Think of the most artistic  people you know. Now, call to mind the geeks in your circles--engineers, programmers and IT pros. The two camps are polar opposites, right?

Not so fast. People with a background in music, theatre and art are actually well suited for technical careers. That's according to Jacob Smith, head of engagement and cofounder of Packet, a NYC tech company that provides cloud infrastructure for developers and large enterprises. A professional bassoonist by training, he played with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and various opera companies before cofounding Packet in 2014. Here are his words on why artistic training helps kids grow into adults who rock at technology.

1. The best artists are disciplined.

An arts training helps build people that are self-driven, self-motivated, and are constantly searching for ways to improve and stretch. This is essential for tech innovation, where (just like in the Arts), perfection is an unobtainable goal that you strive for while racing for that new discovery around the next corner.

2. The most talented artists are able to think differently.

An arts training helps to build creative, divergent thinkers who form strong opinions based upon intense study. This is why so many tech entrepreneurs have a creative background.

3. Art and science are related in many ways.

While there's the creative side, arts training also values a high degree of technical aptitude, including an extreme attention to detail. Just like in coding, rules are critical when it comes to music or dance.

4. Artists know how to perform, and how to collaborate for the big moment.

Used to standing up and presenting on stage, artists are trained performers. What better way to prepare for that stressful pitch in front of a VC or a prospect? Performing artists exude leadership, and yet know how to work together to make a team come together

5. Arts training teaches resilience.

As an artist you fail--a lot. You pick back up and try the passage or the dance move a thousand times to get it right. This is a really important trait when you're starting out in tech and are a David going up against a few Goliaths.

My twin brother and cofounder Zac Smith is a Juilliard-trained double bass player and is the visionary behind Packet. He led and sold his previous company, cloud provider Voxel, to Internap in 2011 before we founded Packet in 2014. Our other cofounder and head of product Aaron Welch has a background in technical theatrical production and sits on the board of the Obie Award Winning Bushwick Starr Theatre in Brooklyn. And we're just a few examples. Look at the talent behind some of the most innovative tech startups and you'll often find people who have spent years training in the arts.

Published on: Jun 6, 2017
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