Gay Marriage

by seanlow on June 30, 2015

In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage legal throughout the United States, I wanted to take a moment to revisit the issue.  Marriage equality has been near and dear to me ever since my time in law school (1992).  I never understood the right to discriminate and all things that claimed to be equal but were not (domestic partnerships, etc.).  Needless to say, the Supreme Court’s decision is a most welcome one to me.

So what now?  This I have written about a lot over the years: Dare To Be First (March 2009), Gay Marriage in New York (a personal fave) (July 2011),  A Changing World (incredibly relevant for today: “When the fight is over, the real work of creative business begins), and Gay Marriage and The Supreme Court (June 2013).  All I wrote in these posts is as powerfully true today as was when I first wrote the words.  I do hope you might take a few minutes to reread them and see if they might not be useful to you as you decide how your creative business might proceed in the wake of the decision.

No doubt creative business now has a massive burden.  Opportunists will be opportunists.  Many will be invested in commoditizing the opportunity as they have if they happened to be in a State that made gay marriage legal prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling.  So be it.  My prayer – be the change agent instead.  We do not call inter-racial, inter-faith, inter anything marriage any more, we just call it marriage.  This is the work for gay marriage.  A moment to define our culture – a step towards inclusion and tolerance on what remains our long journey towards true acceptance of other.


We Did The Best We Could

by seanlow on June 22, 2015

What does it mean to say we did the best we could?  For the most part, those who are saying it are saying it in the context of failure, personal or professional.  Those in the midst of success rarely say we just did the best we could and look what happened.  No, they are basking in the spoils of victory and the best they could is implied, circumstance notwithstanding.  In sports, there is a clear delineation between winner and loser.  No matter how valiant, losers do not get parades.  They just get to say they did the best they could and it was not enough.

The issue I have with the dialogue is lack of humility.  Almost never in business, especially creative business, is the “best we could” statement followed with the idea that there is more to learn, experience to be gleaned, improvement to be made, acceptance of the past as it is, yes, but determination to be better.  This comes later – maybe.  The moment asks us to understand we need never apologize for our limitations, but must always accept and be responsible for them.  And yet, all too often, we do not.

So we did the best we could is the very justification of failure, the refusal to say, truly, no we did not do the best we could.  We could have and should have done better.  We will learn.

For creative business, the best we could is an illusion.  The beauty of creation is that nobody knows what will happen in the end.  Yes, incredible focus on the process of getting there is the best way to ensure a wonderful result.  However, the result is always in question.

If the result falls flat for whatever reason, telling a client you did the best you could means nothing.  You and your creative business are your client’s New Coke, their Edsel, their DeLorean.

What would the world be like if you decided to immediately own your flaws.  Start with an authentic apology.  Know that your process failed you.  Your ability to fully understand your mission, your client’s vision, perhaps even the power of your own art, was amiss.  For so many creative businesses, once the moment is past, it is over.  If you missed the moment, you missed it.  The only thing you can do is to try to make the moment next time.

It sucks to be the client who suffers a missed moment.  Do not compound the injury with we did the best we could.  You cannot fix it.  Your only recourse is to offer empathy and the desire to improve.  Let the rest lie.  No refunds, future promises for discounted services if they come back.  Leave the platitudes where they belong, shot dead in an alley.  We tried, we could have done better, we will do better, we are sorry we could not have done better for you.  Let it be enough.

Authentic humility, like authentic shame, is endearing.  It is what all of us crave, your clients very much included.  Failure is information as much as it is circumstance.  The ability to know that you can and will get back up is the very definition of confidence, desire and determination to go forward when the power of inertia overwhelms.

Having confidence that your way and that of your creative business is the best way for your client should never presuppose that there is another, better way.  If you are shown that you must find a new way, you will never get there if you start with we did the best we could.  Of course, you thought you did, but you did not and, even if you did, it was not good enough.  Who cares? The real question, the only one that matters, is how are you going to get better?


Back To Basics

May 18, 2015

With creative business in full swing – tis the season after all — it is easy to get lost in the doing and ignore what lies underneath.  Yes, at a point, it is all about chop wood, carry water.  You can just never forget you are not farmers, you are artists.  There always, always has [...]

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Humility vs. Humiliation

May 7, 2015

Nobody is perfect.  Not everything you do as an artist and creative business owner works.  You will be wrong.  More to the point, you will be wrong more often then you are right. The goal is not to be wrong less, it is to be really really right when you are right and slightly wrong [...]

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A Pig In A Snake

May 1, 2015

If you are a regular reader of the blog or talk to me for ten minutes, you know I love my analogies.  The Apple Tree, Rowboats and Motor Yachts come to mind.  The one I have been having the most fun with of late is the idea of a pig in a snake. There are [...]

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Bet On Black

April 16, 2015

In the life of a creative business, you will have a choice: you can keep doors open to all possibilities or bet on black.  For non-gamblers, bet on black refers to going to a roulette table and choosing to bet on the little ball to end up on a black number not a red (or [...]

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Your Core

April 2, 2015

I have just finished rereading Good To Great, Jim Collins’ awesome five-year study of companies that went from good to great.  He studied what made these companies great relative to their peers (and the market in general — the rock stars of business) and how they stayed that way.  Much too much to talk about [...]

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Your Clients Want What You Want

March 18, 2015

We all evolve.  Me too.  When I first started working with creative businesses, Preston and Vicente very much included, I thought that the work had to be to reach into the mind of a client and translate their vision into your art.  Focus on listening, then presenting, and ultimately creating for clients. While this framework [...]

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Empowerment and Process

March 11, 2015

I had the great pleasure to finally talk in person with Bill Baker last week after being social media friends for the last three or so years.  Ostensibly, we were talking about how I might offer advice on broadening Bill’s speaking engagements.  Sure.  As Bill is much further along in that endeavor than me, I [...]

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Into The Sun

March 2, 2015

The time to risk it all is when you have everything to lose, not when you have nothing.  When you have nothing, only one place to go – up.  There is a safety in that.  If you are wrong, who cares, you are at rock-bottom anyway.  But if you are right, there is the way [...]

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