During his career he was loved, hated, admired, dissed, fought over … but never ignored.
His name? Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y …
Anybody with a name like that was bound to lead a big, bold, messy life, and Picasso did exactly that.
I have to confess that I’ve had a creative crush on him ever since I first encountered his work in my college art history class.
But it wasn’t until I stood in front of piece after piece of his art that I learned the most important lesson Picasso ever taught me — and how it applies to content marketing.
I’ll get to that.
First, let’s talk about a few other digital marketing and sales lessons I’ve gleaned from the life of this amazing, torrential painter.
Change your game, because the game is always changing
If you know anything about Picasso, you might have heard of his “periods.”
There’s the Blue Period. The Rose Period. The Cubist and Surrealist periods.
He was always searching, never satisfied.
He’d start out creating works in one style. Those paintings would find a market and they’d sell. Then he’d drop that style and start experimenting with a new one.
The way we do business online is perpetually changing, and we’re all in the process of mastering new ways of working.
Experimenting with unfamiliar mediums like on-demand audio content might send you straight into unknown territory.
Jumping into that new social media platform may seem pointless and difficult.
That feeling of mastery you had about what you were doing?
You’ll have to go through a learner’s phase all over again, and it won’t be fun.
But hang on, because the underlying standards don’t ever change, and on the other side of that phase might be the best work you’ve ever done.
How will you know unless you try? Do you even have a choice whether or not to change anymore?
Get a posse
Picasso and the painter Georges Braque had a famous friendship.
The two of them developed the Cubist style together, through a series of paintings and collages that built off of the other’s ideas.
Braque would paint a scene. Picasso would paint the same scene, but it would be his own take on it.
Back and forth they’d go, with each painting pushing the envelope just a little more.
One of the best things you can do for yourself professionally — especially if you work by yourself or run a small business — is join a mastermind group.
Mastermind groups are business brainstorming groups that meet on a regular basis. They help you take your business ideas and push them further, to the point of viability, working with models you can use to grow your business.
If you can’t find a local or virtual mastermind group, try creating one yourself.
The important thing is that each member is committed to seeing both themselves and everyone else in the group prosper.
Picasso knew this. His artistic friendships with Braque, Matisse, and Miró helped their collective art careers flourish.
Was it their talent or their friendship and support that made the difference?
Draw inspiration from the world around you
Picasso’s works were influenced by suicide, war, poverty, love, sex, nature, and cinema.
I think it’s safe to say he had a lust for life, and his work reflects it.
You get the impression he woke up every day and said, “Bring it on!”
He absorbed everything happening around him, and his messy, complicated life made its way through his hands, into his brushes, and onto his canvasses.
When you’re running your business, it’s easy to get caught up in the dreary details.
Don’t forget to take time to be inspired by the world around you.
Sometimes the best business ideas come from places and situations that are far removed from your desk.
Let them inspire you and help you come up with creative solutions.
Bring life to your work.
Work. work. work. work. work. And work some more
Now for the most important lesson Pablo taught me.
Over the years, I’ve stood in front of a lot of Picassos: paintings, drawings, etchings, sculptures, ceramics, and prints.
The man was prolific. He was a one-man art factory.
And you know what? Not all of it is great.
Most of it is amazing, but some pieces look like experiments that didn’t quite pan out.
That’s what’s fascinating: when you see enough of his work, you can see that sometimes he had bad days.
But he kept going, year after year, until he’d produced 50,000 pieces of art over his lifetime.
Let that sink in for a minute: 50,000 pieces means he created approximately 632 pieces every year of his 79-year career.
And among the 50,000 or so pieces he produced, there are some timeless gems that will still resonate 500 years from now.
What Pablo taught me is that not every piece has to be a masterpiece.
The process is just as important as the end result: I need to keep my eyes open to everything around me, absorb it, and let it flow right into my content and business.
What do you get from his story? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on October 20, 2011.