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Lessons from the Pottery Studio

Last week, I attended the Creative Impact Conference hosted by the Orange County Arts Council. The conference was held outside under a huge tent at Storm King Arts Center, we were surrounded by beautiful sculptures and majestic views of the Hudson Valley. The speakers were inspiring, especially John Cimino who transformed into Don Quixote and sang opera to the audience!

John spoke about partnering with the Center for Creative Leadership years ago and offering programs to corporate clients. For those of you who don’t know, the Center for Creative Leadership is a well-known global organization that offers professional development programs.

Since the conference, I have been thinking about the intersection of business and art. Left brain, right brain stuff. Creative and rational thinking. As a business owner and professional speaker, I tap into my rational thinking quite often. As someone who appreciates art, indulges in creative thinking, and makes pottery as a side hustle, I understand how creativity and innovation are required for any business to flourish. I do believe that every person can create. We might not all be gifted painters or captivating storytellers, but we can tap into our creative side and come up with new solutions to problems.

I love to create. To design and develop new training programs for my clients, to write, to try out new recipes, and to make pottery. I will admit that creating pottery has become a bit of an obsession. Here are a few life long lessons learned from making pottery that can be applied to any business. 


1.      If you want to get good at something you must practice. There is no substitution for putting in the time. The more time you put into practicing a specific skill, the better the outcome will be.

2.      Find a coach. An effective coach can teach you how to do something better. Once a week, I attend a pottery class. The teacher, Andy Boswell, is such a talented, gifted artist who gives demonstrations every week and challenges his students to do better. Coaches share valuable feedback.

3.      Get the right tools. Every line of work requires some type of equipment. It could be a laptop, a lawn mower, or a paint brush. Invest in quality tools, keep your tools clean, and make sure your tools are accessible when you need them.

4.      Improve your process. Everything you do is part of a process. Create process maps to improve your efficiency. For example, I need a bucket of water close by when I am throwing a form on a pottery wheel. I need to set up my workspace with tools and a bucket of water BEFORE I start.

5.      Embrace lifelong learning. There is so much to know about pottery. I am constantly asking questions, reading books, watching videos, and visiting pottery galleries. Whatever you do, there is always an opportunity to improve.

6.      Mistakes matter. Everyone makes mistakes, the trick is to learn from the mistake and keep moving forward.

7.      Enjoy the journey! It shows when you like what you are doing.

Throwing a pot



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