Confronting the Conflict Between Creativity and Business

With Jeff AkermanEP 182

Jeff Akerman is a visionary, creative force, architect, and designer – and as the founder of RISE Architecture and numerous other design firms, he knows as well as anyone the conflict between the creative and business sides of a company. In this episode of Let’s Talk Business, Meny, and Jeff dig deeply into the question of how to bridge the inevitable gap between the number crunchers and the creative dreamers. They discuss the importance of giving your employees room to do things for themselves even as they work within your creative vision, the most important factors to consider when choosing a partner, how to engender loyalty among your staff, the benefits of profit sharing (and, perhaps even more, giving your workers a piece of the company), the ways that business and improving the world can go hand-in-hand, and much more.


[00:01 – 08:00] The Genesis of Creative Ambition

Jeff’s unconventional entry into architecture
The realization that business understanding is crucial for creative success
The importance of a supportive figure in finding one’s path

[08:01 – 16:00] Expanding Beyond the Blueprint

The transition from small projects to major developments
The role of rebranding and business evolution in growth
Learning the balance between design and practical business considerations

[16:01 – 24:00] Cultivating a Creative Team

Building a team that shares your vision and dedication
The challenge of maintaining creativity while focusing on business growth
Strategies for nurturing and retaining talent in a competitive industry

[24:01 – 32:00] Blueprints for Success: From Vision to Reality

The intricacies of starting and scaling multiple businesses
Implementing effective partnership and profit-sharing models
Overcoming obstacles and leveraging opportunities for expansion

[32:01 – 39:55] Designing Communities: A Visionary Project in Florida

The ambitious project of building a new city in Florida
The drive and philosophy behind creating lasting impact through architecture
Balancing financial goals with the mission of community building and affordable living

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Practical Pointers
Remember that in the creative space, you need to give your employees the leeway to think, because they want to feel that they are still being creative. If you stifle that creativity, and say, “You must do it my way,” you’re likely to lose a lot of people pretty quickly.
One of the best ways to avoid the conflict between the business side of things - which demands creativity according to a specific timetable - and the creative side, is to suggest that your creatives give you their own timetable, rather than asking them to hew to one that the business people made. This increases accountability and personal responsibility, and also does wonders for the company culture.
The most important element in choosing a partner is to make sure that you have the same vision. If every detail is perfect but you each see the end goal differently, then the partnership will fall apart, with potentially disastrous results.
When you work together with a partner, you absolutely must hammer out the details in advance, and put them in writing - even if your partner is your best friend in the world - so that you both understand what’s expected of each of you. If you don’t, the business may fall apart - or on the contrary, it may work great, but you’re doing all the work even though you’re splitting the profits.
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Guest Bio
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Jeff Akerman

Starting out from his basement in Brooklyn, Jeff Akerman founded BizDesignes, now called RISE Architecture, in 2010, and since then established a number of other large architecture and design firms as well. A licensed Architect in New York and 11 other states, Jeff directed the firm as it experienced exponential growth with a wide range of projects from major interior renovations of single-family residential buildings to commercial, mixed-use, industrial, and institutional new buildings. His most recent project is the development of a new city for religious Jews in Florida.

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