It could be argued that it was the vision and taste of the Medici family in Florence that actually launched the renaissance. Their customer dollars enabled a new class of Italian artists and scientists to pursue creativity and innovation. Leonardo took this to a whole new level - if you had the opportunity to see the recent exhibit in the San Jose Tech Museum, it is clear the he was standing on the shoulder of other intellectual giants at the time.. all spurred by customers with a taste for art and technology.
However, when the vision of the creator exceeds the vision of customer, what is the result? A starving artist, a 'self-sabatoger', a practitioner of 'sinful laziness' and 'self-abuse'?
The author points out that academia has no place for the passionate creative. I would argue that similarly the a customer driven market is also no place for the passionate creative. So, where do they belong? Are we content as a society to witness that occasional, rare intersection of the visionary customer with the passionate creative? As entrepreneurs, is it our place to find a solution?
The vast majority of the time it just takes far too much time and energy to survive.
On very rare occasions, people have enough time to create art.
An example I can think of is the native Americans in the pacific north west, before the arrival of Europeans.
The unique combination of:
Seasonal salmon runs - very good calorie rich food that's easy to catch.
A mountainous geography - keeps population reasonably small.
Resulted in a societies that could quickly catch and store enough food for the whole year.
And they ended up with a surplus of time and energy - free time.
Unsurprisingly that led to a staggering amount of art.
Sculpture - totem poles, music, dance, etc.
But again, that's very unusual.
The only other example I can think of is ancient Greece and they had a lot of free time thanks to slavery.
The one entrepreneurial solution to this, that I can think of is robotics.
I already have a dish washer and a roomba, but those only save a few hours a week. To really free up my time I need something that will do my work for me, like a robot that can code in C++.
I just hope the robots don't rebel or something like that.
It wasn't the only choice though. Maybe some members of the tribe used their free time to kill more salmon. Maybe they killed all the salmon because it was so good, or because they could bag the prettiest girl in the village because they had all the fish.
One way (song/dance/art), you are enhancing survival for the group and future generations. Another way (using survival skills to create excess), you are profiting in the short term.
Hundreds of years from now our era may be remembered as the generations that killed all the fish, and took all the paint brushes to make more fish hooks and spears.
It seems a recurrent mistake that people underestimate how truly unprecedented and awesome our society is.
Also, a large, dense population with lots of wealth is much more art-friendly than your sparse, idyllic native American population. The Indians didn't come up with Beethoven, and there's a reason for that.
Granted, the jungle is also plentiful (altho hazardous.)
But the masses of people who have to walk hours for water, in Africa and parts of the Middle East, is also a modern thing. Before modernish times, that would be totally untenable. Either they would move on, or they would all die, rather than this in-between state they occupy now.
The majority of cultures since the Great Leap Forward seemed to have created quite a bit of art, music and myths, but many of them were trasient and impermanent and so left no trace. And apparently a lot of it was "practical," in terms of beautiful clothing, vessels, "magical" items and weapons.
But I don't think I'd call those things uncreative because they were also useful.
It's hard to dig almost anywhere in the world and not at some point hit some magical amulet or wonderfully decorated pottery art, or something like that.
My point was about the rather unusual situation of Leonardo,
and even more so, jonmc12 question on how to allow more people the same freedom Leonardo had.
The large degree of time and effort devoted to art, by a large part of the population, is unusual.
Clearly every society has art, and often individuals, shamans, singers, etc, can be full time so to speak.
But it's rare that most people can devote most of their time, to activities other then survival.
With the wealth of today's first world, anyone who wants to be a passionate creative can be. And many are. Money isn't the problem; gumption is.
I think the article is a bit ridiculous at the end, about how the man is keeping academics down - if it weren't for the university, why academics' genius would flower. Blaming is the opposite of problem solving.
I am betting on the theory that entrepreneurship itself provides much more space for creativity than most other professions and if you succeed, you'll have a lot of money and time to pursue creativity full time. I have also read about a lot of successful entrepreneurs who discovered that they really need a startup to give direction to their creativity. Thus, serial entrepreneurs are born.
pg is one of the few entrepreneurs I can think of who didn't become a serial entrepreneur in the traditional meaning of the word but still found great outlets for their creativity. Although, at least one of pg's outlets - YCombinator can be thought of as a startup.
The guys at 37signals made their products so that they could use them. Mark Zuckerberg made Facebook for himself and friends. I'd imagine the thought process was something similar at Google.
I agree with this, and this is something many successful entrepreneurs have said. But here's the dilemma I was pointing out (maybe not so clearly) in my previous comment: After your initial success, when your customers clearly want you to add widgets A, B and C but you want to work on innovative product Z instead, it takes a visionary and gutsy person to do that. I realize that there isn't always such a clear cut binary choice.
While it might not be an either-or proposition, many if not most entrepreneurs find their interests diverging from that of the business after initial success. If you're acquired, this is almost guaranteed.
37 signals, Facebook and Google all have one thing in common: the founders are still in control but it's hard to argue that Google still builds what Larry and Sergey want to build for themselves. At best, Google now builds what its employees want to make for themselves. I can assure you that day to day, Larry and Sergei's jobs look very different from their jobs in 1998.
That's not quite true.
First of all, not all of his "friends" agree that Z "made" rather than "stole" Facebook.
Second, whether or not there's anything to the ConnectU case, Facebook is a commercialized version of HarvardConnection.
So, the model seems to be:
1. (get someone else to) Create something you need.
2. Take it.
3. Sell it.
a) Douchebags will steal from you.
b) Douchebags will try to mooch off of you.
a+b) Don't associate with douchebags. (And if you do,
then at least make sure to get rich and win the
If you want to be successful, make something that YOU need, then find others with the same need and market it to them.
And failing that do something that gives you joy, quite often that leads down fruitful alleys as well.
Linus did not start a startup to make Linux. He still hasn't bothered with one, though he certainly could have done so at various points. Similar stories exist with a huge number of open source projects.
Basically it seems like you only have to start one if:
-You don't get enough time any other way.
-You need additional resources to build the project.
-You like the people and energy.
-You want the money.
1. Identify the activities you procrastinate (for me, writing scientific papers);
2. Rearrange your life so you don't have to do them any more. (I just left academia to do a startup.)
Another possibility is to rearrange things in such a way that the only think you can still do are the things you are trying to get away from.
He understood concepts and designed things that fit them, likely knowing he'd never be able to build them in his lifetime. The first design for a Space Elevator came in like 1895, and in 2009 we still don't have the technology to make one, so why is Leonardo a 'procrastinator' simply because it was impossible to build some of the things he wanted to.
THe simple fact that Leonardo Da Vinci did not have access to the technology to realize his visions (and could not even begin to guess how far away that technology was) does not make him a procrastinator.
Have a look at the stuff that he came up with that had the technology readily available. It's a good thing they didn't have patents back then or Leonardos descendants would have owned the world.
Just because you're doing something productive doesn't mean that you aren't procrastinating. The trick, I think is getting the things that you are supposed to be doing matched up with the things you want to do. I think that's what most people mean by "find your passion."
I would. I'm the same way. Most people wouldn't call me a procrastinator looking at my output, but I know how I feel.
It's hubris to claim to know how Leonardo felt, of course, unless he wrote it down himself, but I don't think the article's nearly as big a stretch as you think it is.
Steve Jobs tried to motivate people by saying "Real artists ship." This is a fine sentence, but unfortunately not true. Many famous works of art are unfinished. It's true in fields that have hard deadlines, like architecture and filmmaking, but even there people tend to be tweaking stuff till it's yanked out of their hands.
As an American living in Shanghai for 9 years, I have had to confront this meme in its various forms on many occasions. My wife (Chinese) will simply tell me things like "Chinese people are not afforded the luxury of your behavior". It appears procrastination is something that must be "afforded".
Its not that procrastination is unique to us (modern-Western-middle-class++), but that it may have cultivated itself into an attribute that has reluctant value; otherwise da Vinci would have no merit in this context.
I spent a month in India this year. It's a much slower lifestyle there. When something doesn't get done, they just don't feel bad about it.
(Obviously, huge generalizations in that last paragraph.)
This reads like something out of Turgenev. A pair of boots is worth more than the complete works of Shakespeare! Before art, bread!
By contrast, one might ask: Leonardo's procrastinations have more value than the output of how many thousands of sensible, disciplined people?
Perhaps procrastination is a similar phenomenon. The workplace is ubiquitous now, if we allow it to be. Do we procrastinate so that our minds have time to recover from these new demands?
In all seriousness, that sounds like ADD.
Procrastination is like masturbation, it's all good until you realize you just f***ed yourself.