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  • Writer's pictureSETH MCCOLLEY

The devil is in the details

Celebrities put some pretty strange requests in their contracts. Consider these...

  • 12 8x10 glossies of the reigning Pontiff (Sinead O'Connor)

  • A pork-free environment, Big Red gum and Doritos (Ice Cube)

  • All rooms must be 65 degrees or lower (Joan Rivers)Dressing room must be fully wrapped in plastic (Prince)

  • A bowl of M&Ms in the dressing room that has all of the brown M&Ms removed from it - say what?!

Van Halen's odd M&M request has been well documented (here, here and here) over the years. If you're not familiar with it, here's a quick summary, pulled from

An excerpt from David Lee Roth's autobiography revealed the following:
Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes . . .” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.” So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl . . . well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.

Freakin' brilliant! I love the way this cat thinks. 

How do we, as leaders, managers and HR pros take a lesson like this and put it to work for us in the workplace? Do you have any "brown M&Ms" of your own? Now I'm not suggesting that we bury obscure, irrelevant details and data points in our work and play the "gotcha" game with our employees, vendors and/or customers. Nothing like that. But I'd like to get your take on how a principle like this might fit in the HR/management space. Maybe it doesn't. Post a comment. Let's discuss.

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