Business Artists are thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals who want to approach their daily business as part of a creative problem-solving and skill-building endeavor that brings them personal as well as financial growth. How do you do that?

How to Use Writing to Track Your Big Ideas

Tracking Wonder - Big Idea

People often ask me what I do as Chief Tracker at Tracking Wonder. I help people think. It’s that simple. Except it’s not. Thinking means that we don’t only come up with new and useful big ideas.

It also means my idea-collaborators and I think through how to translate the most viable of those ideas into actual endeavors, entrepreneurial experiments, brand-aligned websites, start-ups, pitches, books, community-building efforts.

Really, I help people chart a path to earn a reputation, earn respect, and earn revenue for their beneficial or artful ideas. Not simple but profoundly rewarding.

This current journey all started with writing. Writing has been my way to discover what I think I’m thinking, to make meaning, to discover what’s behind what I’m feeling, and to participate in shaping a future.

If you have an idea that lights you up, writing might be a tool to help that idea get traction. Read more

The Secret to Sales

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Selling well doesn’t come naturally to most people with good ideas. To most, it feels gimmicky and inauthentic and manipulative. But it doesn’t have to follow the usual big-loud-buzz formula. In fact, the secret to selling is all about your customer. In the piece below, I share the secret to sales as shown to me by the example of my father, a successful radio advertising salesman and marketer.

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Can’t Find a Female Mentor? Create a Circle.

Courtesy Britt Bravo

Courtesy Britt Bravo

Guest Post by Britt Bravo, Premium Consultant at Tracking Wonder

Note: Britt Bravo helps our clients shape their ideas into story-based brands and broadcast their message to the right audiences. Her local paper named her the “best podcaster and blogger most dedicated to social change.” She’s also mentoring a few people in our ArtMark™ Brand Story & Strategy program. I’m thrilled to have her on board the team and serving the TW Community. Find out more here: ArtMark™. – Jeffrey

I’ve never had a mentor to guide me on my career path. If you’re a woman, and haven’t had a mentor either, you’re not alone. According to a 2011 LinkedIn survey of almost 1,000 female professionals in the U.S., nearly one in five women have never had a mentor.

It’s not surprising to me that so many women haven’t been mentored. Few role models exist in American culture of women having mentors, and even fewer of women being mentors. Neo has Morpheus in The Matrix, Daniel has Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, and Luke has Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, but few heroines in American culture are depicted having mentors, especially female ones. Read more

How Your Story Drives Your Impact

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Courtesy Creative Commons

When some of us think of leaders, we imagine the Richard Bransons, Gloria Steinems, Dan Prices, and Patriss Cullors of the world guiding big companies and grand movements.

If your frame of a leader is an ambitious extrovert driven by power and domination and big audacious change, then, you might not view yourself as a leader.

But Howard Gardner’s research and conclusions suggest that even if you’re more introverted and creatively driven by the craft of a good story you may have the makings of a leader and you might already be leading.

Howard Gardner is Co-Director of Project Zero (devoted to advancing arts learning as a serious cognitive activity) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education – and is best known as a thought leader in multiple intelligences. Gardner changed the way I thought about intelligence and education back in the ‘90s with his books on multiple intelligences, the mind, and creativity. In his book Intelligence Reframed (Basic Books 1999), Gardner sums up his studies of creators and his studies of leaders. What surprised him was how much they have in common.

Leaders change the way numerous people think and act. That’s what influence is – that fundamental change. The most effective and wise leaders, Gardner notes, effect change via story in a two-fold way. Read more

frame, lens

When Vision Shifts, Values Stabilize

frame, lens

Courtesy of Pexels

We each see the world through our heritage of personality, experience, expertise, and values.

A software programmer develops her expertise. A doctor of integrated medicine develops his. A marketing specialist see the world and how to solve its problems through her lens, and an educator, through his.

Imagine they each are on the same interdisciplinary team of a big startup venture. It’s not an unfamiliar scenario.

How do they speak the same language in order to communicate, solve problems, and collaborate with momentum? What happens when their blossoming vision meets the reality of execution and market need?
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no fear

Why we fear standing out – and why we need to stop

no fear

Courtesy of Pexels

I work and speak with accomplished professionals who fear standing out with their own ideas and who fear their own influence.

In these times especially, we need intelligent, dedicated, creative people – business artists of all stripes – to name and claim their influential ideas and contribute lasting value through their businesses and the conversations they lead.

Business artists matter. They need to stand up and stand out.

If you’ve worked for organizations, companies, or groups for many years, you might have met with great accomplishment. You also likely have a degree or two or three. A training certification or two or three. Now you want to test out your own ideas. What holds you back?

I suspect you’ve learned the value of going along and of doing a good job by others’ standards. You’ve learned the rules, followed them, exceeded expectations. You’re knowledgable, personable, hard-working, even-tempered. You’re respected. You’ve blended in.

With your experience and expertise, it’s even possible that you’ve ventured out as an independent consultant or professional. Again, you’ve learned the rules, exceeded expectations, gained accomplishments. Even on your own, though, maybe you’re playing it safe. And you’re keeping your ideas to yourself. Read more

My Girls, My Tears, & Our Brand Stances

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I cry more often than you might think. It usually comes from feeling someone in pain more than admitting my own. Conversations and relationships plus music, art, film, books, and, yes, commercial videos turn on the tears for me.

My crying reflects back to me what I care about, what I stand for, what drives me.

My 7-year-old girl cries often, too. One January night last year, I gave her a brief overview of Martin (Michael) Luther King, Jr.’s life. As is par for her, the death fixated her curiosity. “Now why did he die? How did he die? Why did the man shoot him? That’s ridiculous. That’s just ridiculous to hate someone because of how they look.”

And then before bed she cried because of how MLK had died.

When I’m really honest with myself these days it’s both the knowledge of suffering and the conviction for something better for our world and, frankly, for my two girls that drives me. I do want to add my small verse to a world where we grown-ups can wonder and remember what is true, real, and beautiful.

I suspect something similar privately and deeply drives you, too.

Because here’s the deal, as I see it:

One view of our world in 2017 is that we as a species are becoming more and more hostile and divided, driven to distraction and despair.

Another view is that many of us are creating change – in big and small, large and quiet ways – in how we relate to each other, driven by conviction and ideals. Read more

To Be Famous Versus To Be Seen

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The Fleeting Clap

You could make a long list of celebrities who attained fame and then wished to flee from it as if fame were pursuing them instead of the other way around. Fame can be the siren’s song that lures you into thinking you need heaps of applause and accolades to feel good about your work in the world. It is the veneer reflection of good work.

Chase after applause, and you measure success and contentment by how many and how loud. When the clapping stops, you leave yourself wide open to a chasm of disappointment or worse.

Here’s an interesting thing: When you chase after applause, you’re in such a hurry to gauge other people’s surface responses that you overlook the very thing that brings you abiding joy – the challenges of honing a craft, building an endeavor, improving a skill set, learning to do something brand new, and making something that in turn changes the way people think or feel or act.

It’s tough to resist this lure of instant mini-fame. It’s especially tough in a time when programmers who make apps and social media platforms know how to tap into our base needs for instant gratification. Like, Like, Like, Like.

We don’t need fame to thrive. We don’t need millions of people throwing accolades our way for our art or business or endeavor to make an impact and to make a return.  Read more

A Radical Alternative to Resolutions & Goal-Setting

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1. THE QUESTION

Neurologist Jeffrey Schwartz’s defines a self-described depressed person as someone who cannot achieve regularly what she sets out to do.

No wonder December can feel so depressing to so many people. On one hand, we take stock of all we did not do that we thought we might during the current year, and on the other hand we face another year and wonder if we can muster a shred of hope to make things different.

But what if we have a tool at our disposal that is exponentially more likely to lead to the change we desire?

What is that tool? Read more

Farewell, foreign shore by Nick Kenrick, Flickr

The endless quest to remember who you are

Farewell, foreign shore by Nick Kenrick, Flickr

Image: Farewell, foreign shore, Nick Kenrick, Flickr

“Know thyself.”

It’s a high classic Greek ideal. It’s also impossible.

It’s impossible if that adage means that we should know completely, consciously who we are and how we think and what we feel and what our motives are at any given time.

Consider these questions:

Why do you act the way you do? Why do you believe what you believe? Why do you conduct business the way you do?

Come up with a conscious rational answer. It won’t be complete. That’s why – without being self-indulgent and narcissistic – the quest to remember who you are as a leader, business owner, or creative influencer of any brand is essential. Read more