What Debaters and Artists Have in Common

I thought of three people when I read a business article in this morning’s paper: My sister, bestselling author Jeff Goins, and the 2008 Lincoln-Douglas debate champion from NCFCA. They all perfected a debate practice that made them exceptional.

Read the article here (“Colorado Springs artists offer advice to turn a paintbrush into a profitable business,” The Gazette, July 25, 2017). The line that jumped out at me was:

“People are buying you, as well as the art.”

~ Liese Chavez, owner of Chavez Gallery in Colorado Springs

I tell this, more or less, to my debaters, especially the ones who are consistently winning rounds. Sometimes they need to “work the crowd,” become the noticed one from the sea of competitors at a tournament, and treat the judge with the utmost respect.

This is what I remember of Ardee Coolidge III, the 2008 NCFCA Champion. Most of the judging pool already knew him by the time he reached the final round. He would wonder the halls and shake the hands of every potential judge. That year I was vending for Training Minds Ministry, and he made sure I knew him well by the end of the tournament.

I didn’t judge him the final round, but I bet most of the judges had had the same friendly experience with him.

Bestselling author Jeff Goins does the same. He’s a writer; that’s his “art.” There are a gajillion writers in the world, but Jeff stands out from the rest. He, too, “works the crowd,” making sure he connects with his audience and anyone else that may be “his judge.” There is an ocean of writers out there, but he makes sure that audience is respected and engaged.

Jeff is “just a writer.” But he has managed to be the voice for all artists, so much so that he wrote the book: Real Artist Don’t Starve.

My sister is a community artist. She has led teams of other artists in building community parks and landmarks that reflect the central Minnesotan decor and style. She “works the crowd,” too, being a leader among artists and brining people into communal art. She doesn’t make much off her paintings, but her big money-makers are when people buy her to lead projects and build exception art pieces.

Heidi Jeub is “just an artist.” But she has managed to stay in the up-and-up in the Minnesotan art world.

This is the persuasive technique all these articles do: work the crowd. Chavez, Coolidge, Goins and my sister all know it. Know who your judge is, make sure they know how respected and appreciated they are, and you’ll be able to sell your art.

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