Businessmen Vs. Artists

You have probably met artists who tried to explain to you, with sheepish smiles, why they have not achieved financial security or abundance.

Their explanation is usually that they are not businessmen.

I started to wonder what it means to be a businessman.

Some artists are business minded and some businessmen are artistic.

So what is the difference?

Here is my insight.

Whatever we do, there is a cost/value relationship. The cost has many manifestations: energy it takes to get the job done, use of limited resources like time, money and one's status in society etc. These are all costs one will use or not depending on how much value they bring. And, value has its own manifestations which are exactly the same as costs but instead of depleting the source it adds to the source: adding energy, saving time, accumulating more money escalating in status.... or we plainly wonder will the planned activity make us feel good or bad; good is the value and bad is the cost.

My insight by watching people make decisions, is that some have an artistic frame of mind and they are not necessarily in the arts. They are engineers.

And what is that frame of mind?

Those with an artistic frame of mind are so passionate about their work that they only see the value and ignore the cost.

Watch them make decisions. They only focus on the value of their creation whatever it is, a painting, a sculpture, a new engine or a new building. They are foggy or indefinite about the costs. And when cost factors are brought to the surface for discussion they become defensive and can even get offended that the value is being questioned because of the costs.

A Businessman's frame of mind on the other hand, is to weigh, all the time, the relative cost/value relationships. Their passion is to be sure the value is higher than the cost. It is reflected in the profits, in the short or the long run.

When they see value they immediately check the costs in human energy, in financial resources etc. and based on the results of their inquiry make a judgment about whether to pursue or abandon the project.

A businessman with an artistic frame of mind goes bankrupt. And an artist who checks cost to value of his or her creation is a commercial artist. Not a fine artist.

Having businessmen on boards of directors of fine art organizations can be destructive to the organization and its purpose if those businessmen are driven by the business mentality. As a famous performing arts artist told me once, it is business mind thinking that destroyed Broadway.

Artistic and business frames of mind are the opposites of each other.

Instead of bringing business acumen to the arts, because it will destroy them, arts should be supported because they add value to our quality of life, which is not measured by cost.

The most important things in life, their value is known by their absence: Health. Love. Democracy. Art.

You canot compare them to their costs.

Just thinking,

Ichak Kalderon Adizes