T-29 Vermont

Just a quick out and back today.

Making an MP3 CD for My 2007 Subaru Outback Was Trickier Than I Expected!

So I have quite a bit of experience fiddling with audio and video files on my computers. I set out to make an mp3 CD for my wife’s 2013 Subaru Outback that included a number of “relaxing” albums for long journey in the car.

I built a great new computer recently, so I needed to install some of the necessary tools on this new whiz bang machine. I started out with a fresh install of my favorite ripping program, Exact Audio Copy (EAC), as well as a fresh, stable copy of lame, the encoder required for converting the .wav files that EAC extracts. Along the way, I consulted several pages to help with the configuration that I preferred: one here and another here.

I also discovered along the way that my new ASUS blu-ray drive is very slow during the extraction process, and an external Plextor drive operated at about ten times that speed. Somewhere on the weird wide net I read that blu-ray drives generally are not the best for extraction.

I got all my files ripped, and used CDBurnerXP to burn CDs full of dreamy, new age music. The pattern developing here is that I highly prefer simple, open source or similarly well-built, free software rather than bloatware for audio tasks, and these function really well.

I had made a sample of my burn last night and checked it out in the 2013 car, and it worked fine. The player reads the mp3 tags and displays them nicely and they play great. In order to have maximum randomness, I burned all files in the root and not in directories. So I headed out with today’s fully loaded CD only to find out that this CD would not play in my car, the 2007 Outback. I checked the auto manual, and there was no reference to the requirements for mp3 disks. I googled as all good researchers do, and found a few folks had been frustrated by the process of burning mp3 CDs for their cars, but few answers.

What I finally pieced together is that there are several variables, most of which depend on age of the car’s CD player. Some players require constant bit rate files, others will play variable bit rate files. Some require directories, others not. Some have limits on the number of directories and the numbers of files within those directories. And finally, older players will not recognize the new UDF file system, but require the earlier ISO 9660/Jolivet file system. And within the evolution of ISO 9660, there were three levels, that allowed for increasing file name lengths and maximum file sizes, among other differences.

My wife’s 2013 Outback would easily play a full CD of files burned on the UDF file system.

My car, however, requires the ISO 9660 file system, which fortunately is an option within CDBurnerXP! (Menu: Disc > Change File System)

Who would have thought. I burned through quite a few CD blanks using trial and error. Glad I narrowed it down.

Edit: 2013-11-19

I added one file to my earlier burn and the deck would no longer read any file except for the last one added. So it would appear as though the deck ignored the earlier “partition”.

I have now burned yet another test CD, with all files in the root. And finalized the CD. In ISO 9660 format. And it works just fine in my 2007 Subaru Outback!!!




ARTHS 197 Comparison Paper


need to credit web source


  1. Do not turn around and look at the people behind you while they are playing.
  2. Keep perfume and cologne to a minimum – many will appreciate none at all.
  3. Do not tap your foot or conduct along.
  4. Always help your colleagues count rests. (This is more complicated if you dont speak english)
  5. Do not tap/applaud/shuffle for every solo that section colleague plays. Save it for when it really means something or better yet… stay still and just give them your positive words afterwards.
  6. Do not tell someone he/she sounds good if he/she does not deserve the praise.
  7. Never complain about your reeds. (they might sound better than they feel)
  8. Do not cross you legs on stage in a concert.
  9. Swab out discreetly and not if the person next to you is playing a solo.
  10. Practice only your own parts… never play passages from another’s page or excerpts from different music.
  11. Be aware and sensitive to others’ lines of sight to the conductor.
  12. Leave your seat immediately when switching pieces or seats… swab out and pack up later. The next players want to play a few notes before tuning!
  13. Do not yawn or “buzz” your lips audibly if you are tired.
  14. When a conductor speaks to you, always acknowledge by making direct eye contact and possibly a nod “yes.” (this one became problematic as several students in my studio at CCM really enjoyed vigorous nodding with very loud “YES-MAESTRO” proclamations)
  15. Never ask questions about notes/rhythm during rehearsal – this wastes valuable rehearsal time. Check score during breaks or after rehearsal.
  16. Your pencil is your best friend…. Do not make the same mistake twice because you “forgot.”
  17. Write in cues before the first rehearsal… and after the second rehearsal…and after the third rehearsal
  18. Remember that every time you are in public, an impression is made, good or bad… This applies both to the music you play and the statements you make to your colleagues.
  19. Avoid nervous repetitive actions: Looking at reed, adjusting seat/stand, instrument adjustments.
  20. Do not turn a page during silence.
  21. At the end of a piece, do not finish playing and fling the clarinet out of your mouth before the conductor has concluded.
  22. Your non-musical accessories (phone, keys, etc.) belong in your case/purse/briefcase, not on the shelf of your stand waiting to tip over and clatter to the floor.
  23. Show up early to rehearsal to get your instruments together, reeds chosen and instrument warmed up to pitch at least 10 minutes before the “A” is given.
  24. Be direct and friendly about fixing pitches or rhythm. Do not be manipulative about your words.
  25. The only conversations should be about issues regarding the music and only at the appropriate times.
  26. Have good hygiene, keep your shoes on, wear appropriate clothing, etc.
  27. Do not pack up before the end of rehearsal…. you still might have more to play.
  28. Always double check rehearsal/performance times and locations.
  29. Never sight read in rehearsal. Prepare your part in advance

The Continuing Fitness Saga [or more pictures from Mt. Diablo]

2013-09-22 [Sunday]

Great ride today.

Fitness After the Trinity Alps

2013-09-09 [Monday]

2013-09-08 [Sunday]

Best bike ever. Again. Dig the new skull cap. Absorbs perspiration and keeps it out of the eyes!

2013-09-07 [Saturday] OFF

2013-09-06 [Friday] OFF

2013-09-05 [Thursday]

Balls to the wall at the gym.

2013-09-04 [Wednesday]

TRX workout in Concord. Stairs for 10 minutes.

coffee, banana

protein shake ( 2 scoops = 48 gr. protein, 220 calories 16 oz. non-fat milk 180 calories, 18 gr. protein)

cheese crackers (need to figure out healthy Wednesday lunch given new schedule)

kale/white bean ravioli, tomato sauce, braised celery, romaine/tomato salad

2013-09-03 [Tuesday]

Workout in Walnut Creek. cable, dumb bell and body weight moves, stairs and rowing

oatmeal, banana, peanut butter, almonds, honey (new oatmeal recipe out of 8 hour diet)

protein shake ( 2 scoops = 48 gr. protein, 220 calories 16 oz. non-fat milk 180 calories, 18 gr. protein)

chinese leftovers, small bowl rice and sweet/sour pork

protein plate at diner: new york steak, hard boiled egg, cottage cheese, steamed spinach, tomato

almonds, red wine

2013-09-02 [Monday]

Workout in Walnut Creek.

oatmeal, banana, peanut butter, almonds, honey (new oatmeal recipe out of 8 hour diet)

protein shake ( 2 scoops = 48 gr. protein, 220 calories 16 oz. non-fat milk 180 calories, 18 gr. protein)

1/4 leftover turkey/havarti sandwich

dinner out, lark creek cafe (anniversary): 1/2 tomato salad,  1/2 caesar salad, new york steak with tomatos and basil, 2 small rolls, butter, glass pinot noir

desert out, flemings (anniversary): 1/2 lava cake, decaf coffee

2013-09-01 [Sunday]

Best bike ride ever up Mt. Diablo. 13 miles round trip.

Leftover oatmeal for brunch.

Chinese food: spring rolls, sizzling rice soup, sweet/sour pork, rice

cheese/crackers, red wine

2013-08-31 [Saturday]


brunch: oatmeal, banana, peanut butter, almonds, honey (new oatmeal recipe out of 8 hour diet)

1/2 pound burger, lettuce, tomato, bun, small potato salad, cole slaw

pita chips, beer

2013-08-30 [Friday]

did a machine workout at the gym today, plus about 25 minutes on the treadmill, alternating walking, jogging and incline walking. increased most of the weights, shoulders and biceps still struggle.

tricky schedule today, both out and about and rehearsal starting about 6pm.

no breakfast (coffee)

non-fat latte at Pete’s Coffee

Protein shake ( ( 2 scoops = 48 gr. protein, 220 calories 16 oz. non-fat milk 180 calories, 18 gr. protein)

Kinder’s ball tip sandwich

sharp cheddar cheese, stoned wheat crackers, beer

2013-08-29 [Thursday]

small bowl Cheerios, non-fat milk, banana

Protein shake ( ( 2 scoops = 48 gr. protein, 220 calories 16 oz. non-fat milk 180 calories, 18 gr. protein)

leftovers: stir fry: olive oil, grilled chicken breast, mushroom, green pepper, celery, onion, squash, garlic, whole grain brown rice

think thin snack bar (20 gr. protein)

roast beef sandwich, potato salad, caprese salad, pita chips

2013-08-28 [Wednesday]

HIITS workout in Concord.

Smaller Cheerios, non-fat milk, banana, coffee

Protein shake ( ( 2 scoops = 48 gr. protein, 220 calories 16 oz. non-fat milk 180 calories, 18 gr. protein)

Colorado Verde Burrito (beans, rice, pork, cheese) may have to take a lunch to DVC

stir fry: olive oil, grilled chicken breast, mushroom, green pepper, celery, onion, squash, garlic, whole grain brown rice, simple romaine and tomato salad

2013-08-27 [Tuesday]

Been through a rough spell. Planned to take Saturday off, what with computer build in progress and my sense of laziness, I skipped the ride on Sunday, then got to the gym on Monday, but forgot my towel and my planned workout. I decided to ride the recumbent bike, and did so, but gave up, using my small sweat towel with which to shower.

Got back to it today, started with 10 minutes of stairs, 25/15/15/25 x 2 on the ab bench. Then did a series of three workouts, 2 sets of each.

I need to start a diet log. I am not losing the weight I want to or making the gains I expect.

Small bowl Cheerios, 1% milk, banana, 2 cups coffee (225 calories ?)

Protein shake ( 2 scoops = 48 gr. protein, 220 calories) 8 oz. milk 120 calories, 10 gr. protein, 8 oz. water

2 sections of zucchini, white bean, tomato frittata (18 gr. protein, 310 calories, one grilled sausage (15 gr. protein, 160 calories)

8oz hamburger with bun, 3 tom slices, lettuce, onions, side pickles, dozen peanuts

2 glasses white wine, handful almonds


2013-08-23 [Friday]

Mt. Diablo ride. Damn if Runkeeper didn’t fail — this was my best ride yet!

So I checked google maps, and it reflects that the distance to the top is 12.9 miles, to the saddle, which is my immediate goal, 8.5 miles, and to my turnaround point today, 6.4 miles, which would be a 12.8 mile ride total.

Just the beginning of the Mt. Diablo ascent...
The beginning of the worst hill on the ride, IMHO....
And this is where I turned back this morning, at about the 6.4 mile mark.

2013-08-22 [Thursday]

New upper body workout on machines, alternating two exercises per muscle area, target is 3o seconds rest only. Warmed up with ten minutes on stairmill and 20/15/15/20 on the ab bench.

2013-08-21 [Wednesday]

Repeated TRX workout from yesterday at Sun Valley gym.

2013-08-20 [Tuesday]

TRX workout. Started with recumbent bike for warm up.

2013-08-19 [Monday]

Stairmill and stability ball exercises, repeat 8/15.

2013-08-18 [Sunday]

Mt. Diablo ride.

2013-08-17 [Saturday]


2013-08-16 [Friday]

Mt. Diablo ride.

2013-08-15 [Thursday]

Stairmill and stability exercises.

2013-08-14 [Wednesday]

A little pressed for time today (needed to attend an appointment with my aunt), so I rode up the mountain and stopped a bit short of my longest ride yet. Still a good aerobic workout.

2013-08-13 [Tuesday]

Did a gym workout that included decline squats (was this coupled with something?), flat squats paired with wall sits (ouch!), back hammer coupled with dumbbell rows, and a press (one arm, then both) coupled with a 20# kettle ball tricep overhead press.

Rode bike down and back, and did about a 2.5 mile dog walk. Runkeeper still giving me fits.

2013-08-12 [Monday]

Gym workout. Included Rowing.

2013-08-11 [Sunday]

32 minutes (8 x 4) on the treadmill and the TRX and stability workout at the gym.

Came home and walked the dog. Runkeeper seemed to screw up the distance this time, since google maps reported that I could have driven or walked a slightly longer route around the same route that I did and it would have only been 2.4 miles. So my pace was about 16.7 minutes per mile, which is better than many dog walks. I was striving to push the walk a bit.

Also weighed in at 188.5 after all of the sweat, water, breakfast and protein shake. Not bad. Looks like my three weeks of underactivity while away at chamber music “camps” has been reversed, thankfully. Still have a ways to go to get to 173.

My frisbee champ.
A nice open field for frisbee tossing with Mt. Diablo as a backdrop.

2013-08-10 [Saturday]

Day of rest today, that is, only dog walking. Damn if Tap didn’t catch a squirrel today. Gotta work on the phone CD card, couldn’t take any photos because the memory card is full.

2013-08-09 [Friday]

Another attack on Mt. Diablo today. Went further than ever, past what I think is the most difficult section on the route to the saddle. Trying to ride a little further (and higher) each day. Although, my heart rate did get up to 164 (my theoretical maximum is 166).

A great Friday assault on Mt. Diablo from the Northgate entrance.
A great Friday assault on Mt. Diablo from the Northgate entrance.
A great Friday assault on Mt. Diablo from the Northgate entrance.
A great Friday assault on Mt. Diablo from the Northgate entrance.
A great Friday assault on Mt. Diablo from the Northgate entrance.

2013-08-08 [Thursday]

Did a completely different workout at the gym. Started with 10 x 2 on the recumbent bike, then did a series of exercises a TRX exercises mixed with some stability exercises.

Getting better on the one leg step-ups and one leg get-ups. Can really feel the muscles engage on the get-ups now.

2013-08-07 [Wednesday]

Well, last week in Sacramento, it was all about music. I got to the gym once and did 8 x 4 on the treadmill — once.

This week, I got back to the gym with a good workout yesterday and another 8 x 4 on the treadmill.

Today, I took another trip up the mountain on the bike, but felt particularly tired and sore. Damn if those twenty-somethings didn’t just bomb right by me.

2013-07-26 [Friday]

Long time since an entry. Was off two weeks at workshops, took great bike ride along Smith River and another around The Bottoms in Arcata. Did the body weight circuit twice in motel/dorm rooms.

Been back to gym this week, with two body workouts, one weight circuit with additional weight but 12×3 reps.

Did the incline 8’s on the treadmill twice and the 8’s on the bike.

Today, rode up the mountain. Tomorrow is a rest day.

Been checking pulse and blood pressure at awakening, mostly to find best aerobic range.

Yesterday: BP: 116/70  Pulse: 73     Today: BP: 117/65  Pulse: 70   Tomorrow: BP: 114/67  Pulse: 71

For maximum heart rate: “A more accurate formula is the one published in 2001 by Tanaka in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Multiply your age by 0.7 and subtract that figure from 208. For example, a 40-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 180 (208 – 0.7 x 40).”

208-{60 x 0.7) = 166

Today’s bike ride.

2013-07-13 [Saturday]

A sweet bike ride along the Smith River in far Northern California.

Bicycling along the Smith River after a week at the Humboldt Chamber Music Workshop, 2013.
Bicycling along the Smith River after a week at the Humboldt Chamber Music Workshop, 2013.
Bicycling along the Smith River after a week at the Humboldt Chamber Music Workshop, 2013.

2013-07-01 [Monday]

Drove to gym. Too damn hot to ride bike to gym.

Workout #3 – Barbell Complex [30 pounds]

Three repetitions

  • Mountain Climbers 20
  • Deadlifts 15
  • Upright Row 15
  • Overhead Press 15
  • 360 Squat 15
  • Small Box Step-up 10 each leg
  • Single Leg Get-up 10 each leg
  • Stability Ball Chest Press 15
  • Stability Ball Skull Crushers 12
  • Bicep Curl 15
  • Leg Pull-ins 15
  • Russian Twist (8# Med Ball) 20

2013-06-30 [Sunday]

First day back to riding up Mt. Diablo. Started early.

2013-06-29 [Saturday]


2013-06-28 [Friday]

Bike to gym and return.

Workout #2. Cables.

2013-06-27 [Thursday]


Workout #4 … 25 Pound Plate Workout

  • 360 Squat/Press 12X
  • Lunge w/ Rotation 12X
  • Russian Twist 20X
  • Leg Drop/Crunch 10X
  • Mountain Climbers 20X
  • Plank Slider 10X
  • Single Leg Plate Touch 10X each leg
  • Stationary Lunge w/ Upright Row 10X each leg
  • 360 Deadlift, Row, Bicep Curl 10X
  • Stability Ball Pullovers 12X
  • Stability Ball Chest Press 12X

2013-06-26 [Wednesday]

Bike to gym and return.

Workout #2. Cables. Three sets.

  • Plank 15X
  • Sky Reach Crunches 15X
  • Cable Squat > Row 23# 15X
  • Stability Ball Chest Press 15# dumb bells 15X
  • One Arm Row 20# 15X
  • Lateral/Front Raise 8# 15X
  • Cable Bicep Curl 27# 15X
  • Cable Tricep Extension 27# 15X
  • Core Ball Wall Squat 15# 15X
  • Small Box Step-up 15


2013-06-25 [Tuesday]

Stability workout at the gym today. Workout #3.

  • Mountain Climbers
  • Deadlifts
  • Upright Row
  • Overhead Press
  • 360 degree Squat
  • Small Box Step-up
  • Single Leg Get-up [Medium Box]
  • Stability Ball Chest Press
  • Stability Ball Chest Press
  • Stability Ball Skull Crushers
  • Bicep Curl
  • Leg Pull-ins
  • Medicine Ball Twist

Off to walk dog and to work on priority list.

Trinity Alps Backpacking Trip – June 20-23, 2013

Car camping at Ripstein Campground
Ernie hustles up the trail.
Ted and Angie strike a pose.
It's Alan, Owen and Ernie (L>R) turn for a pose.
Stopping to wait for the slow poke photographer.
A little moment along the way.

Here’s a quick summary of my backpacking trip to the Canyon Creek area of the Trinity Alps, which included camping one night at Lower Canyon Creek Lake, one night at Upper Canyon Creek Lake and a day hike up and down, to and from L Lake, about a 2 mile round trip with 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

Owen, Ernie, Angie and Ted joined me in a caravan to the Market Street Steakhouse in Redding where we had a great dinner on Thursday evening. At about 9:30 pm, we arrived at the Ripstein Campground just a mile from the trailhead parking.

We gathered ourselves together and started hiking at about 8:30 am on Friday morning and made the trek up to the Lower Canyon Creek Lake, where we chose to set up camp. It appeared that many, many folks chose to camp along the creek before getting to this lower lake.

On Saturday morning, we all packed up and headed for Upper Canyon Creek Lake just a scant mile away. From there, we headed up a steep mile (1,000 vertical feet or so) over some boulders and brush to L Lake. Although we had considered camping there, a very quick tour of the small L Lake convinced us that the bug population was so heavy that staying would have been a miserable experience. So we headed back down to the Upper Canyon Creek Lake.

Regretfully, I don’t always feel steady on slippery granite or logs over creeks, so I was thankful for Son’s Ted watchful eye. Luckily the only tumble I took on the trip was into some rather soft, decomposing dirt.

Saturday afternoon was spent leisurely around Upper Creek Lake where we set up camp. The promised storm began to fill the sky and create a haze over the big moon. At about 2:00 am, it started to sprinkle, and I scrambled to put the rain fly over my tent. Luckily, the wind was slight, the fly was stable, and I woke up dry.

We packed out on Sunday morning in the continuing drizzle. Not surprisingly, the longer eight mile hike from Upper Lake took about four hours for the return, while the inbound trek of seven miles to Lower Lake took about six. All-in-all, we covered about 18 miles and 4,000 feet of elevation gain (and subsequent loss) over the three days.

Thanks to my hiking partners for a great trip!


Personal weight at return = 190.3

Pack weight at return = 20.3

Calculated pack weight 22.2 pounds (with food estimate). The above seems reasonable given that some food was eaten and it didn’t include half liter of water. I took 1.9 pounds of clothes layers that I didn’t touch plus the day pack.

With a little more foresight, I could have easily packed at 18 pounds carried.

Things to remember for next trip:

  • Toe and regular blister band aids
  • Medical card, in addition to driver license, cash, credit card
  • Extra underwear
  • Check boots/shoes for insoles
  • Orthotics
  • Powdered milk available at Target

Things I packed and didn’t use:

  • Mid-weight Patagonia long johns tops and bottoms
  • Ultralight pillow
  • Awning pole
  • Five tent stakes
  • Liner gloves
  • Day pack
  • Most first aid
  • Some food
Things to consider for next trip:
  • Tick kit
  • Camp shoes?

Trinity Alps – Canyon Creek Trail – Planning Notes – 6/20-23/2013

Photo by Alan Grinberg. Re-posted with permission. See alangrinberg.com for more of his photos.
See also this link to Alan’s Flikr account for more Trinity Alps photos.
Link to Ernie Bonacum’s photos of Trinity Alps Wilderness – 2003


Planning Notes for the June 20-23, 2013 Backpacking Trip

Link to this page
Trinity Alps Trail Condition Report – 20130514

Excerpt: “Canyon Creek Trail #10W08 – The trail is free of snow to each set of lakes. The creek crossing up to Canyon Creek Lakes (at the bottom of Lower Canyon Creek Lake’s granite approach slope) has been reported by hikers as ‘passable’. All the campsites are now melted off at LCCL and UCCL. The force of the water flow out of Upper Canyon Creek Lake is not currently known. Be very cautious if you plan to cross this outflow on your way to ‘L’ Lake. You definitely don’t want to get washed away at this outflow…

Trinity Alps Trail Condition Report – 20130605

Excerpt: Remember, the current Forest Order for Canyon Creek specifies that there are
(absolutely no exceptions) for anyone caught in violation of this Forest Order.

USDA Forest Service Page for Trinity Alps Wilderness (1)

USDA Forest Service Page for Trinity Alps Wilderness (2)

Frequently Asked Questions (bears, mountain lions, etc.)

US Forest Services Ranger Station
210 Main
Weaverville, CA
(530) 623-2121 ‎ · fs.usda.gov
gps: 40.735966,-122.946818

Wilderness permits and campfire permits are required before entering the wilderness. Campfire permits are needed for the operation of a backpacking stove or camp stove.

Trail Descriptions

Click here to view or download Excerpt One

Click here to view or download Excerpt Two

Driving arrangements (TBD)

2.5 hours from Williams to Weaverville according to google maps.

3.8 hours from Pleasant Hill BART to Weaverville according to google maps.

Thursday, June 20
Dinner – 6:30 pm – meet at restaurant (TBD) in Redding (restaurant suggestions welcome)

Suggestion from Owen Lee: Black Bear Diner

Suggestion from Tim Nisson, Susan’s cousin and a lawyer in Redding:  There is a great steakhouse in downtown Redding called Jack’s on California Street.  They don’t take checks and the wait time can be up to an hour, but its really good.  There is another one called Market Street Steakhouse which is also good and does take reservations. Have fun.

I made a reservation for five at 6:30 pm here: http://www.marketstreetsteakhouse.com/index.htm

Thursday, June 20
Car camp at Trailhead

Friday, June 21
Leave trailhead early, camp at Lower Canyon Creek Lake

Saturday, June 22
Free day – Upper Canyon Creek Lake, L Lake

Sunday, June 23 
Hike out, drive home

Shared on Facebook by Jerry Kuderna

What entrepreneurs can learn from artists

What entrepreneurs can learn from artists
December 21, 2012: 5:00 AM ET


Like artists, startup founders must cultivate creative habits to see the world afresh and create something new.
By Tim Leberecht
(TheMIX) — Andy Warhol knew it all along: “Good business is the best art.” And lately, a number of business thinkers and leaders have begun to embrace the arts, not as an escapist notion, a parallel world after office hours, or a creative asset, but as an integral part of business — from the management team to operations to customer service.
John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and author of the book Redesigning Leadership, predicts that artists will emerge as the new business leaders and cites RISD graduates Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, co-founders of Airbnb, as prominent examples. The author William Deresiewicz heralds reading as the most important task of any leader. John Coleman makes a compelling case for the role of poetry in business. Intel (INTC) named pop musician will.i.am as director of creative innovation. The World Economic Forum has been inviting arts and cultural leaders to its events for several years and this year added the ‘Role of the Arts’ to its Network of Global Agenda Councils.
Indeed, the “art” of business has become more important as the “science” grows ubiquitous. As Big Data and sophisticated analytical tools allow us to make our processes more efficient, intuition and creativity are fast becoming the only differentiating factors among competitors. Like any “soft asset,” these qualities cannot be exploited, only explored. And like artists, innovators must cultivate creative habits to see the world afresh and create something new.
How do artists think and behave? Here are 12 traits that any individual who aspires to make his or her mark on the world should emulate:
1. Artists are “neophiles.” They are in love with novelty and have an insatiable appetite for finding and creating new connections, for inventing and reinventing, even themselves. Art means changing the meaning of things or creating new meanings. That’s exactly what innovation is all about.
2. Artists are humanists. They are experts of the “human condition” and observe human desires, needs, emotions, and behavior with a sharp, discerning eye and a high degree of empathy. They can feel with and for others, which should be every innovator’s distinct strength as well.
3. Artists are craftspeople. They “think by making” and unite the “hand and the head,” as sociologist Richard Sennett describes it. It has both a physical dimension (exhibiting mastery in craftsmanship) and a meta-physical dimension (connecting a new product, service, or business model with the broader zeitgeist and cultural climate). Nike’s (NKE) Fuelband, for example, integrates software and hardware, and is an expression of our society’s growing demand for self-managed, preventive healthcare.
4. Artists are like children. “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up,” Pablo Picasso famously said. Artists retain a child’s unique sense of possibility and wonder. Innovators should, too. It may sound paradoxical, but innovations are always nostalgic.The most meaningful of them, although seemingly all about novelty and the future, reconnect us with a basic human quest or even our childhood dreams (think of the iPhone and our desire to touch, or sharing sites such as Facebook (FB) or Pinterest, which cater to our innate urge to share).
5. Artists rely on their intuition. It may seem counter-intuitive, but intuition is ever more important in the age of Big Data, because it is the only feature that is faster and deeper than the massive flow of real-time information. Nothing comes close to intuition as innovators seek to anticipate trends and make decisions swiftly.
6. Artists are comfortable with ambiguity. By design, they often deal with things that are not measurable and can’t be easily quantified. Innovators, too, should value what may not be easily captured in quantitative terms. In stark contrast to more mechanistic models of management, they must be able to tolerate uncertainty and open-ended questions.
7. Artists are holistic, interdisciplinary thinkers. Artists can connect dots and take things out of their original context. Likewise, innovators contextualize and re-contextualize, mash up and remix, and embrace new insights and ideas that lead to unexpected, unlikely, and often serendipitous conclusions (among the most famous examples of such “accidental innovations” are the pacemaker or 3M’s (MMM) post-it notes).
8. Artists thrive under constraints. They often have to work within very structured formats and meet scarce resources with ingenuity. In fact, these constraints might even stimulate their creativity. Inspired by the phenomenon of Jugaad in India, innovation gurus like Navi Radjou have popularized and globalized the concept of “frugal innovation” (e.g. the mobile SMS disaster response platform Ushahidi or the portable “roll-on” hospital hand-sanitizers SwipeSense). Frugal innovation has become the new hallmark for the art of creating maximum value with minimal resources.
9. Artists are great storytellers. They tell a story with their art but also often tell the story of their art. The same holds true for meaningful innovations. Great innovators design experiences that spark conversation. Just look at ideas funded on Kickstarter: The product is also the story of the product.
10. Artists are conduits and not “masters of the universe.” Most artists – painters, sculptors, writers, filmmakers, or musicians – will admit that they derive their inspiration from a spiritual sphere that goes beyond their individual creativity and skills. This applies to innovators, too. Whether they’re spiritual or not, humility suits them well as the social web and its wave of crowd-based collaborations have rendered the myth of the lone genius obsolete.
11. Artists are passionate about their work. In fact, their work and life are impossible to separate. That doesn’t mean that innovators need to be workaholics, but they should base their ideas on deep beliefs. Innovation is a leap of faith, and innovators need to be believers. Like artists, they will often face rejection, but if an idea is not worth fighting for, it might not have been the right one in the first place.
12. Artists are contrarians. Artists can see the “cracks through which the light gets in,” as the old adage goes. Likewise, great innovators come up with solutions to problems because they see what is missing. They are eccentric, which means they literally view things from the fringes. Both artists and innovators see the world as it could be. They look upon our world, as Proust would say, with “fresh eyes.” You might also call that vision. They are always “initially wrong” to be “ultimately right” as Kathryn Schultz wrote in her book, Being Wrong.
Like art, true innovation has the potential to make our lives better. It connects and reconnects us with deeply held truths and fundamental human desires; meets complexity with simple, elegant solutions; and rewards risk-taking and vulnerability.
However, businesses must refrain from designing innovation as a mere process. That is perhaps the golden rule that artists and innovators have in common: new ideas of worth will only come to those who allow ample space and time for those new ideas to develop in the first place.
Share your innovation story or bold new idea in the MIX’s Innovating Innovation Challenge.
Tim Leberecht is the chief marketing officer of global design and innovation firm frog. He is also the publisher of frog’s award-winning magazine design mind, the producer of the Reinvent Business hackathon, and serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Values.