I participated in Marc Anthony’s Opus Tour last night and woke up inspired to share a few insights.
I say participated, because before he even stepped on stage, many of us in audience were already out of our seats salsa-ing to the music and by the time he did step into the spotlight, zero chairs were occupied.
They remained so the entire night. Except for the abuela next to me who rested a few moments. Her grandson had brought her to the concert for her 79th birthday. Cutest thing ever!
But back to Marc.
How does one man create this kind of phenomenon: have 20,000 people already on their feet before he even appears?
Not only that, but we pay to be there?
Now THAT is leadership!
So how does he do it?! And how can we do some of that too, in our own work?
Here’s what I saw:
1. His kinesphere filled the entire arena. It’s gigantic!
A “kinesphere” is the sphere around a body, whose periphery can be reached by easily extended limbs without taking a step. It’s the energy everyone feels when in our proximity. We can expand or contract it with our emotions (excitement vs anxiety), our thoughts (confidence vs timidity), our exercise (regular vs inactive), and our intentions (growing vs maintaining). With practice, we can expand our kinesphere well beyond our bodily proximity, so that it can fill an entire arena, just as Marc Anthony does!
2. He was intimately connected with each one of us individually.
While simultaneously holding all 20,000 of us in his kinesphere, Marc also connected with us via direct eye contact, facial expressions, and the way he stood and moved (with his body open to everyone there). That body language indicated that he was fully present with me as an individual, just as much as the entire 19,999 other people.
3. Every song was original.
Meaning that each song we heard last night was not at all like listening to the albums; each one was made original again for us that night by his adjustments on the fly: Marc expanded some sections; changed the rhythm faster and slower; added solos, novel lead-ins and/or giant crashing finales; turned the volume up and down; and riffed off us when we joined in. He knew his instrument (voice), music, band and audience so well that he could fluidly, spontaneously make adjustments that enhanced the experience for everyone. Including himself no doubt: it must have been an incredible experience of being in flow!
4. He knew the power of a pause.
Marc took his sweet ass time. With everything. His deliberate pace built tension and our anticipation with each passing moment. He often paused to just BE with us all, simply standing at center stage radiating his magnificence and reflecting back to us all of ours. With the band at his back, this was a powerful visual and musical container. It was a palpable, felt experience for us in the audience, including his very entrance.
5. He was finely in tune with his band.
Not just in tune on hitting the right notes; rather I mean in tune re: operating as a high-performance team, together as one. This requires trust, transparency and clear communication between all team members, and a willingness to be fully in the moment together. It also required a willingness from Marc to allow and encourage ideas to emerge from within his band and from us in the audience.
6. Each direction Marc gave was clear, concise and an invitation.
A simple nod of his head, hip thrust or hand gesture immediately brought the volume of his band (and us) up or down, the rhythm faster or slower, certain instruments drop in or out. His body language was decisive and powerful; but delivered with flow rather than force. His musicians wanted to do what he asked of them, and we wanted to sing, dance or clap along. No one felt as if he was telling them what to do, or if they did, were eager and already about to do it, just waiting for his invitation to dive in, to play our notes and part.
7. Marc appreciated each team member, publicly.
At some point in the evening, every instrument got their time in the spotlight with a solo performance. He made sure we saw and appreciated all aspects of his team. Even some that didn’t on the surface of it seem like a natural fit, such as an intense electric guitar solo, worked because they were appropriately integrated into the overall set by the rest of the band’s sound and rhythm which providing the framing for each soloist to really shine, similar to the right setting making a diamond really glow.
8. He fanned their flames.
Marc himself was egging them on: he came over to each soloist and personally invited them to step it up. As he moved, the spotlight naturally followed him, which increased exposure of the soloist immediately, but he then built up the energy around them by his body language (by clapping for them and facing them, etc) which focused our attention on his team member. Their leaders’s attention, support, encouragement and protection increased that musicians energy and thus elevated their performance. Watching all this, our excitement about and engagement with that soloist increased dramatically as well.
9. Then he stepped out of the spotlight.
As the solo performances built, Marc increased the focus on them by removing himself from that spotlight so all our eyes were now on the soloist. He remained nearby, we could all see him in the shadows along with the rest of the band. So the soloist was both completely alone but never felt isolated or separate; in fact was fully supported at all times by leadership and team, though they were not in view to that soloist at the time.
10. He got into the trenches with them.
During the drum solo, Marc got that section going, then dove in for a few bars himself on a nearby drumset, but never overpowered his drummers. In so doing, he built solidarity, while also encouraging them to shine their own light. He then artfully got out of the way and let them run with it, as you can see in this video:
11. Marc knew his audience.
He connected with us all in multiple ways: focusing his performance and attention on the audience in specific areas of the arena; calling out all ethnic groups by global location while also collectively including them as Latin; and speaking 99% in Spanish (there were perhaps 10 English words, which given the fact that there were maybe 10 white people there, was appropriate even thou the concert was in the US where English is the main language).
12. He was seriously working, with a playfulness.
We could all see the focus with which Marc was inhabiting himself, the stage, whole arena and of course his own singing. He used his entire body to demonstrate this the whole night. But despite the intensity this would take, he brought a lightness, a sense of play, fun and flirting to each and every moment. While playfulness might seem unnecessary to our work, it actually serves to get and keep us in a state of flow, from which we can perform at much higher levels (see this article for more on generating a state of flow).
13. Marc modeled it for us.
He was so fully immersed, so in it, that when he invited us to join him in clapping, or his band in adjusting to a faster / slower rhythm, we were delighted to be invited and jumped right in not only because his enthusiasm was so infections, but because we saw him doing it himself. Marc modeling the behaviors gave us permission to do the same. He established the cultural norms in the arena that night by doing what he was asking us to participate in too.
14. He spoke my language.
I don’t know how to speak Spanish, nor how to salsa. But the presence and coherence that Marc brought to that arena last night had me feel each and every note, word and movement just as powerfully as those who did. Knowing them, and more about Latin culture, would of course have me get it all even more deeply; but my point is that his human being spoke to my human being in a direct, intimate, raw way that is common to all human beings.
If all that doesn’t have you looking up his tour schedule already, bravo for making it to the end of this article.
Drop a comment about your thoughts on this leadership topic, including about Marc Anthony if you’ve seen him live!
Or let us know about other performers who gave you a similar experience to what I’ve described here.
Then go see Marc in-person, you won’t regret it: his Opus Tour continues thru June 2020!!
Do you have a big performance coming up?
Or a keynote speech or VC pitch?
I’d love to help you fulfill on all your intended outcomes with clarity, velocity – and lots of fun! – using cutting-edge high-performance coaching techniques and tools to elevate your already amazing work to new levels of excellence!