Last week I attended the Chief Responsibility Officers (CRO) Conference in Chicago. It was the 2nd annual conference in a very new emerging industry focused around companies embracing environmentally friendly, socially responsible business practices- not all that different in its newness to the emerging industry of entrepreneurship in the arts. Jay Whitehead is responsible for the development of this new conference, the publisher of CRO Magazine. Jay is spearheading the unity for this new emerging profession and the ethical values those who attend stand for in their business practices, and unite around.
Leaders from McDonalds, Intel, Kodak, IBM, Google, Orbitz, and many other fortune 100 to 1000 companies were there. But I bet there were not more than 250 people there total- not all that different than last years attendance at the Self Employment in The Arts (SEA) Conference, and others focused on building the non traditional entrepreneurial path in the arts today.
And yet in this emerging market T.Boone Pickens and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, the founder of the 10 million dollar innovation competitions known as the X Prize both spoke to this really small crowd.
They came, despite being few in number, because those who did attend were clearly on the front line, and if not already, would become, powerful key influencers and believers in the value of this emerging market.
Sometimes, I think, we undervalue the power each of us has to influence and shape something we see that is new in the market but needed, even if it was not our idea. We wonder how leaders emerge to dominate a field and become powerful enough to create real change, becoming the sources for information, the go to people, ” the industry.” Well, here are two industry’s diametrically opposite in terms of economic strength who are developing along similar paths– from the ground up- and in that understanding lies the answer to innovation, entrepreneurial evolution and change.
Change happens with grassroots initiatives at every level. With sharing, caring and spreading the word. And sustainability and entrepreneurship in the arts have a lot in common because both are rooted in a good cause. And both are new in their development as “industries”.
One attendee at the CRO conference was Jeff Grossberg from Sky Site Property. I met Jeff by answering a blind ad when he was looking for a partner to start his green company a couple of years ago. I helped him with financial projections and considered partnering with him to build his fledgling start-up at the time, but decided it did not have enough artistry inside the business idea itself, like Creative Leaps Intl.
For those of you wondering, I am officially part of the Creative Leaps team now- currently in the role of Marketing Consultant. I suppose for sake of transparency you should know that I will write about and promote John Cimino and his team and I hope to replicate most of his work, in my own way, with John’s blessings, here in Chicago through the building of a sister Rennaisance Center that uses artistry to innovate business, sustainability, universities and government sectors while also serving as a training ground for more artists to lean how to do the same.
But back to Jeff for a moment. The insane thing about Jeff, is that he is the most amazing musician! He goes under the name of Hyper Harp. And yet Jeff for all his virtuosity and imagination cannot make a full time living playing music, like so many of us, but I applaud his entrepreneurial abilities and significant accomplishments to support his love of music through entrepreneurship, all the same. (But just imagine how much more fun Jeff could have if he could find a way to put his music into his new venture?)
So in case you were wondering what going green and entrepreneurship in the arts have in common- now you know, on a few different levels, how they do!