Find your creative community: Giant Steps

November 26, 2012

Just over a week ago, Ben and I attended Giant Steps. It's a Twin Cities conference, founded 3 years ago by consultant Susan Campion and hiphop artist M.ANIFEST. The description: a gathering for Creative Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurial Creatives, and people doing what they love. And, like it sounds, it was quite the perfect fit for me.

There are reasons I toy with skipping out on events like this, and let me tell you-- BE YE NOT SO FOOLISH. It's worth the time, the money, and the potential for awkward first encounters with strangers (my biggest concern). Esther Robinson, who taught a workshop on financial stability for artists, reminded us: You are your own infrastructure. Invest. And being at this conference was just the right investment. The event was like a gigantic hug of affirmation, paired with an equally large kick in the pants.
Affirmation? I needed only to get as far as introducing myself to the rest of my table at the opening comments to know that I was in the right place. More than one person looked a little uncomfortable explaining their entrepreneurial pursuit, and at least one person apologized about how they used to do one thing, but were transitioning their career into something new. Bottom line: creatives share many of the same struggles, and we need community to challenge us, inspire us, and remind us that others have been right where we are. In fact, others have thrived from where we are.
My favorite pannel discussion was on the topic of resilience. Four creative entrepreneurs talked about working through some incredibly low lows, only to go on to build thriving businesses, steady artistic careers, and notoriety. Scott LeGere, owner of NoWare Records, reminded us that "nothing good in life happens overnight." What was extraordinary about the panel participants was that they learned from their shortcomings, and went on to continue to shape their business (and business content) until it worked-- to continue to build their personal brand over time. Persistance, folks. It's powerful stuff.
I wrote down dozens of generous words of wisdom. And, the group I sat with at the end compiled a list of 5 takeaways.

But, maybe the most powerful thing I was reminded of is that if you want to make a living creating, you just have to do it. The workshops and classes and conferences are great, as are the conversations with fellow creatives. But, the only way you can do it is to--- do it: get specific about what you're trying to do (I highly recommend this part), and then, act. After that you cen see what's working, what's not, and micro-adjust your game plan. Or, scrap it and make a new one. So, that was the fire-under-my-ass part of Giant Steps: just keep going.

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