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5 hours ago, BIGGUNDOCTOR said:

Remember the Cadillac Cimmaron?

I was working as parts manager at a large Cadillac dealership at the time it was introduced. The comments by everyone working there ranged from You got to be Kidding to unprintable in a family friendly forum.

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On 12/24/2018 at 5:15 PM, George N. M. said:

If you have just sold a customer elite "Art" for $Xk you should not be seen selling bottle openers and dinner triangles at the craft fair because it will diminish your reputation in the elite market.

Better said, once you are doing commission work for these folks be it "art" or architectural iron, you most likely wont have time to do crafts fairs.  not to mention the reduced wage going back to dinner bells after doing any type of commission work. 

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When I can see the theory behind the above concept, I don't think that personality types can be constrained into one sentence. 

i have seen famous chefs work in soup kitchen anonymously, and work at their fish and chip take away kitchen. That did not diminish their percieved "fame" :)

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Marc1, lol, i think we are pretty much in agreement.  when you are doing commission work, any client who didn't like what i'm doing in my own time, would most likely get the door and make my next on the list pretty happy.  ;)

But there could be a reputation problem if you took a "second"or a sample piece from a finished commission and sold it for half price at the flea market and your client saw you.  

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Sure, but each case on it's merits. If I make a window grill on commission and sell the work and design, I am morally if not legally obliged to keep that design exclusive for the customer. if I fix the mishaps and failed attempts, and  sell them at the trash and treasure market for cheap, I am a fool. 

The scenario i seem to interpret from previous post is that an artist that sells high end work, can not lower himself to make trinkets and sell them for what they are, at risk of losing his high end clientele. That one is a bit of a stretch and will depend of personalities and also very much of which sort of market we are talking about. Certainly not a market I would like to be involved with. Then again ... each to his own. Some people do like the limelight and tuxedos. I am proud of my callous hands and square shoulders :P

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On 12/30/2018 at 6:48 PM, Marc1 said:

If I make a window grill on commission and sell the work and design

On this one, I always copyright my design and have never given up this copyright. Thus I only sell my work.

Take heed of the computer software model. I only wish I could get a penny royalty for each who tread my treads.  ;)

And I dont believe I've ever worried that a "low class" job would affect my clients opinion of me. 

Once I committed my business to blacksmithing, my choice was to turn down farrier work and fab work. There is far more of both farrier and fab out there. There is also plenty of "blacksmith" work of any kind, all be it far less than the other two. My belief has always been that to not do this, would keep me too busy to learn and build the type of blacksmithing business I wanted. And this approach worked for me. None of this has anything to do with elitism,  it purely and only has to do with me pursuing the work that satisfies me. 

And no doubt, at the end of the day my hands are just as dirty as if I were living in a box and pushing rod.  ;) But the satisfaction at days end? These lies the priceless bit.

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George,

I think there's a watershed moment for any given business that moves from commodity level to "elite" clientele.  While there's certainly some element of prestige that needs to be maintained, I think the biggest factor against fence-sitting is the risk to your elite projects/commissions.  It can be very painful to decline low-effort money-makers when there are big jobs on the books.  However, anything you can get done on the commission is progress against the risk of coming up short.  As I mentioned before, "elite" clients introduce many challenges as the project is underway.  Commodity level stuff is less profitable which means there's little reward in pursuing it, especially when there's an unannounced change in the big job that will not wait.  It's difficult to make this transition when the "old reliable" commodity work seems so easy, and the elite clients have yet to throw a wrench in your plans.  There really does need to be a transition because the differences in cash-flow can be survival level serious.

From the commodity side, it's easy to see "elite" projects as snooty and over-priced.  However, once you've worked on the "elite" side for a while, you get a new appreciation for how expensive risk really is.  

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, rockstar.esq said:

I think there's a watershed moment for any given business that moves from commodity level to "elite" clientele

rockstar, the first thing i want to say is I've read all your business related posts, and attended a number of ABANA related business seminars and lectures. And i stand you up there second to none. However, ive always come away feeling something is missing, at least for this craftsman. This particular topic has added a much needed piece to my puzzle of how to succeed in this business.

I believe there is a missing entity. This entity would do well to heed and read your posts and stand a far better chance of success if they do this.

That entity is the Tradesman. This is not an elitist statement. Our construction industries could not succeed without the Tradesman. So whats the difference between him and a craftsman? Its neither skill nor grasp of technique. All things being equal, these are equal across the board. The difference is that nebulous thing i call " emotion" above. Marc1 seems to accept this as does George with reservations concerning the negative side of this. Im not trying to speak for them, just taking from their statements above.  

So what is this thing called "emotion"? For me it is the ability to go from conception to completion of an idea. When a tradesman makes a bid, generally the General Contractor gives him a blueprint with all the boxes filled, moneys set, and a time-frame in progress. His job is to make basically a time and material bid and, if accepted get her done under time and budget. Go to work at 9, get off at 5 and payday is on Friday. And he has absolutely no claim in the "emotion" created by others. He is only selling his labor.

If a craftsman bids this same job, he is confronted with a choice. He can bid it as a tradesman and know beyond a doubt that the next block of time is filled. And, because he is new to this pathway called Craftsmanship, he knows beyond a doubt if any craftsman oriented job, no matter its size, comes his way, He has to turn it down. And there goes his moment, perhaps never to return. Or he can insist on designing this rail, adding his "emotion" and realizing beyond a doubt that the General wont even look at his bid. Done deal and caught in that catch 22.

The only viable choice he has is to turn down any and all trade related jobs and by whatever means hang in there and pursue his goal,,, the profession of Craft. 

Now if you include this entity of Tradesman, all the money related issues above are properly accounted for. The higher bid is not EVER done because the elite can afford it, its always done as a labor cost for that thing called "emotion". And thus, a trades job can never be compared to a craft job. They are apples and oranges.  

So whats the business model for a craftsman? He is not likely to get any kind of business loan. Government assistance? VA financed? not hardly.  Apprentice? rare in this day and age, grants?,, well thats another whole business of its own. And ive known a few professional grant getters. Talk about elitists! These folks generally have minimal skills,,, and a superb grasp on manipulating the system.

The only advice i can give is a quote from my master-smith.  It takes the 3 "D"'s. Desire, dedication, determination. Every successful Traditional Smith ive known, one way or another, follows the three words with a passion, and every Smith forges his own unique path. 

And thats the reason why i have always felt these business discussions are missing something.

My sincere thanks for your inspiration and that which you freely give to so many.

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15 minutes ago, anvil said:

I believe there is a missing entity. This entity would do well to heed and read your posts and stand a far better chance of success if they do this.

That entity is the Tradesman

Interesting you say that Anvil ... Because I started in the 60ties, to me blacksmithing was always a trade, metalwork, nothing more. Sure, there was always that artistic component that is mainly in the drawings if we are talking architectural work, or free spirit if we are talking a sculpture of sorts. But still trade. 

I make a point of going back to Michelangelo's times and think back, how this workers that today we would undoubtedly call artist, were considered tradesman by their employers, mainly the church or the state. They worked to decorate buildings be it painting or adding sculptures, for the sake of their employers ego and status, and for a usually meager pay. 

I read Rocky's post with interest but they seem much more suited to the bidding war and the dirty tricks of the mega construction industry and transposing that to a metalwork business of the size of most blacksmith today when all parameters are certainly very valid, applying it to a small workshop is not easy task.   

As for your comment on the emotional component when making something, from the creator's standpoint, such is relevant only to him. It will help or hinder the worker, but it does not necessarily flow into the workpiece and translate into an emotion for the viewer.  I have seen very talented artist produce sublime work with boredom and in a repetitive manner, and guys who put their soul into their work and produce mediocre results. 

All very interesting as always and most importantly, there is no right or wrong answer since all this is very subjective. 

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Thats the most important thing. There is no right or wrong way. We each must decide that for ourselves. 

You've dropped a few one liners about your journey and without a doubt, its one to be proud of. Or thats my opinion, anyway.

I too started in the 60's. And very consciously chose to become a horse shoer. This step precedes farrier.  :) And i did it to follow this nebulous idea of " traditional blacksmith. I truly had no idea just that meant other than working a hammer, hot iron and a forge. I consider that my time in " the Trades". 17 years. 

As far as back in the day, I believe there were tradesmen and craftsmen in nearly every specialty. Take cutlery. everybody needs a knife, fork, and a spoon. And there must been a lot of job shops producing these in major cities. But there were those who wanted something special, unique, and had the money to pay for it. This is the realm of the craftsman. I don't like the term elite because in this day and age that happens to have a rather negative political connotation, and this isn't a political forum. But in some of the posts in this thread, you can see what I mean. Basically i go by this thought. " Lets not be prejudiced against the rich. Their money spends like anyone else,,, and the work is far more challenging,, and they pay on time."  ;)

As far as Rocky, I tend to agree. My experiences with mega construction have been not good. Absolutely not worth my time. I have never had a problem with owners. Nor with architects. Interior decorators can be no fun. There are many who will eat you on Monday and spit you out on Tuesday. But there are some good ones. Churches are great and i cant imagine they are any different today than working on a 9th century cathedral. But general contractors and that type of construction... not ever again. Life is too short.

As far as the emotional component, well there are no guarantees, good or bad. You pays your money and takes yer chances.  It is not a pathway for the faint of heart. However, if you preserver and don't quit, you will most likely reach some level of success. There are certainly pathways that are not so risky as traditional architectural blacksmith. And i don't say this glibly. Ive just finished a 10 year journada meant to test Hercules. This ended in September, and my new shop awaits spring thaw. This had nothing to do with my blacksmithing, but it did have to do with a fine log house i built and an ex partner.  Lol, 10 years as a roady blacksmith with 10,000# of equipment, a broke down willys pickup, and no trailer.  800 mile journada, 5 different shops, and the adventure of a lifetime. The only thing that kept me sane was repeating that mantra every day and laughing at my own cheap entertainment! I didnt volunteer for Viet Nam to get a retirement, but hey, never look a gift horse in the mouth. 

I only added this personal stuff for two reasons. first because i'm still in shock as to my good fortune, and this is a good recap. And to stress that no matter what, you can succeed as a traditional smith in this day and age,,, if it is your desire. I care not what my commission is,,, s hooks, ox bow stirrups and spurs or fancy gates and railings. My passion to be a traditional smith from back in my past is real and i absolutely know what that means.  As i thought back then,,,  quite simply stated,,,,, working a hammer, hot iron, and a forge.  

 

 

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You should try your hand at smithing ... words.  Your writing tells me you have the knack for it.  Or so i think anyway. :)

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Lol, thanks but i think the "emotion" of the moment has a lot to do with that.  ;}

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Anvil,

Thank you for your kind words.  I'm glad to help wherever I can.  Your post shifts this towards a topic I've been trying to find time to fully address on my blog,  business growth.  I believe a lot of entrepreneurs would be surprised to hear that poorly managed growth is a bigger threat to survival than starving for work.  That's as true for day one as it is for the diamond anniversary.  

Knowing your market is critical for everyone.  People often tell me they wouldn't want to be an estimator because they wouldn't want to compete for their job.  I think that's largely an illusion.  If you can't see what makes the difference to your continued employment,  you can't reasonably act in your best interest. That sounds very stressful to me.   

This whole debate concerns stratified markets.  Being a market leader requires a tremendous amount of business acumen that's completely independent of producing goods or services.  Wherever there are low barriers to entry, you'll find more competition.  Entrepreneurial types often struggle to see how this means there is less market share for them.  

Startups have limited resources to establish themselves.  For some, it's absolutely critical to quickly gain access to higher market strata.  This is entirely different from a "big job" on a lower market strata.  A whole lot of people go out of business every year because they took on a "big job" that they couldn't complete.

I suspect this comes down to a fundamental problem with perspective.  The cost of a "big job" on the open market might equal a "smaller one" on a higher strata.  However, it might take double the workforce to do the "big job", whereas it might take a handful of very special people do do the "smaller one".  Each opportunity would require a different type of growth for the firm to be successful.  Any resource that is committed, brings the potential loss of an opportunity. 

During booming economies, a lot of firms chase exponential growth to secure a larger share of the market. When it's easy to win profitable work, there's little incentive to worry about minor losses. If a job doesn't go well, you can always hike up the price and win two more to make up for it.  Of course to do that, you'll need to grow.  Every expansion multiplies the losses when the core problem was never solved.   Eventually this pattern leads to a situation where the slightest reduction in available work triggers financial ruin.

Markets ebb and flow.  Strata ebb and flow independently within their market.  I've seen situations where only a handful of market strata had any work going on.  Long term survival in such a situation requires compromise and commitment to the realities of that market strata.

Everything this far is just business, no emotion.  While it's easier to discuss these topics within the confines of science and fact, the reality is that people act on emotion.  Trust is an emotional counterbalance to risk.  I was recently awarded the largest contract my firm has ever won.  This job is a huge step up in market strata for my firm.  Only a handful of very qualified contractors were invited to bid.  A lot went into the clients decision, but in the end, trust, is what won that job.  

I didn't know it when I interviewed for that contract, but over the years there were quiet people on the sidelines of meetings I've attended, or copied on email exchanges about problems we were solving.  They never said or wrote anything at the time.  I recently learned that one of them is the head of the department that awarded me this job.  Several months ago, I ran across a familiar face at a charity event and was shocked to learn he was the vice president of this 5,000 employee company.  He knew my name.  

Over the years I've eaten a lot of humble pie as an estimator, it's just part of the job.  Moments like that are really awesome.  

 

 

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So we have three entities proposed, really, four if you look at it:

1. The Craftsman

2. The Artist

3. The Tradesman

4. The Businessman 

I'd argue to be successful you need elements of each. The craftsman brings an emotive element that sells well to particular markets. The artist, well, if you lack a style, a "brand",  if you will, then nothing sets you apart from the competition. The tradesman knows what his time is worth. And the businessman pursues opportunities. 

Really, we're each going to have stronger tendencies in one or more of these categories, and we're all going to argue about what each of them means. 

I just happen to be convinced that one of these four will be "the boss". Probably the one whose perspective you identify with most. However, I think if you don't let the businessman take the helm, you might still get lucky, but the other primary motivations aren't what define success. 

Look at it this way. 

The tradesman wants to get paid. His motivation is value for his time, and meaningful work. 

The artist wants acclaim. Reputation. And hopefully, enough money to eat. But he will make art at the cost of all else because that is who he is. 

The craftsman wants to get paid commensurate with the high level of quality he produces. His work is his name, and while similar to the tradesman, he is also similar to the artist. 

The businessman wants to win. The balance sheet matters most. Therefore, the artist chafes because left to the businessman, the incredible opportunity for self expression is scuttled because it would have to be done at a loss. The tradesman hates him because he tells him what his time is worth in his current market. The craftsman's fastidiousness is seen, at times,  to be the enemy of deadlines. 

But who cultivates the kind of work demanding the artist's creativity? Who seeks clientele who want the level of detail the craftsman can provide? Who wins more profitable jobs so that the tradesman is paid what he's worth? 

 

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Very well said Exo313!

The construction industry is still largely managed by Tradesman which heavily influences how business is conducted.  Many of these firms require their office staff to have extensive field experience so they will understand what it's like to be a tradesman. It's basically unheard of for a firm to require office experience from their tradesman.  I worked for a unique firm that cycled their college interns through both the field and the office, however this policy didn't extend to estimating.

There were a couple of occasions where I had to commandeer the interns to help get a bid done.  They struggled with basic stuff like measuring the length of a wall.  It wasn't because the measurement was tricky, it was because they suddenly realized that there would be consequences for getting it wrong.  

I think it's currently popular to promote a collaborative, and democratic approach to complex work.  In my experience, that doesn't work out too well.  If five individuals bring five elements to be successful, it doesn't make sense to dilute the expert's work with the mediocre consensus of the other four.  Cooperation doesn't require collaboration, or consensus.  

If that sticks in your craw, it's probable that you don't trust the experts in your group.  The admittedly cynical answer to such a situation, is to arrange things so that it's profitable for the wrong people, to do the right thing.  "Profit" in this example is whatever matters to the party you're trying to motivate. 

To answer your last question I have an example; we pursue "prestigious" projects to keep our "Artist" happy which is necessary to build a portfolio to market the entire firm.  I have to win the work, and the "Artist" needs to knock it out of the park so that we get invited to exclusive opportunities.  

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Irondragon Forge & Clay said:

Definition of an expert. Someone who studies more and more about less and less, until they know nothing about everything.

Excellent!

 

On 1/3/2019 at 2:27 PM, rockstar.esq said:

  I was recently awarded the largest contract my firm has ever won. 

Congrats! Thats always a rush.  For me, doing my bid process is intense. It starts with a concept, Progresses thru drawings, a sample, and finally an accepted bid.   And then the first down payment and a huge pile of steel laying at my doorstep. 

And then that moment of total panic,,, Oh my goodness,,, what have i done now.  

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Of course, a generalist is someone who learns less and less about more and more until he knows nothing about everything.

It has been my experience that many people in various trades and professions founder on the necessities and economics of business.  I have seen this happen to doctors, attorneys, plumbers. blacksmiths, mechanics, etc..  They start out working for someone else who charges $X for their time but they are only paid a fraction of X for their salary or hourly wage.  After a while of that they say that they can hang out a shingle and get all of the X for themselves.  When they do that they realize that the extra portion of X has to go for rent, insurance, materials, etc..  Also, because they are trained in their craft or profession and that is what they love doing they do not like doing the grunt work of running a business and are not good at it or motivated to do it.  And, if they hire anyone to help them they are now a "boss" and have all the paperwork, taxes, and brain damage that brings with it.  Pretty soon, even if they are successful they are a business person and are doing little of the craft or profession that they love.  Often, they go back to working for someone else so that they do not have all the headaches being a business person brings.  They are happy to settle for the fraction of X they are being paid and think it cheap payment not to have to do all that terrible business stuff.

That is why I always suggest to anyone on this board who is inquiring about opening a blacksmithing business that they take a very hard look at what running a successful business takes and whether they honestly think they have the skills and temperment to do it.  It can be a daunting task and is not for everyone.  Don't quit the day job until you are sure you can.

Also, many small business people do not understand the necessity of getting at least partially paid up front and end up getting stiffed.  Don't deliver until the check clears.  If a customer balks at putting down a 50% deposit before work and materials you don't need that job.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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2 hours ago, George N. M. said:

It has been my experience that many people in various trades and professions founder on the necessities and economics of business.

Very true and the reason is rooted in our individual set of values.

We all adopt our values before age 10 and before we have any say in what this values do for us. They are inherited, imposed forced upon every kid. The underlying theme of most if not all so called values, stamped on every kid's forehead is "rich are evil, poor are virtuous". Sure not necessarily with those words but that is the underlying theme. From socialist ideas to misinterpretation of scriptures to guilt, plain ignorance and many other reasons, parents impose this anti-values or poverty makers all around the world on their unsuspecting offspring, with the best of intentions.

The kid grows up and goes through school, high school and even university, thought by teachers who themselves have no idea how to make money and themselves hate success and prosperity in others. Mostly unaware of their singularity and would vehemently reject any suggestion of this nature. The "new" values acquired consciously, do not override the old values inherited as kids. In fact the old one rule the new one. 

The outcome resulting from this state of affairs. is that every person has a figure in his mind they consider OK to earn, and also that above that figure it is no longer OK. Not that anyone has this very clear, but all you need to do is ask your friends, be them highly paid professionals, business people or on low wages. What is a fair amount for a person to earn? You will be surprised of the answers you get. folks would say that earning between $50k to $100k is OK, that earning $200k is excessive, and that earning $500k is obscene. Mention a million or two and they will scream you out of the door. 

That business person you are talking about that "founders on the necessities and economics of business" is in fact someone who was never thought how to make money, is intimately convinced that money is dirty, that rich people are evil, and that struggling has some virtuous aspect to it. At the first chance of potential success, the person will subconsciously avoid it or sabotage it because he does not want to become evil like all those rich people out there. Yet don't tell him that, he will tell you you are bonkers. 

Surprised so many business fail? Not for a minute, it is in fact a natural consequence of a set of values that is sabotaging most people's attempts to make money. 

The day prosperity and economic success is celebrated and thought in homes, schools and university, things may change. Meantime, whilst money is "dirty" and "at the root of all evil", things will not change one iota ... unless you make a conscious effort to replace those values that don't serve you with new ones that do ... or were born in that 5% of society that has cultivated the right set of values  :) 

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Dear Marc1,

I'm afraid that I'm going to have to disagree with most of what you say.  I do not think that most children in western civilization are taught that the rich are evil or that it is somehow tainted or wrong to earn too much money.  Economic success is often admired and held up as a goal to strive for.  Look at the adulation in the tabloids or on TV or the internet of the megarich, most of it, IMO, undeserved, but there are people who buy and watch and justify the publishing of this sort.

That said, I think most people have an inherent sense of "fairness" and are offended by people making a large amount of money that is not commensurate with their accomplishments.  That is why people who are rich by inherited wealth are derided.  They are wealthy by accident of birth, not by any accomplishment of their own.  I think most people would agree that there is something flawed in our economic system where athletes are paid large sums to play games at an elite level and teachers, first responders, and the military are compensated at much lower levels.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are looked up to by many more people than those who think them villains.  Hard core socialists or communists may consider the rich evil and the poor virtuous but in the 21st century in most western societies they are a very small minority.

There is a strong belief amongst many people that poverty is the wage of sloth and if the poor would just pull up their socks and get to work they would not be poor any more.  The idea of intelligence, culture, lack of opportunity, education, etc. never comes into it.

There were many voters in the 2016 US elections who thought that because a candidate was rich and successful he was qualified for high office just because of that.

I grew up in a blue collar family and was never taught that it was bad to be too economically successful.  My father, who had lived through the depression, could never understand why I would not make getting the highest possible paycheck the highest priority in my life and career choices.  To him all else was secondary to the amount of the paycheck.

Finally, a sad as it may be, the basic measurement of how successful a person is is based on their economic worth.  How happy they are, how good a spouse or parent, how much they have contributed to society only comes into it as secondary factors.  If person A has accumulated more dollars, pounds, euros, or yen than person B then- A is considered more successful than B.

This discussion has wandered far.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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George ... we agree on one thing, this thread was about Craft vs Art. I was very interested in those two concepts and the various personal interpretations. 

We went on a tangent because the business side of things was mentioned and then came the lack of business inside etc, ergo my take on the reasons for low achievement on the money front.

Your reply is a full frontal confirmation of what is the thinking of the cross section of society today. I don't want to go into replying point by point what you just said because I don't want to either offend you or come across as judgemental ... yet every sentence in your reply says ... rich are evil ... and there is virtue in poverty. In different terms and with intellectual camouflage.  

I used to coach business owners and they paid to listen to me ... a long time ago. It was a lot of fun and I was happy to teach others the bit I now about what makes us tick ... and what makes us stop ... and how to overcome the cultural baggage we have been saddled with since birth, through no fault of our own. 

One thing I learned George, is that this "anti-values" that harm and sabotage people's lives every day, are so deeply rooted and are so widespread and in every little thing you see or hear,  that any unsolicited challenge from a stranger is met with anger, and everyone becomes defensive and runs for cover. So let's say it is not the theme for social entertainment. So I usually keep things for myself this days, and only occasionally let something go out, in the hope that may be someone can review his or her beliefs and toss out what is pulling him down.  

Let us coin another phrase that your father may have liked ... "The lack of money is at the root of all evil" :)

 

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Dear Marc,

Wow!  This is one of the few times where I have to stop and ask myself "Am I speaking the same language as the other person?"  It seems that communication is not happening.  And this is someone who, I assume, has the same first language as I do, even though he is in a different hemisphere.  I don't think that Ozian and Yank English is that different.

We will just have to agree to disagree about whether money and economic success is perceived by most people, consciously or unconsciously, is "good" or "bad."

That said, I think we can agree that people will often sabotage themselves and make decisions which, from the outside, are not in their best interests.  This, in my opinion, can derive from a lot of factors, psychological, emotional, cultural, etc..  This can occur in relationships.  We have all seen people sabotage their own relationships for no cognizable reason.  Sometimes they may think on some deep psychological level that "This person is too good for me" or "I'm not good enough for this person" or "I can't live up to this person's expectations."  I have seen it happen in educational situations because of cultural reasons.  At one time I lived near a US Native American reservation and had a friend who taught on the rez.  She told me that there was a strong cultural pressure not to do well in school because if you did you were and "Apple Indian" (Red on the outside, white on the inside.)

This, I think we will agree, can happen in economic situations where someone, on some level, for whatever reason, does not want to be as successful as they could be.  Besides your postulate of "rich=bad, poor=good" there may be reasons that arise from psychological and social reasons.  People with more letters after their name than I have can speak to all the possible reasons but, basically, poor, flawed humans, which we all are, can be their own worst enemies in a lot of areas.

And just to bring this discussion back to something nearer to how it all started is that I agree with much of what Exo313 says about the conflicting roles craft, artistry, business, and trade play is a good way to look at the competing demands of any craft or profession.  Most of us are a mix of all those and not in equal proportions.  The artistic person has to reach to be successful and the business or trade oriented person has to reach to be artistic.  None is inherently good or bad but probably some of all are needed to be successful in the world. 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Actually, an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.  A generalist knows less and less about more and more until he knows nothing about everything.

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2 hours ago, George N. M. said:

That said, I think we can agree that people will often sabotage themselves and make decisions which, from the outside, are not in their best interests.  This, in my opinion, can derive from a lot of factors, psychological, emotional, cultural, etc..  This can occur in relationships.  We have all seen people sabotage their own relationships for no cognizable reason.  Sometimes they may think on some deep psychological level that "This person is too good for me" or "I'm not good enough for this person" or "I can't live up to this person's expectations."  I have seen it happen in educational situations because of cultural reasons.  At one time I lived near a US Native American reservation and had a friend who taught on the rez.  She told me that there was a strong cultural pressure not to do well in school because if you did you were and "Apple Indian" (Red on the outside, white on the inside.)

This, I think we will agree, can happen in economic situations where someone, on some level, for whatever reason, does not want to be as successful as they could be.  Besides your postulate of "rich=bad, poor=good" there may be reasons that arise from psychological and social reasons.  People with more letters after their name than I have can speak to all the possible reasons but, basically, poor, flawed humans, which we all are, can be their own worst enemies in a lot of areas.

 

 You can see that we actually agree on more than you think. We just use a different language. you use a socially acceptable approach, useful to talk to friends and family, I tell it how it is. Culture, religion, political confessions, socioeconomic status, everything plays a role in the coining of the "values" passed on or rather imposed to the innocent who grow up with their parents, relatives and peers' baggage. It is a minority, generally accepted to be just 5% that is able to recognise the anti-values that are hindering them and replace them. Just accepting that there is a problem is in itself a big hurdle.

But anyway, nuff of that. Sure, artists are by definition bad businessman that is why they have agents that bleed them dry :) craftsman probably a bit better and tradesman better still. Generally speaking of course. 

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