Normally, with a great announcement like this, I'd just send everyone the link and maybe I'll do that in the future. However, for right now, I'm so excited about this new series with Justin and Mary Marantz. It kicks off with these two videos today and there will be a new one every two weeks for the rest of the year.
Justin and Mary are amazing artists, educators and writers, but adding to the fun and effectiveness of this series is ProfotoUSA's focus and commitment to education and helping everyone raise the bar. Just watch these two videos and you'll see what I mean!
Hard to believe how much "how to" content Justin and Mary pack into just two minutes! Looking for more images andinformation from Justin and Mary, check out their site!
I was having some fun wandering through YouTube looking for things I've missed about photography and also looking for content for BeAwareBetterCare.com. Well, meet my new hero, Ben Aaron.
Ben is a reporter for NBC in New York with an outstanding sense of humor. The first video I found was a group of his friends from the Senior Center in Fairlawn doing a remake of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines". Digging a little further I found this classic from last week, the 30th Anniversary of FootLoose.
Here's the deal - I always stray off course on Sunday mornings and while this has little to do with photography, it is about storytelling. It's also about putting your heart into everything you do, even those moments when you just want to make people smile.
Even though it was on YouTube and I probably could have just posted it, I wrote to Ben for permission. His answer when I asked is what makes him a great reporter,
"Great! I appreciate it! I hope they enjoy the madness, as much as I enjoyed making it!"
Follow Ben on Twitter and check out his Facebook page to stay on top of things he's working on. You won't be disappointed.
Last October I spoke at Hasselblad's Shoot NYC event. With PPE going on just down the street, the fact that they had over 3000 people register is a testimony to their focus on great content, education and support for the industry. They've had a piece of my heart since I started there in 1987, but going back even further...
When I was in the Photo Service Club in high school I used to dream about some day using a Hasselblad. Little did I know that the day would come when I'd have an entire warehouse of Hasselblad gear at my finger tips. Yeah, that's me, the geek in bottom left corner.
I found this short clip on You Tube that I hadn't seen before. If you're going to be in NYC this Fall, put Shoot NYC on your calendar. It's an outstanding program loaded with great content. Just follow what's going on at Hassselblad and you'll be in the loop for the latest information on great programming and terrific products!
Here's another familiar face from Shoot NYC...
I write for another blog, totally outside photography, BeAwareBetterCare.com. It's the blog for the Friendship Centers here in Sarasota. My Dad and I first got to know them through their Caregiver's Support Group when we were dealing with the battle of my mother's Alzheimer's. Parts of this post were from something I wrote a couple of weeks ago for them, but I wanted to share it here for two reasons. First, where would we be without photographs? Second, many of you have become part of my extended family and it means a lot to be able to share some personal moments now and then.
Today is Mom's birthday and although she passed away in June, I find myself actually feeling her presence a little more every day. I know she's watching over all of us. While there are times when I wish we had been closer over the years, (I was always on the other side of the country) I'm grateful for the time Sheila and I had with her for the last two years.
Photographs we have of all of us together along with videos clips, just make me smile. There's a story behind every image and that's all thanks to this industry we're a part of. So many of you take for granted the potential of each photograph you capture to truly freeze a memory. You're magicians and every day you take the intangible and turn them into moments we can actually hold in our hands and stare at for hours.
For some reason, Alzheimer's took a break when Mom met Sheila five years ago. Mom always recognized her, although she was convinced they had grown up together. However, that never changed the way Mom would smile, laugh and share some moment out of the past, just because Sheila had come into the room.
I found a quote the other day about aging that got me thinking...
“The older I get, the more I see there are these crevices in life where things fall in and you just can't reach them to pull them back out. So you can sit next to them and weep or you can get up and move forward. You have to stop worrying about who's not here and start worrying about who is.” Alex Witchel
Mom finally lost the battle to Alzheimer's, but Dad's still here and today we're just going to head out to a place Mom would have loved, right along the beach. Mom loved any place close to the water. Over the years I can't count the number of restaurant hostesses who had to put up with Mom switching tables at any water side restaurant. She had to have a clear view of the water! Yeah, I miss my mother, but at my age how many "kids" still have their Dad around? He'll be 92 in October.
A great quote to close on, from Mark Twain: "Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."
Photo Credit: Cantrell Portrait Design
There must be a hundred quotes we've all read related to determination. Most of them talk about falling down and how quickly you get back up or some facsimile. The more you read the more trite they become. For whatever reason, this one really hit me hard:
"How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win."
G. K. Chesterton was a writer and theologian in the late 1800's and I have no idea what specifically he was referencing with his comment, but let's pull it into 2014.
Let's call "losing" as something not working out the way you hoped it would. To start, you've first got to deal with your own internal battle of misguided expectations. Your Grandmother told you not to count your chickens before they hatch, but you did it anyway. Then, you've got to deal with the drain of energy the "loss" has created. You had a power surge based on optimism, hope and confidence and now your ego's bruised.
Let's take it one step further, depending on the significance of whatever you didn't "win" and you're dealing with your own mini-version of postpartum depression. You're sad, you were counting on the "win" and now you're having trouble finding the energy to tackle it again.
Here's the key issue - there's nothing wrong with being disappointed, down in the dumps and frustrated over whatever it was that didn't work out. What's wrong is the number of people who just give up and that's the time element that G.K. Chesterton references. You don't have time to be gun shy in today's market environment.
You've got to come right back to the fight and throw another punch. You didn't fail, you just discovered something that didn't work and you're in great company with thousands of other photographers, inventors like Thomas Edison and great spokesmen like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin and most of the contemporary celebrities we consider iconic today. The point is, you're not alone, but you will be if you stay focused for too long on what didn't work.
Here's my best suggestion when something doesn't go as planned...just walk away for a day. Put it all aside and go do something you simply love doing. Maybe it's getting out to lunch with a good friend. Take your spouse out to dinner. Phone a friend. Do whatever you love doing most to just relax. Put it away and allow your frustration to mellow a little. And, get yourself a decent night's sleep before you react.
The next day, sit down and analyze what did work and what didn't. Sometimes the biggest challenges are not seeing the small obstacles along the way. Bring a friend into the discussion then start thinking about what it'll take to tackle the project again with a stronger chance of "winning".
Photo Credit: © LoloStock - Fotolia.com
A few years back Terry Clark wandered into my life. He's a photographer just outside Pittsburgh who bid on my help in a Thirst Relief auction four years ago. I drove over to his studio for the day and in spite of the fact that we can't seem to find time to catch up to each other very often, nothing has changed the growing friendship. I wrote parts of this post over two years ago on another blog, but it's perfect in keeping with the Scott Bourne Marketing Monday tradition.
As you plan the new year, pay attention to those friendships you've made in your network. Keep in touch with old friends and make it a point to put time aside for new ones. You're part of an amazing industry and nobody has ever written better advice on marketing than Terry when he said, "Smile big, laugh hard, make people happy!"
He walks the talk all the time and you can see it in his head shot above. Well, Terry sent me a great quote a long time ago from the CEO of Restoration Hardware, Gary Friedman,
“Great brands don’t chase customers; customers chase great brands.”
Terry then went on to write about his own business: “Not sure how / if that applies to what I’m experiencing but I like it. To me it means do good work, be a decent person to be around, be a fair business person and customers will come. Or more simply, smile big, laugh hard, and make people happy. Either one, or any way you want to look at it.”
Everything I talk or write about is marketing based and branding is so much more than just the artwork behind your logo. It’s all about building awareness and if people aren’t chasing you, then let’s look at what you might be missing.
But the real bottom line is Terry's eight word guildline
Smile big, laugh hard, and make people happy!
All images copyright Terry Clark. All rights reserved.
Sheila's got a series of Walk the Talk books collected from a previous life in HR with Akron Children's Hospital. Every now and then, looking for a little inspiration, I start reading them. In a book called, Welcome the Rain, I found this little gem...
"As we sail through life, don't avoid rough waters, sail on because calm waters won't make a skillful sailor."
Look, it's a quiet Sunday morning and without the day in day out normal interruptions, that quote just got me thinking. We're all caught in the same storms created by technology, social media, changing consumer trends, the challenges in reaching our target audience and the economy. Some days are just non-stop frustration, but without having to weather the storms of change, none of us would have the skill set to deal with the challenges, me included.
So, it's Sunday - give yourself a big pat on the back for every one of your dreams - the ones you're working on now and the ones on the back burner. This year is going to be a game-changer for so many of you. You've chosen to be part of an amazing industry and no matter what the challenges, you've always got the ability to raise the bar on your skill set.
"We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world."
Photo credit: © Gail Johnson - Fotolia.com
This past week was one of the best for new material on the blog and while I normally have an original post every day, this morning I'm sort of taking the day off. There are at least three posts that were game changers over this past week and one bonus you didn't know about. Click on any of the images, if you missed the post this week. It will link you right to it.
Read the background intro on this post and you'll understand how Angie Kullman and Russell Grace wound up in the SCU Blog pipeline. They're an amazing couple, but even more impressive than their work as artists is the way Angie described their passion for the craft and in turn each other. It's one of those posts I wish I could get every new photographer to read before they started on their journey.
I had never heard of David Seth Cohen, let alone a movie called "Finding Sandler" until social media landed both of them in my lap, but there's a point here that I think is too easily upstaged by David's sense of humor. There is so much more to this project than "What if?"
This is about David chasing a dream, an idea he's unbelievably passionate about. How many of us put aside dreams, big ones and little ones over the years and simply decided something wasn't worth the effort? I don't quote Ross Perot very often, but when I do it's always the same quote:
"Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown."
There's no doubt in my mind that we're going to be hearing a lot more about David. He might be on the one yard line, but he's not about to quit!
The post from my Dad wasn't really new - it was first published several years ago on another blog, but it hit hard on the basics to building your business. We're all so wrapped up in technology, social media and extending our reach that so often the most important answers are right there in front of us.
It's called back to basics and everything your parents started to teach you when you were six years old! My buddy Levi Sim says it best, "Act as if your grandmother is watching you!"
Everyone has a soft spot in their heart for some non-profit organization or project. Well, meet one of mine, the Friendship Centers. I started a blog for them a few weeks ago, BeAwareBetterCare.com. Eventually we're hoping it will become an educational resource for the community focusing on one topic, aging with dignity.
My Dad and I met this amazing group of people two years ago when we started going to the Caregivers Support Group. At that time we were fighting the battle with my mother's Alzheimer's. Well, I couldn't help but get more involved and we've been doing a podcast for caregivers twice a month for a year. Now we've expanded with more content into a blog.
Yesterday we had a post by Caroline Allen, a member of the staff. Caroline lost her husband to a brain injury that resulted in dementia five years ago. Her post couldn't have been written more from the heart. Regardless of the challenges you deal with every day in photography and building your business, her post is a fitting reminder that life is simply too short. The title of her post said it all, "Lessons in Humility, Compassion and Humor."
Wishing everybody a wonderful weekend and one filled with plenty of time to hug somebody you love!
Here's another great example of the fun of social media...A short time ago I posted a quote by Aristotle that really hit home. My actual tweet was:
Nothing trumps quality..."Quality is not an act, it is a habit."
Yesterday morning, Skip Prichard retweeted it. Over the next few minutes there were a dozen or so RT's of his tweet. One of them was from David Seth Cohen - no relation and not somebody I knew. David did an RT of my tweet. Stay with me here, it all makes sense in a minute.
Just out of curiosity I clicked on David's link from Twitter. As I watched the video below I was hooked on the relevance between David's theme for his movie, "Finding Sandler" and some of the events in my own life. I sent David a direct message and an hour later we caught up to each other on the phone and *poof* a new friendship was launched.
David is definitely a knucklehead (one my favorite expressions and a compliment) you'll have fun following on Twitter @davidsethcohen1 and Twitter for the movie @findingsandler.
Years ago I remember Tony Corbell and I were on snowmobiles in Yellowstone. We had a group who went in every year for three days during the winter. We were on our way back, after a long cold day in the park, and passed our friend, Terry Deglau and his son, Jim.
Tony said to Terry, who was headed the other way, "Take a look up the road about a quarter of a mile. In Hayden Meadows there might be a great shot!" Tony and I had both seen the potential, but just didn't bother to take the time. Not that we would have had Terry's success, but he took the time and photographed the scene, which later became one his most iconic images. It won a number of top awards at PPA the following year and is still one of my most favorite images from all of our Yellowstone trips.
How many moments do we all have in our lives that we let slip by?
As you watch the video, besides thoroughly enjoying the story line, this isn't really about Finding Sandler - it's about an artist being relentless in chasing his dream. The question asked in the very beginning of the trailer for David's movie is haunting me as I think back to moments of indecision I wish I could go back and change.
"Everybody has moments in their lives when they wish they could hit the rewind button!"
At the same time my personality isn't the kind that looks back and certainly not with regret. And, in those moments when I do get caught up in a wrong decision and I'm mumbling, "You know what I should have done?" Sheila's comment is always the same, "Don't should on yourself!" Yet, as much as those are great words to live by, you can't help but wonder now and then, as David says, "What if?"
Marketing Monday: "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog!"
A year ago, with a lot of help from several good friends, one them Scott Bourne, we launched this site. Scott retired at the beginning of this year, but I want to keep one of the features he started going, Marketing Monday.
Mark Twain is credited with the quote above and while it was probably said over a hundred years ago, it's so relevant to business today. I love it because it's the epitome of great marketing. With WPPI coming up, along with dozens of regional and state conventions, you've got an opportunity to enhance the "size of the fight in the dog!" However, (there it is, a qualifier!) you have to make sure your mind set has the "dial" turned all the way to optimism, no matter how tough business is or has been.
A while back I was talking to a photographer from Ohio and she made a comment, "I can't wait for this economy to turn around!" She painfully laughed about the challenges and complained about some of her fly by night competitors and questioned whether or not she was going to stay in the business. We talked for a little while and as I hung up the phone, I can't begin to describe how much her thought process bothered me.
It's credited to an unknown author, but this quote really seems to fit:
"Do not wait for your ship to come in - swim out to it!"
Every year for the last five, we've been in the perfect storm, often caught between technology, the economy and consumer trends. Every year is tough in any business today. Photographers don't have exclusivity on the challenges of earning a living.
I talk to photographers every day and most are "getting by" and a few have seen growth. Everyone recognizes all the paradigms have shifted and whatever was the norm a year or two ago is totally different today. But there are some common denominators with photographers "getting by", "having an okay year" and "having a great year!"
We're just a month and a half into the new year and you've got about the same amount of time left in the first quarter, before "slow season" is over. This is the time to be thinking about your goals for 2014, because it's going to be an amazing year. And if you don't believe me, then I need to work on helping you with a better plan.
Everybody knows where to find me and I've always done my best to give people an objective opinion on things they're working on, especially their websites.
This is a hard business because the way you learn it is all backwards. As Jerry Ghionis once said, "We should all be starting out as second shooters first. That way we could perfect our skill set and not have to worry about running a business too. Instead we launch our business at the same time we trying to develop the expertise to be a great artist!"
The process of starting a photography business is flawed - so stop worrying about "the size of the dog" and let's get you going on teaching that pup to fight better!
Photo Credit: © Bill - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
Tomorrow is my 44th anniversary in the photographic industry and normally I wouldn't run a post like this, but as I look back over the years, I get pretty sappy. Yeah, technically I'm getting to be an old fart, but you're only as old as you think or act and according to Sheila, I've still go some work to do to fully mature! LOL
My post last week reminded me it's the journey NOT the destination that's important. Well, it continues to be an amazing journey. Almost three years ago I met the crew at Resource Magazine for the first time. Looking for executives in the photographic industry to profile, I was asked to write about my background and how I got started in photography. I ran across the original draft a few days ago and figured it would be fun to share as a blog post.
I've used a quote from Tennyson a few times over the years..."I am a part of all that I have met." That's what makes all of us who we are - all the people who have touched our lives contribute to how we see the world. So, to all of you, right down to the photographer who emailed me a question a few minutes ago, thank you for being part of an amazing industry and my continued journey.
Happy Sunday everybody - make it a great day and hug your family...they're at the core of making you who you are.
It’s 1970 and I’m trying to find a job. Time Magazine has a picture of a college grad in cap and gown pumping gas! There are no jobs and I’ve just completed 2 ½ years of being every parent’s worst nightmare as a college student. I spent more time perfecting my pinball game than opening a book. I’d be on suspension, afraid of getting booted. I’d buckle down, get the grades then start the cycle all over again. I wasn’t stupid, just lazy, unmotivated and unable to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up – On second thought, I just didn’t want to grow up!
Finally, they suspended me and I needed to figure out what to do. I had a girlfriend from Boston and decided it was time to leave the nest. Say good-bye to Ohio and hello to New England. Found a job at Polaroid at $2.89/hour washing bottles in their research lab. It was the most money I’d ever made and it paid the rent on my basement apartment in Boston’s Back Bay, which I shared with a few other tenants, 100,000 cockroaches! I remember a quote from an article in the Boston Globe that year: “The cockroaches were in Boston before man and they’ll be here long after man is extinct!”
(That's me in 1970 with the shot from my ID badge, even signed by Jim Shea, then head of Polaroid security. If you think the haircut is bad, you should have seen the platform shoes!)
So, one day in 1972 I was making emulsions in the lab, having graduated from bottle washer. I had always had an interest in photography, even worked in the hometown newspaper’s darkroom in high school, but where oh where was the connection to what would later be called imaging?
Polaroid hadn’t come out with the SX-70 yet, so it was all peel-apart film, but it was free and it was fun to use. I was 21, married and actually had some pretty decent images on Polaroid film. But my REAL camera was a hand-me-down Agfa 35mm and then later I upgraded to a Konica. They were both rangefinders and we all did the same thing – shot roll after roll of slides! After all, it was good enough for my Dad when we were growing up, so it would be good enough for my family too.
My first SLR showed up in my camera bag when I dropped the Konica in the ocean while on vacation. It was a terrific little Minolta. I bought a 70-210mm Vivitar lens and all of a sudden I thought of myself a little closer to looking like a pro.
Back at Polaroid, I had gone as far as I could without a degree and hanging out in research. The lab coat, pocket protector and slide rule just weren’t in my future. For years I had gone on interview after interview within Polaroid in an effort to get out of R&D. Polaroid had over 20,000 employees then, so there were lots of jobs on the posting board every day. I’d gone back to school nights at Boston University, working on finishing my education. Marriage and a child on the way definitely forces you to think more about a career. Maturity had reared its ugly head and I had settled down – I had a purpose, my family and a company I was growing to love.
By the mid-70’s SX-70 technology was introduced and in comes the first pivotal turning point in my career. I had actually made it out of research and taken a job as a staffer in production…oops, I missed seeing the signs of a lay-off! There’s not a lot for a staffer to do when people are getting laid off. I actually wound up giving myself my own lay-off notice one day and having once been hourly, had rights to bump back in to the ranks – enter Customer Service.
SX-70 was in full swing and 300% defective on those first few thousand units. The result was total chaos in customer service and my introduction to some incredibly talented people, all following the lead of Jon Wolbarst, a VP and Polaroid’s consumer advocate! He was an inspiration, totally dedicated to the role of being the corporation’s conscience.
It was an incredible education, talking to one angry customer after another. The job led to relocation to Chicago as Camera Repair Supervisor in one of Polaroid’s largest repair facilities. My responsibilities were growing. I was getting experience as a supervisor with a crew of 20 people or so to manage. I had my first mortgage on a townhouse condominium and I got my first gray hairs dealing with absenteeism, budgets, audits, inventory management and plenty of customers needing service.
Here’s where my greatest management lesson came into play, “Own your own shit!” If I’ve offended anybody at this point with my use of profanity, get over it. There is few more appropriate expressions!
I had a crisis one weekend on the Kentucky Driver’s License program using Polaroid equipment. The mistake was entirely my fault and I could either bury the problem or just man-up and own it. So, I published a memo to the world about the problem, my mistake and then went into detail how I would make sure it would never happen again.
My approach to the problem, in a company where so many managers never took responsibility, got me instant stardom. I had actually stepped up and said, “Hey I screwed up, but here’s how I fixed it!” It was a new concept in corporate culture!
Not sure how it all happened, but somewhere traveling down the Polaroid path, I was promoted to regional services manager, which eventually led to a staff position and took me back to New England. That change became the most incredible experience of my career – Customer Service Manager for Polaroid’s overseas subsidiaries.
I travelled all over Europe and the Pacific for 2 ½ years meeting with all of the Polaroid Customer Service staff. It was an amazing experience, but couldn’t have been tougher on my family – I was home for three weeks and out for two. Remember, this is before cell phones and the Internet. We were allowed to do one call home a week – usually kept to 3-5 minutes. There was no Internet, nobody to call for help if you got stuck, but the intensity of the travel definitely forced you to grow up and take responsibility for your decisions.
The overseas job took me to another pivotal point, when one day the VP of the division asked me to join his staff on the marketing/sales side of Polaroid’s US domestic market. “I don’t know anything about selling stuff!” I exclaimed. I’ll never forget his response, “Are you kidding me? You’ve been selling me your screwball ideas for years!”
I was with the company for 15 years at this point, but didn’t realize this new assignment would become my last job at Polaroid and another critical stepping stone. I was the photo-specialty dealer manager with a hundred and twenty million dollars of Polaroid’s business. I had responsibility for all of the U.S. camera stores. In the entire industry there were only three of us at the time. Ricoh, Kodak and Polaroid all had channel mangers, with somebody assigned to camera stores.
Marketing, sales, travel throughout the US, even a couple of Super Bowl trips all became part of this “navy-gets-the-gravy” assignment. Polaroid was back on top and along with the benefits came box seats for entertaining accounts at Boston Garden, Red Sox tickets and a national network of sales people looking for great marketing programs to help sell more Polaroid products.
*Ding* It’s another of life’s lessons… I got credit for some pretty amazing marketing programs, but not one was honestly that original. All the answers are out there if you just talk to your target audience. I’d walk into a retail store and ask the buyer, “After you tell me I’m out of mind, what would it take for you to double your Polaroid sales next year?”
The suggestions would come pouring out so fast, I’d have a hard time writing them all down.
Next, I’d ask the Polaroid sales rep the same kind of question, “If we doubled your sales quota for next year, what would it take for you to not only make quota, but beat it by 25%?”
Again, all the answers were there – they needed money they could spend on dealer contests. They needed great POP (Point of Purchase) material. They needed extended dating terms to help the retailers bring in the inventory and most important of all, they needed local and national advertising to help create pull rather than push. All I did was listen!
I absolutely loved Polaroid, but a phone call in 1987 changed my life and elevated my love for photography forever.
“Skip, my name is Mark Chappell, with Egon Zehnder and I’m wondering if you know of anybody who might be interested in being president of a small camera company.”
I thought it was my brother-in-law pulling a practical joke. I used a few of my favorite four letter words, told him I was too busy to screw around and went to hang up as Mark screamed, “No, this isn’t a joke!” The next morning we had breakfast and three months later I took over as President of Hasselblad USA, but that’s another story…
"If you don't act now while it's fresh in your mind, it will probably join the list of things you were always going to do but never quite got around to. Chances are you'll also miss some opportunities." Paul Clitheroe
"The two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formulas, recipes or other people's opinions." Paulo Coelho
Paul Clitheroe is an Australian financial analyst, Paulo Coelho an author and it's obvious both have experience in recognizing opportunities when they cross their paths.
This is the time of year when opportunities knock - it's the "slow season" for some of you, but for others, like manufacturers who are exhibiting at the various conventions, it's anything but slow. Vendors and speakers are working to get their presentations together for the various shows and everyone is looking for a new approach to the business. They're thinking about the plans they put together last fall for the new year. If they're a Japanese company, their year isn't over yet, because they work with a March 31 year end fiscal. That means the new year hasn't really started for them yet.
Here's my point - if given an opportunity to do something that's going to benefit your growth or your business, take the time to consider all the possibilities, but don't take too long. Be true to your word if you say you're going to get back to somebody and do it when you promised. If you need time to get a second opinion, get it, but don't turn it into an act of Congress - take too long and the opportunity might be gone.
I worked for somebody once who could never make a decision. He'd ponder until time simply ran out and we missed some great opportunities. He'd rationalize, living by the idea that another idea would come along shortly, sort of like the NYC subway. Well, new ideas don't always come along on schedule and some concepts are over crowded, just like the subway at rush hour.
I wrote yesterday day about procrastination when it comes to your "to do" list. Well, opportunities often fall victim to the same type of complacency. Make your decisions, stick with them as long as they're logical and remember that very few decisions are cast in stone. If something just doesn't work out as planned, you've always got the ability to regroup and start again in another direction.
Thomas Edison once said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Illustration Credit: © kbuntu - Fotolia.com
It's not a new theme, but it's so relevant this time of year...
In less than four weeks WPPI will kick off with the first day of their trade show and I'll have a chance to catch up to dozens of friends. Everybody will be talking about what kind of year 2013 was. Over and over again the question will be asked, "So, how's business?" The answer will range from "Incredible!" to "I think it's time to hang it up!"
Attitudes will range from frustrated to elated, but there will be one common denominator and the reason we're all there, passion for the craft. It's the universal component that keeps everyone in the game. In fact, no matter what kind of year you might have had last year, some time during the year you had that one achievement that keeps you in the game. It's like that forty foot putt you once nailed that keeps bringing you back to golf.
Regardless of how good or bad your business was last year, it was a hard year! But, there's a new year starting and there's nothing worse than being in the first quarter carrying the burden of loose ends from the past!
Loose ends are all those projects you procrastinated about and they range from mending fences with your adversaries to cleaning up the back room of your studio. You're running out of time to get this stuff out of your hair! Relax, I'm not suggesting you need to clean it all up today - but what a kick to put this stuff down in a list and then start checking them off one at a time over the next few weeks.
Remember half the battle is beating procrastination. We put things off, waiting for the shoemaker's elves to come in the middle of the night and clean up the mess. Sadly the only elves who show up are the Keebler Cookie guys and they only add to your belt line!
I found this on a quote site from Orison Swett Marden, an inspirational author from the late 1800's
"A lobster, when left high and dry among the rocks, does not have the sense enough to work his way back to the sea, but waits for the sea to come to him. If it does not come, he remains where he is and dies, although the slightest effort would enable him to reach the waves, which are perhaps within a yard of him. The world is full of human lobsters; people stranded on the rocks of indecision and procrastination, who, instead of putting forth their own energies, are waiting for some grand billow of good fortune to set them afloat."
Okay, get out a pad of paper and make that list...I did mine a few minutes before writing this post and while I've made no progress, it's at least a start! I am however craving a bag of Keebler Cookies!
Illustration Credit: © coramax - Fotolia.com
Christmas has long since passed, but for those of you who work for other managers, I'm curious how many of you wondered if your boss was going to be any better than than Clark Griswald's! (If you haven't seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - go rent it. It's a classic!)
But this morning's blog isn't about keeping things in perspective from an employee point of view. It's about those things you can do as a manager to make sure your appreciation is out there all year long! Being a great manager is about building a strong team. It's about empathy, listening skills and remembering how you like to be treated yourself.
"In motivating people, you've got to engage their minds and their hearts. I motivate people, I hope, by example- and perhaps by excitement, by having productive ideas to make others feel involved."
There are people who I've known for years who I'll probably bump into at WPPI next month. Many of them will say the same thing, "You seem happier than we've ever seen you before!" What is it about human nature that just doesn't let us believe things we see? Why does the word "seem" always represent that last hurdle of doubt, before we allow ourselves to believe in something?
Let's look at your own business...if it "seems" like you're on the right track, then why not celebrate your accomplishments instead of questioning them? I'm not suggesting you can slow down for the celebration party, but you do earn the right every day to give yourself a pat on the back when looking in the mirror.
Well, I "seem" happy, because I am happy. It's that simple. I've learned to stop being frustrated with the challenges of my own relatives and just enjoy each day as the gift it is. We've even got a sign in the kitchen,
"Don't Judge Folks by Their Relatives."
Happiness isn't so much a state of mind but a state of heart. I have a wife who believes in me, supports what I'm trying to do and encourages me to take on projects I might have doubted I could do in my previous life. I have friends and associates who, long before me, learned happiness is contagious. I try and always surround myself with people who are focused, if on nothing else, the control they have of their own destiny. I've got two new grand-children, twins, Sophie and Ryan, who are a stitch to be watching grow up and between Sheila and I, there are five more - three amazing boys and two girls. I have two stepsons who support what I'm doing and love seeing their mother happy, which brings me to Sheila Ann.
She's taught me to never use the word "fail" and to not "should" on myself. Seriously, how many times have you said, "I should have done..." Well, that might well be the key - stop "shoulding on yourself". Life is all about attitude.
Zig Ziglar has a great quote I've used before..."Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
And long before him Booker T Washington is quoted as saying:
"The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts."
So, as always, enjoy today. It's "Hump Day" and the week is half over...Don't settle for mediocrity today - you've got all the power you need to simply make it a great day! And just think, if you do it right, friends will say,
"You seem so happy!"
Photo Credit: © alejandro dans - Fotolia.com
Yesterday's post had a comment from a good friend and great photographer in Chicago. Here's what Sherry A. wrote:
"What do you really think about "knowing everything about your competitors"? Honestly I try very hard not to look into what they are doing. I know what I need to be successful and do not want to fall into the pricing trap. Meaning they are charging X amount so maybe I should match that etc. 10 years in the business and still find confusion on this subject. Just recently I have tried not to look at other companies all together. To try to keep my complete focus on my own. What are your true thoughts there."
Sherry's questions deserves a better answer than what I can fill in a comment box, so here goes...
First, Sherry's an outstanding photographer and has made it a point to be one of the best. She's attended program after program to make sure she's cutting edge and always raising the bar on her skill set. Her comment is completely appropriate, but here's a better explanation of my thoughts behind the tip from Score.
I understand how many of you want to stay focused on your own business and work, but you need to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, because it's the best way to stay focused on what you need to do. For example, my good buddy Terry Clark wrote to me once...
“The best thing to do to survive and thrive is find what everyone else isn’t doing and do that thing.”
That means you've got to pay attention to what's hot and what's not with your target audience. You need to pay attention to what your competitors DON'T do and then come up with your own creative spins.
Following the pricing of a competitor's products isn't the issue - it's how they're establishing the value for what they're doing and then you need to find a way to make yourself stronger. It's not about a pricing war, but a value war. It might not be any more complicated than developing stronger marketing, a more personal blog or looking for ways to be more involved in the community.
This is also where I'm convinced your blog can come into play. Your website is about what you sell, but a good blog is about what's in your heart. A blog with support for the community can go a long way and elevate your image, no matter what the competition might be doing.
I was at Polaroid when they filed a suit, which they later won, against Kodak for patent violations regarding instant photography. However, it wasn't all bad - having another instant film product in the market created more awareness for instant photography. I know everybody thinks they'd be so much better off if they were the only photographer in town, but a few good competitors can elevate the entire community's opinion of imaging.
Bruce Berg has a guest post up today and it links to one he published last summer. He's been involved in a program that's thirty years old, a children's photography contest during the first quarter each year. There are three competing studios involved. Together they've created awareness for a concept, which in turn has brought in more revenue for each of them.
Keeping tabs on your competitors is really about knowing your market. I found a comment that Bill Gates is credited with that seems like a good way to close...
"Competition is always a fantastic thing, and the computer industry is intensely competitive. Whether it's Google or Apple or free software, we've got some fantastic competitors and it keeps us on our toes."
Photo Credit: © microworks - Fotolia.com
I don't know about anybody else, but most of the ads last night were just about as underwhelming as the Super Bowl game itself. However, I did have plenty of time to think about things other than the game. In fact, I would have been perfectly happy if they had shown some of the older classic ads from past years. Watching the ads got me thinking about advertising in our industry.
So many photographers get tired of various aspects of their brand, long before the public. In fact, it’s no different for manufacturers. Companies find themselves bored with an ad, or a logo or a business card design and change it. Unfortunately, they’re changing things before they need to. Most of the time they’re not even close to reaching the saturation point on brand recognition. They’re simply bored, but the public isn’t!
You have to hit the public a dozen times or more for them to remember who you are. Think about how many times you’ve seen an ad on television before you remember the jingle, the product or the company name. You might be tired of your approach to the market, but that doesn't mean you've hit your target audience.
I found some great tips on advertising in the archives on the SCORE site. This is the tip of the iceberg. You should have SCORE, “Counselors to America’s Small Business” set up in your favorites. It's an incredible site with a wealth of information, on line workshops and articles to help you build a stronger business presence!
Here's a sneak peek to three of their suggestions on advertising I think are the ones most ignored by photographers:
David Ogilvy was one of the pioneers in advertising and passed away in 1999, but his comments and his books are timeless:
"I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive."
Happy Monday everybody! It's the start of what's already proving to be a terrific week!
It's Sunday morning and those of you have followed this blog for awhile, know there's no telling what I'm going to write about on the weekend.
Last night we got out to dinner in Sarasota with Michele and Paul. That's Michele as in Celentano, who taught this past week at SPI in Orlando. They're here for a couple of days before heading back to Arizona.
Here's the best reason to make sure you attend every possible convention and workshop you can...it's about building great friendships. Michele and I have known each other for years, but it wasn't until a couple years ago that we both opened the door and let the business friendship expand into our personal lives. It's now a regular thing for Sheila and I to be hanging out with Michele and Paul somewhere on the planet.
Being part of the photographic industry isn't just about the business of photography, it's about people. We've got a kitchen magnet that sums it all up...
"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom". Marcel Proust
There are a lot of conventions and workshops coming up over the next two months. Take the time to get to know the people around you and who knows, you might cultivate some incredible friendships in the years ahead.
Wishing everybody a wonderful Sunday filled with great friends, a decent Super Bowl and lots of warmth in a winter that's been a perpetual battle with Mother Nature.
I found a quote by Wayne Dyer that we've all heard, but it just hit me this morning...
"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way."
We're all part of an amazing industry, but no business is without it's share of challenges. David Esquire shared one of his personal favorites in a blog post the other day. You've heard me constantly hit on a long list of pet peeves over the years, along with dozens of industry icons, but there's a common denominator between all of us.
Everyone is trying to raise the bar on quality in imaging, marketing, business, customer service etc. And, that's the part of the ride you just need to kick back and enjoy. Instead of being frustrated over everything you don't know and worrying about all the things you need to do to either build your business or just keep it going, take the time to just appreciate the steps you've taken that got you here today!
Stop and smell the roses!
Illustration Credit: © corund - Fotolia.com