It Sounds Crazy but – What Can Business Owners Learn from the “Harlem Shake”?

by | Feb 25, 2013 | Business Articles

Before we get into the meat of this article – I’m not about to assume that you have any clue what the Harlem Shake is…

However – if you know or you’ve heard about it – you can skip this section and scroll to the next main heading called:

What Can You as a Business Owner Learn From “The Harlem Shake”??

A Little History


Back in 1981 a street dancer from Harlem (who never wanted to be hugely famous) called Al B was the one who came up with the original Harlem Shake dance move to entertain crowds in the same way you have street entertainers in Covent Garden in London’s West End.

Fact is, he used to entertain the crowd at the Rucker tournament, which is a legendary basketball league in Harlem.

So what is it?

The best way to describe the “Authentic” Harlem Shake – it’s a derivative of body popping
with sharp shoulder side to side locking movements.

If you’re really interested you can find some experts on YouTube to demonstrate it for you

here’s a link you can click to watch AFTER you’ve read this article

The dance style gathered some momentum in the nineties but it didn’t ever go mainstream and was confined to its urban hip-hop roots… until this year…

…well sort of.

The Harlem Shake today is a lampoon (some would say a horrid mutation) of a respected urban hip-hop street dance that ironically bears no resemblance to the original created back in the early eighties.

However the free style lampooned version adopted by the masses does follow a set of rules.

  1.  One person dances in a room (I use the term “dances” very loosely) where people mull around totally ignoring them
  2.  After about 15 seconds, the shot cuts to the whole room joining in and doing some random movement or body expression loosely referred to as dance.
  3.  Every video uses the same music track
  4.  People generally wear costumes, helmets or anything that makes them look ridiculous
  5.  The video sequence should not be more than thirty seconds
  6.  Apart from the above rules the rest is left to people’s imagination

And the hook is – you never know what you’re going to see next when you press that play button.

People spend thousands of hours trying to out do each other with the most outlandish video “Harlem Shake” sequences and load them up to YouTube while the rest of the world sits with baited breath waiting to be entertained.
And here endeth the brief history lesson regarding the Harlem Shake.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way – I’m going to delve much deeper and ask you a poignant question?

What can you as a business owner learn from “The Harlem Shake”?


I’m not talking dance moves or video production – I’m talking real world business.

So lets get down to business about this “shake” thing.

Like most people, I became more and more inquisitive when I first heard about this craze.

Then after my discovery, my curiosity suddenly turned to bewilderment.

To be honest – I really had to dig deep – but I managed to put my personal feelings aside because I believed there was a lesson to be learned.

I remember a friend told me many years ago that your mind is like a parachute – it works best when it’s open.

I guess you’ve heard that saying right?

So I put this maxim to immediate effect; ergo this article was birthed 🙂

Over the years I’ve discovered that many lessons are hidden in plain sight…

…today is no exception!

The reason for this article actually has very little to do with the Harlem Shake (what I’m sharing could be applied to a plethora of businesses – even yours) but it has more to do with shifting your paradigm.

When I say theses two powerful words you will begin to understand what I mean – and why I was intrigued when I initially heard about the Harlem Shake phenomena.

After doing some extensive digging, these two words metaphorically jumped off the screen and slapped me in the face.

These two words; intellectual property rights.

Ok – that may have been three words (for the pedantic) but here’s the story…

A DJ who was pretty much unknown outside of his music genre circle (who goes by the name Baauer – AKA Harry Rodrigues) created a music mix track back in May 2012.

On February 2nd 2013 – five students from Queensland Australia shot a video (using Baauer’s mix as a backing track) and uploaded it to YouTube.

Then someone else with quite a bit of social media clout and significant global reach liked the video that those guys from Australia did with Baauer’s music mix and kicked off a really weird dance craze from it.

To this day, the hard core hip-hop body poppers from Harlem are totally unimpressed with how the Harlem Shake (which is a real dance move) has been lampooned beyond recognition.

For the moment, lets put aside the opinions of the Harlem-ites, the psychology behind this craze and how such a massive buzz was manufactured (the “buzz factor”… that’s another story for another time).

We want to focus on the business pay off!

Whatever your personal opinion is about the Harlem Shake; by February 20th 2013, the thousands of videos featuring this track by Baauer received, on aggregate, over 400 Million views on YouTube and is set to overtake Gangnam Style as the most popular meme watched on the Internet.

But here’s the kicker…

DJ-Baauer gets a royalty payment EVERY TIME his mix track gets played on YouTube.


Every single time someone plays that track – THIS GUY GETS PAID – BY GOOGLE!

This brings a whole new meaning to making money while you sleep.

In addition to that – his DJ gigs have sold out months in advance – bearing in mind – he didn’t even want to openly associate himself with the craze.

So what?

Sometimes – your Quantum Leap is more about long term thinking not just how you’re going to make money from the next trend, product launch, seminar or high-end consulting engagement.

A year from now – the Harlem Shake craze will be a distant memory but Baauer – who has been collecting thousands of Dollars in royalties – will definitely remember February 2nd 2013 as the beginning of a “Quantum Leap” in his bank balance.

The main difference between businesses that go through perpetual struggle and those that go from strength to strength (no matter the economic condition) – is the latter think much further into the future then the former.

Incorporating streams of continuity income systems / streams should be part of your long term strategy. Utilizing intellectual property rights and licensing vehicles are just a couple of examples.

When you eventually get your continuity income model right – your business morphs from a baby (metaphorically speaking) that needs continual feeding – into a gargantuan gift that keeps on giving (your golden goose).

So how does your business make that transformation?

You have a couple of choices:

You either need to spend hundreds of days in thought, embracing the Socratic Method, read thousands of books and make as many mistakes as Thomas Edison did when he was inventing the first ever light bulb…


…you get hooked up with some fantastic strategic minds and ride (what I call) the synergy express train to propel you forward to your next Quantum Leap.

I don’t know about you but – I would choose the synergy option – it’s so much quicker 🙂

Everyone has a genius begging to be unleashed. Most will never reach that pinnacle of self actualisation. In fact, 90% of people won’t even reach the level of awakening where you are right now.

When the student is ready your teacher will appear and the fact you have read this far – you must be a life long student (and I applaud you).

Make this the year you unleash your genius.



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