Simon Sinek on Why Small Business Owners Should Study the Arts


Erik: Why should small business owners get
involved in the arts? Simon: I think that more businessmen should
learn about the arts. I think a small business, especially, should study the arts. I remember
a long time ago when I had a job, I had a small team, and I called a group meeting and
they didn’t know what it was for. And they all showed up with their pencils and their
notebooks and I said, “Okay, we’re going to a little offsite” and I took them to
a gallery. And the reason I think the arts are valuable, is, again it’s the way the
brain works, you know? Have you ever noticed that you have all your good ideas, not when
you’re sitting in a brainstorming session? Because your rational brain can only access
about two feet of information around you. Where your subconscious brain can access the
equivalent of ninety – something like, what is it? – 11 acres of information around
you. In other words, every lesson or every experience you’ve had gets put in there.
And it controls behavior and decision-making, just not language. And so that’s why we
say, “this is a gut decision, it just feels right.” Or it’s also the reason these
decisions happen in bed, in the shower, when you go for a run, but not in the brainstorming
session. The problems have been posed, the questions have been posed, but then your brain
continues to think about them, it continues to try and solve them – accessing all this
other information, just not rationally, and so [Snaps Fingers] these ideas seem to show
up from nowhere. It’s like, do you ever leave the house, and you feel like you’ve
forgotten something? And you’re like “what did I forget? What did I forget?” It’s
not rational it’s that subconscious, and you leave the house and you’re like [snaps]
my sunglasses. And it’s never wrong! When you get the feeling that you’ve forgotten
something, it’s never – in other words, your subconscious knows. And so the more you
can do to fill that subconscious with information that has nothing to do with anything, apparently,
the more I think it benefits you in the times when you need to actually apply that information.
And I think the greatest opportunity for that is in the arts, because you’re not thinking
about it, you’re not like “well I’ll read this book and it’s somewhat related
to my work.” No, go read things that have nothing to do with your work. Go watch performances,
go see artists, go see the way other people solve problems in a way that have nothing
to do with you. And you will not see the connection, and there is none. Or is there? There are
things that you can learn outside of your own discipline that will significantly contribute
to the problems you’re solving at work. You only know what you know, you don’t know
what you don’t know, but more importantly, the arts seek to understand our world in a
way that the rest of us don’t, you know, it accesses a language that the rest of us
don’t use. You and I are communicating with English, right? This is the language we’re
using. You talk to a painter or dancer, you know? They may lack the facility that you
and I have right now. In other words, they’re uncomfortable speaking. But a great painter
has the ability to express themselves in color, and in line or in form, that we can learn
a lot about them through this new language. Or a dancer has the ability to you know, to
present themselves and use their body as this, as language to share what they feel, right?
And some of us have the ability to do it in language, but some of us don’t. And I think
to engage with the arts, to understand a new way of expression or understanding the world
significantly enhances your ability to solve problems back at work. I’m a firm believer
that all small business, you know, all the owners – if not everybody – should go
take classes. Go take a glass blowing class, go take a ceramics class, go take a ballet
class, go take a piano lesson, go take a painting class, it doesn’t matter. Drawing … whatever
tickles your fancy. Because you will learn things in those classes that will significantly
contribute to your understanding of how you present to the world. I took a ballet class
with a couple of friends of mine, and I learned about presence and posture, and I can tell
you, as a speaker, guess where I found that? Not from a speakers’ bureau, you know?

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9 thoughts on “Simon Sinek on Why Small Business Owners Should Study the Arts

  1. 2:50 – real artists do have trouble speaking fluidly with people, particularly in groups. When you see an artist who doesn't have this problem, they usually aren't an artist behind the scenes. 

  2. I love your vid! Just what I needed to learn now! I love a lot of the comments too! I'll be checking out some more of your rock star videos, please check out mine also! Thanks and God bless!

  3. So funny because i work with music, music related , art, and when i see this videos is like i have to see business or other disciplines for problem solving (english is not my first language) 🙂

  4. It's always amazing to listen to whatever Simon says. His ideas are wilder than what the intellect can catch. Intuition takes us further into a better world. LOVE, LIVE, LEARN n LAUGH MAC

  5. very powerful advice from Simon. Doing only work related stuff not only limits you from living "fully", but also impacts the functioning of the right brain (related to arts, creativity).

    The idea is to balance the way you spend time.

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