entrepreneur

When You Do What You Love....

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My wife and I were having a chat the other day and she was telling me about a conversation she had with our optometrist. They were talking about kids and how kids today have it rougher than we did when we were their age etc ( I disagree with that but that is a whole other discussion/blog post for another time) The conversation was centered around school and trying to figure out what the kids want to do with their lives. You know the proverbial question: What do you want to do when you grow up?

My youngest, who is 17, says she knows what she wants to do with her life and that’s great.  I’m very happy about that and happy for her.  Then there is my wife, yes, she is working full time but she still says to me all the time “I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up” and she is 47 years old. My oldest is interested in the arts and English but is still unsure of what she wants to do.  She is 19 and I tell her there is no huge rush, you will figure it out. Don’t jump into school and do something that doesn’t interest you just for the sake of going to school or because all your friends are going to school.

“They” say kids who are going into the workforce today will change their careers anywhere from 10-15 times in their working lives. That to me is insane! Could you imagine our parents doing even half of that?  Back then, they got a job and they stayed there for life.  Even if they hated the job, they stayed because they had to.  They had families to support. Now I know that the times are very different now, people are having families later in life, if at all. There is much more focus put on ones career as opposed to having a family. It is also said that we spend almost 1/3 of our lives at work or working. When you think about that, it’s absolutely staggering and mind boggling.  That is a hell of a lot of time and time is the ONE thing in life we DON’T have control over and can NEVER get back once it’s gone….but I digress.

The conversation then moved towards happiness in life and happiness in our jobs/careers. With keeping all of the aforementioned above in mind, it triggered the real conversation and the true point to all of this:  shouldn’t we ALL be doing something as a career choice/job that makes us happy? Isn’t that the point to life, to be happy? Why would you want to spend that much time at a job you fucking hate doing and going into if you have to spend that amount of years/time of your life doing? It just makes sense to me to be doing something you love to do for a living. Now I know it’s not that simple to just find something you love to do and do that to make money and have a great life. Hell it took me over 25 years to finally figure “it” out and actually do something about it. I know we all get into different situations where we are “stuck” doing something we hate for a living and it’s NOT easy to make the changes necessary to start living the life we had envisioned for ourselves but as “they” say, “if you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen” and I whole heartedly do believe it.

When you think about it, it’s such a simple concept, do what makes YOU happy PERIOD! As we all know it’s not that easy to put it into action but believe me and I am speaking from experience, it CAN BE DONE! Are there sacrifices that have to be made? Are there concessions that have to be made? Hell yes there are, of course there are but again as “they” say nothing worth having comes without a fight.

I guess really the whole point of this blog post/conversation is, in today’s day and age, why aren’t more people doing what makes them happy? Life is fleeting, life is short, we ONLY get one go around in this world and with the amount of time we spend at work or working in our lives, why not spend it doing something that you absolutely love to do and be happy doing it!  Instead of doing something that you hate doing, at a place you hate, getting up EVERY morning and going to do that? How can we as parents instill this value into our children if we aren’t leading by example and doing the same thing?  So get out and DO what you love!

Admiration and Accolades

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It’s been almost a year since I left my full time corporate gig and took the exhilarating leap into full time entrepreneurship.  It’s been one hell of a ride so far, filled with lots of ups and downs. It’s like being on the world’s longest, highest and fastest roller coaster, it’s a ride that NEVER ends but I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s exciting, frustrating and challenging all at once.

I remember all of the admiration and accolades I received from people when I told people what I was going to do or tell them now what I do for a living; it was overwhelming at times. All the “I’m so proud of you for doing this” or “I wish I had the guts to do that”  or “You are so brave for going out on your own, I could never do that”.  These are all wonderful words to hear from the people around you but they fade quickly into the background and you’re left with just your thoughts and ideas, making plans on how to take your business to the next level.  I find myself often wondering: “what in the actual fuck have I just done?”  And as those thoughts creep in I start thinking about what I do for a living; I get paid to do something I love!  I am my own boss!  I make my own hours and not to mention the freedom it affords me and those negative thoughts slowly begin to creep back out again.

It can sometimes be a looooong and lonely journey, this highway called entrepreneurship. It feels like what I imagine a junkie may feel like when they take that first hit.  The highs are just incredible, like you are soaring and the sky’s the limit but the lows (which a lot of people DONT TALK ABOUT) are really low sometimes.   Constantly struggling with your thoughts and insecurities and worries of how the fuck am I going to do this??

Well believe me if you don’t push through these lows and there will be many of them, it will swallow you AND your business right up like neither of you existed! The key is to keep on going and think outside the box.  Try NOT to let those negative thoughts creep inside your head and take over your mind. You MUST try to remain positive at all times!

How do you do that, you may ask?? Well, you can start by surrounding yourself with the right people. People who will be there to help pick you up and offer encouragement when you are experiencing these lows.  A supportive team of family, friends and mentors will be an integral part and key to your success. Don’t listen to the haters and the negative noise that may surround you from time to time, it will only drag you down.

Entrepreneurship is NOT for the faint of heart or the easily discouraged. If this is something you want, you MUST persevere and keep on keepin’ on. Don’t give up or give into those feelings of fear, don’t let them take over your mind.

Remember your “WHY” and keep going!!

The Big Announcement Part I

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Owning a business is a lot of hard work and nobody ever said it would be easy. It’s a roller coaster ride of many ups and downs. I truly do believe if you are willing to put in the hard work, the long hours and do things right, you will definitely reap the benefits of being a full time entrepreneur.

I know in my business of photography there is an amazing community of photographers which most of them are more than willing to share “trade secrets” so to speak lending a helping hand when asked with no hesitation. One of the many wonderful and amazingly talented people I have had the pleasure of knowing and receiving help from is Crystal Mitchell from Provocateur by Crystal Mitchell. She is an incredible human being, entrepreneur, and photographer.

This has been a long time coming and has taken a lot of work in a very short period of time to actually bring it to fruition. I have to say though, seeing the hard work put in literally materialize as results you can physically see, is beyond satisfying for me. I am so proud of what I have accomplished in this short time with my business.

So I am sure you are all curious as to what this BIG announcement I have been speaking of is..... well It isn’t just one thing, there are multiple things I have been working on that have culminated in this BIG announcement.

So I would like to formally welcome you to the new Visuphoria Website! A sleek clean feel for our everyday women to feel comfortable viewing. We have also enlisted some top Album manufacturers, and lower session fees! This makes it affordable for everyone to come in and have their own session with the team of Visuphoria.

Looking Back on 2017... A Year in Review

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If I were to look back on the year 2017, both professionally and personally, I would have to say that overall it was a pretty fuckin’ EPIC year!

I got to see my oldest daughter graduate from high school and starting the next chapter in her life. Undoubtedly, one of the proudest moments for me as a father and I must say ranks right up there as the best of my 2017.

The year started out with me working full time at Ernst & Young but had long entertained the idea of moving on to pursue my photography business full time but at the beginning of the year, it became more of a serious consideration. I was growing tired of the corporate life.  My heart and mind just weren’t in it anymore and I knew it was time to move on.  Midway through the year, with the support of my wife, my kids, my family and friends, I finally decided it was time to jump ship.  To my surprise, I ACTUALLY did it!  I forced myself to step outside my comfort zone.   This is NOT something I do!   This was scary as all hell!  Leave the security of the 9-5?  NOT ME! The best part about it: I am still here to talk about it!  I didn't break and I didn't die from it!

I had my biggest year in business selling 6 pieces of my artwork to Ernst & Young.  My work to hang on the walls of their brand new building. Being able to have something I created hang on the walls of a Big 4 Accounting firm was quite an incredible feeling.  As I had worked there for many years being able to leave a legacy, my legacy was just an indescribable feeling.

Another great moment for me, being featured in my friend Skip Cohen’s blog post. For those of you who have no idea who Skip is: he is first and foremost an incredible human being but he is also an amazing educator, speaker and writer who is very well known in the photography industry and I am proud to call him a friend.

Three of my boudoir images were selected to be in a magazine, which for me was an incredible accomplishment since I am new to the boudoir genre. That was definitely a highlight of my year, I am very proud.

I was awarded the Standing Ovation Award 2017 from my peers and fellow photographers in my AIBP group. The AIBP organization is the Association of International Boudoir Photographers. They are an amazingly talented group of photographers and an amazing community of people.  To say I am honoured and over the moon excited is a gross understatement. Words cannot express my gratitude for this award.

Overall, I accomplished quite a bit in 2017 and am very proud of what I managed to do. I know there is a ton more work to do as an entrepreneur.   There are many more challenges to overcome but I am so looking forward to taking on 2018! It’s going to be a kick ass year, I can just feel it!

I borrowed the following from a fellow photographer/friend of mine but this is how I am going to look at 2018:

Be A Fucking Wolf.
Be A Fucking Lion.
Take No Shit.
Set Goals.
Smash Them!
Eat People's Faces Off.
Be A Better Person.
Show People Who The Fuck You Are.
Never Apologize For Being Awesome.
Stay The Mother Fucking Course.

In this coming year I urge all of you to do at least 1 thing that forces you outside your comfort zone.  Trust me, you won't regret it. You only live once, what do you have to lose?  Challenges and roller coaster rides as an entrepreneur and business owner…I say BRING IT ON! I am here and I am ready for ALL of it!!!

Jump Part II - The Aftermath

Well, I have finally done what I have been talking and thinking about for well over a year now. I jumped from the comfort of my full time corporate job to go full time with my photography business. It was incredibly exciting, invigorating and insanely nerve wracking ALL at the same time.

I mean I thought it was going to be a bit easier than it had been in terms of actually jumping but holy shit was I wrong. I didn’t think for a second that it was going to be easy but I feel like I have been on the highest, longest, steepest most twisty loop de loop roller coaster in the world and let me tell you, I HATE roller coasters with a passion.  That should give you some insight as to how I was feeling leading up to my final day at Ernst & Young. I know these feelings are normal and there were many who came before me who have been through it and there will be many after me who go through the same thing.

I knew I was going to be giving up the proverbial security blanket. Losing the comfort of my corporate job and a regular pay check were playing with both my head and guts almost every morning but I knew I couldn’t give into those fears and voices.

I have looked really hard at why the fears and voices kept creeping in from time to time.  I know they will creep again and again over the course of running my business.   Fear of the unknown at the root of all this internal turmoil.  As my last day approached, which changed 3 times before it actually happened, each and every time that day drew closer my fears grew and the voices in the back of my mind got louder and louder. I knew that I couldn’t let them drown out the excitement and the other voice that kept telling me I have to do this! I have to move on from my current situation!  It’s the only way for me to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself.

I have to admit, if it weren’t for the support of my incredible wife, none of this would have even been possible. She is 100% in support of me pursuing this crazy dream of mine so I owe a lot to her and I am eternally grateful. She talked me off the ledge countless times when that fear took over.   She pushed me out of my comfort zone so I knew it was what needed to be done!

I have been self-employed for just over a week now and let me tell you, it feels incredible.  That last day was rough; handing in my laptop, my company credit card and my security badge for the place I spent ¼ of my life. It was a bittersweet feeling I tell you, I had forged many relationships there so it wasn’t easy but it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders when I woke up that next morning.  Rolling out of bed, realizing I didn’t have to go back downtown again and that I was going to be the master of MY own destiny now.  I am totally in control!! Coming to that realization was an incredible feeling.

I am really looking forward to writing this next chapter in the book of MY LIFE, it is going to be exciting and challenging but something tells me it’s going to be better than the last.

You Gotta Jump - If You Want To Be Successful

 

In the words of Steve Harvey, “if you want to be successful, you have to jump”.  A very good friend of mine shared a video clip with me a few months back. This video clip is of Steve Harvey standing in a parking garage talking about the dangers of not taking a leap of faith and not going after what you want in life. It’s a very raw, very minimal video about 2 minutes in length but it really resonated with me on a level I cannot even begin to describe to you in words. I have watched this clip about 30 times since the first viewing and I love it more and more every time I watch it.

The concept is so simple yet it’s not something that is simple to do and let’s be honest, not a lot of people actually follow through and do what he is speaking about in that clip. The follow through is much harder than the idea but as my Dad used to tell me when I was growing up, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.  I often wonder if my Dad would feel that way once I tell him that I am going to be doing just that! I guess I will find out soon enough as the time draws near.

Nothing will change my mind or my way of thinking about it because I do believe we have to do what we have to do!  Forge our own paths in this life. Sometimes you just have to say “FUCK IT”!  I have grown tired of dreaming and whishing my weeks away just to get to that glorious 2 day reprieve from the preceding 5 day personal hell.

The time for change is NOW! Albeit scary as anything but if I don’t do this now, then when? When is the right or perfect time? I have learned there is never one. So as the saying goes, it’s now or never or as my wife says to me “shit or get off the pot” See you on the other side folks!

The Networking Effect

There is no doubt that networking is a hugely advantageous tool to any and all business owners. Now there are many groups, clubs networks out there to choose from but which one is the right one for you? How do you go about deciding which one is the right fit for your business?

Networking definitely forces you out of your comfort zone but It can generate referrals and increased business as well as creating connections.  These sessions give you the opportunity to rub shoulders with highly influential people in the business world.  These are opportunities that you might not normally have. It is also a great way to get advice from like- minded entrepreneurs/business people and make new friends in the process.

It’s tough not to drown in the sea of options but you have to keep your head above water. Talk to friends, friends of friends, do your due diligence and research and find the right one(s) for you.  I know I am currently struggling with this exact dilemma right now and am trying to figure out a couple of more avenues to explore in order to expand my network.

I currently belong to the Toronto Board of Trade and this is a great organization. Business owners from all walks of life are members it’s a great place to meet people BUT you have to put in the time, do the work and that I think is part of the reason people have a tough time with this type of thing. These connections don’t get built overnight, you have to nurture them they take time and let’s face it you’re not going to connect on an organic level with everyone that you meet at networking events. Sometimes, you just need to walk away as there will be nothing mutually beneficial so move on, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Relationships are the catalyst for success. People tend to do business with people they like and trust. Be a resource for others and help them succeed.  Just because there might be nothing beneficial for YOU doesn’t mean you can’t help someone out in the process if you have the capability to do so. Remember, this networking thing ISN’T all about YOU! It’s a two way street.

 

Image courtesy of accelerateplaces.com

Entrepreneurship - Do We All Have It In Us?

Entrepreneurs, are people just born with it? Is it in our DNA? Is it a learned behaviour?
I would say over the past six months while scouring the web I have noticed a huge increase in videos and posts all relating to entrepreneurship and becoming an entrepreneur. Embrace it, there has never been a better time than now to be an entrepreneur. These are all over the internet! Now I don’t know if it has been there all along and I just didn’t really pay attention to it or if it is just exploding as of late? I would have to agree there has never been a better time to start your own business. I mean, with the digital age and the reach the internet has granted every single person who has access to it, it would seem the timing couldn’t be better.
As the saying goes, “If you want something bad enough, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse”. I do honestly and whole heartedly believe this saying and you CAN achieve whatever you set your mind to.
Ever since I was in my twenties I have dreamed of owning my own business. I came to a realization that it has been for twenty years, I have procrastinated to say the least. Fear has of course played a part in this, not to mention the self-doubting questions like “what the hell would my business be? or do? or provide to people?” I know these are simply excuses. Procrastination is a horrible animal that lives in a lot of us. In my forties, I have decided to finally take the leap. Albeit part time but I have taken a step in the right direction. I know this part time thing is ONLY temporary!
In the words of Sir Richard Branson “screw it, just do it”. Is it really that simple? I guess if you have an idea, the hustle and the drive to succeed. I don’t think the entrepreneurship life is for everyone and that’s fine. Some people are happy working for someone else. You know the type going in every day, doing their job and going home at the end of the day and not having to think about it.
Personally for me, I know I am destined for bigger better things. I don’t want to continue making money for other people for the rest of my life. I want to do something I absolutely love and am passionate about and make money at it. Who wouldn’t be happy doing something you love and are passionate about and get paid for it? That’s not to say it’s easy but think about the freedom!? The joy of going to work every day doing something you love. They say: “if you do what you love you will never have to work another day in your life”.
Think about this: we spend over half our lives working, why would you want to be stuck in a job you don’t even like and be miserable for that amount of time? Life is short, make the best of it and make yourself happy. LIVE LIFE!

Image courtesy of ttentrepreneurship.com

The Professional Headshot - The Importance of One!

The world is evolving technologically and at a rapid pace. In this, the Interweb age, we are constantly being bombarded with images, snippets, catch phrases and sound bites. At these breakneck speeds people don’t take the time to slow down and talk with each other as much anymore. Elevator pitches are the way of the future. Say what you need to say in 30 seconds or less. Capture someone’s attention or they’re out the door.
How does this affect the photos you post online, specifically those of a professional nature. You may own a quality camera and can take a selfie with the best of them. Post that photo on Facebook or Twitter and you may get all the likes in the world from your friends and family members. But now ask yourself these questions:

  • Should I put this on LinkedIn?
  • Does it look professional?
  • Would I get into business with me if I came across this picture online?

 
Now I know what you are thinking, we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover but let’s be totally honest here, we ALL do it anyway. Your headshot is the first thing people online will see. If it’s professionally done, people will notice and see that you actually care about the details and your appearance. With the growing importance of networks like LinkedIn you should be asking yourself: does my profile picture convey professionalism.
A professional headshot is essential to your personal brand. Here are a couple of key things to consider;
Look the Part
When you are getting a professional headshot done, make sure you dress appropriately and look approachable. I hear from so many different photographers who say their clients show up unprepared for their photo. When it comes right down to it, you are selling YOURSELF so look the part!
It Takes Money to Make Money
Why wouldn’t you pay a professional to do the job? Yes you have to spend a bit of money up front but think of how it will pay dividends in the long run. I have heard the headshot referred to as a digital version of your business card. Do you want to be taken seriously? Would you hand someone a business card that looks like it came from a vending machine? Probably not!

As my Dad always told me, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”, so why not make a great impression with a professional head shot. You ARE your own ambassador, your OWN BRAND. Do things the right way, dress for success and hire a professional. You’ll thank me later.

Giving Back To The Community - Everybody Wins

As a business owner, giving back to your community is such an integral part of who we are and who we should be as entrepreneurs. It’s almost as though there should be an unwritten rule about giving back in the entrepreneur handbook (of course there is no such book). Although, I believe it really shouldn’t be “unwritten” and there really should be a handbook or guide of do’s and don’ts but that’s a whole other topic.
A couple of nights ago I had the esteemed pleasure of attending an incredible event. The event was put on by a woman named Katia Millar, a woman to whom I was informally introduced by a mutual friend a few months ago. She started a meet up group called Positive Fabulous Women in 2008 and let me tell you, she is positive AND nothing short of fabulous. What this woman has done for thousands of women across the GTA and her community is astounding. Her network of female members, followers and fans is 8000 plus and continually growing. She organizes monthly events with guest speakers, live twitter chats and webinars for her members. These members donate door prizes from their business, whether it be tangible prizes or one on one mentoring sessions from their individual businesses.
These events are held with the purpose of women getting together to network, discuss their businesses, goals, aspirations and most importantly build each other up, support and empower one another. Not only are they members of this network but they all give back to the community in one way or another, whether it be through mentorship or simply what they do as entrepreneurs on a daily basis. It truly is inspiring to be in their presence.
As an attendee and being one of the only men in the entire room, I have to say it was a little intimidating but the experience was without a doubt, three of the most inspiring hours of my life. What an incredible experience, listening to some of these women share their stories of building their businesses from the ground up. Sharing their successes as well as some of their failures because we all know, without failure there is no success. It was truly a magical evening. If any of my female readers are thinking about going into business or may already be a seasoned entrepreneur, I highly recommend you go to one of the Positive Fabulous Women events, I can guarantee you will walk away filled with inspiration! It will be 3 of the most valuable hours of your career. I honestly wish I could attend these sessions but sadly they are restricted to women only.

I strongly encourage all business owners to donate their time to some community cause or event, it will leave you feeling fulfilled. I know for me personally donating my time as a photographer for the event the other night, it did exactly that for me and I will definitely be doing more of that in the future.
I would just like to say thank you to Katia Millar for allowing me to be part of and the brief glimpse into her incredible world that is Positive Fabulous Women.