It's 2 a.m. Sunday morning at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. A severe thunderstorm had delayed the show's start until 10:30 p.m., yet Bruce Springsteen still poured his heart and soul into a full concert for us fans who had gone to great cost and effort to get tickets and make it to the stadium. And his full show isn't the ordinary musician's 75 minute set with 15 minutes of encores. This was his typical 3.5 hour marathon with Bruce running around the large stage, into the crowd, jumping on the piano, signing, dancing, playing hits, rarities, covers, bringing out guest stars, dancing with audience members, and making every one of us 55,000 fans feel personally connected.
Plus, at midnight it had become his 63rd birthday, forcing him to break his rule of not playing shows on his birthday (since "before the age of cell phones").
So here's a test for the founder and CEO of the E Street Band (or any successful CEO). With his 87-year-old mother, his sister, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and loyal employees/friends (Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Nils Lofgren, Roy Bittan, Garry Tallent) who have played with him for most of his life all on stage, who gets the first piece of cake?
Easy. Even after four decades of being a rock superstar and amassing "all the riches any man ever knew," Bruce intuitively knows that he's there for (and because of) us fans. Without skipping a beat, he grabbed the first piece of his "Happy Birthday Boss" guitar-shaped cake and ran it down to a woman described as "the band's first fan." And later he grabbed a few more slices and again brought them to fans.
Every CEO should take note.