As Bill Moyer says, “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.” As an artist turned entrepreneur, I know that creativity has helped me find the marvelous, the innovative and the unconventional. I’m intrigued by other creatives in business too. How do they utilize their talent, skills and artistic natures? How does their unique brand of creativity impact their companies and their careers?
I sat down with my friend, fellow business owner and client Sylvie Levine, the force behind the Sylvie Collection of diamond jewelry, to talk about designing a creative business. Sylvie is a jewelry designer and a third generation diamond businessperson. I am a sculptor turned CEO of Globe Runner, an SEO and digital marketing firm. Though our businesses and backgrounds are different, we share five key concepts about creativity that help our companies thrive:
I believe that creative people are curious people and that curiosity helps us embrace the new and untried. It’s my curiosity that drives me to explore different ways of doing business, like trying out creative contract ideas (performance-based, revenue-sharing, etc.) to find the best fit for my client. Sylvie’s curiosity helps her stay ahead of the design curve. “I never stop learning. Whether it’s a fashion trend or a marketing trend, I am always eager to learn about what’s cutting edge.”
Surrounding Ourselves With Creatives Who Share Our Standards
“Talented staff and companies help me convey my message, “ says Sylvie. “I utilize other people’s strengths to help run the company, which allows me enough time to focus and uphold the integrity of my brand.” She also believes that her staff reflects her work standards. “It’s very important to me that we maintain a high standard of craftsmanship, so it is a big emphasis within the company culture.”
I believe one of the best things you can do for your business is hire great people and encourage them to be creative. When interviewing potential employees, I look for what I think are the hallmarks of creativity: curiosity, which is often reflected in a desire to learn new things, and passion, whether it’s personal or work related.
Balancing Creativity and Business
Creativity can certainly enhance a business. Sylvie is creative in a very detail-oriented sense, which actually helps a lot in the business world. “Both creativity and business are equally important to me. When it comes to artistic direction, I pride myself on my creativity, and I work hard to never cut corners. By staying true to my creative process, I can be confident about what I produce.”
But creatives may also have to make decisions that go against their artistic sensibilities. As artists, we are trained to understand that while not all artwork is good, there is some merit to each effort. We learn to see the good in something or someone, whether it’s actually there or not. I’ve realized there is no space for that idea in business. I have to be able to see what works.
Meeting Challenges With Creativity
Every business leader can learn from their mistakes. Sylvie always tells her staff that “every crisis is a blessing.”
As creatives, we have extra tools that can help us problem solve. When I address a problem, I approach it as I would an art project. I first turn my challenge into a formal problem, so that I know exactly what challenge I am trying to solve or what idea I want to encapsulate. Then I try to eliminate all assumptions. For example, if I can stop assuming that a painting has to be created with paint, I might see that the solution actually involves another medium. If I don’t assume that a customer service issue should be “fixed” with more staff training, I might be able to see that a better solution may be to change the employee-customer interaction process.
Taking Time to Be Creative
Running a business takes time and energy. It can be hard to make space for creativity. “My biggest challenge is finding the time to unwind and give myself a creative break,” says Sylvie. I admit that I too find it tough to take the time to recharge my creative battery. But it’s worth the effort. After all, our creativity is the force behind our successful businesses; the way we can find the marvelous.