Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Invest in a Neighborhood Artist

In The Idea on June 30, 2008 at 7:06 am

Do you think investing your money into the career of a neighborhood artist would be a good one? The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble website is about to launch, hopefully this next week, and we will be asking for donations for our Artists Fund to help ensure a bright future for the artists we showcase.

But this week in the Denver Post a reader asked journalist Randy Cohen about a different kind of investment. Here was his question:

Question: My friend, a young artist at the start of his career, offered to sell me a 1 percent share in him for $9,000. I would receive a portion of his lifetime earnings but would have no say in the sort of work he did. This seems like a good deal for us both, but it does feel a bit like slavery. Is this agreement ethical? — Patrick Hebron, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Answer: This deal might show a lack of business acumen — few artists hit the jackpot — but it is not unethical. This scheme is akin to investing in any corporation, albeit a corporation of one. Your slavery analogy is inapt. The key moral element in slavery is the slave’s lack of say in the matter. (Pick cotton? For no pay? And frequent beatings? Count me in!) Your friend’s situation differs significantly even from indentured servitude in that it places no restrictions on what sort of work he does or where or for how long he does it. His only obligation is to pay out some of his proceeds.

There is even a sort of precedent: Bowie bonds. In 1997, David Bowie issued $55 million worth of 10-year bonds backed by the revenue from 25 of the albums in his catalog. The venture began well, but in 2004 the bonds’ rating fell to just above junk-bond status, partly in response to falling record-industry sales. Your friend gets quick cash; you get a shot at a Picassoesque payday, a fair opportunity for you both.

So, here is a new idea– start a business offering an investment service for donors to invest in your most talented neighborhood artists, the creative capital of our future, for a return on their investment for both of you. Use the Kiva Organization Model and you will be an instant innovator.

New ideas are the currency of the creative economy….

Why I am a Serial Artistic Entrepreneur

In Leadership on June 27, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Back in March of this year my husband, Chuck, was looking for a new job. In his search process, one night together we were looking at jobs on-line, when I stumbled into an opening for the Executive Director of The Arts and Business Council of Chicago. They were looking for someone entrepreneurial and courageous and while I have never had a “job” before, I could not help but apply. I am always looking for an opportunity to transform the arts into something more, and this sure seemed like a chance to do exactly that.

It has taken me a long time to write this post because the process, for me, with this position, just ended but two weeks ago. Out of 350 applicants I made it down to the final five before I was cut.

The position at the Arts and Business Council in Chicago, in my opinion, requires overhauling the mission of the organization. As an organization, its current focus is helping the major Chicago arts groups develop and improve their business strategy. But what is really happening, in my opinion, is not enough of that. For an organization that is the premier organization to support the intersection of business and arts, the Chicago Arts & Business Council’s income is on a five year decline. Both Urban Gateways and Chicago Arts Partnership in Education bring in more dollars than the prestigious Business and Arts Council of Chicago. With only a million dollars of income they do less than $300,000 of consulting for major arts groups in town. I am not speaking out of turn here- as their financial statement is public record and can be found on Guide Star.

As is the case in most areas in the arts, everyone is so busy protecting their “turf” that little that is innovative or imaginative is happening to entice new audiences and create a new buzz for the power of the arts. The arts, from the top down, are largely struggling because new ideas, new people and innovation are taboo. After all its all about how it ” looks” to the outside world, that’s most important, right?

Now, before any of you jump all over me, this of course is not universally happening, but far more than any of us want to admit.

In my final interview, the one that resulted in my getting cut, I met with board members from the Business and Arts Council. Several on the search committee were in not-for-profit positions and others came out of the business environment. What was striking to me was how much more imaginative and curious the business people seemed and how un-entrepreneurial and lacking in creativity those coming from the arts not-for-profits seemed. My ideas for reform and change clearly struck me as threatening to the not-for-profit types, at least that is how I interpreted their body language at the time.

But this is not a surprise, really. It is all too common of a reaction in the arts. I have seen this attitude countless times: “I have been in this position for years- it took me forever to have this authority and power and who do you think you are?” And you also get, “If your not an artist in my genre working in my field of expertise, you could not possible understand the issues. Who did you study with anyway?”

I cannot begin to tell you how experiencing that kind of all too familiar attitude in my interview left me feeling relieved when I found out I had been cut– and simultaneously reminded my why I became a serial artistic entrepreneur in the first place.

Through out my time studying music at Northwestern University, I played with and alongside some fantastic technicians. At the top of my class, many went on to be great players in major orchestras. However, when I was in school back then, what hit me was not how imaginative and creative most of my peers were, or how passionately they played necessarily, but instead how they cut classes and were interested in little more than sitting in the practice room to focus on becoming technically accomplished. At the expense of all else in life- their happiness, their health, their mental stability.

I was asked recently by someone who respects my playing as a clarinetist, why I did not pursue taking auditions to become a full time performer? It’s not that I wasn’t good enough- I was at the top of my class studying with a world class teacher, Robert Marcellus. What turned me off from performing, frankly, was that I wanted then and still do now for the arts to inspire me- to feel a sense of collaboration and creative energy. I want the arts to be brimming with light and possibility.

As an adult in the business-of-art world, while I did not find exactly the same types of experiences, what I have often found is a bunch of artists running businesses with more unimaginative thinking, a lack of entrepreneurial behavior and little to no interest in collaborating with anyone else because they often are in it for their own sole gain. It’s no wonder the arts suffer. It’s no wonder artists hate the word “sales”. How ironic that the most creative people in the world have trouble collaborating in a field that screams INNOVATE WITH ME, please.

So, why did I not go off and pursue some other field of study, you might be thinking? Why did I stick with the arts despite everything I have told you?

I am passionately in this industry because I believe in the power of art to transform, enlighten, bond and heal all who encounter it. I believe that one person can make a difference and that a group of people working together can change the world into a much better place. I simply cannot image a better tool than art to do it with, either.

We simply must find a way to explore and exploit its potential, setting aside our ego’s and opening our minds and imaginations to the world of possibility.

This is why I am and will continue to be an artistic entrepreneur– because I believe the arts can be something more than what I have seen.

Thankfully, tomorrow is another new day. And with it comes hope of what tomorrow, and you, can bring to the arts to inspire and fill this world with the light of collaborative and innovative artistry.

Art in Commerce

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 26, 2008 at 6:12 pm

I have to thank WordPress stats for this one. Under yesterday’s tally of referrals to my blog, this blog site popped up. I often will check out new sites this way and this is precisely how I found this particular site by photographer, Gary Allard. I loved his post titled Art in Commerce, and thought you would too.

Self Portrait by Gary Allard

I often get questions or suggestions from friends and family regarding my work. Usually it refers to some kind of photo show, call for entries or a contest. “You should enter/show/submit your work for this!” Then I have to explain to them the focus of my work isn’t really fine art, it’s commercial.

Then I started to think about it. Is it truly 100% commercial? Not really. That would imply that its only worth is to convey the essence of the product or brand that it represents. That’s not quite what I’m trying to accomplish. Without going deep into the whole emotional branding concept, what I want to achieve is a balance of communication and emotional response with my photos. So, essentially, I want to create art.

Is this approach any different from that of a fine artist? Not really. Is art created in the name of commerce worth less than art created solely for the purpose of art? Why is it that when the line gets crossed artists on both sides become so critical?

Art in commerce is nothing new — think Warhol here — and yet the controversy over what qualifies as true art is still burning. Take the new digital media into consideration and you’ve got an inferno.

To my point: If you discovered a photo/painting/etching/poem/prose that really spoke to you on a deep level and then later found out it was created for Apple or AT&T or Microsoft, would you feel somehow cheated? Or, when viewing photos at MoPA and learning that they were all shot in digital capture and printed with an Epson Pro 9880, would think less of them? I don’t have an answer. I’m somewhere in the middle ground having been a graphic designer for most of my life. I guess to me, there is art in everything. Even commerce.

Richard Florida Speaks on the Value of Art

In Interesting Articles, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 25, 2008 at 7:35 am

Economist Richard Florida popularized the term “The New Creative Economy”. My book, Build a Blue Bike, is based on his theories about the value of art in the new creative economy. Of course my book is written from the vantage point of the artist, not big business.

In the compelling two part clip, Dr. Florida expands on his ideas about why the economy so needs creativity and artistry to flourish. If you are not familiar with Richard Florida’s writing and work, here is an opportunity to get it in a bite-size format.

Part I

Part II

When 1+1= 4

In BOOKS: Learn and Grow, Emotional Intelligence, The Idea on June 24, 2008 at 8:07 pm

How can 1+1=4? When can you add two parts together and produce far more than their combined total?

In Benjamin Zander’s book, The Art of Possibility, he share’s this story:

” A shoe factory send two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying:


The other writes back triumphantly


To the marketing expert who sees no shoes, all the evidence points to hopelessness. To his colleague, the same condition points to abundance and possibility.”

So let me ask you, dear reader, how can these two people see things so entirely differently?

Could it be, perhaps, because we allow the world to be seen through our eyes with already predetermined outcomes- stories- and maps- that we know how to read and follow?

We learn through conditioning based on our environment and the individual influences of those around us. And we use what we learn to map out a guided tour to lead us to what we believe is the only possible right conclusion about a situation or even a math problem.

But what if there is another way to think about what you can create? What if the “art” of entrepreneurship in the arts is to recognize the opportunity your creativity has to destroy barriers in your thought, build new models of possibility and create abundance through your artistry in ways that only you can begin to imagine?

So, let me ask you again, When can 1+1= 4……

Katrina Markoff Speaks at Taste3

In Current Events, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 22, 2008 at 5:15 am

Owner and founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Katrina Markoff, reveals her four step process– of falling in love, inspiration, vision and action– that lead her to found her company and is the basis for her design of each of her delicious and creative new chocolate collections. Katrina’s explanation of her process reveals a lot about the entrepreneurial process and mindset. And, as an added bonus, you might find what she says easy to apply to something you love.

TASTE3 brings together writers, thinkers, chefs, winemakers, journalists, artisans, and executives, as speakers and hosts, to explore their views and ideas about food, wine and art. TASTE3 is presented by Robert Mondavi Winery. This years conference is July 17-19 in Napa, California.

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 19, 2008 at 7:03 pm

Are you ready to meet some extremely talented young entrepreneurs? Sheena Lindahl and Michael Simmons, two very energetic evangelistic missionaries for student entrepreneurship, own and run Extreme Tour Inc.

Besides traveling in a bright red and black big bus around the United States to college campuses to spread their message about the power of entrepreneurship, they both have impressive entrepreneurial credentials.

Using creative financing strategies, Sheena became financially independent from her parents at the age of 17 and has been able to completely pay her way through New York University’s $30,000+ yearly tuition, excel in school, work full-time at jobs she loves, co-found a business, and write a book.

Michael co-founded his first business, Princeton WebSolutions (PWS), when he was sixteen years old. PWS was later rated the #1 youth-run web development company in the nation by Youngbiz Magazine. In addition, Michael has been the winner of three entrepreneur of the year awards from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Fleet, and the National Coalition for Empowering Youth Entrepreneurship.

Together they have written two books: “The Student Success Manifesto” and “All or Nothing, Now or Never”.

Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour offers each college campus the opportunity to be inspired through hearing the stories of other young entrepreneurial speakers. Check out this amazing list of young talented contributors.

“80% of the millionaires in this country are entrepreneurs. The founders of Google don’t make millions in salary but rather work for only $1 per year. However, their stock is worth $18 billion,” Michael offered to one college group.

While I know that many in the arts have little interest in making big money, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do whatever you feel like with your art because you could afford to?

Facing The Facts: Arts Education Must Be Overhauled

In Creative Support, WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 18, 2008 at 8:42 pm

While I don’t like the reality of the condition of the 21st century “working” artist, the realities that face those who currently are studying any form of art must begin to sink in to those who are teaching you. There is such a huge opportunity to transform arts education into something creative and entrepreneurial so that we can use our passions to emerge in new innovative ways and better ourselves and society.

Last week, in Denver Colorado, performers, students and educators, from around the world, showed up for the NPAC‘s ( The National Performing Arts Conference).

Colin Holter, from New Music Box, an online web magazine from the American Music Center‘s, wrote about the conference and specifically about a session he attended titled “Higher Education and the Real World of Practice”.

Given by recognized experts who are focused on training university, and especially conservatory graduates, who have built some business acumen, administrative skills, and other “peripheral” skills besides playing technique, theory, and music history, statistics emerged from this session that 85 percent of music majors end up working “in the field,” although fewer than five percent are full-time professional performers.

In Colin’s blog post titled: Can You Balance a Checkbook? he says “These are some pretty telling figures: Most music students will be doing something in music—teaching, administration, and so forth—but not what they went to college to do.”

If these percentages are reflective of all segments in the arts- which I personally believe they are- then why exactly are we pursuing degrees that do not teach us skills to survive and thrive using the art forms we are being so highly trained to do? Can any one of us afford to spend $100,000, and many of us graduating with debt we may have for more than half our life time to not build valuable skills to thrive inside our field of study?

Collin goes on in his post with this- which I could not have said better myself: “Practicing eight hours a day is a great way to become a virtuoso, but it’s also a great way to develop an eating disorder, and apparently it makes you only incrementally more likely to sustain a career as a full-time soloist or orchestral player than someone who only put in four hours per day. Conservatory training continues to carry a great deal of prestige among musicians; however, if most conservatory graduates (like most other music graduates) aren’t putting food on the table by playing three hundred nights a year, maybe their curricula should be reevaluated accordingly.”

Halelluija! Praise the Lord. Amen.

Entrepreneurship and Art training IS the answer. You love what you do enough to sacrifice for it, do it for free, on weekends, evenings and for little or no pay- that is a sign of love. Now let’s get our schools of higher education to understand that your paying them to help you cultivate your love into income. Those institutions certainly are profiting from the love you bring to your art form- It is TIME for arts education to accept the need for universal reform and ‘roll with the times’ and change.

Motivation to Excel

In Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea on June 17, 2008 at 12:46 am

Do you feel motivated to be your best self? Are you determined to find a niche in the arts and thrive? Are you willing to never give up until you reach your goals? Are you willing to invest in yourself and change what you need to about yourself, or your life, to create your dream?

We all struggle, we all fall short. I need to lose 40 pounds, get my book published and get back to working on my speaking, just to name a few things on my list. (Trust me when I say, at the moment, my list of struggles seems a bit long.) But seriously, we all need inspiration and we all need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back in the saddle to try and ride our dream again, and again, and again.

And again.

The hardest part of any ride, especially one you care about, is getting back on when you have been, or feel like you have been, thrown off.

Where do we find motivation when we feel this way? Well, we often find it when we hear a story of an underdog who rises to victory, beating insurmountable odds. Isn’t that partially why Obama is so loved because his rise is restoring our faith that dreams really can come true and that anything we strive for in life is possible?

Or what about stories of the poor, like the one’s told through the business model of the Kiva Organization? With a micro loan- a sum of money that would not even cover the cost of a meal in the United States- our poorest are becoming able to build a business, improving their lifestyle, feed their families and hopefully, eventually, rise out of poverty. Now that too is pretty motivational, isn’t it?

But what about us just average Joe’s? What about each of us who seems just pretty ordinary and average in most every way? What will motivate us to excel and transform our lives as magnificently?

Well, maybe it starts with recognizing that what you hold in your heart as the single most important thing in life to achieve, is far from ordinary and average. What you see and what you wish for others to come to learn from you, do with you, experience alongside of you, is nothing short of extraordinary. Yes, indeed, no matter WHAT anyone tells you and no matter how many times you are told otherwise, your ideas, visions and dreams are unique and worthy of developing into something for all to see.

Sounds easy. Maybe even a little motivational. But, when your done reading this post, how long will your motivation last?

No one ever really wants to talk about the hard work of motivation. We instead want to go for the quick fix, cheap euphoria of a moment to illustrate it can be produced on demand, and like a drug revel in its temporary and usually fleeting sensation, glossing right over the guts of what it is made of.

True sustainable motivation comes with your acceptance, realization, understanding, responsibility, tenacity and courage to do what it takes, as long as it takes, for your idea, vision, goal or dream to become real.

Real hard work creates motivation. An unwillingness to quit produces motivation. Requiring more of yourself is motivational.

What comes from it, is the opportunities we need to excel.

Profile of the 21st Century Artist

In Interesting Articles on June 15, 2008 at 10:43 pm

This article appeared in The New York Times on Friday, June 12th. It is an extraordinary article about the growth of the number of artists in the United States and the earning and economic potential of both artist and the arts.

On a weekend that has lead to continuous rain fall and record flooding on the Fox River in Illinois, where my husband and I watch the water rise in our backyard for the third time in less than a year, and the sudden news of the loss of a great ethical journalist, Tim Russert, who’s program Meet the Press I have watched since he became the moderator in 1991, this article is a bright ray of sunshine in, what has been for me, a tough week.
By SAM ROBERTS, New York Times

If all the professional dancers in the United States stood shoulder to shoulder to form a single chorus line, it would stretch from 42nd Street for nearly the entire length of Manhattan. If every artist in America’s work force banded together, their ranks would be double the size of the United States Army. More Americans identify their primary occupation as artist than as lawyer, doctor, police officer or farm worker.

“It’s easy to talk about artists in lofty and spiritual terms,” said Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Without denying the higher purposes of the artistic vocation, it’s also important to remember that artists play an important role in America’s cultural vitality and economic prosperity. Artists have immense financial and social impact as well as cultural impact.”

Drawing from the census, the endowment has compiled what it bills as the first nationwide profile of professional artists in the 21st century.

In 2005 nearly two million Americans said their primary employment was in jobs that the census defines as artists’ occupations — including architects, interior designers and window dressers. Their combined income was about $70 billion, a median of $34,800 each. Another 300,000 said artist was their second job.

The percentage of female, black, Hispanic and Asian artists is bigger among younger ones. Among artists under 35, writers are the only group in which 80 percent or more are non-Hispanic white. Overall, women outnumber men only among dancers, designers and writers. Similarly, while 60 percent of professional photographers are men, 60 percent under age 35 are women.

Like the population in general, the number of artists has grown fastest in the West and the South since 1990, but New York State, followed by California, Massachusetts, Vermont and Colorado, has the most artists per capita.

California claims the most actors per capita, Nevada the most dancers and entertainers, Vermont the most writers, Tennessee the most musicians, New Mexico the most fine artists, Massachusetts the most architects and designers (including, among others, commercial, fashion, floral, graphic, interior designers and window dressers), Hawaii the most photographers and North Dakota (where radio shows abound) the most announcers. By 2005 the proportion of non-Hispanic whites among artists had declined to 80 percent from 86 percent in 1990, but the proportion of blacks, 5 percent, remained the same.

San Francisco leads metropolitan areas in the proportion of artists in the work force, followed by Santa Fe (which ranks first in writers and fine artists), Los Angeles, New York and Stamford-Norwalk in suburban Connecticut. The Top 10 also include Boulder, Colo.; Danbury, Conn.; and Seattle.

Orlando, Fla., leads in entertainers and performers.

The “Artists in the Workforce” report, prepared by Sunil Iyengar, the endowment’s director of research and analysis, identified 185,000 writers, 170,000 musicians and singers, nearly 150,000 photographers, nearly 40,000 actors and 25,000 dancers. (They have the youngest median age, 26, and the highest proportion of minority workers, 40 percent).

The only artists whose ranks declined since 1990 were, as a group, fine artists, art directors and animators, to 216,000 from 278,000. The number of announcers also dropped.

More than one in four artists live in California and New York, where their sheer numbers are overwhelming compared to the artist colonies in other states. New Mexico, Vermont, Hawaii and Montana rank first in fine artists per capita, but they total 7,000, compared with 66,000 in California and New York combined. Since 2000 Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New Mexico gained in the proportion of artists compared to all workers.

Mr. Gioia attributed the spread of artists beyond traditional urban clusters to the growth of cultural institutions in maturing cities in the South and West, the mobility of the work force, technology that enables a painter in Santa Fe to reach a broader audience and the high cost of living in cities including Boston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Overall, the median income that artists reported in 2005 was $34,800 — $42,000 for men and $27,300 for women. The median income of the 55 percent of artists who said they had worked full-time for a full year was $45,200.

Over all, artists make more than the national median income ($30,100). They are more highly educated but earn less than other professionals with the same level of schooling. They are likelier to be self-employed (about one in three and growing) and less likely to work full-time, year-round. (Dancers have the lowest median annual income of all artists, architects the highest — $20,000 and $58,000, respectively.)

“Many performing artists are underemployed,” Mr. Gioia said, “but one of the stereotypes we’re trying to debunk is that artists are mostly marginal and unemployed.”

About 13 percent of people who say their primary occupation is artist also hold a second job — about twice the rate that other people in the labor force work two jobs. The majority of artists work for for-profit enterprises but 8 percent work for private, nonprofits and 3 percent work for government.

While the number of artists doubled between 1970 and 1990 as theaters, galleries, orchestras and university and commercial venues grew, their ranks since 1990 have increased at about the same rate as the total work force. They now represent 1.4 percent of the labor force, or nearly as many people as the active and reserve armed forces.

Resources for Arts Entrepreneurship

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 14, 2008 at 1:01 am

Resources for Arts Entrepreneurship are deeper than we think. This past week I have been spending a significant amount of time doing research for The Resource Guide for Emerging Artistic Entrepreneurs I am writing. This guide will contain available workshops, classes, newsletters, blogs, coaching sessions, online courses, seminars and every other imaginable format available to educate artists in the different facets of entrepreneurship in the arts being offered by artists and for artists around the globe.

I knew that there was a plethora of interest in this topic, but I frankly had no idea how deep it is and how many sources there are for support, information and assistance that most all of us do not know exists.

One resource I recently found, for general information about specific issues faced by entrepreneurs as their businesses grow, can be found in a new site designed by Denny Dennis with the The National Federation of Independent Business Association. While not specifically focused on the arts, The NFIB Research Foundation is one of the leading sources of information about small business in the United States, making it an ideal tool to benchmark artistic ventures success and progress.

This new site, 411 Small Business Facts, allows you to perform specific searches of all of the small business polls conducted over the years. So if you have a question about what other entrepreneurs are doing about marketing, hiring, accounting or banking etc. you now have a tool to make finding out much easier.

Showing Up Can Be Hard Work

In Creative Support on June 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm

My phone rang about five minutes ago. A friend called to ask me where have I been lately? My response was, ” What do you mean, I’ve been right here?” And to that he replied, ” Well, I certainly haven’t read anything on your blog this week that YOU have written- where are you?”

Well, it appears dear reader, my friend has it right- this week I have gone a bit “missing” in my posts. My attitude, opinions, what I value and need to say have indeed had almost a week of unexplained absences. So, at least let me offer an explanation to break my silence- Yesterday was my birthday.

I hate my birthday frankly. I dread its arrival. Every year I see it coming and I pack my cement filled suitcases in advance for a trip into self doubt and uncertainty. I have worked hard to try and overcome this- remember me, the happily-ever-after-wanna-be-a-believer-sort? But, I have not, in now 44 years, been successful at being able to trade in those concrete filled suitcases for a backpack filled with helium so I can instead, float right through it.

Why can’t I just be happy-go-lucky and not ponder such deep questions like who am I REALLY? What DOES matter most to me in life and DOES ANYONE REALLY CARE if artists thrive or suffer? Besides, if anyone does, what makes ME the expert about any of this anyway? And WHY AM I so passionate about this in the first place??

Adding insult to injury, yesterday bright and early in the morning, hoping for a life line call offering me a free helium filled backpack for the day, I received a call instead from someone who offered one more cement suitcase to add to my prized collection. This individual called to question my integrity and, more or less, accuse me of lifting someone’s ideas and claiming to pass them off as my own.

On one hand, I guess I should be happy to know that this blog is being well read enough to cause this kind of thing to surface, but the additional cement filled suitcase this added, to my already heavy load that I have been dragging around this week, frankly, I most certainly could have done without.

Gosh. The cosmos really does know exactly where to strike and WHEN. And yes, when your down it does seem most likely to hit you. Why does this all have to seem so hard?

Of course, I explained to this individual that I would NEVER do what I was being accused of. EVER. I made a small mistake, well maybe even a couple, just simple oversights resulting in a lack of proper blogging etiquette, that’s all. Please forgive me, because after all who am I anyway?? And couldn’t she just instead feel my pain and PLEASE TAKE one of my cement filled suitcases with her instead of leaving it?

OK. Whew- glad I got that off my chest, thanks for listening. Enough of the loathing and self doubt. Let’s face it. Not every day is a red letter day. Being wacked upside the head, while carrying a concrete suitcases around, never encourages anyone of us to want to show up and let our audiences, supporters, clients,or donors in to take a peak at where we really are.

We are suppose to “look” professional. Have something intelligent to say. Offer proof we are a force to be reckoned with and worth the time and money others invest in us or our products.

But, one thing I know for sure, you have been right where I have been too, at some point, for some reason or by your own design.

And another thing I know for sure, is by letting all of you know exactly where I am it’s as if I have mustered the strength to tell the bell hop ” Take these suitcases please! I am ready to walk a little bit lighter”… at least for another 364 days….

Showing Up to your audience, clients, supporters, fans or donors can be hard to do. But try and do it anyway. Thanks Andrew for inspiring today’s post. ( Note: due credit given.)

Major Shift

In Interesting Articles on June 12, 2008 at 5:30 am

This article appeared on Monday June 9th in The Chicago Sun-Times about the shift on college campuses towards art related fields of study. While I am in total agreement with the view in this article, that students who study art have a great potential to excel, I unfortunately disagree that there are a plethora of paying jobs opening in arts related fields. A new path to harness artistic talent into a financial vehicle it deserves, has yet to arrive. While the business of art is more frequently being taught, entrepreneurial training is more likely to help an artist find new ways to carve their path and thrive. Most college campuses have yet to understand this, though some, like Columbia College, understand it better than most.

BY DAVE NEWBART Staff Reporter

What’s your major?

For many Illinois college students these days, the answer to that question is music, acting or art.

In fact, students majoring in visual and performing arts at Illinois colleges number more than 25,000 — making the field of study the second most popular, according to unpublished data released by the state at the request of the Sun-Times.

While still lagging business majors by a wide margin — there are nearly twice as many business students in the state — the arts’ popularity has increased faster than any of the other 10 most popular majors in the past decade. The number of arts majors is up 110 percent since 1997.

“A lot of folks believe we are moving more towards a creative economy,” said Murphy Monroe, executive director of undergraduate admissions at Columbia College, now the largest private arts college in the nation. “There is a newfound respect for people with creative problem-solving skills.”

And many of today’s generation have been encouraged by their parents to pursue their dreams, no matter how far-fetched, instead of just settling for any job.

“As long as I can remember, people told me, ‘You can do what you want to do.’ What I want do is play music,” said Dan Wessels, 21, a pianist from Rockford who just graduated from Columbia with a music composition degree.

Adds Brittany Moffitt, 21, a contemporary urban pop music major at Columbia from Elkhart, Ind., “Our generation likes expressing ourselves in some artistic way.”

And Monroe says there are plenty of jobs in arts-related fields, such as designing Web sites and video games, or working in interactive media, television or radio. Wessels already has a job playing piano for improv shows and is the musical director for an upcoming play.

Despite the increase in arts students, most are still practical when choosing a major, experts said.

“Students today view the university as job training,” said Rick Pearce, associate director for academic affairs at the Illinois Board of Higher Education. “What can I do to get a job?”

That could explain why the number of business, marketing and management majors, which decreased in the 1990s, jumped nearly 50 percent in the past decade and has remained the most popular major for more than 20 years. Health and biological fields also saw increases, as did history and psychology.

Psychology could be growing in popularity in part because students are obsessed with themselves, said one professor — and Pearce said it could reflect “the mainstreaming” of the field. It also can prepare students for a range of careers.

“People don’t look at it as [being] for Freudian, strange men wanting to talk about anal retention,” said Pearce. “It’s a legitimate field of study that’s coming into its own.”

Meanwhile, the number of students majoring in computer science dropped statewide, as did the number of students in engineering.

Enrollment held steady at about 5,000 students at the state’s largest engineering college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But within that college, fields like computer engineering have lost students. Part of that was because of the dot-com bust, officials said.

In those fields, “There is a perception that it is more difficult to get a job if you work with computers . . . and there is more outsourcing of jobs to India and China,” said Umberto Ravaioli, interim associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering.

Jumping Off A Cliff Daily Towards My Future

In Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Health & Wellness, The Idea on June 10, 2008 at 5:34 pm

This post was written by Kelly Penick, soon to be sophomore at Appalachian State, Boone, NC
I am just jumping right in and facing my fears all the time. This summer, on very short notice, I decided to go to school to become a licensed esthetician, as the first major step on my path towards opening a spa. I am glad I took this route for the summer, even if it is six hundred hours of coursework.

I feel that the experience and knowledge that I am gaining from this summer will not only aid me significantly in my career goals, but also as a leader of the Entrepreneur’s Club. I can express to the other students the value behind my experiences and offer advice and guidance in “stepping out of one’s comfort zone and going for your goals.”

My experiences with the various clients have been both challenging and rewarding. You are blessed with those who truly care about their bodies and are more than willing to help you grow as a skin care specialist through their constructive criticism. Then you have those who, you might say, are a little rough around the edges, and to them you feel you are a godsend in providing any type of treatment at all.

I did feel for one lady who while we were performing her facial waxing maintained a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but ask why she was enjoying the waxing so, because frankly it is not my favorite service to perform since it can be a bit painful for the client. She responded by saying “I never do anything for myself and for once I am doing so.” I found it sad that waxing would be her source of pampering, but also from that experience I witnessed a lady who took the pain with ease and enjoyed every minute of it.

As I drive to school, which is about 40 minutes each way, Tuesday through Saturday, I am able to engage in valuable thought. You are able to put more and more into perspective as it sometimes feels really early in the morning to be driving in down the mountain. Lately I have been asking myself “why is it that I am doing this again?”

Really, it is a simple question with a very simple answer. I have an ambition and a drive to get ahead and I need to take these necessary steps in order to reach my career goals and to achieve what I feel I have the potential to do in my lifetime. I also feel that out of a deep sense of love that I anticipate for my future husband and family, I am doing this now in the hope that we will be blessed with financial security as well as many other future blessings.

I did have an interesting conversation with a fellow student about life and family. We talked about how she desires to possibly one day open a day spa. At this time, she and her husband do not have the financial means to do so. I hope that through the mentorship program that I am involved in, I might be able to help guide her in a direction that she could begin to fulfill that dream.

Many are like this young lady, I believe, who do have goals that can be ambitious and wonderful, but they don’t know how to go about achieving them. My take on this conversation is that she needs to clearly see where she wants to go, and I mean truly visualize that end result. Once she has that vision, she is able to fill in the middle steps toward reaching the goal.

I realize that this goal of my own comes in steps, or stages, and that is all right. I know that we can’t have it all overnight. I told her that I see a marriage and many aspects of life flowing along this same line of thought. If you see you and your spouse happy together while sharing your love and compassion, you know that you want to have those feelings and experiences to ultimately come about. Therefore, you have to commit to doing the work along the way to maintain a beautiful relationship and continually cultivate that goal of love and compassion.

Now I know that not all of life is smooth sailing, but the work in between the good times is what gets you past those inconsistencies and unfortunate experiences that are bound to arise. I believe that once you reach a goal, you start building on another and that way you are always expanding your knowledge and working up to your own personal potential.

The Cover of The Rolling Stone

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 9, 2008 at 4:54 am

I stumbled into this article while exploring the website It is written by David Lang.


If you are a member of my generation, you most likely remember the song The Cover of the Rolling Stone which premiered in late 1972. Written by Shel Silverstein and performed by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, the song was intended to be a parody of the lifestyle of rock singers. However, upon hearing this classic hit a few days ago I realized that it was a wonderful lesson in the power of visualization or, as Dr. Wayne Dyer often says, “thinking from the end.” This forward thinking viewpoint shows up in the first verse of the song where the lyrics declare:

Well, we’re big rock singers
We’ve got golden fingers
And we’re loved everywhere we go (that sounds like us)
We sing about beauty and we sing about truth
At ten thousand dollars a show (right)

Even though these lyrics most likely did not reflect the band’s objective reality at that time in history, they set the intention and stated the objective as a reality. This is a practice often recommended by life coaches and spiritual teachers but seldom understood by western students. Western students tend to confuse the power of visualization and the spoken word with wishful thinking and fantasy because they lack a critical ingredient – action.

In order for the Universe to guide you to your goal, you have to be moving! Simply saying something does not make it so, and is properly identified as wishful thinking or fantasy. However, with the combination of word and deed, we find the true power of transformation. By stating the goal as an objective reality and declaring that reality to the universe, we not only set the intention, we also commit to the vision.

This, in turn, animates our intention which, guided by our supporting action, manifests into objective reality. In the case of Dr. Hook, they produced and preformed a parody song that although written to poke fun at the lifestyle of rock singers, set their intention and notified the Universe that they intended to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone – a long shot to say the least for a little known band who, in 1972, could claim only one hit to their four year career.

However, by combining intention and action, they animated forces that took them to the number 6 spot on the U.S. rock charts and landed them on the cover of the Rolling Stone on March 29th, 1973…three months after the release of The Cover of the Rolling Stone.

Bite-Size Progress: June 2008

In The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble on June 8, 2008 at 2:48 am

The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble is beginning to come alive. Our board met last week and through the generous donation of board member Russ Rosenzweig, co-founder of The RoundTable Group, we will be hosting our first fundraiser, and performance as an ensemble, at his architecturally award winning home, known as The Florsheim Mansion in Chicago.

Designed in 1938 by its first owner, the architect Andrew Rebori, as two separate structures, this Chicago Gold Coast house is commonly known as the Florsheim Mansion, after Lillian Florsheim, the shoe heiress and sculptor who bought the place from Rebori in 1946. Ten years later, Florsheim commissioned her son-in-law, the architect Bertrand Goldberg (who designed the revolutionary Marina City in Chicago), to join the two buildings at their second floors. He linked them with a black-laminate and stainless-steel kitchen meant to mimic the sleek lines of the era’s streamlined railroad cars.

The kitchen of The Florsheim Mansion has been featured in too many architectecural magazines to list. The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble is thrilled to be able to have access to this very special residence for our first fundraiser the evening of Thursday August 21st, 2008. If you, or anyone else you know, is interested in coming to the event and seeing the interior of The Florsheim Mansion here in Chicago, please sign up as a fan of the Bite-Size Arts Ensemble on ReverbNation and we will send you an e-vite soon.

Additional good news to report, thanks to support from Columbia College staff member Lyn Pusztai, who was of great assistance in our search, we have just added film maker Kevin Kent, Stack City Productions, to our roster of artists for our productions starting this next fall.

We also have irons in the fire for a couple of communication, journalism graduates who will develop stories about the ensemble, pitch them to magazines and media and whom we will also help with their creative entrepreneurial development.

I know I have been saying this for awhile, if you have been following the twisty windy road of getting The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble, a 501C3 artistic entrepreneurial performance based vehicle, off the ground, (welcome to entrepreneurship 101) but I really am finally at the point where I can get our website up and running. So, when its done, you will be the first to know.

Trust, Creativity and Collaboration

In Emotional Intelligence, WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 7, 2008 at 9:38 pm

In Linda Naiman’s, Creativity at Work, May Newsletter, she explores the roles of trust, disclosure and dialogue.

This excerpt from her newsletter illuminates a very interesting point about the importance of building trust in relationships quickly to be able to move into developing creatively and collaboratively.

While collaboration should come naturally to artists, with great surprise I have witnessed far too many who’s professional circumstances have lead them to bitterness, anger, distrust and likely as a result, a lack of willingness to develop trust in new relationships. The development of creativity and the power of collaboration requires trust, as this excerpt from Linda’s newsletter will illustrate.

One of my colleagues was recently hired by the CEO of a large corporation to conduct a seminar on creativity for a group of 90 people. He started off by asking who in the audience was familiar with the literature on left brain/right brain thinking. Ten people put up their hands. He then asked who was unfamiliar with the literature on left brain/right brain thinking. Seven people put up their hands. He asked again and got pretty much the same response. Clearly the numbers didn’t add up and he told the audience he would keep asking the question until the numbers did add up. The CEO was rather annoyed with his employees.

What’s going on here? Fear of public disclosure. Without trust there is no disclosure, and no risk-taking, making it impossible for both meaningful conversation and creativity to occur. Trust is an essential nutrient of creativity and collaboration.

The Art of The Sale: part II- Understanding Value

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing on June 6, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Warren Buffett, ranked as the number one billionaire in the entire world, according to Forbes Magazine, has been quoted as saying: “Price is what you pay – value is what you get.”

What does this mean?

Every customer, patron, ticket buyer or donor wants the same thing you do: a good value. By delivering a good value to your customers, patrons, ticket buyers or donors, they will pay whatever price you set.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not really. You simply need to have a clear understanding of what customers, patrons, ticket buyers, donors, or anyone else you wish to sell your services or produces to, value.

Understanding the Roots of Value- Step #1:
Start by building relationships and building trust. Value implies trust so start by building it. Always underpromise and overdeliver.

An example of this would be:
“I’ll have this project done for you within one week.” but instead you complete it and deliver it to the client in three days.

Another example would be:
“This project will cost about $1,000″ but it actually turns out to cost the client less and you charge them only $950.

Yet another example would be:
” I need 30 minutes of your time” but actually only needing 15.

As simple as it sounds, by becoming known for keeping your promise and doing what you say, and in even the smallest ways offering more then you promise, you create perceived and real value for your customer.

I cannot tell you, over the years, how teaching artists to simply promptly return all of their emails and phone calls the same day or the very next morning, and following up with prospects as promised, is the single most important inexpensive way to create value. Why? Because so many people on this planet do not do this! Look around at all the horrible customer service major companies provide. Our world is so conditioned to expect bad service, which is why so many people focus on price, that when you actually deliver good– or better– extraordinary service, you have already gone a long way towards building trust and the roots of perceived value you need with your client.

Step #2: Always offer value that is greater than the price your customer pays.
The story I shared with you in part I of The Art of The Sale, illustrated this point, but let’s discuss it now in greater detail.

A product’s value should never be equal to its cost.

For example, your product might cost you $5 but you sell it for $10. The value to you is $10. But the value to the customer must be more than the selling price. If it was only worth $10 to the customer then they have no motivation to buy it. But if the value to them is say $25, greater than the selling price, they are motivated to trade their money for something of greater value.

The more the value exceeds the cost of the purchase, the more the customer will want to buy it from you.

So how do you create value that exceeds the cost of the purchase? The next part of Art in The Sale will help you understand how to create value.

The Power of Fear

In Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Risk on June 5, 2008 at 5:24 am

Fear is instilled in us in many ways throughout our lives.

At an early age we are taught to be afraid of strangers on the playground. Later in life we are told by our family, friends and loved ones to watch over our backs when we walk outside late at night- after all you might get mugged or shot.

As young adults we are taught to be fearful of contracting AIDS. And as we age, we become fearful of being diagnosed with cancer or suffering from heart failure.

As adults, with real world responsibilities, we are taught to do “whatever it takes” to keep our jobs. After all how will we feed ourselves if we lose our job, or worse, choose to leave it? The number of people each year who work in jobs they are too afraid to leave is simply staggering.

We are also taught in life to be afraid of immigrants- it use to be Russians but now its Moslems.

We are taught to be afraid of terrorism, afraid of chaos, afraid of failure, afraid of not being loved, and afraid of going to hell.

So many things we have been taught to fear! How possible is it to do the impossible when we are consumed with nothing but fear?

Lately, I have feel like a broken record. I have had not one, two, three or four, but seemingly dozens of conversations with artists who are nurturing their fledgling ideas and the closer they come into being real, the greater their great wall of fear becomes.

Let’s face it- in the end- fear is a great reason to do nothing. After all there is ALWAYS a GOOD reason to do nothing. Honestly. If you list the reasons you just simply can’t make a move forward, likely I, and all of your friends, will nod our heads in agreement and say yes, yes, yes to everything on your list. Because in the end, there isn’t ANYTHING in life we cannot make into something to fear.

Get the idea? We are good students of life and have been indeed taught well how to create fear effortlessly.

So, maybe the trick is to take your fear and have it walk next to you AS you move forward with your creative ideas. Begin your venture anyway. Bring your pal fear right along with you.

But instead of lugging it around, like a ball and chain tied to your throat, or looking for it to leap at you like the boogie man in the night waiting to get you, use it as the watchdog, the gate keeper, the detective, that will allow you to investigate your concerns to their fullest and help you feel more assured that ANYTHING in life is possible.

Making the Impossible Possible

In BOOKS: Learn and Grow, WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 3, 2008 at 5:46 am

“Success is the point where your most authentic talents, passion, values, and experiences intersect with the chance to contribute to some greater good. ” – Bill Strickland

The following is about Bill Stickland- the man and his philosophy. You can find it and more at: Bill Strickland’s website:

According to MacArthur Fellowship “genius ” award winner Bill Strickland, a successful life is not something you simply pursue, it is something that you create, moment by moment. It is a realization Strickland first came to when, as a poor kid growing up in a rough neighborhood of Pittsburgh, he encountered a high school ceramics teacher who took him under his wing and went on to transform his life.

Over the past thirty years, Bill Strickland has been transforming the lives of thousands of people through the creation of Manchester Bidwell, a jobs training center and community arts program. Working with corporations, community leaders, and schools, he and his staff strive to give disadvantaged kids and adults the opportunities and tools they need to envision and built a better, brighter future.

Strickland believes that every one of us has the potential for remarkable achievement. Every one of us can accomplish the impossible in our lives if given the right inspiration and motivation to do so. We all make ourselves “poor ” in one way or another when we accept that we are not smart enough, experienced enough, or talented enough to accomplish something. Bill Strickland works with the least advantaged among us, and if he can help them achieve the impossible in their lives, think what each of us can do.

Among Bill Strickland’s beliefs:
People are born into this world as assets, not liabilities. It’s all in the way we treat people (and ourselves) that determines a person’s outcome.

The sand in the hourglass flows only one way. Stop going through the motions of living–savor each and every day. Life is here and now, not something waiting for you in the future.

You don’t have to travel far to change the life you’re living. Bill grew up in the Pittsburgh ghetto, four blocks from where he came to build one of the foremost job training centers in the world. He now speaks before CEOs and political leaders, church congregations and civic leaders. You only need to change your thinking to remake your world.

Through lessons from his own life experiences, and those of countless others who have overcome their circumstances and turned their lives around, Make the Impossible Possible shows how all of us can build on our passions and strengths, dream bigger and set the bar higher, achieve meaningful success and help mentor and inspire the lives of others.