Creative Entrepreneurs Are the Rock Stars of the 21st Century

This post is part of the Creative Rock Stars series.

Rock Star

Photo by Lenny Montana

Eccentrics. Misfits. Outsiders. Starving artists and tortured geniuses. Once upon a time, to be a creative person was to feel marginalised, banished to the garrets and studios, cafes and bars of the bohemian quarter. To the rest of society, you were a sideshow. Sometimes entertaining, occasionally envied or scorned, mostly ignored.

It might have seemed Romantic from a distance, but up close it wasn’t so inspiring. Faced with the demands of the ‘real world’ you had a choice: follow your dream and suffer for your art, living on the breadline while you waited to be discovered by a well meaning agent or editor; or swallow your pride and take a day job, relegating your dream to the status of a hobby.

If you were one of the lucky few – the very few – you had a chance to escape the ghetto and become a star. To join the gods of stage and screen, the giants of science and literature, the headline acts in the rock’n’roll hall of fame. To live a life of creative fulfilment, glamour and luxury. To be one of the people the rest of us read about on our way to work or paid to see at weekends.

But times are changing. For reasons we’ve already discussed, creativity is now an economic hot property. And that means the rules that govern the ‘real world’ are a lot more susceptible to being rewritten by people like you. If you are a creative entrepreneur in the 21st century, then your talent opens up the possibility of spectacular creative and commercial success.

Now, we’re not saying everyone can achieve fame and riches on the level of Elvis or The Beatles. The jury’s still out on whether that’s such a good idea anyway. But in contrast to the bad old days of starving in a garret or selling your soul to The Man, you now have the chance to taste the kind of creative, financial and social freedom that was once reserved for rock stars.

So how come we think rock stars are so cool? And what makes us think we could be like them? That’s what we’ll be looking at in a new series of articles – starting tomorrow…

About the Author: Mark McGuinness is a poet, creative coach and co-founder of Lateral Action. Subscribe today to get free updates by email or RSS.

Table of Contents for Creative Rock Stars

  1. Creative Entrepreneurs Are the Rock Stars of the 21st Century « You Are Here

How to get creative work done in an "always on" world

Productivity for Creative People

Mark McGuinness' latest book Productivity for Creative People is a is a collection of insights, tips, and techniques to help you carve out time for your most important work – amid the demands and distractions of 21st century life.

“Of all the writers I know, I have learned the most about how to be a productive creative person from Mark. His tips are always realistic, accessible, and sticky. It’s not just talk, this is productivity advice that will change your life.”

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Responses to this Post


  1. I appreciate your articles. They’re encouraging me to fully appreciate my artistic interests – I remember reading Dan Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, and feeling excited. He demonstrates how important artistic and creative work is to the future.

    Lateral Action is helping me integrate and more bravely display my business and creative hearts/minds into my business, bringing all of me to what I do.

    It’s a process, but I like it.

    I think we love rock stars because they’ve tapped into/are in alignment with their full intentions, and they look and feel and be the freedom so many of us want.

    I see more and more that creative acts are everywhere – and they relate to this personal alignment with these two points between who we want to be and who we are currently being -so that’s why a business leader, sports star, artist, designer, anyone who’s in alignment can be appreciated like a rock star.

    When anyone gets in this alignment zone, he/she looks like hero to us – they are tapped in and turned on and it is very attractive (and looks different on everyone). I believe we came into the world wanting and naturally craving this kind of alignment between who we’re being now and who we want to be.

    And that picture is always evolving and expanding.
    Very cool!

  2. I agree with you Susie, I think people become interesting when they are being who they are, when they are doing what they love and that translates into what they do best.

    A perfect example is Gary Vaynerchuk. Most would not think of Gary as a rock star but he is entertaining, one hell of a personal brander and he is on the leading edge of a lot of progressive business practices. He is the new type of rock star because he shares who he really is and that allows people to get to know him on a much higher level and creates a heightened sense of relationship.

  3. I’m so glad we are entering into this new era of creativity as a valuable asset to the workforce. I’ve always longed to use my creative abilities at work, rather than just through my hobbies.

    But now I feel like I’m stuck in a career where I don’t get to exercise my talents.

    I hope you will address how to “repackage” ourselves so we can finally fill the creative slots I have so desperately wanted to fill.

  4. I think we love rock stars because they’ve tapped into/are in alignment with their full intentions, and they look and feel and be the freedom so many of us want.

    That’s it Suzie! Have you been sneaking a look at the rest of the series? 🙂

    Chris – I’d definitely consider Gary Vaynerchuk a rock star, great example.

    Sandra – it’s on the to-do list…

  5. A fantastic discussion to be having, especially in light of the current financial ruin many companies (and, sadly, people) are undergoing. I think it shows that there is no safe bet, no ‘generally accepted track’ (ie get good grades, go to college, get a good job, etc) that precludes the introduction of risk, or the possibility of failure.

    We’ve all heard it infinite times…the world could end tomorrow, we could get hit by a truck, or, and I know it sounds preposterous, but… Trillions of dollars could vanish overnight due to the unscrupulous actions of but a handful of people.

    Perchance it’s time that we recognize the inherent risks associated with life – regardless the professional context – and begin to live it in a way that serves our better selves…our purpose, our passion, our creativity.

    I’ve just recently begun myself…so take note of the name, I’m a 21st Century Rock Star in the making. Join me…

    Jeb @

  6. Mark Cuban is a rock star in my black book.

    I think it is cause there is so much stuff on the Internet that you have to take things to levels people didn’t see on their cable television in order to get people to make money from it.

    Cool article Mark.

  7. Thank you so much for your inspiration! Your creativity projects an intuitiveness that really contributes to raising the consciousness of readers all over the planet. And that’s what will help us shift from the broken competitive business models to the creative economy… an elevated awareness of what’s possible, not what was.

  8. Thanks guys. Seb – yes, given how hard it is to choose a reliably ‘safe’ option, maybe it’s safer to follow your passion after all…

  9. I loved this article because it highlights the fact that it goes beyond just the freedom that entrepreneurs experience.

    There is a deeper satisfaction that an entrepreneur experiences when they venture out on their own and I think the recognition – especially when their ideas are noticed in public, goes a long way.

    With all the social media available it certainly makes it easier to build a following and therefore “rock star status”. I think the key is learning how to leverage that status for long-term profitability.

    We certainly don’t want to be a “one hit wonder” 🙂

  10. I think the key is learning how to leverage that status for long-term profitability.

    Exactamundo! Visibility is worthless unless you can convert it into profitability. More on that later… You want to be building a lucrative back catalogue rather than a one-hit wonder. 🙂

  11. Just finding this – man, it is dead on. The freedom to choose and create one’s destiny is a level of living that is hard to describe. Previous generations never had – or maybe never knew they had – such opportunities. It is a great time to be alive and a great time to figure out how to make new opportunities work so we can pass this freedom on to our children.

  12. Thanks Shane, glad it struck a chord. Some good stuff on your blog too.

  13. What’s wrong with have a rockstar level of success. I think the PROBLEM is that most people wouldn’t be able to handle such pressure and instant success. If you aren’t mentally prepared, it WILL own you.

  14. my thought is this, if you are not willing to put in the average 10,000 hours it takes to be a master at what you do, then 1. You will not achieve Rock Star Status and 2. it won’t matter if you do because you probably won’t be good enough to hold on to it!

    Ted #CoEMS