© 2007 Kevin E. Houchin
As an intellectual property and business development attorney, creative people surround me. I want it that way. I love it that way. I’ve been surrounded by creative people all my life, from the farm I was raised on (it takes creativity to get a few tons of tractor out of a mud hole), the guys in my fraternity house (engineers mostly), my fellow fine art undergraduates, the advertising pros I worked with before going to law school, my fellow law students, and now my clients. You’re surrounded by creative people right now too–just look around and notice all the creative energy filling the air around you.
Some people think creativity and successful business are opposites. They’re wrong. Creativity is the life-blood of business. Creativity is the POWER behind success in business and in life. You are probably no stranger to this, but sometimes things like invoices and deadlines distract us all.
Look around again. Look beyond the walls of your cubical, office, or studio. The business of creativity is changing. Look at Google. Look at YouTube. Look at MySpace. Visit CreativeCommons.org. The change may not seem that obvious, but it’s there and it’s very POWERFUL. The change is simply this – the face of creativity is leaving the fear-and-scarcity-based model of “protecting” creative work and moving toward an open-and-abundance-based model of “sharing” creative work. This is a profound shift enabled by digital technology. Those who understand, embrace, master, and BALANCE this shift first will make a living being creative and sharing the fruits of that creativity at the same time. That seems like true freedom to me…not a bad way to go through life.
While this is a profound shift, I think it’s very important to understand that this is not a new goal. The framers of the US Constitution understood that for society to advance, creativity (inventions and art) had to be shared. Each successive person must have access to the previous generation of creativity to build new ideas. Humanity advances through creativity. This truth goes back further than the Constitution. Check out the words of folks like Solomon, Jesus, Mohamed, and Buddha, and don’t forget to read the text of the Tao. It’s not just being creative that matters–it’s sharing that creative “fruit” with others that brings reconciliation and power.
In my law practice it’s easy to spot the people filled with this power. They’re the one’s who have easily committed everything they are and have to the idea, process, gizmo, or other form of creative expression. They’re “all-in.” They aren’t scared. They’ve surrendered their fear of being ripped off. They know that whatever they do in the future, they’re ALREADY successful. The only reason they’ve come to me is to make sure they are building the right balance of giving to society vs. receiving enough benefit to enable creation of the next contribution–be it painting, song, architectural work, cooking widget, branding package, or whatever fuels their passion.
I have some other clients who are wonderfully, prolifically creative, but sometimes get a bit caught up in the fear of getting ripped off. Obviously, one doesn’t want to invest literally years of one’s life in a creative effort, only to have the blessings of that effort redirected to someone who hasn’t invested the energy. Yes, there are people out there who are like creative vampires–sucking the benefits of the creative effort away from the artist or inventor, and sometimes those people can be hard to spot. Your lawyer can, and should, be a channel for your fears, allowing you to release that negative influence and concentrate on the true creative power of your natural calling. You should focus your creative energy upon sharing the fruit of your labor.
Sharing is the key to the successful creative business. It always has been, and it always will be. Whoever shares the most, will receive the most. Whoever provides the most value will receive the most value. You might say “Houchin, that’s crazy. Look at Microsoft.” Yes, for years Microsoft has zealously protected their brands and inventions. Some say the company has been a creative vampire, resulting in huge profits. One can also look at this company and say they have provided a great deal of value at a very reasonable price to a huge number of people. I CHOOSE to use MS Word on my Mac because it gives me the most value for my money. In one sense, this is a perfect example of sharing and receiving. But you don’t have to look far to notice things are changing. The open-source concept is starting to get real traction in the software industry. Royalty-free models have been working in music, photography, and art for years. Google Alerts may be putting traditional clipping services out of business. It doesn’t cost anything for a MySpace page or to watch videos on YouTube. CreativeCommons.org gives away intellectual property licenses that help people share. The process of sharing evolves, just like the results of creativity.
The power of creativity is found in sharing the results. How powerful are you now? How powerful will you be in the future?
Kevin E. Houchin principal of Houchin & Associates, PLLC – a copyright, trademark, arts & entertainment, business development, and branding firm located in Fort Collins, Colorado. To contact Kevin, call 970-493-1070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.