Top 10 entrepreneur song list

Get the RSS Feed

music-bwthumbLike David Letterman and Guy Kawasaki, I am fond of top 10 lists.  For awhile now, I have been trying to come up with a top 10 song list for wannabe entrepreneurs.  I jot notes in my “little black idea book” whenever I think of one.  I don’t have hours and hours to sample music and come up with a perfectly ordered list, like John Cusak’s character does in the movie High Fidelity (that is one of my favorites – I highly recommend renting it, if for nothing else than Jack Black’s record store employee character), so here goes:

  1. It’s My Life by Jon Bon Jovi.  With good ole American head-bouncing lyrics like “I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd, you’re gonna hear my voice – I’ll shout it out loud:  It’s my life and its now or never, ain’t gonna live forever …”  how can you not get fired up to take responsibility for your life?  BONUS:  Get the Paul Anka version and prepare to crack up.  This would make it suitable to play for your grandparents. Bon Jovi version: Paul Anka version:
  2. We’re Not Going to Take It by Twisted Sister.  This is one of the great “Damn The Man” rallying cries of all time.  You could sing it to your corporate bosses as you flame out the door:  “Oh you’re so condescending, your gall is never-ending, we don’t want nothin’ not a thing from you, your life is trite and jaded, boring and confiscated, if its your best, your best won’t do … Oh we’re not gonna take it – no, we ain’t gonna take it … we’re not gonna take it anymore.”  Bizarre personal connection:  I saw the lead singer of this band at my Greenstone Media event in New York.  Strange, I know.
  3. Who Are You? by The Who.  This gets at the heart of what every new entrepreneur has to deal with … who are you, really, and how do you want to express yourself through your work?  I thought about using it as part of my intake process for new coaching clients, then considered that Roger Daltry screaming “Who the F… are you?” may be slightly off-putting to new clients.  Still, the thought crossed my mind.
  4. While You See a Chance Take It by Steve Winwood.  I will admit that I am one of the biggest crybabies in the world and choke up every time I hear this song.  I don’t know if it is the stirring music or the words that get me: “When some cold tomorrow finds you, when some subtle dream reminds you how the endless road unwinds you … while you see a chance, take it, the wrong romance, break it – because it’s all … on you.”
  5. Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison. When you actually quit your job and begin to taste the freedom of entrepreneurship, this song seems appropriate with lyrics like ” Little darlin’ it’s been a long cold lonely winter… Little darlin’ it feels like years since its been here .. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun And I say its alright ….” Note:  I could not find the George Harrison track anywhere, so this is a cover: 
  6. MJB is da MVP by Mary J. Blige I have written about this song before, since I love the way she responds to her critics … “Go ahead envy me, I’m the soul hip hop queen and I ain’t going nowhere, but you already know me …” Then, after thanking her fans and celebrating the place she is in her life, she says “You can hate it or love it!”  Truer words never spoken.
  7. For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder. I realize that Stevie is probably talking about a woman, not a business, when he sings “For once I can touch what my heart used to dream of long before I do, someone warm like you would make my dream come true … For once in my life, I won’t let sorrow hurt me, not like its hurt me before .. for once I have something I know won’t desert me .. I’m not alone anymore.”  Is it so wrong to see your dream business like a lover? 
  8. Celebrate by Kool and the Gang I may forever lose the respect of some readers by admitting my love for this song, but I can’t help it.  Who in their right mind cannot shake their bootie and dance when this song comes on the radio?  I don’t even drink, so I can’t attribute my enthusiasm for this song to drunken escapades in discos with 80’s flashbacks.  It is just the kind of song to play for your family when you come home after giving notice at the job you hate.
  9. Muevete by DLG (Dark Latin Groove) This song is in Spanish and simply tells us to “Get Moving!” with engaging rhythms and a hypnotic dance beat.  I am a total fan of salsa music and get motivated to shake things up on and off the dance floor when I hear this song.
  10. Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones.  I just couldn’t have an entrepreneur song list without this one. Not just because of its obvious connection to starting a business through the song title, but the way that Mick Jagger reinvents himself year after year and always comes out swinging.  When my son was a little baby and could hardly sit up by himself, we were watching the U.S. football Superbowl and the Rolling Stones played.  He immediately perked up and started dancing in place.  When the song was over, he started clapping wildly.  I swear, we never taught him to clap like that — it was Mick’s magical enthusiasm, catchy for 90 year old grannies and 10 month old babies alike.  If we could all transcend market segments so well!

So there is my first shot at a playlist.

Now … your turn!

Update 10/26:  Sevenoaks had asked me to include audio clips, so with much head scratching and fantastic guidance from Alex Suarez, Darron Padilla and Derek Padilla, I figured out how to do it! It was such a learning adventure that I am going to blog about it tomorrow.

55 Responses to “Top 10 entrepreneur song list”

  1. kartik says:

    Hi there!
    I compiled a list of 20 great songs for entrepreneurs. Just check them out and let me know what you think of them. Just click on my name to get to the list.

  2. Ardee Aram says:

    Hello Pamela!

    I really enjoyed the article, and even created my own playlist (though my brain just got dried up on the 6th, so I just had my “top 5” instead of top 10)

    Thanks for the wonderful information!

  3. Mike I says:

    1. Money’s too tight to mention -Simply Red (funny when it is true, funnier when you are cash rich)

    2. Hip to be square – huey lewis and the news (you probably need to watch “american psycho” to appreciate this)

    3. My 1st song – Jay Z

    4. Red eye love – goldern earing

  4. zensufi says:

    I nominate PRIME TIME by Alan Parsons Project. FYI, I just asked this question on


  5. Stephen G says:

    This is my new favorite:

    Into Action
    by Tim Armstrong

    “There’s something out there, that’s the attraction
    If you hesitate now, that’s a subtraction
    So, let’s get moving girl into action”

  6. Kristen says:

    Yes, I was goign to suggest that song! It is called TUBTHUMPING and it is by Chumbawamba 🙂

    Another song, Dreams by Diana Degarmo and There and Back Again, by Daughtry….

  7. Dana Minney says:

    What about that song that came out a few years ago…”I get knocked down, but I get up again…you’re never gonna keep me down..” ? Surely somebody knows the title and group?

  8. Gerald says:

    Great list – great fun

    Desrees “Gotta be”

    “Big Time” Peter Gabriel

    As mentioned above …I agree… “Opportunities” by Pet Shop Boys

    and Eminems “Lose Yourself”

    Peace out -Gerald

  9. The Entrepreneurial Wild West

    Catching up on my RSS subscriptions I came across this list of entrepreneur songs, and had to add what has long been the only song that I ever associated with this designation: Joe Jackson’s Wild West. (from the out-of-print Big…

  10. officesmurf says:

    Great list. I’ll add one that inspires me every time I hear it on the radio:

    Unwritten, by Natasha Bedingfield

  11. B says:

    Raul Midon
    State of Mind.
    YouTube it for the David Letterman clip. You’ll understand…

  12. Rodger says:


    Great list. While attending a training this week, they played this song and it reminded me again of your list…

    Simply the Best – T. Turner

    It doesn’t have anything to do with entrepreneurs, but it reminded me of the power of music to energize and change our moods 🙂

  13. Torley says:

    Fun list! I’m often inclined to believe that “For The Love Of Money” by the O’Jays should be there too, if only for its popular use on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. 😀

  14. Shawna says:

    Another outstanding one to really motivate and get you in the “I can do anything” spirit–Bring On The Day, by Charlotte Martin. I found it on the Sweet Home Alabama soundtrack!

  15. jason says:

    Come on guys, how can we forget a classic like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”! Being an Entrepreneur is a long road, and you need all the support you can get.

  16. DK:

    If it’s not too late, you’re thinking of “My Life” by Billy Joel.

  17. I’d like to add “Raise a Little Hell” by Trooper which is really dating me…

    Or how about “It’s Money That I Love” by Randy Newman? In spite of all the psychology, this is probably still the Prime Motivator 🙂

  18. DAR says:

    Whenever I suffer some discouraging setback there’s always been one song that’s inspired me to stand up, dust myself off, spit back into the face of adversity, and try again, saying “C’mon! Is that all you got? You gotta do better than THAT if you wanna keep ME down!”:

    “It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock & Roll” – by AC/DC

    Now, I’m not a huge AC/DC or metal fan, mind you, but this song is my battle cry. The music just exudes brashness and audacity – from its loud crunching, chugging guitar beat to the ballsiness of putting a screeching bag-pipe solo into a rock and roll song! (I mean – WTF?!?!?) And the lyrics – written about the trials and tribulations of aspiring to rock & roll stardom – apply equally to aspiring entrepreneurs. (“I tell ya folks – it’s harder than it looks!”) Wanna reach the big time? Well then be tough and fight for it, cause no one’s gonna hand it to ya.

    Oh yeah – and one other thing (if it wasn’t already obvious):

    Play this one loud!!! 🙂

  19. Maayan Keshet says:

    Great list! I like “It” by Genesis:

    When it’s cold, it comes slow

    It is warm, just watch it grow

    All around.

    It is here.
    It is now.

    Energetic music too.
    Jonh, maybe you mean “Triumph of the Nerds” with Robert X. Cringely? If so, great TV show indeed!

  20. Jonh says:

    Your description of Mick Jagger lighting up your baby got me thinking about the advantage of charisma for an entrepeneur. I was privileged 2 years ago to see Ron Wood play a concert in a venerable London theatre. Unplanned and unannounced, Jagger walked on to sing one song and the place went nuclear. Not just because of the unexpected thrill but because of the charisma the man generates — even the band raised their game about 75%. After he left, it was like a big light was turned off.

    In the wonderful TV show ‘Revenge Of The Nerds’, the first VC Steve Jobs went to talks about what amounts to the same thing – charisma clothing his great intelligence and perception.

    I wonder how many shaky ideas and plans have got funding because the charsima of the pitchee has the VCs “clapping wildly”?

  21. Vinay Rao says:

    I would add ‘How does it feel/ Like a Rolling Stone’ by Bob Dylan and (later) the Rolling Stones. BTW you are just about the only other person I know who has even heard ‘We’re Not Going to Take It’ by Twisted Sister. I LOVE that song and have been going crazy trying to dig up any of their albums in India.

    Songs don’t necessarily need to have significant lyrical content, they could just be something that YOU really like because it identifies you and gets you going every morning.

  22. Pam awesome list but it could have been more concise! The only song an entrepreneur will ever need: U2 Walk On…

    “You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
    A place that has to be believed to be seen
    You could have flown away
    A singing bird in an open cage
    Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

    Walk on, walk on
    What you’ve got they can’t deny it
    Can’t sell it, can’t buy it
    Walk on, walk on
    Stay safe tonight” U2

  23. Dave Kurlan says:

    Great list. Maybe I missed these (I’m 50 so my eye site isn’t what it used to be) but what about “Takin’ Care of Business” and “I Wanna Be Rich”?

  24. Rodney says:

    I really like some of your choices. particularly the Rolling Stones “Start Me Up”. Since your blog is all about escaping the cube and the journey of being an entrepreneur I thought that I would share something exciting that we are doing.

    We are actually producing a Video Documentary Series called: 30 Days to Launch: A behind the scenes real look at a Start Up. You can check out the weekly video segements here.


  25. Mike says:

    How about the entire Pink Floyd Animals album? BTW, great site, there is a lot of stuff here that absolutely resonates with my being.

  26. Sam says:

    “Can’t start a fire without a spark” by Bruce Springsteen and of course, “Takin’ care of business” 🙂

  27. Glenn says:

    I would find space in the top 10 for Eminem’s Lose Yourself.
    “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted – One moment – would you capture it or just let it slip?”

    Full lyrics at

    Just imagine Eminem is talking about a major pitch to a VC….


  28. Wonderful collection. Every song made blood rush to my face. Love your choices. I would have added “Dont Stop” by Fleetwood Mac, if Clinton had not already beaten us to it!
    I keep thinking up “most appropriate song” for everyday situations. I am in Bangalore now and every morning when I see the rush and the crowd all I can think of is “Where do the children play?” by Cat Stevens.

  29. Adam says:

    Great list – missing a modern classic – Be Somebody by Fort Minor (came out in early 06). Here’s a link to the lyrics

  30. Entrepreneurs’ Song List

    How about Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” for starters or Mable John “Ain’t Giving it Up”.

  31. Great playlist there… does it mean I’m an entrepreneur since I have most of them in my collection? :-p

    I would add “Let’s get it Started” by Black Eyed Peas to the list … it’s got an amazing vibe that really gets my going!

  32. Roger Denton says:

    Hands down, my favorite is:

    Mad Mission, Patty Griffin.

    …It’s a mad, mad mission
    But, I got the ambition
    It’s a mad mission under difficult conditions
    Sign me up…


  33. Jarrett Collins says:

    Love the post… how about Smash Mouth’s “All Star”? Lyrics here:

  34. John Dodds says:

    I refer you to the title of the Sex Pistol’s seminal first album. ;o)

  35. Working Solo says:

    Friday Fun – Top Entrepreneurial Songs

    There are many inspirations that move a songwriter – love, hate, jealousy, entrepreneurship ????? Maybe not!
    But even if we entrepreneurs do do it for songwriters sometimes that do it for us. Ever been inspired by a song? Ever turned to singing at t…

  36. Matt Thomas says:

    My favorite new song that embodies hope, faith, inspiration and positive attidude is from a new artist named Terra Naomi. Here is a video clip of “Close to Your Head”

    Today is a very special day
    Feels like the beginning of something more.
    And we are standing on the edge
    Of all that we’ve imagined in lives before.

    Keep it up, the stars are close to your head now,
    It’s magical times that we live in.
    Keep it up, the stars are close to your head now,
    It’s magic I tell you, it’s happening.

  37. Ken says:

    I like these lines from Cat Steven’s If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out:

    You can do what you want
    The opportunitys on
    And if you can find a new way
    You can do it today
    You can make it all true
    And you can make it undo

  38. Nicole says:

    My new favorite song is “Anything’s Possible” by Jonny Lang. The chorus goes: “Don’t let ’em tell you you can’t be anything you wanna be. Don’t be deceived. Anything’s possible. If you just believe, then you can succeed. It might not be easy, but anything’s possible”. Very inspiring.

  39. Howdy Pam,

    I guess great minds think alike, I did a post at my blog last Saturday about “wannabe” entrepreneur songs.

    My vote was a current country hit by Sugarland called “Something More”…The video is at my site via YouTube with a duet from Jon Bon Jovi.



    That is so … synchronistic Dave! Very cool. I was working hard trying to write a “serious” post and inspiration was waning … so the time felt right to pull out my entrepreneur song list. I love the lyrics to the song you mentioned on your blog.

    Keep truckin!


  40. Jodee Bock says:

    I love this idea! I host a weekly one-hour radio show on a local station and I’d love to use some of these songs and this theme! If you’d like to tune in, it’s Sundays from 11-noon (central time) at

    One song I’m really taken with these days is “If I Were Brave” by Jana Stanfield. Sometimes as entrepreneurs, what we can use is a little more courage and this song is very uplifting.

    Another one is “It’s In Every One of Us” by Dennis DeYoung.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  41. basquette says:

    Great post. It’s inspiring me to do my own at the BasquetteCase…

  42. Fatin says:

    I LOVE this post. Stevie Wonder is my hero 🙂

    I love your holistic approach to business and life, this post is another wonderful example.

    Not sure if you got my last email-can I send cookies to your business address?

    All my best,

  43. Jim Walton says:

    Great list! The first 2 hit close to home, being a child of the 80’s. You’ve got me thinking of what my top 10 song list would be, being a wannabe entrepreneur.

  44. Sevenoaks says:

    Nice Post and nice comments, but I’d add a link to song sample, some of them are unknown to me and I think to many others.

  45. Ooo, how about “Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck as you give your notice?

    Rod Stewart’s “Never Give Up On a Dream” and, more recently, Peter O’Toole’s “The Impossible Dream” keep me moving forward.

  46. Michael says:

    What was the theme song from Busom Buddies? That should definitely be in this list. . .

  47. DK says:

    Something which would in a way condenses the way an entrepreneur would feel before taking that final plunge – Bouvlevard of broken dreams (Green Day) & Somewhere i belong (Linkin Park)

  48. Oren Golan says:

    Maggie’s Farm (Bob Dylan) – the background song of !

  49. Gordon says:

    Here’s a few eighties-inspired suggestions that pop to mind:

    Life’s What You Make it (Talk Talk) – Existentialism in a pop-rock single. Even if there’s no big purpose to the universe, we can make one for ourselves. To create one’s own purpose is to truly be a self-made man (or woman.)

    Let’s Make Lots of Money (Pet Shop Boys) – Doesn’t necessarily put entrepreneurship in the best light, but definitely a song to get your business gumption up.

    It’s My Life (Talk Talk) – Another “stake out your own space” sort of song.

  50. John says:

    What an evilly compelling concept!


    Of course my intent was to drive everyone crazy trying to come up with a good list, so much so that they can’t sleep, eat or work.