The Rise of the Artful Entrepreneur
Historically, artists have always been entrepreneurs.
Whether they sought the support of a patron, were sponsored by the king, or died starving, ears bleeding... Artists tend to pursue their passions at all cost. They are willing to sacrifice their comfort for the quest of understanding, purpose and legacy. They are driven by an altruistic mission and selfish obsession at the same time. It’s irrational and it makes perfect sense.
We are in love with what we do. It’s the most romantic relationship.
We are not driven by money, we are driven by the desire to bring value to the world- instead of reaping value from it. Some people spend their lives searching for meaning, some decide to do something meaningful instead. Social entrepreneurs and artists are made of the same stuff. It’s ironic we should even add the word “social” ahead of entrepreneurship. If you are social entrepreneurs, what do we call the rest? Unsocial entrepreneurs?
I believe the second chapter of this century will be led by the creatives, the non-conformists, the marginalized, the misfits. Those who are not afraid to take risks, those who deeply want to fix something, those who can re-imagine the world over and over again.
This is the rise of the Artful Entrepreneur. When artists stretch their entrepreneurial muscles and entrepreneurs, their creative ones.
Think about it, when every surface becomes a digital display for an augmented world, who will imagine and write our new realities? With the internet of everything: who will explore the anthropomorphic dynamics of our relationship with everything? If we can gamify learning and other processes, who will humanize the experience?
We are being challenged by a whole new world. It’s not space. Its not 20,000 leagues under the sea, not even technology…
It’s our own imagination.
As entrepreneurs, we are told to prototype quickly, fail fast, launch early. Go change the world! But how do we get there? What does the creative process of innovation look like? I don’t have all the answers, it’s a lot of jazz, but allow me to share a few thoughts and provocations that my journey and training have taught me.
1. What if we looked at the act entrepreneurship as performance art ?
Artists often seem larger than life, making choices that civilians may not dare to do. I have been a performer for more than two decades and can tell you, there have been many times when my characters did something I would have never dared to do. It sounds crazy, but it’s true! I don’t sing karaoke — I am terrified of it. Guess what? My character did. She sang Britney Spears on top of her lungs. It sounded horrendous and it was amazing!
There is power in the mask of performance.
And the mask doesn’t take away from the honesty of your actions and authenticity of your intentions. It gives you that extra degree of separation that liberates you from judgment, and frees you from hesitation. There’s a thin line between inaction and courage…
2. Suspend your disbelief
What the present is teaching us, is that whatever crazy ideas we have, they are not crazy enough. Whatever we thought was impossible: think again. In Theater, we learned to suspend our disbelief, because when we suspend our disbelief we are prepared to believe anything. So, let's not think linearly, obviously, logically. Let's think surrealistically. Absurdly. Abstractly. Like Dali, Picasso, or Kafka. Where time melts, dimensions break down, and we turn into cucarachas!
Let's embrace metaphors. Because in those moments of suspension, we might just have that epiphany. And if someone tells us something is impossible, it only means they do not how to do it. But someone somewhere, will figure it out. What if we went to the moon and back? What if we created power from nuclear waste? What if a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space could enable internet service everywhere?
“The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.”
So suspend your disbelief.
Intelligent algorithms can predict our actions and curate content based on our linguistics, preferences, ideologies, and our sense of humor. How predictable are we?! German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that we are living in ‘bubbles’ of self- reinforcing views. When we need as many points of views as possible to gain new perspectives instead. In a world of predictability, be unpredictable. Surprise is key. Make interesting choices, take risks.
4. Stay Hungry
Even when we are satisfied and happy, that’s the hardest part. Not hungry for things we don’t have — but for the things we don’t know. That’s how we stay hungry, by always asking ourselves questions we don’t know the answers to. Futurist Alvin Toffler said:
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”
Let’s learn how to learn and learn how to like it.
5. Failing with Humor
Failing is a trending topic! Everyone has their take on it. One of the many great things I learned from clowning: falling... failing... is funny. We shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.
How is it that, with considerably little time, actors can become completely different characters with a different set of beliefs, accent, body, different memories. That’s not theater stuff, that's special agent training!
Let's create the realities we want to live in and immerse ourselves in them. This is how our brains train. How we fool our mirror neurons into believing it is real. We’re all talking about Magic Leap, Hololens, Oculus, HTC Vive, Meta, Samsung, Google’s Daydream and they keep on coming…But we all have an embedded augmented reality headset called imagination: it’s free, use it.
Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words. Stillness moves more than motion. Sometimes the solutions we are looking for are the simplest ones.
Play Play Play….Find playfulness in everything. Because when we are passionate about something, we do not count the minutes and hours spent, we will dedicate a decade, a lifetime to what matters.
Artists and Entrepreneurs have a lot in common.
Our platforms have been different, and that might change. The way we address problems might be different, and that may change too… Our goal is the same:
To positively impact the world.
We are just getting started. The page is blank, there is no road map.
We are going to have to Imagine it.
Talk Transcript from La Ciudad de Las Ideas, Puebla Mexico, November 17, 2016.
"Stay Hungry. Not for things you don’t have, but for the things you don’t know. "
"We all have an embedded augmented reality headset called imagination: it’s free, use it."
"Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words, and stillness moves more than motion. Sometimes the solutions we are looking for are the simplest ones."