Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for September, 2007|Monthly archive page

Building a Blue Bike Isn’t Easy

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on September 29, 2007 at 4:21 am

The last few weeks have offered me a few personal challenges.

As someone not at all mechanically inclined, I have been greatly challenged learning how to incorporate building, on stage during my keynote presentation, an old blue Hollywood Schwinn bike.

I found Miya LeBleu’s bike at the Antioch Bike Shop on Main Street, in downtown Antioch, Illinois, on my very first try looking for a blue bike with a single gear, for my presentation. I felt as though it was sitting there for the last twenty-or-so years, in that bike shop, waiting for me to come and buy it. (Actually, the bike was not for sale. This bike shop happens, coincidentally, to be the closest to our house on the lake, and just happens to be a 3rd generation Schwinn dealer. It took a bit of persuasion to convince the bike shop why I had to have that particular bike and why they needed to sell it to me!)

Besides the actual assembly of it, which is challenging enough for me, I have worked to find the right ways to use this old blue Schwinn as the metaphor it is–a working symbol of entrepreneurship– into my presentation on creative value. (Miya LeBleu would be proud.)

I have been video taping my practice sessions in my garage for 2 weeks now. My newly expanded presentation, now up from 25 to 45 minutes, has tremendously improved– though I still cringe watching how I sometimes fumble with all the unknown surprises I still encounter, routinely, with the bike’s assembly.

But fumbling with the bike and my own discomfort through the process, offers so many true comparisons to entrepreneurship that my torment with building it feels purposeful and worthwhile. After all, entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but it sure is worth trying to build something that you passionately believe in.

At the end of each practice session, when I finally have the bike all together, I truly feel accomplished riding my blue Hollywood Schwinn, which started off as a pile of parts, off the stage at the end of my presentation.

I am on my own blue bike building adventure. I hope you will join me.


In Uncategorized on September 22, 2007 at 8:35 pm

with one twist
the view
of life can change

To focus your view
you need one or two
new ideas
to sharpen your frame

Leaving pain left unknown
your passions can grow
ideas flow
when you feel whole

with one found twist
shout outloud
the life you can name

Miya LeBleu and The Blue Bike Shop

In THE BLUE BIKE SHOP STORIES on September 15, 2007 at 11:01 am

It happened before Miya even knew what hit her. On her blue bike, one windy day in April, Miya was on her way home from Steck’s farm. Becky Steck was Miya’s best friend. The Steck’s lived up the hill from where County Road H and Townline Road intersect, just around the corner from where Miya lived.

“I was coming down the hill when the wind suddenly rose up behind me. It was blowing with such force that my hair flew forward, covering my face like a mask– it was sort-of shielding me,” said Miya as she exhaled and clasped her hands tightly together.

This story was never easy for Miya to tell, let alone to a new boyfriend. Miya searched deeply into Sam’s baby blue eyes looking for reassurance.

“Shielding you from what Miya? It’s ok Miya, you can tell me, come on…. just tell me,” Sam pleaded.

“I guess it shielded me from the horror of seeing the truck that was about to run the stop sign and hit me.”

“Oh my God, Miya! How horrible…” Sam said, visibly stunned.

“I can’t imagine what you went through. It must have taken you a long time to recover…. But you do know that you look great, Miya, DON’T YOU? Who would ever guess what happened? Look at you! For God’s sake, you can even still ride a bike!” Sam exclaimed, as he reached for Miya’s hand.

“Oh that’s nice of you to say, Sam, but I have more metal under my jeans than on the frame of my bike! It’s rather impossible not to be able to tell. You see, Sam, that wasn’t the life I was supposed to lead. And this isn’t the life I had planned.”

“I am not sure I entirely understand what you are trying to say, Miya?”

“Well when I was growing up, everyone- I mean EVERYONE- told me that I had the most beautiful legs; so I began to model. In fact, it was right before the accident that I really was becoming quite serious about it.”

“I was a model for McCullough’s Shoes. Their full-page spread in The Daily Gazette, featuring Classic Evening Pumps, was my very last print ad. It ran the Sunday before my accident in the Gazette’s Home and Leisure section. I modeled for JC Penny, the one in Dover, in their spring preview bathing suit collection. And had just been called back the week before, for a national television commercial for Payless Shoes that I had auditioned for in Richmond.”

Miya in that moment looked down. She felt a little embarrassed by the one single uncontrollable tear rolling down her cheek, dripping on to her shoe with a heart-felt ka-plunk.

“But you see Sam, that life I dreamed of can never be,” she said with a smile.

“So what made you open a bike shop Miya? What’s so fashionable about blue bikes? ”

“For Christmas, the year before my accident, I begged my parents to get me a bike. For months all I saw advertised was the new Schwinn Hollywood. Sam, you will never understand how fascinated I was with modeling and with Hollywood. Becky and I would parade up and down my driveway, all dressed up, pretending to be high fashion models walking the red carpet.

As a young girl, can you imagine a better way to dream of getting there than on a brand new Schwinn Hollywood?

The very first time I was going to be able to ride my new Schwinn on my imaginary ride to Hollywood, was that spring day in April, when I was headed over to Becky’s house. Ever since Christmas Day, Becky and I had been planning what we would wear, on her red carpet, strutting down her Hollywood driveway.”

Miya abruptly pulled away from Sam, letting go of his hand and said, “But instead, that fateful day turned out to be the day my dreams died, and everything in my life changed.”

Miya’s gaze was locked tightly into Sam Miller’s big blue eyes.

“I know, Sam, that it wasn’t an accident that I forgot my shoes on the way to Becky’s house and had to turn back. When I came down the hill, it was not a coincidence that a truck flew right by the stop sign and hit me. You see the life I passionately dreamed of then was not where the heavens wanted my life to go; so they stopped me.”

“So where was your life headed, Miya?”

“Frankly, for a long time after my accident I really was not sure. I was very depressed and felt lost. It took four years and six surgeries to put my legs back together with metal bolts and pins. The doctors told my parents that, short of amputating both limbs, this was the only other way I would be able to walk again on my own.”

“So, why in the world would you want to open a bike shop after something like that happened to you?”

” Well Sam, I opened The Blue Bike Shop because my Blue Hollywood Schwinn Bike is a reflection of me. It’s changed how I look. It’s changed my dreams. And most importantly, since Christmas Day ten years ago, it has filled me with hope and optimism, especially after the accident when I was still able to get back on it and ride it.”

“You see Sam; I opened the shop to help my customers find the life they are meant to live. I want to help each one of them find their own blue bike that can transform their life into something far better- just like my Blue Schwinn Hollywood Bike has transformed me.”

“My customers come into The Blue Bike Shop thinking they are buying the blue bike from their dreams. What they leave with is a way to ride their blues toward a far better life than they had planned.”

Thank You for Being a Friend

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on September 7, 2007 at 4:27 am

Every single day, since January 11th, 2007, my blog post titled “Heartbeat of America” is read. It is a post that speaks to the heart of my passionate pursuits. Thank you for caring enough about the arts to pass it on.

According to Rick Cherwitz, professor and director of Intellectual Entrepreneurship at The University of Texas-Austin, we need to teach fine art students, and for that matter, all students in school and for life, how to become “citzen-scholars”.

“What is a fine arts citizen-scholar?” you might be thinking.

The way I see it:

As artists, you and I need to be citizens for a higher purpose.

As artists, we need to passionately embrace what we create, finding a way for it to benefit society in ways that are good for mankind- truly a scholarly pursuit.

To be recognized as citizens for a higher purpose, we must be visible in our communities.

Staying visible in our communities, as citizen scholars, requires us to be gainfully employed within the art-form we passionately embrace.

It is not possible to do any of this if we have to work an unrelated day job instead. Being a fine arts citizen scholar is a full time job.

I have yet to meet a single undergraduate who elects to pursue a course of study in fine arts for any reason other than they see it as a worthy endeavor to better themselves and the world. With 100,000 fine arts students graduating each year and only 1.7 million reporting being gainfully employed in the arts (largely self-employed), according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fact that the majority of employed artists are self-employed, is the single most important reason why each of us must learn how to passionately create a good living doing what we love.

It is through a process of self-discovery and self-empowerment that we find the courage we need to figure out who to serve and how our highest purpose can fuel mankind, and do so profitably.

Imagine what the world could be like if most of American big business learned how to be “citizen-scholars?” Imagine how many of them might no longer embrace deceptive business practices, empowered by greed as their misplaced form of higher purpose and good; not to mention how many fewer Enron’s there might be.

Call me naiive for thinking this is possible, or perhaps, think of my desire to empower you as my own work as a citizen scholar. It is going to take a world village of us, building our own blue bikes, to change things. Fine arts citizen scholars are needed in every community to create a higher purpose, the single most important missing value in corporate America today.

What kind of blue bike do you want to build and ride?

What do YOU need to learn or do to begin your journey as a citizen scholar?