Creative Outlier CO to CEO

Day 103 Week 15 Q2 Friday, April 14, 2023

If you are a Creative Outlier or a CO, you are one short letter away from what you really need to be sustainable. And the E stands for Executive. I know you may never have wanted to be an Executive. You may even take umbrage at the title Manager. Some COs operate in the business domain where these titles do not usually cause negative reactions. But some of you are scientists, engineers or artists, professions more often associated with creative outliers. What, you think neither business nor technical people deserve the title creative outliers? I can assure you that just as much creativity is required in business and tech as in the arts. 

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, what about this CEO business? Chief Executive Officer.  What does this title have to do with you? Well, Start by asking; Do you have a boss? Or are you in charge of your professional life? Do you have to hustle to get gigs, contracts, clients, or customers? If so, then whatever brand of creativity you practice, you are a small businessperson, or if you have been doing it for a while, perhaps even a large businessperson. No, I am not referring to physical size.

Many, if not most, creative outliers do not think of themselves as small business owners or entrepreneurs, but the ones who get paid more regularly do. These are not dirty words for authors, musicians, poets and painters. They are also not dirty words for engineers and scientists, Yet many of the above have a tendency to not think of themselves in such a manner and do not look at the world through entrepreneurial eyes. 

Just as you have to balance the creative and logistical requirements of any project or program, you also have to balance the fiscal and scheduling aspects at some point. You have to be at least somewhat sensitive to who is your customer or fan or patron as someone has to pay the bills.

The earlier in your career, you realize there are more than artistic, idealistic factors to consider, the more quickly you will get traction and become more sustainable. I have watched large-scale mathematicians’ migrations toward engineering and computers because there were more jobs. And musicians who wanted to play as often as possible toward becoming bandleaders. Ultimately, creative outliers need to think of themselves as fiscal business entities and artistic or technical creative outliers.

Since an executive is a manager of managers and you have to manage the creative, logistical and fiscal aspects of whatever you are trying to accomplish, you do end up having to be an executive. You end up having to be the CEO of your own life.    

Yes, it is just one short letter from being a CO to a CEO, but it is a world away regarding priorities and responsibilities. And if you tell yourself, I want life to be simple and not have to make all of these decisions; you will not be alone in this.  The problem with the pursuit of simplicity is it can come at the cost of freedom, specifically creative freedom, for if you do not tell yourself what to do, someone else will fill that vacuum and tell you what to do.

The choice is simple, either be your own CEO or accept the direction of some other boss. Hey, it is just one more letter to get from CO to CEO.