Action Catalyst Blog

Why is the Mona Lisa so valuable? And 5 reasons why it matters to you…

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at an event in Paris, France for the first time ever. Amanda came with me and we stayed a couple extra days to see all the sites: none of which are more famous than the Mona Lisa.

Estimated today at being worth approximately $780 million USD, I’ve always wondered why the painting is worth so much? Upon our visit to the Louvre (the picture above is from my own camera) I finally found not only the answer but a significant business lesson about characteristics that create value.

  1. Originality – The painting was the first of its kind relating to one key element: the smile. Up until that point we did not see smiles in paintings like this. Particularly, it is such a peculiar smile, which was a very different element from what anyone had ever seen. Pushing the envelope and being different carried a lot of value back then just as it does today. Are you willing to take the risk of being first once in a while?
  2. Uniqueness – It is not the subject of the painting that is unique but the stroke that was used. Leonardo did the painting with a brand new stroke  – the name of which doesn’t have an English translation – where he would paint one layer and then have to wait for it to dry and then paint another layer over it again. He repeated that process several times. (As a side note that is why the painting appears somewhat dark, because he hadn’t yet perfected the technique) What are you doing that is different and unique in your space?
  3. Time – Things of value take time to create. It is believed that this one painting alone took more than 4 years for the painter to complete. Investing time into something with slow, methodical patience not only contributes to success, but it adds to the value. Are you investing time into your work or rushing through it as fast as possible to get onto the next thing?
  4. Reputation – As previously noted there are several traits of this painting that make it so highly valued but one intrinsic one that you cannot see is the reputation of the painter. The painting would not be worth as much if it hadn’t been done by Leonardo da Vinci. Your reputation matters and it has real value. Are you investing into your reputation daily?
  5. Mystery – Our tour guide explained that honestly one of the key elements that make the painting so important is that it is because no one know who the person in the painting is! There are many theories ranging from the idea that it was da Vinci’s lover, his mom, or that it is even a man! Nobody other than the artist knows and that secret died with him so we never will. Mystique is valuable trait that makes a person more attractive, a project more noticeable, and a business more appealing. How do you create mystique in your business?

Originality, uniqueness, time, reputation and mystery are just a few simple traits that make this painting and other projects valuable. Unfortunately, these characteristics have become uncommon.

P.S. We just got confirmation that we’re going to have Sally Hogshead (author of Fascinate) on the podcast this summer! She’ll be sharing more research and ideas how all of us can make our businesses and our lives more “attractive” to people.

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