-“You are going the get the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. And maybe, discover new things about yourself because actually, that’s what happened to me today.” – Susana, CEO, Startup Incubator
-“Today was the most amount of fun I’ve ever had in Norway without alcohol” – Rune, Program Lead, Startup Incubator
These are the words of some of the participants in David Tann‘s workshops on innovation and collaboration, in which he mixes ancient wisdom with modern creativity.
David is an expert on soft skills. Soft skills are essential in today’s workplace, and David’s workshops provide insights on how to develop and leverage them for success. Innovation requires us to challenge our preconceived notions and bring new ideas to the table. David believes in the power of disruptive imagination and in connecting it to real-world problems to create innovative solutions. He draws inspiration from medieval jesters who challenged norms and questioned perceptions.
Can you briefly introduce yourself and describe your journey as an entrepreneur?
I am David, the founder of Arcane Fools, a company that provides B2B creativity. I am an interdisciplinary artist, clown and alchemist between art and innovation. I took my first step into entrepreneurship at the age of 11 in school, selling Coke cans to my classmates. My artistic career began with music as a jazz percussionist, and has since evolved through various art forms: Fire Dance, Circus, Dance, Theatre and Clowning. Later, I founded a theatre company and became involved in art collectives in Norway.
I mix ancient wisdom with modern creativity.
Today, this entrepreneurial spark is fuelled by my curiosity and has led me to found Arcane Fools, where I mix ancient wisdom with modern creativity.
Looking back on your entrepreneurial career, what are the three most important lessons you have learned that you think every aspiring entrepreneur should know?
- Embrace the inner fool, because it is the fool who jumps where others cautiously tread. Do not be afraid of failure. To quote William Blake, “The fool who persists in his folly becomes wise.”
- Mix the disciplines: The world is a tapestry, so pull threads from different corners. Life is not as simple as inherited reductionist subjects that we’re taught to believe.
- Seek the unknown: Discover your path as you walk it. The world is a stage, and you do not need a script.
Starting a business often means taking risks. How do you assess the risks in your ventures and how do you deal with them? What advice do you have for entrepreneurs on how to deal with uncertainties?
Risk is a dance with the universe. In an endeavour, I consult the oracle of my own intuition and test it with logical doubt and research. Our uncertainties are the stars that guide us on our journey. A slackline walker seems to maintain perfect balance, but when we look more closely, we see that he is actually swaying from one imbalance to the next, swinging back and forth to maintain general equanimity.
Building a strong network is critical for entrepreneurs. What strategies have you used throughout your career to build meaningful connections and partnerships? How has networking contributed to your success?
I use a variety of strategies to build my network. I attend conferences, industry events, and arts leadership forums. However, one meaningful connection is better than 100 business cards. I try to give before asking for quid pro quos, but sometimes have to remind myself that my capacity is limited. I try to find people who are better than me, people who inspire me.
I try to find people who are better than me, people who inspire me.
It’s actually quite difficult to be a good student – just listen and see with open eyes. Expand your horizons. Open your eyes – some of the best contacts I have made at conferences have been made on the trip home. If I had not had my eyes open to make contacts, I never would have found those collaborators. I try not to be a racehorse – if we always come to a meeting with a plan and a pitch, we may never find the idea that no one has thought of yet. Inhabiting in the world you want to live in is the first step toward making it a reality.
One of the challenges for many entrepreneurs is finding the right balance between innovation and market demand. How do you approach this balance and what steps do you take to ensure that your products/services meet market needs?
The very question suggests that there is no easy answer, and perhaps there is no answer at all. An old clown master once told me that you have to have 3,263 stupid ideas every day (before you have a good one). Everyone always has a theory, but experimentation is the key. If no one else is doing the same thing you are, you could have a really good idea or a really bad idea. You will not know until you try it, so do not take anyone’s word for it. We need to be able to listen and respond, but beyond that, there does not have to be a predetermined goal.
When we start as entrepreneurs, we do not have to do anything scalable (yet). Do something that scaling companies can not compete with. By offering products or services that are not scalable, we are already eliminating most of the competition.
By offering products or services that are not scalable, we are already eliminating most of the competition.
You just need to do something that inspires you. If it inspires you and makes your relationship with the world more meaningful, trust that it will infect others with the same sense of creativity. Sometimes you just need to put a little less thought into it and trust that others will be inspired when you do it, too. Seek them out.
You just need to do something that inspires you and makes the world more meaningful.
Building a business requires effective leadership and team management. What leadership skills do you think are essential to leading a successful team, and how do you foster a positive work culture in your company?
Stay humble – your team is only as good as its lowest common denominator. Leaders are there to nurture the team. When a team succeeds, team members take credit; when there is failure, leaders take responsibility.
Every idea is a colour and the canvas is limitless. When there is no more space, write on the napkins and walls.
In your experience, what are the most effective marketing and branding strategies for early-stage startups? How can entrepreneurs make the most of their limited resources to increase awareness and attract customers?
No one cares about your story and what it means to you. What does it mean to them? A fool learns to harness imagination to enable others to project their own desires and dreams. Your audience’s dreams are the ultimate meaning of your work and therefore the ultimate branding for your business. Storytelling harnesses the myths that live within each of us. Tell the story far and wide, but make it relatable.
Tell the story far and wide, but make it relatable.
As an experienced entrepreneur, what advice would you give to someone just starting their entrepreneurial journey? What are the key factors or habits that contribute to long-term success in the business world?
Cultivate resilience and dance with the unknown. I often remind myself of a useful quote originally from field hockey, “Go where the puck is going, not where the puck is right now.” 80% of your commitment and time should be spent cultivating the rich soil where the future plants will grow.
Featured photos from “Inter-Nationals” Photo Exhibition, by photographer Dino Serrao.
We are thrilled to announce speakers for this year’s Pirate Summit! Get ready to hear from some of the most innovative and inspiring minds in business, tech, and beyond. 🚀
David is an expert in soft skills and will be running a workshop on this very topic at the event. Soft skills are essential in today’s workforce, and David will provide insights on how to develop them and leverage them to achieve success. 💼
Innovation requires us to challenge our pre-conceptions and introduce new ideas. David believes in the power of disruptive imagination and fusing it with real-world problems to create innovative solutions. He draws inspiration from medieval jesters and their role in questioning norms and challenging perceptions. 🤡
David will bring his unique perspective to PIRATE Summit and provide attendees with a fresh outlook on innovation and soft skills.
👉Readers of Business Observer24 get a 20% discount on Pirate Summit tickets. Discount code “Marko20” can be redeemed on the site of Pirate Summit HERE!