I stumbled upon a story about Pablo Picasso a few months ago, just as I was preparing to hit the world with my new company. It was timely for me, and, as a result, stuck. I use it in every pitch I make these days because it profoundly and simply explains the power and efficiencies of world-class know-how.

I tried to verify that this story actually happened, but couldn’t. But it doesn’t matter. Even if it didn’t happen, it’s still a great story with huge applications to the Ideation Age.  Here goes.

The famous Pablo Picasso was at a party. A woman recognized him and approached the Master. She asked, “Will you create a sketch for me?”  Picasso agreed, and, as he pulled out his sketchpad, asked her for a subject.  “A bird in a tree will do,” she responded.  So Picasso spent about a five minutes doing what Picasso does on the sketchpad. Finished, he ripped the sketch off the pad, handed it to the woman and said, “That will be $10,000.”  The woman was floored. “Ten thousand dollars! Why, it only took you five minutes to draw that sketch!”  To which, Picasso replied, “No, madam. That sketch took me thirty years.”

I love that. To compose a brilliant sketch like that one in five minutes took thirty years of experience, hard work and creative experimentation. It’s not unlike Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” idea from his book, “Outliers.” It may have looked easy to the woman at the party, and perhaps genius does become easy over time, but don’t let that fool you.  -More-

The value of Picasso’s five minutes is worth the value of an average artist working for years to accomplish the same thing, or to fail trying.

I use that story to help me explain to prospects the potency of my Experts at Ideasicle. Though I, of course, never claim that my Experts compare to the genius of Picasso, I do know that they are wildly adept at coming up with ideas quickly and brilliantly because they are naturally gifted, have put in the time, have studied their craft, have solved countless marketing problems in their careers and are the types of people who can’t help but come up with ideas if infected with an inspirational brief. If you remember my blog post recently about the three components to ideation – Time, Brains and Inspiration – the Picasso Principle addresses the “Brains” part in spades.

Feel free to use that story yourselves to help explain to your clients why you, or your teams, are not just any collection of people, but a collection whose entire lives have led them to this very day, this very moment, and this very need.

And, like Picasso, make sure you charge enough for it!

Author:  Will Burns, Founder & President at Ideasicle Inc.