Once I began to approach business in the same way I approach my art, everything became, well, poetic. For several years I studied the business of art: money management, time management, grant writing, networking, and marketing. Though my skills improved in all of these areas, it all clicked when I began to study, The Art of Business. Here are some insights I found applying my art as a performance poet to handling what my momma would call, “my bizness.”
First, I asked myself a question: “What do I need to do to conduct successful business?” The answer: communication, communication, communication. I began using my approach to poetry to my emails. My poems are often meant to honor people and share my visions, so I started to include a sentence acknowledging people’s hard work, insights, or commitment, and a sentence articulating my vision in emails with partners and collaborators. I also started a tradition, “Thank You Fridays,” to put in random calls thanking one or two people a week, just because. This poetic approach transformed my relationship with key partners. They instantly had more leniency for my sometimes inconsistent communication, and more importantly, were increasingly staked in my artistic vision. Score 1 for Poetry!!
Second, I thought about applying similar rituals to my business as I do to my art. For years, I’ve used a special Black & White composition notebook to scribble down words that eventually evolved into poems. Now, I have a dedicated notebook to write down my business ideas, and a green pen to write with. Two of my favorite poets, Langston Hughes and Pablo Neruda wrote with green pens, so it is an homage to them as well. My other ritual was to light a candle when I started handling business in my office. The lighting of the candle helped transition me to my work day. The blowing out of the candle helped me close out my work day.
These are two simple ways I’ve incorporated my approach to poetry to business. More important than these two examples is the overall transformation to my relationship to conducting business. No longer am I a novice in an unfamiliar world. I am an experienced poet exploring my artistic practice in real time with people.