The Adele anomaly

I love anomalies. They keep us on our toes and from descending into clichés and ruts and expectations.

Adele is an anomaly. In 2011, 2012 and 2016, she was named Artist of the Year. Time magazine named her one of the most influential people in the world in 2012 and 2016. With sales of more than 100 million records, and a net worth of $125 million, Adele is one of the best-selling recording artists in the world…having also just won five grammy awards. And yet she doesn’t tweet, doesn’t do selfies and she doesn’t do product endorsements.

“Commercials, being the face of brands, nail varnishes, shoes, bags, fashion lines, beauty ranges, hair products, being in movies, being the face of a car, designing watches, food ranges, buildings, airlines, book deals. I’ve been offered everything. And I don’t want to water myself down. I want to do one thing. I want to make something. I don’t want to be the face of anything,” she told the New York Times.

The current story says to make it in music (in particular) today, you have to commodify yourself. Adele wholly sticks it up that theory.

Can the Adele Approach be emulated? Should it be? By all of us?

I think it can only be a trigger for our own authentic thinking. Here’s some I take away from the Adele Approach, and which I’ve been applying actively to my career trajectory in one way or another for a number of years.

  1. Do the right thing first, the rest will follow. Tuesdays with Morrie author Mitch Albom taught me this one in a great interview we did a few years ago.
  2. Real artists create for free, the rest will follow. I’ve shared what marketing svengali Seth Godin taught me on this before.
  3. Show up, the rest will follow. New York Times bestseller Gabby Bernstein talked me through this concept. It’s a ripper. You turn up, you focus on your thing – wholly, passionately, heart-feltly – and THAT’S what people respond to. When you do the real work, the world responds to the fact you did the real work. Of the period she took out from the limelight to write 25, she says “Everyone thinks I just disappeared…I just went back to real life, because I had to write an album about real life, because otherwise how can you be relatable? If I wrote about being famous — that’s [expletive] boring.”

A famous Rolling Stone magazine critic once wrote of Dusty Springfield: “She just shows up, and she, and we, are better for it.”

Do you do One Thing? How do you keep from watering yourself down? 

Share this post