I was one of the thousands drawn to the “David Bowie Is” exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

 It may be that resolutions already seem passé in the second week of the new year. (We can all be fickle that way.) But whether or not you’re a fan of Bowie’s music or films, he can offer us some mind-expanding ways to make this a better year for our careers.

David Bowie and Business New Year’s Resolutions

Standing in the middle of the press of people (from babies in strollers to gray long-hairs with walkers), the swells of familiar music, and eye-popping colors and shapes of costumes, it hit me. Bowie thinks big. This year, I should do the same.

Find Good Partners

You may be familiar with “Dancing in the Streets,” the 1960’s Motown tune he covered with Mick Jagger. “Under Pressure” with Queen. There’s even one with Bing Crosby: where Bowie sings “Peace on Earth” to Crosby’s “Little Drummer Boy,”  which has been called one of the best musical moments on TV.

The first two were likely collaborations with other popular male vocalists. But the third seemed a bit of a reach. Maybe that’s why it worked. The biggest selling singer from the first half of the 20th Century with a pop idol. This year, I’m going to look beyond my usual business partners for those I respect, who can teach and challenge me.

 Look Wide for Inspiration

 “Space Oddity,” Bowie’s first big hit in 1969, was released a few days before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. He obviously was plugged in to current events. But he also looked back to George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four for inspiration on his post-apocalyptic Diamond Dogs album. Bowie also turned to Japanese kabuki theater for the costumes that would characterize Ziggy Stardust.

Like most people, I have a tendency to look to familiar places for ideas. I can find comfort in reinforcing what I already know and do. This year, I’ll expand my horizons and look to different parts of the world and industries and times to jumpstart my creativity. Which leads to the next point.

 Don’t Get Stuck in Success

On July 3, 1973, Bowie was in London at the height of his Ziggy Stardust fame. He was performing with his band, The Spiders from Mars. Bowie announced from the stage that this would be Ziggy’s last appearance: shocking his manager and bandmates as well as fans.

 When I asked my husband Larry what he would remember most about the exhibit, he surprised me by saying, “How fearless Bowie was. He walked away from something that was working because he was tired of it and needed new challenges.” I envy that!


These are the things I wish for you and for me as we start another year. To work with others who make us better. To find ideas that make us better. And to move beyond what has made us comfortable to become better. Here’s to what we’ll discover about ourselves along the way.