CREATIVITY and COMMUNITY

Last month I attended “The Yellow Conference” in downtown LA where millennial female entrepreneurs got together for inspiration and motivation. I was reticent to attend, considering I was double the age of most attendees, but participated at the request of my niece Joanna, the founder of the conference. It seems that everywhere I turn, folks are bagging on the millennial culture because of their entitlement or need for instant results or lack of a work ethic. I’m not sure I want to explore the truth to these accusations, as I have four grown kids—all of them millenials. I am also, incidentally, immersed in this culture through teaching both at the college and my home studio. I try not to perceive my own kids and students as a “demographic” per se, but as individuals with unique paths. For all of the media’s finger-pointing at the younger generation, I must say I found none of it to be true at “The Yellow Conference.” The main difference between me and them was their propensity for striped pant suits, but as far as being wired for the collective, these girls had a heart for the masses much like their baby-boomer predecessors.

Since my brick and mortar business is already thriving and since I myself am not a millennial, I assumed the conference would have little to offer me by way of business models and branding. Was I ever wrong! Sitting in a room full of five-hundred women, next to a wall that read: “If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such that the world has never known,” we clapped and cried and connected not for the sake of businesses burgeoning but for the sake of the whole world. The experience was a surprise and truly transformative.

Stereotypically, women are known for their compassion, not their business savvy—a trope they’ve been trying to drop for decades. Proving ourselves to be capable and equal to men in business without being referred to as the B word, has been tough. The speakers at “Yellow” did have unapologetic business-know-how, and yet their drive was not based on money. The speakers were absolutely driven, offering tips on “bad-assery” and how to be the best you can be. But it didn’t just end there. After being your best, you would then help others and build community, like bees do—thus the name “Yellow.” Each business model presented how they would give a large percentage of their profits to a non-profit or charity of some kind. The general theme of each speaker was how to give back. The message was this: the purpose behind a profitable business is to profit others. These women figured out a way to employ compassion as their CEO. It was all about community.

The business models of today don’t demand expensive rents or the kind of overhead that had been necessary back in my day, so everywhere I turn, there’s another start-up, or online master class, or cyber-store. It makes it easier to make money, which makes it easier to give it away, especially considering many millennials don’t even want to accumulate goods, own houses or support mass consumerism. This recipe is not a replica of our grandmothers’; indeed it is new. We are a global community now and can share what we have with others in need.

The crux of Creativity is connection—connecting us with our deepest selves and with one another. Anything that builds community, then, engages a good amount of Creative activity.

Obviously, Creativity in business is nothing new, as brainstorming clever slogans pays many a salary, but the kind of Creativity that unites us under the guise of business is novel, indeed. Not only that, but pulling all of these women together in one place to demonstrate how to do this ultimately marries opposites—business and charity/revenue and donation—where there is no need for competition because compassion is expansive. I participated in the weekend imagining I’d be just a fly on the wall but instead, I was equipped with inspiration and resources for my do-good business, ultimately upholding the mission of Creativity. True community knows no age or demographic, only the power of our collective energies aimed at healing our world.