Creative Entrepreneurship – From Upping Your Elvis

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in
setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our
aim too low and achieving our mark.”
Michelangelo 1475-1564

creative entrepreneurship

The notion of creative genius is not a new one. Nor indeed is
the idea of an artist making money in his or her own lifetime,
although it is true that Michelangelo was possibly a 16th
century exception. However, until very recently, entrepreneurs
have stereotypically been thought of as purely business
focused, often ruthless, individuals who have dedicated their
lives to a venture and made pots of money.

Conversely, the image of an artist conjures up a vision of a
sensitive, frequently tortured, soul living a life of
impoverishment. Increasingly, as technology advances and modern
marketing tools, such as social media, become available to us
all, entrepreneurs are emerging from a wide range of
industries, particularly creative ones.

From chefs such as Jamie Oliver, to musicians like Taylor Swift
and Garth Brooks and modern artists, Jeff Koons and Damien
Hirst, it is increasingly individuals with an ability to
harness their creativity that are emerging as the most
successful entrepreneurs of modern times. All have adeptly used
a variety of marketing media and techniques to promote
themselves as a brand, and many have created large enterprises
as a result.

creative entrepreneurship

However, the same creative entrepreneurship
can also be witnessed in many, more traditional, businesses
that are successfully negotiating the global competitive
pressures that seem to intensify with every nano-second of
technological advancement. Typically, these corporations take
the concept of creativity leadership seriously, and have
harnessed some highly creative individuals to their corporate

Entrepreneurs need to be great leaders and the team at Upping
Your Elvis believe that the best leaders are creative rather
than rational. Research from YouGov
(see this infographic) clearly
demonstrates that creative leaders are far more effective on a
number of measures than their more conservative, logical

A creative style of leadership is the key to full employee
engagement and encouraging people to give their all and be the
very best that they can be. Upping Your Elvis are continually
assessing the fruits of their labours to encourage greater
creative entrepreneurship amongst the senior management teams
of a great many global businesses. The Elvis guys call it the
Creativity Dividend,
and it would seem to be evidenced by a recent Adobe survey.

Adobe found that 82% of companies purport to believe there to
be a strong connection between creativity and business results,
although sadly almost 2/3 of senior managers do not perceive
their companies as creative. Companies that are, however,
actively fostering creativity are 3.5 times more likely to
outstrip the revenue growth of their peers by 10% or more.
Furthermore, they are 50% more likely to enjoy greater market
share than their less creative industry counterparts.

Between them, the Elvis guys have spent thousands of hours with
some of the finest creative minds across a wide variety of
industries. They have found that all the great creative leaders
have one thing in common. They make a conscious decision to
reconnect with their inner genius and realise their creative
potential, and then they use it to get things done. They are
doers and they lead by example.

Much of what Elvis is about, is assisting people to access what
is quite possibly the most powerful source of creative stimulus
available to us: our subconscious. We are highly unlikely to
have our best ideas whilst sitting at our desks, staring at a
screen and thinking hard. If we are to access the power of our
, we generally need to relax and change our
state: walk, travel, get out into nature, play.

Featuring in Fastcompany’s top 100 list of the most creative
people in business 2015 were Mehmood Khan, the
Chief Scientific Officer of Pepsico, and Greg Hoffman,Vice
President of Nike’s Global Brand Design. Whilst their
businesses are very different in many respects, both
individuals appear to have a similar approach to creative
entrepreneurship. They are constantly striving to cultivate
their own creativity and that of their teams and to harness it
to corporate objectives.

Both have a strong belief in the power of connectivity,
internally and externally, and when in search of a lightbulb
moment they both change their states. Mehmood Khan indulges in
a game of chess with his grandson while Greg Hoffman draws his
inspiration from travelling around the world. The success of
their respective organisations would suggest that they ascribe
to the philosophy of another great creative genius of
yesteryear, Pablo Picasso:

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen
what could be and asked why not?”

Pablo Picasso 1881-1973


This article was written by Mark Brown at the Upping Your Elvis
team – a group of consultants working within Culture Change,
Employee engagement and Creative Leadership.

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