079 – Halen down on Eddie’s rogue m&m

Posted by  Anecdote International —October 13, 2020
Filed in Anecdotes, Business storytelling, Podcast

Listen to hear how you should never make assumptions, even about Van Halen’s obsession over brown m&m’s.

In this week’s episode of Anecdotally Speaking, Shawn shares a story about American rock band Van Halen. Shawn first shared this story in his book, Putting Stories to Work. If you would like to read the book, click here.

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Tags: assumption, detail, safety

This story starts at 01:48

Back in the 1980s, Van Halen was the biggest band around. They were the epitome of a traditional American rock’n’roll band.

Each time they rolled into a new city for a performance, they bought with them nine 18-wheeler trucks filled with their stage and production. It was estimated the stage weighed the same as a Boeing 747.

It wasn’t just a big stage, but also a complex stage. It had lots of moving parts and things that could go wrong.

Van Halen asked for a lot of things, like many bands do, on their rider. They asked for a bowl of m&m’s with one specific proviso—there must not be any brown m&m’s.

When Van Halen would arrive at the venue for their rehearsals, they would go straight to the bowl of m&m’s and check whether there were any brown ones. If they saw a rogue brown m&m, they would immediately request a full review of the stage set-up, checking all the safety perimeters.

They figured that if the venue organisers didn’t follow their request for no brown m&m’s, they weren’t detail people. They may have missed something else.

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.


  1. Paul Stuart says:

    Hi again Guys – love this story. Such an impact in such a short, simple anecdote.

    Just fyi, I think there may be a typo in the penultimate paragraph above – should it say “rogue” rather than “rouge”?

  2. Mark Schenk says:

    Thanks Paul. I love the story as well. And you’re spot about ‘rouge’ – it’s a bit confusing to have an M&M that is both brown and rouge at the same time 🙂

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