Erik: Why should business owners try the arts? Simon: I genuinely believe that more businessmen should learn about the arts. I think a small business, especially, should study the arts. I remember quite a while ago when I had work, I had a small team, and I called friends meeting and they didn’t understand what it was for. And each of them turned up making use of their pencils and their notebooks and I said, “Okay, we’re planning to a little offsite” and I took them to a gallery. And the main reason I think the arts are valuable, is, again it’s how a brain works, you realize? Perhaps you have realized that you’ve all of your good ideas, not when you’re sitting in a brainstorming session? Because your rational brain can only access about two feet of information around you. Where your subconscious brain can access the equivalent of ninety – something similar to, what is it? 11 acres of information around you. In other words, every lesson or every experience you’ve had gets put in there. And it controls behavior and decision-making, just not language. And so that’s why we say, “this is a gut decision, it really feels right.” Or it is also the main reason these decisions happen in bed, in the shower, whenever you get a run, but not in the brainstorming session.
The problems have now been posed, the questions have now been posed, but your brain continues to think about them, it continues to try and solve them – accessing all of this other information, just not rationally, and so [Snaps Fingers] these ideas seem to show up from nowhere. It’s like, would you ever leave the home, and you feel like you’ve forgotten something? And you’re like “what did I forget? What did I forget?” It’s not rational it’s that subconscious, and you leave the home and you’re like [snaps] my sunglasses. And it’s never wrong! When you get the sensation that you’ve forgotten something, it’s never – in other words, your subconscious knows. And so the more you can do to fill that subconscious with information that has nothing related to anything, apparently, the more I think it benefits you in the days when you really need to really apply that information.
And I think the greatest chance for that is in the arts, because you’re not contemplating it, you’re not like “well I’ll read this book and it’s somewhat linked to my work.” No, go read issues that have nothing related to your work. Go watch performances, go see artists, go see just how others solve problems in ways which have nothing related to you.
And you won’t see the text, and there’s none. Or is there? You can find things that you could learn outside of your own discipline that’ll significantly contribute to the issues you’re solving at work. You simply know that which you know, you don’t know that which you don’t know, but more importantly, the arts seek to understand our world in ways that the remainder of us doesn’t, you realize, it accesses a language that the remainder of us don’t use. You and I are communicating with English, right? Here is the language we’re using. You speak with a painter or dancer, you realize? They might lack the facility that you and I have right now. In other words, they’re uncomfortable speaking. But a great painter has the ability to express themselves in color, and in line or in form, that we can learn a whole lot about them through this new language.
Or even a dancer has the ability to you realize, presenting themselves and use their body as this, as language to talk about what they feel, right? And some of us have the ability to do it in language, but some of us don’t. And I want to engage with the arts, to understand a new means of expression or understanding the world significantly enhances your ability to solve problems back at work.
I’m a firm believer that business, you realize, most of the owners – or even everybody – should go take classes. Go have a glass blowing class, go have a ceramics class, go have a ballet class, go have a piano lesson, go have a painting class, it doesn’t matter. Drawing, whatever tickles your fancy. Because you’ll learn things in those classes that’ll significantly contribute to your knowledge of the manner in which you present to the world. I took a ballet class with a few friends of mine, and I learned about presence and posture, and I could inform you, as a speaker, guess where I discovered that? Not from a speaker’s bureau, you realize?