Career transitions are often bumpy. New processes, different people, and all the energy that goes into building the skills, network and momentum- no wonder why the comfort of a stable career is prevents many people from pursuing their calling. Change isn’t easy.
Now imagine you’re a working attorney with a promising future and more than a decade of education, testing, and training to get to where you are. That’s the scenario my guest on the show today, Maria Brito found herself in. She recalls, “For the years I was an attorney, it was like I had a fake identity.” Law was not her calling.
Fast forward to today’s episode, and Maria is now an award-winning contemporary art advisor, author, and curator. She has written for publications such as Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Elle, Forbes… The list goes on. Complex Magazine named Maria one of the Top 20 Power Players in the Art World. She now teaches creativity courses in companies and, in 2019, she launched “Jumpstart”, an online program on creativity for entrepreneurs based on years of research and observation in both the areas of business and art.
Maris is no doubt an outlier- going from amateur side hustler to game-changing power player in the art world. But her story contains wisdom that can be applied to any career change or lifestyle transition.
Here are a few pieces of advice for making a career transition, pursuing your passion, starting a business or just plain “going for it.”
Where to start? Going from 0 to 1.
I’ve asked hundreds of guests how they made the first moves to get from 0-1. Not even from the sidelines to the playing field… just entering the arena. The key elements of Maria’s answer:
- A willingness to shift. Your intuition ultimately acts like an internal compass. A willingness to shift allows us to tune into that intuition.
- Take calculated risks. How can you be strategic and thoughtful in navigating the financial and logistical side?
- Network your butt off.
When Maria entered the art world, she dove head first. When more established players in the industry take their foot off the gas, that’s when it’s time to strike. Show up, meet your peers and don’t be shy to be the newbie. Curiosity and genuine interest go a long way.
A lack of experience can be an advantage.
We all have gifts, ideas, businesses, art, and energy to bring to the world. According to Maria, the gold mine is at the intersection of two or more distinct domains. Creativity itself is where you’ll find your individual perspective, style and uniqueness.
Pioneering an established industry
From NFTs and blockchain to VR and gaming, rapid changes across industries and art forms have created a ripe environment for innovation and change. Maria believes, “Anyone can be a pioneer of something if only they let their ideas out, and only if they are willing to execute them.”
Educational vs. transactional
How can you create better relationships with clients or potential customers? EDUCATION. Educating clients and doing things like creating content even though it wasn’t necessarily revenue-generating, ended up being the key differentiators and one of the reasons Maria is now one of the 20 biggest power players in the art world.
So there’s a quick dose of wisdom for the week.
Listen to the Podcast
Chase Jarvis: Hey everybody. What's up. It's Chase. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Travis Jarvis Live Show here on CreativeLive. You know this show where I sit down with the world's top creators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders, and I do everything I can to pick their brain with a goal of helping you live your dreams. Our guest today is Maria Brito. Maria is a New York-based contemporary art dealer, collector, advisor, and an author with a great new book called How Creativity Rules the World: The Art and Business of Turning Your Ideas Into Gold. We talk about everything in this episode, from brick and mortar galleries, to the future of NFTs, how everybody is creative. Yes, that's you. And how you can actually turn your ideas... Wherever you are right now in the world, the gap between where you are and where you want to be, how you can turn that into your future. It's an amazing episode. Maria, originally from Venezuela, talks about not just art history, but making your ideas come to life in the present day. It's a fascinating discussion that goes, again, from collecting to creating and back again. It's a fantastic episode. You're going to love it. I'm going to get out of the way and let you enjoy our guest today. Again, Maria Brito.
Chase Jarvis: Maria. Thank you so much for being on the show. Welcome.
Maria Brito: Thank you, Chase. I'm so pumped and thrilled to be here with you. And hello, everyone who's listening. I'm so excited to spend this time with you.
Chase Jarvis: Awesome. Awesome. Well, we have a lot to cover, because when I originally got attuned to your work, I felt like you were speaking directly into my brain. You have a long standing place in the art world. You've written an incredible new book that I want to talk about. You've helped so many others put their creativity to work in the world. You have inspired a ton of people, me included. So, suffice to say, without me introing you, what I always love asking to do is, for the people who aren't familiar with your work, other than what I've just shared with them, explain sort of who you are, how you came into maybe even being on the show, what you refer to yourself as, and how you sort of orient in the world.
Maria Brito: Thank you, again. Som, I am an art advisor. And what I do is I am the eyes and ears of art collectors. And I teach them how to diversify their assets through art, but also I teach them how to live with contemporary art and get a window into the hearts and minds of artists. And it's an incredible, interesting, and fascinating world that I actually built for myself, because I used to be a corporate attorney. That was 13 years ago. And that was the time of my life that I label as my dark ages. So, I transitioned into something that was meaningful and continues to be meaningful to me. And in the process of becoming an art advisor and building the business, I also became a curator. And so, I have curated exhibitions around the world. I also was called by a lot of different companies to teach their employees how to see things from a different angle, how to think like artists, how to mine their ideas and build confidence in their creativity, because everybody really is creative and creativity is not just for artists or just for tech. It is for everybody who want to materialize their ideas and benefit from them.
Maria Brito: And in the process of doing that, and my art advisory too, I decided that I wanted to bring the teachings that I had learned from artists and the things that I had learned from entrepreneurs into a more comprehensive program that is online. And people can take it and do it at any time and whatnot. And so, the typical student is either a freelancer or a manager or an artist, or I even have had attorneys. I have had doctors. People who actually want to benefit from the power of seeing things from a different perspective, and position themselves from a different angle. And that is actually what inspired me to write the book, because I saw that they were getting so many incredible breakthroughs and they were shifting careers or enhancing theirs or finally crossing that bridge that they were longing to bridge, in terms of money or recognition or whatever.
Maria Brito: And I thought, "Wouldn't it be interesting if I actually doubled down on the studies that I have gathered, the data that I have put together, the information, the historical passages, and organized it in a book?" And that's what I did. And so, that's why we're talking today, because I love what you do. I respect what you do tremendously, both as an artist and as an author and as a podcast host. I don't know how you do all this, but you do it, and you do it beautifully. And I'm your fan. And I'm thrilled to be here today, sharing what I have learned in my life from artists and how I have also translated that into my business.
Chase Jarvis: Incredible. Well, you are not the last... sorry, you're not the first, many have self-proclaimed recovering attorneys, or someone who got into one career profession only to find out that they wanted to do something else. So, I want to start there. Because there are so many people right now who are listening to the show, who are on a path that they know either doesn't serve them or isn't their end all be all. Some for very good reasons and others for not such good reasons. But I'm curious to hear your personal journey in recognizing, as an attorney, a corporate attorney, self-described, what helped you recognize that this was not your future? And how did you go about that transition? And I want to call out that this, whether you're an attorney or not, I'm not trying to make this about attorneys. This is whether you're a school teacher, a break dancer, a chef, whether you're doing anything and you want to be doing something else, tell me your story of recognizing that the thing you were doing, how it wasn't serving you, and what steps did you take to transition?
Maria Brito: That's an excellent question. And I was an artist child. And I wanted to be a performer and a singer. A lot of kids want to do that, but they don't have talent. And I actually did. So when it was fun and this cool place and things like that, my parents thought it was very cute. But when it started to become serious and I was a teenager and older, and I started getting calls, auditions, people, record labels, tours, I don't know what, getting paid for that, my mom told me that was a job for hookers. And she said if I wanted to pursue that, remember I was born and raised in Venezuela, and so it's a very... You cannot imagine how backwards the whole thing is. And at that time, how backward was, right? And so my mom said, "No, that's a job for hookers." And I did not have really many options, because she said, "If you want to do that, you just have to pack up your things and never come back."
Chase Jarvis: Wow.
Maria Brito: But she was dead serious, okay? And so, she was a frightening woman, honestly. And she still is, but now I'm an adult, so... Sorry, Mom. So, I did not have an option to go and wait tables and things like that, which I would've done here. It's like, "Okay, the hell with this. I'm going to wait tables and make money, bartend or whatever," right? So, my parents had actually indoctrinated me into the idea that people, if they want into succeeding life, they have to go for dependable careers. And those things that are like, you are a doctor, you are an attorney, you're an engineer, something like that, right?
Maria Brito: And I just love to write and read. So I said, "I'm going to go to law school, because honestly the other ones, I'm going to fail tremendously. I can't even get accepted into medical school." I mean, [inaudible 00:08:40], you know what I mean? I have no nothing to do with that. And so I went to Harvard Law, believe it or not. I mean, that's how far I went. And I graduated, I passed the bar exam. I moved to New York City, which was the big dream of mine. And I worked in law firms. And at the beginning, everything is new. It's hard. But it is new and you get paid really well. So, I was extremely young and I was making a lot of money and I was living in New York City. So, whenever I had my free time or whatever, I had all the money to spend in restaurants and whatever. I could not even spend it because I was working so hard, right?
Maria Brito: And in my very little spare time, I would go to galleries and museums and sort of collect little things for myself and whatnot. And obviously, I had four different jobs at four different law firms, because always thought that the next one was going to make me happy. That, "Oh, well this one wasn't necessarily so exciting. The next one is going to be." And the next one was not, and the next one was not, right? And so I had already started thinking, "This is just not going to last for me." Even though I lasted for nine years doing it, I said to myself, "This is really horrible. It's so horrific. There is no way I can spend the rest of my life here." And I had gotten married and I was pregnant with my first child. And this was a thought that consumed me.
Maria Brito: What am I going to teach my child? Children model their parents. Am I going to tell him that I sold out on my dreams and that I went to law school, because my parents said that and look how miserable I am. So, this was something that was constantly in my head. And one day I was like, "God, help me, seriously." I was like, "I can't do this alone. I need help. Please come and help me." And I had this flash of intuition that reminded me that my husband and I had bought an apartment in Manhattan. And we bought it and we sold it within a year and a half, because a broker came, she was working in the building, and she stumbled up on us. And brokers you know how they are. They're hustlers.
Maria Brito: So, she made her way into my apartment and she's like, "Wow, this is unbelievable. This is so beautiful. The art that you have on the walls and how you've positioned your things. And oh my God, I can sell this tomorrow." Right? And my husband and I were like, "Hmm, is she real?" So we gave her a listing. We were not even thinking about anything, right? We gave her a listing and the woman did sell the apartment for like 40% above what we had paid a year and a half before. Really way much more. And she said to me, in front of my husband, "The only reason why I did this is because of how beautiful you made this apartment look and the art you have on the walls elevated everything." This was a flash of insight I had. And I said, "I'm going to go and pursue this thing, because I just really... I'm not going to go to another office and I'm not going to go to work in an in-house council. I'm not going to go and do consulting for McKinsey. I'm not going to do any of that." Right?
Maria Brito: And I wrote a business plan and I told my husband, "I don't need anything, because I have savings. And all I want to is your support here, because I'm going to have a child and we have a mortgage, because we sold that place and we bought another one, and I really would love for you to back me up." And he looked at me and he's like, "When are you planning on doing this?" And I said, "Well, when the baby's a little... I'm going to go back to the law firm to claim my bonus and whatever." And he's like, "Wow." So, I actually did that. And it's been 13 years since that day, and I have never been happier or more fulfilled. I have never made as much money, not even when I was an attorney. And I think that, that incredible jump, which was so hard, and I have had to think what I felt at the time, the fear, the things that I had to tell my parents. Even though I didn't really care that much, you still have respect for your parents. I had respect for my parents, right?
Maria Brito: And so, after all the effort to pay for law school and the years and the blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to get the degree, and then to pass the bar, and then the hours and hours working, and getting to build your knowledge and your reputation, that you're reliable, you're good, the partners of the law firm trust you, things like that. And I was like, "I want nothing with this lifestyle. I want nothing with anything that has to do with law and lawyers. Nothing." I went out and I did.
Chase Jarvis: You made it. Well, you've done so many different things since then, including as an art advisor, which is one of the things that you cited in your self-described, say, title there. I know you have consulted on Diddy's collection, Gwyneth Paltrow's, and so many sort of favorite celebrities, helping them collect art that inspires them, that is valuable, that is oriented, has value in the market. That's just one thing. I do want to make sure that we get into your new book, How Creativity Rules the World. But interestingly enough, this early part of your life, before you had a book deal and before you were working with Gwyneth Paltrow, as an example, to build up her art collection, you had to go to work on day one, right? You left the law firm, new mother. What did you do? What did you do to get started? Because so many people, again, listening right now are like, "Great. I also left my law job, but now I'm scared shitless."
Maria Brito: Yes. Yes.
Chase Jarvis: Getting through zero to one. Getting from just deciding that you're leaving, the leaving process, but what do you do on day one? You're like, "Okay, here I go." You stack some papers on your desk. You make phone calls. Do you hit the streets?What's day one for [crosstalk 00:15:10]-
Maria Brito: No, what I do is that, I had in my eye on someone who is a woman who works on messaging and communications and PR and things like that. So, I called her up and I said, "I have this idea of what I want to do. And I would love to sit down with you, because I have seen that you have worked with the entrepreneurs and different people." And so I went to visit her in New York and I explained to her what I wanted to do. And she said, "Well, I would love to take you on as a client and I'm going to help you. So, do you have an idea of what you want your website to look like? Or do you have an idea of what is it that what could be the most interesting thing that you could offer that nobody else is doing?"
Maria Brito: And I told her, "I believe that the most unique thing that I have to give to people right now is my willingness to demystify the mysteries of the art world and show people that anybody can collect. And that it can start at little money or big money. It doesn't matter. I would love to start blogging and using social media, because nobody else in that space is doing it." And this was, again, 13 years ago, pre-Instagram, pre-YouTube. Everything is online and available to everybody if they wanted to, right? And she said, "Oh my goodness. I find that so interesting, because that's true. It's such an intimidating world. And it's so [inaudible 00:16:40]." So, we both sat down and we crafted messaging. And once you start getting this ideas, you start coming up with more ideas, right? Because that's the thing you have to take action. So that action begets more action.
Maria Brito: And I hired the web designer. She thought it was going to be good for me. And I had a photographer and the messaging and boom. We put it out and I started messaging and emailing people in other blogs, right? Asking them to help me cross promote. And so, that was day one. And so, in two and three, and the first month or whatever it was of setting this up, and I started asking people for referrals and say, "I'll charge you half of what it is. I'll go for a lower fee." And, but I honestly think that what got me the most traction was my willingness to do all this blogging and let work and go to all the galleries, shake hands with all the owners, and talk to every artist, and do every art fair.
Maria Brito: Because the truth is, since I was an outsider, I didn't have preconceived notions of what I was going to find in that world, right? I mean, once you're an expert and you've been doing the same thing for a long time, you start to develop blind spots, because things are so easy in a certain way, that you miss what's happening in the periphery of things. And also once you've been for a long time in an industry, it's normal that you're going to have beefs with people, enemies, things, you know what I mean? I had none of that, right? Because I didn't know anybody. And so, if anybody would say, "Well, don't go to this person because they are this or that," right? Or, "Don't even try to approach this artist because he is this and that." And I said, "Okay, well if that's what you think that's great, but I'm still going to go and figure it out myself."
Maria Brito: So, I had this hustler mentality, but at the same time, it was very pure and naive. And I had, there was no plan B, right? This was plan B. So, it had to work out or else I was going to see myself in this horrific situation of having to potentially go back to being an attorney. And I could not do that. It was like, for the years that I was an attorney, it was like I had a fake identity. And when I decided that I wanted to do this, it's I became my own self. I really started inhabiting the Maria that I was meant to be. And that is incredibly powerful. As corny as it may sound, I entered into the person. It's like everything worked out for me. Seriously. Because I have had the intention of doing something new and different. I had the willingness to differentiate myself. I was fresh. I was new. And I had ideas that other people had not considered because they had already been too ingrained and too entrenched in their ways and whatever. And they were rigid and I was not. And this was a huge advantage.
Maria Brito: And that's why, if anybody is considering shifting careers, do not think that your lack of expertise in an industry is a negative. On the contrary, it is an advantage, because you have that vantage point that other people do not. So, if anybody's scared shitless of doing something like I did, because of a reason that they don't know how that specific industry works, I mean, first of all, yes, get to understand how the industry works, but do not be afraid that because you are not an expert and you don't have 20 years of expertise... and also, Chase, there's no such a thing as a 25 year career anymore. That is good for an artist, yes, because you are born like that, but nobody stays 25 years in a corporate job and things like that. The world has changed. And because of that, people now have permission to do things that were unthinkable 20 years ago.
Chase Jarvis: You're, in many ways, a career counselor right now. And so I want to say thank you. Right now there are people who are taking notes. The idea of being a neophyte in the new industry is so scary. And to be able to position it as such a positive, as you also were very clear, you do have to get to know the industry. I went through this exact process that you're describing when I wanted to start my career in photography, meeting people, and this idea, this willingness to learn, this sort of willingness to start at the beginning, those are both scary and empowering at the same time. So, I appreciate you for helping shape that. And if you're listening right now, or watching, this going from zero to one. There's so many stories that we've told ourselves, it sounds like you would agree here, that nothing can replace action, because what you are telling yourself and the reality that you experience are often going to be very different.
Chase Jarvis: So again, thank you for sharing with us this idea of basically just going for it and trusting yourself enough to learn. There was also some really important stuff in there. You had a savings account. It's not like you just lit your job on fire and jumped. There was some... you had a savings account, as an example, but if we can now put that on pause, and you talked earlier about navigating your way into the art world, about meeting people, the players, being willing to be new, but also that you had this sort of freshness. Obviously, you're one of the 20 power players in the art world, according to Complex Magazine. And that didn't happen overnight. You've been doing this for, you mentioned, I think, 13 years now. But what are some of the things that across that 13 year experience that you've found differentiated you from other people in the industry? How did you lean into those things? And were those attributes that were attributes you didn't have before? Or was it something that you doubled down on who you were? Help me to understand how, in this 13 years, you've been able to stand out.
Maria Brito: I think my willingness to educate my clients is twofold. I was educating myself and I was educating them. And when you invest time learning things and go in to visit more artists than anybody and writing about them and photographing and documenting their lives is a chunk of time of your day that goes into an activity that you don't necessarily see as revenue generating, right? And a lot of people were not willing to do that, right? And they found themselves in the thick of sales, which is fantastic, of course, but they never decided to develop anything else besides that. And so, their businesses became highly transactional and that is okay. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but I wanted to educate my clients. And I also had a dream to educate the audiences, right? People who had no access to an artist studio in Brooklyn, people who had no access to an exhibition in Venice, people who had no access to Art Basel, right?
Maria Brito: So, I was there with my phone and my notes and my things and my camera and my willingness to actually put in the time, because it's work, right? I mean, producing excellent content takes a lot of time. And sometimes it could be seen as an extra chore or and I was like, "I am doing this, because first of all, it's needed. And second, I have a knack for it." And I like talking to artists and I like explaining to my clients what the artists do and how they do it. And I like telling the audiences and writing for all the magazines that I wrote and all the things that I did in have in my own blog and my own videos and my own TV show, that I actually could bring this one more layer that was not being tackled by anybody else.
Maria Brito: And I think that made a huge difference. Also, the desire to put myself out there, right? Because it's scary when you're vulnerable. And we live in a world of crazy things happen in social media every day and haters, and I don't know what, right? So, people may want to not do that, to protect themselves. People may not, because of whatever reasons. They are shy or because they don't want to get in the midst of things that they feel like it's a waste of time. Look, it's funny because when Instagram launched in 2011, I think. So, and I only joined in 2013. And I was kind of reluctant, because I was like, "Oh God, I already have Facebook and Twitter and a blog and I'm not going to go to Instagram," righty? Crazy me. But a friend convinced me and I joined and it was still early. And I gained a big following because it was the beginning, sort of. And it was easier to build a following.
Maria Brito: But I remember when I joined, most galleries were not on Instagram. Most fashion houses were not on Instagram. And they were reluctant to actually join for ages. And guess what? 25% of the transactions in the art market originate through Instagram, in the millions of dollars, right? And they were like, "Absolutely not. That is trash." Now they're all on TikTok dancing too, you know what I mean? Because they learned the lesson, right? A little bit of, I mean, not the hard way, because at this point really they are making money. But what I'm saying is this, there's things with technology and there's things with opportunity. And the amount of access that we have and the amount of reach that we could potentially have by utilizing this tools in our favor, right?
Maria Brito: Because everything can be done wrong and for the wrong reasons and with the wrong objectives, but all these things that are presented to us in our generation, in our time, are there for us, to help us. And they require time and effort, like a podcast, right? Like writing a blog, like having a newsletter, anything. But it is the currency of how we live. So, creativity is coming up with ideas of value that are relevant today. So, we don't want to live in the 1980s, as fun as they were. And we try to actually invent the future with what we are doing in the present. And that is really one of the core concepts of my book, is inventing the future. Because I mean, I think for the most part, people who are creatives and people, in no matter the industry, they have an idea of what they would want to leave as a legacy, right? And part of that legacy should be always being pioneering something. And I am a huge believer that anyone can be a pioneer of something if only they let their ideas to come out and if only they want to execute them.
Chase Jarvis: All right. You mentioned the book. Before we get into the book, because I have a bunch of questions and again, having also written a book on creativity, there's so many parallels that I was inspired by the overlap. And I want to get to those. Before we do, though, just a question about, you talked about there's always these emerging opportunities, whether it's with TikTok or social media. I'm just fascinated, as someone who is on the forefront of helping connect artists to patrons and doing that in largely these high profile, through high profile galleries and whatnot, I'm curious if you could talk about the bifurcation or multifurcation of the historically oriented around galleries where you might connect a patron with a gallery to acquire a piece of art, and what we're seeing now, the artist direct, the relationship that someone has with an artist to buy work directly from them, and including NFTs?
Chase Jarvis: What do you see as this emerging... and as we're talking to someone who, you work largely with many of these galleries, and that's still where probably most of the volume comes from, but we're seeing the shift so quick and NFTs. And you're seeing people who historically wouldn't have been in the same room, a person like Gary Vee, who is a business person, he's getting auctioned at Christie's for NFT projects. So, I'm wondering if you can paint a picture for us, before we shift and talk about creativity the way you've written about it in the book. What are you seeing on the horizon in the world that you've operated in for the last 13 years?
Maria Brito: Well, it's also an excellent question, of course. And I think that there are many ways to skin cat, right? And there are many ways that an artist can be an artist and a successful one, right? And so, there are the traditional artists, and by traditional, it doesn't really have anything to do with their age, but it has to do with their training and what they want to accomplish in their lives, right? And so, those are the people who went to art school, or sometimes they can't even afford art school, but they are super talented painters, sculptors. It's mostly painters. And they start putting their art out the there, and they start knocking on doors and getting into group shows in galleries and things like that. And one day a gallery says, "I want to invite you to have a solo show." The show those amazingly well. And then the gallery states a contract for re-presentation, because the gallery access also like this connection with the patrons and the collectors, but also helps build careers in the sense of, "I will help you out being in the museum collection and I will help you out paying for the museum shows." Because those things are not free by the way.
Maria Brito: So, it is a very kind of... it's bureaucratic. And at the same time, it requires manpower and help and whatnot, right? So, that's one way of being an artist. A lot of young artists still dream of having that type of career and being in the museum and being in the big galleries, because this is what we know. And so, what you know is usually the thing that protects your brain. We are fearful of change and this is what's interesting, right?
Maria Brito: And now we're talking about NFTs. And so, it is inevitable, right, in a world where we have been digital for so long. And then we face a pandemic where things are even more digital, right? And NFTs, the first time they were mentioned and talked about was 2014. So, it's not really anything new. It's just that everything that has been discuss that is weird, doesn't really get a lot of popularity. Everybody who is creative is not going to get a lot of, "Yay," at the beginning, right? Because your ideas take time for people to accept them. And the beauty of this thing of NFT is that artists can now go directly to platforms, or they can launch their own NFTs, or they can show things on Instagram and say, "This is a drop." And then all you have to do is go to OpenSeas or whatever. And they don't have to have an intermediate, right? They don't really have to necessarily split in half their profit-
Chase Jarvis: A gallery, or... yeah. Yep.
Maria Brito: ... or anything, right? They don't have to do that. So, that's fascinating, because it's creating a whole hype, right? And right now it's the wild west, because it's so new that you have the good, the bad, and ugly. And it just keeps multiplying. It's mushrooming everywhere. And it's always normal, right? At the beginning of something, you're going to have the moment where nobody believes it, then you're going to the peak where everybody's rushing, it's the gold rush, right? Everybody moved to California, there was no gold, right? And then it'll start to settle. And what I find about NFTs, the most fascinating thing is the ability of artists to program royalties, the ability of artists to have an idea where their art... who's the owner and traceability over time. And I think that the way I see it, where I see it getting a lot more of importance over time is that every tangible piece of art will be backed up by an NFT in the future.
Maria Brito: What I find super complicated, even as a former attorney really, is to think about ownership. Because you can actually play with physical work, but also with the NFT. So, what is going to be more valuable, right? And how is that going to be? Is one thing can be actually separated and traded, right? And commercialized from the other? And I respect Gary Vee, but we really have to talk about people who sold his artwork for $69 million at Christie's. And this is something that placed him, immediately, as the third most expensive living artist in the world. I mean, behind Jeff Koons and David Hockney. So, this is something that you have to take a pause to think about this for a second. Like what you said before, people who didn't have this conversations in this important settings or whatever, which at the end of the day is all bullshit, right? Because we're all human and we're all very interesting.
Maria Brito: So, these people who don't necessarily were hanging out with Christie's and whatnot, now they are. And at the same time, people who was a purely digital artist now is making the tangible things that also sold at Christie's, right? And so, what we're seeing is that there is this intersection of worlds that nothing that's tangible is ever going to go away. Humans want to have things. And it's like the ruins in Athens and in Turkey are filled with murals and frescoes because people wanted to have art in their houses. So, that's never going to go away. And for those who want to have a life in the metaverse and have houses there and throw parties in the metaverse with NFTs on the walls, that is also going to be an option.
Maria Brito: And it doesn't have to be an either/or. I don't like extremes either. Like, "It's all going to be digital." Or, "The digital people have no space here." No, I think that it's important that we, as incredibly rational and smart human beings that we are, that we appreciate that there are two things happening, and that there's going to be a lot of overlaps. At some point we're going to have a lot of experiences that have to do with digital world, that are supported by a brick and mortar gallery or an exhibition space or an experience and things like that, because creativity and human imagination, as you know, is the most unlimited resource that anybody can possess. So, there are things that are going to be happening that we have... I mean, we might envision them. We're just not experiencing them yet, but they will come to pass.
Chase Jarvis: So, let's shift our attention now to your most recent work of genius, your book, How Creativity Rules the World: The Art and Business of Turning Your Ideas Into Gold. So, there is an opening line in the publication materials that I love, which is that, "Maria illustrates how creativity is merely a series of habits, actions, and attitudes that anyone can develop, regardless of who you are or what you do." That's a beautiful line. I wish I wrote it. I say of the same things in my book, Creative Calling. I'm curious to hear your take on that. Expand that idea, that creativity is a series of habits, actions, and attitudes. What do you mean?
Maria Brito: I think that when people hear the word creativity, they have one of two thoughts. One is that it is just for artists. And that's what people do when they sit down with their pencils and canvases and whatnot. And the other idea or thought that come to people minds is, "I'm not creative because I'm not one of those artists." Or, "I'm not creative because I wasn't gifted like Steve Jobs was," and things like that. And all those things are wrong, because the truth is that creativity, as I said earlier, is your unique ability to come up with ideas of that value that you can implement, and that are relevant for your business or career. And additionally, creativity is not one thing, is not a God-given, that, "I gave it to you, but not to you."
Maria Brito: Creativity's an amalgamation of skills and habits. And those habits are as simple as being curious, really, as simple as that sound, and your ability to take chances and bets on you and on others and on opportunities. Creativity has to do with empathy. Because if I don't know what my clients want, I don't know what the world wants, and I don't understand what is around me, I'm never going to be able to satisfy people's needs. Creativity is about being authentic and respecting your ideas and trusting them and not just self-censoring every time or thinking that you're going to be judged because you're going to be judged regardless, right? So then, I mean, people can think whatever they want and you can do what you think is appropriate and what you think is valuable. And this is what I am looking to do with this book, is just to remind people to go back to things that are basic and simple. And complexity is the enemy of execution.
Maria Brito: And it's funny, because when I was thinking about writing the book, I called a friend of mine whom I really love and respect. And I said to her, "I'm thinking about writing this book that is good for entrepreneurs and is good for artists, it's on creativity." And she said, "So, are you going to ask people to do some arts and crafts and stuff?" And I was like, "No, girl." She had that misconception. And then I called this guy who had a consulting company, that he had trained CEOs for... I don't know. He had a company that trained CEOs and trained executives to personal growth and I don't know what. So I called him and I said, "I'm thinking about doing." And he said to me, "Well, girl, but innovation is reserved for those who can improve processes and cut lines."
Maria Brito: And I don't know what bullshit he said. All the words were so big and strange, right? And I was like, "They're both wrong," right? My dear friend and this dude are so wrong, that I have to write this book, because I want to offer people a blueprint, the same way that I had to build this company, right? And how I did it, it was by following these habits and by actually trusting myself, my gut, I think people don't talk about having intuition. I think people don't talk about that enough. Both in the world of business and in the world of art, yet artists are the most intuitive people ever, because they spend so much time in their heads and they are in silence and they are alone. And this actually is one of the prerequisites to strengthen and develop your intuition. And nothing in the book is expensive, hard to get.
Maria Brito: When you read the surveys that, LinkedIn, for example, has done in the past five years is that they are scanning everything that's happening in the network, because it's big data, right? And the number one skill that is looked and sought after by the employers is creativity. And at the same time, the employers say it's the hardest to get. And when Adobe always is conducting service and doing things around the world is asking people, "Do you think that you are living up to your creative potential?" I think every sixth person or whatever said, "No, I mean, we're not." So, it's almost like there is this huge gap between what the market is asking and demanding from all of us and what people actually think they can give. And it is not that difficult, because this is a muscle that gets to be strengthened or weakened, whether you exercise it or not. And little habits compound over time, little actions bring big results, but you have to commit to doing them.
Maria Brito: If you just read the book, you're going to have a lot of fun ideas at the moment. And you're going to think, "This is so great. And ah haha, I'm engaged, interesting anecdotes." And you close the book and you just walk away, and I mean, fine. But if you actually do the exercises at the end of each chapter that I call the alchemy labs, because they are really magical, then you're going to start seeing results like my students did, like I did. And I think that's what I want. I want to see people succeeding at what they want to do. I'm not sure if you're aware, but the past two years have seen the filing of 10 million new applications for businesses in the United States, which is an unprecedented number. Never in the history of this country we have seen so many new applications for new businesses. And that is exciting, except that the data also tells you that 25% of businesses fail during the first five years, 40% during the first 10, and so on and so forth.
Maria Brito: And the data also tells us it's not lack of money or funding, it's lack of creativity, it's lack of ideas, it's rigidity, it's not wanting to pivot at the right time, it's getting so married to what you are originally wanting to do and having the heartbreak of having to shift the business at any given time that you don't want to do that, you're still, "I'm doing this." And it's interesting that it's not because people are not accessing capital or it's not that they can't really get the money. It's just that they don't want to change their minds about what they're doing.
Chase Jarvis: Wow. Let's talk more about this intuition piece. It's a piece that I had flagged in the book here. I'm on page 100 in PDF. And I think the way that you talked about it is how to trust... no, what is it? When your gut knows what your mind doesn't. I'm obsessed with intuition. I'm wondering if you could go a little deeper, how do people hone that thing? And a question that I get asked all the time when I rant and rave about intuition is like, "How do we come to trust that intuition? How do we know when our intuition is right?" Air quotes. "And when our intuition is wrong?" Share with me your thoughts on intuition, when you know in your gut, but your mind or your brain does not.
Maria Brito: Intuition is very debated, right? It is a topic that it sometimes may sound a little woo-woo, but it's not, because every human being is equipped with intuition. In fact, when we are kids, we trust our intuition. We know how to guide ourselves in and out of situations, kids are highly, highly intuitive because they have not received a lot of formal education. Kids are not in those positions where they are reading news all day long are drowning in information. And we as adults, obviously, start making decisions basically, on logic, right? Because you tend to think, "Well, A plus B equals C, and I have done it already. And this is something that is been working out for me and it's proven. And so I'm going to keep following those formulas or rules and whatnot until they don't work anymore." Right? Even if you have been having that feeling in your stomach or in any other part of the body where you feel your intuition, which is most of the time it's in the stomach, and that's why it's a gut feeling, and you did not pay attention to that. And man, something went wrong and you're like, "I wish I would've paid more attention to my intuition."
Maria Brito: And the intuition really gets honed in silence. And that's another problem that we have nowadays, where people can't be alone and people can't be in silence. They are constantly looking for noise, whether it is the background of a TV or listening to a podcast all the time or an audiobook or crossing the street at the same time answering an email, when the billboards of Times Square. So it's like there is too much happening that does not allow us to be with ourselves. And call it whatever you want to call it, whether it is meditation or taking 5 minutes or 10 minutes every day to just be and close your eyes and just be and breathe, is absolutely necessary if you do want to believe in your intuition when it speaks to you, because those moments of silence allow you to perceive things from a different perspective, basically.
Maria Brito: And they are just building this muscle of your intuition so that it's not all the time just like... If you have a machine that is on 24/7, that is going to get overheated and it's not going to perform optimally, right? The same thing with your brain. And it's the same thing with your intuition. And so, what I like to do is to just ask people and myself to just sit in silence and ask questions that are not yes or no answers, because those are usually very tough. And our intuition is always right. What is wrong is our human interpretation. And this is where things get complicated, because since we already have formal education and we have experience and we have logic and we have this and that, we do not necessarily believe when our intuition is telling us something and we dismiss it.
Maria Brito: Like, "These are my little thoughts, my little obsessions," or whatever. What I like to do is to ask questions, when I have a problem or when I don't know what to do. And I sit down and I close my eyes and I breathe. And I ask to myself, "What is it that needs to get done so that this happens?" Right? And so, sometimes I don't get an immediate answer. Sometimes I get symbols that have nothing to do with what I asked. And I just have to write them down and interpret them. And it sounds so strange, but it's almost always right. And this is a practice that really has saved me from very bad deals. And it also has brought a lot of money too, because I trusted what I needed to do.
Maria Brito: And so if you get hit with a thought, a variety of times, whether you feel it in your body or not, I encourage you to take notes of that thought and to look at it and to keep asking more questions. Sometimes you close your eyes and you say, "I don't have nothing. I'm blocked." So write down what is the block? Does the block have a name? Does the block have a shape? Does the block speak a language? What is it? Because you have to prompt these things so that they come out from whatever it is, you're subconscious or your intuition or whatever you want to call it. You have to help yourself and your brain to come up with those answers. And an amazing way of doing that is by using pen and paper, which is also, it looks obsolete, but it's so important, because there are neuro-connections that can only happen when you hold a pen in your hand and you put that on a piece of paper and you start scribbling.
Maria Brito: And a lot of people, they don't use that anymore. And they just type things. And of course we never want to live without computers and without our phones, but they are taking away from us these moments of self-reflection that can only happen in that way. And it's super important that people reclaim those habits for themselves, because they not only have a direct connection to our intuition, but also they can be incredible sources of ideas. Once you start writing, you sometimes don't want to stop, because so many things are coming from your intuition into your hands.
Chase Jarvis: I'm fascinated by this idea of intuition, as I shared a moment ago. I'm also interested in, if you go back to the first couple minutes of our conversation, you listed a handful of attributes around creativity and the attributes that are going to help make people successful. You listed intuition, I believe. And I also heard you talk about risk-taking. So, I want to understand what your research, your experience curating art shows, collections of the top artists in the world for people like, you mentioned, Gwyneth Paltrow already, or Diddy, people who are wildly creative in their own right. So, you're surrounded by these folks. And I'm curious if you've seen patterns of risk-taking in particular and what you've been able to extrapolate from that?
Maria Brito: Risk-taking takes a lot of variety of a lot of different shapes. And it's not just jump out the window and see if there is a parachute somewhere. It's not that, right? And yes, I think the most successful artists and the most successful people in the world take risks. And a lot of these guys, for example, in corporations who are presenting their ideas to the board of directors, like Elon Musk, they get asked questions that they don't have the answers, they don't know if they can happen, and they say, "Yes," right? As simple as that. They take huge risks just by saying yes to things. And that is one of the ways that is the easiest way to take a risk, is say yes to things, even if you don't know how they're going to happen, because that not only will put you already on the hook for something, but you are going to have to come up with the solution and you're going to find a way to get that done.
Maria Brito: And that is, I think, I encourage people to say yes to things even more than what they normally do, because it's a way of taking chances. Also, if there is something you are dreading, go ahead and do it, right? There are people who hate being on the phone. There are people who are for fearful of sending an email. Those are little things that people can do to cultivate risk-taking. You don't have to go... I'm not asking go with all your money to Vegas, right? And see if you can put it on the table and what happen. No, that's not. It is about every day taking a chance, even if you it's like, "Listen, just go ahead and wear the damn red shirt." You know what I mean? If you are always wearing black, just show up with red one day, right?
Chase Jarvis: As here I am, dressed in black. You got me.
Maria Brito: And no, it is just as simple as getting to understand the getting your brain and adjust it for risk-taking, right? And this, again, it's like a variety of things that people can do that are so simple and so straightforward, putting yourself out there is taking a chance, right? And expressing your ideas and having that vulnerability of saying, "This is what I think. And here it is." It is a risk, because you don't know how it's going to play out and you don't necessarily have to please everybody, but you already took that step forward. And everybody from Diddy to Gwyneth, from to Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci, all those people took risks. Because the things that you are doing are new. When Gwyneth started Goop, it was a newsletter that came every Thursday from her kitchen in London.
Maria Brito: And people were like, "What is she doing? And why is she doing this? And why she has to give me advice? And who does she think she is?" And I don't know what, right? And so the company's worth $300 million today, and that was the risk she took, right? And when hip hop started, it was an underground movement from the Bronx that it was just celebrated on the streets and people had no idea why they were talking and rapping, and there were boom boxes. And somebody from the labels saw that and said, "This. I'm going to take a chance on this because it sounds so fresh and new. And it's so interesting that I think it has legs," right? That was in the '70s.
Maria Brito: So I think that it's so easy to be in our comfort zone, right? But is there any greatness coming out of our comfort zones? Is that what people want to do? There's nothing wrong or right about this, right? I mean, you can be in your comfort zone and do your thing and have your day job and be excellent at doing that thing. And that's okay. But is there greatness in that? Is that how you want to be remembered? Is that what you think is going to be your great legacy for this life? And I think that people who are listening are usually people who are very invested in self-growth, people who are invested in learning new things, and people who always want a little bit of encouragement. And I think that the greatest things don't happen in business as usual. The greatest things always happen when you push yourself out of business as usual, out of the comfort zone, out of, "We do this because it's written in a manual." We believe that.
Maria Brito: If you would've told me, any one of us, 20 years ago that we would be doing this or that our phones are our TVs. And you can talk to someone in China right now and see their faces and their whole lives. And it's the music player and the organizer, the whole thing, people would've said, "Are you nuts? I mean, please, stop. I mean, hello." And now we do all those things. And it's because people took chances. It's because Apple and Steve jobs decided to push for something that seemed impossible, but it was not. And so here's what I want to leave people with this thought. And ask yourself these questions, if not illegal and if it's not against the laws of nature, what is keeping you from doing that?
Chase Jarvis: It's so true that the best stuff is on the other side of fear. And anytime I hear that, one of my least favorite phrases in the world is, "best practices". By the time something becomes a best practice, whether that a subject line and an email or a design principle, what it has become is tired. It has become codified and it's in stone somewhere. And that never looks like the best stuff. That never is the stuff that gets me out of bed in the morning, or that I'm going to stop scrolling on my phone, or stop as I walk down the street and see something new and fresh and different. It's just wacky to me that those are... that we aren't more aware that best practices and the future, as you said, greatness, are so different than one another. And yet we think we're going to get to greatness by way of best practices. And it just doesn't happen that way.
Chase Jarvis: So, yeah. The last point I want to speak with you today about, again, with respect to your book, congratulations, by the way, How Creativity Rules the World, is the idea of constant change, because you've described at several points throughout our conversation, 20 years ago, the art world was only like this, and now it's a combination of physical and digital, and the galleries and the NFTs. And we've seen that change. We talked about just now the evolution from best practices to taking risks in order to be great. And what we can extract from those two things is this constant evolution. So, I want to understand your view as, again, I read in the book and it's very powerful, which is why I want to hear from you, the only constant is change, especially in creativity and especially in the art world, where you make your way so easily and in such a well-known way. Talk to us about how creators, entrepreneurs should think about this ever changing environment that they find themselves in.
Maria Brito: I said before how the business owners let the businesses fail, not because of lack of capital or funding, but because they are so married to the idea that was the original idea, and the thing that they said that, "I'm going to do this." And then market conditions change, the world changes, things happen, pandemics, societal uprisings, whatever, right? We have seen it all. And I think that adaptability, obviously, is part of being creative, and flexibility as well. And that is not something that everybody has, but I think people can get there and cultivate that. And the truth is that my business is not the same as it was 13 years ago. And it is not the same as it was 5. And it's not going to be the same in 10. And I like that, because it keeps me on my toes. But you have to meet your audience and your clients where they are, not the other way around, unfortunately, right?
Maria Brito: And so, people move in certain directions because there are trends, because there are things that are happening, because they get affected by external circumstances, because people move on very fast. I'm the mom of two Gen Z boys, and believe me, I see how not loyal they are to anything, right? I mean, it's just like not music, not video games, not friends. It's very strange. But it is a reflection of the society that we have. And I'm not actually saying change every day like Gen Z do, but I'm saying it is important to be open to the possibilities, that you have to shift your business model, the art that you're making, the things that you're thinking about. And I love this. That's why you see a lot of actors getting into the role of directors and producers, because it's really hard to have an acting career like Meryl Streep, right?
Maria Brito: I mean, that's like, "I've been doing this for 60 years," right? But they already have been in the sets. They already know what things are happening there. They already know everything, right? And that is why they can make those transitions. And we actually enjoy them, right? Because they can do magnificent things if they are willing to take those shifts. And that's also the same thing like why you see artists who start in one way and they're they evolve, because artists and art, you know this, it doesn't happen in a vacuum, right? You need to have the world around you to actually reflect and make sense of it. And the world is never the same. The world moves very fast. And I think the greatest contribution that anybody can do is to help others transition or move or do things better in this world.
Maria Brito: So, that means that you have to be very present and very attuned to what's happening in the world. And that is how pivots happen. And that's why I have a whole chapter on pivoting, because I think that people sometimes don't see the value on changing things. And you're like, "Oh gosh, my numbers are not looking good. This has been a trend where I am seeing this, that is not moving, it's not going forward." That is actually a very clear signal that you have to adjust the course before it's too late. The market, the conditions, the responses you get, are going to be the best barometer for you to measure what's happening. And those things usually don't lie, right? And I mean, it's a shame when people get so rigid, that incredible things that could have happened... Because every pivot is based on what you already know, right?
Maria Brito: I mean, you're not going to go from a surgeon to a painter. That's hard, honestly, right? I mean, I'm talking... Or like what I did, which was incredibly radical. But what I'm saying is that once you have built something in a business that you love of, you can use what you have built to do something else. And the most interesting thing is that people should always explore intersections and adjacencies, because this is where opportunities are, right? I borrow things from other worlds to bring it into the art world, because nobody... Like when I was doing the blogging, nobody else was doing that, right? I mean, there were fashion girls and there were, I don't know what, doing the blogging, or cooks and chefs, and nobody in the art world was doing it. So I borrowed that, right? When I did my online course, nobody was doing that. But other people were doing that in other areas. And influencers and content creators and whatever. So I said, "I can do that too."
Maria Brito: So, the adjacencies, those are very important places to look for opportunities. Because every industry intersects with another, in many ways, not just one or two but many, many ways. And if you pay attention to what's happening in those intersections, that is where you're going to find gold. And it's usually things that are not that obvious, right? They are not obvious to the rest of the world or else everybody else would do that. But they have to be obvious to you. If you are paying attention and you're in the present, you will see how to make those adjustments, pivots, and changes, if you're willing, if you are willing to look for those opportunities,
Chase Jarvis: All of the best things in my photography career, for example came from outside of photography. This particular show that we're on right now is now 12 years old. No one was podcasting. And the idea that photographer would start a podcast, talking to people who were beyond the photography industry, it was so strange to people. And yet that's where so much value from my personal experience... I cannot, I am signed up. I'm endorsing that idea with everything I've got. I think it's a brilliant, brilliant insight. Also, again, congratulations on your book. How Creativity Rules the World. From curating for others to curating your own creative path in this world, thank you for bringing insights in our conversation today. Obviously, our community is fantastic at supporting authors who are sharing books with the world. Where else would you steer, as you mentioned your online course, which is incredible, as well. Part of my question is where else would you steer us before we wrap up our show today? Any other places out on the internet you want us to go check out?
Maria Brito: Come to my website, mariabrita.com. And you can also sign up for my weekly newsletter, which is called The Groove. It's free. It will always be. I love to give. I've learned that giving is much better than receiving. And it's a newsletter on the intersection of business, art, and creativity. And I work super hard of that, because it's a lot research. And I try to condense it and to make it every week under five minutes or less, the time you spend reading, because I know people don't have that much time. So, come hang with me and mariabrita.com. That are all sorts of links to my social media. And there is a form for email, I'd love to hear from you. And I'm just excited to get this book out in the world. And I am pumped for people to tell me what kind of breakthroughs they got and what kind of incredible ideas were birthed through implementing what's written in that book.
Chase Jarvis: Amazing. Thank you again so much for sharing your time and energy, your vitality, it oozes through the screen here or through the headphones for those who are listening instead of watching. Thanks so much for being on the show. You heard it here, folks. This is an incredible book. I couldn't endorse it more. The idea that this role from within the art world about not just the art world, but beyond, very inspirational and interesting. And it is that same sort of thesis that I had developed. And when I'm reading this book that Maria wrote, I'm like, "Yes, yes, underline. Dogear that page." So again, thanks so much for being on the show, for sharing your book with us. And until next time, I bid everybody out there, and you, of course, as well, Maria, thank you so much. And we, I bid you adieu.
Maria Brito: Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. You are fantastic. My heart.
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