Texas Tech University

Hub Faculty Ambassador Teaches Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Arts

Innovation Hub Team

October 26, 2020

TTU Music professor Kim Walker spotlights leadership "performance"

Performance is a word with many meanings to Texas Tech University professor Kim Walker. The world-class bassoonist, educator, and best-selling author also has decades of experience as an entrepreneur and global executive business coach. That unique combination of professional expertise recently earned her the TTU Innovation Hub Faculty Ambassador's title, along with the Hub's Faculty C-Startup award.

"Somehow, I've always had this thread with business, creativity, and productivity," Walker says.

She began her career as a world-traveling bassoon soloist at age 17. Later, she branched out to coordinating high-profile speakers and cultural events for the United Nations and the Red Cross. It was her backstage vantage point that led Walker to expand her notions about performance and success.

Value first

"I began to understand that whether it's a politician or an influencer or an artist- they're often out there for a larger reason than themselves. As a musician, I realized if I'm nervous, I'm all focused on me. If I'm actually focused on Mozart, I play better, and the audience enjoys it more. I learned that the greatest compliments after a concert were when somebody would say, 'That was incredible. I love that music.' Seeing their appreciation for the music itself brought me a deep sense of contribution and helping people. That's the motivation behind my hustle. It's providing intrinsic value."

There is a strong correlation in entrepreneurship. "Whether you're in music or you're in business, I think the money follows getting the inspiration right," Walker says.

Art and business are not mutually exclusive, of course. 

Walker says, "I basically believe the great composers like Bach or Beethoven were all artistic entrepreneurs. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from examining why their legacies are so enduring. They were transformational thought leaders with music. They changed the culture and had intrinsic value."

Art, entrepreneurship, and leadership

Walker includes those composers' stories in her new book on innovation, creativity, and leadership. "INSPIRE: Creative Collisions of Music, Politics, and Life" was recently released. The international best-selling book "Elevate Your Success" includes Professor Walker's "Resilience to Brilliance," published in 2015.

In addition to being a recording artist and conductor, she's previously held positions as a White House consultant, dean and principal of the Sydney Conservatorium at the University of Sydney, and Director of Arts and Culture at Indiana University. She is the Founder of VirtuosoCEO, a global executive business coaching company, where 92% of her clients 10Xed using her XPS Formula.

Walker's drawn on her varied career experience while developing courses for the minor in entrepreneurship at the TTU School of Music.

"There are different types of creative minds," she says. "Whether you're a Beethoven or Vivaldi, there's a space for it. I've always been excited about helping others view their art as a business and vice versa. The opportunity to do that through my work is a big part of why I came to teach at Texas Tech."

Walker says the Faculty C-Startup award will help further that goal. "The C-Startup grant is invaluable for helping me bring in some exciting guest speakers and resources which are out of the norm. The classroom focus on entrepreneurism is about leading others to create new spaces for their creativity to flourish. We want to introduce students to today's leaders who are thinking in new ways."