Why Do You Do What You Do?

by seanlow on December 3, 2013

What a fascinating question – why do you do what you do?  For those in creative business, the answer is almost never to make money.  Sure, money is important, but it is not the main driver even if a ton is being generated.  No, the words I hear a lot are love, passion, compulsion, a calling; something inside that has to be shared.

Boil it down and 99% of creative business is the happy business.  Sure, there might be solemn occasions (flowers for a funeral for example), however most often clients come to you because they want you to enrich their lives.  The easy answer is that clients want you to enrich their lives with your art.  When they enter the room for the first time, try on the dress, taste the food, see the picture, their reaction is what you are paid for, no question.  Not all though, or, I daresay, not close to the most important part.  What you are really paid for is your why.

As much as love, passion, calling and compulsion are drivers, they are not the why.  The why is the feeling underneath, the tactile, physical reaction you have when you are in it.  Singers getting lost in song, dancers going far beyond the steps.  Clients pay you to be moved by what their senses cannot experience directly, to relate to the journey you have taken with them and for them.  Perfection is a rare thing and, to me, the antithesis of what you seek, far better imperfectly perfect.  Not that FUBAR is ever acceptable, but fluidity over the perfect technique any time.

And yet.  The investment in perfect, the end result, the wow has never been greater.  Social media is used to celebrate what you get above all else.  All the while, the communication (i.e., conversation) part of things goes lost.  The difference between your creative business and the one next to you is not the love, passion, compulsion or end result.  At a level, you all have this in spades.  It is the feeling, the relationship, your ability to create and transform an experience, mostly to change perception, to affect people.  You do that by sharing the feeling underneath, your connection to other your clients crave from you.

What would your world look like if sharing your feeling underneath was your investment?  Figuring out how to tell your story in conversation rather than narrative?  Making your business about celebrating your client’s happy through your story, your lens?  And getting paid primarily for the conversation?

If you are willing to go there, the presumption is you will reach in to the hearts and minds of your clients to figure out what they need in relation to what you are capable of giving.  Some clients might know it before you do, others might have to be shown what they do not yet see, it does not matter.  The point is you will be having a different conversation than “what can I do for you?”  From there, the world will open to the feeling underneath and the boundless opportunity that comes from that place.

For those who think this idea too woo-woo, consider: the subjective for creative business is everything.  People buy Picasso’s because they love Picasso, not for the canvas, oils or frame it comes on.  It is why spending more of your time defining the “love” part makes a whole lot more sense than having it be all about the canvas.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Sam Fleming December 23, 2013 at 9:32 am

Thank you for your insight Sean! This is helpful as in my DJ world I am continually asked for hourly rates instead of a flat performance fee. Too many people want the price immediately when I need a conversation first to tailor their lighting, sound and theme to their tastes and those of their guests. I have heard it called Arts vs Parts before. A select few might care that I still use records and turntables but most people just want a great celebration and trust you can take them there.

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