Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

Free Sales and Marketing Class- Chicago- Starts Oct 5th

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Marketing, Writing on September 7, 2009 at 12:32 am

Are you a visual artist? Do you paint? Knit clothing? Make greeting cards or jewelry? Would you like to turn your passion into profit but need help?

Flourish Studio’s located at 3020 N Lincoln Avenue, is accepting new products for their retail floor. Gain exposure and credibility for your artistry in this top notch retail and art gallery. All artists approved for Flourish’s Artisian Program will be eligible for a FREE 8 week sales and marketing class offered by Lisa Canning.

Topics will include: How to price your product, create your identity to the public, as well as develop selling and marketing techniques to build demand for your product profitably.

All artists accepted into the program require 5 hours weekly of unpaid retail floor time and a 50/50 revenue split. Classes start Monday October 5th at 7pm.

For more information email me at Lisa@EntrepreneurTheArts.com or call 847.774.2938. This is a great opportunity to gain support for your ideas and begin your business in a first class location and neighborhood in Chicago.
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The Institute For Arts Entrepreneurship- Opening Fall 2010!

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Cooking & Food, Creativity and Innovation, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Marketing, Money, Music, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on August 21, 2009 at 11:07 pm

InstArtsEntrep_BoldIn the fall of 2010 The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship will open at 3020 N Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.

As an independent but collaborative effort with Jim Hart’s Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts, IAE will be devoted to the development of the artist as entrepreneur.

Lead by my vision and passion, The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship will be seeking applicants from any artistic discipline. Requirements for enrollment will be a minimum of a 4 year degree–a bachelors degree– in an artistic discipline. The program will be a two year program that is focused on artistic venture creation and servant leadership. It will begin as a school in the fall of 2010 with full accreditation. Auditions will begin February/March of 2010 for all interested applicants.

For more information about enrollment or if you are interested in partnering with either Jim Hart or myself, in some way, please email me. Lisa@EntrepreneurTheArts.com

Batteries Included

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Cooking & Food, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Music, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on August 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm

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While there are lots of ways to feel like your batteries are super charged in life, I think the only one that really works is following your heart.

Unlike your camera, computer, watch, or the clock you own that needs batteries to run, you are self-empowered and come with a life long battery included.

You see your heart never needs a new battery to super charge your life. Nor does it need the thrill of riding on a mechanical horse, or zooming around on the wings of a battery powered bug, or the jolt of a pill to get your juices flowing.

If you think you need any of those things to jump-start your life, your taking your one ever-lasting battery for granted. Don’t do that. It won’t stay super charged anyway for very long if you do, unless you give it the energy it really needs by fueling your life with passion.

Yeah, I know. We have talked about this a few times before: passionate pursuits are never easy. It sounds great to pursuit what you love, doesn’t it, until you find yourself riddled with moments that don’t seem passionate at all- times when you simply are grateful you do come with a battery included so you can just keep on running.

Sure we all have moments like these on the road to our adventure. But keep your eye on your vision, pursue your passions, sleigh your dragons anyway, beat back the bushes with your home made machete, and be the first to walk where only your dream can see.

After all, this is why you do come with batteries included…

Are You Relevant?

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Creativity and Innovation, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Money, Music, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, WEBSITES & BLOGS, Writing on August 17, 2009 at 4:48 am

Are you relevant? Do you define your artistic work based on its practical, economic and social applicability to satisfy the needs of those who experience what you do? And if not, then I cannot help but ask the question, why not?

I realize that we all have a need to create and experiment in life. By doing so we are offered extraordinary opportunities to not only affirm who we are but get to know ourselves better. We learn from what works and, more often, learn the most from what does not work for us– which often allows us to find new more meaningful paths to explore.

But at what point in life do we need to become more practical, more disciplined? Is it ever to early (or late) in life to do this? And when you do, or find the help to, what are the benefits you receive for doing so?

The other day I had a young talented clarinetist– a sophomore in college- in the shop. We were discussing his future career aspirations and performing was right at the top of his list- like most of my clients. When I asked him what about performing was so motivating for him, his answer was ” Well, for a long time I was not sure I could rise to the occasion and play well enough to become an orchestral musician. It is only recently that I am starting to feel I can. Now the question I am asking myself is, do I want to do this?”

I realize that as a young adult- and even as an aging adult- coming to know who we are is a very important part of our educational journey. And alongside this process of growth and development routinely we must be challenged to answer questions like: “And if you do want to perform who specifically will want what you have to offer?”

I cannot help but wonder what we are really learning about the meaning of art, not to mention effectively reaching an audience who cares about what we have to offer from our chosen artistic field of study, if we are not challenged to explore questions like these. If you excel at Music Theory from the Middle Ages, even if you get a PHD in it and can teach it at the college level– who is it relevant to– besides you?

Take a look at my dear friend Gary Beckman- Arts Entrepreneurship Educator’s Network founder. His received his PHD in musicology in 2007 from The University of Texas at Austin. During his doctoral course work, Gary realized that his course of study was not really all that relevant and went on to pursue something that he felt was not only more relevant, but also deeply motivating for him– developing arts entrepreneurship curriculum. Now don’t get me wrong. I learned a lot from my musicology courses and loved my professors who taught them. I also think it is GREAT that Gary has vision for the growth and evolution of arts entrepreneurship curriculum, but think of what he could have accomplished, and how much happier and entrepreneurial he might have become sooner, if he had been challenged to think about how relevant his field of study was, to him and for others, at an earlier point in life?

Questioning and experimenting with our relevancy through action is at the heart of WHY the arts must become a field of entrepreneurial study in addition to traditional skill building. THE ONLY WAY artists can create sustainable happy career paths for themselves is to learn how to produce a product– relevancy.

As a young clarinetist I too asked myself the same questions my young client shared with me. I remember wondering if I could become good enough, play perfectly enough, musically enough and in tune enough to win an orchestral audition and be at the top of the heap. I challenged myself to get there with no other focus than to succeed. ( And of course, without a course or educational guidance to help me think about my goals differently.)

I started out almost last chair my freshman year at Northwestern. By my sophomore year I was at the top of my class– beating out all the masters and doctorate students, some of whom were finalists at regional orchestra auditions around the country. And when I reached that goal, all of a sudden I realize I had no idea what was next. It was not the feeling of eternal bliss I thought I would have, nor was anyone beating down my doors asking me to audition for any major orchestra. Instead it was in the middle of my senior year that I realized that I did not feel relevant. I did not feel that what skills I had developed really mattered to anyone significantly, except for me.

So it was then that I asked myself “how can I use the skills I do have to be relevant?” and from that thought I tested my ideas by putting my solution into action- by opening up a clarinet shop and helping others develop their career paths by helping them find the perfect instrument for their “relevant” music making. It was only then that I actually understood what truly it felt like to become relevant. It’s kind of funny to me, right now, that I am back where I started- after a 20 year adventure building a large business- but life is funny like that. I am being given a second chance to look at how I am relevant and I, again, am figuring it out.

But you see what I realized the first time, at 17, was that what I did have that was relevant was a gift to help and connect to others. I also had a gift to play the clarinet well. I also knew that artists needed to feel better about who they are and find their own confidence, through finding their own relevance, to become kinder to themselves and to others and strong enough to trust themselves that they could actually change the world.

Don’t ask me how exactly I knew this then– call it my God given vision- other than I did not then, and often still do not now, see the kind of inspirational collaboration or connectivity amongst others I crave in the world to see. Of all places- the arts should be outstanding examples for others of both.

Finding my relevancy at 17 gave me my first glimpse into what it meant to make a difference in life. Is it ever too early or too late to find your own? (It’s ok too, btw, if you need a school and a mentor to help you. You don’t have to find your relevancy, like I did, alone.)

Finding your relevancy will give you vision to lead. It will temper your being into a refined piece of artwork that the world wants and that you will be happy to share.

Finding your relevancy means you will feel at peace- because you are valued. You are payed- because you are needed. And that you will feel confident- because when we feel connected to ourselves and to others simultaneously, life does not get any better.

“Are you relevant,” I ask? If not– it is time to learn how you can be….

What Happened, President Obama, to the Idea of an Art Czar?

In Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Music, Theater/Film, Writing on March 26, 2009 at 7:11 pm

The following updates appeared on Judith H. Dobrzynski’s blog, Real Clear Arts

I know we all want to believe that the Obama Administration will do wonders for the arts and humanities. But so far, the news is not so good.

Yes, the $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts in the stimulus bill was great news. But while we wait for appointments to head the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the appointment of Kareem Dale (below) as mini-czar — which is now likely to be temporary — and two lesser appointments suggest politics-as-usual.

Yes, you heard right- late last week, the White House seems to have appointed an arts czar — but no one seems to have noticed. His name is Kareem Dale, according to a short item in Saturday’s New York Times. As of 1 p.m. on Monday, there’s no press release on WhiteHouse.gov and no reports of the appointment at the Associated Press or Reuters.

I don’t know Mr. Dale, a lawyer from Chicago who is partially blind, but he doesn’t seem to have much of a profile. Searches on Google and Kosmix and in Factiva (which has articles from most major newspapers and many minor ones) turned up very little.

According to published reports, Dale hails from Chicago, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and stayed there to earn a law degree and an MBA, which he received in 1999. He founded and is CEO of The Dale Law Group, which has no website. Campaign finance records show that Dale contributed $2,300 to Obama’s campaign in 2008 (and about the same during the primary season); then he volunteered for it. At some point, he became the campaign’s Disability Vote Director. The only mention of arts I could find was during his campaign volunteer days, when Dale was a member of the campaign Arts Policy Committee, plus service on the board of Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theater.

I can’t help but think this is not what many people in the cultural world had in mind when they asked President Obama to appoint a powerful person in the White House to raise the profile of the arts in the U.S.

Another oddity: in mid-February, the White House announced that it had named Dale to the post of Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. He still seems to hold that post.

Last night, The Daily Beast published my report on this and his appointment is not likely to last very long. It’s sad that his name was discovered by, or leaked to, The New York Times in the first place.

The most disappointing element of the story, however, is the appointment of Hollywood fundraiser Jeremy Bernard as the NEH’s White House and Congressional liaison; it’s an important job. Bernard claims a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College on his website, but Hunter says he did not graduate. When queried, the NEH said the degree is not in his documentation for the appointment. But the whole thing, not just the resume inflation, makes him a bit of an odd fit for the scholarly NEH.

I am pretty sure, by the way, that the White House has recognized this whole situation as a personnel snafu that has to be fixed. And it will — the question now is how and when.

Where Fashion Spreads Are Taken Seriously

In Art, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Fashion, Interesting Articles on January 27, 2009 at 12:30 am

This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Friday January 23, 09 and was written by CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN
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Against the backdrop of a crisp blue sky streaked with stark-white clouds, a well-chiseled, glistening man wearing nothing but goggles, hot-pink briefs and white fur boots is draped over a suitcase. His mouth is ever so slightly ajar as his crotch dramatically thrusts skyward.

For many, the racy image, from a 2007 photo shoot titled “Frozen Margarita” in the French men’s magazine Numéro Homme, may seem more at home in a breathless issue of Playgirl than a museum exhibition. No matter how artfully shot or arresting an image it is, the picture, taken by Dutch fashion photographer Matthias Vriens, is in its essence about an almost-nude man striking a lewd pose.

But now a museum is where you’ll find it. The piece is part of an exhibition that’ll kick off a year-long series of shows that the International Center of Photography in New York is devoting to fashion photography.
“Veruschka, New York”
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The series, which will feature hundreds of photographs spread out over seven exhibitions in 2009, is an ambitious — and unusual — undertaking for a museum that has generally showcased works of significant social heft. Cornell Capa, the founding director of the center and a photographer himself who died last May, once wrote that photography had a duty to “provoke discussion, awaken conscience, evoke sympathy, spotlight human misery and joy which otherwise would pass unseen, un-understood and unnoticed.” How does a beefcake shot jibe with that mission?

“Some of the questions that we’ve addressed toward other areas of photography such as photojournalism could also be addressed to fashion photography,” argues Brian Wallis, the center’s chief curator. The photographs “address sociological issues or issues of social history and shape public consciousness and attitudes. All kinds of social views go into the production of images for fashion photography.”

The center began planning this series two years ago. Fashion photography is “an area that involves a lot of inventiveness in order to keep things lively for the reader — to do the same thing month after month, year after year really requires extreme innovation if you’re going to be any good,” says Vince Aletti, a co-curator of the series. “A lot of the people who are working [in it] today are producing some of the most interesting photography out there, and virtually all of that work hasn’t been seen by anyone unless they’re looking very regularly at American and European fashion magazines.”

Indeed, the exhibitions feature the work of several well-respected photographers who are already regarded as artists: Richard Avedon, whose vibrant pictures conveyed the exuberance and motion of fashion in still photographs, is the subject of a show that runs from May 15 through Sept. 6, for example. Hungarian fashion photographer Martin Munkacsi, who shot spreads for ad campaigns and magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar in the early 20th century, also warrants his own exhibition, which is up through May 3. And names such as Hedi Slimane, postmodern avant-garde artist Cindy Sherman (who outfits herself in designer duds for French Vogue) and Juergen Teller (of the haunting Marc Jacobs ads) are included in “Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now,” which also has a May 3 closing date.

The concept for the series began with discussions about the Avedon show, which branched out to also include the planning for one on the work of Edward Steichen, a big name in art photography who drew some fire during his time for doing commercial work as chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair in the 1920s; and another about pictures that weren’t conceived as fashion shots but possess a distinctive style element. Called “This Is Not a Fashion Photograph,” that show includes such works as an untitled picture from Carrie Mae Weems’s 1990 “Kitchen Table Series,” which shows a proud-looking, perfectly coifed woman sitting erect at a dining table and staring straight ahead, almost mannequin-like, as a man slouched nearby reads the newspaper. A 1966 Bruce Davidson photograph of a high-school student smoking a cigarette while carrying a switchblade on East 100th Street in Manhattan depicts the young man in a pose that manages to look both semistudied and not terribly unlike the man-on-the-street images that pop up in fashion magazines these days.

Nick Knight, Courtesy of the artist
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Nick Knight’s ‘Boned,’ part of ‘Weird Beauty,’ one of the International Center of Photography’s shows.
In the case of the Steichen show, co-curator Carol Squiers says she was interested in showcasing the work of a shooter who was a pioneer in the genre. Mr. Steichen actually produced some of his best work for magazines. The exhibition’s photos from the Condé Nast archives include portraits of such celebrities as Amelia Earhart and Charlie Chaplin. Many of the works are simple, straightforward glamour shots — some of the more striking pieces are the ones with no bold-faced names attached. A 1934 photograph meant to accompany a story on hand and nail care, for example, focuses on a model who is shown dramatically shielding her face with her hands.

Ms. Squiers wants the pictures in the series to convince viewers that fashion photography should be treated as a serious art form. “I hope one thing they’ll get is just the way imagination unleashed on even a subject as limited as a coat or a dress can go in so many different directions,” she says.

Some of the most striking photographs are to be found in the “Weird Beauty” exhibition. A Steven Klein spread juxtaposes a plus-size woman in intimate situations with a young, muscular pretty boy with long hair. “It’s a great female fantasy and one that you don’t often see,” Ms. Squiers says. A Günther Parth spread on hats shows pieces like a bucket hat and a rumpled knit cap perched atop styrofoam mannequin heads with ghastly, eroded features. With their pockmarks and deep indentations, the heads conjure thoughts of horrific flesh-eating diseases, providing a fascinating foil for the expensive, tailored chapeaus.

While American magazines have come under some fire in recent years for promoting so-called heroin chic, many of the most daring pictures were culled from European magazines, such as Vogue Paris and Arena Homme Plus. “I think that U.S. advertisers have a lot of influence in terms of what is permissible for the print or editorial sections,” Ms. Squiers says. “They want pictures where the clothes are shown and there are no disturbing images.”

To be sure, there are some photographs in the series that look so straightforward in concept and style that one wonders what separates them from the pictures in the latest J.Crew catalog. But perhaps the answer is “nothing.” The larger point that this series sets out to make, after all, is that art can and should be found in the most commercial and mass-market forms of fashion photography. Even in a simple shot of a man wearing a suit, staring straight into the camera.

Ms. Tan is a fashion reporter for the Journal.

Who Owns Ideas?

In Art, Cooking & Food, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Music, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on January 21, 2009 at 11:28 am

This interesting article about intellectual property rights was written by Linda Naiman and appeared on The Creativity at Work Blog Jan 6, 2009 Besides providing arts based consulting, coaching and training to corporations, higher education, and governmental agencies, Linda is also an accomplished artist and sells her work online. The image just below is one Linda painted. For more of Linda’s art work click here.
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lightbulb-target120A friend offered to download movies free from the internet for our viewing pleasure, and at first I thought that was dandy, but then I thought of all the creatives who wouldn’t be paid a royalty, so I opted instead to rent.

CBC Radio has produced a show on the subject of copyright and the debate on who owns ideas. Jim Lebans, a producer with CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, looks at the tangled world of intellectual property and how the digital age is challenging ideas about who owns our culture:

In the era of the Internet we’re facing a crisis around the new reality of intellectual property and copyright. These legal rights were established over hundreds of years to reward creators of ideas, but at the same time preserve and protect the public’s right to access and make use of the expression of ideas.

But slow expansion of the laws of intellectual property through the 20th century, and more recently the emergence of new digital technologies, the Internet in particular, have upset the delicate balance between the rights of creators and the rights of the public.

Copyright law has been changed, again and again, in what many perceive as an expansion of the rights and control of the emerging “content industries.” Copyright law today covers more kinds of expression, lasts considerably longer, and comes with considerably more stringent enforcement than it has in the past.

The challenges to Intellectual property rights have expanded as well. While in the past the tools of copyright infringement were industrial – printing presses or record-pressing facilities, today they’re available on every desktop. Writing, music, movies, television, indeed every form of communication and expression can be digitized, and perfect copies distributed without limit. As a result the digital revolution has been perceived as a nightmare to the owners of creative property.

This might seem to clearly justify an expansion of IP law and its enforcement, but many critics of the direction IP law has taken disagree. They suggest that the opportunities that digital technologies present, and the abilities they give to ordinary people to make use of cultural material creatively is too valuable to be sacrificed.

This tension has become known as the copyfight, and it’s ultimately a dispute about who owns ideas.

What Services Does Creativity at Work Provide?
Creativity at Work (TM) is a consulting, coaching and training alliance at the forefront of transformational change, through creativity and innovation.

Creativity at Work is a consulting, coaching and training alliance at the forefront of transformational change. We help organizations accelerate business performance through arts-based training, coaching and research-based consulting. Associates include experts from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia to provide you with world-class resources for keynotes, corporate retreats, conference presentations, and consulting.

About Linda Naiman
ln06sm1Linda Naiman is founder of CreativityatWork.com, co-author of Orchestrating Collaboration at Work, and an associate business coach at the University of British Columbia. She is recognized internationally for pioneering arts-based learning for business, using of art as a catalyst for developing creativity, innovation, and collaborative leadership in organizations. She has been featured in The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail, Profitguide.com, and Canadian Business Magazine. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, public sector organizations and boutique consultancies in North America, Europe and Asia.

A Creative Leap at Catalyst Ranch

In Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Leadership, Marketing, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on January 9, 2009 at 10:34 am

John Cimino, from Creative Leaps International, and I are pleased to announce that Catalyst Ranch, an incredible creativity-driven meeting space provider and progressive business-thought-leader, has offered us the opportunity to use their facility as our home until we are able to have our own space for a Chicago based Renaissance Center. (OMG. Chicago Arts Incubator? Any of you remember me sharing my dream about creating one? Well, my “lucky” day may just be around the corner, with my friend, John. But don’t get too excited for me just yet.-

Those dang last-stretch-to-home corners are not that lucky to actually get-off-easy, catch a break, and make a quick turn around. Most of the time.

Oh, and the other problem? You know the euphoria you feel followed by the inside-your-head part, that voice that says nice stuff to you, sometimes part, like “yah, this is really gonna happen?”

Well I got big news, there ain’t no stinkin’ guarantees! But really, once you get use to muscling-a-stomach for taking some calculated risks in life in the name of passionate-pursuits– it’s really not all that bad and maybe even a fun– most of the time- except for maybe all of last year but who’s counting)

SO, If you live in Chicago, please come. Or if you are passing through town, too, please, won’t you come? Or maybe you have a few friends who your sure would really be interested in knowing more about this and who might even consider coming to Chicago? It’s Wednesday January 28th from 6-8pm

Won’t you join us to learn more about the work of Creative Leaps and The Renaissance Center in Chicago? If you would like to reserve a seat please email me, Lisa@EntrepreneurTheArts.com. The event is free but seating is limited to the first 75 who reply. ( And if you have never been to Catalyst Ranch- trust me- you’ll want to come.)

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John Cimino, president of Creative Leaps International, is returning to Chicago for a third round presentation and discussion of his theme: “Bridging the Ingenuity Gap in the 21st Century”. For the benefit those who missed his sessions in September and October, John will provide a quick paced summary of his earlier presentation before moving on to a wider discussion of his vision for a Renaissance Center for Innovation, Learning and Leadership in the Chicago area.

In his initial sessions, John Cimino discussed the “habits of mind” linked to creativity, ingenuity and imaginative insights. He also reviewed recent findings in neuroscience revealing the brain’s unique experience of the arts and arts-based thinking. Alongside creativity, Cimino emphasized the need for connectivity, that is, thinking across boundaries, disciplines and cultures to address the complex issues of a globally inter-connected world. According to Cimino, designing “high tech, high touch” environments for creativity and connectivity is the central challenge of our institutions of higher education, research and professional development.

(from his introduction) Scholar Thomas Homer Dixon describes the “ingenuity gap” – the space between problems that arise and our ability to solve them – as growing today at an alarming rate (in business, scientific research, education, the environment and world affairs). Author Ken Robinson proclaims we are “Out of Our Minds” to have sidelined creativity and the arts when every layer of American society from elementary education to supply-side economics is starved for more imagination, more original thinking, and more creative intelligence.

In this latest session, John Cimino opens the doors to a deeper examination and wider discussion of his vision for a network of Renaissance Centers for Innovation, Learning and Leadership and their significance in bridging knowledge across disciplines. In particular, he will ask how can such a Renaissance Center best serve the needs of Chicago’s own institutions of higher education, business, commerce, leadership, creativity, the arts and arts-based education reforms in the schools? What kinds of partnerships among institutions, public and private, would be essential? Finally, in addition to addressing the needs of individual sectors, what global and overarching issues important to Chicago should the Renaissance Center address in its cross-disciplinary, transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary forums?

Come join John Cimino for an evening of spirited dialogue, creative collaboration and exploration of a new vision for interdisciplinary learning, creativity and leadership.

Jump Start Your Life- I have the spark plug

In Accounting, Art, BOOKS: Learn and Grow, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Customer Service, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on January 7, 2009 at 1:16 pm

dreamstime_3139037One of the reasons I want to write books is because books, art, poetry and film, as examples, all intrinsically are built to last. Their very form offers easy “spark-creating-experience” access, like a hand full of nourishment going right into our mouth. Love that rush of energy that follows, don’t you? You know, the part before you get tired?

While it is impossible for a memory to replace the actual real time experience of ephoria, or intense joy, anger or sadness– only the kind a work of art can deliver, it can be waiting eagerly for you on a shelf, if it’s a book, or hanging on your wall.

What a basic concept entrepreneurship is for artistry, and yet without this simple “must have”, generations upon generations have defined who we are and what we are capable of creating for others in life, through a very narrow, confining, and as I see it, rather destructive single lens.

In honor of the power of the written word to enlighten and transform, here is my recommended reading list to jump start your very best you in 2009.


Do You Want to Become More Entrepreneurial?

* Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham

* The Art of The Start by Guy Kawasaki

* Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: How Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Companies,
by Michael Gerber

* Who’s Your City? How the Creative Economy is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life, by Richard Florida

*The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live, by
Scott A. Shane

*Bounce!: Failure, Resiliency, and Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success, by Barry J. Moltz

*Birthing the Elephant: A Woman’s Go-For-It Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business, by Karen Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman

Marketing Maven
* Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin

* The New Marketing Manifesto: The 12 Rules for Building Successful Brands in the 21st Century (Business Essentials) by John Grant

* The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

* Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say by Douglas Rushkoff

* Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

* The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing by Emanuel Rosen

* The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

Organizational Development
* The Discipline of Market Leaders: Choose Your Customers, Narrow Your Focus, Dominate Your Market by Michael Treacy

* Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

* The Art of Profitability by Adrian Slywotzky

*First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

* Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham

* Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

* The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Financial Health Check
*The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical & Spiritual Steps So you Can Stop Worrying by Suze Orman

* Finance Your New or Growing Business: How to Find and Raise Capital for Your Venture by Ralph Alterowitz and Jon Zonderman

*Conscious Finance: Uncover Your Hidden Money Beliefs and Transform the Role of Money in Your Life by Rick Kahle

*The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life by George Kinder

*The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life by Lynne Twist

Reaching for Greatness
* The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

* This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love by Tama Kieves

* Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland

* The Everyday Work of Art by Eric Booth

* The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer

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:

#1
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.”

#2
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.”

#3
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.

#4
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].”

#5
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.

#6
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:

Communication/Email
Dimdim ( dimdim.com)- open source web conferencing application; free basic service
Jott (jott.com)-voice-to-text service for creating notes, lists, e-mails and text messages; free basic service
Oovoo ( oovoo.com) -video messaging, chatting and conferencing
Paltalk ( paltalk.com) – Group IM, chat and video call application
Plugoo ( plugoo.com) -direct chatting with any blog or site visitor
YouSendIt (yousendit.com)- send files up to 2GB; free basic service

Content, Media, Video
Audacity (audacity-sourceforge.net) Open source software for cross-platform audio recording
Blip.tv: (blip.tv)- Video blogging, podcasting and video sharing service; free basic service
BlogTalkRadio (blogtalkradio.com) radio network for users to host their own shows
DropShots ( dropshots.com)- Video hosting and photo sharing
Feedburner ( feedburner.com)- media distribution services for blogs and RSS feeds
Fix My Movie ( fixmymovie.com)- Video enhancement service; free basic service
Paint.NET ( getpaint.net)- image and photo editing software
Phixr (phixr.com)- picture and photo editor
Seesmic (seesmic.com)- Video conversation platform
SlideShare ( slideshare.net)- Share and embeded slideshows. Powerpoints and PDF’s into web pages
VideoSpin ( videospin.com)- video-editing software

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

Marketing, Networking, PR
Wordpress (wordpress.com)- Blog publishing tool
Craigslist ( craigslist.org)- Online classified and job posting network
CollectiveX ( collectivex.com)-Create social networking and collaboration sites for groups
Digg (digg.com)- content sharing site
Linkedin ( linkedin.com)- Business social networking site
Pligg ( pligg.com)-Open-source, community-centric site for discovering, rating and sharing content
PolicyMap( Policymap.com) -Geographic and demographic information system for creating custom maps, tables and chartes; basic free service
YouNoodle ( younoodle.com)-Netowrking for startups and valuation with Startup Predictor
YourPitchSucks (yourpitchsucks.com) PR pitch reviewing and advising
Stumble Upon ( stumbleupon.com)- Content sharing site

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

Project Management, Collaboration
Remember the Milk (rememberthemilk.com)-Task management solution and to-do lists
Socialtext (socialtext.com)- Wiki and website collaboration; free basic service
Team Task ( teamtask.com)-Collaborative project management and community website builder
Yugma (yugma.com)-Web meeting and collaboration service

Web
Google Alerts ( google.com/alerts)- E-mail updates on choice of query or topic
KickApps ( kickapps.com)- platform of applications to integrates social features into a website
Microsoft Office Live Small Business (smallbusiness.officelive.com)- Create a company website, domain and email; free basic service
Synthasite ( synthasite.com)- Web hosting and building
Weebly ( weebly.com)-Website and blog creator
Widgetbox (widgetbox.com)-web widgets for various applications
Woopra ( woopra.com) -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.
blend4blend1blend5blend6

Is Starving an Artistic Risk?

In Art, Cooking & Food, Emotional Intelligence, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Music, Theater/Film, Writing on December 5, 2008 at 9:25 am

According to Wikipedia a starving artist is: someone who sacrifices material well-being in order to focus on their artwork. Typically living on minimum expenses, either for a lack of business or because all their disposable income goes towards art projects. Some starving artists desire mainstream success but have difficulty due to the high barriers in art such as visual arts, the film industry, and theatre. These artists frequently take temporary positions (such as waitering or other service industry jobs) while they focus their attention on breaking through in their preferred field.

According to Merriam-Webster, risk is defined as: the possibility of loss or injury : peril

If we financially place ourselves in low paying or dead end jobs are we expanding or limiting our artistic potential?

If you can’t pay your rent, and your big artistic break isn’t showing up at what point exactly are your choices in life diminishing? Is it when it comes down to leaving the profession you chose because you simply can’t pay your bills?

Or is it when your disregard for your mental, physical and economic health erodes your happiness and self-confidence?

Or is it when many of your life goals have a serious life sucks “gap” between what you hoped to accomplish and what you actually can accomplish?

Or maybe its when you feel like your creativity and imagination are almost all gone because you cannot endure the difficulty of a life that does not inspire your evolution and creative abilities?

Is it worth your time to consider if there is another path, one that only you can imagine, that can fill your artistic potential and provide you with a host of economic options?

How much value exactly do you place on nurturing, protecting and supporting a life filled with your own creativity?

A Playground for the 21st Century Artist Entrepreneur

In Art, Cooking & Food, Current Events, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Leadership, Music, The Idea, Theater/Film, WEBSITES & BLOGS, Writing on November 28, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Eight years and $200 million in the making, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, or Empac, resembles an enormous 1950s-era television set on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
empac

But inside are not old-fashioned vacuum tubes but the stuff of 21st-century high-tech dreams dedicated to the marriage of art and science as it has never been done before, its creators say — 220,000 square feet of theaters, studios and work spaces hooked to supercomputers.

Within its walls, scientists can immerse themselves in data and fly through a breaking wave or inspect the kinks in a DNA molecule, artists can participate in virtual concerts with colleagues in different parts of the world or send spectators on trips through imaginary landscapes, and architects can ponder their creations from the inside before a single brick or two-by-four has been put in place.

As a facility, the new 220,000 square-foot center is like no other, boasting unrivaled presentation and production capabilities: a 1200-seat concert hall designed to the highest acoustical standards; an intimate 400-seat theater; and two highly flexible studio spaces, configurable as traditional black-box theaters or as fully immersive environments. Linked to a massive supercomputer, EMPAC’s potential for art and science spans the physical and virtual worlds and the spaces in between.

The EMPAC building’s conception and construction include many firsts relating to acoustics, theatrical and media presentation, structural integrity, lighting, heating and ventilation. The building is an extraordinary architectural statement. An international architectural competition led to the selection of the acclaimed British firm, Grimshaw, and to the building’s bold architectural conception.

Dedicated to advancing research and artistic production at the intersection of technology, media and the performing arts, EMPAC is poised to be a major contributing force in many artistic and technological domains. A main focus and major emphasis at EMPAC is the development and production of new works in the performing and media arts. Projects, residencies and productions at EMPAC will come from all domains of time-based arts, including but not limited to video, dance, music, theater, internet art, DVD productions, interactive installations, and multimedia art. Some pieces that are created or presented at EMPAC may grow out of the media-rich environment of EMPAC and could travel to other venues, nationally and internationally, others works may be site-specific to EMPAC.

As a facility and an environment, EMPAC will serve as a magnet to artists in a wide variety of time-based disciplines – performance, theatre, dance, music and film/video. The facility opened on October 3rd, 2008 and now offers artists residencies and commissions which include a rare and powerful combination: time to experiment in performance and production spaces of the highest quality combined with a technologically advanced infrastructure. As part of its mission to support artistic production with resources and facilities which are project-specific, EMPAC will provide access to equipment, expertise, rehearsal space, research, or other support as part of a commission, according to the needs of that project.

Here is an example of one of EMPAC’s commissioned projects, “There Still is Time… Brother”:

Commissioned by EMPAC, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [USA], produced by EMPAC together with the UNSW iCinema Centre for Interactive Cinema Research [AUS], and the ZKM | Institute for Visual Media [D] and in collaboration with The Wooster Group,THERE IS STILL TIME.. BROTHER« is a commission for an installation that consists of an interactive projection for a 360° screen.

wooster3wooster1

The commission is rooted in the recording of a Wooster Group performance developed specifically to be viewed as a projection on a 360° screen. The video is revealed by way of a window that scans around the screen, never showing the whole of the projection at once. The window is controlled by an audience member or performer who selects which part of the 360° video to reveal at any given time. However, it is clear that the sections of the video that are revealed are all unfolding in one, continuous 360° space and that there is some kind of linear timeline to the sections of the performance that we are watching unfold.

This piece challenges the notions of linear narrative in theater or film by creating a time-based theatrical experience that can be experienced in a new way each time it is “performed” by the individual controlling the interface which dictates that which we see and hear in the immersive space of spacialized sound and projection. The viewer is involved in an immersive process of discovery where their chosen point of view creates the dramaturgy of the piece and literally activates the story.

President Dr. Jackson said Rensselaer prides itself on interdisciplinary research and hands-on engineering learning, has a tradition of electronic arts, which includes a major in games and simulations. A performance center had been part of a long-range plan she and the trustees approved in 2000. The concept of Empac was born, she said, when she and her advisers decided to combine art with the problem of making sense of data, a problem that she said lay at the nexus of art, science, technology, cognitive perception and learning.

In 2001, an anonymous donor gave the university $360 million, one of the largest private grants ever made to an American university, enabling Dr. Jackson to jump-start not just Empac but other elements of her plan as well. That gift was later augmented by $40 million from Curtis R. Priem, one of the founders of Nvidia, a maker of graphics processors, and for whom the center will be officially named.

This center is a 21st Century Artists dream come true. Is there a project or an idea you would like to undertake with Empact?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the nation’s oldest technological university, offering degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, the humanities and social sciences. It is pre-eminent in research into biotechnology, nanotechnology, IT, and the media arts and technology. In addition to its MFA program, RPI offers bachelor degrees in Electronic Arts, and in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication – one of the first undergraduate programs of its kind in the United States.

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.”

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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?

US Financial Crisis Creates Artistic Opportunity for Global Transformation

In Art, Cooking & Food, Current Events, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Fashion, Leadership, Music, The Idea, Theater/Film, WEBSITES & BLOGS, Writing on September 22, 2008 at 7:40 am

Last week I spoke at, and attended, Linda Naiman’s Transformational Leadership for an Age of Innovation workshop in beautiful Vancouver Canada.

David Fushtey, who is both an excellent sculptor and an attorney, principal for The Governance Council in Canada, gave an incredibly thought provoking presentation on the importance of governance with a conscience. What does this mean and why should we as artists care?

Well, I think last weeks devastating news about the financial meltdown of the United States most prominent and oldest banking institutions, that has not been seen since The Great Depression in 1929, and which will cause the US taxpayers ultimately to incur liability for at least 700 billion dollars, frankly, is enough. And in case that does not speak to you, or you don’t make enough money to care about the generations of taxpayers to follow that will pay for the greed of big business, perhaps understanding, with an election upon us, that it is UP TO US to help change how our leaders govern and what kinds of ethics they bring with them will.

Yes, your heard me correctly– I said UP TO US! Read the rest of this entry »

24/7

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Fashion on May 16, 2008 at 7:28 am


My mom tells people that she can not keep track of me because I’m always on the go. I will often hear her explaining how I’m a 24/7 type of person. After graduating on Saturday, May 10 from Juniata College (Huntingdon, PA) I can finally say I’ve decided to break the 24/7 mode and take a time out this week. This week has been full of amazing dinners with family, watching movies, and starting a new book “Freakonomics” I would like to take this opportunity to write about two of the best experiences of my life.

I will be forever thankful of my time at Juniata. Our campus has one of the most unique cultures because of the small community of only 1,400 students. As President of the Class of 2008 I had the privilege of delivering the Commencement remarks to a class size of 331 students. I felt like we about to play Game 7 of the NBA Finals due to the amount of people. If your interested, you can view my speech by clicking the following link http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/404179.Move the video scroll bar to 32 minutes to watch the speech.

My message focused on the essential ingredient to life which, in my opinion, is giving. Delivering these remarks will always be the icing on the cake of my college experience. Since my speech I have been flooded with comments and messages from people who believed in my message. It feels good to know my words meant something to somebody.

The second experience, that has also made a huge impact on my life, occurred while I was sleeping on Monday afternoon. I received numerous job offers via phone calls and emails while I slept. As a person who is always on the move I like to have a game plan for everything. I have been worrying for weeks now about not having a job and then numerous opportunities arrived within a hour.

I have decided to accept a job offer with LiveNation to work as a Sponsorship Coordinator at the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater. Last summer I worked in their marketing department and really enjoyed the office culture and the live music. Virginia Beach has a great atmosphere and it is my goal to become involved in the local surf contests, fashion shows, and other opportunities that will allow me to network.

As one chapter of my life closed on Saturday it seems only fitting that another one opened on Monday.

But the feeling of being on the go 24/7 will have to wait a few days as I plan to relax this week and start my new job next week.