Innovating Through Artistry

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6 Tips for Using Free On-line Business Tools

In Accounting, Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Customer Service, Employees, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on January 6, 2009 at 1:33 am

January’s Entrepreneur Magazine offered these six tips on using free on-line tools:

Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to use it. “Because there’s so much out there, businesses have a tendency to be like a kid in a candy store,” says Drew McLellan. “Start with the strategy of what you want to accomplish, and then find the tool that will allow you to do that.”

Adds Mike Whaling, “It’s a matter of figuring out which tools are right for your business. Know your audience, and then go to where they are already having conversations.”

You don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. McLellan suggests doing a simple Google search on a tool or task you want to accomplish. “You’ll find people talking about it,” he says. “And people are incredibly quick to share what they know.”

Don’t lose your company’s brand. Using a variety of tools can lead to an inconsistent company image and voice. Says McLellan, “Run it through the litmus test of ‘Is this right for my business? Does it portray my business the way I want?'” Whaling also emphasizes thinking about what your business’s name will be associated with because many free tools are ad-supported.

Push your preconceived notions aside. MySpace and Facebook aren’t just for the kiddies anymore. Says McLellan, “There are a lot of people conducting business on [these sites].”

Does the tool have staying power? For every successful blog, video website or social network, there are dozens that won’t make it. So, again, talk with people online and discuss their experiences with the tool to gauge its stability and reliability.

It may be free, but you still need to invest. Just creating a profile won’t cut it. Making the most of these tools requires time and effort, says Whaling. “There’s an investment in reading other people’s blogs, commenting on posts, getting involved in the community and building relationships.”

Can you get someplace in life for nothing?

In Accounting, Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Customer Service, Employees, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, Theater/Film, Writing on January 5, 2009 at 1:25 am

Is it ever possible in life to get somewhere for nothing and have it be somewhere really good? Over the decades, we certainly have heard that “there is no such thing as a free ride” and that “if it’s too good to be true, it likely is”.

But these days, thanks to the internet, there is lots of FREE stuff online, much of which supports the entrepreneur and a start-up venture.

According to an article which appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine this month, Gary Vaynerchuck, co-founder of Wine Library, has been taking advantage of free business tools for nearly three years to grow his 11 year-old wine retail business. Using a combination of web-based tools, such as social networking, blogging and video, he’s taken his company to annual sales of $50 million. One way Wine Library uses these tools, is to notify his friends of daily specials by using MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, in place of email. His success with these tools has even landed him two book deals and regular speaking engagements across the country. “Building brand equity and connecting with your consumers through these social tools has a global impact on your business and your brand,” says Vaynerchuck, 33.

Alison Boris, 38, and Kathi Chandler, 31, have also been capitalizing on free tools since nearly the beginning of their LA based hand bag boutique, called AllyKatStyle. Besides a MySpace page, they also have profies on Digg and StumbleUpon, which are community content sharing sites, to grow their business.

All these free tools also mean that for even a small business, the “little guy” can look a whole lot bigger, not to mention more sophisticated. With a price tag of FREE, it’s hard not to want to take advantage and get on the ride to somewhere great.

Have I gotten your attention? Good, then let’s get you started:

Dimdim ( open source web conferencing application; free basic service
Jott ( service for creating notes, lists, e-mails and text messages; free basic service
Oovoo ( -video messaging, chatting and conferencing
Paltalk ( – Group IM, chat and video call application
Plugoo ( -direct chatting with any blog or site visitor
YouSendIt ( send files up to 2GB; free basic service

Content, Media, Video
Audacity ( Open source software for cross-platform audio recording ( Video blogging, podcasting and video sharing service; free basic service
BlogTalkRadio ( radio network for users to host their own shows
DropShots ( Video hosting and photo sharing
Feedburner ( media distribution services for blogs and RSS feeds
Fix My Movie ( Video enhancement service; free basic service
Paint.NET ( image and photo editing software
Phixr ( picture and photo editor
Seesmic ( Video conversation platform
SlideShare ( Share and embeded slideshows. Powerpoints and PDF’s into web pages
VideoSpin ( video-editing software

BizEquity ( – company valuations
Mint ( – personal finance, money mangement, budget planning and financial planning software
MyBizHomepage ( – financial dashboard for small business Quick Book users
QuickBooks ( small-business accounting software; free simple start 2009 download)
Wesabe ( Financial advice, analysis and planning

Marketing, Networking, PR
Wordpress ( Blog publishing tool
Craigslist ( Online classified and job posting network
CollectiveX ( social networking and collaboration sites for groups
Digg ( content sharing site
Linkedin ( Business social networking site
Pligg (, community-centric site for discovering, rating and sharing content
PolicyMap( -Geographic and demographic information system for creating custom maps, tables and chartes; basic free service
YouNoodle ( for startups and valuation with Startup Predictor
YourPitchSucks ( PR pitch reviewing and advising
Stumble Upon ( Content sharing site

Office Productivity, and Organization
Adobe Buzzword ( Collaborative word processor application
CutePDF Write ( PDF creator; free basic service
Dabble DB ( Create, manage and share online databases; free basic service
Doodle ( Schedule, and coordinate meetings and other appointments
FreshBooks (, time-tracking and expense service; free basic service
SurveyMonkey ( and publish custom online surveys; free basic service
ThinkFree Office ( productivity suite; free basic service
WuFoo ( form builder for creating interactive forms;free basic service

Project Management, Collaboration
Remember the Milk ( management solution and to-do lists
Socialtext ( Wiki and website collaboration; free basic service
Team Task ( project management and community website builder
Yugma ( meeting and collaboration service

Google Alerts ( E-mail updates on choice of query or topic
KickApps ( platform of applications to integrates social features into a website
Microsoft Office Live Small Business ( Create a company website, domain and email; free basic service
Synthasite ( Web hosting and building
Weebly ( and blog creator
Widgetbox ( widgets for various applications
Woopra ( -Web tracking and analysis application; free basic service

My 2009, and Yours?

In Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Marketing, Music, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on December 28, 2008 at 3:37 am

dreamstime_7322003Before every New Year, I find myself always hoping to be and do better than the year before. Don’t you? Yet, lately I have been feeling like my progress has seemed more like 2 steps backwards and 1/2 a step forward.

But if you’re anything like me, artistic, sensitive, self-critical and gushing with ideas, it’s hard to not want to let yourself flow with your creativity, even when you know progress can sometimes be painful. After all what do you have to lose- except for 2 1/2 steps one direction or the other, right?

The issue, of course, is when what once felt like a peaceful flow has now turned into a raging river. The kind of shift in your thinking or situation that makes you wonder what possessed you in the first place to ever think you could peacefully have your ideas flow into accomplishment- just the way you envisioned.

So now what?

I know how you feel, if you have ever felt this way. This whole past year for me, with my book, has felt like a roller coaster ride. My ride has had lots of unexpected twists and turns and the occasional jolt, just for good measure, when I least expected it. And all this adventure has me feeling a wee bit wobbly. (just like the Weeble Wobbles, remember them?)

Do I really want MORE adventure in 2009?

How about you? Are you ready to let your creativity spring like jack, out of-the-box, unconventionally? Are you ready for some bumps, twists and turns on your entrepreneurial creative adventure ride?

Not sure?

But remember, parts of the ride are GUARANTEED to be exhilarating- and it’s always those parts we most remember. Terror-filled-moments only last briefly, but when they occur how much more the rush of exhilaration mattered. Feeling creative freedom is worth a little terror, I think. Don’t you?

And so for me, wobbly legs and all, 2009 must include a number of new challenges and a few more new adventure rides.

My first, on both fronts, will be to self-publish Build a Blue Bike. My friend, composer and jazz pianist David Cutler, has just finished a book called The Savvy Musician. He and I have decided to release our books together sometime before June of 2009. Our books fit nicely together.

Of course this is not at all the road I expected to take, but it’s one that has just opened and I have to explore. I am over feeling stuck and wondering “so now what do I do with the manuscript?” It’s more fun to be looking forward to the anticipation of being on another creative adventure-filled-ride, really.

I have about 5 other projects, too, that I need to sit down to chart my course of action for in 2009. Of course, I already know that I will ultimately have to learn to let go of each of my plans, eventually, because each I plan will twist and turn and jolt in ways I cannot possibly right now even begin to imagine!

So why bother to plot my planning?

Because I believe luck favors the prepared mind. Hard work and perseverance in the end always win. Adding new hands, feet and heads as unexpected surprises into your adventure sometimes means rewritting the plan. And, as a result, that may mean the story may take longer to tell, but your determination and effort only make your story all that much more compelling when you reach your “lucky” happy ending. Our dreams, with preparation and perseverance, really can come true.

Welcome in 2009!

To ring in the New Year I am headed off to Santa Fe. It’s cold there but a good fire, a few unfinished books and a massage, and hot tub or two, at Ten Thousand Waves, are waiting for me there. I hope you too will spend some time before the New Year to plan your “luck.” I’m rooting for both of us in 2009!

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

In Accounting, Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Customer Service, Emotional Intelligence, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Clarinet Shop, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on December 23, 2008 at 3:04 am

f91ddde14399af3663324567dfa4My wish for you, ON CHRISTMAS DAY,
will be for you TOO, to keep the GRINCH at bay!

But if by chance, you simply cannot,
Band mighty together, as a great big Who-Ville lot!

WWHHYY????? Smarty-Arty, I hear you say?

BECAUSE, with all your JOY stirring together,
the grinch who came to visit, just might feel a WEE bit better.

Merry Christmas, my dears, what’s your ETA,
to ENTREPRENEUR The Arts, in a new innovative way.
PLEASE COME WITH ME, lets ride far, far and away!

signed your friend, an artistic missionIST, a student of Dr. Suess-a-visionIST, gliding, and sent with love.

Hey, do you want to BLEND in?

In Accounting, Art, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea on December 6, 2008 at 8:49 am

Remember me? Ryan Conrad? Juniata College Grad? Last time I blogged I shared with you my story about speaking at graduation.

I am sure you have heard the expression “ a little fish in a big pond”? I am now that little fish in a big pond called Virginia Beach, and I would not have it any other way. I’ve been leading a fast-paced life since I last posted, just days after graduating from college. I now work for Live Nation, the largest concert promoter in the world, where I handle sponsorships accounts.

Upon moving to the beach, my goal was to continue organizing and promoting parties that focused on art, fashion, and music. I was fortunate enough to meet a talented artist who shared my vision. We complemented each other very well because of our diverse backgrounds. My event planning experiences coupled with his artist network seemed like a great fit.

I took my concept that I created in college, which was a traveling fashion and art show targeted at the college demographics and transformed it with my partner’s help into Blend. In the last few months we successfully pulled off two parties operating under the name “Blend.” We chose the name Blend, because we effectively brought together the artist community, DJs to spin at our parties, and fashion designers. The main objective of Blend is to plan art and fashion shows featuring local artists and clothing company in the night club setting.

Our parties were featured in numerous forms of media and soon became a prime-networking tool for people interested in the arts. Sponsors such as Red Bull, Frank 151 magazine, and international clothing company, Shmack started to believe in the brand that has been created.

Unfortunately, Josh has decided to move on because of other commitments to his job. However, I’m already starting to plan the next party with other business people who believe in my vision. Blend parties truly brings out a diverse crowd and artists. Over the course of the last several months I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many passionate artists and fashion designers who are trying to make their mark. They stress time and time again how they just want people to see and appreciate their work. My hope is to have as many people as possible, or fish (to continue the metaphor) start to believe in the Blend concept. If I continue to be successful, just maybe, a ripple affect will be felt in art communities in other parts of the pond. I mean other cities, as I try to expand my Blend parties.

…and what do you think?

In Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Music, Risk, Writing on December 2, 2008 at 12:41 am

This last week or so I have been hiding. Under the festivities of the holiday. Under the weight of my thoughts. Behind the screen of my computer– uncertain of what to do next.

I am again at a turning point on the journey with my book-or is it now books? And again, I feel a bit lost at sea and uncertain as to what is the best thing to do next. (Oh the joys of being a sensitive, intuitive entrepreneur in the arts. At times all this intuition I have can leave me feeling a bit like I am short circuiting.)

My book, Build a Blue Bike has not sold. The economy is in the tanks (in case you had not noticed) and publishers are merging, folding and buying only those books that seem like sure-fire slam-dunks. After all, Build a Blue Bike is a book that is an entreprenuerial risk. The artist as entrepreneur? Huh? Do artists even care about how to evolve into this blend of artist and entrepreneur?

So one of the strategies I created to help demonstrate the value of this book and its worthiness was to build The Entrepreneurial Artists Resource Guide as proof that there are a lot of people, programs, products and interest in this seemingly esoteric topic. The guide offers great information and also proves to publishers that there are a growing number of artists out there marketing to other artists on how to become more entrepreneurial, quite successfully.

So the issue now lies in the long journey I have been on with my agent Susan Schulman. Agents sell books to publishers. That is their job. Susan has told me that she sells everything she takes- eventually. It has been a year, almost to the day and we have had lots of positive rejections from big houses- but only ten in total. (A positive rejection means that the editors who buy books for these publishing houses thought the material was worthy, interesting and valuable but that it was not a fit for them in the end.) Other agents who I have queried about my situation have told me that “it can be 30 or 40 responses before a book gets sold, so toughen up!”

The latest thought is to combine Build a Blue Bike with The Entrepreneurial Artists Resource Guide, which Susan thinks will sell. To do this means re-writing a very lengthy book proposal to resend to publishers. Of course there is always the option to simply self publish. There are some incredibly successful self published authors. A couple I personally know are Peggy McColl and Bob Baker.

As a true entrepreneur part of me says to hell with waiting around for a publisher to recognize the value of my material– if an agent like Susan Schulman did, that is proof enough and I should just move along and self publish. And another part of me says, I need the credibility of a named publisher, if I can get it, to help me shape the future of the arts in universities and corporations. Certainly part of the problem has been the economy in getting my material sold.

What do you think? Should I wait and see if I can get it picked up by a big publisher under this new format? Or should I go ahead and self publish? Sometimes publishers come back to you after you self- publish and ask to publish the book. Tama Kieves book, This Time I Dance, was picked up by Tarcher/Penguin-Putnam in exactly this way.

Entrepreneurship and artistry are a complicated blend of business like actions, intuition and creativity. Intuition is the lever that brings both together and at the moment mine feels a bit overloaded with too much information.

Artists: Marketing/Sales Strategy and Planning Workshop

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Networking, Risk on November 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Hey all you BETA readers, (BETA stands for Blog Entrepreneur The Arts, and also works as a great metaphor, don’t you think?) I would like to make this bog increasingly “virtual”. By that I mean that we, as a body of interested BETA readers, become part of a global community of artistic entrepreneurial supporters and friends.

One of the great things about blogs, is that in addition to reading something of interest often you can find a new source of information through links found both inside the post as well as through comments left by others. And if you leave a comment, make sure to leave your website address for others for this very reason-to be able to connect! By all means use this site as an opportunity to meet someone new to say “Hello, I read your comment on the ETA blog..and” (What do you have to lose? Nothing. It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, remember?)

So in the spirit of going global I want to remind all of you that selectively, as they role in, I will offer localized posts on workshops, events, projects or openings that serve this readership and are about people and places we should be in the “know” about anyway. Just email me your details about your next upcoming ?? so we can get you into the limelight.

Here, listed below, is one of those exact kinds of posts from Adrienne Fritze– a dynamite resource for artists located in Portland Oregon. If you live anywhere near Portland, or are willing to get there, check out this fantastic workshop she is offering and at a minimum go and check out her site too and say “hi”- after all you already have ETA in common, right?

“If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master.” – Francis Bacon

Wouldn’t you, the independent artist or creative, love to have a reliable, step-by-step path to selling your work and services to people who want them?

I couldn’t find anything like that out there when I began my arts career. So I took everything I’d learned as an Ad Gal working with the world’s largest interactive advertising agency, broke it down into bite sized pieces and developed the Guerilla Exhibitor workshops for artists and creatives.

I know that developing marketing mastery is key to your sustained success, and this workshop is the foundation for that development. You will leave this workshop with:
1. Practical knowledge in how to plan and strategize your marketing, which you will be able to replicate as you grow your business;
2. An Action Plan that you can immediately implement;
3. Confidence in knowing where you are headed in your business

If you know this is something you want to do, skip to the bottom of this promotion and call in or register online. If you’d like a bit more information, please read on.

A Bit About Marketing from the Guerilla Exhibitor’s Point-of-View
The goal of marketing is sales. How you reach that goal is referred to as your Marketing & Sales Plan.

A critical piece of that plan is Branding, and the key components to defining your brand are knowing your: Vision, Mission and Products [including Services]. Your Market is the people who want what you have to offer. Knowing these key components leads you to your Strategy for getting the word out about your products, and receiving money in exchange for them.

Once you’ve defined how you’ll implement your strategy, you will have created your Marketing and Sales Plan.

This workshop assumes you know your Vision, Mission and Products*, and focuses on these three points of your Market:

Profiling: who wants what you have to offer
Where they Hang Out: Knowing and having access to the places where they spend their time – online, meetings, events, magazines, clubs, activities, etc.
The How’s Have It: Defining how to reach them so they know you have what they want and how to get it.

*If you feel you do not have all the necessary pieces ready to take on this workshop, send an e-mail to a@workingartistsonline.comand ask for the FREE worksheet “Capturing Your Vision and Mission, Defining Your Products and Services” and fill in the blanks with your information. If you still feel lost, get in touch with Adrienne to discuss the best way for you to get up to speed to be ready for this workshop. She may be reached at 503-349-6075 or

Now is the time to think critically about how you will survive, and thrive, and planning is the key.

Here’s how the day will go:
Defining Your Market
Profiling Who
Where They Hang Out

Reaching Your Market
Physical markets

Setting Goals in Time
What Actions You’ll Take
Defining Your Tangible Goals

Details about the Where, When and How of the Workshop:

LOCATION: souk, 322 NW 6th Avenue, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97209 []

DATE/TIME: Saturday December 6th, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

EARLY BIRD | $85/participant [Register by 11/22/08]
WEEK OF EVENT | $125/participant [Register between 11/23-12/5]
Register Online at: or call 503.349.6075

Your Course Leader:
Adrienne Fritze has a checkered 35 year background in the world of self employment, as corporate executive and now as an artpreneur and educator. A sampling of her experience includes publishing magazines and role-playing whodunits, managing interactive marketing projects for companies like Samsung USA and now as a practicing artist and business educator. She lives in Portland Oregon with her extended family, and is the brain and brawn behind Working Artists LLC

Contestant #3: Chuck DeWolfe

In Art, Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Marketing, Money, Risk, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 17, 2008 at 12:47 am


Written by Chuck DeWolfe

My name is Chuck DeWolfe I am 42 and have been working for my self since I was 12. When I was 18 I left my parents house and traveled for 15 years. In that time I received a BS in Art therapy and an MFA in fine art, had over 100 art shows collaborated with over 30 other artists and ran my own Gallery. I have worked in over 10 artists’ communities as a student, resident artist, visiting artist, art fellow, grant recipient, teacher, mentor and professional artist.

After chasing a tenure track position for several years I decided to stop and move back east and recover from what had been a very challenging four-year period of poverty, mental instability, bad personal relationships and enough drama to write my own HBO pilot – I was 33.

When I stopped moving I realized that from all my rich experiences and all the many respected people that I had created art with and for, I had nothing to show for it accept a truck which at the time I was sleeping in, and good number of lines on my resume.

I combined a free real estate class and some research in to a foster care business. I bought a 30-ache farm with a negative balance of -179.76 in my checking account. Began living with 3 to 4 boys’ ages 9 to 17 full time. I continued to show my artwork, invest in real estate and build my foster care business. After five years developing my program I gave the program to the state of Vermont. I began to research how I would work as an artist full time and share what I had learned about being an entrepreneur with other artists.

I studied the coaching model and began to coach artists one on one and started to study on line marketing and over the last two years have built up a small business working with people on line, selling my coaching programs and negotiating art coaching globally.

I had to overcome several personal changes surrounding money, marketing, selling, and a heroic identity as an artist that just did not serve my goals as an entrepreneur. When I started this project I did not email people. Now I have several web sites and communicate globally with hundreds of artists all over the US and abroad.

I have participated in and with exchanges with some of the most influential Internet marketers in the worlds today. All of which look at me a little side ways because they know, as I do, that artists are not going to pay you much to help them market, sell and promote their work.

Presently I am commented to unlocking the doorways in which creativity and art can meet with commerce and community. Offering to individuals a way at looking at themselves not only as artist but also as entrepreneurs. I will confess it has not been easy and for all my efforts my business is struggling in the face of what has been 2 years of perpetual work and striving to create a viable business on line serving artists.

I am committed to coaching and to looking at “creativity as currency” working with artists, and other creatives, in a financial structure that is dynamic and aggressively poignant in today’s world, to transform the ideas of so many into pragmatic solutions and uncover what at times is “the miracle” and the mystery of art and financial prosperity.

Respectfully – Chuck DeWolfe

Marketing “All About Beauty” by Kelly

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Health & Wellness, Marketing on November 14, 2008 at 3:15 am

Kelly Penick is a sophomore at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Kelly has been blogging about her experiences starting her business. To read more of Kelly’s blog posts go to the category cloud and look under Health and Wellness.

Promoting Now For Future Returns written by college sophomore Kelly Penick

I have been thinking about different ways to expand awareness of my name and business on campus. Since my parents have a local business, the Penick name does have familiarity and professional recognition in Watauga County. I want to take my last name and tie it in with not just a construction business, but also now an esthetics business, “All About Beauty by Kelly.” Since I am still new to the business and building in revenue, I have my business cards that I developed through Vistaprint. This is the only logo design associated with me at this time. The design is simple but I feel expresses my personality as a girly female, as well as looking fabulous with a beauty emphasis. Check out the end of this post to get a glimpse at the design!

My thinking is that if I promote a special on facials during November and December, I could get not only increased business traffic due to the significant price reduction for a treatment during this stressful end of semester/exam time, but also the potential for future clients and repeat business..

I want to specifically use my status as a student to my advantage, and promote myself through the Assoc. of Student Entrepreneur’s Club. It is a highly recognized student organization, and if I were an outsider to campus, and not affiliated with a club, I could not promote my own career here. Fortunately there are many females on ASU’s campus, all of whom I could target, ranging from the student body, faculty, and administration. Having exposure to all of these different levels would help me greatly in the way of advertising. I know several people in Boone because this is my home town, and conveniently, the same location of my university campus.

I feel that by beginning this promotion in the middle of November, I could take it on into December and promote the experience of having a European Facial, as something wonderfully relaxing at a time when everyone is moving into the hectic holiday season, and in the case of the students and professors, into the stressful time of college exams.

I intend to make this promotion known largely through mass campus-wide emails. I have to look further into that process and see if I am capable of reaching all potential females that I would like to reach by this method. When I promote myself off campus, I will make use of my business cards and flyers in local businesses. As opposed to clients paying the standard $70 for a European Facial, they would pay $35 during this promotion. Although my profit per facial would be substantially reduced, I believe the benefits to my business through the increased cliental, and hopefully, repeat business along with word of mouth advertising from satisfied clients would provide for future growth and profitability.

Right now I am taking advantage again of my own ASU email account and also facebook friends. The use of the internet is my most cost-effective tool for getting this promotion out. I have ordered 250 more business cards that I can also place in local businesses that primarily employ females.

In my next post I will have run the promotion for about a month and I will be able to share with you what the best promotion method proved to be, due to the most responses. I am interested to see where the most responses will come from: since I am targeting students, faculty, close friends and family.


What Do “Going Green” and “Entrepreneurship in the Arts” Have in Common?

In Creative Support, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Leadership, Marketing, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 7, 2008 at 8:00 am

Last week I attended the Chief Responsibility Officers (CRO) Conference in Chicago. It was the 2nd annual conference in a very new emerging industry focused around companies embracing environmentally friendly, socially responsible business practices- not all that different in its newness to the emerging industry of entrepreneurship in the arts. Jay Whitehead is responsible for the development of this new conference, the publisher of CRO Magazine. Jay is spearheading the unity for this new emerging profession and the ethical values those who attend stand for in their business practices, and unite around.

Leaders from McDonalds, Intel, Kodak, IBM, Google, Orbitz, and many other fortune 100 to 1000 companies were there. But I bet there were not more than 250 people there total- not all that different than last years attendance at the Self Employment in The Arts (SEA) Conference, and others focused on building the non traditional entrepreneurial path in the arts today.

And yet in this emerging market T.Boone Pickens and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, the founder of the 10 million dollar innovation competitions known as the X Prize both spoke to this really small crowd.

They came, despite being few in number, because those who did attend were clearly on the front line, and if not already, would become, powerful key influencers and believers in the value of this emerging market.

Sometimes, I think, we undervalue the power each of us has to influence and shape something we see that is new in the market but needed, even if it was not our idea. We wonder how leaders emerge to dominate a field and become powerful enough to create real change, becoming the sources for information, the go to people, ” the industry.” Well, here are two industry’s diametrically opposite in terms of economic strength who are developing along similar paths– from the ground up- and in that understanding lies the answer to innovation, entrepreneurial evolution and change.

Change happens with grassroots initiatives at every level. With sharing, caring and spreading the word. And sustainability and entrepreneurship in the arts have a lot in common because both are rooted in a good cause. And both are new in their development as “industries”.

One attendee at the CRO conference was Jeff Grossberg from Sky Site Property. I met Jeff by answering a blind ad when he was looking for a partner to start his green company a couple of years ago. I helped him with financial projections and considered partnering with him to build his fledgling start-up at the time, but decided it did not have enough artistry inside the business idea itself, like Creative Leaps Intl.

For those of you wondering, I am officially part of the Creative Leaps team now- currently in the role of Marketing Consultant. I suppose for sake of transparency you should know that I will write about and promote John Cimino and his team and I hope to replicate most of his work, in my own way, with John’s blessings, here in Chicago through the building of a sister Rennaisance Center that uses artistry to innovate business, sustainability, universities and government sectors while also serving as a training ground for more artists to lean how to do the same.

But back to Jeff for a moment. The insane thing about Jeff, is that he is the most amazing musician! He goes under the name of Hyper Harp. And yet Jeff for all his virtuosity and imagination cannot make a full time living playing music, like so many of us, but I applaud his entrepreneurial abilities and significant accomplishments to support his love of music through entrepreneurship, all the same. (But just imagine how much more fun Jeff could have if he could find a way to put his music into his new venture?)

So in case you were wondering what going green and entrepreneurship in the arts have in common- now you know, on a few different levels, how they do!

Yes We Can!

In Creative Support, Marketing, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 5, 2008 at 11:04 am

As a Chicagoan, tonight has been an amazing evening to witness history being made in our city. Performer, I think, captures in his recording of Yes We Can! a great deal of what this moment means. teamed with director Jesse Dylan (son of Bob Dylan) to release this video. The Bob Marley-like anthem turns the Illinois senator’s January 8, 2008 New Hampshire primary-night address into lyrics performed by Will, as well as almost 40 other actors, celebrities and athletes, including John Legend, Kate Walsh, Aisha Tyler, Amber Valletta, Taryn Manning, Nicole Scherzinger, Common, Scarlett Johansson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Herbie Hancock and Nick Cannon.

The song was recorded less than a week ago in Los Angeles, and the “We Are the World”-style video features the stars reciting or singing along to the Obama speech on top of a stark black background. For a non political artist, moved by the sea of needed change that Obama symbolizes, and that so many of us have been swept up by, since this video’s release was posted on Friday, it has already garnered more than a million views on YouTube and 10 million on the host site,, according to a spokesperson for the project.

Yes We Can change our futures by embracing change and new ideas! explained his inspiration for this song, in this accompanying blog post:

I was sitting in my recording studio watching the debates…
Torn between the candidates

I was never really big on politics…
and actually I’m still not big on politics…

The outcome of the last 2 elections has saddened me…
on how unfair, backwards, upside down, unbalanced, untruthful,
corrupt, and just simply, how wrong the world and “politics” are…

So this year i wanted to get involved and do all i could early…

And i found myself torn…
because this time it’s not that simple…
our choices aren’t as clear as the last elections …
last time it was so obvious…
Bush and war
no Bush and no war…

But this time it’s not that simple…
and there are a lot of people that are torn just like i am…

So for awhile I put it off and i was going to wait until it was decided for me…

And then came New Hampshire…

And i was captivated…


I reflected on my life…
and the blessings I have…
and the people who fought for me to have these rights and blessings…

and I’m not talking about a “black thing”
I’m talking about a “human thing” me as a “person”
an American…

That speech made me think of Martin Luther King…
and Lincoln…
and all the others that have fought for what we have today…

what America is “supposed” to be…

and truth…

and thats not what we have today…
we think we are free…
but in reality terror and fear controls our decisions…

this is not the America that our pioneers and leaders fought and
died for…

and then there was New Hampshire

it was that speech…
like many great speeches…
that one moved me…
because words and ideas are powerful…

It made me think…
and realize that today we have “very few” leaders…
maybe none…

but that speech…

it inspired me…
it inspired me to look inside myself and outwards towards the world…
it inspired me to want to change myself to better the world…
and take a “leap” towards change…
and hope that others become inspired to do the same…
change themselves..
change their greed…
change their fears…
and if we “change that”
“then hey”..
we got something right…???…

1 week later after the speech settled in me…
I began making this song…
I came up with the idea to turn his speech into a song…
because that speech affected and touched my inner core like nothing in a very long time…

it spoke to me…

because words and ideas are powerful…

I just wanted to add a melody to those words…
I wanted the inspiration that was bubbling inside me to take over…

so i let it..

I wasn’t afraid to stand for something…
to stand for “change”…
I wasn’t afraid of “fear”…
it was pure inspiration…

so I called my friends…
and they called their friends…
in a matter of 2 days…
We made the song and video…

Usually this process would take months…
a bunch of record company people figuring out strategies and release dates…
all that stuff…
but this time i took it in my own hands…
so i called my friends Sarah Pantera, Mike Jurkovac, Fred Goldring, and Jesse Dylan to help make it happen…
and they called their friends..
and we did it together in 48 hours…
and instead of putting it in the hands of profit we put it in the hands of inspiration…

then we put it on the net for the world to feel…

When you are truly inspired..
magic happens…
incredible things happen…
love happens..
(and with that combination)

“love, and inspiration”

change happens…

“change for the better”
Inspiration breeds change…

“Positive change”…

no one on this planet is truly experienced to handle the obstacles we face today…
Terror, fear, lies, agendas, politics, money, all the above…
It’s all scary…

Martin Luther King didn’t have experience to lead…
Kennedy didn’t have experience to lead…
Susan B. Anthony…
Nelson Mandela…
Rosa Parks…
Anne Frank…
and everyone else who has had a hand in molding the freedoms we have and take for granted today…

no one truly has experience to deal with the world today…

they just need “desire, strength, courage ability, and passion” to change…
and to stand for something even when people say it’s not possible…

America would not be here “today” if we didn’t stand and fight for
change “yesterday”…
Everything we have as a “people” is because of the “people” who fought for
and whoever is the President has to realize we have a lot of changing to do

I’m not trying to convince people to see things how i do…
I produced this song to share my new found inspiration and how I’ve been moved…
I hope this song will make you feel…
and think…
and be inspired just like the speech inspired me…

that’s all…

Let’s all come together like America is supposed to…
Like Japan did after Hiroshima…

that was less than 65 years ago…
and look at Japan now…

they did it together…
they did it…

“We can’t?…

Are you serious..?..


Yes we can…
A United “America”
Democrats, Republicans and Independents together…
Building a new America

We can do it…

Thank you for reading and listening…

No More Starving Artists: Get a Free Button

In Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing, The Idea on November 5, 2008 at 3:27 am

How many times have you and I felt that family, friends, and people we don’t even know are, in some way, typecasting us as economically naïve, foolish, or even irresponsible for pursuing our creativity? How many of us have succomb to the pressure of this typecast and gotten that safe day job because we distrusted our instincts that we could not only survive as artists but thrive?

Creating an easily identifiable economic shape from an art-form is difficult to do largely, I believe, because of how our society perceives the artistic personality. And with this typecast we are as a group labeled, or told we are destined to be, starving artists.

Those two words⎯starving artist⎯suggest that we all possess a figurative and literal willingness to die for our art- foolishly. We all know that stereotypes are not easy to change and yet in the 18th century Mozart was one example of this portrayal, and even Hollywood continues to portray artists in this same way today.

Box office successes like the film Amadeus (1984), which depicted the composing genius Wolfang Amadeus Mozart (played by Tom Hulce) perpetuate the stereotype: writing music on his deathbed out of desperation to earn some money to feed his family. The film nicely portrayed Mozart as a creative genius but showed us he only had two skills: writing music and womanizing. Mozart was portrayed as an economically foolish musician, without a plan, groveling by writing music whenever he needed money.

In Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995), Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss), a musician and composer, takes a teaching job to pay the rent so that in his spare time, he can strive to achieve his true goal—compose one memorable piece of music to leave his mark on the world. He could get paid to teach (albeit not much), but not to compose.

Starting in 2006, HBO launched a new comedy series called Flight of The Conchord, which follows the trials and tribulations of a two-man band trying (with little success) to make a name for itself in New York City. This new series exposes the struggles of “starving artists” albeit in a humorous way. In 2007 this comedy series was renewed by HBO and continues to run successfully to this day.

A couple of clear messages are evident from these three examples, which span more than thirty years ( And I am sure each of you can give me many, many more):
• Artists have more creative talent than they use to earn a living
• Artists are incapable of earning a living with their specific talent, no matter how hard they try
• Society, in these examples alone that span over two hundred years, continues to perpetuate the stereotype of “starving artist”

Many artists, who try to stay true to their core to make a living from their art form, find it difficult to develop more in-demand skills that the world needs and will financially reward precisely BECAUSE of society’s continued separation between art and business⎯ perpetuating the “starving artist” stereotype.

Instead, artists are encouraged to only develop artistic skills and are taught to put all of their self-worth and value in what they create on their canvas. And many of our institutions of higher education do little to help us with this either.

After all fine arts higher education emphasizes one-on-one instruction, individual contribution, and single-skill building, at the expense of developing a portfolio of economically viable skills. Fine arts students are short-changed because they don’t learn how to share or build creative works collaboratively, as is often taught in engineering, business, law, and medical schools. Writers, poets and artists of all types, as a result, are far more vulnerable to emotional turmoil and financial destruction.

As artists we leave the womb wired to be emotionally and intuitively based. Most courses offered in higher education do not include training to incorporate our emotional and intuitive development as an equally important part of our creative and financial development.

From my individual work with more than a thousand artists from all disciplines, the number one obstacle to finding sustainable creative and financial outcomes, lies in an artists’ inability to channel their artistic and creative obsession⎯the juice that fuels their creativity—into a productive economic vehicle. Thus the label “Starving Artist” continues.

But I know you already know this because you are here checking out this blog and my work. I know you believe the world, for you and for others you know, can be different. It IS Time For Change. It’s time to write, going forward, a new kind of history.

So, let’s make a pact to change the state of the arts. Let’s work together to do it: One Artist at a Time.

If you support this cause let me know by emailing me your name and address and I will send you a free button to get the word out about where you stand on this issue.

No Starving Artist 2010

Free Starbucks If You Vote!

In Current Events, Marketing on November 4, 2008 at 7:48 am


Besides getting a free cup of joe its hard not to want to be part of making history, don’t you think?

The story of Righteous Babe

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Customer Service, Emotional Intelligence, Employees, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Music, Risk, The Idea on October 31, 2008 at 7:04 pm

The story of Ani DiFranco and how she and her partner Scot Fisher built Righteous Babe is a wonderful story about building artistry through a sense of community, the creativity to do so, falling in love, breaking up and the re-birth of relationships and the company. This story appeared in INC magazine and was written by Bo Burlingham, editor at large for Inc Magazine, who also wrote a book about companies that choose to be great instead of big called Small Giants. Righteous Babe fits right into this category!

Ani DiFranco is sitting in her dressing room at the Chicago Theater, six hours before a performance, and she wants to set the record straight. Money, she says, had nothing to do with her decision to reject all those offers from major record labels and start her own business. Nor did she turn down the offers out of fear of losing her artistic freedom. So what was it, then? “I didn’t want to participate in what big corporations are doing to society,” she says. “My decision not to work with a major label was not about me. It was about something bigger than me.”

There are, in fact, quite a few things bigger than Ani (pronounced ah-nee) DiFranco. She is, well, diminutive, although she hardly seems that way when she comes charging onto the stage at the start of a performance, her brown dreadlocks flying, her guitar blazing, her body twisting and turning in a blast of energy. Legions of fans can’t get enough of that energy and the music that goes with it. And yet, for all her artistic success, it’s often her commercial ventures that get attention — much to her chagrin. When Ms. focused on her business prowess in citing her as one of “21 feminists for the 21st century,” she fired off a letter of protest to the magazine’s editor: “Imagine how strange it must be for a girl who has spent 10 years fighting as hard as she could against the lure of the corporate carrot and the almighty forces of capital, only to be recognized by the power structure as a business pioneer.”

It is, however, a designation she can’t escape. Her record company, Righteous Babe Records, is one of the few successful artist-created labels around, having sold more than 4 million of DiFranco’s records and put out CDs by more than a dozen other performers. And it’s no ordinary company. In an industry dominated by giant corporations, Righteous Babe has the look, feel, and smell of a small hometown business. Staff members, for example, respond with handwritten notes to the thousands of letters the company gets from its customers, DiFranco’s fans. In return, the company elicits a level of devotion seldom seen in business. Customers go out of their way to protect it, patrolling the Internet and reporting on websites that try to sell unauthorized recordings of DiFranco’s music. Some fans are so passionate about the business that they come from as far away as Australia and Switzerland, not to see DiFranco perform, but to visit the company headquarters in Buffalo. “I’m standing here in total awe,” wrote one visitor from Los Angeles in the guest book.

And it’s not just the fans. Talk to the company’s record distributors, its printers, the manufacturers of its CDs, the concert promoters, not to mention its employees, and you realize that DiFranco and partner Scot Fisher have tapped into one of the most underappreciated forces in business, namely, the power of community. To do that while maintaining great margins is quite an accomplishment — especially for a company whose CEO believes, as DiFranco sang on a recent album, that “capitalism is the devil’s wet dream.”

Scot Fisher is a tall, quiet, somewhat diffident man who works out of a cluttered office at Righteous Babe’s headquarters. At 43, he still dresses like the construction guy he was when he first met DiFranco. Although he is usually referred to as her manager, the term does not do justice to the role he plays in her business life. Besides looking out for her career, he is the chief architect, co-owner, and operating head of Righteous Babe and its six component businesses, including a touring company, a retail operation, a music publisher, a real estate developer, and a foundation, as well as the record label. Together they do about $5 million in sales, mostly from DiFranco’s CDs and her touring. (Profits are harder to figure but probably run a bit less than $1 million a year.) Yet another venture, a concert venue, will open next spring in a restored church down the block, which will also house a jazz club, an art gallery, and the headquarters of Righteous Babe. In addition to complementing the other businesses, the concert hall represents a hedge against the uncertain future that Righteous Babe and all record companies face these days. “I’m in the buggy business, and it’s 1905,” says Fisher. “It would be insane to count on CDs being here in 10 years.”

“I’m in the buggy business and it’s 1905. It would be insane to count on CDs being here in 10 years.”
He wound up in the business almost by accident. Back in 1988, he was the co-owner of a small construction and housepainting company, and he’d recently moved into an apartment that the girlfriend of one of his partners was sharing with a woman she’d gone to art school with, an 18-year-old folksinger. One evening, he went to see his new housemate perform at a local bar. “It was sort of obligatory,” he says. “Then she started to play.” Nine years her senior, Fisher soon became DiFranco’s confidant and mentor. Along the way, they fell in love. At some point, Righteous Babe entered the picture. “In the beginning, it was more of a joke than a real business,” DiFranco says. “You know, ‘Yeah, uh-huh, I got a record company. You’re looking at it.'”

In retrospect, it’s not surprising that she would gravitate toward entrepreneurship. She’d been figuring out how to make her own way in the world from an early age. At nine, she was spending Saturdays busking at the local farmers’ market. At 12, she was making and selling cards of pressed flowers to earn money for horse camp. At 15, when her parents divorced, she moved out and lived on her own, largely supporting herself. Only once, in 1991, did she come close to signing with an established label, backing out as soon as she read the terms of the contract.

And yet, even without a contract, her fame spread. By the end of 1993, she had released five albums under the Righteous Babe label, and they were setting sales records at the folk festivals where she performed. Thanks to her constant touring, she was developing a loyal following, especially among young women, many of them lesbians who identified with her feminist lyrics and considered her one of their own. But Righteous Babe existed pretty much in name only. It had no structure, no organization, no full-time employees, and no office. DiFranco’s albums were getting very little radio airplay and couldn’t be found in most record stores. On top of that, she’d had a major falling-out with her business manager.

Into the breach stepped Fisher, who had been studying law while DiFranco was working on her music career. “I figured I could always be a lawyer,” he says. “When would I get another chance to manage Ani DiFranco?” DiFranco, for her part, had doubts about having her lover take charge of her business affairs. “In the end,” she says, “he just sort of declared himself my business manager.” Fisher says they had an understanding that he’d step aside if it turned out he was wrong for the job.

There was, in fact, little reason to believe he was right for the job. He lacked experience, credentials, and credibility in the music business. “It took [Ani’s agent] Jim Fleming a couple of years to tell me that the first time I called, he thought, ‘Omigod, it’s the boyfriend.'” Fisher says. “But I knew where I stood. I knew people didn’t respect me. I’m from Buffalo. I’m used to it.”

To read the rest of the article click here

Artistry + The River = An Economic Catalyst

In Art, Cooking & Food, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, WEBSITES & BLOGS, Writing on October 28, 2008 at 5:04 pm

What do artists have in common with supporting economic development along our most important and prominent rivers in the United States?

Believe it or not, more than you might think.

Today John Cimino, Creative Leaps Intl, myself and members of the American Heritage River Alliance have a meeting in Mayor Daley’s Office to discuss Chicago’s expressed interest in applying for federal funding for the Chicago River in 2009 through the American Heritage River Alliance.

The AHRA, established by President Clinton’s Executive Order #13061 in 1997, is a network of locally-driven partnerships working to restore rivers, promote sustainable development, and improve quality of life. When President Clinton issued this Executive Order, federal funding was given for ten years to fourteen different rivers. Chicago applied ten years ago and was not selected. In 2009 federal funding will become available to six more rivers, for ten years, through an application process.

The first 14 rivers that were originally funded are now being converted into 501c3’s. Each river, through this White House initiative, was originally assigned an Interagency River Navigator– a key person who helps match local needs with their ability to fast track available federal resources for environmental, economic, and cultural/historic preservation efforts.

With the original river navigators still in their original roles, and in need of a new source of funding, the reason the AHRA and several of the key river navigators are in town this week is to promote the marketing potential of supporting this organization at the Chief Responsibility Officer Conference– the newest emerging corporate executive role created in the last few years- this coming Wednesday here in Chicago. Both John and I will be attending the conference to help the AHRA network to advance fundraising initiatives. Did you know that the original 14 rivers, the AHRA is looking for these corporations to financial support, has a marketing reach of over 1/2 of the population in the United States?

So why, you might be thinking, are John Cimino and I involved in this project?

Well, Creative Leaps is currently working on a project in the Hudson River, one of the originally funded 14 rivers through the AHRA, for their Quadricentennial celebration. John is serving as the educational director for a project that the AHRA and Creative Leaps conceived called the Arts-Science Challenge. From this project, which will last through 2009, the AHRA is committing a portion of the 400 million dollar funding it hopes to raise, to development John Cimino’s idea for The Renaissance Center, which the AHRA believes on its own provides an economic engine for the region it is built in.

The Renaissance Center is a center devoted to for Leadership, Innovation and Learning. It will serve as an interdisciplinary center using the arts as a catalyst, to convene business, government, education and sustainable technology sectors together to solve their problems and develop teaching artist consultants to do some of this work in each area it serves.

My interest in the project is to help John place one of these centers in Chicago and to be responsible for its development and involved as a teaching artist in its work- thus a new viable twist on my idea of a Chicago Arts Incubator.

So what do a couple of artists have in common with ecomonic development along the Hudson River and The Chicago River? It appears a lot!

What kind of interesting lense can you bring into binocular view- something paired to your artistry- to make your work more fully integrated into the community in a significant and financially meaningful way?

How to Tell a Great Story

In Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS, Writing on October 27, 2008 at 5:15 am

Marketing guru Seth Godin wrote this wonderful article for Ode Magazine. Given that some of you will be submitting your story for The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition in the coming days or weeks, you might find this article valuable. Regardless, Seth’s points for marketing you, your products or services through a story are spot on. Stories are one of, if not, the most effective way of selling your work.


Great stories succeed because they are able to capture the imagination of large or important audiences.

A great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on.

Great stories make a promise. They promise fun, safety or a shortcut. The promise needs to be bold and audacious. It’s either exceptional or it’s not worth listening to.

Great stories are trusted. Trust is the scarcest resource we’ve got left. No one trusts anyone. People don’t trust the beautiful women ordering vodka at the corner bar (they’re getting paid by the liquor company). People don’t trust the spokespeople on commercials (who exactly is Rula Lenska?). And they certainly don’t trust the companies that make pharmaceuticals (Vioxx, apparently, can kill you). As a result, no marketer succeeds in telling a story unless he has earned the credibility to tell that story.

Great stories are subtle. Surprisingly, the fewer details a marketer spells out, the more powerful the story becomes. Talented marketers understand that allowing people to draw their own conclusions is far more effective than announcing the punch line.

Great stories happen fast. First impressions are far more powerful than we give them credit for.

Great stories don’t always need eight-page color brochures or a face-to-face meeting. Either you are ready to listen or you aren’t.

Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses. Pheromones aren’t a myth. People decide if they like someone after just a sniff.

Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone. Average people are good at ignoring you. Average people have too many different points of view about life and average people are by and large satisfied. If you need to water down your story to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. The most effective stories match the world view of a tiny audience—and then that tiny audience spreads the story.

Great stories don’t contradict themselves. If your restaurant is in the right location but had the wrong menu, you lose. If your art gallery carries the right artists but your staff is made up of rejects from a used car lot, you lose. Consumers are clever and they’ll see through your deceit at once.

Most of all, great stories agree with our world view. The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.

Light Your Ideas On Fire- Today!

In Author: Lisa Canning, Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing, The Idea on October 24, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Getting your idea on a piece of paper is a very important necessary step towards turning your vision into reality. Congrats if you have come to that realization and are already there or beyond.

But truthfully- this step is not really of much value by itself. It only becomes profoundly valuable and deeply meaningful if you light those ideas on fire by calling others to action daily.

Your script, your piece of music, the outline for your book, and the concept for a business from those ideas, at any stage of execution means little, to anyone except you, without an audience. And so you must first, and every single day from then on, light yourself on fire with the power of your own ideas–enough to get really comfortable with yourself- enough to build, and continue to build, an audience through self promotion.

While we all have days we feel better about ourselves and more able to do this, it is only through effective marketing and promotion that your audience will come. There are plenty of great ideas that never get off the ground, or die on the vine, because there greatness does not alone “will” them into being. What gives them life is the interest- the action- of others.

While some ideas take off with less promotion than others, what are some of the ways a good self promoter triggers and builds the response they are looking for and need?

Here are five quick tips:

#5 Bootstrap. Leverage the strength of your idea by not throwing a lot of money at it. Spending money on your great idea is a sure way to get a taste of the ” rush of freedom” I described in Skydive your Life, but also a sure way to ensure your chute never opens with you when you get to the ground. Have the discipline to start on a shoe string budget and find a grassroots way for your ideas to take hold over and over and over again.

#4 Get online and build a case for your product, service or market niche to buy into and begin to support. Figure out “what’s in it for my audience” and build all the reasons for your audience to “need it” into your work.

#3 Get people talking about you., an on-line 15 million dollar diamond store, usually a product thought to be a hands-on type of experience, found a way to do that by sending bloggers pictures of celebrities wearing designs. Whiteflash publishes 10 to 20 articles on its own website related to fashion and style as well as has a Facebook presence with a fan page where customers can share stories and photos. What does it cost them to do this? Very little and yet there business is growing at 15% a year.

#2 Experiment. Making good decisions and experimenting with different ways you can promote your ideas are more likely to score you a home run than if you only pick one. Get comfortable with trying 101 things because what resonates with your audience about your ideas might not be what you thought would. I will be the first to tell you that blogging is a great way to do this. There are many times I am surprised by which articles are well read, but each time I learn more about who you are and what you want.

#1 Your ideas must have have something clearly in it for me! Self serving self-promotion is not what draws others to you. Providing the essence of what you can share, teach or help another experience is what draws your audience. Make sure to let it shine through.

Words of Wisdom from 5 Top Entrepreneurs

In Emotional Intelligence, Employees, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing, Money, Risk on October 22, 2008 at 6:51 pm

You’ve got the artistic part down pat, Let us help with the rest*

“Sixteen years ago, we were cold calling and struggling to land our first client, The Port Authority of New York. New Jersey called us by mistake, attempting to contact a company whose name was silmilar to (ours). We kept them on the phone and discussed their IT (informational technology) infrastructure and project needs at length. Needless to say, they became our first client. We still laugh at this.”
Ranjini Poddar, Artech Information Systems LLC, Cedar Knolls, New Jersey
Began:1992 Initial Investment: $200,000 2003 Sales: 2.2 million 2007 Sales: 182.2 million

“The biggest mistake we ever made was undervaluing ourselves. When we started, we were young and hungry and we didn’t give ourselves credit for the amount of value we brought to our clients and strategies. So the lesson learned is: Don’t undervalue yourself and your expertise, and don’t let you size dictate your value.”
Shenan Reed, Morpheus Media, New York City, New York
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $0 2003 Sales: 2.0 million 2007 Sales: 35 million

“It is important to take an inventory of your strengths and what you like to do. Focus on those things and get help for the others as soon as you can.”
Amy Langer, Salo LLC, Minneapolis, MN
Began: 2002 Initial Investment: $150,000 2003 Sales: 3.4 million 2007 Sales: 42 million

“Be a great juggler. As a woman in business, you will always have lots of balls in the air, including activities of running your business and being strategic in your decisions to grow your business. In many cases, ( you also have) the role of being a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sister. The same traits that make us great in all of these roles are the ones that you will rely on to excel in business.”
Leslie O’Connor, Search Wizards, Atlanta, Georgia
Began: 2000 Initial Investment: $0 2003 Sales: 359,600 2007 Sales: 12.2 million

“Build an atmosphere of trust and respect. You must always respect the (employees and clients) you work with. Believe in your people. Make your word count. In addition, never lose focus on your next challenge.”
Jeni Bogdan, The Saxon Group, Sugar Hill, Georgia
Began: 1995 Initial Investment: $100,000 2003 Sales: 13.4 million 2007 Sales: 81.8 million

*The image at the top of this post is an advertisement for The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), a nonprofit arts and culture service agency dedicated to Northeast Ohio’s success by preserving and advancing its arts and culture sector.

Delivery Driver By Day, Paper Sculpture Entrepreneur by Night

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Creative Support, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing, WEBSITES & BLOGS on October 20, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Like most of us, Eric Simmon’s love of art began when he was a kid. Eric would spend hours copying drawings of his favorite superheroes out of comic books. With his love of art growing through childhood, it only seemed natural to pursue an artistic career path; which lead Eric to get a degree in graphic arts, graduating for Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan in 1989.

But Eric found that technology was constantly changing. He found himself frequently going back to college, just trying to keep his skills current, to be able to do his creative work in this medium. It just became too much to do. (Maybe even too much of a financial stretch to do too..)

And so for about fifteen years Eric worked for a major photo lab in the Detroit area where he helped produce large scale displays for trade shows and museums. Currently, Eric is a delivery driver for a Detroit based printing company.

“As much as I would love to make a living from my artwork, I have to say that realistically, that will probably never happen. I do keep trying to get my work out there in the public, and I have had a lot of positive responses, but not enough to quit my day job”, says Eric.

Sound familiar?

But Eric’s past does not predict his future. Eric’s paper sculptures and cards are simply incredible. And Eric’s passion shows through in his commitment to blog.

“My paper sculptures started as just a cheap way to decorate, and have now grown into an obsession. Mythology, legends and the natural world are the inspiration for my work. I originally intended to depict mythical characters from various legends from around the world, but I sometimes find myself exploring my own personifications of nature instead”.

Ancient Chinese and Japanese images have strongly influenced Eric’s style. Also the female figure plays a prominent role in his work.

“I started to actually sell my sculptures about 10 years ago at art fairs and galleries. My work has been exhibited at several galleries in the Detroit area, as well as Georgia, Wyoming, Oklahoma, California, Nebraska, Cooperstown, New York; and Boston, Massachusetts. I am always looking for new opportunities to exhibit my work, whether it’s an art fair, gallery or online. I’ve also taught a couple of classes on paper sculpture”.

But with the economy being what it is right now Eric thought it would be wise to come up with some more affordable alternatives to his paper sculptures which resulted in his creating cards. “Most people who buy the cards have no intention of actually sending them off to anyone, instead most tell me they plan on framing them and decorate a small area in their house with them”.

Maybe Eric should consider framing them himself and selling them as original finished artwork for hundreds of dollars since his customers seem to be showing him how important they are to them? Just completing this step for future clients might increase the value of his work alone. What do you think Eric should do to improve his growing paper artistry business? Can you offer a suggestion to help him?

Check out more of Eric’s artwork at

How to be a Thriving Artist in This Economy

In Creative Support, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Networking, Risk on October 8, 2008 at 8:10 pm

How can you make the most out of a shrinking economy as an artist?

#10 Get on-line and display your work. The internet reaches the entire world and if you are not on it you are significantly diminishing your potential market. For the little it will cost you to build a site, it will pay in spades for the positive image and credibility it will bring to your work, which in turn helps you get your next job.

#9 Create a blog. WordPress is free. Blogging is a great way to keep your current clients interested in what your doing. It’s also a great way to build your market, one reader at a time, simply by expressing yourself and sharing what you do. Sure it takes commitment to blog. But I can also tell you it’s fun and rewarding to see your online community supporting you too.

#8 Promote your blog online for free. Find other blogging communities of like minded individuals, regardless of the focus of their blog, and share your work and ideas about the topics they write about. Connecting with like minded individuals with different interests from yours, but who’s values are in line with yours, will bring new audience members to you.

#7 Create products and services that are current in themes and reflect the economic times. Build in commentary by attaching a written statement to it, or sharing it with your audience live, or providing 700 billion dollar snicker bars for $1.00 or Deregulation sucks! drinks at intermission to give your work a “today” edge. Guerrilla marketing works! Then find a niche community of online shops to help you promote and market what you are doing or creating. Seek retails that focus on a customer experience where your work can really be featured or stand out because of the environment.

#6 Partner with another artist and cross fertilize your customer base by combining forces on upcoming shows, gigs and through communications jointly with your clients. Offer to get involved for the exposure and ask the same from the artist you select as a partner.

#5 Network, network, network. Attend free events that are of interest to the business and government community. Bring a stack of your business cards and engage in casual conversation. Be friendly, curious and share who you are. By getting to know new individuals, some of them are most likely to be interested in the work you do, and then your odds of finding a new opportunity increase ten fold. People buy from people. In tough times and in good times, but especially in tough time, connecting with others matters more than ever.

#4 Create an inexpensive short weekend workshop, or find a free project to offer the community that can get others involved in your work in a new way. In more difficult economic times affordable, with a focus on fun, family or group events sell. Happiness matters now more than ever in times like these. Workshops bring people together in new ways that can spark interests and become sustainable because of the bonds and “webs” people want to create. A short community event that raises awareness about you and your work can springboard into workshops, classes, or your next gig.

#3 Can your artwork lift someone during their work day? Create a Bailout for the Human Spirit lunch hour program for employees at corporations in your community. With job lay offs at record high’s and 401K’s plummeting, Main Street corporate America is going to need to give their workers some affordable hope. Teach an onsite painting class, play music and bring shaker toys for employees, write an original skit and give your audience a reason to laugh.

#2 Remember who you are and what you are made of. Remember why you are an artist and become more innovative. And think like a survivor. Who really can afford and needs the services, products and creativity that your artistry offers?

#1 Invest in yourself and invest in your clients. In hard times, while most cut their promotional budgets, many in business say it can be the best time to really get a leg up and grow your business. Investing in yourself and potential clients, as you can see from this list, does not necessarily require cash. Instead, it requires 150% of your personal involvement, enthusiasm, determination and will to succeed. A vibrant artists is a powerful magnet for others, yes indeed!