Collaboration-The Key To Success




No man is an island. Nobody does it all alone. Even the stories you hear of the "self-made man" are rarely as straight-forward as you'd imagine.

There's always been an element of luck involved. Hard work, talent, determination and a willingness to succeed irrespective of the odds are ultimately what makes the difference in the end and these factors can obviously not be  discounted.

But a helping hand along the way...somebody who said " I like what you're doing I'd like to help you out if I can" can make the difference between that all-important door opening and not.

 Having that connection-both connecting with someone  on an personal level and that onward connection to the gatekeeper or even past the gatekeeper is essential for success.


So that's what we're talking about...collaboration.

The secret behind every success story is the story of a group of people-however small-helping each other work towards a common goal-or indeed just supporting each other. Being there whenever a helping hand was needed.  As mentioned in previous episodes, the gig economy has meant there's  many more people multi-tasking yes-but jumping from project to project-working short-term-...sharing skills, sharing contacts, sharing talents...collaboration makes it happen. The key word here is sharing.

This is a subject that is discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s great book “Outliers”-The Story Of Success.

There are so many other factors involved in each individual story…from being born at the right time, going to the right school, having the right connections. Being a genius helps as well! I’d totally recommend reading this book if you’re interested in understanding the many varied paths to success. It’s never just the one thing in isolation.

I was fortunate years ago, early in my music career, to work with the Acclaimed British Film Director Ken Loach on the film "Carla's Song".

 I had a very small role to play. I was merely playing the part of nightclub singer...not much a stretch!

I was singing two songs live in the movie-which was slightly nerve-racking but I love a challenge.

The scene started with me singing "Your Song" by Elton John in the background. So if I screwed up what I was doing the scene would have to reset and start again.

So I didn't want to screw up! But the reason I'm mentioning this story is because Ken Loach practices what he preaches. Everybody on that set had an equal part to play and I was made to feel just as important as the lead characters in the scene. It was truly a collaborative process for him. But, by having that approach he ensured that he got the best out of me and everyone else on that set. I didn't want to let him down. I wanted to do my best.

I will be the first to admit that collaboration has not come easy to me. I was very closed off to it when I first started making music. The joy for me was making music by myself. So, it took a while for me to get into the right mindset for collaboration. There was a certain amount of “letting go” that I had to do…realising that maybe I didn’t have all the answers. Ultimately though whenever you work with collaborators that creatively challenge you to do better and stimulate you to come up with your best possible work…that is when the true benefits of creative collaboration are to be found. In the end, what I found was that by being more open in that area of my work I became more receptive to input in other areas. I also, by accident, became a better listener. Practicing that old saying “you have two ears and one mouth”-in other words listen more and talk less.

Collaboration, particularly in the digital age, has become a completely different thing as well. I’m sure lots of us regularly work with other people in different countries on projects, whom we have never met. I have done songwriting sessions on Skype. I regularly write melodies and lyrics over the top of backing tracks that are sent to me from people all over the world. It is the norm. Equally, I’ll put tracks together for other writers to write “toplines”/melodies to. This way of working is common place in most creative businesses these days.

The important thing about all of this is that people are working together. By working together we can all rise. We are also creating ever more opportunities for success by not limiting ourselves to our own abilities or connections.

In collaboration we tend to gravitate to those people who share our values and beliefs. In effective organisations when those teams are working towards a common purpose that’s when the strongest bonds are formed. We all want to have that sense of belonging. We all want to feel that what we are doing is worthwhile and appreciated. We want to be involved. But we also want our contributions to be recognised. Collaborate ? Yes. But, don’t take all the credit for yourself. Credit where credit is due.

There’s a wonderful tradition in Africa called Ubuntu that is perfectly described by Nelson Mandela:-

“The profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others. That if we are to accomplish anything in this world it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others”.

Isn’t that a wonderful idea? That only by working together can we truly accomplish anything.














How To Fully Engage Your Employees




“Throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you thought could never be yours.”-Dale Carnegie


How many people get up in the morning and think “Awesome, I’m going to work today and I’m really excited about what I’m going to do, looking forward to working with the team and helping everyone work toward a common goal”?

The answer is probably “not enough”.

When employees are fully engaged, they know their role in the organisation and how that fits in with the organisations’ vision and objectives.

When employees:-

·        Have a clear understanding of where the organisation is going

·        Know how the organisation is evolving to better achieve those aims

·        Have involvement in decision making, having their ideas heard and validated

·        Know they are trusted and feel empowered

·        Feel totally a part of the team

·        Have concise goals

·        Receive constructive feedback

·        Are supported in improving and developing new skills

·        Are shown gratitude for their contributions and rewarded accordingly…


… then they are fully engaged and committed to the organisation.


They feel that they are truly PART OF THE STORY.


Trust, a sense of fairness and an understanding that promises will be met all contribute to highly-engaged organisations with a strong core set of values and beliefs.

So how does employee engagement impact on employers?

It’s all about creating positive attitudes and patterns of behaviour that result in an improvement to business outcomes.

If your employees feel a sense of pride working for you then they will be your biggest ambassadors to clients and customers. They won’t feel that they’re being exploited.

They’ll put in the overtime to get the job done. Why? Because they care.

At the end of the day, an engaged workforce results in increased productivity, less sick absence, higher concentration levels result in less accidents and workplace conflicts also decline.

But here is where authenticity is the key. Employees are NOT stupid.

They have to feel that this a real genuine culture and not a “one-size-fits-all” band-aid to make everybody feel better. It has to be consistent.

The organisations actions have to be aligned with its core values. It has to be a real breathing thing and respond to the needs of its employees in the same way that it would respond to the most demanding client.

 Your people are your currency. If you serve them, they will serve you.

They are, in many instances, the first port of call for your customers. If they are feeling belittled and unimportant then it stands to reason that they might not be giving their best.

When they truly feel a part of the team and that what they contribute has value to the organisation’s overall objectives then they will truly be engaged and working to their utmost potential.

The objective should be to engage with each and every member of the team, making everybody a part of the decisions made.

We should be cultivating self-organising teams. Giving them the power to fail and try again, to experiment, until they reach decisions and choices as a team that bring them together and ultimately serve the greater good of the organisation.

Always remembering the objective is to make them a PART OF THE STORY.

What are you doing to engage your employees? Are there ways you can improve?




|Elements of this blog first appeared on “The Friel Thing” podcast.




Frielance Music at The Insights Global Leadership Conference

We were delighted to be involved in Insights Global Leadership Conference on April 27th.

We were working with Leaders from all over the world in our "Face The Day" morning session. In the afternoon we surprised all attendees with the news that they were going to be singing "Mary's Prayer" that evening as part of a flash mob "Music Moment" in front of over 200 guests at the charity dinner in aid of Mary's Meals. It was a wonderful event that raised over £75,000 for Mary's Meals.

You can see the flash mob performance below. This was a bespoke program that we put together for Insights. If you would like us to create a program for your event then please contact us:

The Real Power Of Decisions-Putting Them Into Action



"A real decision is measured by the fact that you've taken a new action.

If there's no action, you haven't truly decided"-Tony Robbins



So you want to start a new business. You've done your market research.

You've spent months testing your product. You're really excited about this new opportunity.

This is going to be the most game-changing, disruptive thing to happen in years.

But, there's just one more thing you want to "get right"...


But, guess what?

There will never be a "perfect time". You will never know "all the facts".

There will always be "one more thing".


When I was first interested in music back in high school, my Dad would ask me "When are you going to get your demo recorded?".

I replied "When the exams are over". The exams came and went and I still hadn't recorded anything.

My Dad asked me again and, raising an eyebrow, said "When the exams are over?". I smiled sheepishly but took the point.

I knew what I wanted to do but I hadn't put anything into action to achieve it.

This question has become a shorthand in our family for procrastination.

Why are you putting off until tomorrow, what can be accomplished today?


At the heart of this lack of action is Fear.

What if this doesn't work? What if I fail?

We can't second guess every possible outcome. We can't have 20/20 foresight.

But, most importantly, we can't achieve anything without taking that first step forward.


By all means, weigh up options, make educated and informed decisions. But MAKE DECISIONS.

Put them into action.

Until we actually do something about those decisions, we are merely writing a wishlist and achieving nothing.


So, what have you done today to achieve your goals?

Make a decision and then...








Musical Teambuilding at The Business Tourism Conference 2016

We were delighted to be a part of the Business Tourism Conference on December 6th. Great to be able to use the impressive facilities of the Strathclyde University Innovation & Technology Building as well. The video screens were in full effect!

This was a debut appearance for "Everybody's Taking The Train" which was a lot of fun as we got a "Musical Mexican Wave" going round the room.

Thanks to all at Stark Events for their assistance in making such a busy conference such a success.

Bring on 2017!

 Greg Friel-photo by Sandy Young.

Greg Friel-photo by Sandy Young.

"What's Your Favourite Song?"

"What's Your Favourite Song?"

You know you've got one. 
That one song that when it comes on it can completely change your mood.
It can lift you up on your darkest days. It can help you to face the morning with a smile.

For me, whenever I hear the opening drum intro to "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder my life is immediately better. 
I am transported to a place where Stevie's grooves and super-smooth voice just lift me up out of the ordinary.

Music can do that. Music has that power.
I see it everyday. Not just in the people I work with-but in everyday situations:
-The Barista who dances whilst making my morning latte ( It's not the caffeine that puts him in a good mood it's the music!)
-The Workmen who unconsciously sing along to Kylie playing on the radio.

Music has the ability to unite a group of people who have just met for the first time. 
To empower the bored and listless to get up off their seats and engage with the people around them.
To make a group of friends spontaneously start dancing.

Why? Because they can and because it feels good.

You know you've got a Gym playlist that works for you. 
-Maybe it's some uptempo EDM feel-good tracks that get your heart racing.
-Maybe you like to rock out to Guns'n'Roses to get you psyched before that sales meeting?
-Maybe a little bit of everything?

We all have our "go to" tracks that help us get in-the-zone and prepared mentally for what we are about to do or just to help us stay motivated along the way.

Music is the great unifier.
A great song can travel across any border, break down any barrier and open up lines of communication.
I know people who disagree on everything else-agree that "Mr.Blue Sky" by ELO just generally makes any day better.

What do you want to achieve today?

Why not give it a soundtrack and start your day right?

Greg Friel.

Motivational Teambuilder.

Festival Fireworks

 Kirkintilloch Canal Festival, August 20th, 2016

Kirkintilloch Canal Festival, August 20th, 2016

It was raining. I wasn't surprised. It's Scotland. It happens...a lot!

But, it didn't seem to deter the couple of thousand people that came along to the Marina at Kirkintilloch last night to witness the annual fireworks' display as part of The Canal Festival.

"Rhythm Of The Celts" is the piece that I performed along with the fireworks. An original piece that I composed for the Festival in 2013. It was requested again for last night's display and I was delighted to get a chance to perform it again. 

From the opening atmospheric chords and the initial short blasts of light from across the marina, it was clear that the audience were here to enjoy the event irrespective of the weather. Not afraid to have a dance to the constantly rising tempo of the music.

I love doing this event. It's so much fun and just totally different to anything else that I do. Nothing can match the spectacle of the music and fireworks in person. We've had video taken every year that we've done the event (This is the 6 consecutive year) and it does give you an idea of what takes place,but it's not quite the same as actually being there.

Shout out to Fraser Stevenson and Absolute Fireworks for doing a stellar (sorry!) job as ever in constructing an epic display to sync perfectly with my music.

Let's do it all again next year...would it be ok if it was dry? Pllleeeaase!