When you’re creating something, there are emotions that evolve with it. What you’re building grows and develops, and as it moves forward, the question that comes up is, “Why did we create this in the first place?” We’re talking with Alex Strohl about how ideas turn into businesses and everything that comes it.
Alex and I have been long time friends. You might remember him on CJRAWand he helped us dissolve the mystery of how we can stand out in the creative world. Alex is a French photographer, born in Madrid who finds himself on momentous adventures. He is known for capturing authentic moments as they unfold before him, and he blurs the lines between work and life.
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I find the sense of blurred lines so relevant to our creative pursuits, especially when our creative pursuits turn into a business. If you’re putting in the work to make it all happen, you’ll want to catch this show. Growing an idea into a business pursuit is about doing the tougher and unseen things we need to do as creative business owners. This is how creative ideas become businesses.
Idea to Startup
A creative business that is at the forefront of growth and leading the way may seem like it’s always been polished and at a high level. But, there’s a lot more to the origins and early desires of companies like wildist.co. Alex had the idea for wildist.co before it was even a thing and that idea evolved from his creative pursuit and developed beyond him.
I often explore the question with our community about how Ideas start out at the creative level, as art so to speak and they develop into a business. This happens by design, and sometimes by necessity.
We launch, build, and grow our creative ideas, and then what?
We’re artists, we know that sometimes creative ideas turn economical as a response to the community. When we’re asked the same question or for the same thing over and over, there’s a need and we have a desire to fulfill it. Turns out that sometimes that idea is lucrative. Guess what, lucrative projects support more creative endeavors and give us the opportunity to build a profitable business from creative ideas.
Business is good, it gets better, and then you’re looking for what’s next. Regardless of why you’ve created this thing, understanding the trajectory of a creative business and options for it is factored in. Can the business carry on? How big can it grow? What’s your continued ambition with it and can you do that, or has it developed beyond you? These are some of the questions you might ask if you’re looking at the future and the legacy of what you created.
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We all want to make money while we sleep, but it’s more than that. As creators, we tend to seek out the challenge, commit to our communities and have a deep passion for our work. When it comes to ideas that turn into businesses, all of that is blended with ambition and brings it up into something bigger.
Wildist.co was recently acquired. For Alex, he had to explore and understand what the company that he started needed most and continue forward. He felt a deep commitment to all of it and especially the people that were involved. So, there was a lot to unpack through the process of having an idea turn into a startup and then having it acquired. In a way, closing a chapter and letting it go.
When we merge intangible abstract pursuits and creative business success, we’re afforded the opportunity of all the lessons that come along the way.
Naturally, the discussion leads to talking about all the things we learn along the way. To create and let go of it all, comes at a cost.
It brings up the question, “Where does ambition take you?”, and “How do we neatly tie things up when we need to?” We all need to close a door at some point, business or life.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we all had the storybook endings? But, where’s the lesson in that? We’re here to go through it all and grow from it. Alex shared, “Closure [for him] is tied to the physical things and when they don’t function anymore, that is a solid ending. Like when the email is closed out. Done” Alex had to make peace with any mistakes he perceived to have made along the way, they’ve got to be let go of.
With all the growing pains, you’d wonder if starting a business is worth it. For Alex, it is. “Starting a business was entirely worth it.” He tells us, “It enriches your life and teaches you new things.”
A constant lesson is how the industry changes. That’s true, probably across all industries. Adapting to the change is how we grow and during this podcast we talk about what that’s looked like across different mediums like social media channels and the way content has changed.
There is always room for a story. It doesn’t matter what platform or medium it’s presented in, people connect with stories. The lesson is to be able to adapt to the change so your story comes across. For Alex, from teaching at retreats to writing in his newsletter it’s the story that always connects. He says, “ A good story has so much power.”
With social media changing the way it has, and the advent of TikTok and Instagram leading the way stories are shared and consumed, creators adapt. Alex continues to be on social channels but for him, it’s his newsletter and Youtube channel that are standouts for storytelling and connecting with his audience.
When it comes down to it, I hear all the time that creators like to share their stories with their networks and connect with them in real ways. Adapting to the changes and adjusting are all part of the lessons we learn, which can also feel a lot like parenting for some.
Parallels of Business and Raising a Child
Alex feels at home everywhere and he wants that for his baby. He and his wife Andrea travel with the intention to experience locations the way locals would. They never stay less than a month. The family splits time between Montana and Europe and because Alex and Andrea met on the road, both know a nomadic way of life, so it all comes naturally.
Still, raising a child must have a lot of parallels to building a business. Right?
Alex reflected on parenting and building a business. There are quite a few parallels of course. Here are some of the connections that stand out for him:
- Both are everyday affairs. You see the results long-term.
- The hours feel slow but the years fast.
- Some nights will suck and you get tired
- Being present is the definition of happiness – in life and work.
Alex sees photography as a way to capture his present. He freezes the moment and he likes it as a way to have an external memory of experiences that are fleeting.
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There are a lot of reasons you want to turn your ideas into a business, the pursuit of fulfillment and success is part of the experience. If you pursue success through outward recognition, at some point there’s a reconciliation of that outward recognition of your success. You’ll be known for something but on its own, that does not provide fulfillment. It’s a sort of an ego cycle that leaves you rich and famous, but out of touch.
People want to be able to do all of the things and it’s fast and more fear-driven. They want to be able to make money. When you’re willing to do everything and anything for the money you’re not going deep, you’re being a generalist and will struggle to create meaningful fulfillment through work. Your creativity will suffer.
Success is external validation and fulfillment is something deeper. When we go deeper with our creative ideas, everything opens up. Opportunities present themself including the space to expand fulfillment through doing the actual work. Through that deep focus and drive, come validation and success. The two things work together.
Why Are You Creating This?
During this podcast with Alex, you hear how it’s not one of the things, but all the things working together that help turn ideas into businesses. There are blurred lines between art, life, and creating and growing a business. You’ve got to go deeper than the generalist pursuit.
Fulfillment is there for you along the way. It’s in the present moment and the fleeting ones. There’s joy in the lessons learned, lessons repeated, and lessons that almost break you. If we’re looking for the storybook ending it invites me to ask, what’s at the beginning? What is your storybook beginning? Why do you want to create your thing in the first place? Will your idea grow beyond you? Will it die with you? Understanding WHY you want your idea to grow into a business is a great question to explore.