December 10, 2013

Meet Kurt Peloquin, Entrepreneur

In this series we invite you to meet and learn from thinkers, doers, and believers who find success by actively living in the grey.

Kurt Peloquin is an experienced producer, improvisational songwriter, and entrepreneur. Kurt’s grey journey started after he worked in finance and has led him to consult for several start-up businesses and non-profits.

On June 1st, 2012 Kurt began the latest chapter of his journey when he founded Great People Unite (GPU), an artist-to-enterprise incubator, providing executive coaching and producing services to entrepreneurial artists and artful entrepreneurs.

GPU’s mission is nothing short of igniting new artist-driven economies.  To that end, Kurt is busy scaling his incubator program, publishing a workbook and course called “Journey Planning, An artful approach to entrepreneurship,” and hosting quarterly events featuring the work and wisdom of diverse artists.

Read on to learn how Kurt lives in the grey.


What does living in the grey mean to you?

Life is not black & white
Work & play
Live in the grey means
Live your way.

I had the pleasure of joining Live in the Grey for their June Salon Dinner in NYC.   The dinner was one week after Gallup released their 12 year study, “The State of the American Workplace,” which revealed that 70% of US workers aren’t reaching their fullest potential, and 18% are actively disengaged at their jobs (They’re actually trying, not to try).  That’s not good for business, the economy, and especially the people “phoning it in” 40+ hours a week.   This was, and is, the problem Maneesh, David, and their passionate team, set out to solve with four words: “Live in the Grey.”  As we gathered around the table, I was in awe of all the great people joining in.  Entrepreneurs, journalists, activists, and innovators, all of them artists in their own right, came together to help humanity grow.  I asked myself, “What kind of people dare to have these types of conversations and, more so, actually believe they can make a difference?” Then it hit me: LEADERS DO.  For me, that’s what living in the grey is all about.  Leading your life, not letting life lead you.  And here we are, five months later, still at it, and I think it’s working.

Who is a mentor of yours and why?

My Grandfather, Charles Nelson, has always been a great mentor and hero to me.  A retired military man, with some serious chops on the piano, he worked his way up to General Foreman and eventually Deputy Director of Logistics at the Fort Devens, US Army Base, in Massachusetts.  There, he oversaw nearly 3,000 Army reservists, had a private plane, and received The Commanders’ Award, the highest civilian medal the US Army gives out.  He married the woman of his dreams and had two of the most amazing twin daughters a guy could ever ask for (Hi Mom & Aunt Linda!).   He’s lived a full life, got the stories to back it up, and is still going strong.  In fact, he’s on a boat headed toward the Panama Canal as I write this.  He’s helped me at key turning points in my life and career with simple lessons like, “There’s always room for the best” and “Memories are better than dreams.”  He’s a true leader.  Love you Grandpa.

What’s the first thing you read in the morning?

My reading schedule varies, but lately I’ve been checking the Daily Quotes app on my iPhone.  Here’s today’s quote: “Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day.” by Thornton Wilder.  Very on point, and a nice segue…

What are three things you make sure you do everyday?

Make music, say thank you, and learn something new.

Do you have a motto?

Great people unite.  It’s the name of my company and, more importantly, I think it’s an important idea about the power of collaboration, community, and connection.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”

Great people serve.  Great people lead.  Great people unite.

Do you work differently than you did one year ago?

Yes.  Being an artist and an entrepreneur, or being artfully entrepreneurial (think about that for a minute), takes A LOT of practice.  For me, the biggest change has been in recognizing blocks, when my productivity is waning, and switching directions or taking a break to re-charge.

How do you ensure your intentions become actions?

Organize them into projects, begin them with verbs, start with the hard ones first, and cross them off every single day.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’ll have to go back to my Grandfather’s quote, “Memories are better than dreams.”  It confused me at first, because I’m a dedicated dreamer, but then I realized: It’s not that dreams are bad, it’s just that memories are better, because it means that you’ve made your dreams come true.  I love that.

What advice do you have for others beginning their grey journey?

I’d offer this quote from Mark Twain: ”Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

It’s so important to surround yourself with people that support your ambitions and inspire you to grow.  My fiance, Katie Calcaterra, is the best example I have (Hey Love).  She makes great suspenders too:

Finally, if you’ve read this far, your “Grey Journey” has already begun.  However, a healthy thirst for learning, must be followed by a healthy commitment to action.  What are you working on now? How can you bring your ART to that work?  What is your next great project?  What are the necessary steps you must take to make it real?  Who are the great people that can help?    Close your computer, get up, go for a walk, appreciate the beauty all around you, talk to a stranger in a café, breathe deeply, have a glass of water, and when you’re ready, get back to the work of your life.

“GREY” people unite.

Say hello and stay in touch with Kurt at 

Meet more members of the Live in the Grey Community:

Sal Lahoud and Oren Bass, co-founders of Pave
Charlene Lite, musician and yoga Instructor
Holly Ronan, boutique proprietor of Benefit Cosmetics

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