Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to open the Behind Every Leader conference in Silicon Valley, hosted by Executive Assistants Organization (EAO). This conference was created by executive assistants for executive assistants to network, discuss challenges, and support one another as entrepreneurs and successful administrative professionals. A truly unique and powerful experience, I was blown away by numerous stories of fearless risk-taking and passionate endeavors. The attendees of this event were the gatekeepers of some of the most powerful and influential entrepreneurs and leaders of our time.

The impressive panel of speakers included Libby Moore, former COS to Oprah Winfrey; RoseMarie Terezino, former personal assistant to JFK Jr.; Adrianna Limon, executive assistant to True Blood Producer, Gregg Fienberg; Jenni Pulos, Bravo TV star of ‘Flipping Out’ and many more. Through each interaction and presentation, I was constantly reminded of how fortunate I was to be among this crowd. This was a room full of influencers and innovators, and I was lucky enough to open their conference and share my passion with them. I received some wonderful feedback about how uplifting and inspiring my Drum Cafe West program was, but truthfully, I myself was uplifted and inspired by the attendees.

So often, we distance ourselves from the possibility of life-changing success. We look at celebrities and high-powered officials, and we tell ourselves that they’re special—that they somehow know a secret about success that we don’t. But that just isn’t true. At Behind Every Leader, I was reminded that these superstars of their industries are no different than me. The only thing they did differently than most of us is have complete determination and confidence in the universe that things would work out as they were supposed to. That’s it—confidence.

I’ve written before about what it means to step into one’s power—it’s an essential component of tapping into our most valuable skillsets and embracing what makes a person uniquely gifted. At Behind Every Leader, I was reminded of the incredible influence that experience can have. When people are truly inspired by their work and they feel their work is important, they have a voice that rings out loudly. It’s why I’m able to tap into the heartbeat of corporations and kickstart change. It’s why Richard Branson can transform game-changing ideas into reality—because we love and believe in the possibility of what we can accomplish.

But we have to nurture these passions in order to make them successful. We can all agree you’re never going to make a flower grow by pulling on it, right? You have to give it water, sunlight, and space to grow. You can nurture it, but ultimately the success of the flower relies on you stepping back to let nature take its course.

So be determined. Be confident. Nurture your gifts, and then step back and get out of your way to let nature take its course.


 Drum Cafe

Drummers are idiots

In the music world, drummer jokes are always popular. Most of them have the same punchline: Drummers are idiots. Take, for example, the following: “How do you tell if the stage is level? The drummer is drooling from both sides of his mouth.”

Whether it’s being ruthlessly mocked for their idiocy, repeatedly killed inThis Is Spinal Tap or just lusted after less often than the lead guitarist (whom we’ve already studied), drummers walk a tough road. But it turns out science holds them in really high regard: They have a rare, innate ability to problem-solve and change those around them.

For starters, rock steady drummers can actually be smarter than their less rhythmically-focused bandmates. A study from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm found a link between intelligence, good timing and the part of the brain used for problem-solving. Researchers had drummers play a variety of different beats and then tasked them with a simple 60-problem intelligence test. The drummers who scored the highest were also better able to keep a steady beat. Apparently figuring out how to play in time is just another form of problem-solving. At last, hard proof that John Bonham really was a genius.

But even though a steady drummer may be more intelligent than his or her bandmates, the drummer’s gifts can be shared: a tight beat can actually transfer that natural intelligence to others. In studies on the effects of rhythm on brains, researchers showed that experiencing a steady rhythm actually improves cognitive function. One psychology professor at the University of Washington used rhythmic light and sound therapy on his students and discovered that their grades improved. Similarly, one researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch used that method on a group of elementary and middle school boys with ADD. The therapies had a similar effect to Ritalin, eventually making lasting increases to the boys’ IQ scores.

Granted, these studies focused more on the effects of rhythm on the mind rather than on the mind behind the rhythm. That being said, drummers’ consistent rhythmic focus has positive effects on them and those around them (yes, even their neighbors). That’s because when drummers bring a steady rhythm (and corresponding problem-solving abilities) to a group setting, they actually create a “drummer’s high” for everyone around them. University of Oxford researchers discovered that when drummers play together, both their happiness levels and pain tolerance increase, similar to Olympic runners. We give you Phil Collins:

Observing that high led researchers to hypothesize that drumming was integral to community-building and that sharing rhythms could be the sort of behavior necessary for the evolution of human society. Thanks, Phil.

Stix 2

Drumming is a fundamentally human thing. A lot of modern music has shifted towards drum machines over humans to create ultra-precise electronic rhythms. But it turns out that what we typically perceive as error is really just a uniquely human sense of time: Researchers at Harvard found that drummers harness a different sort of internal clock that moves in waves, rather than linearly as a real clock does. They match an innate rhythm that has been found in human brainwaves, heart rates during sleep and even the auditory nerve firings in cats. When a human drummer plays, he or she finds a human rhythm.

So the stereotypes aren’t just baseless, they’re also plain wrong. A lot of these studies have to do with rhythm just as much as with drumming, but drummers are more engaged with those mental elements than most. They are people tapped into a fundamental undercurrent of what it means to be human, people around whom bands and communities form.

And admit it, sometimes they even write great songs.


Immensely delighted

We are immensely delighted to have partnerred Drum Cafe in our teambuilding event.To practically all the participants was not only fun and entertaining, but also educational in that lessons in communications were cleverly included in the various group activities, hence offering a different yet refreshing perspective.  We thoroughly had a great time and truly enjoyed the night.

It was indeed a fabulous evening and many thought it was different from the numerous other teambuilding sessions they had attended so far.  Said a musically-inclined band member, “It was a brilliant idea to have rhythm as the theme for this team building event. The fact that it involved the constant interaction of those present really made it enjoyable for everyone. As the facilitator mentioned, “The sound of drum beats are the first thing we hear when we are born” goes to show that it has to be an integral part of our being and how it helps us navigate through our lives and interact with others. In that spirit, if a team kept to the same tempo, all sorts of great music can be achieved.”.  Quipped a Line Manager, “through the ‘beat of the drums”, we made lovely rhythm and music to the ears, i.e., synchronization is key in all organization; to be able to have “One voice” and structured as well as organized processes in place.”.  Then again, commented a dance enthusiast: “It was the most memorable and fun get-together experience I had so far with Drum Cafe.

Congres and Conference
Work Together

The evening was lively with everyone having hands-on in the drumming and the miscellaneous musical instruments. The stage play was entertaining and fun too with participation from all.  Don’t mind experiencing it once again.”.  Observed another excited participant:  “this is the first time that I experience this type of ‘drumming’ event and is fun and enjoyable, especially the part that all of us are playing the drum and different types of musical instruments. Really amazing that such simple instruments can make lovely music just like we are preparing for a big performance; and also the ‘instruct-and-receive’ activity on communication, which I find is very important as in our daily life there are always communication breakdown that leads to miss-understanding. This event certainly helps to build rapport and teamwork.  We get to know a bit more about all our colleagues around us whom we seldom encounter and also know who are the more creative type.

Overall, it was a well-organized event and I could feel that everyone enjoyed themselves very much.”

Really enjoyed myself that evening despite waking up the next day with sore/bruised hands. It is a new experience for me especially doing the teambuilding with a musical touch. It’s a totally new experience and very refreshing as compared to treasure hunt, charades and games.  Just feel that it’s a bit rush though and quite late.  Nevertheless, I had a smashing time!!

Team drumming will probably sit in my memory for many years to come. It was very engaging and really fun. I can see that everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I strongly feel that our team has grown stronger and closer after this wonderful event especially when even after the event, everyone helped out in tidying the room (keeping the drums, bursting balloons, etc). We definitely BEAT AS ONE* and will probably carry this rhythm throughout.

To sum it all, we came as individuals, we left as an orchestra.  How true it was, as I recall that one activity requiring us to ‘perform’ with the different lengths of multi-colour hollow rods synchronising in a melodious unison under the cues of the facilitators.  What a superb and wonderfully-coordinated activity through much collaborative effort.  And all of that was incredibly done through music, the universal language.

We take this opportunity also to extend our grateful thanks to your facilitators and musicians for professionally conducting the event, culminating in all of us visibly pleased and satisfied.  It was very fulfilling for all of us to come together for a great performance collectively, entertaining one another and be entertained.”

Why Drum?

Drummen verenigt, geeft energie en inspireert! Het creëert direct betrokkenheid en het is leuk!

Een aloud ritueel in een ‘nieuw jasje’

Drummen, Afrikaans trommelen, is een aloude manier van communiceren en het vormen en versterken van een gemeenschap. In Afrika en tal van andere culturen wereldwijd, wordt er voorafgaand aan het nemen van belangrijke beslissingen, een bijeenkomst georganiseerd in het centum van het dorp waar muziek wordt gemaakt. Het plezier van muziek maken, breekt barrières en creëert een gevoel van eenheid en saamhorigheid en stelt de gemeenschap in staat om op een effectieve manier beslissingen te nemen.

Een bedrijf is een gemeenschap en de waarde van een verenigde gemeenschap is kostbaar. Gezamenlijk drummen in een groep op Afrikaanse trommels, verenigt uw teamversterkt verbinding en verbetert de groepsdynamiek.

Voordelen van gezamenlijk drummen

Het leidt tot eenheid en teambuilding
Muziek is een universele taal. Interactief drummen breekt barrières van hiërarchie, leefttijd, geslacht, cultuur en taal. Drummen breekt het ijs en is een effectieve manier om een diverse groep van mensen met elkaar te laten communiceren, naar elkaar te laten luisteren en als team samen te werken en muziek te maken. Het leidt tot een groepsgevoel, tot saamhorigheid, en geeft iedere deelnemer het gevoel ‘erbij te horen’.

Het stimuleert, geeft ontspanning en maakt mensen ontvankelijk
Het brengt mensen snel in een staat waarin ze gefocust en helder zijn. Drummen is daardoor ideaal voor lange conferenties en congressen – om deelnemers nieuwe energie te geven en op te peppen tussen presentaties door of voorafgaand aan een speech. Drummen ontlaadt stress – zodra je begint te trommelen, bevindt je je direct in het hier en nu.

Het boort creativiteit aan
De deelnemers wordt geleerd om te stoppen met denken en om het ritme te voelen! De linker- en rechterhersenhelft worden tegelijkertijd gebruikt. Dit stimuleert het creatieve of het ‘out of the box’-denken.

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Leren en inzicht
De analoog tussen het orkest en het team geeft een enorm inzicht. De deelnemers leren door de muzikale ervaring hoe belangrijk het is om samen te werken en naar elkaar te luisteren. Ze leren ook hoe groot het belang is van hun eigen, individuele inbreng, binnen de context van het team.

Het aspect ‘plezier’ bij Drum Cafe is enorm aanstekelijk – zelfs de meest gereserveerde of cynische persoon van het team zal aan het einde van het event lachend en trommelend zich uitleven. Interactief drummen met Drum Cafe is een feest!

Waarom kiezen om met uw bedrijf te gaan drummen?

Naast de genoemde voordelen, zijn er tal van andere redenen om ervoor te kiezen om met uw bedrijf of tijdens uw evenement te drummen.

Drummen is kort en krachtig
Drummen hoeft het werk niet lang te onderbreken. Een interactieve drumsessie duurt gemiddeld een uur. Het effect is direct merkbaar en heeft een langdurige werking. We kunnen ‘s ochtends om 8 uur beginnen, en om 9 uur weer de deur uit zijn! We garanderen een verkwikkende start van de dag. We kunnen een drumsessie doen als vergaderbreak, of tussen presentaties door, of we kunnen het einde van uw dag verzorgen, waardoor u uw groep een uur later geheel opgeladen, geënthousiasmeerd en verenigd de dag afsluit. Er kunnen ook kortere of langere sessies worden gegeven van 10 minuten tot 2,5 uur of meerdere verspreid over de dag, zodat het interactieve drummen is verweven met uw evenement.

Het meest toegankelijke instrument dat er bestaat
De trommel is het makkelijkste instrument om te bespelen voor niet-muzikanten. Om te kunnen trommelen heb je geen talent, aanleg of lichamelijke vaardigheden nodig – alleen maar een dosis plezier! Aangezien we 9 maanden lang de hartslag van onze moeder horen, is de trommelslag in ieder van ons van nature aanwezig.

Makkelijk te organiseren
Een Drum Cafe evenement is makkelijk te organiseren. Overal waar uw evenement plaatsvindt kan een drumevenement plaatvinden. We komen naar de locatie waar u uw evenement houdt en nemen voor iedere deelnemer een trommel of ander percussie-instrument mee. Dit kunnen we doen voor groepen vanaf 20 personen tot zeer grote groepen van duizenden mensen. Het enige waar u voor zorgt is de ruimte en stoelen.

Unieke ervaring: krachtig en opwindend
De ervaring van het trommelen in een groep is uniek en laat een geweldige indruk achter bij de deelnemers. Ze gaan gegarandeerd naar huis met verhalen over hun belevenissen tijdens de interactieve drumsessie. Trommelen is simpelweg de meest krachtige tool voor teambuiding en de meest opwindende vorm van entertainment voor bedrijven.

Story telling

As an event facilitator, performer and corporate thought leader, I’ve spent the majority of my life learning to tell stories and teaching others how to embrace and share theirs. Stories are powerful. Stories show, not tell, and they’re some of the greatest communication tools we have.

Think back to your last business meeting or team training. Was there an opportunity to share one of your strengths with the person you were speaking with? How did you communicate that? If you just listed your strengths, you may have done yourself a disservice. Turning that list into a well-crafted (true) story can take you from mouthpiece to influential leader in no time. Here are three great reasons you should work on your storytelling!

  1. You can back up your claims. Storytelling allows us to talk about a time when we were resourceful, creative, fearless, innovative, etc. Next time you’re trying to communicate a lesson to your team, instead of listing off traits to describe yourself or strengths that you perceive yourself to have, think about a story you could share to demonstrate it instead. What situation would best illustrate the point you’re trying to make? Examples are powerful.
  2. You enhance your connection to others. We’ve all been in meetings or interviews where we’ve been stuck listening to someone ramble on about how they are an out-of-the-box thinker or detail oriented. After a few minutes, we start to tune out. Remember that storytelling can help you engage others in active listening, making yourself and your story more memorable and impactful. Stories give others touch points and things to relate to. Don’t underestimate the power of this connection. It could be the difference between a team that listens and a team that tunes out.
  3. You learn about yourself. Believe it or not, by learning the art of objectively telling a story, you can see yourself and your behavior more clearly. It may even illuminate that some of your perceived weaknesses are actually your strengths. We tend to look at our lives through filters. By working on the story, you remove the filter and allow yourself to truly see your brilliance.

Do you often employ storytelling to communicate in the professional world?
Natalie Spiro

Vitamin D – Vitamin Drum

Even as we understand the drum and its unique contribution to the cultural need for quality of life and connection, it should not be mistaken as a cure.  Taking vitamins will not cure your cold.  They will, however, help your system build its defenses against its susceptibility to viruses.  Drumming is not a panacea.  Even penicillin does not help every person.  The drum is not like a pill.  You can’t just take two and call someone in the morning.  It is the process of participation that creates change.  We are learning more about the form of group drumming and the skills of the facilitator that are most useful in the life-enhancement paradigm of music-making. The use of world percussion instruments seems to be a key.

Playing with our hands or a single mallet makes drumming most accessible  The crucial element seems to be the focus on fun, self-expression, support, and connection.  These are much more important than whether people can read a sheet of music, play a paradiddle, or count out different metric signs.  In fact, without any knowledge of specific rhythms, I have seen many music-therapy clients play amazing rhythms.  I remember one drum circle with a group of Alzheimer’s patients in which a woman started a rhythm in 5/4.  As if that wasn’t amazing enough, the whole group followed along, completely unaware of the complexity of what they were doing – sounding fantastic and having a blast!

A pharmacy exists in my mind where drums are shelved next to St. John’s Wart as a homeopathic mood-enhancer.  Where a directory of “rhythmic health facilitators” sits on the counter at which you pick up your prescriptions.  Where a pharmacist hands customers an information page listing local drum circles in the community.

Music training can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills

We generally assume that learning a musical instrument can be beneficial for kids, but it’s actually useful in more ways than we might expect. One study showed that children who had three years or more musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills.


They also tested better on vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills, which involve understanding and analysing visual information, such as identifying relationships, similarities and differences between shapes and patterns.

These two areas in particular are quite removed from musical training as we imagine it, so it’s fascinating to see how learning to play an instrument can help kids develop such a wide variety of important skills.


Similar research shows this correlation for exercise and motor skills in the same way, which is also fascinating.