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?

I Promise to Give

maker8The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him – it cannot fail – Walt Whitman

In 2008, Wired editor Chris Anderson saw “Free” as the future of business.  Anderson was spot-on.

Not to create any kind of free swimming hole for your audience to engage you or your brand in is, well, foolish, counter-productive to your creativity, and kind of stingy. It’s the hoarder’s or snob’s tendency to hold back. (I didn’t call you a hoarder or snob!)

There are obvious reasons why otherwise well-intending business artists and owners hold back, but they might not see how giving away is an investment and a creative catalyst.

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How are you enabling belonging?

Photo By David Marcu

At our core, every human being longs to belong.

That’s not a claim this former lone wolf artist makes easily, but it’s something my blood knows now.

“Well-being is about a harmonious relationship with oneself. But it is also about having empathetic, successful, and gratifying relationships with others and nature.” – Rodolfo Guttilla, executive director at Natura 

I spent four days with over 250 entrepreneurs, business artists, artists, and open-hearted human beings from around the world. And in a rare instance with a group that size, I belonged.

I felt comfortable enough to stand before a smiling audience donning my red pants and deliver a performance poem called “Coat Thief” that includes the climactic line, “Why wait? Go naked now.”

The need to belong is something that pal and Camp GLP founder Jonathan Fields and bright light Emiliya Zhivotovskaya espouse and live.

It’s a key ideal that humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow recognized decades ago as one of a handful of fundamental drives in the human spirit, and it is a key ideal we at Tracking Wonder emphasize when consulting certain business artists about their signature brand stories.

In fact, we’re pretty adamant about DIT (Do It Together) over DIY.

But my Camp GLP experience let my knowledge seep deeply into my bloodstream.

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Who holds the big picture for you and reflects it back?

big_picture_event_horizonOne of our greatest needs as business artists is for our best self to be seen and for a vision of that best self’s quest to be held and mirrored back to us.

Earlier this week, a beloved client and Tracking Wonder enthusiast sent me a note that linked to this blog post by the ever-spot-on Seth Godin. Her note said, “I read this and thought of you because this is so YOU!” (See if you see yourself or someone you know in it): Read more

The Surprising Reason Why Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Splits Went Viral

jean claude

You’ve likely heard and seen by now the Volvo ad that went viral as Jean-Claude Van Damme performs his “epic splits.”

But why did it go viral?

Maybe if we took a closer look at what happens to most of us emotionally as we experience the 72-second video from beginning to middle to end, we might find a surprising answer that could help any of us who make stories, videos, or other potentially captivating content.

Stay open. Let’s take a look.

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3 Reasons Apple Still Captivates & Elevates

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 8.18.51 AMAny animus toward Apple aside, they still captivate and elevate in ways that small businesses, solo-preneurs, creative professionals, and creatives & authors can learn from.

Many of my clients and groups struggle with telling the Story of who they are and what they do with consistency and integrity. And others actually feel trapped by their brand – as if it took a wrong turn or as if they’ve outgrown it. They want to change their brand but are at odds of how to do so with integrity.

If you’ve wondered how to shape, improve, or even change the Story of your business, brand, or product, Apple still makes for a good model. So, I’m going to break down what they’re doing in their most recent ad campaign and give you some take-aways. I’d appreciate your feedback, responses, and experiences shared in the comments section below. Read more

Artists Make What Businesses Want

1. Artists Do Not Make Art

Here’s a paradox I witness every week:

On one hand, artists and authors feel that business is alien to them, and on the other hand, business people feel that making meaningful art is alien to them.

I meet, talk, and work with such creative people and business people every week. Both sides of creative commerce have something the other wants and needs.

Artists notoriously feel more inadequate about their lack of money smarts than do the business people I meet who lack art smarts. For artists and other creative people who feel inadequate about whether or not they can sell enough bracelets on Etsy or corral enough design clients to pay the rent, first, remember what you truly make.

You do not make bracelets or designs.

You potentially make something else much more valuable.  Read more

Books That Matter to Abby Kerr

Abby Coterie Headshot

Abby Kerr makes branding artful, meaningful, and – most of all – effective.

But it wasn’t always so.

Abby’s journey has taken her from English teacher to cool boutique owner to founder of her one-woman show Abby Kerr, Inc. to her latest venture, The Voice Bureau – a boutique branding agency that helps entrepreneurs and micro-businesses show up with a signature vision and brand.

Abby’s take on branding captivates me for three reasons.

Taste – Abby’s artful attention to detail helps me and my patch of the planet understand why certain iconography works or flops for certain messages and messengers.

Hootzpah – Abby critiques her field and chintzy trends within it. She calls people – usually not by name – on their stuff. As she said in one interview, “Haphazardry in branding has to go.” (Plus, she admits to being decidedly un-hip, which endears instantly to my heart.)

Empathy – Abby’s perspective is research-based + heart-based, a combo we also respect at Tracking Wonder. That combo lets her critique and advise from a decidedly empathetic stance versus a purely subjective stance that equates to, “Well, this is what I think….”

I’m pleased to share with this language-loving entrepreneur’s take on Books That Matter to her. You learn about her girlhood fantasies of blond island boys, the difference between an off-brand blond Oreo book and a Laduree Macaron book, and more. Read more

Beyond the Paradox of Loving What You Do

yearningheartThe Paradox of Loving What You Do

A funny paradox: We love to love what we do. Yet, we sometimes fear that if we learn too much about how what we do works, the love will vanish. As if increased behind-the-scenes know-how spoils the innocent magic. And if we become conscious of how what we do affects others, then we fear becoming manipulative.

Yet, can you imagine magician David Copperfield or filmmaker Wes Anderson being able to enchant us if they did not love what they do and aspire to learn how what they do affects their audience and do the work necessary to make the magic happen?

We know how art we love captivates us. And yet we’re not always willing to admit that we can learn without becoming cynical and that we can become adept and craft-conscious in our art and business art without becoming manipulative.

I see numerous aspiring artists and aspiring business artists tripped up and stuck in this paradox. Otherwise talented artists, coaches, and freelancers also get hung up on their own baggage labeled “marketing” and “branding.” (For the record, been there.) With the near-sold-out Your Captivating Book Mentorship Program about to get under way, I’m wondering more about what trips us up in the challenging process of art-making and artisan business-making.

(By the way, I’d appreciate your perspective in the comments below because your perspective broadens mine.) Read more

Experience Architects Engage with Love & Wonder

Memorable enterprises and blogs endure the way memorable art and stories endure.

Mind-changing businesses create experiences for their customers the way mind-changing authors and artists design experiences for their audiences.

Those experiences are sent with love and infused with wonder.

They engage us and surprise us by holding up mirrors to what’s best in us even in our darkest hour.

What mirrors are you holding up to your readers, customers, clients?

One difference between writing for yourself and writing beyond yourself is your ability to become an Experience Architect. Aristotle offered the original blueprint for how great story tellers build such experiences. But the past few decades’ emphasis on self-expression and self-esteem, some aspiring artists, authors, and bloggers have forgotten or never learned the art of Experience Architecture.  Read more

Vigilant Compassion in Coaches, Facilitators, & Your Best Self

Avalokitesvara, One Who Hears the Cries of the World

My pal Michael Bungay Stanier of Box of Crayons posted this thoughtful piece on Fierce Love about coaching. He writes,

This is what rings most true for me at the moment, a mantra of service.

Fierce reminds me not to get too comfortable in the conversation we’re having.
To push myself to be as bold, as courageous and as vulnerable as I can when I engage.

Love reminds me that I want to fully champion that person, help them on the journey to be the best version of themselves that they can, regardless of what we’re working on.

His question follows up directly on what we discussed with The Right Stuff of Great Teachers & Facilitators. Michael’s fierce love echoes a term that came to me a couple of weeks ago while coaching a client: Vigilant Compassion. Even though I used the phrase in the context of how I suggested she speak to her best self, it’s really my working mantra of service these days. Read more