Breathe Deep and Say Yes

by seanlow on October 21, 2014

Art transcends its medium.  No creative business sells a product or service.  Not really.  They sell meaning, emotion, desire, fulfillment.  If your creative business understands the depth of connection formed, you will inevitably be asked to move beyond yourself and the current state of your art and creative business.

Breathe deep and say yes.

Of course, there is someone out there that could do an excellent job at what you are being asked to do (i.e., for events, a designer asked to plan; an architect asked to do interior design, a still photographer asked to direct a movie, etc.). You might even have relationships with a lot of them.   Call the artisans and have them help.  Redefine your vision of how your client sees you.  Sure, you can stay true to what you do and, for many of you, that might be enough.  Just for a second though, contemplate what is keeping you from saying yes.  Fear?  Yes, you will be terrified of falling down in an area you do not focus on.  And, no, you will not catch up to the masters of that area in a moment or even a lifetime.  Worry about alienating the artisans whose art you are asked to provide.  Hmmm.  Still missing the point.

Trust.  The confidence your client has in your creative business’ ability to understand her vision, to “get” her, is transformative.  If what you can do is to be the defender of that vision, an advocate of the story to be told, why shouldn’t you be responsible for all of it?  You are being seen as the gatekeeper.  Honor that.

What I am ABSOLUTELY not saying is to do it by yourself.  You have no right to practice what you are not expert at, certainly not at your client’s expense.  Bringing artists and artisans you know will respect what is to be delivered – the meaning, relationship and value – into the fold is entirely appropriate.  The beauty of the Internet age is the abundance of talent and our ability to communicate with each other.  Resources are truly global, conversations intimate.

Reconsider your role.  Today you might be the gatekeeper.  Tomorrow another artisan.  What would the world look like if collaboration were the norm, resources fungible? Trust created by another to be valued for the opportunity it creates for everyone?  Today we see trust in another as a threat to our own validity, especially if ours does not rise to that level with the client.  Such a shame.

Invest in trust everywhere – yours first and supporting those around you.  The pie is beyond big enough.  Allow for the possibility of what could be as you focus on building the trust generated by another as much as you do on your own.  It is the essence of the digital age – wealth created is based on integration.  Most certainly your value remains as the artist you are.  Trust and a spirit of expansion though makes your art the seed, far more than the tree.  Know where and how to turn to manifest expansion.  Your community will take you as far as you want to go.

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Finding Yourself

by seanlow on October 6, 2014

The best part of any business, creative business in particular, is that it is a journey of self-discovery.  Yes, you get to have your artistry and art front and center.  You share your vision of what is beautiful in the hope (knowledge?) that your vision will resonate with your clients.  Making your art and your creative business the purest version of how you choose to share your gift is, at base, the foundation of every creative business.  Such is not the topic of today’s post though.  Today’s post is about blind spots and their consequences.

More often than not, your clients have more money than you do and certainly more than your employees who are responsible for communicating with these clients.  How does it color the conversation?  Intimidation?  Resentment?  A feeling of, “They have so much, why are they arguing with me over $1,000?”  I have watched, in horror, as an employee at an interior design firm told a client, who just happened to be a self-made multi-billionaire, “not to get all business” with him.  When I asked why he would ever say such a thing, his response was, “He’s rich, he should not care about what we charge, it is small potatoes to him.”  Yeah, no.

Or the idea that someone who asks a million questions is a pain in the butt client, while the one who lets you alone until they do not is a dream (and then a nightmare).  Fear is pervasive in all creative businesses.  You are tasked with (a) creating something new and (b) creating it for someone who cannot or does not want to do it themselves.  Everyone wants awesome and are terrified that it will not turn out that way.  Your role is to be the guide, focused not on success (which must be inevitable) but instead on the road there.  How you perceive a client’s fear (or lack thereof) is its own statement about you, not them.

Speaking of fear, what about your own?  If you are worried about failing or competition or success, does it bring you out of yourself, your art, your artistry?  How fast do you talk about money?  How do you really talk about what you and your creative business are worth?  What you really stand for (note, it is not to create pretty things)?  Do you want to look like a better option or be the only option?

We all stand in the way of ourselves.  We are loved in spite of ourselves as much as we are because of ourselves.  Creative business is about forgiveness, humility and desire to bring to life what has heretofore never existed.  Too often, ego prevents a fluid response.  Rather than antagonize a wealthy patron, explain why you charge what you do and why it is important to the project.  See the beauty in the client willing to ask questions and encourage those with absolute faith to not be so absolute.  Acknowledge your fear, live in it, then put it aside.  Your creative business has intrinsic value or it does not.  Harnessing and displaying the value front and center is its own reward.

The point of blind spots is to recognize that you are, in fact, blind to them.  Give yourself the opportunity to have a different conversation, with yourself most of all.  You will shift, moving deeper into yourself, the essence of your art and your creative business.  This work, this change is the true seed of growth — the foundation for your next level.

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What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?

September 16, 2014

Beyond the platitudes, projected ideas of who you were to them, what will people say about you when you are gone?  Do you know?  Do you care?  For each of us who have lost significant people in our lives, the idea is a profound one.  If only we can shape ourselves  by how we would [...]

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What Matters

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Life is a choice.  We decide it all.  Yes, things happen to us, horrible, wonderful and everything in between.  Our reaction, our pro-action, however, is all ours.  Integrity is staying true to the choice and respecting the choice of another.  We take people as they are, not as we wish them to be.  Light on [...]

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Trying To Find Your Feet

July 22, 2014

I am fascinated by the parallel of my and my family’s move from New York City to Northern California and the feelings so many creative business owners deal with every day.  A story my friend and amazing interior designer Danielle Colding told me recently comes to mind. Danielle and a friend were vacationing in the [...]

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Stress and The High Season

June 16, 2014

This is the time when most creative businesses are right in the middle of it or coming to the end of the peak season.  Late Spring/Early Summer is just that time of year when creative things happen.  Homes get designed and completed.  Weddings happen.  Photographs are in peak demand.   Regardless of whether it is going [...]

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Expansion and Innovation

June 1, 2014

I am in Bachelor’s Gulch Colorado awaiting the start of Engage! 14 Bachelor’s Gulch.  Engage! is the brilliant brainchild of Rebecca Grinnals and you need know that it is the only conference for luxury wedding professionals that matters.  While the information and speakers are terrific, the point is community.  A time to come together without [...]

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Pain and Change

May 8, 2014

Painless change is an oxymoron.  All change in business is painful.  You are giving up the known for the unknown.  No matter how hard your current situation (save the extremes of abuse/unethical/criminal etc.), moving to another reality is always fraught with uncertainty.  For creative business, the uncertainty is a double force for inertia. Why?  Because [...]

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Identifying Wrong Clients

April 23, 2014

I have a client that was asked to present for a potential engagement for a corporate event (for sake of confidentiality, type of artist has been omitted).  Rather than put together a standard capabilities response with canned “here is why we are good” examples, she decided to ask some questions that were bigger than the [...]

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Alignment

April 11, 2014

I have seen it time and again.  You say one thing about your art and creative business but the underneath tells a different story.  We are all about relationship with a ruthless contract to follow.  We only care about providing you with the best value (i.e., least expensive option) and charge a percentage.  Or, my [...]

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