For Creative People, It's Dangerous to Wear Disorganization as a Badge of Honor
Don't be afraid of making decisions, says entrepreneur Scott Belsky. Decisiveness -- even when the decisions aren't the "right" ones -- is a sign of a true leader.
Top creative companies around the world also use Behance to post jobs and find talent. Millions of creative enthusiasts visit Behance sites every month to watch and follow the latest and greatest work by creative professionals across industries.
Over the years, Behance has pursued other projects to help organize and empower the careers of creative people. These include99U, Behance's think tank and annual conference devoted to execution in the creative world; and a popular line oforganizational paper products that help organize creative people and teams.
Scott is also the author of the international bestselling book Making Ideas Happen (Portfolio Imprint, Penguin Books, April, 2010).
Through his work at Behance, Scott has become an advocate for technology and community initiatives that empower creative people and help businesses leverage the creative potential of their people. He has worked with leading media and Fortune 500 companies, including GE and Facebook, and has traveled around the world to share his findings. He has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek, and has shared Behance's research in segments on ABC News, MSNBC, and with the United States State Department and CIA. Scott has also guest lectured at Cornell University, Harvard University, VCU Brand Center, and UC Berkeley among other institutions. In 2010, Scott was included in Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business" list.
Scott actively advises and invests in businesses that cross the intersection of technology and design, and help empower people, among other criteria. He is an investor and advisor in Pinterest, Uber, Warby Parker, and Periscope as well as several others in the early stages. Scott is also an investor and Board member of sweetgreen, a values-driven locally-sourced seasonal kitchen. He also works closely with Founder Collective, Homebrew, Expa, and other early stage investment funds as a Product advisor.
Prior to founding Behance, Scott helped grow the Pine Street Leadership Development Initiative at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Scott was especially focused on organizational improvement and strengthening relationships with clients. Scott serves on the Advisory Board of Cornell University's Entrepreneurship Program and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He attended Cornell University as an undergraduate and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Scott Belsky: The idea for Behance was really born out of a sense of frustration with the creative world. Here are some of the most interesting and bright people that make our life worth living and just helping us identify with what's happening around us, create the stuff that compels us to take action, to buy things, to learn and understand. Yet at the same time this is probably one of the most disorganized communities on the planet. So the idea was what if we could help organize the creative world; help connect people with each other and with opportunity and drive and build content that helps really inform and empower creative careers. So that was the genesis of Behance and really the mission hasn't changed since we started working on the company in late 2005 early 2006. Certainly the products have evolved and been refined over time, but the mission to organize and empower creative people remains the same.
The disorganization of the creative world is largely due to a few things, and this is what really frustrated us and got us inspired to build Behance. First is the fact that a lot of creative people rely on their own circumstantial Rolodex to find opportunity and they're not actively trying to connect themselves with people outside of their field and more importantly with potential clients. There's also this notion of wearing disorganization as almost a badge of honor in the creative world, where in fact some of the most productive creative people in teams actually are especially organized and find ways to really make sure that they hold themselves accountable, share ideas liberally and make their ideas happen. So Behance has always been trying to educate and help people take the reins on their own careers and also try to connect people with each other and with opportunity and promote a sense of meritocracy in the creative world. So the Behance network is almost like a LinkedIn for the creative community. It connects people based on what field they're in, who they worked with before, what clients they've worked with before and the type of work that they're doing. And then another big product of Behance is 99U, which is almost like a think tank for creative careers.
One of the things that past experiences has helped me learn is that the most important decision is – the most important thing around decisions is just to make decisions. And sometimes the worst thing you can do is always find a reason to not make a decision yet. I typically find that when you make a decision, even if it's the wrong one, the amount of data and the stuff that you learn, the benefit of that exceeds the cost of having to go back and try again. And I think that earlier on I felt a lot of pressure to always make the right decision and sometimes that would just make more time pass. And I do find that now as a leader I'm trying to push for decisiveness, push the people that I work with to make a decision even if it's not my decision to make. But listen, I mean it's hard to know – I think it's one of those things it's like watching water boil. How do you know that you're developing as a leader? I'm still learning; I'm still making mistakes; and I guess I'm a little bit more comfortable now with that process maybe than I was earlier on in my career. I think that – let me put it this way. I think my greatest accomplishment so far has really been the careers of the people around me. When I look at the businesses kind of history and I think about the past eight to ten years of building Behance and now building teams at Adobe and also working with a lot of startups as an advisor and that sort of thing, the thing that I would say I get kind of emotional about is less so the outcome of these things but the people's careers and trajectories through these experiences and kind of looking at some of these people who are now leading teams and I remember hiring them right out of college, for example. Things like that. Those are truly rewarding things. And I think as a leader you have to take the careers of the people you work with really seriously. Those are really the investments that matter in a journey. And if you can be as long-term minded as possible about the careers you're helping steward around you you'll probably have the greatest outcome.
"The most important thing around decisions is just to make decisions," explains entrepreneur Scott Belsky, co-founder of Behance. In a world filled with chaotic, highly-disorganized creative people, it's important to be clear and decisive in your professional life. This means taking gambles on decisions that may or may not be the "right" one. Making a decision -- even the wrong decision -- is always better than giving in to indecision, says Belsky. Even a wrong decision elicits valuable data and feedback which can help inform your next decision.
The Visionaries series is brought to you by Big Think in collaboration with Founder Collective. In it, we profile remarkable entrepreneurs and the ideas and practices that make them great.
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