The Art of Outperformance

What you can steal from artists regarding success.

There are many types of success. Most of those fit under the banner of 'good performance'.

Good performance is obviously a 'good thing' and there are many books about how to do that in business environments. Our book does not denigrate that type of performance. Good performance clearly has a right to existence.

The roads to achieving good business performance, though, are well-known. The recipes of how to sustain good performance are also well-known. These approaches have been captured in concepts such as Best Practices, Project-delivery processes, Standard Operating Procedures and many more. Most of the larger consulting companies have codified versions of these best practices. They then attempt to help you catch up with your competitors: 'connect these dots'. Our focus is more along the lines of helping you to win: best performance where possible and outperformance where possible.

Further to the last sentence of the previous paragraph: Less well known are the secrets of how to create something entirely new in a corporate environment. To boldly go where no man has gone before. To 'Venture'. And to do so successfully.

Ventures outside of the corporate space are unlike ventures inside of it. And the manner in which to be successful is also not the same in all respects. Corporate environments have some peculiar pitfalls and advantages.

So, our book is a guide to what we called 'Outperformance': Corporate Ventures that lead to spectacular compounding amounts of indefinite goodness. How to boldly go and how to do so with the maximum likelihood of success. Many of these secrets are the antithesis of how to achieve 'ordinary' good success.

We also believe that the approach that leads to outperformance, has some overlaps with the world of art.

So, what do artists (and other creative people) have to say about success? Please forgive us for having had the audacity to do this. We do understand that delivering true works of art is still beyond our ham-fisted grasp.


The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.
Orson Welles

A bottom-up iterative approach

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
Vincent Van Gogh

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Andy Warhol

I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”
Vincent van Gogh

Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”
Edgar Degas

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
Maya Angelou

Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.
Salvador Dali

Your mind is working at its best when you're being paranoid. You explore every avenue and possibility of your situation at high speed with total clarity.

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.
Robert Hughes

Iterating on what came before

Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.
Salvador Dali

I invent nothing, I rediscover.
Auguste Rodin

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
Pablo Picasso

What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.
Eugene Delacroix

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.


The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.
Steven Pressfield

God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.
Pablo Picasso

A photographer is like a cod, which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.
George Bernard Shaw

Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.
Andy Warhol


I force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.
Marcel Duchamp

Innovation and creation

Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas.
Donatella Versace

Creativity takes courage.
Henri Matisse

A good artist has less time than ideas.
Martin Kippenberger

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
Steve Jobs

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.
Andy Warhol

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
C.S. Lewis

Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.
Oscar Wilde

There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.
Pablo Picasso

The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.
Pablo Picasso

The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.
Mikhail Bakunin

The beautiful is always bizarre.
Charles Baudelaire

Imagination governs the world.
Napoleon Bonaparte

If you know the why, you can live any how.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Collect books, even if you don't plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.
John Waters

All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.
Roman Payne

The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.
Ernest Becker

The way to create art is to burn and destroy ordinary concepts and to substitute them with new truths that run down from the top of the head and out of the heart
Charles Bukowski

It's easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It's a lot more difficult to perform one.
Chuck Palahniuk

Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.
Irving Stone

All artists are willing to suffer for their work. But why are so few prepared to learn to draw?

Blessed are the weird people: poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters, troubadours for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.
Jacob Nordby

There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.
Marie Antoinette

Tolerance for failure / risk taking

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.
Georgia O’Keeffe

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.
Yo-Yo Ma

We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.
Bob Ross

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
George Bernard Shaw

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Ventures over projects

To create one’s own world takes courage.
Georgia O'Keeffe

You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not’?
George Bernard Shaw

I believe entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot.
Steve Martin

If it weren't for greed, intolerance, hate, passion and murder, you would have no works of art, no great buildings, no medical science, no Mozart, no Van Gogh, no Muppets and no Louis Armstrong.
Jasper Fforde

Customer focused (reducing friction)

Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.
Charles Mingus


A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don't come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they're having a piss.

Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.
Austin Kleon

All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet – it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.
Joss Whedon

Either a film has something to say to you or it hasn’t. If you are moved by it, you don’t need it explained to you. If not, no explanation can make you moved by it.
Federico Fellini


Don’t worry if people think you’re crazy. You are crazy. You have that kind of intoxicating insanity that lets other people dream outside of the lines and become who they’re destined to be.
Jennifer Elisabeth

Cargo-cult/Best Practice/Corporate dictates

Speak against unconscious oppression, Speak against the tyranny of the unimaginative, Speak against bonds.
Ezra Pound

Without magic, there is no art. Without art, there is no idealism. Without idealism, there is no integrity. Without integrity, there is nothing but production.
Raymond Chandler

Stop trying to be less of who you are. Let this time in your life cut you open and drain all of the things that are holding you back.
Jennifer Elisabeth

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
Stella Adler

In art, what we want is the certainty that one spark of original genius shall not be extinguished.
Mary Cassatt

Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.
Woody Allen

Evil is committed without effort, naturally, fatally; goodness is always the product of some art.
Charles Baudelaire

The artist must possess the courageous soul that dares and defies
Kate Chopin

But anyway, I look around sometimes and I think - this will maybe sound weird - it's like the corporate world's full of ghosts ... people who've ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed"
Emily St. John Mandel

Art and Science in Business

Every form of art is another way of seeing the world. Another perspective, another window. And science –that’s the most spectacular window of all. You can see the entire universe from there.
Claudia Gray

"Nymphomania of the brain. Starvation of the heart.
Erica Jong


When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.
Pablo Picasso