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An entrepreneurial lesson from a street artist

July 9, 2010
I was strolling down Burrard Street one day but to avoid the crowd, I veered off on Robson to get to Hornby to get to my destination. At the corner of Burrard and Robson was a guy casually going about his way drawing on the sidewalk, he was drawing a stunning portrait of a lady reminiscent of the Renaissance period and amazingly, it was all done in chalk. I didn’t even realize you can do that with chalk. It was mesmerizing, I was certain he was a master painter transported from the 14th century because it was just extraordinary.

First I was in awe of his work, then I thought when it rains his work will be washed away. Why did he do it in chalk? Oops forgot sidewalk is government property, you can’t put any permanent art work on it so oil or acrylic is out of the question. Why wouldn’t he do it on a canvas and maybe sell it afterwards? Then I started thinking of all possibilities for him to preserve his work and then it dawned on me – whether he realized it or not, he just taught me a valuable lesson – detachment.

Vancouver Street Artist

Vancouver Street Artist

A lot of time, entrepreneurs have a hard time accepting criticisms about their ideas. I plead guilty to this; I remember during the first year of our business when we just started, people thought I was extremely stubborn. But for me it was my life, I live, eat and breathe the business. My partners and I took the time to groom it, to nurture it and to grow it. So we get a little defensive when someone criticizes our ideas. While it is important to verify the source of where the criticism is coming from before you take their advice or defend your ideas, it is more important to be quiet for a second and just listen. It is very important to be able to detach yourself for a second from the business to listen to criticisms that could potentially allow your business to go to the next level.

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture, listen to the person who disagrees with you and see if they have validity in their points. Be open to ideas from anywhere.

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