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The Alchemy of Teams

When one plus one equals three hundred million.

By John Jarvis

There is nothing better than being a part of a fantastic team, when everyone contributes, and the outcome is greater than the sum of the parts. And then there are those exceedingly rare moments, when the right people team up and the result is nothing short of alchemy—magically, metaphorically turning base metals into pure gold. In this case I am talking about Elton John and Bernie Taupin, whose albums not only went Gold but also Platinum and Diamond, selling over three hundred million copies worldwide. There is so much we can learn from these two remarkable human beings, let’s break it down.

The story goes that Elton and Bernie met when they both responded to an advertisement looking for new songwriters. Incredibly, neither got the gig. I’d hate to be the person who threw away that winning lottery ticket. Nonetheless, we owe that person a massive debt of gratitude, as the world was forever changed in that moment when these two started talking, and later collaborating.

Elton John was a musician. Bernie Taupin was a poet. Imagine if they had never met. I expect that each would have found a measure of success on their own. Bernie’s books of poetry would be on bookshelves, and Elton would have produced other great music. But he would have never sung Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or Your Song or Rocketman. It is possible that Bernie would have written those poems, and they would be on the pages of those poetry books on the bookshelves. And man, that thought makes me sad.

Clearly, Bernie is a fantastic poet, with his ability to evoke emotion and movement and meaning with words. And somehow, he knew that his words could be more powerful when delivered by the right musician as lyrics, rather than mere poetry.

Clearly, Elton is a remarkable musician with the piano chops to match his beautiful voice. And, somehow, he knew that he needed help from someone to do the thing he couldn’t do—write lyrics.

There is so much humility in all of this, it astounds me. There is also an abundance of emotional intelligence, honesty, vulnerability, self-awareness and trust. And then it worked. Man did it work.

Now Bernie gets to watch his words take flight in the music, soaring around the world and floating aloft in radio waves perhaps forever. Yes, his words take flight, but Elton takes the stage, and much of the credit. I wonder how that feels for Bernie? I expect there must have been at least a few moments of feeling under-appreciated? Jealous even?

And how do they split the earnings? I mean, how do you separate and distinguish the value of the contribution of the constituent parts? Elton seems quite comfortable with the fame, is Bernie content with his relative obscurity?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I just think they are interesting to consider.

And here is my point. As a business leader, as good as you are at what you do, is there an area of your business where you could use help from someone better than you? Is there someone out there that could take your good ideas and make them great, maybe even give them flight to unimagined heights?

Or is there someone already on your team that is quietly fueling your massive success with a relatively unseen and incredibly valuable contribution? Do you see the alchemy? Do you appreciate the contributors? It is surely magic, and it can disappear before our eyes. Maybe now would be a good time to tell them you appreciate them. Maybe you could tell them how wonderful life is with them in the world.

And yes, Jason and Shay Hughes remind me of Elton and Bernie. Working together tirelessly, each contributing in their own way, they have built a truly remarkable company and supercharged the team’s potential. Last year was Hughes Marino’s best year ever, by a good margin (during a pandemic). I mention this because it matters. This isn’t just a pipe dream. This is as real as it gets, and it’s important.

Because you can’t really turn base metals into gold. And sometimes one plus one can equal three hundred million.

John Jarvis is an executive vice president of Hughes Marino, a global corporate real estate advisory firm that specializes in representing tenants and buyers. Contact John at 1-844-662-6635 or john@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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