If you have ever started a business, launched a new venture or taken a new direction in life, it probably didn’t feel exactly comfortable at first. Now imagine if you could actually bring out your inner risk-taker by kicking it up a notch and drawing a nude model?
If you’re feeling a little uneasy with this idea, that is partly what Jan McCarthy, head of Ladies Who Launch Los Angeles and Cyndi Finkle, owner of Art Works Studio had in mind for guests at their latest networking event which I was able to attend.
Now, I must admit that this outside-of-my-comfort-zone concept was already working even when I signed up. Just the thought of me sitting in an art studio drawing something was different for me. The extent of my experience creating paintings or drawings pretty much peaked in grade school by putting crayon to paper and coloring within the lines. My head would surely explode smudging charcoal on an empty page but luckily Jan had paired a nice white wine to go along with the drawing experience that evening.
Created specifically for women entrepreneurs and business launchers, Jan kicked off the event with the focus for the evening, “We believe entrepreneurs are a lot like artists. In order to be successful, they must think outside the box and color outside the lines.” Jan’s role with Ladies Who Launch is based on helping women find support, inspiration, resources and knowledge as they embark on the launch of their dream or the growth of their business. Jan’s motto about entrepreneurs is that, “They must have a vision for creation, but remain open to other possibilities. They must be willing to take risks and go outside their comfort zone.”
During the evening, we also heard from the art studio’s owner Cyndi, who shared her very honest and inspiring insights about what it took for her to grow Art Works Studios into a strong brand based in art education and connecting with the community. By sharing her experiences and the reality of running a business, Cyndi offered something to each person in the room that they could apply to their own vision – wisely managing money, doing her own publicity (getting recognition from the LA Times to Oprah), staying authentic and focusing on her business plan.
And then it was time for the nude. Now we all knew it was happening, but there was a sense of anticipation in the air as the robe hit the floor to reveal the subject of our drawing. What a very brave young man to be so naked in a room full of powerful women. And so we drew; the front and back of our subject.
Guided by the two art instructors, it was immediately noticeable how quickly the class got comfortable with the subject and drawing. The room was absolutely silent and even I found myself intently focused on what I was creating. Now I wouldn’t go entering my drawing in any contests, but I did a lot better than I expected and I took the leap to do something in which I have no background knowledge or training.
The event’s network of fellow business women were incredibly supportive about each other’s work and it showed how in each person’s drawing, there was something good, different, unique. Not to be cliché but it was a small way of honoring what it means to be an entrepreneur. Your business idea may not be a new one, and there may be zillions of other people out there doing it or something similar, but the fact that you are packaging, enhancing and putting your own mark on it is unique; just like art that you create. If you can find customers who like what you’re selling and like what your business is all about, then that’s like finding gold. You are no longer paralyzed by watching what everyone else is doing better or worse than you and instead you learn from the competition and tap into what is keeping your customers happy and coming back.
Creating art and applying this concept to entrepreneurship may be one of the most creative ways to help business owners get outside the box and open their minds to taking more risks by doing something new and shifting perspective.
As I took home my artwork to hang on my refrigerator, I already started finding ways that I could improve it and make it better. I have never thought of myself as an artist but then again I also never thought I’d be a risk-taking entrepreneur either, and here I am. I think I’ll keep working on my artistic abilities. Now, where did I put my crayons?
Heidi is senior editor at Wineopolis Press, and author of the Wineopolis® Wine-travel Guidebook series. She is also Program Director of Certified Wine Expert® for Bartenders Association International and she served as editor of the latest edition of How to Test and Improve Your Wine Judging Ability by the late author Irving H. Marcus. She is also a member of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, the Society of Wine Educators and Ladies Who Launch.