The Social Innovator: The Four Lives of Musician and Creative Revolutionary Miha Pogacnik
Violinist and creative revolutionary Miha Pogacnik tells us about the four phases of his life, and how he uses music to create both social upheaval and emotional change within the corporate world. Looking to break down business jargon and entice magical leadership, Miha chatted us through his incredible life and achievements.
Can you tell us a bit about your background as a violinist?
I am old enough to look back and say I am in my fourth life - being a violinist was my first life, when I was in my younger years. I played thousands in concerts and noticed that the whole scene of classical music was very traditional. No matter how good you were, you would struggle to reach out to the problem areas of society with your music. So, as an entrepreneur and a violinist, I knew there must have been other ways to help make changes in society. I became a social innovator, starting my second life as an entrepreneur in the 1980s.
While building up a very successful name for myself, I began a festival in the Cathedral in Chartres, a beautiful place in the south of Paris and a very special place to play. There, a lot of people from all over the world came to enjoy the music and celebrations every week. After 3 years, I invited all of my supporters to travel around the world with me and start up festivals in the world’s crisis areas. We created about 200 festivals in 15-20 years, and they acted as a social upheaval. We were bringing innovations and new forbidden ideas to different countries. I mean, when there was a war in Yugoslavia, we made a flotilla of peace! I was developing new creative ways for art to be a basis for people to meet and go above and beyond politics. I was creating what I call a 'resonance platform'.
Miha used music as a method of peacemaking during the Yugoslavia war
In the 90s, the only alternative left in order to make change was to go to the corporate clients - this was the beginning of my third life. The only way to be really effective in the modern world is to prove that art can change mindsets, I wanted top executives to open their minds and realise that art could help them achieve the impossible. I must have worked with about 150 corporations, and I was beginning to feel that artists were being considered as more than entertainers.
I started pioneering disruptive methods and Silicon Valley followed 15 years later! If I just play music, no one understands the message, so I have developed a methodical process that takes executives on a musical journey. I crystallize creative ideas through a musical process, reaching for feelings and emotions. I help to implement change. By Monday, when it comes to implementing change, new processes will not be knocked back by old patterns, as the change has come from an emotional place. So, my fourth life aims to help clients not forget the powerful experience music can evoke and to use this to create change.
My method is creating a detour. I unravel a piece of music, helping delegates to get to the essence of things. I compare the symphony orchestra team to good business teams, so people can experience something different that is still relevant to them. I create an experience for clients and give them the tools to find their own solution. My job is to create excitement, to help people feel the magic – you can’t make magic with PowerPoint.
Symphony orchestra teams mirror business teams
You specialise in leadership. What do you think makes a good leader, and how do you blend music and leadership?
When we think about leaders in music, everyone thinks of the conductor, and people always assume that the conductor just tells musicians what to do. In fact, they are actually creating an environment in which people to do the best they can. Conductors are leading out of the people, not out of themselves.
To be a good leader, you need to peel yourself out of your ego, put yourself into the minds of others and make yourself feel what they feel.
Music makes it possible for us to understand and experience a relationship. Musical leadership means enduring ups and downs. The industry is always developing, and development is revolutionary. In business, the same as music, we can’t always experience growth - we have to take the setbacks also in our stride. Through a leader providing an environment for transformation and refinement, we can get on the path to success.
We need both ups and downs to get us on the path to success
You have worked across the world with many different companies at many events – is there any particular audience or event that stands out?
Everything is different, so it would be too hard to pick one, especially because I work across art and business platforms. I enjoy putting across powerful messages at big events. I have a keynote for about 3000 people, which is usually placed on the last day of the conference. This means that my role is to bring together all the activity from the week and to ensure effective changes and measures are put in place on Monday morning.
It is not a particular event, but something that stands out for me at all events is that everything is going digital. If we keep going this way without developing the emotional side of things, we will struggle. The digital world needs to be balanced with fantasy and innovative, creative development.
Miha is wary about digital progression with a lack of emotional progression
What’s next for you?
It is such a young and erratic market – I get calls for jobs next week! I currently am developing my business model, I want to take my company further and ensure that the economy is serving us and not the other way around. Everyone is running after the best job and trying to fit into certain structures, but, really, we should have forums for creative outlets. The economy should facilitate this, but it does not, and this is what I want to change.
I am also trying to change corporate language, as there is so much jargon floating around. Instead of brainstorming, we should call it heartstorming. We should make an effort to use more human terms.
Another thing that I am concerned with is European identity, I want to get to the bottom of the problem with Europe and help to bring us together. This is another speaking topic that I am very passionate about!
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