Friday, September 10, 2010

Creative Business Symposium with Sean Low

A reminder that we are fast approaching the Creative Business Symposium with Sean Low. It takes place this October 25, 26 & 27 at the beautiful Oxford Hotel in Downtown Denver.

Andrea and I are very excited to bring Sean Low to Denver. He's a business man, he's coming here to help business owners grow their businesses. No fluff here, he gets down to the nitty-gritty and makes you think! Makes you push yourself! Makes you be honest with yourself!

Monday - All Day Workshop open to all creative business people. 9-4, lunch served.
Tuesday - Two workshops are offered:
9-11 - Workshop for Photographers
1-3 - Workshop for Event Planners
Wednesday - One-on-One meetings with Sean Low

Register for Sean's Creative Business Symposium here.

Sean wrote the following article which reflects what he plans to present at the Symposium:

The 4 P's

I cringe at rules, proscriptions, formulas — anything that tells me how I have to do anything. It feels far too confining for me and creates an illusion of safety: if you do it this way, things will all work out. Mostly, I just hate being told what to do. There is no net and the only person that has the “right” answer for you is you. That said, there is a huge difference between being unconventional and being reckless. Not to be overly outrageous, but without core principles your creative business will fail. I translate core principles into the 4P’s: Passion, Philosophy, Platform and Process.

Passion: The unending, visceral, overwhelming desire to create the art that you do. There are far easier ways to make a living than to run a creative business. Nobody needs what you provide. Your clients hire you because they think you and your art can transport them to wherever they want to go. Hard for me to ever imagine that you would be able to honor and embrace this responsibility if you were not deeply passionate about what you create.

Philosophy: What is the purpose of your creative business? To be famous? Rich? A means to an end? The end? What do you want your clients to feel about you, your art and your creative business? Your employees? Vendors, friends and family? You? Your creative business has to have a purpose beyond delivering your art. Your business is simply the vehicle through which you can share your message. The integrity of what you believe is what infuses what you are selling regardless of whether you are creating it for yourself or a client. Your clients buy the message as much as they do the art. Soulless art is an oxymoron and is unsustainable as a business.

Platform: If you do not deliver to your clients what is most valuable about you and your creative business, you cannot hope to get paid what you need. What makes Apple different from Dell? The Flip different from Sony? Target different from Hermes? The better question is why each cannot sell the others’ products? Platform – each of these businesses message is designed to elicit a response (i.e., sale) from the audience that cares most about it. If you are confident about your philosophy and what you are truly passionate about, designing (or fixing) your platform will become obvious. I just finished Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (the CEO of and, for me, the coolest part of the story was how they created an extranet for their vendors. Zappos’ vendors can see how their inventory is selling and at what rate on a real time basis – they have the keys to the store. Instead of taking all of the power from Zappos, the extranet turned vendors into partners and made them more, not less, invested in Zappos’ success. Transparency is a key part of Zappos’ platform, derived from their passion for customer service and their philosophy to deliver happiness.

Process: Nobody will be able to see your passion, philosophy or platform if you do not have a defined process. Yes, you have to write it down so that everyone – clients, employees, vendors, colleagues, even your mother – knows what comes next. There is not just comfort in everyone knowing how you do things, there is trust and faith. Talking the talk is necessary, but walking the walk is what defines a creative business. Tell me what you are going to do and then do it.

Fall is the time all of us think about what is to come and plan for the future. My prayer is that you use the 4P’s to help guide you. They are meant to be accomplished in order: Passion first (what gets you out of bed), Philosophy (what do you want to share with the world), Platform (who do you want to share it with and why) and finally Process (how you are going to share it). Will it guarantee the financial success of your creative business? Of course not. All that the 4P’s are meant to do is to help you satisfy your soul — to make sure your creative business best reflects all that is most important to you as an artist and human being. I would like to think that the rest will take care of itself.

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