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?

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The Time to Rise is Now

business artist

In June 2014, I kept hearing a rumble underfoot. People were frustrated. Hard-working people. People stifled in Silicon Valley start-ups that perpetuate business-as-usual tactics in new guise. People in digital entrepreneurship turned off by get-rich-and-famous-quick promises that perpetuate more of the same on a new medium.

I tuned in. I tuned in with what bothered me and with what seemed to bother so many entrepreneurs, professionals, and creatives within our community. What they complained about – and often what held them back from advancing their own endeavors – often boiled down to things they perceived still happening in traditional business and digital entrepreneurship.

Things like lack of integrity. Manipulation. Automated efficiency in place of relationship and engagement.

Here’s what bothered me more than the business-as-usual patterns I witnessed:

These perceptions of business-as-usual were holding back members of our community who otherwise are accomplished, work hard, create astonishing things, and want to make a positive difference.

Good people being held back – that bothers me.

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The Rise of the Business Artist

business artists, experience economy

Two Deaths

The first death: William Deresiewicz of The Atlantic described the traditional artist’s death in his article from January 2015, “The Death of the Artist – and the Rise of the Creative Entrepreneur.” Deresiewicz confirms what we at Tracking Wonder Consultancy have been tuned into for a while – that the creative entrepreneur is rising and giving new meaning to what it means to be “an artist.”  Read more

4 Levels of Civil Discourse


Most of us, I’ve realized, aren’t taught how to own our voice in ways that elicit healthy discourse. But I’ve also learned we each can change that.

If you’re a conversation leader, creative, blogger, business owner – anyone who might have influence if and how you voice your views – consider this:

How is as important as what. When it comes to having a healthy influence, how you express your views on important issues is as important as the content of your views.

If you want the take-aways without the personal story – or your own reflection – skip to the end.

A Vision without a Voice

When I was a boy, no one talked about ideas as I recall. It was not like what Teddy Kennedy described growing up in which the only way to get his father’s attention at the dinner table was to have something substantial to say on an issue.

My father watched the Watergate trials on a hotel tv while we vacationed in Mexico, much to my mother’s chagrin. I watched Nixon resign on my grandparents’ television while my mother cried. But otherwise no one voiced any political or social views.

I didn’t know how to hold a conversation, think well, tell a story, or take a stance. We basically had one allowable emotion in the family – happy. Which meant we buried a lot of unspoken anger.

I grew up shunning people with strong views and closed off around any dispute. When I defended my master’s thesis, my committee of professors praised my written thesis for its depth and nuance, but as they asked me question after question I could not “think on my feet” or defend it. I shut down. One professor with a fierce reputation looked almost remiss in grilling me and then tried to help me with the process.

“It’s a fine thesis, Jeffrey. Really. We have to ask you these questions, though,” he said. “It’s not personal. We just want to hear you articulate your position.”

It was foreign turf, and that embarrassment became a private call-to-action.

I had vision with no voice, but I was ready to change that. And you can, too. Read more

Business and Creative Retreat Tips and Support

To get traction on projects and business vision, you need to take a break from work-as-usual, but not all sabbaticals and retreats are equal.

Designer Stefan Sagmeister takes a yearlong sabbatical every seven years.

The first one he took was disastrous.

In this video I tell you the three things Sagmeister did differently for the second sabbatical he took that helped make it a breakthrough success.

You don’t have to take a yearlong sabbatical to learn from these three things.

Our clients take Deep Dive Retreats of 8, 24, 48, and 72 hours that have helped them advance brand strategies, big endeavors, business visions, and books.

In this video, I also share with you the three things you need for a short-term personal business & creative retreat you can take within an hour of where you work and live.

I also tell you how you can receive for free our simple Deep Dive Retreat document that I send to private clients. Read more

Thought(ful) Leader Series: Author & Productive Flourishing Founder Charlie Gilkey


I have asked leaders in different fields whom I respect their views on leadership today and what conversations they think we need to be having.

This week’s guest is ally and colleague Charlie Gilkey. A former Army officer in Iraq with a philosopher’s reflection and a productivity hack’s action, Charlie often raises questions & checks assumptions about the field of digital entrepreneurship and business itself.  An influential soul more prone to questions than answers is, in my book, a thoughtful leader.

In this Thought(ful) Leader interview, Charlie shares when he realized he was leading his field, how to face the hard, and whom he looks up to.

– Jeffrey

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Thought(ful) Leader Series: Author & Playing Big Leadership Program Creator Tara Mohr


Tara MohrI have asked leaders in different fields whom I respect their views on leadership today and what conversations they think we need to be having.

This week’s guest is Tara Mohr. With unflinching grace, Tara has raised conversations around women – talented, capable, more-than-competent women – playing small with their lives & ideas. She set out to change that, and she has. Tara’s Playing Big model has influenced the way tens of thousands of people have taken bold steps to follow their callings.

In this Thought(ful) Leader interview, Tara will share with us why “new” leadership isn’t necessarily the answer, why she looked up to her dance teacher, and why she doesn’t want to be remembered.

– Jeffrey

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Thought(ful) Leader Series: Big Ass Fans Founder Carey Smith

I have asked leaders in different fields whom I respect their views on leadership today and what conversations they think we need to be having. If you find something valuable here, please share this post and leave your comment or question.

“Empathy and expertise command respect,” writes U.S. Army lieutenant general William G. Pagonis in the Harvard Business Review. Those two qualities reflect how I think of today’s thoughtful leader is Carey Smith. This is a leader, after all, who during the recession of 2007-08 did not follow his competitors’ actions by laying off people. Instead, he gave them small bonuses.

As you will see in this colorful interview, Smith reveals his secret to creating a company with a 200-year vision: How you care for and treat people. He truly is proving that we can do business-as-unusual.

In this Thought(ful) Leader interview, Carey will share with us why he equates his approach to leading to the actions of a dung beetle, his simple yet profound approach to leading, and how as a high school student he led his school through an innovative educational experiment. – Jeffrey

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Prioritize Your Value

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

Spencer Goad/Creative Commons

She couldn’t believe the one word that came up in a simple self-assessment. She had sensed it in her 20+ years of accomplishments across the globe. But the word simply was not the word she used to describe herself or the quality that most captivates people and brings them value. She might have chosen compassionate, loving, sensitive. But this word?

What was that word? Power.

That word came up in one of the self-assessments I use with clients to help them gain a facet of self-knowledge. It was as if a mirror into her whole heritage and history brought to light her untapped gifts. What’s unique about this assessment is that it is more a reflection of how the world sees you – not how you see yourself.

Held in check, the world, it turns out, holds up a mirror to our genius.

Whether you’re a speaker or spiritual seeker, a painter or business artist, there’s an oft-overlooked level of knowledge essential to hone on the path to mastery.

It’s a knowledge that involves the world mirroring your genius. And it involves your genius in turn lifting up the world.

I’m sure you know and honor your “values,” and you likely don’t equate “your value” with complete monetization. You are not a product.

Still, if you endeavor to do business-as-unusual, you need to prioritize your value.



From Trauma to True Story: Owning Your Brave Medicine

Mike Boehning Photography. Limited use. Creative Commons.

Mike Boehning Photography. Limited use. Creative Commons.

Note: Many business artists come to us in deep transition. They know that writing & publishing their books and shaping their brand stories are part of a larger Story they cannot quite articulate. Working with Tracking Wonder Consultancy is different than working with a coach on one hand or a creative agency on the other. This guest post by Tracking Wonder’s Lead Consultant Cathy Shap gives you an idea of what it is like. It also gives us the opportunity to highlight one of our extraordinary heroes, Ginny Taylor – Chief Creative Officer of Women of Wonder. As Ginny notes in our “Here’s to the Heroes” film below, her quest has “given me the courage to own my story and not be owned by it.”


Guest Post by Cathy Shap, Lead Consultant at Tracking Wonder

Ginny Taylor didn’t wake up one day, early in 2014, and say to herself, or anyone else for that matter, “It’s time for a Quest, by golly.” She said what I imagine any normal person feeling the pull of change would say: “Do you think I’m ready for it?”

Such was her query in an email to me dated January 8, 2014. She was about to join our first Tracking Wonder ArtMark™ program, which helps business artists shape their larger business Story and expand their presence with integrity.  The program seemed an ideal incubator for Ginny as she was initiating a transition out of her day job into creating her own business. 

Ginny had initially come to us for help with her memoir – a book that deals with the trauma of sexual abuse. She was very much in her head about it all until yoga and journaling helped her get in touch with her fuller self.

In our early months of working together, she shifted from over-thinking her ideas into deeply feeling them. Where she’d felt blocked, things were beginning to move. And sometimes even the slightest movement can start to crack open much deeper shifts. Soon, Ginny wanted to share the power of journaling and yoga with other women, to teach them how journaling and mind-body practices could be empowering, could help them step more fully into their lives, even if she was still in the process of doing so herself. She was now hearing a call. 

“Do you think I’m ready for it?” 

Most of us live in a similar question at certain stages in our life and trajectory as business artists. We wonder if we’re ready to shift careers, write a book, invest in what matters. But underlying those tangible goals is a deeper yearning and curiosity. A calling.  Read more

Own your brave medicine (poster).

Your Brave Medicine poster

It’s not enough these days to stay in your creative studio or thought leadership laboratory and create your art.

It never has been, actually. Walt Whitman and James Joyce found alternative means to get their disruptive medicine out into the world. ManetMonetPissarro, and Cezanne couldn’t get into the prestigious Salon to sell their art. So they forged their own society of artists, sculptors, and painters, took over a series of rooms, and opened their own show.

Thomas Edison was not the inventor of the light bulb, but he was the inventor who figured out how to keep experimentally and then get word out about the value of this then-frightening low-wattage thing.

If not enough people know about your business or your books or the value of  your hard work as a service provider or artist or professional, if you are not yet reaching the people you yearn to reach with the return your yearn to earn, then take this poster as a reminder of what you can do this year. And check out the link below to learn how you own it.

This is the Year of Business Artists – for the people who can navigate the artist’s messy interior life, finesse the business of engaging customers and audiences with integrity, and leverage the unprecedented resources to produce and publish elevating goods and services – the new art.

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