email, so don’t punish them with 1800 words to read! (Even 500 words may be too much.) Make the content easy for them to understand so that they quickly click through to your site. Connect – Recognize a Problem – Build Interest – Transfer Momentum. You can do this in 4 sentences!

Minimize Selling

Limit your sales-oriented emails. A sure way to reduce your email list is to constantly put “Awesome Promo!” or “Get it NOW!” in front of your subscribers. Alternate your sales messages with helpful content and interesting information. A solid ratio we recommend to our clients: for every 1 sales-related email, send 2 non-salesy emails. Remember your purpose is to drive readers to your website where you do the sales promoting anyway.

These tips will get you started, but if you want to learn more about how to optimize your Digital Marketing efforts, feel free to reach out to POC at or 905 257 8698. Set up a free 20-min consult on Zoom or meet them face-to-face at ACE Coworking.

No project is too large or small for Piece of Cake Digital Marketing, which has over two decades of internet experience. This dedicated team of professional online strategists, designers, programmers, SEO specialists and SEM marketers is extremely passionate about empowering their clients to prosper!