Sunday, January 31, 2010

Whatever it Takes

One of my daughters, Audrey, who is a freshman at Texas A&M this year, came home last night. She also brought 8 friends with her. It was loud in the house until about 4AM when they finally fell asleep. This morning, the smell of pancakes and sausage woke me and drew me downstairs. I ate about 5 pancakes and 4 sausages and my wife and I sat together and observed the 9 college students and their interactions. It was during that time that I realized something significant . . .

As my daughters get older, I become less influential in their lives. I'm sure this is no revelation for most people and it's something I've been experiencing for years but today, I feel like their is finality is certain areas. I will never again watch my daughter cheer at a football game. I will never again sign her progress report. I will never again drive her to school. She is more independent now. She is becoming her own person. She doesn't need me as much.

In our (Green Bandana's) work with artists, I see some parellels. We have a fresh crop of young artists who are just beginning to realize that their gifts demand cultivating. These gifts they posses must be nurtured. The responsibilities that come with these gifts are real and cannot be denied. Not if these artists want to live the lives they're meant to live.

There is great passion within me to challenge and push these artists to be everything they were created to be. I will be as influential as I can in the beginning but there is a process by which I have less influence and each of them begins to challenge and push themselves. You don't become great by waiting for life to happen. You become great by doing whatever is necessary to see you dream fulfilled.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Most Important Question

I ask many questions of myself and my company - but one of the most important questions I can ask is this:

How much are we improving our clients lives?

This question, unlike for example what is our committed monthly recurring revenue, gets at the heart of what we are trying to do.

Although, I constantly harp on the importance of making money to my partners and clients, Green Bandana does so much more than make money.

We recently added three additional clients, Tacovia Braggs, Tommy Simpson, and Dre White - all very young at 21, and brimming with potential.

Of course our number one goal is to generate enough income so they can live off of their creativity - that is my life mission - and that will never change.

However, we also have a profound opportunity to help shape them into the people they want to become.

Most of us have dreams, have desires for ourselves, usually in the form of "I want to be more ______" or "I want to be less ______". Most of us, if we are honest, never get there.

The truth is that it is incredibly difficult to find the motivation to change ourselves - to find the discipline to become a better person.

If we are really honest, many of us don't even like ourselves. We battle with feelings of worthlessness, futility, and general despair. We don't truly value our own capabilities and our own lives. We go from one period of depression to the next, all the while never truly learning how to love ourselves.

Yet, we are often able to love and care for other people - if not for ourselves. Thus there are many things that we would never do for ourselves - if left alone to our own devices - that we will do for other people.

Green Bandana encourages our clients to do the things that they probably wouldn't ever do alone. Whether that is going to counseling, taking time to be with a loved one, sharing their emotions, or simply exploring the world around them. We try to do everything in power to make our clients better people (conversely we also only choose clients who are open to becoming a better a person).

For example, every week I give my clients assigned reading. This week I gave them two articles, 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly and What Start-Ups Are Really Like by Paul Graham, and the e-book What Matters Now compiled by Seth Goodin.

However, they will also get individual books to read over the next two weeks - ala Phil Jackson.

Tommy will get Edith Hamilton's "Mythology", Dre will get Dave Hickey's "Air Guitar", and Tacovia will get "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho.

How much are we improving our clients lives?

Hopefully a little bit every week, with everything we have - because our value proposition is much deeper than "we can make you money" it is truly "we can make you money and make you a better person by helping you achieve your dreams and realize who you want to be."