You Done Hired the Hit-Maker

There is a great old story about a great old drummer named Bernard Purdie, who, if you’ve not heard of him, played on records by James Brown, Frank Sinatra, BB King, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis and Steely Dan.

Bernard has a beautiful sense of time. When you hear him playing a simple beat, you want to move. (For an example of that, click on the following link.)


The story goes that when Bernard was hired for a session, he would come in, set up his drums, and then before beginning to play, would also put up two signs, one on each side of his drum set.

One sign read: “You done it.”

The other sign read: “You done hired the hit-maker, Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie.”

That’s pretty bold.

If you watch the video clip above, you’ll understand why he was so bold. If you watch this video clip below, you’ll hear Walter Fagen and Water Becker (they are Steely Dan) talking about Bernard’s signs.

“Boldness” is a word used in coaching that turns out to have some real significance. Boldness is about confidence, belief, passion and conviction.

It may be easier to understand by its opposite: lack of confidence, lack of belief, lack of passion and lack of conviction.

Boldness comes from processed experience. That means that not only have you lived something successful, but you have thought about it, and consciously concluded you have reason to be bold about something. (Sometimes people are very good at something, but taking a page from the “aw, shucks. It’s just little old me” playbook, they downplay or minimize their contribution. Not recommended.)

A key with boldness is to find where it naturally occurs in your work. Where do you find your voice? What gives you energy? Where does fear dissipate?

Where can you put up your own signs?

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