040: What the Grateful Dead can Teach us about Business with Brian Mohr

Though many simply think of them as a jam band, the Grateful Dead are one of America’s longest-enduring, most unique, and best-performing businesses. Over the course of a career that has lasted over five decades, they have created a culture, a highly profitable business, and a mindset out of organized chaos. Furthermore, they have survived as a leaderless organization and cemented their legacy in the decades following the death of founding guitarist and effective bandleader Jerry Garcia in 1995. 

If you want to look to numbers for proof, consider the fact that the band made over $50 million almost exclusively from touring and merchandise sales in 1994, and that Dead & Co., the band’s current incarnation led by Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzman, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti grossed over $40 million from ticket sales alone, not including merchandise, in 2019.

Joining me on today’s podcast is fellow Deadhead Brian Mohr. He’s the founder of Mohr Impact Group, a consulting firm focused on organizations who want to unlock the potential of their people by honing in on the importance and power of human connection in the workplace, and we’re digging deep into the business lessons that anyone can learn from the Grateful Dead. 

So, even if you’ve never connected with their music, throw your preconceived notions out the door as we dive into a conversation about how to develop prestigious brands, create customers for life, and build small businesses thinking seriously about conscious capitalism into massive, life-changing organizations. 

In this podcast interview, you’ll learn: 

  • Why the Grateful Dead letting fans tape and share recordings of their concerts was an early and extremely effective form of content marketing.
  • How Jerry’s death and the subsequent infighting between band members mirrors when founders exit – and how John Mayer has stepped into Jerry’s role in a leaderless way while breathing new life into the band and its business. 
  • How the Grateful Dead used their mailing list to create an extraordinarily effective marketing machine that fostered a massively inclusive community and treated them right.
  • Why psychological safety and feeling connected is crucial to being vulnerable enough to take risks and achieve the biggest successes in business. 
  • How technology leaves us feeling both more connected and isolated than ever before – and what business leaders and managers can do to address these issues. 

Interview Resources


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