Musings On Poetry, Business, Creativity, And A Bit About Travel.

This looks like an excellent programme. Some really smart people teaching it, great setting. Thanks for the pointer, Max.


The course will teach artists everything they need to know about basic business from how to manage their finances to how to market themselves more effectively and critically – to negotiate decisively when pitching a product. This is a profound practical investment for artists who will emerge more confident about their creative aspirations and much better equipped to continue working creatively but without being so vulnerable to exploitation.

I’d also like to a see a course the other way around. Artistic Acumen for Business People.  The business world would be a better place if it could pause every now and then. Draw a picture. Read a bit of Wordsworth.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

How about  Hugh MacLeod and Alain de Botton teaching  MBA classes?  Last night, on the flight back from London I read de Botton’s   The Art of Travel.  Here is an excerpt from the book.

From the ground, the white light gradually takes shape as a vast two-storied body with four engines suspended like earrings beneath implausibly long wings. In the light rain, clouds of water form a veil behind the plane on its matronly progress towards the airfield. Beneath it are the suburbs of Slough. It is three in the afternoon. In detached villas, kettles are being filled. A television is on in a living room with the sound switched off. Green and red shadows move silently across walls. The everyday. And above Slough is a plane that a few hours ago was flying over the Caspian Sea. Slough-the Caspian: the plane a symbol of worldliness, carrying within itself a trace of all the lands it has crossed; its eternal mobility offering an imaginative counterweight to feelings of stagnation and confinement.

There is a chapter that talks about Wordsworth.  Next time I’m in London, I hope to pop into the School of Life.

The economic events of the last couple of years create an opportunity for business schools to rethink what they are about. They need to take a dose of  their own Schumpeterian Creative Destruction medicine.  As Prof Zuboff, a former HBS prof notes.

We weren’t stupid and we weren’t evil. Nevertheless we managed to produce a generation of managers and business professionals that is deeply mistrusted and despised by a majority of people in our society and around the world. This is a terrible failure.

I suggest you read the whole article. I’ll be buying Shoshana Zuboff’s book  The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism.

Business education needs more profs like

One professor with a particular insight into the internal musings of MBA students is Srikumar Rao who has taught an MBA elective at London Business School, as well as schools in the US, with the grand title of Creativity and Personal Mastery. It requires students to plough through a reading list ranging from PG Wodehouse to books on Zen and quantum physics before addressing whether they even want to spend their lives working 15-hour days in the pursuit of riches. Rao says he is now encountering people “more ready to speak their minds. They are much more reflective. In fact, many have turned down offers at high-prestige firms in favour of asking, ‘What can I do that really brings meaning to my life?’.”

Unusually for a business school professor, Rao expresses serious misgivings about the fundamental ethos of such institutions: “Our top business schools are really not education institutions, they are indoctrination institutions. There are certain things which are so much dogma that you don’t even want to encourage any challenge to them – the primacy and efficiency of markets, maximising shareholder value. These things are not in question.” (via the Guardian)

Putting Wodehouse into a MBA gets my vote. One of my other favourite characters is fiction, Rumpole, has a habit of dipping into Arthur Quiller-Couch’s Oxford Book of English Verse. On twitter I follow someone who publishes a link to a Shakespeare sonnet everyday. I don’t always read them but I should. They often have a surprisingly modern relevance. Witness sonnet 11, line 14.

“Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die”.

I read this just after reading about the Kindle DRM incident.


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