Killing Creativity – Business #8

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Business

Hiring and promotions in business works like this all the time.  It might be political considerations in a University President’s office. It might be a stylistic or theoretical dislike on the part of one of the senior executives at the firm. The reasons can be valid and real, but they can also lead to a compromise candidate that isn’t as well qualified as the ‘best’ candidate.

Creativity

It happens all the time in art too. How? By the artist deciding they must bow to pressure from a gallery director, or a studio head, or the media marketplace.  They want to create one thing but they are told it won’t sell so they compromise and create a Frankenstein instead. Part their vision but part other people’s visions as well.  The result might sell but is probably not nearly as unique or authentic a creation as would have been created if the artist were left alone to create what they wish.

Is this a bad thing? not always. But it is something that often diminishes originality to the point that you end up with something bland and uninteresting. And that’s a shame in my book.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote is adapted from one by Charles Kettering


 

Your Way – Business #7

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Ego

It’s constantly a struggle for many people to let go of not only the desire to be right, but the desire to be acknowledged as the originator of an idea.  I just finished reading a book called ‘The Innovators’, about the history of the development of the computer and all that has come from it.  

Blind

One of the most amazing aspects of this history is how many big companies dismissed and derided new ideas coming down the pike from their own developers and engineers.  So much so that the smart people at the large corporations figured out they needed to isolate their innovators away from the corporate bureaucracy, even to the point of setting them up on the opposite coast. 

And even then most of these large companies did not exploit what was discovered and invented right in their own labs.  Why? Because they believed that their version of the future was correct, and it didn’t include outlandish ideas like transistor radios or personal computers. 

Mindset Matters

This quote is by Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Electronics.  As a result of his mindset, Sony has had an amazing run at the forefront of electronic product development. Their record isn’t perfect, they missed out on some things, but overall they have been able to grab hold of new ideas and run with them.

For me the application of the idea behind this quote, whether in business, science, religion, or life, is simple.  Let my ego and greed diminish and let my open mindedness and love of others increase.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Akio Morita, 1921 – 1990, Founder and Chairman of Sony


 

 

Discovery – Business #6

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Innovation

I just finished reading a book called ‘The Innovators’ by Walter Isaacson. I highly recommend it. It’s the history of the computer and digital revolution.  It’s an amazing story of people trying something that people before them said couldn’t be done. It’s the story of people fiddling around in their garages and workbenches; experimenting, failing, experimenting again and again, sometimes not even really knowing specifically what it is they are reaching for. They knew it had never existed before and that is exciting.  It’s the story of collaboration, trusting others on a team to be both rigorous in their work and open minded in their willingness to attempt things that have never been attempted.  It’s the story of people respecting and understanding ideas and inventions already in existence but not being limited by those same ideas and inventions.

This Is How It’s Done

One of the hardest things for a person who has been at the same company a long time to do is let the new people make their own discoveries about what works and doesn’t work in the business.  This is also true of parents with kids and of coaches with athletes. In these cases we think we can see the best way to do something, whether it’s how to close a sale, cook a roast or do an exercise. We know because we have done it so many times, right? It’s good to have training in place so new workers can know how something is done properly. It’s good to have your child in the kitchen with you so you can show them how to prepare the roast properly.  It’s good to show the athlete how to lift the weights properly.  

This Is the New Way It’s Done

But there comes a time when they have ideas of their own. Maybe they see a flaw in your method. Maybe they have figured out a shortcut. Maybe something about the process just doesn’t make sense to them.  Or maybe they are bored and just want to try something new.  What do you do then?  You let them try the new ideas.  Of course, we aren’t talking about allowing something dangerous. But something new and untried? Why not?

It’s what makes the world progress.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Benjamin Franklin


 

Temptation – Business #5

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My Father’s Method

My father wasn’t good with money.  He was raised without a lot of it so when he ended up getting enough to go around than then some he didn’t spend it or invest it all that wisely.  Honestly, early on I was the beneficiary of those decisions.  For example, when my grandmother on my mother’s side died, he used the inheritance to by a boat.  It was our first boat ever. But it was not a sensible little boat we could learn on.  It was a 47′ houseboat. It was big. As a result we hung with the big dogs at the various marinas we docked at and I was able to use the boat as my own personal playground for many summers.  But in the end the boat blew up on us. I mean that literally. It did actually blow up and I was burned on 75% of my body as a result.  Buying that boat was temptation over opportunity.

He once invested in a company simply because it happened to be located in the same office building as his.  Of course, it could have turned out great, if the company had been Apple. But it was an obscure little company that found hard to find needles for record players.  I still have the stock certificates, worthless now for many decades.  Why did he do that? Because he liked the guys who ran the company. He wanted to help them out and that was how he could do it. But it probably wasn’t a wise investment. It was temptation over opportunity. 

Questions

I am not immune from this.  I am easily tempted as well.  I haven’t had much money to throw around but there are other ways to be tempted.  Temptation has more to do with where your attention is focused than anything else.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your business attention focused on long term or short term goals?
  • Are you planning for something in your business’ future by saving or organizing? Or do you just deal with things as they pop up?
  • Are you able to keep your business focused in a certain direction even when the initial excitement of your choice has dwindled? Or do you change your direction based on your enthusiasm and excitement level?
  • Do you rely only on what you see and hear in your immediate business environment to decide what to do with your time and money? Or do you investigate by purposely exploring areas and industries you aren’t familiar with?
  • Are you able to imagine your business ideas being implemented by others? Or do you feel you need to do it all?
  • Are you able to adapt to new circumstances?  Or are you rigid and firm in your direction, no matter what?

It’s in the Building

I just finished reading a great book called ‘The Innovators – How a group of hackers, geniuses and geeks created the digital revolution’. It is an amazing book that I highly recommend.  One of the major takeaways I have from the book is how completely obscure their business future was to each and every one of these entrepreneurs.  We look back on this history and we see it as inevitable that IBM, Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Google, the internet, all would exist. But not one of the people building those businesses had any idea what they would eventually become.

They started with an idea and they had a vision, but they didn’t know about the technology’s future. Some predicted what would happen, even as far back as the mid-1800s. But those people didn’t build the machines. Those who built the machines and the software, they didn’t have the luxury of just prognosticating. They had to build something.  It was in the building that the future was created, not the philosophizing.

And building takes place when focus is good, when opportunities are taken advantage of and temptations are minimized.


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote is from a fortune cookie


 

 

The Lover – An Illustrated Short Story

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Chapter One – When a Child

When a child Viola loved the violin. She played it every day. Her mother had been a viola player of some renown and had named her one and only daughter in honor of that. But Viola fell for the violin instead.  Her mother, Violet, didn’t mind. All she wanted was for her daughter to be happy.

Chapter Two – When an Adult

But when an adult Viola was not happy. She had stopped playing the violin because her girlfriend, Clarina, didn’t like the sound of her practicing and she wanted more than anything to make her girlfriend happy. She thought if she stopped playing her girlfriend would love her more and be happy. 

Chapter Three – When a Lover

The happier Clarina became the unhappier Viola became.  She didn’t know why but she was very sad most every day.  Her therapist, Timpany, said it was because she wasn’t playing the violin any longer.  Viola wasn’t sure but she thought it might be true.  She decided she would play the violin again, but only when Clarina was not at home.

Chapter Four – When Alone

Viola started to play the violin again.  Viola’s neighbor, Mr. Horn, who was french, heard her every morning.  He saw Viola in the hall when they were both getting their mail one day. He told her he loved hearing her play, that it made his mornings so relaxing and happy. He told her he was a photographer and asked if one day he might be able to take some photos of her playing. He had been doing a series of musicians and had not yet done a stringed instrument player. She was delighted and said yes.

Chapter Five – When Together

She didn’t tell Clarina, but Viola went to Mr. Horn’s apartment 3 days later to be photographed.  He had her stand on the fire escape and he took photos of her with the city in the background.  He complimented her again on her playing.  It only took about 20 minutes to get all the shots he wanted.  Then he offered her some tea, which she accepted.  He asked her questions about her playing, her life, her interests.  She was happy to have some attention and was sad when he said he had an appointment he had to get to.

Chapter Six – When Apart

Viola was very excited to see the photographs.  But she didn’t see or hear from Mr. Horn for a number of weeks.  It was making her crazy waiting. It wasn’t just that she wanted to see the photographs but she wanted to see Mr. Horn again.  She liked him and felt positive and hopeful when she had been with him.  She wanted that feeling again.

Chapter Seven – When Surprised

After 2 months had passed, an interminable amount of time for Viola, she saw Mr. Horn in the hall.  He greeted her warmly and apologized profusely for the delay in getting back to her. He invited her right then to his apartment to see the photographs and she of course accepted.  She was so surprised to see the photos. She didn’t realize he would convert them to black and white or that they would be so dramatic and emotional.  She actually started to cry when she saw them.  He embraced her lightly around the shoulders and said, “I hope those are good tears.” She said that she had never actually seen a good photograph of herself playing before and she didn’t realize how moving it was going to be.

Chapter Eight – When in Love

Mr. Horn asked if she would mind if one of the photos was put in an exhibition he was going to have.  She immediately agreed that it would be fine. She asked if she could have a small print of the photograph just as a remembrance.  He said that was part of the plan.  5 months later the exhibition opened.  She went to the opening and saw the print framed for the first time. She cried again.  She also whispered to the print when no one was looking, “I love you.” She felt the image speaking it back to her. She was happy.

Epilogue

The next morning she confessed to Clarina she had taken a lover. Clarina was hurt and asked, “Who was it?”, “When did it happen?”, and “Why?”  

Viola brought out the little print Mr. Horn had given her and showed it to Clarina and said, “This is my new lover.”

Clarina didn’t understand and never did. Viola and Clarina broke up later that day and Clarina moved out 2 days later. Viola became 3rd Violinist in a local orchestra and was very happy. She also became one of Mr. Horn’s favorite and most popular models. He eventually published a photography book called ‘The Violinist’ that became a big seller for his small publishing company. 

Viola and Mr. Horn’s friendship spanned over 30 years. They remained great friends until Mr. Horn died at age 78. Viola helped organize the work he had not yet been able to catalog due to his sickness and led the effort to have one final book published of his work.  She succeeded and was very happy for him.

The End


Drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com


 

 

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