Was Rodin a model of entrepreneurship? Email
Colorado Green NOW
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 06:00 AM

Six Lessons in Entrepreneurship that I learned from the Rodin

The Thinker, RodinYou can learn about entrepreneurship in the strangest of places. I took my wife to Paris and Italy for her birthday, where we visited an art museum. My favorite was the sculptor Auguste Rodin (best known for The Thinker). His success was due to his entrepreneurial drive. Here are 6 lessons we can learn from him:

  1. Study hard. Rodin started his career working for and mentoring under different artists, which shortened his learning curve and broadened his skills. Going it alone means making every mistake yourself, limiting your learning curve, and sometimes getting lost down side roads. 
  2. Be different. Rodin studied different schools of thought, then ignored their practices and took his own path. He followed his passion, ideas and gut instincts. He learned the fundamentals, then reached beyond them. Are you doing the same—learning the fundamentals, then blazing your own trail?
  3. Get outside your four walls. He participated in the Salon, a social group of his artistic contemporaries. He also traveled the continent to visit the work of other preeminent artists, which furthered his inspiration and the courage of his convictions. Are you getting outside of your own four walls and your city limits, and visiting successful entrepreneurs?
  4. Aim for success, not perfection. Rodin was driven towards success but did not aim for perfection. He embraced accidents and used them in his work. He once found a half-complete torso in his studio and proclaimed it "finished" (lacking head or arms, it resembled old Greek statues missing their limbs.) Like a true entrepreneur he did not worry about his critics, who nagged at him his entire career. Are you listening to the negative voices (made up of professional nags, and wannabes), or are you following your own vision?
  5. Capture attention. As an artist he had an interesting problem: his sculptures looked so life-like that critics accused him of cheating. This created a thunderstorm in the newspapers. Rodin devoted much energy to proving his honesty and innocence, and it eventually became his professional breakthrough. Of course no one wants to be accused of cheating, but you also don't want to be so quiet in the background that no one (potential employees and clients) knows about you. What are you doing (positively) that is capturing attention?
  6. Don't be the biggest ego in your circle. Rodin learned early on that he could speed up his career if he created a bust of someone famous—so he did. Entrepreneurs have egos, but Rodin didn't let his get in the way. Are you aligning with people (clients, related trades, organizations) in your community who are further down the road of success?

The takeaway: To become great at what you do, associate with others who are striving for greatness.

Put these lessons into action:

  • Spend time each week or two with someone outside your company who can inspire your continued growth. 
  • Identify and strengthen your departure point(s): the places in your business and career where you excel - and work differently from your local peers.
  • Don't just grind it out - take time to lift your head up, add to your knowledge, and fire to your inspiration. 

Article courtesy of Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author and consultant on growth and profit maximization in the landscape industry. 

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Are bionic bugs the secret to defeating EAB?
Recruiting the next generation to the green industry
Building a pay grade scale
Green roofs growing in Denver

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