Being Open Minded

The Exsanturate Company had just been recognized for its contributions to creative expression by the Creative Imagination Society. As part of the award program, the CEO of the company, Hank Balderson was interviewed by a writer for the Society’s webpage. Grace Winter wanted to discover why and how Exsanturate was so engaged in creative works.

GW:       I’m guessing creative expression is a passion of yours? Can you tell me how this came about?

HB:         Sure. When I was an undergraduate in college, I had a meeting with my advisor/mentor. He said something like this to me: “Hank you are one of the smartest students I’ve ever taught but you’re a hick.”

GW:       How did you take that?

HB:         Obviously I was upset, but then I realized that my interests were hunting, sports, and motorcycles. I decided to change.

GW:       What did you do?

HB:         I focused my electives on courses where I would learn about creative expression. I even decided to minor in Creative Writing. Then on breaks, I visited museums, went to dramatic performances, and saw first-hand the works of creative artists.

GW:       Very impressive. Now tell me about how you built creative expression into the culture of Exsanturate.

HB:         My wife and I started Exsanturate right out of college. Once we got to a point where we could hire employees, we decided that our focus would be on first-generation graduates from blue-collar families. I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with prima-donnas from privileged backgrounds. The one problem with our hires was their limited cultural background. They never had an advisor like I had to challenge me to open my mind. So my wife and I became their cultural advisors.

GW:       How well was that received?

HB:         Very well by some but not by all. It was a tough decision to part ways with talented employees who could never open their minds.

GW:       Can you give me an example of some of the things you do to encourage creative expression?

HB:         Let me share just a few. We sponsor local artists and have them display their works in a gallery we have created. In fact, some of our employees or their families have become artists as a second career. We sponsor creativity workshops. We underwrite bus trips to cultural events. We have a very diverse workforce and that leads to a lot of new perspectives.

GW:       That’s very impressive. But how do you build engagement among your employees?

HB:         I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: going viral. Well, that’s what we do. There’s no hard sell, but we ask our employees to become cultural mentors for others. You’ll be surprised by how effective you can build a creative organization from the bottom rather than the top.

GW:       One final question. I’m sure that your peers in the business world question how much attention you place on creative expression. What do you say to them?

HB:         First, creative expression is a means to the end. What I’m trying to do is create an organization of open minds. In a typical organization, there is a huge waste in fighting needless resistance to new ideas. We don’t have that problem. The result is that we are leaders in about every business performance category.

GW:       Thanks so much.

Having an open mind is one of the personality traits psychologists have identified. Those who are open minded tend to:

  • Be open to new experiences
  • Enjoy being creative
  • Think emotionally as well as rationally
  • Think about what could be
  • Enjoy abstract thinking
  • Value diverse perspectives

The cost of closed minds is immeasurable. Think about how many corporations no longer exist because they were led by people who didn’t foster open mind thinking. Think about the waste of societal conflicts fostered by those with closed minds. There is a hidden cost to how we think that is staggering.


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“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” – Frank Zappa (Musician)

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