the art of entrepreneurism

The Space Between (Part 6)

Are we at least willing to leave it all? The Hebrew tale of an invisible God calling a young Abram out of his home to a new land is such a perfect story of faith ventures. Even non-religious people can relate at least to the risk factor the unknown. “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s house” (Gen. 12.1). Gets right into it. Go. It’s the heart of all risk. Go. Leave what you know. And for what? In this case, “the land I will show you.” A future unknown goal is at hand.

That is the very heart of entrepreneurial risk: leaving what you know for some possible better future. That is really at the heart of the Scriptures throughout. Ironic that now religious people are seen as sterile, lethargic, and even lifeless.

Far from it in the beginning. The “father of faith” indeed shows a very different kind of religious model. It’s all about one’s willingness to leave it all for a promise of something better (a place with less space between). Are you willing to do that?

Some will argue the job of a great leader is to describe and inspire toward a vision of a preferred future. Their job, at least partly, is to understand and articulate where all this is leading. They are to help us know why it is worth our sacrifice.

That is precisely where we get the term visionary. Of course in today’s world that term is used almost exclusively for people working toward scientific and technological breakthroughs. Their “vision” is quite palatable and “usable” by the public.

Somehow all those breakthroughs make our lives “better,” or at least more comfortable. They are not visions of a preferred future exactly, they are visions of a preferred present. What can we do to make life better for humans now.

It is an interesting change. And most of the breakthroughs don’t necessarily lead us to be “better” humans doing “better” things, they lead us in most cases to greater comfort. That’s of course where “progress” and traditional vision fork in the road.

The goal of a true visionary is not to make life more comfortable for people, especially as we talk about artists. Their job in many ways is to make people less comfortable, or more irritable in their given comforts, to even “afflict their consciences.”

Sounds almost gloomy and downright mean, certainly a buzzkill. It also sounds like the “true” nature of real art is serious and confounding. While not the only purpose of the creative arts it may be one of most important.

“Better” generally involves growing, which generally does not come easy. Creative people have to keep pushing at the market to adjust expectations to include things that are good for them. That’s the heart of today’s creative entrepreneurs.

How do we sustain-ably bring good things to people? How do we take visions of a truly preferred future and get them into the conscious of the people? How do we reduce the space between people, natural resources, and the hope to carry on?

To Be or Not to Be (Part 1)

To Be or Not to Be (Part 1)

Whether we live, or whether we die.... One is not necessarily better than
the other. There are those who fulfill their calling by negation, By what they give
up. Then there are those who do so by what they embrace.

The entrepreneur of course is one who embraces a vision, who with great
passion decidedly moves toward that vision, and making it happen. In such a strong pursuit it is very easy for their identity to be wrapped entirely around the venture.

The problem is, the matter how passionately we are committed to our work, it
cannot define us. It would be simpler, to some degree, if it could. But our work
alone is not enough to grasp the mystery of human "being."

Art as Social Entrepreneur (Part 3)

Art as Social Entrepreneur (Part 3)

Without art we lose beauty. Art is the ability to find and translate beauty. Beauty is hope. Beauty is always around but not always available. She can be quite elusive at times. Artist must follow her and remind us all that she is still alive. 

Art as Social Entrepreneur (Part 2)

This work requires we take the long view of things, and a humble one. It’s easy for the artist to inflate his importance to the world. Like any field, dominance in that field is quickly mistaken for dominance worldwide. We forget our niches. Even the greatest of songs will ultimately be relegated to the place of background music. Great art masterpieces will be used to dress up a living room. They will be forgotten, or at least under-utilized, or perhaps rightly utilized.

Think for a second of the shoe-maker (or cobbler). They make good, sturdy shoes that protect our feet and hopefully keep them comfortable. They provide humanity a great service, one that is completely taken for granted regularly. What if providing the world a great song or a great piece of visual art is really more like making a great shoe (not even so much in the fashion sense). Through artistry, integrity, and commitment we can provide great pieces that will be put in a closet. In other words however important a work may be at one time it will not remain that for long, especially in today’s world. The reality is that humans can only consume so much, and for so long. After we absorb something we have to move on.

The artist, fortunately, is the same. He or she must move on as well. He must find a new thing to say, a fresh reality to explore and articulate. Like the consumers, the artist can only live with and under a certain creation for so long before moving on.

Of course certain works make it into a category of “transcendent,” which means at its core that a work is timeless, or breaks normal cyclical rules about consumption. It has a sense of timelessness, or “staying power” - longevity in its connective power. But those are exceptions, and even those have cycles of use and re-use. The reality is that we are creating consumables, things enjoyed (consumed), and then forgotten, at least for the moment. Lasting impact, though, may have already happened.

That is the magic really of art (and all created things really): we will never totally know there intrinsic value. No matter our attempts to measure outcomes we will never accurately know how our pieces effected others, let alone ourselves.

How can we know the reality of a world without our works? Even the slightest influence of a background song my have changed the nature of reality for one big decision. Let’s be honest, it usually is the small things. Art may be one of those small things.

Ours is ultimately not to know the value of intangible things. Inner compelling may not be justification for some people, and certainly for some pieces, but it ultimately must play a part in the value of art, if not for the artist.

In our valuation of art we mustn't forget to measure its effect on the artist. What might life look like for the artist without his art? What would happen if an artist did not have a creative outlet? What would spoil and turn rotten within him?

The Art of Engagement (Entrepreneurism)

The Art of Engagement (Entrepreneurism)

I love ideas. Ideas can generate some serious excitement. Practically everything we can see in the world started as an idea in someone’s head. That is unbelievable. Yet ideas, without action, can lead to a debilitating sort of lostness.

Some ideas are worth pursuing. When you happen to stumble upon one you don’t really have the right to negotiate its existence. Your discovering it in some way beholdens you to seeing it out of your head and into this world. This process can be excruciating. Recall the idea:

  • Where did it come from?
  • Did you create it or discover it?
  • If you discovered it, whose idea is it?
  • Is there a sense of inevitability about the idea?
  • Would the idea find another birth sponsor if not you?

Ideas are powerful. They change everything. Mao understood that. Unable to get the people of China to adopt the ideas of communism he realized he had to write it out and “sell” the book to young people. The idea found a way out of his head.

Some say great ideas will make a way for themselves. Some say who carries and ultimately delivers them to the world is relative to their ability and more their willingness to listen and do as the idea leads. If not, the idea will find another carrier.

This is the exciting part of the deal. Ideas are time-sensitive. They do expire. Certain ideas are for certain times, and need to come out. If they are bottle-necked by someone’s refusal to cooperate they will simply find another way. We are on the line in other words. We have to be ready. We have to be willing to go where it leads. If we insist on dictating to the ideas how they should go it may seal the deal we are not really capable. We must hold them very loosely.

**Some think entreprenuering is sheer will power, ultimate manifest-destiny. Entrepreneurs are people who simply will or choose to make their idea a reality. We give a lot of credit to the person, but often forget about the idea.

Our biographies salute and almost canonize people who have made their dreams a reality. There is something amazing about them, but it’s not without their intimate connection to the dream that inspired them, a dream that was not them. Why did “that” dream become their pursuit? Why did “that” dream trump all others to become the thing worth doing? In other words, was there something inherent in the dream, the idea, the belief, that actually deserves the credit for inspiring the work?

The answer: yes!

The power of entrepreneuring is not so much in the process of doing the stuff to make it happen. Anyone can follow those steps. The magic is having the right vision and learning to listen to the One who gives such visions.