Remember high school? Were you a person who wore what everyone else wore or did you stand apart?

I’ll bet you didn’t follow the crowd. That’s rarely the artist’s way.

Why do I bring this up? I only mention it because it turns out that creative people – those who are willing to go against the grain – should be great investors. Consider this: a financial company (Blackrock) sent out an email recently discussing the fact that many investors chase “negative returns.” Apparently, people try to guess where the market is headed; and Blackrock detailed just how horrible people are at guessing. In fact, it appears, when most people decide to turn right, the best decision was to turn left.

There’s Value in Turning Left

Everyone’s heard the mantra “buy low/sell high.” This even applies to your art, doesn’t it? Often I meet struggling artists who wonder “How come I’m not a sensation yet?” then they proceed to take the same steps as the herd.

It didn’t work in high school and it isn’t going to work now.

To truly get ahead, in your art and with your money, you need to turn left when everyone turns right.

The things “the herd” respects…a strict calendar and adherence to a to-do list, completely kills our creative function. To be creative, we need to play. Everyone else buckles down on the to-do list. The creative person throws it away.

I’m not saying you should be irresponsible. On the contrary. I’m saying that in some cases the most responsible advice I can give you is to turn off your “I should do this because everyone else is doing it” function. By looking down different roads, exploring new opportunities, you’re not necessarily wasting time. You’re creating magic.

“All who wander are not lost” – JRR Tolkien

The big ah-ha in this “negative returns” story for me today is that as a creative person, you stand a better chance of being a good investor and saver than the average person because you’ve already decided to change your life. We’ve already made the lifestyle decisions that allow us to play a little more and explore a wider boundary. We can teach this to others who don’t clearly understand how important this is in life.

How Can Being Creative Help Me Invest?

If your neighbor says, “I’m thinking about buying XXXX art, what do you think?” and they aren’t familiar with the art community, you may already know that the work they’re describing is overvalued. Think the same way with your investment decisions. If your neighbor tells you to buy gold because everyone’s doing it, there’s probably limited upside.

Here are some things creatives should know better than the “mass market” audience:

1)    It isn’t about today. If you wanted to make money right now, you would have become an accountant. Investors are patient with their money and don’t move quickly.

2)    Ignore the popular press. Magazines will always tout the 10 Stocks You Need Now. Creative people don’t really care what we “need now.”

3)    Everyone’s buying it! There is no gold rush in investing and there isn’t a quick buck to be made. The best approach is to get rich slowly through following the basics, like building an emergency reserve and diversifying your portfolio.

4)    Sometimes you have to be creative to find success. One client of mine really wanted to retire in northern California but couldn’t afford it. She found partners to help her open a bed and breakfast with wonderful views. Sure, she has to work every day, but the sunset over a beautiful wooded lake make her job much easier.

5)    You have to have vision to succeed. Many creative people I know enjoy imagining the “maybe” scenarios. By exploring all the paths available instead of focusing on just one, you’re able to reach solutions where others see only brick walls.

Too often, I find my creative clients are afraid of investing. Don’t be! Maybe you think “I won’t know what to do with my money!” It turns out, according to Blackrock, that the best moves with your money are generally found by ignoring the herd. Isn’t that refreshing?