What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?

by seanlow on 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 want to be remembered.  Not so much for what we have done, the things created, but mostly for how we touched people.

So too then your creative business.  The vast majority of you are in the happy business, sure, the memory business most of all though.  If your clients are not forever touched by what you do for them, even if only a whimsical smile, then you have not done your job. Such is the nature of a corporate story, a defined set of core values and a commitment to an iconic process reflective of both.

Bill Baker wrote a fantastic blog post last week about the difference between corporate messaging and a corporate story.  My favorite thought is, “Importantly, corporate messages tend to be more temporary, responding to changing circumstances and new situations. A corporate story is more timeless; it’s the ether that continually permeates and floats around those messages. Stories are not opportunistic, they don’t change when the conditions change. The messages conveyed in the spirit of that story may adjust, but the story endures.”  Bill talks to larger corporations, creative and not, so his is a broader concept.  Drill down to creative business though and you have it all:  get caught in the flavor of the day, the latest idea and trend, or, most importantly, following along (or worse, looking like) your competition and you are sunk.  Being the moon instead of the sun belies the idea that the story of your sun is all that matters.

And yet.  The focus is on the sale, the money, closing the deal.  The beauty of holding uncertainty, building relationship, sharing your, your art and your creative business’ story is lost, sacrificed to the fear of not being memorable enough.  Not memorable enough to be the client’s only choice.  It is where core values come in, what Tony Hsieh spoke so well about in Delivering Happiness way back when.  Who are you?  What do your art and your creative business stand for?  And how do you live the values every day?  Where can I see them in every aspect of your business?

That is the yin and yang.  Your story drives your core values.  Living your core values deepens your story.

Taking my own spin on what Bill wrote – if your creative business does not invest in telling its story, living its core values and operating in a way that profoundly embraces both, you will become forgettable, or worse, interchangeable.  Art exists to shape our lives, move us to another place, to bring awareness of a life yet unlived.  For most creative businesses, that awareness is a deeper sense of joy than existed before you came on the scene.  What would keep me up at night as a creative business owner is not where the next project will come from, rather it would be that no one would remember my art and my creative business if it were gone.  Tell your story.  Choose to live it, passionately, fervently, faithfully.  The rest will take care of itself.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Rashmi September 17, 2014 at 8:23 am

Sean,
Thank you for this post. It came at the exact right time for me as this is the time of the year that my business kicks into high gear and throws my general sense of well being and balance askew.

Much appreciated!
Rashmi

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