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Last Update: Monday September 27, 2021

Key Idea: Establish A Dialog With Your Customers

Ken Done admits that his products are not finished until the customer interacts with them. This is a perfect way for all of us to think. More...

Key Question:


We assume if they are buying from us that they are happy. We assume our products and services are good enough and we don't need to work to improve them. We don't want to hear the customer's half of the conversation because we might be forced to change.

Remember that you are only half of the conversation when you are working with employees! Our natural tendency as leaders is to enter every room with an open mouth. Other outstanding business owners have told us: stop telling and start asking. It is a great rule of thumb to avoid making statements and work to from questions that will solicit plenty of conversation.

Think about it

In addition to finding more ways to listen to customers, what other ways can you use this idea to improve our business?

Clip from: Ken Done Gallery, Sydney - Leverage Art

   "I see business... as the most creative act of all." - Ken Done

Sydney: Meet Ken Done.  He has become one of Australia's most  beloved and respected artists with his own world-class following. We all struggle to master our talents and apply these talents in a meaningful way. That's life. And, that is how the best among us also define our work.

Meet a man who spent eighteen years mastering his craft and learning business skills. Then, he broke away to go down his own path.  Almost unwittingly he started a business through which he learned how to leverage his art in creative ways.

This business is a family businesses.

You meet Ken Done, his wife, Judy, and their daughter and son. Ken was never a starving artist yet he certainly paid his dues. With over 150 others working within this family enterprise, they make art affordable, often wearable and  even whimsical.

Today you meet an artist who like so many others follows his own heart. Often there is a price to pay  among the art community's elite.  In the earlier days they were not gentle on this man and his work. But Ken Done stood firm within his vision, he persevered, and today even his critics are giving him his due.

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The Ken Done Galleries

Ken Done, CEO, Artist-in-Residence

1 Hickson Road
The Rocks

02 9274 2740

Visit our web site:

Office: 02 9274 2740

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1991

Establish A Dialog With Your Customers

KEN (in his office): Still coming together all right?

Artist-Illustrator #1: Yeah.

KEN: Not too many problems?

Artist-Illustrator #1: No, not really.

KEN: (Voiceover) To bring together a whole series of disparate things and to make something happen, I mean, it's a very, very, very complex task. So I wasn't afraid of business. Whereas, a lot of painters, I think, have a kind of ambivalent attitude about it and say, `Well, haven't you sold out?'

Well, I'd rather thought I've sold in, in the sense that I have immense control over what I do and the fact that I can be in Australia making paintings and some of those imagery or parts of that image might be happening in other parts of the world.

That's the time in which we live. It's fantastic.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) More than one art historian has said about Ken Done that he is influenced by American abstract art and Japanese design. Mix that with a color palette of Australia's stunning sea, sun and sand and we gain insight into what we see and how we feel when we look at a Ken Done work of art.

KEN (goes to Overview): For a painter, it's like half a conversation. Like, that's what I've said about the Barrier Reef. Now it's up to you what you really bring to it.

Do you like the colors? Do you like the shapes? Do you like the feeling of it? Does it mean anything to you? Will it give you pleasure over a longer period of time?

It's (the painting) half the conversation; that's what I always say.

Ken: (Voiceover) This one's a postcard from God and it says, `Thinking of you always,' because if you believe in God--well, you should be thinking of him. And if there is a God, he should be thinking of you.

HATTIE: What do you think people buy from you?

KEN: I hope that they buy things that give them pleasure. If it's a really expensive painting, it has to give them a really lot of pleasure over a really long period of time. If it's a swimming costume that Judy's designed, then hopefully it will give them pleasure when they wear it to the beach and jump in the water. (Back in his offices) OK. Show me this one with a solid blue background, please.

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