How Frustration Sparked Scott Belsky To Start Organizing The Creative World

by Tim Jahn on June 11, 2010

In this episode, I’m chatting with Scott Belsky, founder of Behance, a New York based company that provides products and services seeking to organize the creative world and help make ideas happen.

A special edition episode from Big Omaha

I had the chance to interview Scott at the Big Omaha conference in Omaha, Nebraska back in May.  The conference is all about highlighting entrepreneurs and the amazing work they’re doing in Omaha and the surrounding Midwest regions.

I highly recommend this conference and consider it the best conference I’ve been to all year.  The speakers provided tons of value in their presentations and the event was intimate enough (they cap attendance at 500 people) to allow you to build relationships with fellow entrepreneurs and truly connect with people.

Transcript

Scott Belsky:
My name is Scott Belsky and I started a business with a great, passionate group of people called Behance.  We’re on a mission to organize the creative world.

Tim Jahn:
That’s a huge undertaking in my eyes.  How do you go about organizing the creative world?

Scott Belsky:
These are the people who make our lives interesting.  These are the illustrators, designers, graphic designers, information designers, architects, photographers, creative directors, the people who really develop everything around us that enthuses us and inspires us.

Yet this creativity is a double edged sword.  Often times it creates this idea to idea syndrome and a lack of feedback exchange and leadership issues and a lot of organizational challenges that get in the way of actually making ideas happen.

Tim Jahn:
How did you get into that?  What made you all of a sudden decide to organize the creative world?

Scott Belsky:
Frustration.  Frustration with the fact that most of the people and teams that I cam across exploring this idea never made their ideas happen.  How many people had started writing something and never finished?  Or had an idea and started developing a business plan that just became stagnant and forgotten?  How many people constantly felt inhibited by the careers they had, from really doing what they wanted to do with their lives, because they had nowhere to start?

This was frustrating to see because we all pay the price.  The ideas that don’t happen hurt all of us.  When there are solutions to some of the world’s greatest problems or fascinating ideas that could become great entertainment, it’s just a silly loss.

Tim Jahn:
How important is it to you, the idea of never stop learning, challenge yourself every day, continue on new things?

Scott Belsky:
I think it keeps you fresh and grounded, knowing there’s so much more you need to learn.  I think having a learning environment that you work in is a really good cultural cornerstone.  Everyone’s willing to learn from each other.  And when something goes wrong, when you face adversity, your second question is what am I going to learn from this.  Where do I start listening and hearing to figure out the lesson learned in this horrible experience I’m going through.

Tim Jahn:
You found a problem, frustration, and acted upon it.  What advice would you give someone in a similar situation?

Scott Belsky:

Create little silly ways of holding yourself accountable to making progress.  I don’t think it’s some grand thing, you wake up one morning and decide to change your life.  It happens in steps.

It really starts with doing projects or taking on new jobs that inch you closer to what interests you most.  If you can just make sure that everything you’re doing is a step closer to that rather than further away, you’re doing what you need to do.  Address that frustration at some point and really do something with the idea that you have.

And then at some point, it means starting to take some risks and put some skin in the game.  When I was first starting Behance, I still had a full time job.  I realized design had a central goal in what I wanted to do and I realized that I needed to explore this.  But of course, the day to day regimen was always getting in the way of doing something.

I ended up finding Matias Corea, who now is our chief designer and my partner in the business.  He also had a full time job and I literally told him, I’ll pay you to work with me for a few months every night after work on this idea.  I committed some capital and in my mind, mentally, that was a real skin in the game moment.  I was like, wow, I’m taking this to the next level now.

I’m going to lose money and waste a lot of time of my own and someone else if I don’t stay accountable.  Knowing I had this meeting with him every night at nine o’clock made me do work to get ready for it.  I think people have to figure out whatever their mechanisms are.  How to hold themselves accountable to take steps forward.

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