Innovators are more likely to achieve commercial success if they have strong networks.
Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso had a lot in common. They each had a distinctive style of painting that has become immediately identifiable. Think of “The Starry Night” or “Three Musicians.” In fact, both artists have become sui generis, and their paintings have sold for tens of millions of dollars. But there’s one huge difference between the two painters: van Gogh died a pauper while Picasso left an estate estimated at $750 million. And the reason, according to Gregory Berns, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, is that van Gogh was a loner and the charismatic Picasso was an active member of multiple social circles. To use the current vernacular of social networking science, van Gogh was a solitary “node” who had few connections, whereas Picasso was a “hub” who had embedded himself in a vast network that stretched across various social lines.Berns discusses the vast differences between the two artists in his new book Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently (Harvard Business Press, 2008).