Business Lessons from a Rock Star

Sammy Hagar rocks. As the former lead singer of Van Halen – at one time the biggest rock band in the world – Hagar knows success.

But he’s never taken it for granted.

‘Truthfully, I never felt secure about my music. I always thought, boy, as big as you are today, you may be history tomorrow. I’ve seen this happen time and time again.’

Lesson 1: Never Get Complacent

Early in his music career he began to invest in businesses. He opened Cabo Wabo, a restaurant bar in Cabo San Lucas, because he thought people would gravitate to a tequila bar. And he started making his own tequila when he stumbled onto the best he had ever tasted and realized most people hadn’t experienced tequila that good.

When his current wife took him to see Jimmy Buffett – not exactly Van Halen-style rock – Hagar realized he could create a lifestyle for his fans much like Buffett had done for his.

‘We beach all day, eat tacos for dinner, drink tequila. I get onstage and play. That’s it.

Lesson 2: Opportunities are everywhere – if you’re open to seeing them

Hagar hired an executive from foodservice operator HMS Host to oversee his airport-based Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill restaurants. And when he sold his tequila company to Campari (for over $90 million!) and started a Maui-based rum company, he brought in a Seagram’s executive to run it.


‘My strategy for running companies successfully is to find the right guy.’

Lesson 3: Find the right people

When his mother advised him as a boy that, ‘If you’re going to be in the music business, then you have to save your money and invest it properly because all those guys end up alcoholics, drug addicts and broke,’ Sammy paid attention.

Like I said, Sammy rocks.

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