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The Art of Business and the Connection Economy

“Art is a personal act of courage, something that one human does that creates change for another.”Seth Godin

The Art of Business? Really? I mean, sure there’s the Art of War, the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but the Art of Business? Yes, grasshopper, read on.

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time I was the manager of the I.T. department for a public school board. Pretty boring, right? In the beginning I wore my days away, fixing computers in classrooms, fixing software, being sneered at by a disgruntled teacher (“My Smartboard isn’t working, again!”), all pretty routine things, all very routine things. And I did them routinely, in an eyes-half-shut, automaton kind of fashion, just checking off a todo list.

And then one day…

…we had a change of leadership. Our new leader brought with him a fiery passion for the purpose of his work of the likes I didn’t know existed in public education. I hadn’t realized we were allowed to be passionate about our work, or even that work was something to be passionate about? I learned from him that my role in the process of education was as fundamental in the 21st century as those of teachers and students, and he expected a lot of me.

The challenge was met, and through the knowledge that the work I was doing mattered, I changed the way I did things. I engaged with staff and started to understand their issues – personal and professional, although that line always blurred – and challenges. I learned that many of them were just as passionate about what they were doing as I was. We grew connections, and in turn we empowered each other. They learned that the I.T. department wasn’t just the face of annoying technology, but that we really gave a damn, that we had passion and frankly, that what we were doing was…art.

And thus, the Art of Business…

As Godin himself suggests, “art isn’t just about painting,” art is something that we are all capable of. If we approach work with passion and care, if we deeply listen to our customers, we can respond with art. In the words of my mentor at KISStrategies, business must solve a problem for someone, and when we do that, when our work is good and thorough, we evolve out of the mundane and join the quiet ranks of  the elite in today’s “connection economy.” We might be as poor as dirt financially, but our social capital will be through the roof, and through that we prosper.

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