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Just Another Deluded Entrepreneur.

March 4th, 2010 3 comments

You sure know how to say it, Hugh.

It’s kind of like, “I am an entrepreneur. I am an entrepreneur. I am, I am, I am, I AM an entrepreneur!”

Check out this latest post of Hugh MacLeod’s: http://tinyurl.com/ycmzgw8

He offers great insight (so wise). I’m grateful for these thoughts because if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that when you make the decision to take the plunge, you have all of these feelings. Feelings like, “I’m an idiot.” Or, “I’m crazy.” Or, “I’m crazy and I’m an idiot.” You’re leaping out into The Great Unknown. There’s no one there holding your hand. You’re swimming solo. And you’ve never done this before. It feels scary and it feels lonely. And it’s one of the best feelings, ever.

Hugh’s book, by the way, is wonderful and it is one of a few that has had a hand in changing my life. Check it out: http://gapingvoid.com/books/

And if you like that one (and by the way, my guess is that you wouldn’t be on this page if you didn’t share in these hopes and dreams), here’s a few more for you to check out:

Fascinate by Sally Hogshead http://sallyhogshead.com/category/fascinate/

Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead http://www.radicalcareering.com/

Linchpin by Seth Godin http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith http://www.chrisbrogan.com/where-to-buy-trust-agents/

Why Now is the Time to CRUSH IT! Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk http://crushitbook.com/

If you’re as geeky as I am, you will find parts of these books that will make you cry as you read. So, even if you never truly become your own boss, at least you will have had a good cry or two.

Here are some of Hugh MacLeod’s thoughts regarding entrepreneurship, followed by my comments (for whatever they’re worth):

1. Everything takes three times longer than it should. Especially the money part.

Thank God I’m not the only one who feels this way. And please, God, would you send me a bit more money, a decent video camera or two, a new Mac, fully loaded with Adobe CS4, Final Cut Pro, etc, etc, an art director, a video crew, an editor, a producer, some advertisers, a SEO expert, an affiliate manager… hmm, what else? Oh, yeah, an accountant… and maybe an extra writer or two. Oh, and about a million or so followers? …Thanks!

12. It’s easier to turn an ally into a customer than vice versa.

This one made me think of something one of my best customers once said to me when I sold software. I’ll never forget it. I made a mistake, and that was that I over-promised and under-delivered. The great rule of sales and service is just the opposite. What he said was, “Trish, I’m going to teach you something: there’s an old saying that goes like this: ‘It takes years to win a customer and seconds to lose one.'” Original thought or no, he was right. I felt awful, and that I had not only lost a customer, but a friend. I sent him a most sincere letter of apology, not expecting to regain his business. But guess what? A couple weeks later he called me again, and it was as though nothing had gone wrong. “Wow!” I thought. “I must be doing something right.” The funny thing was that when I told my boss about losing him, his response was more or less, “Oh, well.” He was the one that had instructed me to make the promise and take the order; i.e., the money. Never again, will I take an order from a client without being able to personally guarantee 100 percent that I can deliver on the product. I like having customers that like me, but more importantly, I need my customers to trust me. Whatever it is that you’re selling, your customer needs to feel satisfied with your product and the experience at the end of the day, if he is to return. And if he walks away delighted, he might just tell someone else. On the flip side, if he walks away angry, you can be sure he’ll tell someone else. It all boils down to earning trust. That is how you sell your product and that is how you win and keep customers. To hell with dog and pony shows. And thanks, Josh.

25. Bill Gates may have a million times more money than me, but he isn’t going to live a million times longer than me, watch a million times more sunsets than me, make love to a million times more women than me, drink a million times more fine wines than me, listen to a million times more Beethoven String Quartets than me, nor sire a million times more children than me. Human beings don’t scale.

Find a way to love what you do. Love your friends and loved ones well, and try to appreciate what you have. Life is short, and it’s easy to miss the little joys and wonderful moments that sometimes fall before us. One of my Russian friends once said to me, “There is a Russian saying: ‘It’s better to have a hundred friends than a hundred dollars.'” I told another friend who said, “That sounds like a Russian saying.” Maybe so, but I like it. Not that I would turn away a hundred dollars.

For the rest of Hugh’s sublime thoughts and witticisms check out his post. Again, here’s the link:
http://tinyurl.com/ycmzgw8

And on that note, Creative Beasts, I bid you adieu. Keep dreaming, keep building on your dreams and as always, Seize The Prey. Here’s Barenaked Ladies with If I had a Million Dollars. Bein’ geeky and keepin’ it real.

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Ground Control to David Bowie: Happy Birthday!

January 8th, 2010 1 comment

Hey, Creative Beasts! A short post today, for there is much to do. That said, today is a very special day, indeed; as it is the birthday of one of my all-time favorite Creative Beasts and Heroes… Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Thin White Duke, Dapper David (and the list goes on)… The one, the only… Mr David Bowie! Artist, musician, actor, writer, poet–you name it; he’s done it, and he has done them all so very well. Lieutenant Bowie, today, you turn 63 years young. Creative Beasts salutes you and humbly thanks you for your words, your art, your performances, your dedication to your craft as well as all Creative Beasts you have helped either directly or indirectly throughout the years–and many more. You are an amazing and wonderful person and spirit, and the work you do is timeless and legendary. Happy Birthday and thank you for all you do. …And kids, just in case you didn’t know, you can keep up with David Bowie’s latest and greatest at his web site: http://www.davidbowie.com/index.php where there are always fresh, exciting and sometimes strange (but in a good way) things happening.

If I could talk to David Bowie today, here’s what else I would say: “You’ve been through a lot, to say the least, and you’ve seen and done so many fantastic things. What would you say have been some of your best or perhaps most rewarding moments as an artist? Here it is, 2010. Sounds strange to say it, right? The entertainment industry has changed so much throughout the years. What do you like about the changes, and what do you dislike? What advice can you give to all the young dudes (and dude-ettes) coming up to face the music, so to speak?

…Well, who knows if we’ll get any answers, but regardless, David… love on ya, and cheers!

Here’s a lovely tribute to our man from some other brilliant and very funny Creative Beasts Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, a.k.a. Flight of the Conchords:

And to send you all off, here’s a great one from the glamorous king:

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They Call It Understanding.

December 12th, 2009 2 comments
Snow geese in flight.
Snow geese in flight.

The past is history. The future is a mystery, and this moment is called a gift. That is why this moment is called ‘the present.’

From The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

Now I get it. Or at least maybe I’m getting closer.

Some things aren’t meant to be, or perhaps just not meant to happen at the exact moment that we would have them occur. Once this is understood, things can get easier. Deepak Chopra refers to this concept as The Law of Least Effort. He says that (and I’m paraphrasing) nature always follows the path of least resistance.

Grass doesn’t try to grow. It grows. Birds don’t try to fly. They fly.

The first time I heard that, it sent shivers down my spine (in a good way).

Here is a quote from Jesus (Matthew 6:28) which I believe is the same idea (this one’s for you, Liza):

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

I think this notion has a lot to do with success–in fact, almost everything. Talent and smarts are great, but faith, timing–and understanding timing–make a world of difference. Think of a baseball pitcher. Now, let’s say that this pitcher throws an amazing curve ball, and maybe he really likes throwing curve balls. But maybe the curve ball isn’t always the solution he needs to achieve his goal, which is to strike out the batters. In order to apply the best approach to any given situation, one must apply understanding which comes from awareness. Very successful people don’t waste time tarrying about and carrying on. They are often quick to measure how well their energies are being received, and from there they determine what the appropriate next step should be. This is how some of the greatest systems have come to be.

Here’s Bob Seger with Understanding.

Have you ever been driving on the freeway at a moment at which all the drivers seem to be moving in sync? Traffic just flows and it seems like a well orchestrated symphony. Then other times, not so much. Life can be similar. On one day your movements and actions might match or compliment those around you, and might be very well received. You are happy and those with whom you interact are happy. Other days, nothing seems to work as you might have expected or hoped for. This is where creativity comes in. You are aware of your situation, and so you make notes, and then adjustments.

I’m a writer. Words matter to me and I know that words can change the world. Not everyone agrees. Some people don’t think words hold much value or maybe they simply don’t remember how words may have impacted them. They might have sung New Years Day at the top of their lungs at a U2 concert once upon a time. They might have worn a Nike T-shirt bearing the slogan, Just Do It. And they probably felt something at the time… something like connectedness. Somewhere else at that time, someone else was listening to something else, and someone else was wearing a different shirt. My point is that we aren’t all on the same page at the same time, and that is OK, and in fact; it is just as it should be. But when we are on the same page–even if it’s just two people–it can be great… magical, even. And great and magical things can happen.

A great deal of time and energy can be wasted in an attempt to gain things like acceptance, attention, praise and even love, but such things can never be forced if they are to remain genuine. The best situational outcomes occur when things happen genuinely… naturally… and when the timing is right.

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Go Crazy for Your Dreams. It’s All You, Baby.

December 3rd, 2009 2 comments

Love this song by Brett Dennen. Love the video, too. Having spent plenty of time dancing to the tune of the consumer organ grinder and countless hours that inexorably turn into days and weeks and so on and so forth–I can say that his song and video are deliciously poignant and gratifying. And heck, I even sold shoes once upon a time, so yes; in a crazy way, it makes complete sense. When you’re doing your dog and pony show, absurdity knows no boundaries.

René Magritte - Die Grosse Familie, 1947 (?)

René Magritte - Die Grosse Familie, 1947 (?)

One time at work, I had a customer ask me if we had ‘something for making pancakes,’ which, of course; we did. We had cute, animal-shaped pancake molds along with griddles, skillets, pancake mixes, syrup, recipe books and even pancake pens, which are these new, large, squeezy plastic bottle-thingies that you put your batter into, and it is cleverly designed to carefully squeeze the batter out into your cute, animal-shaped pancake mold so that it turns out adorably perfect and makes the job easy and fun. I showed him all of these things, but evidently he was looking for something like a circular-shaped mold. I tried to explain to him that when you put your batter in your skillet or on your griddle, it more or less naturally takes on that shape. For some reason, though, he wasn’t buying it. Perhaps he hadn’t yet tried making pancakes. At any rate, sometimes it just feels like you can’t win no matter what you say or do. But you can. You choose your battles, and live to dance another day.

Now, I do not condone or approve of bullying as a tactic or means to an end in any way shape or form, but it’s hard not to admire Vicky Pollard‘s unshakable self-confidence here, despite the hard evidence pointing to the notion that she is out of her league in this competition:

…Then again, there is the fact that once she has clearly lost the game, she resorts to bullying. *Sigh* Ahh, well.

GOT DREAMS? I do. Here’s one of mine: This site is going to become a show. How ’bout them apples? Interviews with great Creative Beasts from all over, and from all walks of life… and other wonderful stuff of an inspiring and mysterious nature.

I’m going to need a few things… eventually, a bigger staff, for example… maybe some cameras… and a film crew… and definitely some angels. That’s my tip of the iceberg list, which is actually a big tip to an even bigger iceberg. There will be much more to say to the right set of ears.

“Why are you sharing this, T-Haus?” you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Because I feel it’s important to state your mission and share your vision. And I aim to prove some things for the sake of all CreativeBeasts: 1) I am not entirely crazy. Slightly, yes. Entirely, no. 2) You can be from anywhere at all and still make your dreams come true. Even Milwaukee, WI (though I am originally from Seattle, WA… but that’s beside the point). 3) Cool and amazing things are happening all over the world. All around us, in fact. Today, in Milwaukee, for example, we had our first snow of the year. Pretty cool. 4) –This is the most important thing–it is not only OK to have dreams and to believe in them, it is GOOD! Go crazy for them, and may it serve you well. And hey–this is, after all, the season in which dreams (supposedly) come true. Keep right on dreaming, and all the best to you all.

I stumbled across this article, “Yes, I Can” Seven inspiring stories of people who proved the naysayers wrong. http://tinyurl.com/y96t5hv . Not bad.

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Music As Creative Juice: What’s Your Pleasure?

September 9th, 2009 2 comments
Jackson Pollock - Autumn Rhythm (number 30), 1950

Jackson Pollock - Autumn Rhythm (number 30), 1950

When I was a teenager, my father once punished me by taking my stereo away because I wasn’t meeting certain academic expectations. I think it was by far, the worst punishment I received. I could be grounded or anything else, but to be without music was like being without light… or water. Thank God for music. I don’t mean to sound trite or to make an inane remark, but I think it’s worth noting what an effect and impact music has on the creativity of others. Now that we have passed another Labor Day, so marks the unofficial end of summer, and with fall comes different flavors and smells, somber colors, different pastimes, and a different spin on creativity. And while even the music we listen to might change somewhat with the seasons, our need for the inspiration and comfort it lends, does not. From Jackson Pollock to Paul Thomas Anderson, Creative Beasts of all kinds have been and will continue to be driven and influenced by the power of music.

I would also like to once again note the cyclical nature of creativity, and in turn; pause for a moment to consider how Creative Beasts need and affect one another. Art in any form and at any level is something that stimulates us and inspires us–an idea–a spark–a birth… created by an individual. It seems that many artists and/or scientists are multi-talented and explore their creativity in multiple facets; for example, a singer-songwriter who also paints, such as John Mellencamp, or a scientist who draws and paints, like Leonardo Da Vinci–or is it the other way around? You get my point. Creative minds are excited by ideas, by freshness, by wonderment and discovery, and by the ability to bring something that encompasses these things to fruition–and to experience the creations of others. That said, it makes sense that many creative types have multiple areas of focus, and multiple passions in their lives. Music makes order out of chaos–even chaotic music. It combines sound and rhythm with thought and puts it in a frame to create a structure. I know that music has a tremendous impact on me and my creativity. I can’t imagine my life without it.

Jackson Pollock was heralded as the leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement in art and pioneered what became known as “action painting.” It’s a well known fact that his art was largely influence by the modern jazz music of his day, which seems to make perfect sense when you view his work; especially in person. He was particularly a big fan of Charlie Parker’s and Dizzie Gillespie’s, but in general, loved rocking–and painting to bebop. Listen to this gorgeous piece titled Autumn in New York by The Bird, himself; Mr. Charlie Parker. Perhaps it had a hand in the outcome of Pollock’s piece shown above.

Additionally, and throughout the history of cinema, great directors are naturally influenced by music, and are keenly aware of just how intrinsically it becomes part of the art which is film. A few of my favorites include Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and last but definitely not least, Paul Thomas Anderson, who states that he indeed, “writes to music.” He freely admits that the screenplay for Magnolia could be called “an adaptation of Aimee Mann songs.” The film is among my favorites, dark as it may be; and is absolutely brilliantly crafted–and so, might I add–is the music. The following quote from Anderson is taken from the introduction of the shooting script for Magnolia.

The connection of writing “from the gut” and “writing to music” cannot be found any clearer than in the “Wise Up” section of the screenplay. I had reached the end of Earl’s monologue and was searching for a little vibe–I wrote as I listened–and the most natural course of action was that everyone should sing– sing how they feel. In the most good old-fashioned Hollywood Musical Way, each character, and the writer, began singing how they felt. This is one of those things that just happens, and I was either too stupid or not scared enough to hit “delete” once done. Next thing you know, you’re filming it. And I’m Really Happy That It Happened.

Here’s that amazing scene [WARNING: This scene contains adult situations]:

Here, Scorsese takes a very different approach by using the cheery 60s sound of The Crystals, followed by Scottish artist, Donovan’s trippy Atlantis, and juxtaposes the music with a disturbingly violent portrayal of Tommy, played by Joe Pesci [WARNING: This scene contains adult language and graphic violence]:

David Lynch writes in his book, Catching the Big Fish,

The music has to marry with the picture and enhance it. You can’t just lob something in and think it’s going to work, even if it’s one of your all-time favorite songs. That piece of music may have nothing to do with the scene. When it marries, you can feel it. The thing jumps; a “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” kind of thing can happen.

Here is a shining example of how David Lynch “marries” music with cinema:

So. How does music affect you? And your creativity? What are your influences? Where do you get turned on to new music? Do you have a theme song (And yes, I stole that notion from a scene from the cheesy old show, Ally McBeal, in which Dr. Tracy Clark demands that Ally choose a theme song for herself. What can I say? It stuck with me, and I must give credit where it is due)? My theme song changes, but I think for now, it is Passion Pit‘s Moth’s Wings (is it just me, or does Michael Angelakos remind you of Peter Gabriel?), which I first heard on 88.9 Radio Milwaukee. I can’t think of a better song to lead us into fall.

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Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation–Generate: A MIAD Alumni Exhibit.

July 21st, 2009 1 comment
Generate:  An Exhibition of Work by MIAD Alumni--Opening night.

Generate: An Exhibition of Work by MIAD Alumni--Opening night.

Friday; July 10th, I had the pleasure to attend the opening of Generate: An Exhibition of Work by MIAD Alumni. I would say it was a great way to beat the heat, but seeing as how this has been one of the coolest summers Milwaukee has seen in some time, it seems only right to say that the heat was right there at what is formerly known as The Paper Boat Gallery; Bastille Days notwithstanding. The show features the works of twenty two artists; some of whom reside in Milwaukee, and others who are now in other places such as New York, L.A. and Tokyo.

Aside from a well-dressed table of fine munchies, not to mention wine and a decent selection of bottled beer, the crowd was a stylie Chex mix of artists, professors and art lovers. Curated by MIAD alumna, Cassandra Smith (class of ’06); the exhibit demonstrated both the challenges and opportunities one is presented with when attempting to fit so many artists’ works in a space of approximately one thousand square feet. In some ways, it was very successful, and in other ways, it felt a bit too “cozy.” These things aside; the show was anything but boring.

If I had to put a label on this group, it would be “Smartists.” Across the board, the art is beautifully crafted and engaging, and while each artist has a unique style and a distinct voice, it seems that this group of work on the whole, has its own dialog taking place, and the conversation is fresh and refreshing.

Having had the chance to speak at length with a handful of the artists, who in general, range from twenty to thirty-something, I gathered that they are driven and vision-oriented; serious, but with a sense of humor or playfulness, despite the fact that some of the work may be rather dark in terms of subject matter, and speaks in a somber tone.

Hand-embroidered works by Rebecca Tanner offer up a bittersweetness and black-humored irony with phrases not commonly seen in such a light, but chances are, each of us has heard some of them a time or two… and maybe this time, with a new twist. She says that it’s her therapy–a way for her to work out her thoughts.

Jesus Ali filmed and recorded a friend’s five year old daughter singing Turn Into by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Beautifully shot and directed, the child’s performance is hauntingly beyond her years in the sense that she seems to understand the gravity of the words she sings and apparently knows by heart. It’s a remarkable piece juxtaposing innocence and the ways of the world.

Colin Dickson’s piece, Attack, recalls images of pathogenic bacteria on a giant scale. Interestingly, when I mentioned this to him, he brightened at this interpretation, and said that he had transformed the piece entirely when he moved it to its current space, which is how he prefers to work. He allows the space, itself, to help determine the final outcome and lay of the work.

Marla Sanvick’s video piece is intimate and somehow familiar, yet surrealistically alien at the same time. Regardless of the fact that there is no audio component, I wanted to view this one in silence, and will return to the gallery to do so on a less busy occasion.

We are living in difficult times, and that is not something that is missed by these artists. Art provides meaning in what can seem like an otherwise meaningless world, and it also calls attention to things we may not wish to see, but should… things such as absurdity, greed and brutality. It lends the ability to create one’s own world, whether that means entertaining certain fantasies, or simply “whistling in the dark.” Whatever the case may be, it is a powerful coping mechanism, indeed.

Following are a few highlights from the show:

Artist:  Kimberly Weiss

Work of artist, Kimberly Weiss.

Gallery goers viewing and listening to work by Jesus Ali

Gallery goers viewing and listening to work by Jesus Ali.

Works by artist, Rebecca Tanner

Works by artist, Rebecca Tanner.

Work of artist, Jeremy Wolf.

Work of artist, Jeremy Wolf.

Work of artist, Mayuko Kono.

Work of artist, Mayuko Kono.

Detail of work by artist, Mary Dibiasio.

Detail of work by artist, Mary Dibiasio.

Work by artist, Colin Dickson.

Work by artist, Colin Dickson.

Left to right:  Rebecca Tanner and Dawn Frank.

Left to right: Rebecca Tanner talks with Dawn Frank.

Left to right:  Jill Broekhuizen and son, Lodi Broekhuizen.

Left to right: Jill Broekhuizen and son, Lodi Broekhuizen.

So, Creative Beasts, remember that this Friday; July 24th is Milwaukee’s Gallery Night, and definitely put this show on your list of ones to see.

Here’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

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