The Inevitable Consequence of Growth   

Art is the inevitable consequence of growth and is the manifestation of the principles of its origin. 
Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2023. Thank you to everyone who participated in the reader survey in 2022. The reason that most of you are here is "for the way Holly thinks." [;)] That being said, now that the miniMBA has wrapped, this newsletter will return to a more philosophical approach, at least for a while. I hope to leave you with practical next steps each week, and I'm excited to get back to deep dives. 

I ended 2022 saying that the word I'm most focused on is regeneration, but I couldn't have anticipated how hard I'd need to hold to that word over the last few weeks of December. On December 15th, my brother's 44-year-old wife died unexpectedly of a heart attack, leaving him widowed with their three-year-old daughter. This event in and of itself would have been a terrible tragedy, but my other brother's wife had died just four years prior of a pulmonary embolism. Her tragic ending had eerily similar circumstances to what the world experienced with Damar Hamlin last week. After she lost consciousness, we waited those 72 key hours, hoping that she would regain neurologic function, which, sadly, she did not. I relived that experience last week as I followed Damar's story and prayed for his family, thinking of all of those moments you hope for as a sign of progress and knowing the tremendous emotional toll of waiting. 

And having been through that experience, the anticipation of having to relieve the colossal amount of grief that is felt by losing a young family member started tearing the fabric of my reality. It is hard not to be overwhelmed with a sense of doom, and even harder when you are the same age, to not think about yourself and your own life, and if it was to all end suddenly, did you truly even live the life you wanted to? When my first sister-in-law died, the answer was a resounding no. It propelled me to return to school to study religion inspired by Elaine Pagels's book on grief and loss; it motivated my husband and me to consider our relationship and double down on the work needed to make our relationship thrive.

This time, I focused more on how you come back from repeated experiences of grief without giving in to cynicism and pessimism.  I was lucky to come across Pema Chödrön's new book, How We Live is How We Die to guide me through the long winter break. As you can guess from the title, this book is about confronting impermanence and the reality that change is the only constant. If we spend more time meditating on our impermanence and preparing for death, we won't be so afraid. It, too, forces you to think about what being alive truly means. 


Most people are probably most familiar with Neil Young's version of the song, After the Gold Rush, from his 1970 album of the same name. But I much prefer Dolly, Linda, and Emmylou's version from the late 90s off of their album Trio II (#babealert). Though Neil Young has said this song is an environmental song about the ramifications of the gold rush mindset of California, to me it's a song about loss, grief, and missed opportunity—not to pan for more gold, but to save ourselves from the intoxicating mindsets that create the damage we like to attribute to things outside of ourselves and not within ourselves.

In the winter of 2021, I wrote a three-part series about breaking the entrepreneurial fever, which officially broke at the end of 2022. My context for the entrepreneurial fever consists of personal branding
, performative allyship, mirage-like innovation, workaholism, optimization, rapid growth, tribal markets, trauma bonding with teammates, and a co-dependent relationship with the market.  The second installment of that series was about the difference between feeling alive and feeling intoxicated. The entrepreneurial fever was fed by intoxicated mindsets. Intoxicated mindsets are the opposite of groundedness. In that original article, I write about the need for humility, but humility is often misunderstood. In Latin, humulis, came from humus which means "of the ground." A grounded entrepreneur is rooted in systems, emotional intelligence, and, most importantly, a healthy blend of creative and critical thinking. They aren't swept up in the latest marketing scam or technological trap. They aren't looking for the "white space" to colonize. Much like the renewed Barnes & Noble, they focus on their love and reverence for creativity. But what does this mean in entrepreneurship, especially when it comes to creative entrepreneurs?

A good place to start is with the work of Robert Henri. A great artist himself, he was also the teacher of renowned painter Edward Hopper whose show at the Whitney also feels more alive than intoxicated by today's standards. In Henri's introduction to The Art Spirit, he notes:


Art, when really understood is the province of every human being. It is simply a question of doing things, anything, well. It is not an outside extra thing. When the artist is alive, in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature. She becomes interesting to other people. She disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and she opens ways for a better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it, shows there are still more pages possible. 

Your business, just like the product you create or the service you deliver, is a work of art. Where I see creative entrepreneurs get tripped up is this ability to do entrepreneurial things well. How well thought out are your hiring systems? How well-developed are your internal operating systems? How well thought through is your budget and the marketing plan you need to achieve that budget? How well crafted is your culture? And how well do you embrace your role as a leader? 

When you reflect on your own day-to-day execution of your business, do you feel truly alive? Do the words daring, inventive, and self-expressing resonate with you? Or are you, as Bernadette Jiwa said, hiding behind "the right" story instead of the true story? 



As we are firmly in an era of constant change, those who can regenerate will find themselves the most creatively fulfilled. This year, we'll hear a lot about how "the market" is why most businesses won't sustain themselves. But all of life is a constant cycle of living and dying, and regenerating your business is no different. You cannot regenerate from a place of intoxication. And you definitely cannot regenerate from a place of judgment. If you're still in a divided mindset about capitalism and creativity, I encourage you to soul search for your own cognitive dissonance you aren't yet confronting. Because when entrepreneurship is approached with the pure intention of creating, it, like any work of art, is good for everyone. Again, from the Art Spirit:

Art tends towards balance, order, judgment of relative values, the laws of growth, the economy of the living—very good things for anyone to be interested in. 

How will you regenerate in 2023? 

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