SPRING, 2014


20 Questions with Ruth Blatt

by Christopher Ankney
photo by Paul Natkin

Ruth Blatt, PhD ’08, has always loved rock music. But it wasn’t until a viewing of the 2004 Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster that she started to equate it with what she knew about organizational behavior. “It struck me that they were a self-managed creative team and a small business," Blatt said. “And they were excellent at it!"

Ever since, she’s been exploring what the successes and failures in the lives of musicians can teach us about creativity and teamwork. In blogs and articles for Psychology Today, The Atlantic, Wired, and Forbes, Blatt’s “The Rock Band Project" chronicles the lessons she learns by pairing her finely tuned ears with analytical eyes. Blatt spends a lot of time asking questions of rock stars, so it’s only fitting that she join the ranks of rock star Ross alums who’ve been asked our 20 questions.

  1. What’s most-played on your iPod?
    “Doolittle" by Pixies.
  2. What’s a book you’ve read recently?
    The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce by Fred Goodman.
  3. What is your guilty pleasure?
    Gangsta rap.
  4. First album you ever bought?
    Thriller by Michael Jackson.
  5. What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    Stop eating meat.
  6. Favorite person to follow on Twitter?
    @TheOnion because comedy is a great reflection of our culture. (You can follow Blatt at @RuthBlatt.)
  7. Best business decision?
    Getting a top-notch education that taught me how to think critically and introduced me to an amazing community of people.
  8. Favorite line from a movie?
    “Well, which is it, young feller? You want I should freeze or get down on the ground? Mean to say, if’n I freeze, I can’t rightly drop. And if’n I drop, I’m a-gonna be in motion." From Raising Arizona.
  9. If you had a theme song, what would it be?
    “I’ll Be Your Mirror" by the Velvet Underground.
  10. Describe your first job.
    My first job was detasseling corn on Illinois farms. I was 13 years old. We’d get picked up by a bus before dawn and detassel corn all day, which entails standing on a slowly moving truck and picking off the pollen-producing flowers from the tops of corn plants.
  11. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
    Rock climbing.
  12. What are you afraid of?
    Unexamined life.
  13. First website you access in the morning?
  14. Most-cherished Ross experience?
    Being pushed by my professors to do better and through that discovering what I am capable of.
  15. Pet peeve?
    Bad service.
  16. Unfulfilled wish?
    To have a great singing voice.
  17. Three people, living or dead, that you’d have over for dinner?
    Laurie Anderson, Truman Capote, Ice T.
  18. One thing you learned in business school that you’ll never forget is…?
    Ask people what you can do for them.
  19. Must-have app on your phone?
  20. Where is the strongest connection between rock music and business?
    Success in both requires working well with other people because you can do more with them than you can do alone.

Learn more about Ruth’s interesting take on the intersection
of rock and business at therockbandproject.com.


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