Jackie Gingrich Cushman

If you happened to be in Philips arena last week, you might have seen me at the Bon Jovi concert.  I was one of a group of eight women walking around in pink Bon Jovi T-shirts.  Yes, we did draw quite a few stares, and I did catch one lady pointing us out to her friend.  Luckily, being stared at a bit does not bother me much.

Normally, I don’t listen to Bon Jovi’s songs, but wow - is lead singer Jon Bon Jovi a great performer.  He gives his all - and the audience reacts.  Here is what I learned from watching Jon Bon Jovi and his band and I suggest the presidential candidates might want to take a few notes:

1)        If You have a Crowd - Merchandise.  According to the Ticketmaster Web site, the maximum seating capacity at Philips arena for a concert with floor seating is 21,000.  Now I am not sure if the arena was full, but it was at least close to full.  When we walked past the entrance doors, we were confronted by merchandise front and center, T - shirts, shorts and tattoos.

Tip - Once you have a crowd, make sure you have a way for them to transfer their cash to your campaign.     

2)        Be the Man (or the Woman) – Jon Bon Jovi has been married to the same woman for decades, and they have four children – but, though he’s well into middle age at 46, he looks the part of a rock star: tight pants, unbuttoned vest, great shape.  In addition, his body movements and confidence exude “rock star.” 

Tip - want to be president - be presidential.

3)        Repetition is Good - keep using the old material that people love.  Bon Jovi opened with classics, some of which dredged up decades-old memories.  The gray haired couple ½ way back on the floor never sat down.  They loved the oldies and it showed.

Tip - Repetition, repetition, repetition.

4)        Get the Crowd Involved in the Act – Each time Jon Bon Jovi or guitarist/songwriter Richie Sambora asked the crowd to sing, both men walked to the sides of the stage, as if they were opening center stage to the crowd.  At one point, Jon Bon Jovi disappeared for a few minutes, reappearing in the middle of the audience, singing his heart out, in a different outfit. On his way back to the stage, he shook as many hands as he could.  The crowd LOVED it.

Tip - get the crowd involved, and shake EVERY hand you can.

5)        Use Other People’s Material - Original material is always good, but if it’s a classic and you can sing it just as well - have at it.  When the band broke into their rendition of the Isley Brothers song “Shout,” the whole crowd began jumping with them. 

Tip – Steal liberally, just give credit.

6)        Keep a Strong Number 2 - Sambora has loads of talent and a great fan base.  In addition, he is physically bigger than Jon Bon Jovi.  Sharing the spotlight with a talented colleague makes Jon Bon Jovi even more of a star. 

Tip - if you have to diminish the second in line – you’re not really a star.

7)        Know When to Close - Of course, they came back for an encore, what did you expect?  But the encores did not last forever.  The fun was had, the performance was done, it was time to go home. 

Tip - Leave them wanting more.

8)        Say Thank You - At the end of the night, the entire band walked to the front of the stage, thanked the audience and bowed.  They conveyed a sense of gratitude to the audience for joining them rather than a request for more clapping.

            Tip - People took time out of their day to spend it with you.  They had other options.  Thank them appropriately and NEVER take them for granted, or they will stop showing up.

While the presidential candidates may learn valuable lessons from the rock stars’ performance, they need not fear the competition. According to “Politicians of All Stripes Join the Line for Bon Jovi,” (New York Times, December 26, 2007) Jon Bon Jovi dismissed rumors that he might possibly run for office, recalling “a conversation with former President Bill Clinton about two years ago.”

The two were on a flight to Maryland for a day of horse racing at Pimlico with some friends when someone asked them to compare occupations. “He said ‘Mr. President, which is better, your job or Jon’s?’ I said, ‘I know the answer to that. Mine, because I get to keep the airplane and the house.’ ”

            Well, the only thing I kept was the $60 pink t-shirt and the $2 tattoo, which should come off with one more shower, but learning these takeaways was pure fun.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.