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Eddie Van Halen and M&Ms


In 2011 I read in The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande about a checklist Eddie Van Halen’s band had that requested concert promoters to have a big bowl of M&Ms in the backstage area, but with no brown M&Ms in it.

I am a little nutsy with checklists and pretty much read the book as soon as it was published. Needless to say, I devoured that book and added the no brown M&Ms story to my speeches that included the advantages of using checklists. The reason for that clause was to find out whether the promoter followed the checklist. If the brown M&Ms were in the bowl the manager then knew he had to recheck everything that was done. If the M&Ms were not in the bowl, he only tests checked the setup.

Rock bands and rockers sometimes appear off the wall, but we forget that they are serious business people with valuable equipment and a large staff making sure everything was safe and went off without a hitch. They also have considerable electrical equipment that could be pretty dangerous if someone decided to cut corners.

Eddie Van Halen died this week, too early, and will be remembered as a legendary guitarist and innovative and fantastic performer. However, he was also a great business person and regardless of where the idea of the no brown M&Ms came from, he will also be remembered, in all of my, and everyone else’s, checklist speeches, as a brilliant manager.

Many of my blog readers are not aware of my annually updated checklists that I provide to accounting colleagues, for free. A Word® file with 120 checklists is distributed annually to over 4,000 accountants. While these primarily have tax season and practice management checklists, I also include my Getting Your Affairs in Order worksheets, and throw in a bunch of my personal checklists such as packing for a trip, my traveling tuxedo list and a checklist I give to my golfing buddies. The Word® format makes it easily usable should a colleague wish to adapt anything for their internal use. My gift to my great profession. If you want the file, simply email me at GoodiesFromEd@withum.com and put “Checklists“ as the subject. No messages as I handle all the replies by myself and I usually do not have time to read the messages and respond to them.

May God bless Eddie Van Halen with complete peace.

By the way, I believe David Lee Roth originated the idea of the no brown M&Ms and you can watch an interesting 5-minute video with him on YouTube by clicking here.

If you have any business or financial issues you want to discuss please do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com.

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