Roy Simmons (a painter) coined that phrase and I like it a lot. “Most artists can’t draw.” Seth Godin in his book Linchpin added: “But all artists can see.” Meaning we can see what’s right and what’s wrong. We can see opportunities and we can see around corners. Most of all, we can see art.

Art is not only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.

What makes someone an artist? I don’t think it has anything to do with a paintbrush. There are painters who follow the numbers, or paint billboards or work in a small village in China, painting reproductions. These folks, while they are cool people, are not artists. On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin was an artist, beyond a doubt. So is Jonathan Ive, who designed the iPod. You can be an artist who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models and customer conversations.

Art is about intent and communication, not substances.

An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.

That’s why Michael Jackson is an artist, but an anonymous corporate hack who dreams up Pop 40 hits on MTV is merely a marketer.

That’s why Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, is an artist, while a boiler room of telemarketers is simply a scam.

Seth Godin, an entrepreneur and writer, is an artist, even though his readers are businesspeople. He’s an artist because he takes a stand, he takes the work personally and he doesn’t care if someone disagrees. His art is part of him, and he feels compelled to share it with you because it’s important, not because he expects you to pay him for it.

Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.

Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.

If Shakespeare is art and Tony Hseih is art, and Steve Jobs is art, then Trevor Noah and Fred G Sanford (of Sanford and Son) must be art, too, right?

I think it’s art when a great customer service person uses a conversation to convert an angry person into a serious fan. And it’s art when Steve Jobs invents a new business model that uses the Internet to revolutionise the classifieds. Or when Jonas Lekganyane invents The Chronicles of Noko Mashaba, from being a self taught comic animantor in rural Limpopo.

Most artists can’t draw, but all artist can see.

Entrepreneurs are artists, most can’t draw but they all can see their businesses as work of art. Make your business a work of art. Stand out, touch a soul, make a difference, this is more than just making money.

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