Just over a week ago, I had the great good fortune and privilege of attending and participating in a 90 minute session with Miha Pogacnik. I had learned about Miha, and his visit to the nearby city of Brisbane, through my membership of the Creative Skills Training Council, Asia-Pacific and Australia (CSTC), an online community concerned with advancing the practice of creative skills and capabilities development in business, organizations and government.

In my personal, completely unauthorized paraphrase, CSTC is about connecting the creative arts, with their typically right-brain, often centrifugal, always questioning approach, with the typically left-brain, ordered, constrained and usually regimented world of business and government.

I had learned a bit about Miha from enthusiastic comments by other CSTC members and I had skimmed his website.

None of that really prepared me for the experience of the man himself and the event he created.

I hesitate to call it a “performance”. It was in one sense a performance, but not in the sense of something put on for an audience. It was more of a shared experience, led by Miha.

Miha Pogacnik is a one-off, a uniquely talented musician, a classical concert violinist, who has bridged the gap between the worlds of business and the arts and shares his insights and enthusiasm with groups of people around the world.

He shows individuals, companies and organizations how to use music to navigate their personal and professional lives.

His business card lists some roles he fills:

  • Cultural Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia
  • President, IDRIART, Institute for Intercultural Relations Through the Arts
  • Chief Inspiration Officer, IDRIAT Commission for European Identity

His website, dynamic and colorful like the man himself, explains more fully what Miha does:

Miha taps the largely unexplored potential of art as a significant force for productivity, creativity, and organizational renewal by:

  • inspiring business leaders around the world to “think out of the box”;
  • helping teams intensify the spirit of innovation — leading them towards new ways of listening to themselves and to others by tapping the pathways of their intellect and emotion;
  • using music to enhance understanding of the most pressing demands of business, ranging from the search for excellence and quality, to problem-solving and leadership.

But to suggest that the business card titles and the website explanations define the man, or describe with any degree of adequacy what he does, would be like trying to contain lightning in a bottle.

He is a force of nature – and of the arts.

The arts. Not just music.

As I found, he combines the visual with the aural. The visual of a man passionately engaged with the music he plays and with the people present (and, in a real sense, with people who are not present but who would gain immensely by being there). The visual also of the striking works of visual art he creates as part of his presentation.

The musical focus of the one and a half hour session was the playing of movements from two Bach pieces, which Miha used as a “musical approach to reading a goal”: the Sarabanda from d minor Partita, Fuga in g minor from g minor Sonata and the Siciliana from the same sonata.

Photograph copyright: Petra Ružicková

Some gems of observation and words of wisdom from Miha, taken from my rough notes on the day:

Tension is life: if there is none, we have to create it.

The great tragedy is that people go through the fire (of testing, in life and in business) and become normal.

Some come through the fire and have questions about everything.

Aim to develop a “peripheral leadership style”, exemplified as the sort of leadership that results in people coming to you with your own ideas.

Once you have the kind of harmony he encourages you to seek – gained (as illustrated by the movements of the sonata) through being tested in the fire – “you are forever unhappy”, but it is a “positive unhappiness”.

The Original Idea you set out with (the goal) becomes a Big Question.

Growth is not enough- you have to develop.

Miha spoke poignantly of his experience with many executives who, after years of great success, come to the question “How do I connect with myself?”

And if you think that sounds a bit misty-eyed for hard-bitten, no-nonsense executives to be concerned about, consider the client list on Miha’s website:

Ericsson, Shell, IBM, Hewlett and Packard, Saatchi & Saatchi, Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals, Whirlpool, Skandia Insurance, ABN Amro Bank, Fortis, Nike, Body Shop, World ESOMAR Research, Cushman Wakefield, Healey and Baker, Deutsche Telekom, Porsche, World Economic Forum/Davos and others.

We’re talking serious business, big organizations.

There is nevertheless, as Miha said the other Saturday, a disconnect between the arts and business. That’s a disconnect that needs to be mended, both ways, for the mutual benefit of both parties.

If you have a chance to participate in one of Miha’s events or to bring him in to help your organization, do yourself a big favor and grab it with both hands.

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