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Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!


wresler1 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

I saw The Wrestler a couple of weeks ago and have been haunted by the images of Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson the broken down wrestler trying for a comeback. While the gritty nature of the movie was difficult to watch at times I couldn’t help but see similarities between “The Ram” and the difficulties we as artists are facing today…or at least we think we are. There are three major take-aways that Randy “The Ram” left me with…

Giving up vs. sticking with it

On the surface this seems obvious…we never give up, we are taught to always stick with it no matter what. It doesn’t take long watching “The Ram” before we ask “How’s that workin’ for ya?” A couple of months ago I talked about knowing when to give up, when to walk away, and how to recognize when it is time. Seth Godin talks about knowing when to walk away in The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by pointing out that life and business are a series of ups and downs some are short and some are long, we need to know the difference to be successful. Hanging in there  to long can turn us into our own version of “The Ram” while giving in to the impulse to give up when things get hard can lead to missed opportunities. Sometimes “staying the course” is good sometimes not so much…we need to be awake to know the difference.

“The Ram” chose to stick with it because of any number of reasons not the least of which was not knowing anything else…he made the mistake of thinking his body and his glory days could last for ever. How many of us felt the same way when we decided to become artists? Did you ever imagine your body would give out and you could no longer throw pots or “break iron”? In the end Randy “The Ram” was left ( he thought) with no choice which brings me to the second take-away.

wrestler2 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!The one trick pony

As the movie came to an end Bruce Springsteen asked

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free
If you’ve ever seen a one trick pony then you’ve seen me
Have you ever seen a one legged dog makin’ his way down the street
If you’ve ever seen a one legged dog then you’ve seen me

Bruce Springsteen “The Wrestler”

So I ask …how many artists are one trick ponies? How many of you rely solely on art fair sales or gallery sales to support your art making? For years we could get away with it, because our bodies let us and we were buoyed up by a sense abundance. We stayed in our studios, quite content to remain where we were and smugly told ourselves we were doing just fine we were above the need to sell our work. Until we noticed we were becoming the “one legged dog” and then……….

A recent survey by the NAIA reflected this tunnel vision  quoting artists blaming the public when the real problem was their own failure to recognize themselves as businesses and businesses sometimes need to diversify in order to grow and succeed. Many of the artists interviewed voiced a concern that they would have to get a “real job”, that may be true for some but not for all especially for those who have paid attention and did not become one trick ponies locked into their false sense of permanence.

Nothing is permanent, we always have a choice

This brings me to the final take-away, and that is we have a natural tendency to think that our world will always remain in it’s current state. We will always be able to throw pots, heft iron, or work a loom, people will always  flock to us ready to buy. So we don’t see a need to anticipate change because everything is great..that is until the trek from the van to our booth site starts hurting, or we have failed to catch a trend change.

wrestler3-331x400 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

So when you start to think about  giving up take a look outside your world and inside yourself and try to see if your lens is focused, and ask yourself…

  • Are you Randy “The Ram” hanging on because you don’t know anything else?
  • Are you that one trick pony?
  • Is the world as you see it now going to be the same way next year, or 5,10 years down the line?

These things that have comforted me I drive away (anything more)
This place that is my home I cannot stay (anything more)
My only faith is in the broken bones and bruises I display
Have you ever seen a one legged man tryin’ to dance his way free
If you’ve ever seen a one legged man then you’ve seen me

Cover of "Working on a Dream (Deluxe Version)"

Cover via Amazon

Lyrics from “The Wrestler” featured in  Working on a Dream (Deluxe Version) Bruce Springsteen

 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

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Self Investment: your # 1 intention in a down economy


ship_wreck Self Investment: your # 1 intention in a down economySelf investment from here on out should be focused on finding and using the best tools and techniques to build a network of enthusiastic followers. A crucial part of self investment during a down economy is to start recognizing that you have to change the way you think about your business. You will need to expand what you do best…thinking creatively about not only your art but also your direction.

Think about how many negative messages you are getting about the current economy and think about, and notice the effect, they have on you by using the techniques I described regarding ANTS. When we are pummeled constantly with negative messages, those messages take an emotional toll on us. Notice your feelings (not your stories) when you think of the future relative to a down economy. Some of those feelings may be:  feeling scattered or randomly moving from one thing to another and not getting anything done ,anxiety, insecurity about the future and what to do, self doubt about your abilities or feeling unsuccessful, or fear of moving in any direction, of failure. All of these feelings breed and trigger scarcity and scarcity leads us to being stuck. Now the funny thing about worrying about the future is unless you are psychic you never really know what is going to show up next.

The first thing to realize is that what is going on outside of you has very little to do with your success and you can control how it affects you by changing your beliefs. It is our nature to become identified with external factors, accepting as given the effects those factors have on us, in essences, we become victims and we start feeling stuck and worried. In a down economy we very often revert to what we think is safe, we become risk averse returning to old ways of living. We choose to cling to the sinking ship blinded by our ANTS because we know it, it feels safer than the cold unknown waters. Instead we should be looking for lifeboats that will help us get away from the maelstrom of the sinking ship and finding a route to safety by using our innate  ingenuity, and intuition.

Your # 1 intention should be to self invest by owning your future, breaking away from your fear and anxiety and start using your creative resources to find the best lifeboat with the best passengers. These passengers should not be survivors they should be adventurers willing to navigate whatever barrier surfaces in order to find the best route to land. They will also be motivated by a particular twist … their success will help keep other ships from sinking.

Lifeboats in a turbulent sea

Your lifeboat in the coming year should be equipped with the right gear to help you not only survive but also sustain you after you make landfall.That gear should also help you support those in your boat because they depend on your skill and knowledge. And the tools should also reinforce communications of all in the boat by amplifying your skills. The tools in the gear bag should help you feed and inspire your companions by unifying them into working toward a common goal ensuring that the lifeboat and all its passengers make landfall. In addition your tools should help you find and connect with other lifeboats so that you can have greater strength in numbers along with their relevant  knowledge .

The primary form your lifeboat will take will be in the form of a blog because it will be your base of operations and primary beacon. You can use it to help those afloat on the sinking ship’s debris find you. In addition, you will need listening posts or buoys set up to send you information about the state of the sea ahead.

Now leaving the Titanic metaphor behind and remembering that the hub of your activities is your blog let’s look at two very important tools to have in your gear bag. One important thing about choosing tools is to choose only those that will help you and at the same time reduce the amount of time you need to use them… Remember the 80/20 rule.

Here are some that will help you right away.


  • By using a variety of tools you can now segment your followers into geographic groups or whatever way you want.
  • You can also send private tweets to only that group using Tweetgroup.
  • Use twitter in connection with your blog to send your followers to special blog posts like discussion of what you will be bringing to a show or a special event at a show.
  • Connect your blog to twitter so your posts will be sent out automatically.


  • Facebook is the easiest and best way to start building communities, it is easy to set up and can be an excellent way of finding networks spread out geographically. And no you don’t need to have 5k friends, in fact it is best to be very selective using the tools built into Facebook.

E-mail list

  • An e-mail list is important because not everybody is up to speed with using the internet. You should also have a way of segmenting your list geographically so you can send messages to key members.
  • When your list starts getting large you will need an auto-responder that will automatically send messages to your members.


  • For those who don’t do e-mail you may want to call and let them know you will be in their area. Skype is web based telephony which you can use for pennies, you can also have conference calls with several of your members.

You can start building your network easily by using the tools above, we will talk about strategies and tactics for using each one as well as other tools we will talk about later.

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 Self Investment: your # 1 intention in a down economy

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Media The Not-So-Daily Edition

Virtual Networking in a Brave New World

The Social Network As It Was.

Remember when networking was something that was accomplished at blazer-wearing cocktail parties and on the golf course followed by a cocktail?  Even if you don’t remember that, one must realize historically there was such a thing.  Leaving the house and beating the streets socially was absolutely the only way possible to network in the community and create a name, credibility and resource.  It was an era of creating importance amongst people of importance.

Enter the Digital Era of Networking

Got a computer?  Of course you do.  Well, throw away your taste for shrimp cocktail and the smell of freshly cut grass coupled with too many gin and tonics.  Your social and business network has not only become easier to access but absolutely endless.   You are a rock star in the infinite world of your own virtual networking.

There are no people of self importance.  We now understand that importance is relative to the task.  And we also understand that the tasks are constantly evolving.  It’s a better day.

Modern Party Chatter and Tee Off Times

The basic difference between networking in the past and networking now is the comparison of a closed circle to an infinite web.   There are no limits to a social web presence, guaranteed.  And you don’t have to hear the rancid gossip either.

Creating a brand name or identity in the digital era involves a very simple infrastructure of URL presences coupled with what we in the digital social networking industry like to call maintenance.

The infrastructure is the name branding and the maintenance is the social trust building.

Digital Social Infrastructures

Social networking sites are ever evolving.  They change faster than you can beat an egg.  The sites of interest to networkers today are: Face Book, Twitter and Linked In.  These URL’s maintain groups of social networks that constantly interact, change and identify.  It is imperative in modern social networking that you do not only have one presence but many that interlink.  They work together.

Other important factors that assist in connecting equally are:  e-mail accounts, personal or professional websites and blogs.  Each one of these is a necessary piece but not one of them more important than the others..  That chain is the infinite web of digital social networking.

The system works perfectly.

The Hitch

Quite frankly, even though this system is an extremely effective method to achieve niche recognition – there is one major drawback.  It takes a great deal of time to update, connect and communicate.  There absolutely aren’t enough hours in the day to run a business AND keep an interactive web presence for marketing purposes.

It can be done.  It has to be done.  But it doesn’t have to be done alone.

But not to worry, mind you.  You will notice more agencies that specialize in the area of social networking maintenance to assist in the process.  

And you will notice more specialized niche business coming your way as well as higher sales in the process.

And lastly, you never had to lift a cocktail fork or listen to so and so go on about his bum knee and his bad marriage.  Imagine that.

It’s a brave new world.


When Quiting Is The Best Way To Move Forward

Seth Godin is one of my favorite business and marketing  authors because he is a thinker, and a leader…and I am drawn to those types of people. One of his most recent books addresses the problem of well…quiting. More precisely when to quit and why quiting might be good and when sticking it out might not be the best strategy. In everything we do we often come up against a challenge, one that makes us question what and why we are doing what we are doing. Our ability to look deeper into those questions and examine if the fight is worth it, in many cases may open other doors for us we were not able to see when we were hanging on so feverishly. When we are able to answer to the positive, we emerge or maybe are reborn with greater focus, strength and sense of direction.

Take the time to listen to Seth as he talks about “The Dip”.

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Thoughts On Paradigm Shifts, Collaboration, Community, Tribes, and Open Source Art

A Tribe of Clay lovers

Yesterday I received my preview copy of Seth Godin’s new book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us in  it he addresses a growing movement that I have been mentioning in previous posts when referring to social media. The subject of community and tribes and the role they can play in cultural growth and eventual paradigm shifts is something I have been chewing on for several decades, going back to my days in city planning. The power of the book stirred up  memories, of the ‘60s and later graduate school, as I read on, I started thinking of Godin’s premise in the context of our current state of things especially the shifts I have been noticing lately.  There was something familiar about it all.