Creative Entrepreneurship – From Upping Your Elvis

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
Michelangelo 1475-1564
creative entrepreneurship

The notion of creative genius is not a new one. Nor indeed is the idea of an artist making money in his or her own lifetime, although it is true that Michelangelo was possibly a 16th century exception. However, until very recently, entrepreneurs have stereotypically been thought of as purely business focused, often ruthless, individuals who have dedicated their lives to a venture and made pots of money.

Conversely, the image of an artist conjures up a vision of a sensitive, frequently tortured, soul living a life of impoverishment. Increasingly, as technology advances and modern marketing tools, such as social media, become available to us all, entrepreneurs are emerging from a wide range of industries, particularly creative ones.

From chefs such as Jamie Oliver, to musicians like Taylor Swift and Garth Brooks and modern artists, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, it is increasingly individuals with an ability to harness their creativity that are emerging as the most successful entrepreneurs of modern times. All have adeptly used a variety of marketing media and techniques to promote themselves as a brand, and many have created large enterprises as a result.

creative entrepreneurship

However, the same creative entrepreneurship can also be witnessed in many, more traditional, businesses that are successfully negotiating the global competitive pressures that seem to intensify with every nano-second of technological advancement. Typically, these corporations take the concept of creativity leadership seriously, and have harnessed some highly creative individuals to their corporate goals.

Entrepreneurs need to be great leaders and the team at Upping Your Elvis believe that the best leaders are creative rather than rational. Research from YouGov (see this infographic) clearly demonstrates that creative leaders are far more effective on a number of measures than their more conservative, logical counterparts.

A creative style of leadership is the key to full employee engagement and encouraging people to give their all and be the very best that they can be. Upping Your Elvis are continually assessing the fruits of their labours to encourage greater creative entrepreneurship amongst the senior management teams of a great many global businesses. The Elvis guys call it the Creativity Dividend, and it would seem to be evidenced by a recent Adobe survey.

Adobe found that 82% of companies purport to believe there to be a strong connection between creativity and business results, although sadly almost 2/3 of senior managers do not perceive their companies as creative. Companies that are, however, actively fostering creativity are 3.5 times more likely to outstrip the revenue growth of their peers by 10% or more. Furthermore, they are 50% more likely to enjoy greater market share than their less creative industry counterparts.

Between them, the Elvis guys have spent thousands of hours with some of the finest creative minds across a wide variety of industries. They have found that all the great creative leaders have one thing in common. They make a conscious decision to reconnect with their inner genius and realise their creative potential, and then they use it to get things done. They are doers and they lead by example.

Much of what Elvis is about, is assisting people to access what is quite possibly the most powerful source of creative stimulus available to us: our subconscious. We are highly unlikely to have our best ideas whilst sitting at our desks, staring at a screen and thinking hard. If we are to access the power of our subconscious, we generally need to relax and change our state: walk, travel, get out into nature, play.

Featuring in Fastcompany’s top 100 list of the most creative people in business 2015 were Mehmood Khan, the Chief Scientific Officer of Pepsico, and Greg Hoffman,Vice President of Nike’s Global Brand Design. Whilst their businesses are very different in many respects, both individuals appear to have a similar approach to creative entrepreneurship. They are constantly striving to cultivate their own creativity and that of their teams and to harness it to corporate objectives.

Both have a strong belief in the power of connectivity, internally and externally, and when in search of a lightbulb moment they both change their states. Mehmood Khan indulges in a game of chess with his grandson while Greg Hoffman draws his inspiration from travelling around the world. The success of their respective organisations would suggest that they ascribe to the philosophy of another great creative genius of yesteryear, Pablo Picasso:

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not?”
Pablo Picasso 1881-1973


This article was written by Mark Brown at the Upping Your Elvis team – a group of consultants working within Culture Change, Employee engagement and Creative Leadership.

Creative Entrepreneurship

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