“After two hours of going around in circles above Murmansk, physical and metaphorical, the rules of the game changed: ‘Unless you go away, we will shoot you down.’ One day, I thought as we turned and headed towards Ivalo in Finland, I should write a book about this.” – from Bruce Dickinson, Autobiography, ‘What does this button do?’
We had the pleasure of spending ‘An Evening with 57-year old Bruce Dickinson in Oulu in Finland in November. If this gentleman is unknown to anyone, Bruce Dickinson is the lead singer of Iron Maiden, a commercial pilot, brewmaster, entrepreneur and creative business thinker. He is also out with his recently published book, Autobiography: Bruce Dickinson, ‘What does this button do?’
During the evening we got to meet Bruce and Dave from CSA (Dave travels with Bruce during his speaking engagements) before his performance on stage and we got to talk about his life, the fascination that he has for everything that concerns airplanes (he is a qualified pilot who holds an Air Transport Pilots’ Licence and has more than 7,000 hours of flying experience), the importance of trust in relationships and his views about leadership. When asked how he can keep his focus with so many hats to wear, he told us that he considers these two factors very important when it comes to leadership:
”Delegate to the right people”, and ”Keep on top of things without micromanaging.”
Bruce started his talk by entering the stage with an incredible amount of energy and his hair let loose from the previously tied knot in his famous hair. The crowd went crazy in the little music hall in Northern Finland and I have never seen people in this country as excited about anything before. Bruce’s three-hour performance held the crowd totally flabbergasted from beginning to end and when he thanked the audience, there was no end to the clapping and cheering and people stood up in a standing ovation to thank him for an extraordinary evening.
A very Brucey childhood and youth
Bruce told the story of his childhood. How he grew up with his grandmother and grandfather and never really liked school. Already at a young age he asked why he should go to a public school (that is apparently a private school in the UK) and considered professions such as accounting, law, and medical professions the same as a sure death. He then went to public school but finally got expelled after urinating in the headmasters’ dinner (yes, he did eat the dinner). Before that he also bought horse maneuver from a farmer and had it transported to the front of the school steps. Bruce was no perfect student and he joked that would he be young today he would probably be medicated into a more submissive child. He also showed the picture of the letter that was written when he was expelled from school and the latter clearly stated that ‘his tongue has always been his undoing’. Which we all now know actually happened to be his biggest gift.
Bruce then went on to tell the story of how he played in different bands for years and how he finished his ‘Modern History’ -degree at the same time (laughing at the combination of modern and history in the same sentence). He told stories that were so unique, fun and sometimes crazy that you really started wondering how one person could experience so many things during one lifetime. Bruce also told us about his meeting with the Queen (no, not the rock band Queen). How she had no idea what a ‘Heavymetal Band’ was and how Bruce really didn’t know how to explain it to her. He also said that he has tremendous respect for her and that she is the best person in the word on oneliners.
During his talk Bruce also went into heavier topics such as the day when he found out about his throat cancer and how he usually deals with adverse situations in life. He said that you can either cry about it or decide to deal with it and do your best in the situation that you are in. He also found it a relief when the doctor told him that it was not his fault that he fell ill, but rather a stroke of bad luck. That cancer is not hitting your body because you have been a bad person or have some bad karma to catch up upon.
All in all ‘An Evening with Bruce’ was a fantastic experience and I felt so inspired leaving The Music Centre together with my colleagues after hearing Bruces’ story. Bruce told us that one of his main focus throughout life, is it through music, flying or public speaking, is to give people a story, a narrative. Even with the new Iron Maiden show the focus is on the story. That thing that makes people tick.
“I have always had a great taste. Every year Paris Fashion week phones me up and tells me not to show up. I mean, what on earth makes anyone wear stuff like this? And I always had a leg envy for Steve Harris. In our tight pants he looked like an elegant gazelle with frog legs and I looked like a rugby player.”- from the talk ‘An Evening with Bruce Dickinson’
This article was written by Kia Herold, MySpeakers Marketing and Communications director who thinks that there is nothing more inspiring than a good story.