The Lone Businessman: Andy Warhol On Business Strategy


The living dream of every artist is to produce something from his own hands and make money out of it. But just being able to take a person’s interest to generate and produce something that is wanted by someone else is challenging. Many who have ever endeavored to do this can attest to it.

For Andy Warhol, he sees every aspect of business as an art – making money is art, working is art. Mixing the art and the commerce was something that he always loved to do and was just completely fascinated by. His fascination in combining the arts with business eventually turned his art into money, whether it was film scripts, paintings, interviews, photographs, or plays.

Warhol was not someone who just idly sat by and watched the world go by. He was constantly involved in the art scene and extracting different artistic work that could be turned into several millions of dollars.

He believed in not wasting space and recycling a lot of his film footage and paintings. True to his baby boomer nature, he never liked things to go to waste because he knew that there could be some way of turning that into something else which could be profitable in the long run. Not only did he produce, he also multiplied, and in some projects, he bloomed.

It is quite unusual that all the successes he achieved in life only started to take off once he started not caring about other people, friendships, and love. Largely disconnecting himself from the external, he referred to himself as a loner in the Philosophy book.

This doesn’t mean that all his project outcomes became successful. He failed at times. But despite the failures in the number of projects he did, he just moved forward and took action. Even the law of averages tends to state that if you keep moving forward and you keep taking action, even if you failed, at some point, one of the projects that you do is going to be successful.

In the world of business, there is the idea of a person needing someone or not needing someone to help move forward. In the case of Warhol, he was both. Warhol seemed to intuitively get this and proceeded to capitalize on it. Whatever his thoughts were at various times, he knew that he would have to go back and forth between solitude and group work. Sometimes he even felt alone around people and sometimes he felt profound connections when he was just by himself. In short, he was average no matter how you slice it, at least in this regard.

Warhol might be a socialite and was characterized as someone who was eager, but there was a side of him that was deeply on his own. There is the kind of detached, disconnected, centered, and focused Warhol that knew that to some degree, he had to do it alone, not taking into consideration the things that were happening around him. And then there’s the other side of him being around the maelstrom of chaos in running a business.

On one hand, he was surrounded by people and always busy with them, but in another hand, he was completely and utterly doing his own independent work. There’s just a sense that he was able to maintain a balanced relationship with the outside world and his own inner life. It was really a very delicate dance and sometimes he certainly lost his balance, but he never got derailed with projects getting sidetracked. He stayed the course. And yet…

There were also moments when he was deeply alone, even amidst all of these parties that he was attending. Sometimes, he just kept his problems to himself but, eventually, it didn’t become that much of an issue because he instead pursued his work and his craft, and that became his life.

Warhol divorced himself and became a trendsetter, ignoring everything else around him. His understanding in the work that he did was that he would be someone to create followings and create trends as opposed to just being someone who’s influenced by them. Kind of like an Edward Bernays or a P.T. Barnum.

He was influenced at times, but he largely wanted to be what we call an “influencer” – the same way that we see influences today on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. He wanted to be someone who was a hub of interaction and of a certain style, and he wanted to be able to command passion in others and be able to trigger that in other people. Warhol similarly tried to have that grand level of impact as that of P.T. Barnum and Donald Trump. He even had the grey-white hair going for him, a distinct look and artistic statement about America.

However, there are some people, innovators and entrepreneurs alike, like Michael Masterson, who believed in the power of getting people together to form ideas about how to move one’s life forward. This is related to what Napoleon Hill wrote in his book The Law of Success where he advocates for a mastermind group where you get people of like minds together and like interests but with different talents, and you sync your minds and energy together to devise and create solutions that will generate wealth.

Although it is inevitable in business to work with others in order to get your needs met, there are some people who believe that entrepreneurs are very self-driven and they have to tolerate long periods of time alone as they generate their own projects.

Whether you work alone or work together as a group, it’s going to have to be all up to you to essentially get the ball rolling and to get your business up and running so that it becomes a viable business before you’ll even get people to take you seriously. Even Napoleon Hill stated in his book that “to start a project, it has to start with you. No one can start something for you. No one can move a project forward.” Similarly, Joe Girard, known for his distinction as the World’s Greatest Salesman in Guinness, states in his book How to Sell Anything to Anybody that “You’ll have to do it to yourself and for yourself. Nobody can do it for you.” So it’s all your own. Having a mentor can be of help to you along the way as a mentor’s role is to be a support structure in order for you to move forward, but let’s face it: You can’t wait forever until that magical mentor comes along. Sometimes you really do just have to do your own thing, even separate yourself from the crowd.

Of course, having the ability to exchange ideas is always helpful, but if you don’t know where you’re going, and if you don’t have a definite chief aim in life, then there’s no point to be in a group of people who are organized to help you move forward because you don’t know where you are going and you have no idea what your main goal in life is. If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there, with or without people.

At the end of the day, we are all alone, and not to get overly philosophical with this article, but we have, essentially, the sole responsibility to deal with our businesses in our lives. No one else can do that for us. And that’s actually stated in Mark Manson’s popular book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck. He talks a lot about our life being our responsibility, no matter what happens. Warhol, without a doubt, would have agreed with Manson, and had the profound sense that his life was his responsibility. He was self-reliant, as all creative-types must be at times, while also earnestly believing in a world of unlimited possibility.

We don’t just get born into this world knowing exactly how the world works and how the game is played and the way people are. It will take quite a few knocks here and there and a few not-so-pleasant experiences to help one realize the nature of the world and how things come together. We tend to think we just automatically get it and it can be deceiving to feel like you know what’s going on. We have to be humble in this regard and accept that there are some things we don’t know that we don’t know.

At the end of the day, we have to make discoveries by and for ourselves and learn lessons that we need to learn due to our own individual journeys, our own individual nature; no one else can learn for us but ourselves, and Warhol understood this early on in his career, and because of that became the man we know today.


  • The Warhol Diaries
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
  • The Law of Success
  • How to Sell Anything to Anybody
  • The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)

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