How the Global City Manufactures Empires


Many business authors argue that sometimes being in the right place at the right time can be very beneficial for capitalizing on a certain business endeavor. Andy Warhol, arguably, was in the right place at the right time when he moved to the capital of the art scene of his era, New York City.

These days in the world of social media, we have all sorts of different platforms that allow us to connect with anybody anywhere in the world, people with similar sensibilities as us. But back when Warhol was working, he didn’t have any of that. In the 1970s, humans barely had computers that could function in a local setting. Let alone computers today with high speed interact access, able to communicate with anyone in real time, anywhere in the world at lightning speed, at the click of a button.

Must Read: The Lone Businessman: Andy Warhol On Business Strategy

Operating in the absence of social media, Warhol needed to move, physically. He needed to physically place himself in a context where he could benefit the most. Many artists have hit the road to find where they belong.

We find this basic fact true even today. Barnum probably said it best when he said that, for the most part, time and place to make a difference. In his famous speech called The Art of Money Getting, P.T. Barnum does state that if you have to move, you should move and go to the place where the money is flowing.

This wisdom is often unequivocally accepted, even today with all of our technology. Even in the United States, you find people tend to migrate to the major cities just because it’s considered the proper thing to do in terms of getting opportunities for yourself.

The famous sociologist Saskia Sassen talks a lot about the “global city,” and how part of the capabilities that attracts so many people to them-e.g. London, Paris, Tokyo, Berlin–is the sense that people generally can meet like-minded rather quickly and achieve a great volume of interesting productive projects in nearly half the time. In theory. It doesn’t always work this way, but it appears to have worked pretty well for Warhol in his time.

Throughout The Andy Warhol Diaries, we discover that he hung out with many photographers and many different painters and compared notes and used the auction house as a means of gauging what was of interest to people.

It should also be noted that Warhol knocked on many doors in New York City, and even describes how he attempted to get potential clients’ attention as a budding artist. On November 20th, in 1986, he says the following: “…I think it’s the best time to arrive someplace, really late, after everybody’s resistance is worn down and they’re tired, and then you hit them for an ad. It’s like in the fifties when I had to go around and see art directors looking for jobs. If you went early in the morning you never got anything, so I’d wait until 12:00, lunchtime because by then they had stopped getting calls and they were tired and you had a better chance. People really do stop calling offices at lunchtime because they assume the people will be out” (p. 775, 1989).

To be clear, New York City didn’t have the best economy in the seventies or eighties. It was kind of an eroding and corrupt city, but it was the art scene that was vibrant and that’s all that mattered.


Ultimately though, we are all a product of nature and nurture and so it can best be said that moving to New York City was an uncanny move for Warhol despite the city’s eroding nature. In the city, he capitalized on being around many different types of people and agencies and major players in the scene that the odds were simply in his favor. Of course, you have to be the type of person who knows this and thinks abundantly, or else it doesn’t matter where you go.

So, let this be a lesson to all of you aspirants, whatever your journey may be right now. Know that where you are physically rooted certainly is a business decision in itself and can be a factor leading to your ultimate success.

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