Founder Dating: The Marriage of Art & Technology

Founder dating is not easy. I just broke up with a potential partner. My partner came with ‘Fortune 100’ gold medals of honor for his technical problem solving. He came with the same intensity, focus and drive that I have too. He came with a lovely family and a passion that burned as bright as mine. All blue chip qualities I want and need in my future technical lead. But he also came with an attitude of superiority that was buried underneath the lip service he gave to respecting my entrepreneurial pedigree and creative and leadership talents. He, like all of us, ‘does not know what he does not know’ but refused to accept that he was Ying and I was his Yang. I could fill his holes as well as he could fill mine. But he was unwilling to recognize that my intelligence is every bit equal to his own. (Honestly, I am so tired of defending the equality of my skills and strengths as a creative to those from other fields of discipline.)

As a creative person, I am a very flexible intuitive person. I adapt to ideas, and people and change quite easily. I come hard wired with a lot of empathy. It’s part of what you learn to do as a highly skilled creative. And yet, those who don’t bear these gifts think that because we can bend so easily that this is a sign of weakness in our intellect- instead of a sign of strength and a weakness in their own.

My gifts lie in the areas of big picture thinking- creating the infrastructure- the design- the product and the team, finding the customers, building the case, and igniting the passion to lift something off the ground. All these skills require enormous flexibility because all of them ebb and flow to take shape and evolve into being. What my partner could not see was that while there is no doubt with this project I need amazing technical expertise, which he had, it alone will not light the fire of desire and make a market come to life. He had the strike and I have the match. And what he needed was a match to produce the flame for his own ideas, which brought us together in the first place, to be realized.

If you want something HUGE to get off the ground, you don’t fill the airplane with the heaviest cargo around. You pack light so it can lift off more easily and then it will also have more fuel to burn. Once you are in the air you can focus on mapping out your flight for a trip around the world.

But all my partner could see was that this project- ETA-represented a very small piece of a much bigger market and that by focusing on it first- on its own- as I suggested- it was severely limiting; and therefore my thinking was small and inferior to his own. While he gave lip service to wanting to make ETA a big success, he wanted to rename the business and rebrand from scratch. Never mind the huge investment of time, money and passion which has gone into organically building a social following here at ETA either. (As if that can be reproduced on demand authentically. right. Good luck with that.)

And when I asked to call a meeting to discuss how ETA actually did fit into the large plan perfectly, I was told it was not important enough to speak about. I was told to communicate it all through email and to get it out of the way and not waste time on it so we could get back to the technical design and project mapping. And again I was asked ‘what about that new business name? What would it be?’   I found my flexible self trying to make a case for why he should take the time for a phone call to allow my ideas- my well thought out strategy- to be heard. And then I realized, before my flexibility got the best of me- silly me- I don’t have the right partner in front of me. My voice should always be allowed to be heard and my skills should always be leveraged. The right partner will easily share leadership and will be thankful for my contribution instead of what I perceived as threatened. That’s why they call it a team! My perfectionism and vision will not be a turn off but be the guiding light to success. And as a flexible person I will bend willingly and adapt. I will allow water to rise to its natural level and work with the resources at hand. I always have and I always will. After all, I have learned to do this well from decades of experience in small business.

It was an outstanding first experience. I learned a lot about what I do and do not need in a partner who brings technology expertise to the table. We did actually fill each others intellectual holes perfectly. Art & Technology can be a marriage made in heaven, I am excited to say. I just have to find the right person who feels love instead of thinking its a ‘power play’ every time I offer a plug for a hole they did not even, yet, realize existed. Partnerships, just like customers & investor relationships, mature and grow with love and respect for each other- not with pokes from a stick. And if you hear a voice as poking, then psychologically it is not a good fit.  It’s critical that you trust the other person enough to know their true intentions and hear that in their tone, see it in their mannerisms and trust it still is there- even when, upon occasion, you don’t.

 Lisa Canning 09About Lisa Canning

“Vowels are to words what creativity is to the world~ basic and necessary.”

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Lisa Canning is the founder of Lisa’s Clarinet Shop, IAEOU, the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship (IAE) and Entrepreneur the Arts.

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Founder Dating: The Marriage of Art & Technology

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