Eight years ago, my partner Julia and I were music majors finishing up our senior years. While our classmates practiced for their graduate school auditions, we pondered how to attract different kinds of audiences to their future concerts. Not sure the performance track was the right one for us, yet knowing nothing about the business world, we were at a crossroads.
TestWe knew we were on to something with our audience-development ideas, so we gathered whatever how-to books we could get our hands on, created a business plan, and on a whim, entered it into a competition. Imagine our surprise when we won second place! This victory (because that’s how it felt to us) was the impetus to launch iCadenza.
That’s when we entered the real world. Nothing prepares you for just how challenging it is to start a new company. The first two years were brutal! The confidence we had gained writing that business plan fell like a house of cards when it became painfully clear how little we really knew. But we had tenacity. Over time, we realized that what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur is not a Ph.D. or a secret formula. It is simply the repetition of core behaviors that we had already developed through our years as students and musicians. By acknowledging those powerful skills and refining them, we turned them into what we like to call our “superpowers.”
What are superpowers?
Your artistry and ideas are the substance, and “superpowers” are the vehicles for achieving your mission – the unique abilities that exist at the intersection of passion, skill and drive. “Superpowers” are shaped by your values and beliefs as well as your professional habits. The specific powers we call on regularly in our own work include:
Definition: curiosity mixed with a driving impulse to seek out problems worth solving
Before we ever had the idea to launch a consultancy and agency, we were curious about the challenges musicians face in the industry. Talking to many people – legends and up-and-comers – gave us a broader sense of their needs.
Definition: devising unique solutions to observed challenges
Thinking about those conversations with the many musicians, we considered what didn’t exist yet that would make a difference in their lives. How could we tackle the challenge, using our specific talents and background?
Definition: believing we can make a difference in the world, if we create a feasible plan of action
When we started iCadenza, there were lots of reasons why we were doomed to fail (as many people told us). Fortunately, Julia and I discovered that our natural optimism along with a healthy dose of pragmatism was a powerful combination. We sought out others’ advice, weighed our own instincts and research and ultimately came up with a thoughtful, well-reasoned plan of action. It’s a process that continues to work well for us.
Definition: polite persistence in the face of challenges
We have found that tenacity shows up when optimism is put to the test. When we started out we were young and inexperienced; the industry was shrinking and closed-minded, and we were women in a male-dominated field. Yet, we were politely persistent in seeking out new inspiration, advice and guidance. By not listening to a few naysayers or giving up, we eventually found our champions: the people who admired our “stick-to-itiveness” – and even offered to help.
Definition: assembling the support and collaboration needed to bring an idea to fruition
Whether you are starting a business, ensemble or movement, you can’t do it alone. As best friends from high school who bonded over music, Julia and I had a history of collaborating. That laid the perfect foundation for our business partnership. We also benefited from early champions who gave us the scaffolding we needed in challenging times. Today, our community has grown to include our staff, artist clients and the venues we service.
Definition: expressing meaningful content in a way that resonates with others.
Your ability to communicate clearly and convincingly has a fundamental impact on how others perceive you. For iCadenza, we didn’t initially realize that this would be one of the most important activities in running our business. We’ve continued to work to improve our communication skills so that we can enhance our efficacy.
Julia and I truly believe that developing these areas can help build your confidence and empower you to dream bigger. The first step is to recognize them. So, now it’s your turn. We’ve created a Superpowers Assessment to help you identify and strengthen the six superpowers that have helped us so much.
Superpowers Assessment Superpowers
This assessment is not a clinical diagnostic instrument and is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only.