The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Why we need award shows like the Jessies June 23, 2010

Monday night, here in Vancouver, we celebrated The 28th Annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Vancouver cultural landscape, The Jessies are our answer to Toronto’s Doras or Broadway’s Tony Awards. They honour theatre excellence over the past year.

You can say what you like about awards shows: that they don’t really mean anything, that they are shallow, that the same people are nominated and win every year.

But what I witnessed Monday night was none of those things.

What I witnessed was unbelievable support for each other, and rallying in the face of some really, really dark and difficult times. I saw a lot of love. I saw a note of glamor in our otherwise “I wear Stage Manager’s blacks” lives. I saw us not take ourselves too seriously.

@SMLois and I clean up pretty good!

Let’s face it, since the first round of arts cuts in August last year, our community has been reeling. A conversation I had with Bill Millerd, Artistic Managing Director of The Arts Club, indicated that they may need to turn to programming smaller shows: 2-3 handers, instead of the bigger-cast, bigger-budget stuff they have been doing. Deb Pickman of the Shameless Hussys joked (seriously) that they can only afford to do one-woman shows from here in, and Ruby Slippers Theatre has put a list of shows that have been canceled on their blog.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year from these arts cuts, it’s that we have the ability to come together and make a lot of noise as a community. Our whole is indeed greater than the sum of our parts. And part of what the Jessies are about are celebrating that community and the strength we have when we get together.

We only really get to do this once a year. All the other times, we see each other in our shows, on stage, or at openings or workshops. But this one night of the year, we get to come together and not work and hang out and laugh and celebrate.

For me, the acceptance speech of the night belonged to Anthony F. Ingram, for Shameless Hussy’s Frozen. “I’d like to dedicate this to my dad Gary who fought so hard for me not to do this, and over the last few years has become one of my biggest supporters. He thanked me for showing him that theatre can open your eyes to the world.” He added, “This is not a community–it’s an industry. Maybe if we start calling it an industry, the government will listen to us.”

The full list of the nights winners can be found on the Jessie Awards website.

I’d like to especially congratulate the producers of the shows I got to work on: Touchstone Theatre, Presentation House, and Leaky Heaven Circus.

You can read  Miss604’s LiveBlog of the event here.

And, remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that Laara Sadiq was my favorite in the best actress, small theatre category? Well, she won.

Here is her acceptance speech:

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Networked Blogs December 4, 2009

As all of you regular readers (thanks, btw!) know, I like to write quite often about technical tools, gadgets and websites that can help make our lives and businesses easier.

The latest one I’m enamored of is Networked Blogs. Introduced to me by Mary Melinski, Networked Blogs is a Facebook application widget that imports your RSS feed onto your Facebook personal profile or business Fan page. Not only can people read your latest blog post, they can use Facebook as an alternate RSS feed, and be updated every time you publish a new post. I love it, because a. it saves me work, and b. it’s introducing my blog to a new audience.

I have created two screencasts to show you how to use this tool for yourself.

Part 1

Part 2

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Why Social Media Matters (guest post by Rebecca Krause-Hardie) November 16, 2009

Rebecca posed a question to me the other day.  It was something like this…
I know social media is important, and you know it’s  important, but how do we make the case for the value of social media – to people who think its just hype?

I think there are lots of reasons.

First, a bit of perspective: we seem to be approaching social media as if it were a whole new deal. Let’s be clear. We have all been struggling for thousands of years, how to relate to and engage one another; as tribal members, as individuals, families, clans, communities, institutions and organizations.

We have struggled as teen-agers with parental relationship controls, and peer pressure to behave in acceptable ways or be excluded. As adults we are participants in many organizations, institutions, companies, as well as community, cultural, and religious groups, that each subtly define what appropriate social behavior is and what is possible.

For thousands of years, large scale conquests across continents, wars and commerce have cross fertilized our cultures and social structures. Then, POOF, along comes the internet and social media technology tools, that have transformed the informational and social landscape of time, distance, interactive immediacy … and the possibilities for building and sustaining relationships, that are  both positive and negative.

But one thing is clear, over the centuries, through all of this … sustained personal trust, transparency, authenticity, loyalty, passion, and the value of personal relationships in our social networks – is the glue that keeps it all together.

So how does this speak directly to the value of social media today?

Here we are in the thick of it. Social media is about building and sustaining virtual networks of relationships – personal relationships – that are also built on trust, authenticity, transparency and value. When we, as individuals and organizations, invest in social media networking with our friends, associates, customers and prospective customers, there is also significant value that appreciates – to all of the participants.

Many researchers have identified a very specific group of those personal, loyal and passionate supporters, and relationships, that are the core multipliers of each of our networks. Alan Brown calls them Initiators; Fredrick Reichheld calls them Net Promoters.

Here is one analysis of the value of that relationship of trust, transparency and passion, delivered and sustained over time – Frederick Reichheld wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review called The One Number You Need to Grow:

‘Net Promoters’ – People who are wildly passionate about what we do

Enterprise Rent-A-Car was interested in understanding how people’s actions correlated with what they said. If someone says that they like to go to the theater – do they actually go, and what choices do they actually make?   In the study, they first tracked people’s initial responses to the survey, and then followed their actual downstream behaviors.

Historically millions of dollars have been spent understanding customer behavior; learning how to second guess what customers need and want. Most methods were complex, hugely expensive, marginally adequate, and frequently could not actually or accurately predict behavior.

Reichheld decided on a more direct social media approach – have a Q&A conversation with the customer – and really listen.

With the help of Reichheld, Enterprise discovered that the answer to only one survey question was all that was needed. This question is now widely used across a broad spectrum of for profit and nonprofit organizations:  That one question is:

“How likely are you to recommend my company to your friends?”

In the survey, people who answer that question with a 9 or 10 (on a scale from 1 to 10), are your Net Promoters. These people are the ones that will make the buying decision because they love your stuff (you deliver trust and real value over time), and when they passionately refer their friends to you for free, their friends are likely to act on it positively, 75% of the time.  This is an astounding return rate, especially if we look at typical results from direct mail for example with 2-3% returns.

Reichheld goes on to say that to grow your business the ratio of the Net Promoters to all the other respondents should be 75% or better.   How are you doing? You should ask the question and really listen to the answer if you want to grow. If your numbers are lower than that, your customers will be able to tell you what you need to do to change it … if you ask, and then act on it!

Personal referrals are effective 75% of the time!

We just learned from Reichheld that personal referrals are effective about 75% of the time, so it begs the question.  “What are personal referrals about?” They are about personal relationships.  We talk to our friends, and we tell them what is important to us.  We share, we trust, we value….  all the things that evolve from building social capital.  When we are enthusiastic about something we share it.   Let’s say I just had a spectacular experience with the customer service at AutoZone and I tell you about it; that will probably stick with you next time you need to pick up a part.  (Or have a headlight put in….. they did it for me instantly politely and happily!  Yay!)

On the other hand, say I have three excruciating gut-wrenching and really bad experiences in a row with Spirit Airlines (yes I did!) and I tell you about it; that may affect how you think about them too.

What does this have to do with Social Media?

Social media is about building relationships with people.  When people are making their decisions in large part based on what their friends say, then it’s important to know what their friends are saying and feeling.

If they are a passionate promoter then social media tools can help you empower them to deliver your message for free.

If they are not a net promoter, then you should be concerned about what they are saying and feeling that is not helping your cause.  What can your organization do to provide more value and to address the issues that these people have.  How will you even know what they are saying and thinking?

You can use social media tools to listen and have conversations with people. To be relevant you have to be part of the conversation.

Want some facts and figures?   Check out this video on YouTube….

beckydeckRebecca Krause-Hardie is a social media strategist, arts blogger, facilitator/trainer & project manager; helping arts and NPO’s use the web and social media effectively.  Rebecca has over 20 yrs experience in new media, business, marketing, finance. She developed and has been the Executive Producer of the award winning New York Philharmonic’s Kidzone website, now in its 10th year. http://www.nyphilkids.org.  Representative clients the Boston Symphony, NYPhilharmonic, Detroit Symphony, MAPP International, Canadian Museum of Nature, NYS/Arts, Caring.com and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
She blogs at http://arts.typepad.com/
She Twitters at @arkrausehardie

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On Going it Alone… October 23, 2009

Filed under: Business of Arts,Business relationships,Life,Networking — Rebecca Coleman @ 4:21 am

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the business we are in and how hard it is to continuously be motivated. As artists, we are one-man-shows, chief cooks and bottle-washers. For the most part, when we write that song, sketch out that painting, work on our novel, we do it alone. The arts can be very solitary.

I talk to people all the time to who struggle with this. Forced to have a job to support themselves while they build their art DSC_0643practice, they find themselves too tired/burnt out/uninspired to focus on their art practice at the end of the day.

The answer is just to show up. To treat your art as a job that you carve out time for every day, and show up to. It works because you no longer have to worry about inspiration or quality. Just by producing your work in sheer quantity, you will eventually come up with something great, or be inspired to create.

Still, like going to the gym, it can be tough to have the self-discipline to make yourself do it. So I suggest you get an art buddy.

Find someone who does what you do, or someone who doesn’t but is still an artist, and make a pact with them: you will both spend ‘X’ amount of time on your work over the next day/week/month. And then phone each other, send each other emails, or meet to discuss how it went. Having someone to be accountable to outside of yourself can be a very powerful motivator.

I’ve used this method many times in my life. It started when I worked at the SEARCH program, a self-employment program for artists. We would regularly create “Success Teams” out of groups of graduates who were encouraged to meet after the program was over to share ideas, help and motivation. The first few times I tried to get through The Artist’s Way, I was unsuccessful, but by going through it with a group which included weekly meetings, I got through it and I got lots out of it. Currently, I belong to a small business support group. We have been meeting bi-weekly for two years, now, and this group has been a great source of assistance–both by cheering me and kicking me in the butt.

So, whoever you are, whatever your art practice, I encourage you to not go it alone. Find someone, or a group of someones who are like-minded individuals, and create your own support group.

You can learn more about how to create your own “mastermind group” here.

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I’m on a Teleclass! July 24, 2009

This week, I did an interview with Jason Drohn, who is an online small business coach. We met through Twitter, and he is an avid blogger. He does a series of teleclasses, and my interview with him is  one of them.

Our conversation includes the topics:

  • How organizations who rely on promoting their through the newspaper should be marketing in new media.
  • The secret of promoting video through social media
  • How and why you should be engaging customers through all sorts of mediums – audio, video, text
  • How to sell 1-to-1 through social media
  • How to create ambassadors for your business
  • How your blog should integrate with your social media stream
  • The strategy behind developing a plan for social networking
  • What you shouldn’t do to promote your business with social media
  • What the true cost of social networking is
  • What you need to be careful about concerning brand management
  • The truth on what Twitter marketing is actually about
  • How to find clients and business through Twitter
  • How to cross promote everything – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc.

And more!

Click here to listen to the MP3.

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I.R.L. July 3, 2009

Filed under: Business relationships,Life,Networking — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:35 am
Tags: ,

I’m self-employed, and I work from home. Sometimes the only other beings I see for days are my cats.19-06-08_1631

When I lost my job in July of 2007 and decided to go into business for myself, the thing I realized missed the most about working in the office was talking to my co-workers. Going for coffee, lunch, or just talking about something we’d seen on TV the night before.

I love being self-employed. But it can be very quiet and lonely, especially for someone who consistently scores as an extrovert on the Meyers-Briggs.

I love online social networking because it ends up being like taking a break and chatting with my co-workers. But there’s nothing that can really replace hanging out with people I.R.L. (in real life), and I sometimes forget that.

I have a small business support group that I meet with once every two weeks, and I am always amazed at how much energy I take away from that meeting. Online social networking is great, but we also need to be around real people.

A lot of  online social networking has been leading to real-life meetups: a group of people who have met online via Twitter will get together at a bar or a coffee shop to meet and talk and, yes, Twitter.

If you’re feeling stuck at home without human contact, go to meetup.com, do a search for something that interests you, and see if you can find a group of people meeting I.R.L. that you can connect with.

I know, it sounds crazy, but you just might like it. 😉

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I am in love with Naomi Dunford June 1, 2009

So, I just discovered this new blog, and I’m totally in love. So much in love, that I need to shout my new affection from the rooftops (ie: my blog).

Ittybiz is a blog written by Naomi Dunford. A gal who paid her dues in the marketing departments of large corporations, a couple  years back, she chucked it all for a home-based business, and is doing pretty darn good. She now consults with micro-businesses (less than 5 employees), and writes a blog of tips and thoughts on same. Plus I love that she works with her husband, and has a baby. Oh, and did I mention she’s funny? It’s like The Blogess was writing small business advice.

Through Naomi’s blog, I have discovered Dave Navarro. His blog is called Rock Your Life. Navarro is a business launch coach, and his blog is all about becoming more productive without losing perspective.

Used to be, if you wanted to learn how to be (or how to be a better) entrepreneur, you signed up for a course, or read a few books. Now, all you need is Google Reader.

Follow them on Twitter:
Naomi: @IttyBiz
Dave: @RockYourLife

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