One of the founding tenets of Behance, the leading online platform for creatives to showcase and discover their work, was to leverage the organization’s role and assets in the creative world not only to benefit the company but also the general good of the community. Co-founder Scott Belsky believes the same is true for him personally.
“I don’t believe that any of us can transcend the need for short-term rewards and external validation,” says Belsky, currently Adobe’s vice president of community and head of Behance. “What I think we can do is leverage and guide and put these forces within us to good use. So I often think I should use my own position even when it’s not for my own immediate gain or profit.”
At times that business and personal philosophy manifests itself with, for example, a Making Ideas Happen workshop for an organization like Global Health Corps, a fellowship program which pairs young Americans with international partners in health organizations in Africa and the United States.
“I really dig in. I take it very seriously and I treat it like a speaking engagement that I were getting paid thousands of dollars for,” Belsky says. “If I can help make an impact on that, then that’s worth my time. That’s one of the things that I try to do in that commitment I have with my time.”
However, he chooses his projects carefully, wanting to leverage his talents to have an impact. When selecting projects, both for- and not-for-profit, Belsky stresses the importance of doing his due diligence, treating it as an investment of time.
“People do a lot of due diligence when they make investments with their money and I think that people need to do the same thing with time,” Belsky stresses. “In fact, time is the truly limited commodity. I mean money you can make more and more in your life so there’s not necessarily a limit to that. But there is a limit to time and so I think we should all be very serious with doing due diligence with the time we allocate to something.”
Like many Millennials, Belsky seeks a higher purpose in his professional and personal life. Simply earning an income has never been appealing to him. After college, he worked in the finance world but struggled with finding what value other than a paycheck he was creating every day. Not doing work that yielded anything greater than that proved very temporary for Belsky.
“When you do things just for yourself, the sensation and the outcome is short-lived,” Belsky says. “When you feel like you’re having an impact on stuff that’s greater than yourself, it’s very fulfilling in a lasting way.”
As co-founder of Behance, Scott Belsky wanted to help build a network of creatives around the world, change the lives of the people in that network and make even more great ideas see the light of day. And every day he is reminded of the impact he is having via emails from, for example, someone in central Eastern Europe who couldn’t make a living doing what he loved before and now can because of Behance.
Behance was born out of a frustration with the design world. Belsky saw many opportunities for optimizing talent and resources in that space. He wanted creatives to focus on execution, not idea generation, and doing more with the ideas they already have. There were very few individuals or teams managing themselves well which impacted the quality and quantity of work they could do.
“The creative world is probably the most disorganized community on the planet yet these are the same people that make our lives interesting,” Belsky says. “These are the people that make every piece of art and design that helps us understand what happens in the world. These are the people that create the things that compel us to take action whether it is to buy something or give money to something.”
Belsky cites charity: water as an example of the power of design. How does an organization like charity: water thrive when there are dozens of organizations doing the same thing? The answer can partially be attributed to great design and messaging which has impacted not only their organization but also the impact they can have around the world.
By organizing and empowering creatives everywhere Belsky hopes to continue to impact individuals, teams, networks and more. With access to the desktops of most creatives through Behance, Belsky helps people get credit for the work they’re doing and helps them have great careers as a result.
That desire to help others make the most impact is also a guiding principle behind his preference to support the operating costs of nonprofits. He appreciates the value a tremendous leader at the helm of an important nonprofit can have on that organization and therefore, the community it serves.
Whether it’s a professional project, nonprofit donation or a pro bono project, Belsky intentionally chooses how to invest his time, money and energy in things that are greater than himself. And once the choice is made, he fully embraces his commitment.
“When we make the decision to do it, do it right. Like really do it right. Don’t show up late. Don’t leave early. Give it your all,” Belsky says. “Leverage all the resources you have at your disposal but really choose carefully.”