Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Box? What Box?

In Author: Gwydhar Bratton, Employees on June 27, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Allow me to play the devils advocate for a moment and ask “What’s wrong with thinking inside the box”? It’s dull, certainly, and not very rewarding, and usually quite a tedious process, but other than that, what is the harm? When did “thinking inside the box” become such a social stigma? When did it become something to scorn and malign instead of something to build upon? It occured to me today, as I was trying to describe what qualities I found most valuable when I was looking to hire someone, that the qualities I prize the most highly in someone that I plan to work with are very much “inside the box” qualities. They are as follows: – Show up. (On time). -Meet your deadlines. – Don’t complain too much in between. They sound obvious because they are. They are quintessential “inside the box” qualities that require no skill or special training to achieve. They are dull, tedious, and unrewarding to the extreme; surely they are worthy of our scorn and ridicule? Or are they? I happen to think that these are invaluable qualities, whether they’re boring or not. In fact I might even go so far as to say that the ability to show up, to get things done, and to do it with a pleasant disposition are the key elements to success. Showing Up Don’t you hate it when you’re sitting at home minding your own business and someone knocks at the door and offers you a job with full benefits and a nice plump starting salary with flexible hours and a company car and a generous annual bonus? What’s that you say? You say this has never happened to you? Oh, right. This is reality. The expression “opportunity knocking” I think is very misleading. Opportunity never knocks. It walks in without asking and if no one is around when it gets there then it walks out again. Showing up may sound like a stupid piece of advice, but sometimes that’s all it takes. It is the easiest way to get noticed. For example, I was casting a short film a few years ago and a gentleman showed up for the audition. Since the film was silent, and since he was a voice actor, he decided that it probably wasn’t the right role for him but he left a headshot and resume and I added him to my mailing list. Several weeks later we had a fundraising event and I sent out email announcements to my mailing list. He came to the event and reintroduced himself and I was very pleased and impressed that he had chosen to take the time to come all the way out for an event to fund a film that he wasn’t even a part of. When it came time to cast our second film I made sure to send him an email to invite him to the audition and when it came down to the final three actors and I was trying to decide between them I said to myself: “These three actors are all very talented, but I know that THIS one will show up.” And that was the deciding factor. Meet Your Deadlines Henry Ford invented the assembly line to speed up the manufacturing process; a team of individuals each with a specific task that needed to be completed before the item being built could pass to the next person. One worker would tighten a bolt, the next would pull a lever, the next would add a spring and so on until a Model T rolled off at the far end. Now imagine if the first worker didn’t tighten his bolt. The next worker couldn’t pull his lever, the fellow after him couldn’t add his spring, and no cars would roll off the end of the line. The entire team would be held up waiting for one person to do their damn job, and in the end nothing would be accomplished. This is an exaggeration of the importance of deadlines but only a small one. Filmmaking is, like many activities, a team effort. It takes an incredible amount of effort to get a production rolling and only one small grain of sand in the works to bring it to a standstill. If a costumer doesn’t have a costume ready in time then the actors, the cameraman, the gaffer (that’s the lighting guy), the director, the sound engineer and so on all have to wait for it to be finished and production grinds to a halt. I’m unfairly picking on costumers here, but really it could be any member of the team holding up production; an actor without lines memorized, a sound engineer without the proper equipment, the cameraman with dirty lenses, etc. The point is, if you’re part of a team (and we all are, in some way or another) other people depend on you to get your work DONE before they can do their part. I’ve worked with some people who were innovative, creative, masterful, geniuses in their field, but who couldn’t get a single thing finished in time. I always think twice about working with them a second time- is the quality of their work worth the time and expense of having to wait for them to finish it? Sadly, the answer is often “no”. I’d rather have a functional Model T roll off the end of the line than to hire a virtuoso bolt-tightener who is going to hold up the line. Don’t Complain Too Much There are two schools of thought on this: One is “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” and the other is “The squeaky wheel gets replaced”. At times, it is appropriate to bellyache a little bit about any job. The hours are long. The pay is bad. The expectations are unreasonable. I worked one summer in a Summerstock repertory theatre in the costume department. Summerstock theatre is incredibly intensive. We would work twelve hour days, in the basement of a theatre, six days a week, for three weeks until the main show went up. I would see the sun for 15 minutes in the morning and for a few minutes at lunch and dinner breaks. Complaining was something we all did exceptionally well and with great abundance to blow off steam and to comiserate. The point is that even though we whined a lot, we still did the work and put in the hours. Complaining is natural when things suck, but when complaining becomes more important than getting the work done it becomes a problem. I intensely dislike working with the kind of person who complains about the work they have while doing nothing. It takes a supreme effort to motivate them to do anything which invariably leads to the rest of the team needing to do more work to compensate. The more the rest of the team has to work the more dissatisfied they get and the less they want to work and the more motivation it takes to get them going. Give me someone who will work in spite of their complaints any day. So maybe the point of all this is that we should think of The Box as a toolbox, instead of as a trap. The tools we keep in it are pretty basic: a hammer, a screwdriver, a tape measure, etc but we wouldn’t try to build our dream house without them. Why would we try to build our dream job without basic tools like showing up, meeting deadlines, and not complaining too much? And who knows, The Box could be handy as a step ladder for reaching those lofty goals or as an ballast when we need to steady ourselves in troubled economic tides. Maybe The Box iteslf is our most important tool whether we’re thinking inside it or thinking outside of it.

No time to be a pessimist

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2009 at 2:41 am

I hope that this is already old news for most of you but I just saw this video about the biggest artwork ever – the movie ‘Home’ from Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Absolutely fabulous so I’m not going to spend more words and discover it for yourself (movie lasts 1,5 hours but it’s the best time investment that you can do).

the planet in our hands

The P.T.S. Mindset

In Author: Adam Shames on June 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm

To become more creative individually and to foster more innovative workplaces and communities, we need to develop a whole new set of skills that have not been part of our formal education. Actually, skills are not quite enough. Creativity requires something else–a shift in attitude or, as I prefer, mindset–that also needs to be practiced and learned. It is this mix of mindset and skills that make up the 3 creativity competencies I’ve been discussing in my Innovation on my Mind blog, Fluency, Flexibility and Originality. And, if you’ve ever taken a workshop with me, you know that the most essential mindset for creativity is P.T.S.

If you don’t know what P.T.S. is, try not to peek below and let me ask you as I do my workshop participants: What do you need, right now, in order to be your most creative? What ground rules would increase your chances of feeling most creatively comfortable and able to generate new ideas and make unusual connections? Just for fun, use the three letters given, P-T-S, to come up with three words that would best convey suggestions or conditions that would be most optimal for your creativity to shine. Come up with lots of possibilities, using individual words or a 3-word-phrase. Let’s start with 2.

P_____________ T_______________ S_______________

P_____________ T_______________ S_______________

Like any creativity exercise, this one has no right answers and actually hearing what different people come up with helps everyone think more freely. Perhaps we’ll get: Personal…Thoughtful…Shockworthy or Play…Trust…Safe or Pretend…Thought…System or People…That…Sing. Some people will have trouble coming up with any–which is instructive in itself. Really the question I’m asking is: what do you need so you are not blocked, so that you can fully turn on your faucet of ideas?

Creativity, you see, happens in the moment. Usually when it comes to sharing ideas and asserting our own perspective, the mindset in the moment that trumps all others is: How do I look smart, clever, right? That’s how we’ve been trained, even when we’re all alone not even thinking about impressing others. Unfortunately this is not the mindset for divergent thinking, the real engine of creativity. It’s too often the mindset for paralysis or very safe ideas.

So what I’ve learned after teaching and facilitating creativity for more than 20 years is that the most effective ground rule for allowing us to turn on that creative faucet is this particular P.T.S.: Permission…to…Suck. That’s it. Giving yourself full permission to suck. It’s a different mindset, one that allows you to turn on the faucet of your ideas without editing, blocking or judging. Once you give yourself permission to suck–to be wrong, lousy, idiotic, rude–everything changes, everything opens in a way it would not otherwise.

Now of course you don’t want to be bad all the time, but the most creative people know how to access this P.T.S. mindset and to appreciate how bad they can be. “It’s good to be bad,” knows the most enlightened creative, because that way you access possibilities that you otherwise would dismiss. And, it turns out, sucking is harder than you think. Try to come up with bad ideas and here’s what you’ll find: More intriguing, provocative ideas that make you go hmmm–exactly what you need to foster a culture of change, imagination and possibility.

So, Klondike of the Frozen Archipelagos, Madame Curie of the Swine Flu Media Sneeze, Mr. Steroid of the Atrophying Mind Muscle–unfry your chimichanga and give yourself P.T.S. more often and see what happens.

The Arts and Business

In Author: Barbara Kite, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on June 24, 2009 at 7:39 am

I am always questioning how connected am I with my purpose to make a difference in the world through my art and my desire to make money is.  How concerned am I with making sure the right questions are in bold letters across the human sky?

It is a constant questioning, a constant struggle, a daily need to remind myself to constantly examine.

I come from a generation that believed that if  you weren’t aligned with the “truth” connected with your art you were selling out.  In the ensuing years the lines have blurred quite a bit. 

Artists feel it’s okay to do crappy work just to get the money they need to do the important work.  I wonder.  My younger colleagues remind me that if they do everything that comes their way they will gain exposure, valuable experience and eventually power over their creative life in the business world,  which will allow them to express their true art.  I wonder.

So little I find, is done that deals with truth and the result is that we end up in the mess we have created through allowing, encouraging, supporting and covering lies. 

I remember this one saying that really got to me and I try to connect to it every day (not successfully always but with the intention to move in that direction)

From Chinua Achebe
“The poet
(artist) who is not in trouble with the King
is in trouble with his work.”

What advice do any of you give to young artists in this regard?

How To Become a Teaching Artist Workshop

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on June 23, 2009 at 8:36 am

image001

Serendipity’s Role in Entrepreneurial Development

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Health & Wellness, Marketing, Networking, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk, WEBSITES & BLOGS on June 23, 2009 at 6:46 am

In the last three months I have been working with a new client-Dr. Julia Rahn, the owner of Flourish Studios www.ICanFlourish.com.

Flourish is a self and family development center located at 3020 N Lincoln Avenue here in Chicago. As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Julia’s experience lead her to combining art, retail, individual therapy and support groups in one glorious space. While Flourish has many ways it can contribute to helping change lives, its initial offerings to the public are in the areas of parenting, self development and wellness with the sole mission of creating positive change in the lives of all who come in contact with Flourish Studios.

The mission of Flourish Studios is fabulous. Julia’s vision to help others Live. Learn. Love. could not be any stronger. Yet 14 months into her venture her vision had begun to get fuzzy as to where she was headed. Getting any business started, let alone one in the beginning of hard economic times, often can lead you away from your core mission- your “tag line”- the reason you started doing what you are doing and for whom.

This happens because reaching your target market always takes longer than we think and at some point it is easy to begin to take “whatever we can get” instead of holding true to our vision to find who we really need to serve. While Julia had done a better job than most, as evident by the fact that her business was surviving through such rough times, her business seemed to be lethargic and not doing as well as she expected.

Coincidentally, at about the same time Julia was coming to realize this fact, Arianne Votasmeets entered the Entrepreneur The Arts Round I competition. Arianne’s art work was currently being hung in the gallery of Flourish Studio’s when she entered. After reading her entry and learning about Flourish I went to see her exhibit and meet Dr. Julia.

Within the hour I spent at Flourish Studios, Dr. Julia and I hit it off so well she asked me, more or less on the spot, if I would consider working with her and her staff to refocus their efforts and realign her vision to help her business continue to grow through this tough economy. How could I resist such a wonderful opportunity. And so my work with Flourish Studios began.

For the past three months I have been going to Flourish at least once a week and working individually with Dr. Julia and her three full time employees. Each one of her staff needed focus and clarity as to how to better do their jobs selling and marketing the service Flourish offers. In the time I have been there we have shifted the focus of Flourish to hosting ONLY events that fulfill their mission to Live, Learn and Love, Increased Vendor participation in their mission by asking vendors to sponsor workshops for their buyers, retail stores or do training at Flourish, developed group programming in the initial three areas of Focus for Flourish of parenting, self development and wellness, and provided more time, structure and support for employees and Julia to devote to cultivating relationships to continue to find the target market they need to provide their wonderful services to.

Not only has our work together already significantly improved Flourish’s bottom line, but the staff and Julia are feeling more at ease, clearer about their roles and feeling more optimistic about their future. While I recognize the role I am playing to help Flourish Studios to “flourish”, none of the help I have offered would have made any difference at all if they were not willing and eager to act on what I am teaching them.

The joy in teaching entrepreneurs about sales and marketing, for me, is watching a world of possibility open to them when they act on what I am teaching them to do. Truthfully, I am not sure that a single one of Julia’s staff, at first, really believed the behavioral changes I was asking each of them to make in the way the communicated to clients would work. But they tried it anyway and agreed to being open minded and to continuing to do, consistently, the work I asked of them.

It is only now- three months later- that they are becoming believers in their own individual abilities to develop as entrepreneurs for Flourish Studios. When we learn how to express our care and nurturing to others through the services and products we believe in, we too, can begin to flourish, just like Flourish Studios.

And lastly, you never know, when you become an entrepreneur, who will cross your path that can change the course of your venture in positive ways. Thanks to the ETA competition Heartbeat of America and I created, Arianne Votasmeets desire to try her hand as a new artist and Dr. Julia Rahn’s passion to help others flourish, something amazing happened when our paths collided.

What amazing opportunities will your entrepreneurial efforts create? How will you flourish?

Creative Entrepreneurship Conference, July 15-18, Chicago

In Author: Lisa Canning, Current Events on June 22, 2009 at 4:50 am

Conference: Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life

Where: Chicago, IL
University Center
525 South State Street
Chicago, IL

When: July 15-18, 2009

Organizers: Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department of Columbia College Chicago European Network of Cultural Administration Training Centers (ENCATC)

Conference Description:
This is a collaborative event of the European Network of Cultural Administration Training Centers (ENCATC) and the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department of Columbia College Chicago. The event is held in the framework of ENCATC Working Group “Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life.”
The group explores policies and programs that support creativity and innovation in the cultural sector.

Goals:
The goals of the conference is to serve as a meeting space for international and American colleagues, both academics and practitioners, seeking to:
• Understand the latest developments in creative entrepreneurship while engaging in productive
dialogue and learning from each other’s experience.

• Discuss the practical approaches to teaching creative entrepreneurship and developing efficient
creative entrepreneurship curricula.

• Explore what has been done and how in the area of creative entrepreneurship in the US.

Program:
The program will cover various aspects of creative entrepreneurship practice, research and education.
More specifically, we seek to gain new insights in the questions:
What constitutes creative entrepreneurship and what it means to be a creative entrepreneur?
What factors affect our understanding and how the definition varies in different socio-cultural contexts? Can profitability and aesthetic and social needs of the cultural sector be served at the same time? What constitutes effective teaching? What should we teach: value creation or business approaches, or both?

These and other questions will be discussed through a multicultural and international perspective.

Examples of innovative programs and approaches to teaching, research findings and cases that illustrate how art related businesses can address concerns of the cultural sector, economy and society will be presented.

For more information contact:
Anna Bernadska
Arts, Entertainment and Media
Management Department
Columbia College Chicago
600 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
Tel: 312 369 7652
Fax: 312 369 8063
E-mail abernadska@colum.edu

The art of doing nothing (and everything)

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Yesterday, I went to an IAF-conference (International association of Facilitators) in the Netherlands and the main theme was ‘3 times nothing’. The purpose was to explore the value of doing nothing at certain moments in a training or workshop. And the consequences that would have on your group. Some facilitators are convinced that you as a facilitator are responsible for the outcomes of a group. I don’t think that’s true, you are responsible for the process and setting the right atmosphere where a team or group of participants can discover new content or work towards a common goal. So it is not necessary as a facilitator to be responsible for the content and keep a discussion or flow going. Some facilitators start to work very hard if the participants are a bit more passive. But of course, they love it if the facilitator is going to do the work that they should do. So at the conference, all the workshops had something to do with ‘nothing’. In the first workshop, I was in a group were we explored two different paths – one content part – what is nothing, why does it have an added value, … and a very nice dialogue started about this topic. But a second path was more reflective and personal. They challenged us to not do something at certain moments. Eg if you wanted to add an example to a discussion, don’t do it and see what it does with yourself. You could write down the thing that you hadn’t said or done on a paper and decide if you would share this paper or not. So what was very interesting to notice a different track of discussion on the papers.

best_things_2

It became a bit chaotic because some people could only concentrate themselves on one track. So there was getting some tension in the room and some people were almost at the point of leaving the workshop. For me it was very interesting to notice the balance between calmness and tension and it became clear that nothing was exactly in between. If I would react to the tension to relieve it, then the ‘nothingness’ was gone and if I would do anything, probably some people would have left the workshop. So how far can you go? That’s probably different for everybody but I think it’s also an art – the art of doing nothing (and everything). In a lot of cases, when you do nothing, you are probably doing a lot somewhere else. So the topic is still going on and we didn’t come to one conclusion and I guess that’s very good. Leave the open space so nothing can happen 😉

Janus and the Big Tent

In Author: Amy Frazier, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on June 20, 2009 at 4:46 am

Janus is the Roman god with the two faces, one looking forward and one back (or: in opposition). In the 1970’s, psychiatrist Albert Rothenburg coined the term “Janusian Thinking” to describe the oppositional energies that are often present in creativity.

An image of Janus hangs on the wall outside the creative studies library at Buffalo State College. (It’s fitting that he hangs at the threshold, as Janus was also the god of doorways and passages…)

Head of Janus. Butler Library, Buffalo State College

I just returned from my first two weeks as a student at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State. I learned many wonderful things, among which was this concept of Janusian Thinking. I’m holding onto it, in fact, because in order to embark on this education (which will lead to a Master of Science degree), I’ve needed to expose my personal understanding of how creativity has manifested in my life (from an artistic point of view), to challenges and probably also to changes. A dear friend, upon hearing my intention to begin the program, asked: “Aren’t you afraid it will destroy the magic?”

Yeah, sometimes I have been.

But my first two weeks in the program showed me something else that I find just as important as theories of contradiction and paradox: diversity. My cohort is made up of professionals in painting, photography, food science, consulting, communications, academia, government, etc. As we came to know each other over the course of the two weeks, it became abundantly clear that “creativity” is a Big Tent kind of place. There’s lots of room here—for the science, and the art.

As I think about it now, perhaps the role of Janus as presider-over of doorways is just as significant to creativity as his role of embodying paradox. Perhaps it’s in developing comfort with polarities (art/science; inspiration/measurement; sensing/thinking, etc, etc) that we really come to appreciate being lifted over the threshold, and into the tent.

How To Not Get Screwed

In Author: Gwydhar Bratton, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Money on June 14, 2009 at 2:44 am

A few days ago, one of the artists that I work with sent me a link to this video:

You know those tingles that you get when you realize something is true and you wish that it weren’t? I was getting those. By day I work as a sales rep for a commercial art studio called Steven Edsey and Sons and I have heard every single one of  these lines. It’s just part of the job. Sadly it has been especially prevalent lately with budgets being so tight. Everyone is looking for work- at any price- and the people handing out the jobs know it. There is always the veiled (and sometimes not-so-veiled) threat of “if you won’t do it for this price then I’m sure there are dozens of other artists who will” that hovers in the back of every negotiation like an optomist at a pity party. Invariably I find myself caught between a rock and a hard place: do I take the job because any work is good work? Or do I stand my ground and protect the interests of the artists I work for. Here is what I’ve learned to do:

*  *  *

The Line: “We need [filet mignon] done but we only have [taco hut] budget.

Money is tight all around- and there is no shame in working with a budget. This is one of those “work is work” situations where you don’t want to say no outright but you’re not sure it’ll be worth the trouble. Never say “No” straight out. Even if you’re not sure you want to take the job, make an effort to work something out. Find out what their budget is and quote them a price slightly higher than it. They won’t always go for it, but if they do, it’s a good sign that they want to work with you enough that they’re willing to meet you in the middle. Defer them (but not too long) and check your schedule. If there is nothing else going on then I tend to err on the side of taking the work. Sometimes you’re doing them a favor and they’ll remember it and come back- but we’ll get to that later.

The Response: “Let me see if [the artist] is willing to work for that.” (Or alternatively) “Let me see what you are looking for and I will let you know if I can accomodate you in my schedule.”

*  *  *

The Line: “But it only took [the artist] fifteen minutes to do”

I love this line: it says “well if time is money and you didn’t spend much time, then I don’t owe you much money”. Patently untrue and here is why: a professional artist can make artwork in a short amount of time because they spent YEARS practicing. Professionals are professionals because they work well and more importantly work well with a deadline.

The Response: “It took 15 minutes to do, but 15 years to be able to do it that quickly”

*  *  *

The Line: “We don’t have much money for this project but we’ll send you more work down the line.”

It’s easy to buy the present at the expense of the future so I usually take this line with a heaping helping of salt. If this is coming from someone who has called regularly in the past, or someone who I’ve worked with on a job with a decent budget in the past then I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you give them a deal and you’ve never worked with them before then be sure to tell them that it is a special rate because of their budget, and be sure to tell them what the normal rate would be. Don’t let them go away thinking they can always get your work for that price.

The Response: “Well since you’re on a tight budget we can give you a special rate this time of [$$], but our normal rate is usually [$$$$].

*  *  *

Final Thoughts:

If you decide that you can’t take the job because there isn’t enough money to make it worth your while, then quote your lowest price and stick with it with the line: “I’m sorry, I really don’t think I could deliver quality work for less than [$$$].” It’s a polite way to stand your ground. I’ve worked with people who have cut me deals and still stood their ground and I respect them for it. I can’t always afford to hire them, but I always know that if I had the money it would be well spent.

If they don’t pay their bills, be persistent. I had a client wait over a year to pay for some artwork that we did and we sent them a notice every week. Be a polite pest. Sooner or later they’ll pay you to make you go away. This also works if you’re trying to get a settlement from an insurance claim. (Trust me I know).

Creativity is a difficult thing to put a price on, but don’t be afraid to ask for what you think your work is worth and to expect to be paid for it. You wouldn’t expect to get a filet, a hairstyle, or a video for less than it was worth, would you? Creativity is your product and if your product is good then people will pay for it.

Asparagus: The Long View

In Author: Melissa Snoza, Cooking & Food, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Money, Music, Risk on June 13, 2009 at 2:42 am

Perhaps it’s the economy, but garden centers nationwide are finding themselves having trouble keeping vegetable plants on the shelf this season. Having started my journey with a few tomato, cucumber, and squash plants myself over the past couple of years, I was one of the many inspired to take my efforts to a whole new level this season.

So, I dutifully go off to my local home improvement center, rent some heavy machinery, and cut out 50 more feet of plant bed to house my new garden. I till, I mulch, I compost, and finally, I plant.

Of the many types of veggies I laid in the ground this spring, one of the most curious is asparagus. I had never attempted to grow this odd little vegetable before, and most people don’t have any idea what the plant looks like, or how it grows, based on the look of the tender spears we buy neatly rubber banded together at the grocery store.

Starting an asparagus patch begins with tilling the soil deep, breaking up rocks, adding rich organic material, and digging trenches in which the bare roots will be laid. Then, you cover with a couple of inches of loose soil, and wait.

Finally, little baby spears come out of the ground, and you begin, little by little, to add more soil to the deep trenches. With patience, you’ll have topped the plants with enough soil to level the surface. Each asparagus spear grows straight out of the ground, reaching its full height in a single day. They don’t get taller or fatter after this point, rather, the tips that we enjoy munching on leaf out and become like miniature christmas trees, sucking up sunlight and feeding the roots below.

So, once you see the little shoots emerge, it’s dinner time, right? Wrong.

Even with 2-year crowns, most gardeners wait a full one to two more seasons for their first harvest. Those tempting, green stalks that scream “EAT ME!” during that time have to be left alone, because the newly-laid roots need the energy they provide to establish strong roots that will produce year after year.

And now, the point. Those of us who have made the commitment to create, establish, nurture, and feed a new entrepreneurial project have much to learn from this ferny wonder. As freelance artists, most of us are trained to think in gigs – how much $$, how much time. Being an entrepreneur is something else entirely. When you seek to write the checks, not have them handed to you, you make the commitment to take the long view.

One of the most successful ensembles I know spent their first five years feeding their roots. During that time, every dollar of income they made went straight back into their business. Forgoing the usual small income that they could have paid themselves initially, they chose instead to put their money into marketing, press materials, and large artistic goals.

At the end of this nurturing period, they had enough money to commission a very well-known composer. As a result of this project, they became the ensemble of choice for the newly-created work, performing it at a large venue in NYC, which came with a stunning review in the NY Times.

Then, their world changed overnight. Booking agents who had stubbornly refused to answer their calls were responding with engagements, and tours were scheduled nationwide. Dates were planned so well in advance, that the players were able to create a yearly budget, prioritize providing health insurance, and pay themselves a salary for their work that was more regular than a per-service fee.

Had they chosen to harvest too early, they may have been able to afford more trips to Starbucks, but wouldn’t have achieved the commission that launched them to national attention. Consider how the lowly asparagus might have something to teach you. Would a web redesign yield more profit than expensive dinners out? Would better quality press kits make more of an impact than a couple of months of cable? Sacrifices in the short term lead to long-term, sustainable success. The asparagus patch understands this.

After that initial few years of gaining strength, it continues producing heavily with very little effort for over 25 years. I can’t say that a career in the arts will take as little attention as this, but it can certainly feed you as well if you give it the right start.

Melissa is the flutist and Executive Director of the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble. Like what you read here? For more music entrepreneurship tidbits, visit www.playingclosetothebridge.wordpress.com, brought to you by members of 5HE.

Visionaries, Flower Children and the Conceptual Age

In Author: Adam Shames on June 12, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I was just talking with my old friend George Aguilar, with whom I once shared a rat’s nest of an office in our volunteer roles for the now-defunct National Poetry Association (once a groundbreaking nonprofit, its web address has been taken over by a French sex site). George ran the poetry-film festival and is a digital videographer (and cin(e)-poet–there’s a creative hybrid still ahead of its time); I ran Poetry USA, an ambitiously-named tabloid journal that in its time was well-known at least in San Francisco. We basically were cleaning up the nostalgic detritus left from artistic experimenters and hippies of a past era.

George was saying something like this: Isn’t it amazing that many of the radical ideas of the 60s/70s Counter Culture–the “green” movement, sustainability, solar power, as more obvious examples–have now become the economic solutions for a new generation of pragmatists? Despite being ridiculed throughout the past few decades, the Flower Children proved themselves to be the true visionaries.

Perhaps we have seen the bottom of this recession, and as we try to swim back above water, I’m wondering like everyone else what new age will emerge. One of my favorite thinkers on this is Daniel Pink, whose book A Whole New Mind describes the transition we’re making from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. He explains why we need to develop our right, creative brains now more than ever, with left brain thinking more and more replaceable (see video below) and the innovation imperative of our time demanding more skills of creativity.

Pink asserts six skills, or senses, that he sees as key to the new age, which, if more developed, may indeed help us keep our heads above water as a new United States of Creativity that these time demand:

1. Design: Creating something beautiful and emotionally engaging
2. Story: Creating compelling narrative, not just facts and info
3. Symphony: Connecting pieces, synthesis not just analysis
4. Empathy: Understanding others, developing emotional intelligence
5. Play: Going beyond seriousness to joyfulness and humor
6. Meaning: Pursuing purpose, passion and spirituality

Certainly sounds more like the post-Beatnick old timers at the NPA, doesn’t it, George?

Click to read more from Adam’s Innovation on My Mind blog

10,200 Concerts- A Guinness World Record

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on June 9, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Last Saturday night I attended one of Stanley Drucker‘s final performances at Lincoln Center with The New York Philharmonic Orchestra. As principal clarinet he has performed 10,200 concerts with the orchestra and appeared as a soloist over 200 times! Can you imagine the kind of stamina and devotion required to be able to have accomplished this? At the age of 80, Stanley Drucker has had a 60 year career with the orchestra and will be in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest playing career in an orchestra.

After the concert, Buffet-Crampon threw this amazing party in a restaurant, Center Cut, across the street from Lincoln Center, in The Empire Hotel. The whole restaurant was closed for the evening for the party. Over 150 prominent musicians, friends and Buffet dealers, including actor Alan Alda, attended. (Alan Alda‘s wife use to play bass clarinet with the Houston Symphony- ah… the clarinet connection is revealed.)

What impressed me most about attending this evening was the power of witnessing a lifetime of tenacious living. Amazing things happen when you strive to be better and do better and never give up on yourself or your life goals. Stanley embodies the word tenacious. He spent 60 years working to improve his playing and never believing there was not something more he could learn or do. Entreprenuerial opportunities spring to life where tenacity rules.

Your Inner Ocean…

In Author: Whitney Ferre on June 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I just spent a week at the beach after returning home from NYC the night before our FL departure!  I have the fullest next two months EVER and an entire week at the beach started to make me nervous as my inner to-do list swept over my consciousness as the waves lapped up on the shore on which I reclined.  I thought maybe some of you might feel this way at times.  This is how I manage….

I read a quote once about how when we are feeling overwhelmed that we can access our hidden well of potential that is as wide, as deep, and as expansive as the entire ocean.  It said we literally have THAT MUCH within us from which we can draw strength, inspiration, and energy.  Does that make sense?   Could you explain that to your accountant?  Can you take that to the bank?  No.  That means that you are in right brain territory.

To give you an idea:  on my to do list is re-vamp website, finish production of second paint kit, plan youth art camp being held next week, finalize my CPSI Conference presentation, follow up with NYC contacts, paint a commissioned painting, catch up on accounting since January, learn Quick Books, travel to CPSI in Boston, get ready for month long family West Coast tour (including speaking event, book signing, art workshop), kick off first Creatively Fit Marathon, promote October N. CA retreat…oh, and take care of 3 kids that are now on summer break, co-run a restaurant (www.rumourswinebar.com) a husband, a house, pack, etc.

Whew!  I can access that overwhelming anxiety at the drop of a hat.  How do I keep my head above water?  I get into my right brain.  I paint.   I do the Creativity Workouts our of my book. I focus on what I can do right now.  I make lists to get them out of my head.  I expect miracles.  I remind myself that this crazy journey I am on has been somehow divinely led since 1995 when the idea for The Creative Fitness Center first entered my mind.

Your ocean is ebbing, flowing, waves breaking, depths deepening, all in the realm of your right brain.  It is not about logic, details, or practicalities.  It is ALL about the huge potential that we all have available at our fingertips IF we create the awareness for ourselves. 

Life is a mental game.  In order to excel, even survive, we have to learn some new tricks.  Your right brain voice, your ARTIST WITHIN (check out my book The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit, on amazon.com or my website www.creativelyfit.com) has the key to learning more about how you can feel the peace of mind that comes with a larger understanding of your potential and creative power.  Oh, and work out those creative/right brain muscles of yours!  ~Whitney

Grayton Beach, FL

I just spent a week at the beach after returning home from NYC the night before our FL departure!  I have the fullest next two months EVER and an entire week at the beach started to make me nervous as my inner to-do list swept over my consciousness as the waves lapped up on the shore on which I reclined.  I thought maybe some of you might feel this way at times.  This is how I manage….

I read a quote once about how when we are feeling overwhelmed that we can access our hidden well of potential that is as wide, as deep, and as expansive as the entire ocean.  It said we literally have THAT MUCH within us from which we can draw strength, inspiration, and energy.  Does that make sense?   Could you explain that to your accountant?  Can you take that to the bank?  No.  That means that you are in right brain territory.

To give you an idea:  on my to do list is re-vamp website, finish production of second paint kit, plan youth art camp being held next week, finalize my CPSI Conference presentation, follow up with NYC contacts, paint a commissioned painting, catch up on accounting since January, learn Quick Books, travel to CPSI in Boston, get ready for month long family West Coast tour (including speaking event, book signing, art workshop), kick off first Creatively Fit Marathon, promote October N. CA retreat…oh, and take care of 3 kids that are now on summer break, co-run a restaurant (www.rumourswinebar.com) a husband, a house, pack, etc.

Whew!  I can access that overwhelming anxiety at the drop of a hat.  How do I keep my head above water?  I get into my right brain.  I paint.   I do the Creativity Workouts our of my book. I focus on what I can do right now.  I make lists to get them out of my head.  I expect miracles.  I remind myself that this crazy journey I am on has been somehow divinely led since 1995 when the idea for The Creative Fitness Center first entered my mind.

Your ocean is ebbing, flowing, waves breaking, depths deepening, all in the realm of your right brain.  It is not about logic, details, or practicalities.  It is ALL about the huge potential that we all have available at our fingertips IF we create the awareness for ourselves. 

Life is a mental game.  In order to excel, even survive, we have to learn some new tricks.  Your right brain voice, your ARTIST WITHIN (check out my book The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit, on amazon.com or my website www.creativelyfit.com) has the key to learning more about how you can feel the peace of mind that comes with a larger understanding of your potential and creative power.  Oh, and work out those creative/right brain muscles of yours!  ~Whitney

No Idea Left Behind—The Preservative Power of Boxes

In Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Outside Your Comfort Zone on June 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Think outside the box.
We all know that our intellectual boxes can limit us. They can eliminate options, make us overly cautious, and generally just get in the way of innovation and creativity. Eventually, they can breed a “silo mentality,” an afflictive state of mind that strikes at the very moment we most need to come up with new solutions to pressing problems.
And yet at the same time, we love boxes. You know this if you have ever experienced the Container Store. The Container Store sells containers of all shapes and varieties, designed to solve all varieties of organizational problems. The Container Store also sells something much more important. Walking through the store discovering possibilities it becomes clear that the Container Store actually sells hope–hope that you can actually get your stuff organized and easily accessible, even if for just a day or two.
And, it turns out that much of what we need to keep in our containers and boxes is stuff that we’re not sure what to do with, but we think might be useful at some point in the future. We do the same thing with ideas and discoveries, relying on our intellectual boxes, disciplines and traditions, to keep ideas viable, even when they don’t have any direct or obvious application.
Early on teaching at the University of Texas I worked with a graduate student who studied medieval monastic texts—treatises, guides, handbooks, poetry, and devotionals. This graduate student was running the real risk of becoming a living caricature of the academic who studies something obscure and useless. That is until I met a senior manager at Dell Corporation who was very interested in creating retreats for mid and upper level managers to help them revitalize themselves and their careers. I helped this manager at Dell connect with faculty who did research on management and organizational change. I also connected the manager with this graduate student. And, as it turned out, the graduate student ended up being a key resource, precisely because of their intimate knowledge of how to do a retreat, the long term transformative power of a retreat, and why retreats started in the first place.
Go to any design house, and you will almost certainly find a “bone pile.” The bone pile is the place where all the ideas that don’t work for now get collected with the assumption that they may well help solve a future problem. Designers, like all smart creative folks (and kids), do not like to throw anything away, because they never know what may prove to be useful later. Some design houses even label and categorize their not-yet-useful ideas and designs to make it easier to find them when the time comes.
We often don’t know which ideas are before their time, after their time, or just haven’t found their time. If used well, our intellectual boxes help us maintain ideas while we find new ways to use them. This means that we need to constantly ask ourselves how else we can better use our boxes and what’s in them. What new configurations of boxes (talents, disciplines, experiences, historical perspective) can we create to effectively respond to challenges as they emerge? How can we better network our boxes to become more proficient at moving among them? When our boxes limit us, it is seldom because of the boxes themselves. It is usually because we have become too comfortable and have stopped using our imagination.

An idea for every new contact

In Creativity and Innovation on June 6, 2009 at 11:23 am

Through a colleague, I found a very interesting and creative businessmodel. Christine Santora and Justin Gignac are a couple from New York City who started with quite a special project: they have defined some wants for example – an Iphone, chicken wings, some sleep, … and they create a painting about that need (so they paint an IPhone or some chicken wings). The price for the painting is exactly the price for the item that they want. So if you buy ‘a slice of peperoni’, then you have to pay 3 dollars and they buy it and enjoy it.

They have a list of things that they want and also a list of things that they already have. It’s quite funny that they already went to Vegas and people have paid for their hotel, some gambling money, an all-you-can-eat-buffet, … and people have paid for each item and got a painting about the item instead. More info about their project here.

This is real entrepreneurship for me and let me take you a step further. If they can do it (and even find some customers), why don’t we expand their model and use it for your own profession. Eg, if you are into music, maybe you can make a song about your wants? I am a creative facilitator so I will come up with ideas about a topic that I want and sell my ideas for the ‘real’ stuff. So I want to have an old pocket watch, I can do a brainstorm about this topic and ‘sell 100 ideas’ to get an old pocket watch – worth 100 dollars?

And going even further, you don’t have to want physical things. I want to have contacts in the communication and event business in cities like New York and London so for every contact that I’ll get, I’ll send you an idea to broaden your own network. Mmm, very interesting concept, I let it grow a bit further and maybe I start my own ‘idea-shop’.

ideasforsale

Request for ideas may start now … 😉

What the Heck is Pecha Kucha?

In Author: Adam Shames on June 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Here’s a creative challenge for you: I’m going to give you a microphone and the undivided attention of a willing audience for about seven minutes. In advance I ask you to put together exactly 20 images–of anything you want–which will be projected on a large screen for exactly 20 seconds each. What would you share? What story might you want to tell?

This is Pecha Kucha Night (pronounced p’CHAH-k’CHAH, from the Japanese word for chit chat), an evening dedicated to adult show-and-tell, that has been spreading virally throughout the world in the past few years. Originally organized as a way for designers and architects to meet, network and share their work (without droning on too long), Pecha Kucha nights now are regular staples in 200 cities worldwide, including Chicago, where I got a chance to sample one this week at Martyrs’.

At least a few hundred people crowded together to watch a somewhat motley crew of 12 presenters, whose visual narrations ranged from serious commentary to playful randomness. Felix Jung (whose blog will tell you more about the night–and has better pictures) shared some entertaining autobiographical insights about repetition, while others shared physical and mental journeys through nature, popular culture, life in a rock band (the boys of All Things Lucid can play, too), Shanghai and artwork, including one somewhat mind-bending design plan to create a mass protest in New York City.

While not all presenters were as engaging as I might have liked, what was on display was originality at its best, an evening of self-expression and individual passions that reflected creativity through the eyes and words of very different human beings (Here they are taking a final bow).

Like the Kreative Evenings I hosted for many years as part of the Kreativity Network in San Francisco, there is something magical and empowering about hearing and seeing perspectives that would otherwise be unknown to you. At Pecha Kucha, many of the folks with the microphone were not skilled presenters or artists, but each offered an opportunity for us to see a different view of the world, which can’t help but boost our own creativity. More Pecha Kucha nights are coming up in Chicago very soon, so you can get a taste for yourself and also sign up online to be chosen as a future presenter.

Perhaps the creative constraint of 20 seconds and 20 images can help you decide: What passion, story, commentary, skewed view would you want to share if you had a chance?

Read more of my entries about creativity at Innovation on my Mind.

You Are Jazz

In Author: Michael Gold, Emotional Intelligence on June 5, 2009 at 8:34 am

Improvisation . . .
What do you imagine?
Jazz? Stand up comedy? Experimental theater? Modern dance?
If you were asked to improvise in the moment what would you think?
Probably your first thought would be fear, ooooh no- not me. I’m not going there.

A lot of us imagine improvisation to be some sort of magical talent that one is born with. The ability to manifest something out of nothing; to act with great purpose and spontaneity at the same time; to embrace and manage change with no prior preparation.
That set of circumstances couldn’t be further from the truth, especially in such art forms as jazz, dance and theater.
These art forms that have interactive improvisation at their core are representations of a human condition fundamental to every single one of us. That condition is simply that we do not know for certain what will happen as we move from the present into the future.

However we choose to define our lives we all live in a flow of time that can only move in one direction- from what we know to have happened in the past into an future that we do not know. And that means that, like the improvisers in jazz, movement and drama, every one of us is always improvising their way from a state of relative certainty into a future of relative uncertainty.

Consider the art of conversation. What happens when, by chance, you encounter someone you’ve known since childhood but haven’t seen or spoken with in a decade. Before the conversation even begins the recognition of the event transforms the context of your inner dialogue almost like shifting from watching one movie to watching a completely different movie. You experience a reorientation. a torrent of experiential memories and emotions that trigger assumptions and judgments perhaps leading to expectations about new possibilities. Amidst all of that, you begin to converse. Wordless ideas that form in your imagination (Noam Chomsky notwithstanding) that you spontaneously translate into creative language. You give sound and wings to your ideas intending the other person to understand them in a very particular way. All of this happens with no script, no score. It happens with the skills of linguistic improvisation, gained only through trial and error, acquired over the course of hundreds of thousands of past conversations.

This is improvisation. It’s sort of an existential technology. It happens on a circular continuum that transcends the medium of spoken word, music, dance or drama.

It begins with an idea. Some form of agreed upon common ground. Each party uses their particular skills and knowledge to create a structural foundation around that idea that will support its meaning and value- protect it so to speak- for the interaction that is to come. But at the same time, in order to hopefully achieve innovation- prepare that idea for transformation as well. Each party also uses those same skills to lead the exploration, the probing and the development of the idea. At its best this continuum of improvisation yields transformational results that the participants call innovative- an improvement for both in the meaning and value of the ideas they started with. At its worst this continuum yields chaos, confusion and alienation.

Think of the family structure. When two people decide to have a family they share the idea of the child. But it is hypothetical because until that child is a reality there is no real improvisation- it is all theoretical- even the planning purchasing and physical transformation. Once the child is born those parents, for better or worse, begin improvising. The duo becomes a trio- each parent using every skill and bit of experiential knowledge to work together to create a structure of safety and support for that child. The child is improvising as well, exploring their reality, making discoveries, formulating ideas and constantly feeding back a stream of behavioral information to the parents. Hopefully the parents integrate these responses in ways that expand their capacity to provide the framework of safety and support for the child. For better or for worse, the family is the ultimate improvisational organization

But what is the relationship between improvisation- and the realization of results that all would agree are innovative- an improvement in value and meaning?

How does improvisation lead to innovation?

In one regard the answer to that question would depend on who is asking and what they are asking about. But that approach to the question is quantitative. One that assumes the value of innovation to be based on very specific qualities of past outcomes that can and should be measured and adhered to.  In other words if we were building a jet engine or a nuclear power plant where the allowable margin of risk was very slight this approach to the question would be appropriate.

The question is more interesting, though, if asked in the qualitative sense. How does the action of improvisation begin to yield innovative results? Where and when, in that process of parents observing the child, do their responses change the world of the child in a way that allows the child to move beyond what he or she is familiar with, to risk, trust, explore and grow? And how can parents recognize and interpret the qualities that child will discover and manifest in a way that transforms the parents’ behavior so that they can continue to grow as well?

The jazz ensemble is an amazing microcosm of this process. We can observe how the improvising soloist feeds back to the supporting members of the rhythm section (also improvising) so that they can expand their support in the way the soloist needs to continue their exploration. More on this to come in future blogging.

But what can be gleaned from the way improvisation leads to innovation in jazz is that the process is always uncertain. Improvisation is always an uncertain process and does not in and of itself imply an innovative outcome.

But when innovation does occur it means that the within the process of improvisation there has been an alignment in understanding between roles of exploration and support – in jazz the interplay between the improvisation of both the soloist and the supporting rhythm section. That alignment allows for the release of the old to allow for the new. It also implies a consensus about what knowledge and truth from the past shall continue to support the meaning of what is emerging in the present.

This is the constant edge of improvisation leading to innovation. It is a state that is ephemeral, elusive and extremely vulnerable. And yet it is where all positive change begins.

The dynamics that jazz improvisers practice on a daily basis are musical. But they are also linguistic and empathic in a deeply humanistic sense. These dynamics begin and end with listening- an act that many of us have become very subconscious about. To really listen means to be aware of our position on this continuum of improvisation-to understand that our smallest actions and decisions contribute to the equation of improvisation manifesting innovation. . . or not.

Art is a reflection of fundamental aspects of how we perceive and relate to each other and the world.
Jazz is a unique art form that captures and musifies certain interpersonal dynamics that are fundamental in the improvisation of life.

Because life is improvised there is the art of jazz.

It’s about you.

Don’t bother me, Just pay me

In Author: Lisa Canning, Customer Service, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Health & Wellness on June 5, 2009 at 2:31 am

The past few months I have been seriously trying to get to the bottom of some long term issues with my health. While I have always had a lot of energy and eat healthy ( no greasy food, limit the sweets and white flour opting for salads, whole grains, lean proteins and fish), I have, since I was ten, struggled with my weight. One of my 2009 new years resolutions ( remember those you made back in Dec/Jan?) was to try and take whatever steps were necessary to make the lifestyle changes I need to reduce my weight to improve my health.

So to honor that resolution I have been working out with a body builder for the past three months three times a week for an hour and a half, mixing weight lifting up with cardio, as well as making the changes to my diet the body builder is encouraging, hoping to get my metabolism moving.

While my physical strength is improving daily, my weight has not budged. Being born into a family with horrible genetics ( obesity rules in greek families) I decide it might be a good idea to go to the doctor and rule out a thyroid problem being at the root of my difficulty.

So I went to see my general practitioner and had a number of blood tests. The tests indicated my insulin levels were higher than they should be for sure, but not high enough to label me diabetic.The doctor put me on pre-diabetic medicine and asked me to make an appointment with an endocrinologist. (Hypothyroid can look a lot like a pre-diabetic condition.) Eager to address my problem, and hoping it would help me improve my health, I called the referral my doctor gave me.

Quickly I discovered where my eagerness to consult with an “expert” about my health fit into the value system of both of the endocrinologists I was referred to by my physician.

The first I tried calling 4 different times. It seems they rarely keep office hours and never answer the phone. Each time I called this was the message I heard: ” Dr. XXX is currently not available. Our office is now closed. Don’t page the doctor, Don’t ask us when we are not open for a refill or an appointment and Don’t leave us a message unless you are willing to wait 24-48 hours for a return call. If this is an emergency call 911. Beep.”

The second endocrinologist I called won’t see me at all until I send over my blood tests and they decide if THEY are willing to set up an appointment to see me.

It seems endocrinologists are in such demand, according to my general practitioner, that they feel they don’t need to be bothered– unless they feel like it. Of course when you go to see them, they will not let you past the front office until you have signed a waiver guaranteeing to pay them and/or providing them with insurance information they accept.

It seems that these doctors have forgotten that the services they provide is a business. They have forgotten that where there is demand lies opportunity and that customers (or in this case patients) have a choice about who they see and what they tell others about their experiences.

Every profession is a business and every business has an opportunity to recognize opportunity to provide superior service that translates into a thriving enterprise and happy repeat customers.

When communicating your passion, how foolish are you?

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Theater/Film on June 4, 2009 at 9:30 am

How foolish are you?  How successfull do you want to be in communicating your passion?

I have been seeing a large number public speaking clients lately and if there is one salient feature amongst all of them, it is the inability to embrace foolishness.

The fear of  looking foolish has a great number of  potential speakers stuck in mediocrity, sameness, safeness the land of boredom. 

This is how it plays -“I might be too loud, too quiet, too imposing, too animateed, too open to criticism, too wrong, too stupid….I MIGHT END UP LOOKING FOOLISH.”

This litany of negative thoughts grow stronger each time they surface particularly because  they are never addressed,  just accepted and allowed to become part of the speaker’s truth.

And the result?  The result is that we are then careful; watching ourselves to make sure that no error occurs, that no foolishness gets out, that no failure is noticed.  So we commit to safeguarding our authentic (foolish), human (error/failur ridden) self.  

We end up being serious in our manner, monotone in our voice, boring in our presentation, safe in containing our emotions. No music from the soul, no real connection, no memorable stories are given to the audience to take away with them to remember us by and to be grateful they came to hear us.

The choice is clear – bore  your audience or chance looking foolish. 

How to allow FOOLISHNESS into your life?

  • Give up on perfection.

 

  • Remember it’s not about you – it’s about the story, the gift you are giving, the audience

 

  • Stay present

 

  • Get out of your own way

 

  • Focus on the audience one at a time and make eye communication (not brief eye contact)

 

  • Trust you know what you know and don’t have to go by your written speech

 

  • Be ready to improvise, change with the needs of the audience

 

  • See the story in detail, before you say it (practe beforehand seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing your story in all aspects)

 

  • Give yourself permission to fail- lose your place, make an error, feel under the gun,  BE FOOLISH.  All you need to do is focus on your important gift (the message that is going to make a difference in the audience’s life) and focus on the audience and listen to them

 

  • And most important address the negative thoughts you have before speaking – answer them with something truthful and positive every time they come up

 

  • BREATH, BREATH ,  BREATH (before you go on, while you’re on and after)

 

  • Remember speaking is like acting – it requires AUTHENTICITY, HEIGHTENED ENERGRY and GREAT STORY TELLING SKILLS