Drucker, Dylan and The Beatles
What did Peter Drucker have in common with Bob Dylan and The Beatles? More than you might initially think. All were/are at the top of their fields; all were/are prolific, serious innovators. They also changed their initial styles of expression from their early to more mature work.
Beyond that, there are interesting geographic angles. Drucker, who was born in Vienna, Austria in 1909, began working as a clerk apprentice, and studying law at Hamburg University, in Germany, in 1927. This was a formative time for him, which included being introduced to great works of literature by a local librarian, and also attending the opera on a student ticket to hear what became a life-changing work, Verdi’s Falstaff. Thirty- three years later, in 1960, The Beatles left Liverpool and did their own apprenticeship in Hamburg; playing grueling hours in the city’s gritty clubs. Their experiences formed the basis for the polished, groundbreaking band they would later become.
Drucker moved to the United States in 1937, and in 1950 began teaching at the Graduate Business School of New York University (now New York University Stern School of Business), an association that would last for two decades. While he was teaching at NYU, Bob Dylan moved from Minnesota to New York City’s Greenwich Village, in 1961. It’s fascinating to think that while Dylan was doing his world-changing work in the 1960s, Drucker was in the same city all along, teaching, consulting and writing some of his most important books, such as The Effective Executive and The Age of Discontinuity. While it’s tempting to think that Dylan and Drucker could have bumped into each other on the streets of the village near the NYU buildings, my understanding is that Drucker’s classes were actually held in the Wall Street area, so it is unlikely their paths crossed. (If anyone knows differently, I’d love to hear about it!)
People will still be reading Drucker’s books, and listening to the music of Dylan and The Beatles far into the future. And none of it would have happened without those early days of apprenticeship and inspiration.