Charles Ives and the Power of Creativity

Charles Ives is widely known for his musical compositions during the early 20th Century. With a background in traditional hymns and a personal styling that gave a nod to European influence, he was a master of sound.

While music aficionados of today will remember him for his variations on “America” among other works, very little of his music found the respect it now enjoys while he was alive.

What people often gloss over when talking about his brilliant musical mind, however, is the tremendous success that he enjoyed in the insurance industry.

Ives originally worked in the actuarial department at Mutual Life Insurance in New York before venturing out on his own. In 1907, he and a friend formed the Ives & Co. insurance agency (later Ives & Myrick), where he would build the remainder of his career.

Sure, the musical recognition was a long-time coming for the passionate composer, but insurance respect found him during his lifetime. His Life Insurance with Relation to Inheritance Tax was a well-received volume in 1918, and according to music historian Otto Karolyi, his ideas “devised creative ways to structure life-insurance packages for people of means, which laid the foundation of the modern practice of estate planning.”

The story of Ives is an important one for insurance agents of the 21st Century because it emphasizes the power of creativity beyond the industry as a whole.

It’s a lesson that sometimes you need a hobby, and that by having one, you can excel at your insurance business. Here are some tips for keeping the power of creativity alive and well in your life.


1. Be creative with how you think of ‘creativity.’

When it comes to creativity, society tends to give a lot of attention to the filmmakers, the authors, the composers, etc.

However, creativity can go well beyond these things. Think about what you like to do. Do you enjoy painting, building things, design?

Be creative with what it is you think about as “creativity,” and you can find ways to ignite your passions no matter where your strengths lie.


2. Make time for it

It can certainly seem daunting finding time for your creative pursuits — especially when you have a family and/or run your own business (as is the case with many insurance agents).

Nevertheless, finding time to pursue your creative side is as important as anything else that you might accomplish. Get up earlier. Stay up later. Find some time during the day to at least think about your projects.


3. Be project-oriented

Let’s say you like to write in your spare time. Well, don’t just write for the sake of writing. Make a project of it! Not only will it help you work towards a real sense of accomplishment, but it could also help you with the deadlines and goals that you set for yourself within your insurance business.


4. But above all, make it yours

Creativity is all about exercising your passions. While structure is a big help in allowing you to progress with whatever creative hobby you’ve chosen, don’t let anyone drain the happiness out of it for you.

Go with your creative side as long as it gives you satisfaction. If it ever gets to feel like too much of a chore, don’t hesitate to step away from it and find a new “thing.”


In Summary

Charles Ives was by all accounts a brilliant composer, but that didn’t pay the bills during his lifetime. It’s encouraging to know, however, that he was able to pursue his creative energies and even apply them to a successful career in the insurance industry.

Agents can take a lesson from that. Don’t think you have to be all work and no play to get ahead. Sometimes it’s the unrelated, creative things that you do that help build a foundation of success.

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