Creative Class and the Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur

Being a highly sensitive entrepreneur puts you in the Creative Class. Renowned urban studies theorist and winner of the Washington Monthly Annual Political book award for his national bestseller, ‘Rise of the Creative Class,’ Richard Florida describes this phenomenon. Richard Florida is H. John Heinz Professor of Regional Economic Development, Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University. The back cover of his book states:

“Millions of Americans are beginning to work and live the way creative people like artists and scientists always have – and as a result our values and tastes, our personal relationships, our choices of where to live, and even our sense and use of time, are changing. Leading the shift are the nearly 38 million Americans in many diverse fields who create for a living – the Creative Class. The first person to name this revolution was renowned urban studies theorist Richard Florida.”

The economic historian Joel Mokyr puts it even more bluntly in the preface to his landmark book The Lever of Riches, a sweeping study of technological creativity from classical antiquity through the industrial revolution. Drawing upon Schumpeter’s famous distinction between the typical “adaptive response” and the disruptive  and innovative “creative response,” Mokyr writes:

“Economists and historians alike realize that there is a deep difference between homo economicus and homo creativus. One makes the most of what nature permits him to have. The other rebels against nature’s dictates. Technological creativity, like all creativity, is an act of rebellion.”

Yet creativity is not the province of a few select geniuses who can get away with breaking the mold because the they possess superhuman talents. It is a capacity inherent to varying degrees in virtually all people. According to Boden, who sums up a wealth of research: “Creativity draws crucially on our ordinary abilities. Noticing, remembering, seeing, speaking, hearing, understanding language, and recognizing analogies: all these talents of Everyman are important. pg 32

The members of the Creative Class today need to see that their economic function makes them the natural – indeed the only possible – leaders of the twenty-first-century society. But being newly emergent, the Creative Class does not yet have the awareness of itself, as a class, that is needed. For the most part, Creative Class people persist in defining themselves by their differences: They are engineers or artists, boomers or X’ers, liberals or conservatives, urbanites or suburbanites. Or they think only of number one. Members of the Creative Class have been widely criticized as uninvolved and me-oriented. pg 315

The challenge of the Creative Class is a tall order. There are great obstacles in its way – perhaps the largest being the panoply of existing interests and entrenched groups. As Mancur Olson noted in his classic book The Logic of Collective Action, those who organize around discrete goals with sustained effort have a great advantage over those who have strong interests but are diffuse and disorganized. To put it more bluntly, the stuff that gets done has organization behind it. The fact somehow seems to escape the many rugged and perhaps romantic individualists of the Creative Class. pg 317

What is required instead is a shared vision that can motivate the specific actions we choose to take. This vision must reflect the very principles of the Creative Age: that creativity is the fundamental source of economic growth, and that it is an essential part of everyone’s humanity that needs to be cultivated. Such a shared vision can provide a guiding path for any new groups that form and also imbue new direction into our existing institutions and governing bodies. pg 317

Given that creativity has emerged as the single most important source of economic growth, the best route to continued prosperity is by investing in our stock of creativity in all its forms, across the board. This entails more than just pumping up R&D spending or improving education, though both are important. It requires increasing investments in the multidimensional and varied forms of creativity – arts, music, culture, design, and related fields – because all are linked and flourish together. It also means investing in the related infrastructures and communities that attract creative people from around the world and that broadly foment creativity. pg 320

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