Do you see splodges of colour in a painting or a $300m windfall?

Tuesday February 12 2019

 Nisa Taxi proprietor taxi

The Nisa Taxi proprietor taxi service for women and children only is an example of an entrepreneur who saw a need and started a company to fill the needs of such a large demographic. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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In 2015, Interchange, a painting by Dutch-American artist Willem de Kooning became the most expensive ever to be sold at $300 million.

It lost this position to Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in 2017. What made de Kooning’s Interchange special was that it was an abstract painting.

Call any Tom, Dick and Harry to describe Interchange and you will hear things like “spilt colours on a canvas”, or “a mess of colours’’ or ‘’complete rubbish’’ because it is after all, an abstract painting.

Talk to art experts and enthusiasts on the other hand, like Kenneth Griffin who bought Interchange, and you will hear a different story — you will hear the breakdown, worth and justification for why it was worth every penny.

The fact is — art is about perspective and more often than not, perspective influences value.

Frame of mind

This got me thinking — how is it that somebody can look at a work of art and dismiss it as rubbish while others see the same painting and are willing to spend a fortune to acquire it?

What would make someone in their right frame of mind see a painting others cannot make sense of and still spend $300 million? Perspective.

You see we live in a world shaped by the perspective of others — and often, we take these perspectives for granted.

You will find out that you can have the same experience, background and training as another person but still come out with a totally different view on things.

This is completely beautiful because we are all unique in our own way but my question is — what side of the painting are you on?

A lot of times we look at the same things others are looking at but see different things. Some see rubbish, some see value.

Look at the global taxi business for example.

For the longest time, we all went through the same struggle — to get a cab you had to either walk to the closest place cabs parked, negotiate your price, take the journey and arrive at your destination without even knowing the name of the person who dropped you.

For those who regularly used cabs, you would take it a step further and befriend the taxi driver so you can call them anytime you need their services.

We, however, also had those exasperating moments we call our taxi operators only to find they are unavailable or with another client.

Others in the same predicament probably ended up taking the high route calling a taxi company who would send their drivers and charge you heftily to get to your destination.

This was the cycle for most (if not all) taxi users around the globe — if you have ever used a cab before, you have certainly found yourself in a similar predicament.

Power of perspective

Is it not interesting that Uber and digital taxi companies today found value in the chaos and saw a perspective other people could not see?

The truth is, Uber could have been anyone’s idea — we all have been through the cycle. What is the difference? The power of our perspective.

In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web — the DNA of the Internet. Today there are over one billion websites built on the platform Tim Berners-Lee gave to the world.

Today, some of the biggest companies in the world exist only because of Tim Berners-Lee. This means that if Mr Berners-Lee was, say, a bit more involved in the growth of the Internet, he could possibly be the richest man in the world — possibly even the world’s first trillionire.

A lot of people today believe the web could not have taken off if he had not let go of control (including Berners-Lee himself).

Gems or trash?

Today, however, the web hosting market alone is predicted to reach $154 billion by 2022, according to research firm Market Research Future.

Mr Berners-Lee could have been a part of this and more. It all again boils down to the power of your perspective.

In 1955 when Willem de Kooning painted Interchange, it was initially bought for $4,000. Some 60 years later, that painting went on to become the most expensive painting in the world at $300 million.

If we do not see the value of what we have before our very eyes, somebody else will and they will charge us for it.

Our world is shaped by perspective, and perspective influences value. If you do not change the way you see the world, the world will change how you see yourself.

Open your eyes and dare to see things differently! The value you get out of life will be directly proportional to the power of your perspective on life itself. Will you see trash, or a $300 million gem?

The choice is yours.

Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks.