"The secret to Carlos Santana’s success is placing personal integrity first and foremost, with an efficient business mind as a complement to this strong identity. (Apropos of this, his advice for colleagues to complement – not compete – with each other’s talents are words of wisdom,) The many ‘thank you’ messages he has received from those who have benefited from his philanthropic endeavors are no different from positive feedback a business gets for excellent customer service. Successful results (or ‘zeros on the right’) are important, but they are the result of having quality and integrity."
Carlos Santana On Creativity In Business And Art
by Kenneth Hein
March 4, 2013
Music legend and successful entrepreneur Carlos Santana has a unique and powerful perspective on creativity and inspiration. Both are applied not only to his music, but also to his businesses, which include Casa Noble Tequila and The Carlos by Carlos Santana line of women’s shoes and handbags. Here is what Carlos had to share:
Q: You have said everything starts with an idea, with imagination. Can you expand on that thought as it applies to not only art but business as well?
Carlos Santana: Thank you for asking that. Imagination and vision are essential in my music and in the way we conduct our business. Sometimes the mind gets in the way, and we start thinking that we’re this or we’re that or that we’re separated. The way it translates is that you take time to feel your heart. For example, your imagination is like a muscle. If you take the time to just sit down and just close your eyes and imagine things, it’s like a muscle you develop. That’s why it’s good to turn off all the computers, TV and noise and just sit with yourself for a while. You can get beyond the noise and you get to hear this voice. This voice sounds very different than all the other accusing voices or guilt voices and fear. Once you start hearing this voice, it is very soothing, gentle and is very non-accusing. And then you can expand upon the ideas and make them a reality. Vision and integrity are more important to me than all of the zeros on the right. I am only interested in a partnership that utilizes great vision to make a positive difference in the world.
Q: “Supernatural” paired you with other top artists. How important is collaboration in music and business?
CS: Collaboration, partnership, friendship and marriage all take trust and willingness to allow willingness. When I collaborate on a song or on stage, I am here to complement, not compete. If I am playing with [Luciano] Pavarotti, Eric Clapton or Juanes [Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez], a true collaboration only works when you complement what the other person is saying and inspire one another to go further. For me onstage and in business, this is essential. Casa Noble [tequila] and Santana stand for the same things: a rich history, consciousness, integrity and inspiring each other to be the best we can be.
Q: You have other successful businesses. How was the Carlos by Carlos Santana line of women’s shoes born?
CS: With the success of “Supernatural” [1999 platinum album], we began looking for new ways to help fuel my families’ philanthropic efforts through The Milagro Foundation. The Carlos by Carlos Santana line of women’s shoes and handbags was borne from this seed. I learned very early in life that if the females are happy, then everyone is happy. We get incredible positive feedback through my shoe and handbag lines, and, in turn, we are able to help educate, feed and give health services to children all over the world. There is no greater joy for me than to know I am making a difference in a child’s life.
Q: You have so many highlights in music. Is there one moment in the business world, as an entrepreneur, that you cherish?
CS: Over my lifetime, I have been presented with incredible blessings, like my family and mentors Mr. Bill Graham and Mr. Clive Davis. There have been so many joyous moments in my life, but the moments that I cherish the most are when I receive a letter, video or meet someone who says to me: ‘Mr. Santana, thanks to you, I am the first person in my family to graduate high school and go to college.’ That is more powerful than any Grammy or any award I can ever receive. That will be in my heart forever!
Q: How about musically? Is there one moment that you carry with you?
CS: The next moment … the next show … the next song … the next note.
Q: Speaking of music, what artist just blows you away?
CS: For me, I am a child of the masters: Mr. Miles Davis, Mr. John Coltrane, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, John Lee Hooker and Mr. B.B. King.
Q: What is the origin of the Casa Noble brand?
CS: Casa Noble Tequila was founded by the devotion to create the finest tequila the world has ever known. Visiting the distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, I learned about Casa Noble’s philosophy and history. I found integrity, respect for tradition and for Mother Nature. Casa Noble is a family distillery that can trace its roots back to 1776 along the hillsides of Jalisco surrounded by citrus and mango trees. The tequila is harvested, distilled and bottled on a private family estate that boasts over 6,500 acres of land and more than 1 million blue agave plants. The rich historical tradition is elegantly reflected in each delicately handcrafted bottle. I like people who have passion for excellence, do not take shortcuts, do not cheat or make excuses. We both look for excellence in what we do. Integrity has its own taste, uniqueness and elegance.
Q: What’s next for you and Casa Noble?
CS: Overall, to walk with integrity and create a conscientious product that allows me to give back to the world through Milagro. On the business side, it is the Casa Noble Santana Single Barrel Reserve. You will have to look up the finer details of the reserve, but it is exceptional.
Kenneth Hein is the global marketing director at gyro.
Follow him at @KennethHein