To Improve the Groove Is Something You Should Do

There is something likable about short rhymes that pack a punch. Improve the groove is such a phrase. However, interpretations may differ; the message, in general, means the same. It is a fun way to say, “Get Better.”

I’ve written before that if you are not getting better, you’re getting worse. That’s because it’s a safe bet your significant competition seeks to improve their groove on a routine basis. How do I know this? Because it is common sense applied to human nature. Rarely do the people you admire or compete with for attention and sales regress. They’re on the hunt to become more efficient artists and marketers.

Why You Watch Who You Watch

There are reasons top competitors are on your list of people to watch. A prime example is they get stuff done and practice “kaizen” in the process. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means constant improvement. You could say, improve the groove is a groovy way to say kaizen.

Maybe you’re not as competitive as the top dogs in whatever arena you work on to market your art. There is no shame in that because being competitive is not the only thing to consider. Some top competitors are so ambitious it costs them the quality of life in other areas. I like to think your ideal groove is the one you choose and that suits your needs and your lifestyle choices.

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Why You Became an Artist

You became an artist partly because you are independent and don’t want others bossing you around. Who likes others telling them how to act and live their life? There’s more than enough of that in many corporate jobs.

When I worked in the GoDaddy call center fielding support calls, they monitored everything. The number of calls we took each shift. The average length of our calls. The number of minutes per shift we were unavailable to take calls, including bathroom and lunch breaks. The number of sales we made per day and the average order size. And there were more I don’t care to waste brainpower to recall.

Heartless Bastard Bosses

More than once, I was warned I had zero minutes of forgiveness for the rest of my two-week pay period. One long lunch or break by more than two minutes would result in a written warning. Three of those in a year would result in termination. The words “heartless bastards” come to mind when I think of a management style like that.

All in all, it is a dehumanizing and a terrible way to manage people. Thanks, technology; you suck sometimes, and so do managers who misuse it. About the last thing GoDaddy got from its anal nitpicking was kaizen. More like resentment, anger, and distrust.

The Power of Free Will and Human Kindness

I was always amazed at the overall upbeat, helpful attitude most of my fellow reps exhibited despite management’s poor treatment. That’s how human nature rises above the incomprehensible circumstance we sometimes find ourselves experiencing. The grace and dignity of my fellow reps remind me of what Stephen Covey called human endowments. He listed these endowments as unique to humans:

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  • Self-awareness
  • Conscience
  • Independent will
  • Creative imagination

Essentially, those reps and I could and mostly did choose to use our conscience and independent will to ignore the awful conditions of call center workers. Instead, we consistently delivered quality help to people in often desperate need of tech support even though management fostered an exact opposite treatment of us as humans and employees.

While such actions might force desirable results for management – at least on their precious spreadsheets – they did nothing to improve the groove. That’s because I believe that enhancing the groove entails including life quality as a vital component. Bean counters never experience or even realize what quality of life really means.

Quality of Life Beats Quantity of Money for Most Artists

I believe most artists prefer the quality of life over stressing to work to make their art business all about money and world domination.

All my living and working experience and philosophizing about art and business have led me to a remarkable place in my life. I’m in my early 70s and you might think why doesn’t he retire. I’m here to say I’m more excited about what I’m doing for myself and the options I’m putting together to help artists than I’ve been in the past 30 years in the art business.

Three Concepts Drive Me to Improve the Groove These Days

Things are coming together around how I can help artists going forward. They are:

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  1. Designing a life worth living
  2. Working in the daily grace and joy of being an artist
  3. Finding and tapping the tools to support 1 & 2

Some items on this list are different from anything I’ve done before. The first is recognizing for artists, and me, that the designed, joyful life is the key to real happiness. The second is encouraging artists to fully embrace the art marketing systems and tools I’ve championed for years only works when artists do it their way based on their wishes and needs. Lastly, I’m not waiting for perfection to launch; I’m jumping in with what I’ve got and will figure out as I go along.

Waiting for perfection is just waiting. Who has time to waste waiting? — Barney Davey

Please take a minute to think about how these points might work for you.

  • How would a life you designed look to you, and how much more enjoyable would it be than what you are doing now?
  • How would it feel to open your heart and mind to working in and experiencing the daily grace and joy of being an artist?
  • How would you like to have a working knowledge of all the tools you need to achieve a joyful life worth living and the help and ability to choose the ones that can best help you achieve your goals.

I mentioned I’m in my early 70s. Surely but not sadly, I have fewer years to live than those I’ve already lived. That’s the way of the world. Each day, I’m grateful to be alive, and for the life I’ve lived. Whatever the finite number of seconds I have left to spin around the sun, I’m eager to use them productively.

Urgent Is Different Than Panic

There’s no panic to get stuff done, but there is an urgency to get going because I can’t wait to see what happens next. What I’m saying is although I’ve defined a three-step process to help myself and the artists who choose to work with me, I don’t have a perfect plan for making it happen. We’re baking this cake as we go.

That’s a good thing because artists don’t like people bossing them around, as I said earlier. What I’m planning for is collaboration. It started me thinking about the Art Marketing Toolkit as a unique vehicle to help artists improve their marketing, but on their terms. The concept is to help you discover what tools are available and understand how to use them to your advantage. That way, you choose your path and which tools will get the job you want to be done.

Awareness Is Invaluable

I’m here as a teacher, collaborator, and facilitator. But tools weren’t enough as I thought more in-depth about what it means to be an artist in the business. I’ve evolved. I want joy in my life and realize I am responsible for bringing it into my life, as you are in yours. And, as much as I’ve been a rambling maverick throughout my life, I now see the virtue in designing a life worth living.

By luck and some grit, things have worked out well for me without a design. But this is not the time to celebrate good fortune about what was. I’m ready to work hard at integrating the three steps I outlined above. And rather than wait for some grand, overarching scheme, I’m plowing full steam ahead to work on them as I go along.

There’s No Controversy in This Approach

It’s not a dichotomy to talk about designing life on one hand and moving forward without a fully operational plan on the other. That’s because I believe a practical design can only come into focus as a reaction to the actions I’m taking. And as it crystallizes and improves, I’ll be ready to receive the wisdom that comes from it. The same is true for artists who choose to work with me. For us, enlightenment will come from doing much more than from planning.

There are plenty of resources for your do-it-yourselfers to go it alone. That said, if what you read here resonates with you and you want in on my plans, I encourage you to join the Art Marketing Toolkit. It’s only $4.99 per month. You will get lots of useful information and weekly live interactive sessions with recordings. There is so much goodness waiting for us to uncover and put it into best practice.

Are You Ready to Improve the Groove toward a Joyful and Productive Life As An Artist?

We’ll explore every valuable option and resource I can find to help you design the life you want to live. The user-generated content will be equal to or greater than my contribution. It’s going to be a classic case where the sum of the parts is greater than the sum of the whole.

We’ll work together on how to live in the grace and joy of being an artist, and find the ideal art marketing and art business tools available to help you succeed in your quest to be the artist you see for yourself when you turn your wildest imagination loose.

With no contract and only $4.99 per month, you have virtually nothing to lose and everything to gain. Get your groove on and join us at

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  1. Great article Barney.

    I was fortunate enough to be present at your first live session yesterday.

    I would highly recommend “The Marketing toolkit” to any artist that would like to increase their exposure and create more sales.

  2. Wowza! I was let go after covid hit from a job just like the one you describe. Managers 30 years younger cited training issues, yet I had the most calls taken and the highest rate of customer happiness. Why do I lack the confidence to apply that to my art dream? Stuck at home, 54 years old, and thinking of signing up. I don’t have the marketing guts or connections you wrote about in your books, but maybe this will help.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I’m very sorry to learn you lost your job in such a cruel way. Marketing art or anything is a process. A series of things you and anyone can do. You learn one step then another. Very similar to learning how to create art. I priced the Art Marketing Toolkit at $4.99 per month with no contract to help all artists, especially ones like you who need help and support. Join, learn, become inspired. There is nothing to lose and so much to gain.

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