For a lucky few, there is a point of intersection where what you love to do merges with what you do best and the market is willing to pay you for it. In other words, your passion and occupation become one and work truly does not feel like “work.” Tommy Newberry, founder of the 1% Club and author of “Success Is Not An Accident,” describes this as finding your “genius.” Newberry asserts that, “While each of us has many areas where we can do well, there is but one genius.” This is that area where we spend our lives making a difference that we were uniquely equipped to make. Similarly, Dan Sullivan, founder of The Strategic Coach and nationally known coach and author calls this your “unique ability.” He describes this as “a combination of your personal talents, passions, and skills.” Too often in life, we get stuck having careers where we have competency, but we don’t really have passion. I always liked to think about it terms of the real estate concept of HABU — highest and best use. It takes self-awareness and courage to find your unique ability and to share that with the marketplace.
Jillian Legg Romano, owner of Artful Hours in Madison has found this unique blend of talent, passion, and skill in her new business. A native of Chicago, she received a bachelor of fine arts from Austin Peay University. She worked for 20 years in the restaurant business as everything from prep cook to owner-manager. Romano also was in charge of major event planning for a major conference center in Western Kentucky. However, her first love was art, and she taught painting at the Swirlz Art Studio and was a photography instructor at Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tenn. prior to moving to Mississippi. Romano has a passion for sharing her love of art with others. Prior to opening Artful Hours, she taught art to children at the Montessori Children’s House in Madison.
Artful Hours’ theme is a social and instructional painting lounge focusing on remakes of Cezzane and Rembrandt. Her vision for her new business is to create a place to “come-paint-relax.” She notes that Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.” Romano wants people to have a fun environment to relax and “get their creative juices flowing.” Sir Ken Robinson, author of “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” and thought leader on the importance of creativity in the education system and workplace said, “Creativity is as important as literacy.” I believe that we pretty much squeeze the creativity out of kids by the time they reach adulthood. We could probably all benefit from rekindling our creative spirit.
Romano’s motto is to give 100 percent to whatever you do and then do more. Her style as a leader is to be fair and understand that all eyes are on you as a leader and that your team will act as they see you acting. This is a great lesson for leaders to remember. Whether you like it or not, your employees are watching you and your actions will speak louder than your words. She also emphasizes taking 100 percent responsibility for your actions. In a culture of excuses and blaming others for our problems, taking responsibility as a leader separates you from the crowd!
I am a big fan of the creative economy and its potential impact on Mississippi’s future. Creative economy entrepreneurs like Romano are helping point us to the future of our state. I am excited to see entrepreneurs like Romano who have the courage to follow their dreams as use their unique ability in positive ways.