Think the annual arts fest in the Nevada desert is nothing more than a week-long bacchanal? Think again. It’s a a master class in how to create awesomeness.

It’s easy to dismiss Burning Man as nothing more than a bizarre hippie love-fest that takes place deep in the Nevada desert every year the week before Labor Day. But doing so misses the fact that it’s an amazingly successful enterprise—and, as such, has a thing or two to teach about how to inspire creative people and create a great product.

Since it first began 25 years ago, Burning Man has grown larger every year (if you ignore the slight dip in recession-scarred 2009). It’s grown so much that this year, for the first time ever, the organization had to cut off ticket sales early, for fear of finally hitting the 50,000-person limit authorized by its federal land-use permit. And those tickets aren’t cheap either—they now cost an average of $300 a pop.

Granted, Burning Man’s overall intention is not to create a “product,” per se. (Not one for trite labels, it calls itself an “experiment in community.”) But its growth numbers—in terms of customers and revenue—are ones any business could envy. So how does Burning Man do it?

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