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Can you see your business as a work of art? Does it have a soul?

An excerpt of my interview with Jacob Nordby. Author of Blessed are the Weird.

MATT:  So, we sit around and we watch other people’s art. we watch their shows, we look at their pictures, we read their articles. How is that benefiting you? I’ve gotten away from mainstream media a long time ago because that stuff just doesn’t do anything for me at all.53:32  If I know that seven people were killed in North Carolina for something, that’s an awful thing. That’s gonna be headlines in news in every mainstream media. But it doesn’t do anything for me but make me feel bad. I can’t do anything about it. And the media isn’t doing anything, like saying ”hey, if you want to help, here is some hotline”. I mean, they do that for a huge disaster like Katrina and stuff like that. Give to the Red Cross, . 53:59 And there’s been some great way that technology has allowed us to donate by pushing a button on our phone, and that’s stuff is wonderful. But, if you go to today, you’ll how many people died, how many people were raped, how many people were killed or murdered, who’s mad at Trump? It’s just terrible. And so I’ve just gone away from it and set up my news feed, so that I can read things that I want to read.54:31  I want to read about music, or I want to read about golf, or about what technological advances might help me do this or that. I’ve kind of steered toward that way, and that’s better for me.


JACOB:  Well, look Matt. I feel strongly that each of us has the right to create life the way we want to create it. Most of us don’t take that power and do it. 55:01 Many people don’t. But that’s our right. That’s our birthright. We are creators in that fashion. The other big thing that I noticed that people assign creativity or that kind of work of art life. They assign that to the bohemians, to the geniuses, to what we’d call the artsy types. I was talking with my brother Nate. And two of my brothers, Nate and Isaac 55: 30. Nate is much more of a technical guy and he kept one of the businesses going, one of the three. He kept one and Isaac kept another that we started back in the day. And Nate was sitting with me the other day, and he said ”You know, I’m really just not a creative guy and I just work really hard, have this business. But I don’t write stuff or paint stuff.” And it came out so fast I couldn’t stop it. I said ”Nate, I look at you, and I mean it, 56:00  I look at you and this business that you’ve created, this team, this culture and how deeply engaged you are in creating this technology product that brings you and that you clearly feel alive by doing. Like, you’re maxing out your abilities and your time and energy and passion for it. To me, that’s as beautiful as any other kind of art. You’re an artist.”

MATT:  yeah, that’s one of my questions, can we see our businesses as works of art instead of as a business? And if you look at it that way, would you treat it differently?56:34  , business is a term that gets thrown around and it’s in everyday life, but what if you walked into the door and go ”this is my work of art today, and I’m gonna work on it to make it more beautiful. Or work on it to make it more streamlined. Or I’m gonna upgrade it, and continue to work on it.” And maybe that’s a never finished product, and maybe that’s okay. But if we can view our businesses as something that way, it has a nice sound to it, I think.57:02


JACOB:  Well it does Matt, I like to be pragmatic about this too, and realize that some people are in a third generation wholesale distribution business and they’re shipping out pallets of cleaning products from around the country. That’s really just a matter of receiving orders and making sure the orders go out. I don’t want to make it sound like the only way to do what I’m talking about here and what you’re talking about. Is getting somewhat terrifically passionate about this particular business. Maybe it’s just getting that business so efficient that it creates freedom and cash flow to go and travel the world, or go and do humanitarian things, and go do their things that matter. Like, I don’t want anyone to listen to this and go ”I will never feel that way about this business, even though it’s perfectly functional and the structural work is great”57:51 . I’m just never gonna feel that way about it, so maybe I’m doing the wrong thing, actually probably not. And that’s what I’m talking about, just getting ruthlessly honest about what is important in my life? Some things are just purely functional. Marie Kondo wrote a book called The Life-Changing magic of tidying up. And she uses the Japanese process of… It’s kind of a ritual of walking through a house and picking up every object in the house, and feeling it and saying ”does this bring me joy or not?” 58:25 If the answer is that it doesn’t, then she would ruthlessly get rid of it. Sell it, give it away, throw it away, get it out of your house. So become much more minimalist. And I feel like that’s really where we are right now. And one of the antidotes to that sense of overwhelmed and anxiety and disconnection with ourselves and other people is to just clean up. To ask ”does this bring me joy or not? And if it is necessary. I look at a lot of our businesses and the work that we do…59:01  If we’re honest about it, could be done in two or three hours a day. And the reason why more people don’t do it is that they don’t know what the hell to do with the rest of the hours of the day. And so we just let it sprawl out and take our entire day for 10 hours.


MATT:  yeah, I think you’re right. I have a good friend who owns some restaurant in town and I met with him last week. He has just essentially given the reign of his business to… A CEO and it’s Blake 59:33 who owns Boise fry company. And I met with him and we were going over some insurance stuff, and he said ”yeah, we’re gonna let Brad run the business. It’s been a transitional period of a year or 18 months for every quarter or six months he gets a little more responsibility. Brad has been in that business for a long long time and he knows it like the back of his hand. They have three locations now so it’s a lot of responsibility,1:00:01  but he’s cultivated Brad for many years. He trusts him and now he’s gonna kind of let him run the show. And, Blake can kind of really take huge steps back, and he has other passions that he’s going to go after. And I think that’s just amazing. I think that’s a great model if you can do that.1:00:20


JACOB:  Well, that’s art.


MATT:  yeah, he painted his picture…


JACOB:  He did his picture, did it on purpose, I love that.

None of my Business on ITunes.

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