Our Inner Banksy

Busking for Business

Busking is an honorable occupation. Doing the things we need to do to make money.

When things seemed more stable than they are seem to be becoming, we could all be buskers. We could turn up, do our stuff, and people would pay. I know accountants, lawyers, lots of managers, and many others who have made a career out of busking. I spent a considerable chunk of my life as an employee as a well paid busker.

Busking has become a higher risk and less profitable occupation as it has morphed into the gig economy. We can find many people at all levels, from recent graduates to CEO’s who are prepared to busk, though we don’t call it that – we call it interim, or consulting – but it’s still busking. Doing something good enough but not original in return for money.

We can’t do the same with artists, because they’re in it for a different reason. They’re in it for the art, for the joy of creating something that only they can make. I also know accountants, lawyers, Coders, Doctors and Vets who are artists (but not many managers). They may well spend time at some point busking, but it’s only to enable them to find the time to make something they want to make. It’s not who they are, or how they would describe themselves. Committed artists.

It’s a shame in many ways, but busking is on its way out, killed by efficiency. Automation and artificial intelligence is getting the well paid business gigs, and leaving only the precarious, soul sapping jobs where we’re tracked by the minute. I know when my parcel is arriving because I can track the delivery driver on my phone. Not much room for improvising there. I bought my website logo of Fiverr (an algortihm created by an artist) for the price of a weeks daily Starbucks.

I think we have a choice of two futures – the measured, controlled, prescribed, predictable one where we know what’s expected and how to behave, or the creative, autonomous, freeform, unpredictable, maverick one where people buy what we make.

The difference between the graphic artist paid by the hour, the algorithm, and Banksy.

From Busker to Banksy

However, there is of course a Banksy in all of us.

We keep it hidden because it frightens the people in HR, (as well as us). It doesn’t fit the machine, goes off at random, and creates things a business cannot specify or scale. One off things of beauty.

Makes us stand out, for good or bad. Accountable.

Banksy may be rich, and I hope so, but I doubt that’s why he does it. For all I know, he may well have had to busk at points. Perhaps he still does, for fun.

Whether you’re a recent graduate with an MBA, a successful manager, a lawyer, accountant, or coder most of what you do is on its way to being a commodity. The difference between a gig and a career will increasingly be to channel your inner Banksy. The idea of Banksy as a Lawyer, and what he would do to the system, appeals to me. On the other hand, the world of Finance is full of them, and that probably gives us an idea. Harnessing your inner Banksy can pay well.

Locating our inner Banksy when we have been brought up to believe compliance will look after us is a big ask, but one I think we will all have to make, wherever we are in our careers. The alternatives are becoming more and more unattractive.

On a good day, we can do things we love, make good money and make a difference by creating things of beauty, and on a bad day we can always busk.

In all cases we can make sure we do it on our own terms.

If you want to let your inner Banksy out to play, have a look at what we’re putting together at Harnessing Uncertainty. Small scale, for fun, for free, because it’s important.

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