I’m here today to share my thoughts about your business with your art in relation to the election, what this election could mean for our economy and what opportunities we as artists have right here and now to create change on a level we have never been able to before. So I invite you to listen carefully to what I have to share, as I have rarely been so passionate about election results or how the outcome could impact our world as artists born to share our art without censorship, confined authority or economic freedom.
Now is the time, more so than ever, more so than we ever thought, to step into our power as artists, to create the work we were meant to create, to use our work to create businesses that not only share our voices with those whose lives our work impacts, but our economy to shift back into the hands of those who care the most about creating a stronger, more loving, more peaceful country.
Now, I’m not a political person, per say, and I’m not here to talk about politics today. I’m here as an artist and business developer to talk about the significant message we have received as artists and business owners as a result of this presidential election, which goes deeper than what appears to have happened on the surface. This was a hard pill to swallow for many, many artists around the world, and one I know is still ringing in the minds and hearts of many.
However, it has happened, and we now need to look at how to handle the circumstances we find ourselves in and how we can now more than ever contribute to change.
You see, I believe there is an important message we need to identify and take hold of in order to fully grasp how we as artists can play a significant role in creating the right kind of change in this world by embracing everything we believe in and creating thriving businesses around and for our art, starting right now.
In order to explain what I’m referring to here, I need to discuss my experience with the election. I hope you’ll allow me to share my personal story with you in order to illustrate my point of why I know artists are hardwired to run the best businesses in the world today, and how those businesses have the ability to create change in ways so much larger than what you may realize.
I’m from Ohio- Youngstown, OH, which is a steel mill town exactly one hour and a half west of Pittsburgh and one hour and a half east of Cleveland. What most people don’t realize about Youngstown is that it used to be a booming steel mill town, comparable to Pittsburgh, where Eastern European immigrants came to in the early 1900’s- my grandparents arrived there from Hungary in the early 1920’s, and my grandfather worked in the mill. They lived in what was called a company house- a concrete housing project provided by the mill to the immigrants- surrounded by other Eastern European neighbors who became family.
My father was born in 1929- right in the middle of the Great Depression. Needless to say, my dad is quite a bit older than my mother by about two decades. He struggled in his early life learning English, barely making it through school, joining the Air Force during the Korean War and then worked several jobs, including that of a dry cleaner and a plumber. He also, like so many of the men of that age, developed a drinking habit that was threatening to ruin his life as he approached the age of 30.
By a stroke of miracle and thanks to a number of his friends who convinced my dad that enrolling in college was a good idea, he signed up- very reluctantly- for an art class, thinking that would be the only thing he could take on and pass. To the professor’s great surprise my father had a natural talent for drawing. He was encouraged to pursue this path, and less than ten years later he was a high school art teacher in the inner city school system of Youngstown, OH and regarded as one of the foremost artists in the state of OH.
He met my mother at the age of 41- she was 25, also a high school teacher of English- they married and both taught in the inner city of Youngstown, my for 35 years.
My father was not just a teacher- he was a passionate advocate for helping kids with talent and ability get out of the inner city by nurturing their talent and working tirelessly to get them art scholarships to schools they never dreamed of going to. I remember him spending hours after school and on weekends working with his students to enter their work in the Scholastic Art competition to gain the recognition they would need in order to be eligible for scholarships. I used to go with him to school when I was six and seven years old and draw with his students while they were focused on meeting these deadlines.
Several of his students still keep in touch with him to this day- from the Marvel Comic superstar illustrator Paul Gulacy to the talented painter who came to NYC on scholarship and worked for Christie’s auction house for nearly a decade.
I grew up surrounded by art- taking art classes at the Butler Art Institute when I was just able to draw, going to art exhibits to see my dad’s and his students’ work, surrounded by my father’s own work in our basement, which included two six foot nudes, a sculpture of Hemingway’s Old Man And The Sea, Medusa and a stunning six foot life-size version of Elvis.
My father worked harder in his life than perhaps anyone I’ve ever seen. And I was never one to balk at hard work myself as a result. There is nothing about my father that does not respect hard work, commitment, and dedication to a craft. He holds those who have struggled to make it in life and have found their way in the highest regard.
And yet, he voted for Donald Trump in the election.
Truth be told, I wasn’t surprised, as I know my dad and I know the town I’m from, and I know, in large part, the state of OH. I’ve been able to predict the outcome of every presidential election since I was six-years-old, mainly because the place I come from plays such a huge role in deciding the outcome each and every time, but more so because I know the pulse of the people there.
That did not make the outcome of this race- or the fact that my father chose to vote this way- any easier.
But let me tell you why this is at all significant or important for you as artists to hear, take in and understand on a deeper level than you may be thinking.
My father has the ability to recognize hatred and bigotry- he has the ability to see when someone is corrupt- we come from Youngstown, after all, where my father grew up rubbing elbows with the mafia and hanging out with the bookies at Spak’s bar. He knows corruption when he sees it. And it has never mattered to him what color a person is. As long as they pass his test of what he considers “a hard worker who can tell it like it is.” You pass that test, he’s got your back for life.
But he comes from a generation that is dying, and that kind of fear of going away and begin forgotten is palpable and easily played into, especially around the issues that matter the most to him and his compatriots- the working class. He is sick and tired of the government allowing big corporations to affect the working class and take over the economy in a way that threatens the life of the working class citizen. And anyone who plays into that has his full attention. Enter Donald Trump.
What most artists don’t see is there is a deep desire in Americans to change the way Washington relates to our economy, and to stop the big corporations from perpetuating the most corrupt economic system we’ve had in this country since the revolutionary war- and that is based on numeric facts. That was proven in the voter turnout- 73%, in fact- from all parties, Democrats, Republicans and Independents that the economy was the top issue on voter’s minds at the polls, and for good reason.
Issues aside, Bernie Sanders and Trump represented to voters two people who took action in their campaigns to change the system- Bernie with the way he accepted funding and Trump promising to fund his own campaign. Hillary did not represent that to these particular voters. Voters were angry about a federal government that works for the rich and leaves the rest behind. Washington has tried to convince itself for years that the American people don’t really believe that. But the truth is in the election results.
And I know, when it came down to Trump and Hillary, Trump spoke to this issue in particular in places like OH where it mattered most- He promised to rebuild this economy for working people, he promised to punish those who gave into corrupt donations from large corporations. And in the midst of that, he ran a heinous campaign, full of hatred, racism, and bigotry.
But his message among white, working class men went past a liberal, conservative or party worry- it spoke to a deep fear that resulted in these people voting for him anyway.
Here is something a lot of artists may not be considering in this moment, and it is the heart of my message here today: economic reform requires political reform- and although you may not be paying attention to the economy- because it is an extremely hard and complicated beast to pay attention to- the problem is fundamentally simple: the government has worked long and hard to promote only those at the top because of the money they receive in return. This is fundamentally corrupt. Americans want this system to change, and we as artists need to help change this system because if we don’t it will not happen on its own. Americans are sick of political candidates wallowing in donations and dark money. They are sick of it.
Unfortunately, a different kind of dark force is about to enter the White House, but we as active and creative voices in this society have the opportunity to ignite change where we may not have been able to before.
Although this pill is vicious to take down, if we look at the issue of the economy alone- arguably the most important one to ALL Americans- there is an unprecedented opportunity for business owners, but artists especially, to create change by building healthier and stronger businesses that cannot be ignored by those in charge. We can do this while holding those now in charge of our economy accountable every step of the way where it will count the most- by creating a new, healthy, democratic economic climate.
Artists, this is our time to go to work. We live in a democracy with a flawed system, which is why one won the popular vote but the other was granted the office. This election and this decision represent something much deeper than what the results have shown- there is a cry from our country that our division is too deep to ignore anymore- and believe me or not, we have the power to change it.
Now more than ever we have the chance to build thriving businesses as artists like never before- with the help of the internet, a new way of marketing with integrity and heart and being able to measure marketing results for the first time ever we as artists have our chance to create the businesses we’ve always dreamed of creating.
American Express Open stated that 90% of small businesses fail each year in large part because they don’t have a proper financial plan in place. The 10% who do survive not only have a solid financial plan but they have owners who are PASSIONATE about what the mission of their businesses are and have a clear vision for its future:
This is how I know artists are hardwired to run the best businesses in the world in this day and age.
You have two-thirds of the equation already in place: an ironclad offer- your art- and a clear vision and mission for where you want to see that offer go. You just need the last piece of that puzzle- the financial component- rock solid in order to ensure your business will take off.
And that’s what I’m here to help you with, every step of the way.
My mission is to give you all the resources, courses, guidance, and coaching necessary for you to fill in the gaps that are holding you back from building your business with your art, your way.
Because I know, of the over 500 artists I’ve worked with, those who put these three components together in the right way are seeing incredible results in their business growth, are on track to taking their businesses to six figures and beyond, and are seeing the opportunity to invoke change in our society on a larger level than they thought possible.
These are the exact kinds of businesses we need to help tilt the economy back into the hands of the people, rather than have it governed by large, Big Brother-like corporations. Because when we do, we change the tone, perspective and energy of everyone and everything around us. And that is precisely what we as artists aim to do every moment of our creative lives.
That is what this podcast, Artists In Business, is all about. That is why I’m interviewing artists from this community to share your voice with as many people as possible to inspire, uplift and bring hope to those who may resonate with your work. To sign up for your interview now, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will schedule your time to share your business with your art.
In terms of this new government we have entered into power in just a few short weeks, we need to now have more artists than ever setting an example in acting like the democracy we are supposed to have in practice- and in order to do so, we need to do two things:
Growing a business that serves as our vehicle for this change is the primary way we can enable this to happen for ourselves and as a community of artists whose voices will be heard as we counteract the threat this administration and this economy poses to our rights and livelihood.
But- and I firmly believe just as importantly- we need to vocalize what issues we will work WITH them on, and be IN THE KNOW about those issues. That means working to listen to what is on the table and actively and judiciously sending a strong message when we are FOR what they are trying to achieve, and vehemently opposing when we are AGAINST what they are trying to push.
Unity is the way of our constitution, but more importantly, it is the way we know we want our country- let alone our world- to come together to celebrate our differences while working toward a better place for everyone to live for generations to come. The heart must win. Peace must prevail. So we must stand firm on that path and not allow for anything less, like we do as mothers to our children, like sisters to our brothers, like children to our parents, like students to our teachers and teachers to our students. We must stand firm in our knowingness that love is our answer, and we can demonstrate that through showing we know how to play the game of growing a business in an honest, authentic, powerful way. When we take it on to do that work, we take responsibility to spread love like the peaceful warriors we all are.
Now I’d like to hear from you– how are you feeling about the election as an artist, and business owner? And what do you know is the next step you need to take, right now, to take your business with your art to the next level of growth? Please leave your answers in the comments below and let’s create a dialogue that we can keep going as we move forward with strength, courage, and power into this new time of immense opportunity for change!