Vincent Pugliese

You Have A Skill But You Aren’t Using It Correctly

In the podcast episode the other day titled ‘How Much Freedom Do You Have In Your Life’, I told the story of my career high moment as a sports photographer- shooting the Super Bowl. It also was a low point as I realized that I had little to no control over my time or my money. The only way to make more money was to be offered one of the paltry raises that I’d seen offered to others and the only way to have more time was to, well, quit. 

But what do you do when you come to this realization that you gave up your time freedom for fifteen dollars an hour? It’s even worse when you are still making fifteen dollars an hour after deciding to start a family with your new wife, in your new home (with a new mortgage), and new furniture which you purchased on a credit card. It gets better when you approach your boss for a raise, after you won the biggest award in your field, and you get offered a three percent raise. 

What do you do now? This was the exact spot I found myself in. You might be there right now. I was good at what I did but, at that pace, the entire newspaper industry would implode and collapse before I even got to sniff a six figure income. I had no idea how accurate that last statement would become. I’m obviously pretty good at what I do, otherwise I couldn’t have been named International Sports Photographer of the Year for the most prestigious award in our industry. But I was being paid $32,000 a year with no path where they would pay me more. 

So I did what any confident, strong, self assured man would do. I went home to call my daddy. 

With the trepidation of a seven-year-old asking for additional sprinkles and hot fudge on my ice cream sundae, I cautiously beat around the bush to eventually ask my dad if I can do a little side work for his business. You know, ‘diapers and formula’ money. And just like the dad that says a matter-of-fact no to piling more sugar on top of sugar, he rejected me quickly. 

You see, I used to work for my dad when I was a teenager and I hated it. I found it so boring. Many times during those years, he nudged me to get serious about the work as a draftsman and eventually I could take over the business. My dad seemed to enjoy the work but I couldn’t imagine doing that work for a week, let alone a lifetime. 

But there I was, not sure how I would support a baby and give my very pregnant wife a path to stay home and raise our child. And there I was, getting turned down again. Even my dad was rejecting me! 

I had developed a habit of not listening to my dad throughout my teenage years and through my twenties. What did he know? His time of figuring this stuff out was long in the past and he didn’t understand what it was like today. By the way, why would I listen to him when I can just figure it out myself?

Now, maybe he’s made wise statements to me all of those years. Maybe I just wasn’t listening. Or maybe he just became really smart and really wise at the exact perfect moment. Or maybe I decided to listen for once. Either way, the statement my father made to me next changed my life. And trust me, it was a statement. 

“You haven’t listened to me much, but maybe you will listen now,” he stated, knowing that I was in a bind that I could no longer attempt to charm my way out of. 

You have a skill but you aren’t using it correctly,” he declared.

I was now listening. 

“You’ve become a really good photographer. That wasn’t the case when you started. You have tremendous talent and potential but you are settling. You could do anything- you could shoot pro shorts for magazines, you could shoot weddings, corporate work, commercial- there is no limit to the money you can make and you can also control your time. But you are settling for $32,000 a year and benefits.”

That hit me like an EOS-1N camera body with a 400mm lens in the back of my head. 

I hung up the phone, mentally exhausted. Yet I felt something in my stomach. I needed to do something. But what? What do you do when you need to do something but have no clue where to start? The answer was already there. I already said it.

Do something. 

So I did. I picked up the phone book. Do you remember the phone book? It was this giant, think book that was delivered every year with everyones phone number from that town inside of it. We now have the phone book- all of the phone books combined- inside of our phone. Along with lots of cat videos. 

But I picked up that phone book, and I went to the photographers who ran businesses, and I started calling them. With no pitch and no clue what to say, I abruptly asked if they needed an associate photographer or a freelancer to work with them. I don’t know how many I called. But each one said no. Rejection was the name of the game on that humid, sunny June afternoon in Southern Indiana. So I took that phone book, gave it a nasty look and hurled it against our bedroom wall in frustration. 

I turned towards our still unfinished bathroom, shook my head and made a declaration. I had heard the phrase, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Well, that didn’t work. And I didn’t have time to do nothing any longer. It was time to do something. So I flipped that saying. 

“If you can’t join ’em”, I said to myself, “we’re going to beat ’em.”

I called Elizabeth, and as a surprise to her, I told her that we were starting a business. It’s exactly what a woman weeks away from giving birth to her first child needs to hear. 

“We have no idea how to run a business,” she reminded me. 

“We’ll find a way to figure it out,” I stated nervously. 


And that is how our path towards freedom began.


–  Vincent 


P.S.- All of the themes, lessons, stories that will be coming to you from this blog, the podcast and the content we create will be geared towards guiding you towards your life of freedom, however that looks to you. I hope you check out the Total Life Freedom Podcast today, as the blog and podcast will work as a compliment towards each other on a daily basis to guide you along this path!


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How (And Why) We Should Accept Compliments

I’ve never been good at accepting compliments. Now don’t get me wrong. I want the compliments- sometimes way too often. I have craved the compliments but I was never good at accepting them. WIth that,  I was called out publicly a few years ago on a mastermind call that I was on with John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs on Fire. I don’t remember who it was, I think it was Roger Whitney, the host of the Retirement Answerman Podcast who gave me the compliment. Roger is my friend yet the compliment took me by surprise. Others in the group agreed with him and I responded with a very muted, okay, thanks, or the whole ‘it’s no big deal’ type of thing. And John called me out on it, which I so appreciated as painful as it was in the moment. And this is why I love masterminds. And why I love accountability. I don’t respond well when people complain about judgment or they say ‘who are you to question me on what I did’? You can have a great life- go do your thing-  but we’re not going to relate. I like challenges,. Especially when they come from people care about me. And if you can’t take constructive criticism from somebody who cares about you, you’re always going to be limited in your growth. So some people can call it criticism, but it was one of the best pieces of advice.  John basically said to me, don’t do that. You need to be able to handle compliments better than you do. And he explained that we are diminishing the other person’s gratefulness by doing that. And I’ve never really thought of it that way. Actually, I know I’ve never thought of it that way. I always thought that I was being humble. I didn’t want to brag. I didn’t want to pound my chest and say, yeah, I did do that. Nobody loves somebody that does that. But there’s a big difference between being quiet, defensive, and evasive than there is from the bragger. It’s actually two ends of the spectrum and neither of them are good. So I’ve met John many times. I’ve seen him at conferences. He gets swarmed by people, often people that want to tell them how much he’s helped them with this podcast. And he mentioned to me how he handles compliments. He handles it with a lot of gratitude and appreciation and he makes sure that there’s the big smile that goes with it. As well as a giant, thank you. And the appreciation for this person to go out of their way to give him a compliment. You have to understand the true thankfulness does not give off an appearance of vanity or excessive pride. What you are doing is you are appreciating that person’s compliments and giving them recognition. Now I’m going to guess that if you’re listening, you probably don’t go overly crazy on self praise. It’s just a guess. I’m also going to guess that you might go way on the other end and you might deflect or even feel uncomfortable but what’s even worse is if you reject it. But when you reject the compliment, you are not only  downplaying yourself, but you’re downplaying them as well. And without meaning it you’re downplaying their intelligence because if they truly believe in what you did and they’ve truly given you a great compliment, and you tell them that it wasn’t any good or it really wasn’t worth it, Basically what you’re telling them is that their opinion is an accurate. It’s an insult to the person giving you the compliment. So when you reject or deflect a compliment, what you’re really doing is you’re projecting the idea that you have low self esteem. I’m sure you’ve had it where you’ve given a compliment and it’s been blown off. It’s happened to me. And I don’t know about you, but I feel that way. I feel like I gave a compliment, I believed in them and they didn’t believe in themselves. And it made me feel like maybe I was wrong in thinking that way. Somebody else we might want to avoid when you’re in that spot is to get into a compliment comparison. Have you ever done it? When somebody gives you a compliment and you have to give them a compliment right back. Someone says, ‘Your hair looks great! And you immediately respond with ‘Oh, your hair looks great too!’. And they’re like, I’m wearing a hat. And you might think, why couldn’t I just accept their compliment? Instead, I needed to give it right back. And now it seems phony because what will happen is you’ll come across insincere. So to begin with you’re deflecting, you’re getting it away from yourself, which goes back to what we talked about earlier. But you have to think about this- were you really going to compliment that person on what you did compliment them on? Would you have just walked up to that person and said, ‘Your hair looks great today’ when they’re wearing a hat? No, of course you wouldn’t. It’s got to be sincere. It’s got to be meaningful. And it’s got. to be honest. So stop doing that.

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The Price of Perfection

The price of perfectionism. According to author Valerie Young, perfectionists who hit 99% of their goals still feel like a failure. These are the people who are the ones who need to know every piece of information before they can start. I am sure that there are people that are cringing as they’re reading this. Even in our mastermind calls, there are people that will say- no- I need to get this thing done perfectly before I can move on to that next thing. They are the ones that who say things like ‘I’m not an expert enough to teach people what I know’ and that I need to learn more. You need to study more before you can even start to put anything out there. Does that sound familiar? That in essence is perfectionism. These are the ones that are always looking for new certifications or a new skills to learn before they can go forward. The perfectionist just need that next certificate, that next course or or if they can get this next part just right then I can get started. So in the episode of The Total Life Freedom Podcast, I talked about my book and self-sabotage. Today I’m going to give you a lesson that I learned that forced me to actually finish and publish my book and get over my own perfectionism. So when I first had the idea of writing a book, I went to different book clubs to learn. I wanted to meet with other authors, to see what they’re doing and soak it all in. I was hoping to learn from them, get inspiration for them and maybe possibly help. But I really wasn’t sure who or how I could

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How To Reinvent Yourself

And Then Covid Happened… That is a book title if you’d like to run with it. And I’m not talking about anything to do with health. But I am talking about how so many businesses and careers were tossed around and flipped on their side like a swath of boats strewn along the land after

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Andrew is walking towards me. He has a tarantula in one hand and a plastic red Solo cup filled with money in the other.  In that moment, it was obvious that he was on to something. Andrew is our oldest son- a sixteen-year-old who who was fifteen at the time. He has always had an

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