Innovating Through Artistry

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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.

Serendipity’s Role in Entrepreneurial Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Where entrepreneurship is born

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box on August 15, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Reform. Change. Do these words together mark the birth place of entrepreneurship for the arts?

Before you decide consider this: reform will never be achieved by redistributing knowledge. In other words, sending artists to the business school for training will teach them more facts but little if nothing at all about entrepreneurship. However, building on the passions of students to envision, design and then build something from their inner thoughts will. Only then can you employ the collaberative efforts of those from disciplines that can help them. Read the rest of this entry »

Showing Up Can Be Hard Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Artistic Temperament and Business

In Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Risk on May 7, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Learning to manage your emotions in business is a challenge for everyone, but especially for artists. In life we all strive to balance our decision making process using just the right amount of emotion and just the right amount of logic to come to a decision we feel is justified, worthy and that we feel good about making as a result. But in business, we must learn to do this in front of and with others- namely our customers, patrons, donors, board members and anyone else we engage with regularly who holds a financial key to our success.

As artists, we are taught that a full showing of expression is something to strive for in our art form. As a result, rarely are we taught how to take that expression and use it purposefully in a business context.

However, don’t think that what I am saying is that business is completely devoid of emotions. Even the most controlled business types recognize that emotion certainly plays a role in running a business. Imagine running a company without receiving any of the thrill of closing a big sale, or the high of releasing a new product you have worked hard to develop, or having your work featured or reviewed in an important publication. If running a business means putting in 12 hours a day, along with all your savings, to check your passions at the door, you would never have enough energy to keep them burning through all the ups and downs of your ventures development.

Yet, as an artist myself, I am the first to tell you that it takes a lot of work to understand the nuance of when to show emotion and when to use your logic to produce a productive result. Artists are wonderful at being compelling and convincing. The artistic temperament is one that can persuade and entice even the most reticent into listening to their message, story or sales pitch. Our passions can uplift and change the mood of all we touch, and yet I know myself how I have struggled and worked hard to recognize and learn when and how to use my emotions purposefully in business situations. I tend to lead with my heart and have had to work hard at learning when to emote and when to set my intensity of expression aside, because it will not help the situation I am being presented with.

Unfortunately emotion at the wrong time in a business situation, if insufficiently checked by logical reasoning, can be incredibly destructive. In the beginning of a venture it often leads to the most costly errors. It’s a fact that most start-ups make their most costly and deadly mistakes right at the beginning. Excited by the prospects of starting, our emotions rule (multiply that by 10 if your an artist) and we have the potential to spend way too much money on that fancy brochure, website or a piece of equipment for our venture. Had our more logical head prevailed, it would have helped us instead decide to start with less, save the cash, and diminish the risk of potentially going out of business quickly.

Emotions can also result in offering a customer an unprofitable price in desperation to close a sale when cash is too tight and panic replaces our ability to remain logical and calm. It can also cause us to create tension, distance or misunderstandings in key relationships that advise us, provide customers to us and can help our venture grow because of our own insecurities and fears. Emotions, I hope you are beginning to see, can be the enemy- the tornado- the cyclone- that can mark a path of destruction instead of success.

This applies to pretty much everything in business. But the goal isn’t to get rid of emotion and become a cool calculating machine either. Instead, you need to learn, while navigating unchartered water, to recognize when fear, anger, impatience or desperation might prevent you from making a good decision because your head is clouded with these kinds of negative influences.

Think instead of business as a strategy game. A game of risk with the short-term outcome being a complicated mix of hard work, timing, luck and skill. So if things are not going as smoothly as planned, don’t make a future decision based on your emotional reaction at the time. Sit back and wait a bit until your emotional reaction is no longer as intense so you have the opportunity to skillfully make a good decision. And make sure to communicate to those waiting on your decision or who have been of help to you that you need a few hours, days or weeks to come to the right conclusion. It is as important to communicate your lack of clarity and need to think as it is to compellingly or logically reach an outcome. Trust is built when you communicate to others your uncertainty and need to reflect.

But don’t think that these destructive emotions only surface in artists. It happens all the time with every kind of business owner. We all experience these kinds of emotions in business. It’s simply as artists that we are blessed and cursed with a greater abundance of them.

Controlling our emotions in business takes practice- Practice in elevating your consciousness to recognize when your decisions are about to be made based on irrational emotions so that you have the opportunity to stop and re-evaluate whether your decision will produce a positive outcome or a self-destructive one.

The Journey of Selling a Book

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea, Writing on April 23, 2008 at 12:09 am

As many of you know, from reading my blog, I have climbed several tall mountains and swam the distance between two continents writing, developing, editing and securing an agent for my book. And yet, I still must do more to demonstrate to six remaining publishers that my book Build a Blue Bike: Ride Your Artistic Blues to Creative and Financial Freedom, is one they MUST decide to BUY and publish.

For those of you who are little unclear about the publishing process, let me remind you: If you wish to publish a book you write, you can seek out small publishers directly to see if they are interested, or of course, you can simply decide to self publish. However, if you wish to land a household name big publishing house to pick up your work, who has the marketing muscle and distribution savvy to get your book into Borders (never mind that they might file for bankruptcy for the moment), then you must be represented by an agent. Only agents can talk to household name publishers, which means you have to be one of the roughly 3% of book proposal submissions they accept to represent.

I have managed to jump through that hoop, and I have a great agent, Susan Schulman. I know she will do a fine job selling my book once our economy perks back up. It might as well require a new president who values the arts, one with democratic stripes, to get it sold. So in the meantime, I have been working hard to add a new leg or arm to my strategy to continue to strengthen my possibilities of getting my work finally published.

My newest strategy has been to take an online marketing course by Peggy McColl and Randy Gilbert. These two individuals are considered to be the gurus of online marketing and are wildly successful at it both with their own books and with helping others. Of course, my purpose in taking this class is to build my knowledge of how to get my book to sell well through various distribution channels I can develop once it is published. However, since it has not been sold yet, and therefore is not yet in print, I have been working hard trying to come up with a strategy to be able to use what I am learning from this class now.

With the blessings of Susan Schulman, my agent, I am in the process of creating an E-Book, which will be called Starving Artist Not!: Changing History One Artist at A Time. This E-Book will be a resource guide of artistic entrepreneurs across the country that offer classes, workshops, mentoring programs or any other artist entrepreneurial service for sale. This resource guide will allow those of you interested in arts entrepreneurship, but not sure who to turn to or where to start, to have a deep resource filled with ideas, contacts and useful information.

I am currently in the process of building it and welcome comments, as well as the names of any artists you know that I should include!

There are days I wake up and wonder if all of this work is worth it.

But that thought rarely lasts more then a moment, because I know my journey is worth the tough climb. I know I am and will continue to make a difference with the vision I have to teach artists to become more entrepreneurial and resourceful.

I am just grateful that pursuing your passions, like falling in love, offers us blindness or a kind of naiveté to problems or difficulties we will surely encounter, and that under any other circumstance we would likely see. This offers each one of us a form of self protection- an insulation from reality that we need to act in the first place.

But when you really love something or someone you will climb every mountain and swim every ocean needed to make it work if your feelings are real– no matter how hard it is or how much work it takes.

So which ocean shall I swim and which mountain next must I climb?

When to listen

In Emotional Intelligence on February 14, 2008 at 9:19 am

If according to Barry Moltz it isn’t necessarily success or failure that should guide us to learn or evolve, then what should?

Frankly, I think coincidence and irony, or their absence, are a far better indicator of places in life to pause and listen. I agree with Barry that success and failure can simply be just that. We don’t have to always learn a big lesson or believe that this success has moved us to a new level of accomplishment. Sometimes our success or failure is an isolated event. Period.

Instead, I like to think that when things are working, bending, moving in a direction that serves our artistic core, feeds our families and nourishes our souls, that the place we can most likely learn from comes from our friends, Coincidence and Irony, who spring up around us, when things are working, like weeds in our lives.

Do you remember the last time Coincidence and Irony popped up and paid you a visit? What happened? I bet if you think about it something positive, true to your core and meaningful was happening just about then.

I also find the further we get from ourselves and our true needs that Coincidence and Irony have skipped off to visit elsewhere and have gone missing.

Last week I spent most of the week at The University of Texas in Austin giving three days of workshops on creative career development to fine arts students and alumni. I had mostly success there. I have at least six brave souls willing to work on developing their artistic careers asking for a piece of my time to help them on their journey. Ah, how my heart beats peacefully with the thought of helping them. I also had many positive comments from staff and students about my workshops.

But I also had a failure in that I was not successful at getting through to everyone I spoke to on the value of self esteem building in the arts, and the reasons why we must build vibrant career paths in new ways to destroy the notion that for another two hundred plus years we must continued to be labeled starving artists.

Not everyone was compelled to act enthusiastically from my work there.. but six brave souls were.

Did I succeed or did I fail?

Frankly, I am not sure I really care. What was far more interesting to me was watching Coincidence and Irony surface around Roxana, The Blue Angel, who was brave enough to come and tell her story.

When we arrived she shared with me that her hotel room number was 211, the numbers that signified the street address of the job she just left. And after the presentation she participated in, someone Roxana had not seen in years, but who’s name she had ironically mentioned to me out of the blue the day before and was quite fond of, just happened to appear from the audience to greet her enthusiastically.

So, the next time you focus on your success or on your failure, instead, I would encourage you to look for your friends Coincidence and Irony. As long as they are close to you or someone you know, pay attention.

While their absence can sometimes be worrisome in our life, it simply means we need to remember who we are and focus on what our heart is calling us to do. It can be the hardest thing in life or the simplest- it just all depends on how much you are willing to listen to what you need to do, instead of focus on the outcome.

One Blank Piece of Paper

In Author: Lisa Canning, Creative Support, The Idea on January 18, 2008 at 8:03 pm

What could you create with a single blank piece of paper?

Well, you could write down one fantastic business idea that you have and act on it? Who knows, twenty years from now this one piece of paper may embody one of the most important moments of your life. Are you ready to give your idea a try?

Or maybe you could transform this one blank leaf into a fantastic piece of art, with great commentary built into it, like these artists did.

The following pieces are from an art contest at the Hirshhorn Modern Art Gallery in DC. The rules for the contest were simple: Each artist could use only one sheet of paper to design their piece. No one told them how big that piece of paper could be however…

Check out a few of these delightful works of art.

The Blue Angel

In Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution on December 6, 2007 at 11:47 am

I can’t tell you her name, but I can tell you her life is falling apart. Or is it just about to really begin?

Collection agents are calling her daily. She went to a homeless shelter for her last meal. Most of her clothes have holes. Going shopping means a trip to Goodwill. She usually counts the change she has in her wallet to scrape together, what she calls, “grocery money”. And yes, in her 30’s, this hand-to-mouth hard living keeps her up at night sick with worry.

She is a musician- a very talented one. Low paying day-job by day, lower paying music jobs by night. She doesn’t do drugs or drink and is very careful with what little money she has from each pay check that does not go towards medical bills or her rent. Her family is dysfunctional- both verbally and physically abusive. One of her clearest family memories includes being punched in the face on her sisters wedding day, before walking down the aisle as the maid of honor. Thank God for makeup and the few hours it took for her black-eye to show.

But the most destructive abuse is her own- the part of her that does not feel she deserves to have a life doing what she loves because she does not feel worthy. She suffers from very low self-esteem.

Her inability to overcome her low self- esteem has given her the life that, in her mind up until now, she deserves. This is not new news. The blue angel has known for years, in her heart-of-hearts, that most everything in her life has to dramatically change to save her soul. She intellectually has understood it all. And yet her life, the one she herself describes as horrible, has been going on for years and years without one significant change- instead leaving her life filled with regrets.

But what is new news is, for the very first time, she is willing to do whatever it takes to transform her situation so that she can emotionally and financially flourish.

Just like peeling an onion, with tears streaming in plain view, she willingly is beginning to look at each layer of the dysfunction that has ruled her life, exposing all the pain that has lead her to a life of very low self-esteem.

Now, nothing will stop her from moving her life in the positive direction she needs to grow her self-worth. Why? Because this time, unlike every other time, she will allow others to help her on her journey. I bear witness to her amazing progress because I am one of her helping hands.

This Christmas, think about the blue angel and remember what I have told you about her. Why? Because next Christmas her life will be far from blue. This blue angel is about to learn how to change her blues into freedom. What might seem like a pretty desperate situation to you, is about to sprout wings.

I met her by chance at a music gig. She is an amazing musician.

A Calm Heart’s Work

In Emotional Intelligence on November 25, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Throughout my life I have noticed the times when my heart passionately flutters and the times my heart has beat in fear. As exciting as a fluttering heart can be, or as much motivation as a fearful one can produce, a calm heart is what brings me prosperity and peace.

It is only when my heart beat is steady that my being is basked in calm, which I have noticed time and time again allows me to both think rationally and work efficiently. I sleep better, eat better, work better and enjoy life more fully when I am calm- plain and simple.

It is easy to be in the arts and think that drama is good- regardless of what kind it is- because we are artists. Our creative juices can produce a lot of energy that we don’t know how to manage and becomes drama. But drama in the life of an artist is a lot like starting a business with too much money- it makes you do stupid things that can really harm or destroy your vision.

Yet I have met, unfortunately, a lot of artists who think that drama, and the pain it creates, helps them to produce their best work. Of course, many don’t ever say this in words, but instead through their actions.

If, as an artist, you already are creating good work with this much drama and pain in your life, what do you think the quality of your work would be like if you could create using prosperity and peace instead?


In Emotional Intelligence on November 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

Making positive changes in your life, your business or in your relationships requires trust.

When I am working on anything challenging in life, I seek first the answers from within and then ask my husband and two other dearly trusted friends. If my husband or my friends have a different perspective, I listen and try to find a path of consensus. Not because I am unable to decide what to do on my own, but because I have learned that my trusted circle of advisors adds something I never saw or thought about to the outcome of the decision.

So this means conversely, even when the news is completely different than what I feel would be best, I listen to my trusted advisors. They have yet to fail me. I learned long ago to listen to those I trust because I have never accomplished anything of any importance making decisions alone. The times I have tried to, I have miserably failed. Not because I did not have most of the decision properly figured out, but because I missed an important opportunity to add a needed new leg or arm to my decision that dramatically changed its shape when I followed the collective input from my trusted advisors.

While it is truly hard to trust in the perceptions of others when it comes to major decisions in our lives– you know, the kind of decisions that make us sweat and can lead us to great glory or great destruction– it is in those moments far easier to rationalize away why we know best. It is by far harder to allow those who know us best to change and shape our decisions by giving them our trust.

We often underestimate the power of trust to transform us, as well as the magic trusting creates in making us who we need to become.

Nourish Your Soul

In Emotional Intelligence on October 27, 2007 at 1:23 pm

I have never felt so inspired in my life. Friday night I went to Transitions Book Store, 1000 W. North Avenue Chicago, IL and had the priviledge of hearing Tama Kieves speak about her book This Time I Danced.

After graduating with honors from Harvard University in Law, and rising quickly on the fast track in a prestigious law firm, Tama took a leap of faith and gave it all up in search of finding her safe haven-her net.

As a young girl Tama loved to write. She always wanted to write but her father, in particular, told her it wasn’t practical. So instead she squashed down her feelings and made herself get through law school– until her special day arrived– the day she decided it was time to leap and trust that if she followed her heart, instead of her head, that the net she needed to save her passionate soul would appear.

Tama left her job as an attorney, as well as her status of a Harvard law degree behind her, but took her first few steps off her own cliff filled with a love for writing. Tama waited tables to pay the bills while she started her journey to lead an inspired life that she 100% loves. It took Tama 12 years to write her book– during which time Tama learned to create the inspired life she describes in her book.

Tama’s book and mine, Build a Blue Bike, are shockingly similiar. We both share our own experiences on how to reach an inspired path. But we speak from two different perspectives- mine as someone who thougt that I had “leaped” simply by going to school to become an artist– but who realized I was going to literally die from a lack of inspiration if I didn’t leap again in search of a new net before I even graduated with a performing degree from Northwestern University. While Tama, on the other hand, listened to “the voice of reason” –which meant going to law school until it almost killed all of her spirit and dreams. It was Tama’s own near death experience- her own desire to sleep her life away- that finally awoke her to leap in search of her net.

If you want to be inspired and really get what I am saying- if you want to try and have that “AH-HA” moment- go and buy her book: This Time I Dance! by Tama Kieves. You will need lots of inspirational moments so take every one you get! It took you awhile to get to where you are, and it will take awhile to shed yourself of the fear you have of leaping as well.

This day, for me personally, has been filled with an amazing current of creative electricity. I wonder if all of you have felt the same cosmic vibe? Wow. What a powerful day.

My day began with a creativity and innovation workshop that revved up my juices and ended with a young woman at the back of Transitions Book store, who shared with Tama and all of us there, that she had just quit her job to follow her heart. As of 9pm Friday night this brave soul has no idea where her heart is going to guide her life. Her exact words were” I quit because I simply couldn’t go on that way any longer.”

You see nourishing your soul is not a choice. If you don’t, your body catches up with you and destroy’s your health until you either listen or choose to follow what it needs most–your passionate heart filled to the brim. It can take quite awhile to catch up with you- decades even-

But without your passion filling every moment you live, and all you do, it is only a matter of time until your body says enough and you physically get really sick.

Yes, I understand that pursuing anything as close to you as your true identity is an undeniable risk. But what is life if not for becoming the brightest light you can be? And yes, it might even defy reason why you are following your soul, instead of your logical brain that knows how you can earn money to pay your bills and run on creative fumes. I, of all people, realize that leaping off high cliffs is not for the faint of heart. It has moments that are truly hard. Especially at first, mostly because you have little faith that a net will always appear, no matter what.

But you must try and find a way- a person- an idea- a source of inspiration and hope to begin to do this. You don’t have to go over the edge of the cliff today but you can learn to leap into the air for a few moment at a time until you get use to doing it.

The only difference between Tama and myself- is that I leaped with a plan. I did not wait to suffer in a dead end career to leap– I somehow knew to leap before then. I don’t think I am smarter because I did. I simply came from an entreprenurial family that taught me that risk is part of life as is evolution and change. It did not make it any easier for me, but it made me more easily wiling to leap and trust in the universe– and in myself–to recognize when the net appeared.

What will help you move towards a life you love instead of towards the one that owns you? How does playing small in the world– by not risking everything you presently are, for who you want to become– help you? How long do you think it will take before that life consumes you?

My book and this blog are my love, sweat and tear stained hand reaching out to you. My attempts to reach you and touch you are to passionately say to you PLEASE– I can’t stand watching any more creative people and their passions die or get buried or lost. It is too painful to watch when I can, and know how to, help you. I bear witness to too many who have allowed fear to be their God–

Put your faith in the power of your beauty. Trust in what you love enough to find a way to create a plan. Try leaping with some new ideas or new behaviours. In time, the net will appear.

As you do, you will find yourself more willing to leap and in time will trust that the nets will come.

I can assure you, that when you leap, that one of the very first people you will meet– someone that will seriously impact you– is someone who will doubt your every choice and make you feel very small. It is the law of attraction in the universe. It is almost like the cosmo’s way of testing your sincerity- a form of sick humor– to make sure you are really willing to become strong enough to stay with the force of your passions.

It is only when you pass that stumbling block– clear that hurdle– that you have a chance to heal and begin to accept that you can live life on your own terms.

Any terms you wish.

But terms that involve feelings that excite you and make you happy and satisfied in life and will pay all your bills. Maybe all those things will not happen at first but they really will appear. REALLY. I am proof. The life I lead now is far richer than any one I had planned. Where would I be now if I had following a path that no longer inspired me, when I was studying clarinet performance at Northwestern University? My passions were bigger than only the sound I make on the clarinet and thank God I allowed them to guide me.

Besides, I know you can far exceed anything I have accomplished. Why? Because anything I have done, I had to learn without books like Tama’s or mine or workshops that helped me to discover the life that was waiting for me to trust in. I went through the school of hard knocks, as did Tama, to find a life filled with nourishment for the soul.

I am in the process right now of rebuilding my creative career development course, that I taught for ten years at DePaul University, which is the basis of my book, Build a Blue Bike. I have helped a lot of students, collegues and friends create the beginnings of a passionate life in search of a net. In January of 2008, in Chicago, I am going to offer this course for free to those who demonstrate they are ready to begin this journey. ( more on that later)

With my book written, I am now ready and need to get back to doing what I love most- helping creative people live life on their own terms…

Who’s terms?

Your terms…

What I teach, can simply help you get there..

6 E.T.A. Rants

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on August 28, 2007 at 6:57 am

#1 According to HEADS, The Higher Education Arts Data Services Project, a joint effort of the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Association of Schools of Theatre, and the National Association of Schools of Dance, the United States currently produces more than 100,000 graduates with fine arts degrees annually.

Yet by stark comparision The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2006, states that only 1,727,380 reported being employed, largely self-employed, in an artistic related field.

So what exactly are the majority of universities that offer all these graduates fine arts degrees preparing their students for?

Day jobs?

#2 As big as you can dream it, you can have it if you try-
Remember Nia Vardalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and more recently Lonely Girl 15, Jessica Lee Rose, or take a look at chocolatier Katrina Markoff, who is turning chocolate into a sweet success.

#3 Creativity is considered today to be critical to financial success in corporate America.

NY Times best selling author Richard Florida, The Rise of The Creative Class has shown us that we are, in fact, living in the new creative economy- the 21st century.

How can you use creativity to capitilize on corporate America’s new value?

What motivates you or stirs you up in your art-form? What are you nerotic, passionate, agitated or mad as hell about, but that you still enjoy using or doing regularly in your life? Whatever that is, “IT” can transform your art into a business.

#4 The missing link-
You need to PLAN your creative entrepreneurial life. A good start is with a business plan.

#5 Become a hammer and all you will see is nails
– Cingular Officially Announces Music Initiative
– Coca-Cola Spins Unsigned Artist Downloads, Podcasts
– Best Buy to launch music service with Real, SanDisk
– Starbucks Positions Catalog Within iTunes Music Store
– Cingular Initiates Flash Concerts, Taps Leading Artists
– Red Bull Energy Drink selects BIG HOUSE for Its Cutting-Edge Multisensory Marketing Program
– Red Bull MusicLabs
– Musiwave Powers Upcoming Vodafone Music Services
– News Corp, China Mobile Strike Music Partnership
– Mercora Announces Key Mobile Music Distribution Deals

From a music career perspective, all of this is good news. It means that everyone with a love of music are no longer limited to traditional “music companies” for employment, sponsorship or support.

With the right pitch, and fit, you can potentially partner with any company, smaller ones than Cingular too, seeking to add your creative art form into its mix.

And from an economic perspective, it means that at least music consumption throughout the world is heading north (not south), boding well for both musicians and music entrepreneurs alike.

You see, we are passing through a period of creative destruction. We are presently watching the death of the arts like a present day dinosaur; many of whom we have known and loved. It is difficult watching them self-destruct before our eyes and expire.

Future generations will talk about the state of the arts, during this period of time, like we talk about the day JFK died or John Lennon was shot in Strawberry Fields. We are watching, right now, the creative world search for dramatic change.

What new world emerges, ladies and gentlemen, is up to us, and what we do with it and about it.

#6 Find a good use for your creativity that can earn you a living and use it over and over again.
Joseph Barbera and William Hanna sure did exactly that by creating Tom and Jerry, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Do, Yogi Bear and Jonny Quest.

What real life cartoon character can you become, that the world can enjoy and love, while you creatively thrive?

That’s a Good

In Emotional Intelligence on August 18, 2007 at 3:33 am

Italy was an amazing experience culturally and socially. I was a soloist with a wind ensemble that was hosted by the city of Olgiat Comasco in Northern Italy in the Lombardie region. That particular area is the home of George Clooney on Lake Como, the centerpiece of the area.

Let me tell you, George is one lucky guy. Villa’s hang from road side cliffs that weave around mountainous terrain. The lake, like a deep blue pearl, twinkles with white boats as they saunter leisurely across windless calm waters. It IS God’s country- heavenly and divine.

60 musicians were put up with host families who lived in the neighboring town of
Olgiat Comasco. Each family opened their homes, providing us with a place to sleep and shower. The wives and husbands who served as hosts also took turns cooking 3 square homemade Italian meals for us at The Sportiv Centre- the equivalent of a community center. Espresso, pasta and wine were daily rituals.

We performed 4 concerts in several good size piazzas and had 600-1000 at our concerts. Our audiences were all locals who came with their families and lawn chairs to enjoy an evening of jazz, classical and pop music under the stars. Grandma, Grandpa, grandchildren of all ages, dogs, their parents, village officials and the town mayor were all there. The applause were plentiful and the silence while we played noticeable.

I would like to tell you we all played impeccably, including myself, but we did not. Most of us were tired because Italian hospitality runs at a relentless pace.

During our days we were taken by tour bus to many of the surrounding jewels of Italian pride. We were taken to see Michelangelo’s original Last Supper at the Santa Maria
delle Grazie Church in Milan, and to the stunningly beautiful Duomo di Milano. This cathedral is famous throughout the world for its significance in the promulgation of the Christian faith, for its role in the establishment of Catholic traditions of worship, its outstanding musical heritage and the splendour of its Gothic architecture.

We were taken to the historic Villa del Cardinale (Villa Balbianello) last owned by explorer Guido Monzino and left upon his death to The Italian National Preservation Society in the late 1970’s. Seen in the movie Casino and one of the more recent James Bond movies, we were guided through the rooms of the elaborate villa, monestary, church and scenic gardens overlooking the lake.

By boat we spent a day in Bellagio, a resort town that by car can only be reached driving on a 1 1/2 lane road on the side of a mountain with no guard rail. Sauntering across the lake by boat while being served a 3 course lunch with wine was definately a far more enjoyable way to get there.

Our hosts were unbelievably gracious, generous, and warm.

It was amazing to see them embrace 60 perfect strangers with open arms to share our imperfect but passionate expression of our art with them. We were treated like important guests in each of the various communities where we performed, regardless of our lack of star status.

And an Ah-Ha Moment.

So there I stood with the last note played of my solo and all I could think about was the mistakes I had made: I had rushed in the 2nd variation and the high A in the cadenza did not speak just right and…

But the Italians in front of me, not heeding to the loud noise of my internal criticism, would not stop clapping. I stood there smiling and bowing and the more they clapped the more faint the voice in my head got. They clapped so long and with such joy that I simply had no choice but relinquish and accept their praises.

And then came the Ah-Ha…..

How easy it was for me to get caught up in the perfection of my art. I was reaching for perfection and my audience wanted my pure imperfect human expression. Thank God,
in-spite of myself, it had come out.

How quickly I had forgot the potent magical electricity produced between artist and audience when we express ourselves honestly and passionately. The only one who cares if its perfect, is us. Perfect will never pay our rent, but magical electricity will.

In that moment I remember why I am an artist. I remembered why I believe in art and the power it holds to change minds, hearts and restore faith in ourselves, our lives and our work. Italy was the breath of fresh air I needed to put me back on my creative path.

And as the Italian’s say in their heartfelt broken english, “that’s a good”.

It Only Takes One

In Emotional Intelligence, Writing on April 19, 2007 at 11:36 am

It only takes winning one big audition in life to have all the opportunities you ever need.

Just one.

As I search for a star publisher or literary agent, my biggest wish is to find one that has represented or published a fair number of household names. I want an A+ agent or publishing house; really rare for a new author, like me, to find.

This week I am being offered a chance to reach for my dream.

Roger Jellinek, former editor at The New York Times Book Review and former editor in chief at The New York Times Publishing Company, is interested in Starving Artist Not!; my book.

I have worked for 10 months writing Starving Artist Not!; dreaming that maybe I would have a chance like this. It has been a long long time since I have felt this much excitement and felt this alive from my creativity and the possibilities it holds.

Writing has been a wonderful way for me to recharge my creative battery and restore my passion.

This week I have been working extraordinarily hard to pull together the material Roger wants to read for my big audition.

I want him to be powerfully moved, to embrace my mission, to see why I can help so many artists creatively earn a good living doing what they love. I want him to be excited by my work.

But I don’t have control over any of that.

As passionate as I feel about it, it’s out of my hands.

But what I do have control over, right now, is enjoying the moment.

My dream is in front of me.

Right now.

It Only Takes One.

I hope this is mine.

It’s A Fine Line

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2007 at 2:17 pm

It’s a fine line

Between recklessness and courage

Travel the line

And you will find

That it’s about time

You decide which road to take 


It’s a long way

Between creation and chaos

With 14 miles to go

Until your heart reads empty

It’s about time

You decide which choice you’ll make 


You see time moves on

No matter if you ever choose

And time has no desires

Like the one’s inside of you 


So if you take the road to creation

Follow it until it intersects courage

Remember it’s a long way

So fill up before you get near it 

If you make a mistake

And choose the wrong road

How quickly you’ll see

How fine the line is

Between these two roads 


Chaos or Creation

Live inside your head

Or live your life

Using your imagination 

Choose a road

Choose which way you’ll go

Whatever’s more important to be

Just remember the difference

Only one can set you free 

Entrepreneur The Arts vs Entrepreneur Media

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Legal on March 7, 2007 at 5:13 am

Tonight I received, in the mail, a letter from the law offices of Latham & Watkins (Big expensive law firm)  demanding that I remove my application for trademark of Entrepreneur The Arts.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine’s attorney’s, my trademark could be easily confused with their trademark.  If you read Entrepreneur, or ever have read it, do you really think there is anything to confuse you?

This is the second time in my life that this kind of letter has been sent to me, actually. The first time I was about six months into starting my first business in my college dorm room. A sheriff knocked on my door and served me with a “cease and desist” letter from a company that claimed that my name was too similar to theirs. Their letter demanded that if I did not stop using my chosen name they would take legal action against me, if I did not change it. Not really any different then this letter I received tonight. (Incidentally, I did manage to keep my name the first time.)

Through that first experience, which certainly was scary, I learned a valuable lesson that I will share with you now:

Any word that is used to describe an activity, like computer or consulting or entrepreneur, cannot become the property of one company because it is a word used to describe an activity that is universally known and required to describe that activity. It would be like taking the word computer or consulting or entrepreneur away from the rest of the world to use so that only one single company could use it for their exclusive purpose.   

What would we call that thing we use to read the web, blog, do our work and write our email’s on if we could no longer could use the word computer; because Apple Computer, through their trademark, took that word away from all of us??  Now I am exaggerating a bit to demonstrate my point– because the word computer, using my example, would really only apply in the context of  the use of a business name, and not the use of the word in any context. However, you can clearly see the impact to every business if basic common words were no longer available to be used.

As long as the rest of the words, after that descriptive word, are uniquely different, there is no basis for the claim; which in my case is definitely the case.  Thus Apple Computers and Dell Computers can co-exist as can  Kleenex Tissue and Scott Tissue, and every other example you can think of.

However the test I described above is only one of eight tests for what constitutes a trademark infringement.  Here are the other 7 that contribute to the decision by a judge.

  • Strength of the trademark
  • Proximity of goods or deliver-ables
  • Evidence of actual confusion
  • Marketing channels used are similar
  • Types of goods and the degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser are similar
  • Defendant’s intent in selecting the mark
  • The likelihood of expansion of the product line

The difference between the first time this happened to me and this time, is back then I did not realize that I needed an attorney to research my names choices and advise me on issues related to duplication of trademarks for potential litigation or that would raise concern.  However in this case, I worked closely with an attorney who specializes in trademarks who did his homework before we applied for the trademark.

Now having said all that, these kinds of matters can be costly to resolve, especially when fighting a giant; which will be something to consider. However before any fight ensues, my trademark attorney will talk to Entrepreneur Magazine’s attorney and see if this can be resolved before any action is taken.  A good attorney is worth every cent if he protects you and makes potential litigation something that is as remote and as minimal as possible. Every start-up business needs an attorney and here is a great example of one of many reasons why you do.

Not sure how this will play out but I would love your opinion on the matter. Would you confuse Entrepreneur The Arts with Entrepreneur ( the Magazine)?


In Uncategorized on February 20, 2007 at 1:50 pm

A Shiva, for those of you who are not familiar with the word, is a 7 day period of morning for the loss of a close relative. I have written about half the lyrics to a song I am going to call Shiva.

My Shiva, is about the death of creativity, and why each and every one of us must experience a death of sorts in our creative process to find the path we were truly meant to follow. Creative death is a very important part of the creative process.

Anything and everything in life that consumes our passions, is surely meant to at some point reach its full capacity, and needs to evolve. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen others resist this happening, only to find themselves dried up, void of most of their self esteem and unable to make a decision about which way to go.

Re-inventing your creative self is what creativity requires to flourish and produce results beyond what you can imagine right now–today.  While it may never get easier to work through it, by doing so, you are assuring yourself of a creative future.

I think one of the reasons this concept is so hard to grasp, is that it only happens at most a handful of times in a creative life, making it seem like either a failure or leaving one to not know what is happening and how to handle it.

Beginnings and Endings are natural. Allow them to occur as they need to…..

The melody for this song I have woken to for the past 2 weeks but no words came for it until just about four days ago. While its absolutely not finished, here is a little bit of it for you to read. Where this song stops is literally where I am in my writing; just about to turn the corner to a new creative path and future for this artist…


It’s just one soul that has departed.

But that one soul was one creative being.

It’s the soul that has gone from the artist

No art left in his weary being


With the wind blowing strong

And his lips dried of song

Northin left for the one

Who once loved all he saw

 For the art in his eyes

Sparkling nearly twice as bright

Before his life took his spirit

And it died.


Yes his life was a race

To create the perfect space

For his soul to be seen

While he starved and became mean


Starving Artists will die

just one at a time

on the battlefield of life

that has no time..

To experience the love

And the talent and riches

That the arts bring to those

Who will stop and pause and listen


It’s the artist who must

Learn to create a box and fuss

With the wrapping of how

His soul is seen.


Yes  your one creative being,

Yes your one creative life

What you see, what you feel,

What you do, is no longer real

For your vision has gone and

Your passion no longer belongs

Where your heart once was open

Now its closed..



Its just one soul that has departed.

But that one soul was one creative being.

It’s the soul that has gone from the artist

No art left in his weary being



When there’s nothin left  inside

You will know
that your Passions died

It’s the life that you lead

That took your creativity

To a place that was filled

With tombstones.


It’s the one that was taken from you

It’s the one not meant for you

It’s that life that must first die

To let the real creativity fly

To a life that was meant for you


As he woke he became

Aware that his limbs were no longer drained

And his heart jaded black now was blue…