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Today we discuss an urban legend that is actually true – the story of Van Halen and their brown M&Ms ritual. 
The story goes like this: whenever Van Halen did a show, they provided a huge list of requests that needed to be met by the venue / organisers. Somewhere deep down the list was one very odd request: the band were to be provided with a bowl of M&Ms before the show, with all the brown ones removed. For a long time, this was accepted as one of those over-the-top rockstar demands. But years later, the truth was revealed. If the brown M&Ms had not been removed, it was clear to the band that their requests had not been read carefully – meaning that other instructions may have been ignored, too. And many instructions were highly significant ones relating to lighting and safety.
This idea by David Lee Roth was, in fact, a genius way for the band to ensure everything was done correctly; that everything would run smoothly. And if they weren’t: the band would know that the missed steps could actually pose serious safety concerns for their audience, crew and band members.
In financial institutions, when a small mistake is made or a small step is missed, it’s commonly referred to as a ‘brown m&ms’ situation. Often, it’s not the mistakes you see that are the problem – it’s the ones in the background. And these small errors can often mean that bigger ones that should have been solved, were not.
Of course, everyone makes mistakes – no matter how professional. But admitting to it, and fixing it, is the key.
We’re talking about minor mistakes – a grammatical error on a CV, a typo in a job application – things that could’ve easily been fixed by a simple proofread. Files constantly stacked in the wrong place in an office. Or if you go to a restaurant and there are mistakes on the menu, and the waiter can’t tell you what the specials are, and they’ve lost your reservation – chances are there are bigger issues in the kitchen that you cannot see. This is what we call a brown M&Ms situation – one which shows a lack of organisation; no good system in place.
Whether you take care of your own finances, or outsource to a professional, a lot can be learned from the brown M&Ms situation. Read more about the Van Halen story here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232420

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