Stephen Zades of Odyssey Network does a fabulous job in the recent Inc of conveying the excitement and intelligence of Robert Redford’s inspiring Sundance enterprise. Redford has built a small business empire on holistic, cross-discipline thinking and an organizational imperative to embrace artists, new ideas and creative community – not to mention a strong desire to return elements such as originality, character and humanism to big-screen film-making.
Such prolificacy is not the consequence of mountain air or movie star charisma. Rather it springs from Redford’s unshakable belief that growth is not an accounting practice but a creative process. And that goes not just for the entertainment industry, but also for ordinary companies that make sunscreen and software and ceiling fans. “The more I got involved with business, the more I got shocked at how dumb a lot of businesses were. Even the ones that had so much money,” Redford says. “And, it’s because they lacked a creative, imaginative approach. That’s why I got taken with people like Steve Jobs and [Patagonia founder] Yvon Chouinard and [Smith & Hawken founder] Paul Hawken, who understood exactly how important business is but also understood the role of the creative.
“Do you think the earth was created by an accountant?” Redford asks me. “No! The earth was created by the combustion of a creative explosion. Fire and chaos are what started everything. Then order came on top of that.”