What We Can Learn About Success from Tom Petty

Tom Petty: photo of Tom Petty by Xander Deccio.
Photo by Xander Deccio/Deccio Creative, All Rights Reserved

It’s hard to believe that Tom Petty is gone. He’s been such a staple in American rock & roll that we never thought we’d see the day. My car radio has been on Sirius XM’s channel 31 for the past week. I love every song the station plays, and I get a little emotional. Tom Petty’s career and accomplishments are staggering. We can learn a lot about success from his lead.

Tom Petty was my biggest influence as a songwriter. His music crept into my heart and soul. Every other song I’ve written has a little Tom Petty vibe in it. But there’s more. There are some great success lessons we can learn from the leader of The Heartbreakers.

4 Things Tom Petty Teaches Us About Success

  1. Be true to your art: As I’ve listened to Tom’s music this past week, I can hear that he never gave into trends. His music was always unique and original. He didn’t jump on the glamour train of the 1980s. And he didn’t play grunge in the 1990s. He just kept playing straight-ahead rock & roll, Southern roots attached. He never wavered.
  2. Be true to your fans: When the record companies raised prices on LPs, Tom held out. He refused to charge people more than what he felt was fair. Later, he did the same for concert tickets as prices skyrocketed. He knew that his fans were the ones who made him who he’d become. He always respected that and gave us his best.
  3. Believe in your team: The Heartbreakers are one of rock & roll’s longest running bands. Tom tried his hand at a couple of solo albums, but quickly reformed the band. He loved working with others and the teamwork shows. Listen to any Tom Petty song, studio or live, and you’ll hear professionalism with every beat, note, and solo.
  4. Rock until you drop: This is big. Tom Petty never quit! When other 70’s and 80’s acts fell into obscurity, he found ways to make his music appeal across the generations. He kept writing fresh material. He kept touring on a regular basis. He portrays stick-to-it-iveness at its best.

Thanks for the Lessons, Tom!

Tom Petty’s departure has hit me hard. I’ve found myself misty eyed more than a few times over the past week. He was one of my all-time favorite acts. But he left us with one of the best catalogues of songs in the history of modern music. Tom Petty’s legacy is more than his music. Tom taught us how to be successful. Be true to what’s important and never give up!

Check out Tom Petty’s last interview by Randy Lewis at the LA Times.

Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been told, You never slow down, you never grow old. – Tom Petty, Mary Jane’s Last Dance

RIP Tom Petty and thanks for the years of musical inspiration. You’ll always be remembered.

Warning: This video is a little weird. But that’s part of what made Tom Petty so unique.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post. If there’s one thing we can learn from Tom Petty, it’s simple: Never back down and keep chasing your dreams.

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