Episode 32- The Fortune Is In The Follow Up

The Fortune Is In The Follow Up

What would you do when you have a successful business that’s rocking it and it slows down? Gustavo Fernandez learned a valuable lesson about this last week and took action that completely flipped around and jumpstarted in one day. I will tell you how. Gustavo was a headshot and an event photographer based on San Francisco California. A lot of talk I hear all the time about how photography is dying. They’re just not working it. It’s all being taken away by the amateur. It’s all being taken by the cheap ones. Gustavo prove that that’s not the case. Gustavo cleared multiple six-figure last year in 2018 and he kind of made it all seem so easy. 

Gustavo is part of total life freedom mastermind and last year just kept rolling and rolling and rolling, but this year things change a little bit. He has some really big clients and had a lot of travel going on. He is planning to move to Miami. He was going back and forth between West Coast and East Coast looking at places. Work keeps rolling in. He’s got good connections and he felt it, but it didn’t do that much to jumpstart it because a lot of times the work just keeps coming back. But about halfway through the year, he noticed that he is down $50,000 than that last year and it woke him up. We talked a lot about following up, about connecting, about reaching out always, about different methods in terms of building your network, in terms of building the relationships around your business, top of mind word-of-mouth type of business. We hold each other accountable to this and _______ mentioned to Gustavo about his method of following up with past clients. I have told him some of my methods as well. We went through some conversation and Gustavo realized I’ve got a wealth of connections that I have not kept in touch with. The work kept rolling and he failed to keep the connection going, the ongoing connection with certain clients. 

So, he finally said I’ve had it, I been complacent on this for too long and he reached out to 11 of his top clients. And the reach out is basically things that they had mentioned in the past that need to get done. Things that they wanted to work with him on but just never were solidified. But he realizes as he looks back on this to be had never followed back up with them. So, in one day, one day he spent just to reconnect with clients that he hadn’t reached out to in a while. Some of them are by phone. Some of them by email and a majority of them were just simple message that he sent out as a follow-up. Then he came back to us to report that he got a $13,000 job booked from one law firm, a $2,000 job for another law firm. He got confirmation to another conference to work and he got confirmation on yet another job from a high-end client which is $5000, and he has a lunch set up with another venue that has a high potential volume of work in the future. 

So, in taking action one day of follow-ups. He confirmed over $20,000 of future work as well as a handful of conferences, meetings that has the potential to grow that even more. It is in one day of follow-up and so often we fail to do this because there are so many different reasons why we failed to this. We failed to do this because we think we’re bugging people. Yet the case of Gustavo and many other of us, these are people we’ve talked to already about possibly doing the work but were hesitant on pulling the trigger. It’s not like these are cold calls. Following up is following-up with people you’ve already connected with and have talked about the possibility of stuff that you’re just dragging your feet in terms of finalizing it. so, Gustavo had a bunch of huge takeaways from this, very simple but very powerful. We have to get ourselves the consistent habit of following up. The other thing to realize is when you’re doing this, when you’re following up with people, they’re often quite busy. They’re not meaning to even forget about you. They’re not meaning to blow you off. What happens a lot of times, they appreciate the fact that you follow-up because what you’re doing is, you’re making their job easier. Because if it is a mutual thing, if it is something that you both need and you both want, both sides are being complacent in that. 

So, when you take the time to reach out when there’s already a relationship built, you’re actually making their life easier because you’re helping them do the work that they’re not going to have to do. So, there’s so many great lessons that come from this one story that just kick started his success back up. He’s already doing great this year. He is doing better than most photographers are doing, but we set standards for ourselves and when we get to a certain level, we don’t want to stop or slowdowns. He saw that and kudos to Gustavo for immediately taking action, immediately realizing where a lot of this comes from and he has a good grasp on customer service on how to do that right. And sometimes we just need the reminder. He has such a grasp on it is that he’s writing a book about this for the future, which I’m really excited about. It is about the art of customer service. But it just goes to show, it takes follow-up. The fortune is in the follow-up. It is so easy to get complacent and to get somewhat lazy and think the work will come because it is going really well and it is really nice to get that jolt, the kick in the pants every once in a while and realized that really comes down to us doing that work to keep things moving. Because he gives us a great story, because it’s an awesome individual I will give a plug to GustavoFernandez.com, if you are looking for an event photographer. If you’re looking for an awesome headshot photographer, reach out to Gustavo. He is the man. And if you are interested, as a gift to you, Gustavo has a list that he has written out, the top 10 things he has done to elevate and grow his event and photography business. I will put that in the show notes for you if you like to get that. And remember go out today. If you have people to follow up with, people you’ve neglected, go out and do the follow-up because the fortune truly is in the follow-up. I’ll talk to you tomorrow

Episode 31- Meeting In Person Is The New Social Media

Meeting In Person Is The New Social Media 

Meeting in person is becoming the new social media. I am going to explain why. I just bought my ticket from Mapcon, which is a podcast conference run by my friend Joe Pardo in Atlantic City on September 6th and 7th. A few weeks before that I am going to be in Orlando from August 13th -16th for podcast movement which is run by my friend Jared Easley and Dan Franks. One of my favorite conference I go to every year. In November, I would be in Sonoma, California for Andy Stork’s talent development think tank conference. I don’t have any affiliate relationships with them for these conferences. These are just things that I believe in, that I spend my time on, I spend my money on going to these is a big way of how I grow professionally. 

This is what I want to talk about today as I get asked why I go to so many conferences and podcast movement. I’ve been going for three years now. I just released the podcast a month ago. I don’t even have a podcast, but I knew the value in going to this conference would be. I knew the relationships that would I make, the conversation that I would have and even the connection I would have for being on the podcast far outweighed the cost of the ticket, the travel and the time being gone from home. The same for Andy’s conference in California. I’m not even in the talent development world so why am I going all the way out to California for that. The people in that world are still entrepreneurs. They’re still people that I want to meet and connect with whether it’s right in line with what I do. It’s not right in line with what I do and the reason why I go, and I spend the time and I invest in that stuff is because I really believe that meeting in person, meeting face-to-face is the new social media. Let me explain what I mean.

How many of you remember 12 years ago when the iPhone came out and Facebook started growing? And before that, there were blogs and chat groups that kept people connected in some ways. You get to know each other a little bit better. When Facebook came about and everybody started getting connected. It was like this world opened up again. You start getting request from your old high school friends that you haven’t seen in years. All of a sudden you are friends on Facebook. You’re keeping up on what’s going on in their lives. Then there’s groups, commenting and connection, all of these things going on, so you are now tied in and you are now connected to the entire world. In one click, you can start building an online relationship with someone that you admire in a certain space. You can start following their blog or their podcast or their YouTube channel and get responses back from them. 

So, in a short period of time everybody had the opportunity and has the opportunity to become super connected to whoever you want to connect with, and a lot of amazing things come from that. A lot of amazing things will continue to come from that and I’m an advocate for it. I run communities that way, online, virtually where we could be connected people from all over the world, different countries, different continents. It’s amazing. But something has been lost in that shift, in the transition and what’s been lost is the physical face-to-face personal connection. It’s so easy now to stay behind your computer and comment. It is so easy now to get on a videoconferencing call or getting a webinar or do that virtually with everybody but not take the time and the energy and the effort to go meet in person. But I am an observer and going by Andy Andrews, I tried always to be a notice. And what I noticed is when I go to conferences so many people are just thrilled to say it’s so nice to meet you in person. It’s so nice to actually have a conversation with you and sit down and talk and take our time and we never get to do that online. More and more I hear that at every conference or get together that I go to. And you start to notice that people are missing this in their lives. They’re missing physical in person connection and also, the world is way different from another perspective, because when you go to these conferences, when you go to these specific meet ups, your meeting with people that are interested and very similar things that you’re interested in. 

So, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re looking to build online business. You are looking to gain freedom in your life. You are looking to create income from different streams. You’re looking to build connections with people that are doing things that you’re doing or doing things that you want to be doing. You’re probably not going to find that at your kid’s soccer game. Even though your meeting in person, as you pull up your chair to your kid’s soccer game, you might find what we found which was people complaining about politics. People talk about how much they hate their job, people complaining about their spouse or which could be considered worst, some people like me, which is just talking about absolutely nothing, not even having conversations just trying to get through another day. So just because we’re meeting in person doesn’t mean that it’s a positive interaction. It doesn’t mean that you’re growing or you’re helping. it just might mean that you are having empty service level conversations. 

So, what I found out by going to these conferences is I meet so many people with energy and excitement and ideas and they are helpful. I can’t get enough of it sometimes because it is exactly the type of people that I want to meet. People asked for case studies on that, I got so many personally. Going to a mastermind retreat a couple years ago, I met Kyle Schultz. We teamed up and did sports photography course for his Shultz Photo School group and I wind up making $32,000 in a day when I used to make $32,000 a year being a newspaper photographer, using the same skills. Going to conferences within the last year and a half. Carey Green who has a podcast editing agency introduced me to Nick Loper who runs a side house podcast. Nick and I and some friends sat down for nachos that night and we had a conversation that Nick invites me to the show, which is one of the most popular entrepreunal podcasts out there. 

Same thing happened a few years ago when I went to FinCon which is run by Philip Taylor. I met Jonathan Mendonza and Brad Barrett from the choose FI podcast. We stood together talking for 45 minutes, had a great conversation, they invited me on their podcast. Those two podcasts Sidehouse nation were two of the main things that catapulted the launch of our book Freelance to Freedom. Those two interviews were too enormous ones that led to tremendous success and the irony of it is the meeting in person led to the online and social media success. It wasn’t the other way around. It was the personal connection where we hit it off just hanging out, having a drink, having dinner, just talking that led to the opportunity for all these other things to happen. 

So, a lot of people have a backwards, let me just be a keyboard warrior, let me do everything online and clean my funnel and my systems and my lead magnets and all the things that come with that world. But they don’t think about actually the human connection of meeting face-to-face. So, if there’s a conference in your realm that you want to go to and you’re on the fence because of cost or time I’m going to challenge you to give it a chance. I’m going to challenge you to invest in yourself and invest in your time to put that out there because the relationships that you will meet there, if you’re not a wallflower and if you don’t sit in seminars the entire time, you actually spend time talking to people, that is going to be another podcast I do in the future which is my approach to going to conferences. Invest in yourself. Take that time and go meet those people. Go make great relationships and allow that to create relationships that will then lead to unlimited business opportunities in the future for you and for them. So I will put link to MattCon podcast movement, to the talent development think tank and if you’re in the area and you want to head on by and hang out with me, send me a message and I’ll put that in the blog transcripts at totallifefreedom.com as well as a thank you to Nick Loper, to John and Brad and Andy Stork. I’ll put on a link for the SideHouse Nation, to choose FI and to the Town Development Think Tank podcast also in the notes of the website. So, get out there and go meet some people. Go build some great relationships and remember that meeting in person is the new social media.

Episode 30- The Story Of My Arrest

The Story Of My Arrest

So, what’s really fun about this podcast is I get to tell stories from the parts of my book, that didn’t make it. Because there are whole of things in the book there were nuanced over or completely left out because of the space or because it didn’t fit in with the format. But here, I can just tell stories for what fits in and things that were missed. So today is an embarrassing one and if you haven’t read my book, please go to our website and get a free download for the audiobook of it and listen to it and this will make a lot more sense. 

What I alluded to early on in the book was how my life was going really poorly to the first 22 years of my life, especially, you know, the 16 to 22 part. When I was 18 years old, I got to whole lot of hot water. I was working at a place called Record World. Back then it was one of the top music stores around. Everyone know what Record World and eventually Tower Records came along but Record World was a big deal so I worked on their warehouses on Long Island It was a giant warehouse, they had all the tapes, all the CDs you can imagine. We basically stock the shelves for the people to pick up and bring to the different stores around Long Island New York. So that was my job. It was my job but I also was sitting here at 18 years old, lost, confused, and absolutely with very little morals that I should’ve had at that age. So, I worked at a place called Dairy Bar, we overcharged customers in $0.50 dollars a time. All of a sudden that added up and I kind of learn that I could steal a little bit and I’m not really getting caught. So, I got this job at Record World and I kind of carried my ways over there, which I didn’t mean to. 

At first it wasn’t the plan, but what happened was I was with a bunch of friends and we’re talking about where I worked. I love that album, I can’t member what band it was and I was like “I wonder if I can get it for you?” You know, I was trying to impress him or whatever it was and his older friends who hang around with the clubs with. So, I was at work that day and I kind of realize that I could just take a cassette tape and I put in the waist of my pants and probably just get out. So, I stuck it over in my belt and at the end of the day I walked out and I got the tape. This wasn’t so hard, but wasn’t long. It really was not long before I thought I could probably put three in my back. So, when nobody was looking, I kind of found different tapes, it wasn’t even for me. These were for what other people are asking for. So, I did that, I got three and I realized I could put two more in my stomach, I could have five around my waist. And guess what? I did. and then I realized while if I could do that, I could probably get one each on my socks. I could probably get one and nobody is looking because it is a very deep dark warehouse. I only need a tape and little bit of space so that was seven at the time. This is how we can go from overcharging summary $0.50 to now I’ve got seven tapes that I’m lifting from this place and I go out for break once and I go out for lunch. I can leave and go to my car. 

So, it wasn’t long, it took a couple months before I was every day walking out of the factory with 21 tapes. So, what happened was, one day, I think it was a Wednesday. I had a girlfriend and we went out for the day and I took the day off. I didn’t think anything of it and I was not working. I literally had a stash of all the different bands that people would want. So, like, you know, they’re asking for Whitesnake or they’re asking for this band and I would individually have them on these different cases, the cardboard case that the music came in like the 20 tapes of Billy Joel. It would be one of each band I was about to take. I had a bunch of those stashed away somewhere in the in the warehouse. I took the day off and I came back in and that I must’ve done my morning hall, I did my seven tapes, I went out and got a hot dog from hot dog stand and I came back in and the main guy tap me on the shoulder while I was stocking shelves and he said can I talk to you over my office and I so okay. He said have a seat and he said we know what you’ve been doing. We know you been stealing tapes, you are fired and you are going to be under arrest. The police have been called and they are on their way. You’ve lost your job and you will be taken away in a police car and taken to the police station. Just like that. Job is done and pretty much you know shot right now. I am getting arrested and there is nothing I can do about this. There’s 4 other people that worked there and they are just sitting there and they have no sweat. I’m the one just kind of shaking. Then I had a good laugh at my expense. Why don’t you tell them what you are majoring in college and I said oh it’s criminal justice what I am majoring in and they all get a big giant laugh out of it while I sat there. Instead of taking me out to the side door, they could have, they had the police come in front of the glass windows and they had me handcuffed and then they took me. Instead of taking the short route, they took the long route, through the main part of the warehouse where all of my coworkers I worked with for probably about a year stood there and watched me as I got handcuffed. I’d never seen anything like that in my life. I was now the subject of this. I got handcuffed and led down the aisle towards the side door to be put into the squad car and taken to the police station. 

I still remember the police officer in the car saying “what did the kid do?” and he said “he lifted some tapes” and the guy saying “why didn’t they just let them go?” I’m thinking yeah why didn’t they just let me go. They took me to the police station where I was in the holding cell and I get one phone call so I called my girlfriend. I said I need you to go to my house. I need you to go up in my room and I have money in the drawer and I need you to get $500 and bail me out. Don’t saying to my parents.” And I’m thinking I’m all clear at this point. Then the phone rings in the holding cell and the police officers said “it’s for you.” I grabbed the phone and before I could even hear anything I hear my dad on the other end. My girlfriend must’ve come home and was crying and was all upset and told my parents what happened. My dad called, found out about it, called me at the police station and that was that. 

So, I lost my job obviously stopped, I stopped going to criminal justice classes at school. It didn’t make much sense anymore and I was kind of lost for a while. I got another job and at that point I needed to try to find a way to rebuild. I think I was 18 and turning 19. I was fortunate because at 19 years old it would’ve been on my permanent record, at 18, it wasn’t so it is still sealed. I guess. Not that I’m telling everybody about it anyway and I didn’t write about this in the book because I didn’t think it was really interesting enough to go along with the story but it’s just a side note, the beginning. So many people asked me about the arrest and what it was. So that was the arrest that went on, you know, for about a year in courts until we finally got all settled. I did not learn my lesson unfortunately at that time. Stealing continued for another year or two until I had my big nightmare that you heard about when I was 22 years old. And that was the point where everything changed and basically had two lives when I was 22 and 22 on. But this was along the processes, along the way of what was going through at that point. 

So, there’s no lesson, I think, to be taken from this, no takeaway except don’t steal and don’t be an idiot like I was. But that was just me opening up and telling you a little back story and how that all went down if you read the book. So, I hope you enjoy that and if you haven’t read the book, go download it. So, the moral of the story is don’t be a knucklehead like me and make better decisions than I did because it will get you to a whole lot of trouble that you don’t need to be in. So, you hope you enjoy, have a good one!

Episode 29- Gaining A Month Of Freedom By Losing One Assignment

Gaining A Month Of Freedom By Losing One Assignment

I will follow up on yesterday’s podcast about the advantages and disadvantages of killing our business. We keep learning and you never stop learning but what we learned in this process, what we keep learning is that there’s always growth ahead of you that you don’t even see. So, the wedding side of our photography business ended like this and it is a pretty interesting story. 

We booked one final wedding for the last year of the business. We weren’t planning on doing any but it was a referral from a past client. They seem like a great couple so I figured why not just take one last one and then we’ll end it after that. We’ll give it all we got and we’ll be done and will move on. Our other business are taking off. It was already taking over so we wouldn’t even need to grow this business anymore but okay we’ll do the job well and then we’ll move on. After we booked it, I looked at the calendar and it was two days after one of our sons’ birthdays and were going to go on a trip. But normal work life, that’s just the way life is, right? You just need to do the work, not thinking how much control we actually do have over our lives by the choices that we make and by the jobs that we take. 

So’s wedding was booked and being it was two days after our son’s birthday, it was obvious that we are nowhere going on a trip. we can do it may be before after. we thought about doing a month-long summer trip and that was off the table on that booking so we just accept and we go on. 

Here’s how the business ended. We’re traveling to Colorado, were leaving the hotel and we’re going cross-country as a family. As we checked out of the hotel, I checked my phone as Elizabeth and the boys were coming downstairs and I get an email from the bride from that wedding. She emailed and she said “I understand that we paid a deposit for this and that deposit can’t be refunded because they’ve held the date for almost a year, but should I regret to tell you that the wedding has been called off. So, there won’t be a wedding and we won’t need your services for that day.” The immediate response in your head, naturally is “oh my goodness!” You know you are thinking about this couple. you are thinking about what problems could happen? What the reason is? Maybe it’s just postponed. Maybe they broke up. You just don’t know and I am not going to ask the details and they’re not sharing it. It is the first thing you feels when you are thinking about the couple. The second thing you think is “Oh, we’re not going to be shooting that wedding now so that date is now open.” That’s the way that we would normally think me. The date might be open for another couple now. And the third thing you think is the certain amount of money that was supposed to come and that’s not coming in. The fourth thing that really hit me and that made me realize even though we had gained so much freedom by going from a job to a business, where we had freed up so many more days in our life for making that one shift, not even realizing how this one cancellation change my mindset on time freedom and location freedom. And here’s what happened.

That one booking that we accepted in the middle of the month, once it was gone, freed up the entire month for us to do whatever we wanted to do location freedom wise. Literally that one job was going to keep us in Pennsylvania for a month and we can do a shorter trip before that or possibly a shorter trip after it. But when that date went away and I saw the calendar open up, I didn’t realize how many of those other jobs that we took, to physically have to be there, were preventing so many other opportunities for us. How many times I couldn’t go to a conference for the business that I was growing because I had assignments that I need to be here for. How many times could I not do some type of a project, how many times could we not go on a trip that we wanted to go to or go to an anniversary or birthday party at a state from somebody else or go to a conference that would’ve really leveled up the business that were growing, out of town out of state for multiple days. I couldn’t do any of those things because we already committed to all these jobs where we live that I couldn’t do any of that stuff. That’s the normal world, right? I don’t expect that situation to feel bad that we couldn’t do that type of thing but it really opened my mind to the idea of we have complete control over our time if we wanted depending on what we want to build in terms of our career. 

So, at that very moment, as we are leaving Durango Colorado and heading along the southern part of Colorado, headed back home, I really got the vision of what the next level of our business looks like. And building a business that included location freedom was a huge part of it. Now I never could’ve done that before because I never could’ve even envisioned it. It was in a world that we lived in. But once you start tasting what that’s like, now you can build what it is that you actually want from the very beginning. So, as we drove back in all those hours of driving back from Colorado at that point, I was able to craft what that looked like. I was able to craft with the work I would do it look like. I was able to plan what I did not want to do and I was able to plan what I really did want to do and that was the big seed in terms of building the next level of a location independent business. 

Now we had time freedom, we have the financial freedom but what that business did not give us was the possibility for location freedom. Location freedom is not just about going on vacation. It is not the main point of it. So many people get caught up with that “I don’t want to work and I will live in the beach.” That’s not what I want. I love working. I love helping. I love creating ideas and thoughts and challenging people to be better at what they’re doing and where they are right now but that didn’t require me to be in one place to work. We had built a business because we were good at it around being required to be in a place to work. I did not realize until that moment how much that held us back from doing so many other things that were more in line with the life that we want to live. 

But it takes things like canceled weddings. It takes things like taking chances and stopping doing the work that is good so you can build the work that is going to be great. And that requires some courage to be able to do that because it’s so easy to just be like, “it’s good enough.” It’s good enough, I can’t complain, I’m happy. It’s easy to say but that’s a hard thing to take and make something really better from it because if we didn’t saw that, we would have continued booking dates the same way we were and we were still be in better shape than we ever been in the past but what we didn’t see with the possibilities beyond that. And once that wedding got canceled, which is a terrible thing all around right? It’s a terrible thing for their relationship. It wasn’t good for our business to lose it but it was actually the best thing that happened to our business because not only did it open up a month but it really allowed us to sit down and over a week, while driving, map out how you build the business that is location independent. That’s we love. We would not have been able to do that fully without that understanding. so, there were obvious growing pains when we decided to end our business, a lot more hasty than other people would’ve done it. But the growth and the learning that came from that and then a year out when it all finally ended and we were able to put our full time and effort into the next stage of the business was really such an incredible leap from one level to the next.

Episode 28- The Lessons Learned From Killing Our Business



All right, so yesterday I talked about why Elizabeth and I shut down our wedding photography business. Why we just ended it instead of just rolling on and keep doing it, just to do it. Keeping things safe and looking back year and a half, nearly two years later, it seems like it was kind of a bold move to do that seem pretty extreme, but in the time it felt right, it felt like this is the time to make a change. And I always worry about if I don’t take action on something, if I don’t go and do it, I’m going to get complacent and I’m going to get comfortable again and I’m going to stick with what I’m doing and I’m really going to regret not taking chances on what I really want to take chances on. But deciding to really just shut down a very lucrative business, a business that had already given us a life of freedom. 

I mean, if you read Freelance To freedom, this is kind of what went on as soon as the book was done being written. So have you read the book and you wonder what happened after that story ended? This is kind of what happened. We decided to end this part of our career with the grand vision of building what we’ve built now and continue to build. But the thing is, there were some upsides from doing it that way and there were some downsides to doing it that way. And this is what this podcast is about, to kind of let you know what the struggles were. We decided to do this, so maybe it could be a warning or it could be a help for when you’re in this position yourself. If you’re in a position where you’re doing something that is profitable but it’s not really your passion anymore, it’s not really something that you want to be doing. 

It’s a crossroads because you struggle because you feel like, I want to be grateful for what I’ve got. I want to be grateful for the income that this is bringing me with the same time. I know there’s something much more for me to do at this point. So I’ve become an advocate more and more of burning the boats because life is just too short to do anything that you don’t want to do. That’s one thing. When you’re 26 years old, you don’t have kids or family. It’s another thing when you have three kids, you’re married and you have a family that depends on your income. And fortunately for me, I have a wife that gets this and stuff has never been a big deal for Elizabeth. So we’ve been in the position where we’ve had money, we’ve been in the position where we haven’t had money, and I can tell you life is much better when you have the money, but there also comes a point where it doesn’t matter as much anymore. 

You know, there’s this, there’s a study that says, after you make more than $75,000 a year, the increase in income does not bring you more happiness, and there really is a lot to that study. So we decided to kill this business without the income to replace it. Yet now we weren’t going into this blind. We had the roadmap set. We had the book that was publishing. We had coaching that we were doing. We had masterminds that we were starting. It just wasn’t anywhere near what we were making with the weddings yet, but the big picture, Ford had so much more potential. I just needed the time and I needed to execute, so I’m going to go into what the negatives were about shutting it down. I’m going to go into what some of the positives were by shutting it down. I’ll start with the negatives and the first thing is I didn’t give us enough time. 

I didn’t give us enough financial in a short period of time to do this the way that we really probably should have done it. When you have the curse of being an all or nothing type of person like I am. When you’re done, a lot of times you’re done and it really could have been a little bit know a lot smoother if I would have laid out a plan that was a little bit more concise in terms of how the money was going to come in to tide us over. Now at the same time, I want to say we had an emergency fund set, we did have income coming in, we had no debt, so we were in a better place to do this. Then maybe some other people might’ve been or that we’ve been in the past. So the risk was a lot less, but still, you know this, when you get to a certain point in a certain income, you kind of get comfortable with that and any drop in that can scare you a little bit because is it going to come back? 

There was no guarantee that that was going to come back. So I put us in a difficult position because the month of my book released, it was the lowest income month that we had had in over five years that month that it released, which is pretty ironic when you’re writing a book about financial freedom. I mean there was a little bit of guilt like who am I to write this? Because at this very moment, as this book is being distributed and we’re traveling across the country, income coming in for this month is not what it used to be. So I certainly didn’t give ourselves a large enough window, a large enough runway to make it feel comfortable. But at the same time, you need to knock buildings down. You need to knock old buildings down that aren’t the future, so you can pave it over and build up the new one that you want to build. 

And that’s what we believed in. It’s the same as, I didn’t really have these feelings back when this happened. I look back and I feel this, I look back and I wrote, Ooh, that was kinda crazy that we did this. But when we’re doing it, it didn’t feel that bad. So if I were smarter and I was to do it again, I definitely would have created some type of a bridge income, something to make it a little bit more comfortable during those down months of the transition. So that was the downside. But here’s the upside of doing it and taking bold action. It forced us into action. It forced us to make this work because it’s happening to me in the past that when the money comes in and you know it’s there steady, you can really lose the drive for putting the work in, putting the grind, working for making the next thing work. 

You can kind of get complacent, you can take it easy and you’d be like, yeah, we’ll get there, but everything’s going good over here. So I’ll get there when I get there and it lets fear creep into what the next thing is because you’re losing something comfortable. And we didn’t have anything comfortable to lose because we had already lost it. And once we had lost it and we knew we weren’t going back because we very easily could have said, all right, let’s take some of these wedding inquiries that are coming in. We were still getting them. We were just turning them down while not producing the income. It was kinda crazy to think about, but we knew that every inquiry that we took at that point was going to take us off focus to where we really wanted us to go and it wasn’t about the money, it was about the freedom. 

It was about the future and that was the second good thing that came from it. I got to spend all my work time. I got to spend all of my work thoughts, all of my energy in that realm towards what we’re building. I wasn’t looking over my shoulder. I looking back, I wasn’t having regrets. I was completely and utterly focused on growing this next wave of the business. Now when you burn the boats, you are forced to do that. That’s why I am advocate for so many people that are not happy with their jobs to leave. And I get pushed back on that because it seems really bold. But when you use your income to pay off your debt, when you force your mindset into an abundance and not a scarcity mindset, if you accept no less than just doing what it is that you want to do that can help the right people, you have no choice but to make that work. 

There is no fallback plan because often when there’s a fallback plan, you fall back and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen. And the third thing that killing our business in such a dramatic fashion did for me is it forced me to realize what I really wanted to do. And when the money wasn’t flowing in and it was no longer about the money, I was forced to look there and say, where do I want to go with my life? I get to choose right now. I’m no longer handcuffed to a certain thing because we had to make this money. I can now look and say, what is it exactly that I want to do and let’s go build that thing and let’s not worry about the past as a sunk cost. The past. It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s not what we want to do. 

It’s not what we want to go. So why would we spend any more time doing that just for money. And for those of you that are saying, oh, but you got to pay the bills, you don’t understand there’s bills, there’s expenses, kids are expensive. I want you to get to the point where that’s not a problem. I want you to get to a point where financially you’ve put yourself in a position or you can make decisions that aren’t based on money anymore. Because when you can do that, you’ll realize so many of the decisions that you’re making are based only on money. And if money didn’t matter, you wouldn’t do that work. You wouldn’t go to that job. You wouldn’t get up and get in the car at six 30 or get on that train or deal with that boss if it wasn’t for money. 

So get your money together, pay attention to it, pay off your debt, build an emergency fund, start the side business while you don’t need it. Because when you finally had enough and you could be like, I’m ready to go. And there’s no more excuses. So there were some downsides to doing this. There were some slight hairy ties that we have to deal with, but for the most part, three to one ratio, doing it abruptly and doing it the way we did it actually was a big benefit and not a negative, but to do it and to do it right, it required vision. It required focus, and it required tenacity. And if you want to hear the story behind all this, you could download the audio book for freelance to freedom for free from our website, total life freedom. That comm slash f two F book. It’s there for free for you to pick up and download. And I’ll be back with you tomorrow with a story about how losing one assignment, one job gained us a month of freedom. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 27- Why We Killed A Six Figure Business

The transcript for Ep. 27- Why We Killed A Six Figure Business

So for over 13 years, one of the main sources of income for Elizabeth and I was photographing weddings and if you read in the book, shooting weddings was not something that we were dying to do. It was something that was born out of desperation. It was something that was born out of financial need. After we had decided that the newspaper career that we’re in was not going to suffice for the life that we wanted as our son was getting ready to be born. So we started this career, that desperation of something just to make a couple of bucks and it turned into something that we actually really enjoyed doing. It was something that we could tell stories with, we could be creative with. We actually had carte blanche over the way that we did the work because we control the message. We weren’t working for somebody else, so we could design our website to reflect our personality in terms of the work that we do, in terms of the art that we create for our couples. 

So it turned out to be something that started out as like that we did not want to do because we had a preconceived notion of what it was about. But once we got over that and we got into it and we actually took the chance and we got our fingers in it, we realized, well we can tell better stories in this format that we were even able to do in the newspaper world, which we thought was the ultimate level of creativity for a journalist. It wasn’t because we started thinking about it, we’re like, well we have to do all these environmental portraits, pictures of buildings, different assignments. I had no journalistic feel to it at all. They were just kind of gripping grin pictures. But with a wedding we got to just tell emotional stories of one of the most important days of these people’s lives. And we really got into it. 

So we made it our thing for all these years and it turned out to be extremely successful, extremely profitable. I mean to the point where within a couple of years we had paid off all our debt. We paid off our house, we quit. Our jobs were financially free. So about two years ago we decided to stop. We decided just to stop shooting weddings. So people in our life that have been in our life the last couple of years, they know everything that’s going on, all the different changes that have gone on, the different businesses that have started, the different areas that we’re in. But people that I haven’t spoken to in a little while, they’re like, oh you still shooting weddings? And I’m like, and that feels like 40 years ago. Like, no, we’re not like we’ve, we’ve moved on from that. I haven’t had to answer the question very much, but I’ve had to answer it a lot lately. 

It’s kind of like, why did you stop shooting weddings and like well might as well make a podcast about it. Cause I get asked it a bunch now, especially when the book was published, when I wrote the book, our primary income was weddings, which was six figures. And we decided to kill that. We decided to just basically put it aside, put it away and do other stuff. And I think some people were really intrigued by that. So I’m like, I might as well tell a little bit of the story of that because you know, it’s more than just one small podcast. But what happened was a few years back I was going through a tremendously difficult health issue, which was adrenal fatigue. My thyroid was all messed up. I was going through adrenal fatigue. I was in a situation where I was, I was tired all day, but I couldn’t sleep at night and I’m not an anxious or depressed person, but I had severe anxiety, severe depression that came with, I mean crippling to the point where it was like days in bed, just doing nothing but just worrying and everything seemed heavy. 

That’s the best way I can describe it. Everything just seemed heavy. Every decision, every everything with the kids, everything with our career, you know, it all seemed just so important and it crippled me. It mentally crippled me for for a long period of time. And this went on for probably a good year and a half. So when it started, you know, we were fully entrenched in our wedding business and when it was over, we had already killed the wedding business and it moved on. That’s how, that’s how long it was. And that’s how bizarre it was. So the backstory to it is during this adrenal fatigue, while this was going on, we were still shooting weddings. So I was exhausted. I mean, I would show up at weddings and I would, and I would just do my best just to stay energized. At that point I was even drinking red bull, which is so bad for you. 

But I was drinking those just to get a jolt of energy just to get me going through the day. And I would say to myself like, Oh, six more hours, you know, til I’m done. But I would just try to give it everything that I had. And then Sundays and Mondays were brutal because it was just recovery time. And normally it wouldn’t be that bad. But going through this, it was tough. But what happened was there was one wedding, and I remember it clearly, and this was the day that I knew that the career was over. I show up at the House of the groom getting ready. Elizabeth was at the bride getting ready and as we normally did, what was the two photographers? She would be with the bride, I’d be with the groom, we’d meet at the ceremony and then I would shoot. Then we would meet at the reception and I would shoot the rest of the night until the, until the wedding was over. 

That’s, that was generally the way that we worked at. But I remember ringing the Doorbell or the groom and here’s what I thought. I said, I hope they don’t answer. That’s what I thought. I said, oh my goodness. Like I, if they didn’t answer and I could just go home and go to sleep, that’s how crazy it was. Cause this is somebody’s wedding. But I was so exhausted and mentally just shot that I just didn’t want to do anything. But they opened the door and you know, they start getting, so immediately the adrenaline kicks in and you and you start doing the work. So what happened was I shot that, went to the ceremony, shot the ceremony, I met Elizabeth there, we did the receptionist at the lights, did the portraits, did the whole thing. And when it’s going on, you don’t feel any of it. 

Cause the adrenaline is so high and you see the energy of this couple, so you feel it. So you feed off of them. But you know when it’s all over, I mean literally when you drop the cameras in the car and you get in the car, your body is gonna just shut down. You’re just going to feel it. So what happened was I shot the entire ceremony, shot the entire reception. And then as I got in the car, I started driving home. And normally when I drive home from weddings, I recall all the moments from the wedding. I recall the things that I shot. I think about the lighting, the moments that I get this, that I get that. Anything that I missed, you know, I just, I do an audit in my head of the entire wedding and I drove home from this wedding and for the first 10 minutes I didn’t even think. 

And then I started thinking about the wedding. I don’t remember anything that I shot. I don’t remember the ceremony. I mean I was there, but I don’t remember the pictures that I took. I don’t remember if the light was good at the reception. I don’t remember if I captured all the key moments, you know, first kids, all the things that matter the in between moments that getting hurt. I don’t remember any of it. And I’m driving home and I’m thinking, oh my goodness, like we’re dead. Like the, she’s going to come back to us and she is going to complain. You know, we had never gotten any like that in all those years and doing weddings. It’s always been fantastic response and we’re going to get like the first real complaint for our work. And I’m like, ah, you know, and, and it just broke my heart. 

Like I blew it for them. I blew it for their wedding. Like as it was all over with, I’m thinking, I’m not thinking about how I felt anymore. I’m thinking, holy crap, I screwed this up for this couple and this is their wedding day and that’s how important it is. So for two weeks as Elizabeth edited all the pictures, I didn’t even look at it. I didn’t even want to look at it. She did the work. She know it looks good, you know I’m like okay and I’m not really believing her. So she edits it and then we put together this slide show and we send it off to the couple. And I’m just bracing myself. I’m bracing myself for the response. I’m bracing myself for, you know, how, you know I’m already thinking are we going to make it up to them somehow? Is there something we could do for them? 

You know, we give money back with all these things because I’m still in the middle of this adrenal fatigue and then we send it off and we get an email back and I see all these capital letters and it’s just like we love it. Like this is, you got everything. You got all the moments that we wanted. I don’t know how you guys captured it all like this is better than we ever expected. And I was like, what? I was like, what are you talking about? I don’t even remember this. I don’t even remember how we did it and now you’re raving about it. And I was completely expecting just to be shot down and now like whatever repair has to be done afterwards. And once the dust settled on that, I said to myself, it’s over. I said, I can’t, I’m not gonna, I can’t do this anymore. 

And the reason why is because there was no longer a challenge. It was always such a challenge. I always loved the idea of like working without a net, you know, I need to earn it. I need to earn this, keep, I need to be on to do this, right. I need to be able to be at a certain level and mentally there. And when I realized that I can sleep, walk through something and still produce the work that we would have expected, I immediately realized I had to be done. I needed a new challenge. That’s exactly what it was. That’s exactly what my mindset was. And I said to Elizabeth, I said, I’m done. And I think she understood because she kind of felt the same thing too. It kind of felt like, well, we can keep riding this gravy train, we can keep doing, we can raise our prices, make more money, but we’ll still be doing something that we’re not feeling challenged by and now we can always choose a new way to challenge ourselves. 

Right? We can choose a different style to try to embrace or do things differently, but it just felt right to make a change. It felt like this is the time to try something new. And I had been doing coaching of photographers for a couple of years on the side, just doing one on one coaching. And to me that felt like weddings felt in the very beginning, like in the very beginning when you don’t even know what you’re doing. But you’re learning and you’re trying and you’re, and you’re growing in, you’re excited by it. Like it, that felt like the thing that I w I knew nothing about and I want to get better at and the weddings is like, yeah, we can keep getting better at it, but when do you cut the cord? And so we decided to cut the cord at that point forward. We booked maybe another half a year of weddings to go forward in terms of income wise. 

And then we ran out the ones that we had and we built this next business on the side and that’s how we made the transition. And there’s a lot of mistakes in that I’ll talk about in the next episode and what we learned from that and what we’re doing now to not make the same mistakes we made then. But essentially it happened that quickly. It was like it’s time for a change, it’s time for a new challenge and we’re going to go after it. We’re not going to do it just for the money. We’re not going to do something that we’re half into just for the money. It’s not the way that we want to work or live our life. So that’s essentially the story of how we decide to start getting out of actually killing a six figure business and go into something completely new. And I’ll be back with the lessons that we learned about what we did wrong in that process tomorrow.

Episode 26- Two Things That Hold People Back From Freedom


The transcript for Ep. 26- Two Things That Hold People Back From Freedom

I want to talk to you today about two reasons why I think so many people struggle and fail while trying to create their own business and trying to create their own life of freedom. And it comes down to these two things. It comes down to their perceived need of stuff and security. Now that’s it. Now business can be very complicated, but in truth, it really is pretty simple and when it comes down to it, people’s need for stuff often trumps their desire for freedom. So they will allow their stuff, they will allow their cars, they will allow their house, the neighborhood they’re in, the activities that they’ve signed their kids up for, their want for that motorcycle or that boat that gets them away from the thoughts of their crappy job. The thing that is their escape, they allow that stuff to actually stop them from living the life that they want to live day after day. And that need for stuff that need for things that used to feel special, but they’re just normal now that you don’t want to lose

That stops people from actually taking chances on things that they want to do. It holds them in their place. It makes them keep playing defense instead of starting to play offence. So they are quite literally just trying to hold onto things that they already have so that they don’t lose them, instead of actually being able to give up things that are just okay for the things that they really want. So we have a really nice car, but with the drive to the job that we don’t want to go to with it, we have a really nice house, but it’s the house we have to come home to after doing work all day that really doesn’t excite us. It’s the boat or the vacation home that we purchase to get away from the life that we’re trying to escape from. So I study really successful people. 

I consider that my job. What I noticed from so many successful people that the stuff doesn’t really matter. Now a lot of them have it, but it’s not that big of a deal to them. That’s not why they do it. And there’s no way in the world they would let stuff stop them from doing the work that they do now. And the problem is you don’t even know what the great work is that you can be doing because you’re so stuck doing work that you don’t want to do to pay for stuff that you already bought that you can’t even see the other side of it. So we model the people that are successful that we really want to learn from, and what we’ve learned is stuff isn’t a big deal. So we have a house, we’ve got a nice house. 

It’s not a gorgeous mansion, it’s a nice house. It’s a paid for house in the suburbs of Pittsburgh that is more than good enough for what we need for us and our three homeschool kids who are messy and dirty and love creating things and love building things. We don’t need a beautiful pristine house for that. It’s just not the time of our life for it, but we can very easily be coerced into thinking of, that’s what we need. That’s the image that we need to project to be this person in this world, and it makes no difference to us. So somebody can come to our house and be unimpressed. They can be like, I thought it would be bigger and that makes no difference to us. Whether they think that or don’t think that or they’re impressed by it or they’re not impressed by it. 

What makes a difference to us is having the freedom to do what we want to do every day and having no limits and not feeling like I need to take on work that I don’t want to do to pay for something that I already bought or I need to buy to make myself feel better. So that’s the stuff part of it and there’s so much more that we can dive into. There’s so many other episodes that can be pulled out of just those couple of minutes, but I’ll stop there on that one. But the second one is security, and I’m not sure exactly which one holds people back more. And I love studying this and finding out more and more, but security is another big one. Your need for security, for perceived security is going to severely slowed down your ability to actually do the work that you really love doing or at least being able to brainstorm and think of the ideas that you really want to be doing because I can tell you when you need security and you need that job and you need somewhere that’s going to give you a steady paycheck to make you feel like everything’s fine, you will have a really hard time finding the courage to say, this is not what I want to do and this is what I want to do and I don’t need the security to do this. Because I can tell you right now there is somebody that is way broker than you are that has way less security than you do, but they have no fear. 

They have nothing stopping them and they are going to eat your lunch. They are going to come in and they’re going to just do what they want to do their way because there’s nothing to lose. But if you feel like you have something to lose, I can lose the house, I can lose our emergency fund, I can lose our steady paycheck. If you work that way, you will play defense mode the whole way. And it’s just like the football team that goes into prevent defense when they’ve got a four point lead with two minutes to go. Just about every single time when they play prevent defense, the other team drives down the field because there’s wide open spots to throw the ball. And here’s what happens. The team with the lead has lost their momentum. They’ve lost their momentum cause they went into prevent defense mode. 

They went into security mode. And by the time that they need to make that stop, deep in their own territory, they can’t do it because they’ve lost their momentum. And I see so many people like this in business and in life where they lose their momentum and they’d try to just hold on to what they have instead of fighting for something that they really want. And when you realize, you realize if you lose those things, if you lose the stuff and you lose the security, I often want people to lose it because they realize, oh my goodness, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I don’t even need this stuff. That’s when it’s really easy to actually do what you want to do. But we get hung up on these paychecks and the security and this stuff that we now can’t lose, that it forces us to play prevent defense. And while you’re worried about losing these things that don’t matter, your stuff and your security, you actually wind up losing the things that do matter to you, which are your dreams and the things you want to accomplish.

Episode 25- The Random Compliment


The transcript for Ep.25- The Random Compliment

Back in March, I attended social media marketing world as a conference out in San Diego is happens every year. Michael Stelzner runs it and it’s gotten bigger and bigger every year. It’s an absolute powerhouse of a conference. I really go to hang out with so many people that I know in the industry, so many people that I want to meet and so many people that I want to learn from and I spend a lot of my time at conferences just talking and meeting with people, not going to the conference part, not going to the speakers. I really want to get to know people more. I use it to my advantage to build my network with people that I would not normally get to hang out with for a couple of days and it’s led to so much, so much growth in so many different ways. I’m going to do podcasts about the power of conferences coming up in the future, but something funny and interesting happened while I was at this conference. 

I wasn’t even expecting it. It happened before the conference even started and our family was staying in Arizona for three months during that conference. So the day before I drove from Arizona to San Diego, I went and got a haircut and I was long overdue for a haircut. So I went in there and this guy who had cut my hair the last couple times I went in who’d always done a great job. I don’t know what happened this time, but I wasn’t happy with it. Like he just took it way too short, way too short on top. It just, I felt like, ah man, he kinda, he kinda botched this one. So I’m going into this conference now and I feel like I got this crappy haircut. I feel like it’s too short. It’s not what I wanted and I’m all self conscious about it. So it’s funny talking about this out loud than recording this for anybody to watch, but it’s just the truth. 

I go to this conference and I’m literally like, ah, like I wanted to get a better haircut before the conference happened. And then I get to the conference and it never rains in San Diego. I don’t think I’ve ever been to San Diego when it really rained, like a heavy downpour. Well, I get to my Airbnb and I’m staying there with Andy Storage and Ken Carfagno, two close friends of mine and they’re at the conference. So I get to the place and at the park, my car, but it is pouring down rain. It is just coming down like, this is not normal in San Diego. So I gotta get to my car and I’ve got to get to the Airbnb, I got to check in and I don’t have any time to even get ready. So I’m like, I’m going to get drenched. I’m already not happy about my haircut. And now it’s going to get all wet and I’m going to show up looking like a, like a drowned rat. 

And I’m just Kinda just all self conscious about this. So I finally get into the Airbnb and my clothes are so soaked from the heavy rain coming down, I change my clothes, put all new clothes on and just comb my hair real quick and it’s just all wet and I’m like, ah, this is not what I want. There’s not the appearance that I wanted to make. I know this is so vain and insecure and whatever, but it’s just, I was being honest in terms of how I was feeling. And there’s a reason behind this. So I text everybody, I’m going to meet him at the conference and I’m walking over and literally thinking, I look like crap. I’m near Petco Park walking towards the San Diego Convention Center and this woman walking next to me, she looked like she might’ve been from, she looked like she might’ve been from Jamaica or the Caribbean and I didn’t even see her. 

And she says, that’s a nice haircut. And the first thing I thought was, oh my God, I’m getting made fun of, not even like quietly, but I’m getting made fun of like to my face. And I stopped and I turned and I looked at and I said, excuse me, and she said, your haircut looks really nice. That’s good haircut. And I said, really? She said, yeah, it looks really good on you. They did a great job. I didn’t get the impression at all that she was being flirtatious or anything like that. She was literally just giving me a compliment and I have no idea who this woman was. I said, thank you. And I went on my way and I went to the convention center. But because of her, I was able to approach it so much differently because I really was self conscious. I really wasn’t happy with it. 

And out of nowhere, this woman took the time and not only the time, but she had the generosity to go out of her way to make a compliment that there would be nothing lost from her life by not giving me that compliment. It wasn’t like I was fishing for it. It wasn’t like she knew me. She was just walking down the street. She noticed something that she wanted to give a compliment to and she went and did it. And to whoever you are, I’m not sure what your name is. You literally made the conference for me, because the rest of the time I felt confident. The rest of the time I was like, Hey, I thought back to her saying that. And I can’t remember the last time somebody gave me a compliment and a haircut. I can, I mean, probably when I was in my twenties I cannot remember the last time somebody gave me a haircut compliment. 

And, but her doing that at the exact moment that I was self conscious about it and it led me into a conference with so many people. It’s so important to feel confident. It’s so important to let all that stuff go and just be yourself and then just really connect with others. And this woman out of nowhere did this for me and gave me the boost that I truly needed at the right time in such a small, superficial way. But she went out of her way to do something that she did not need to do. And it stuck with me since then and I, you know, I try to do my best at doing this, but I realize I’m not giving enough random compliments out of nowhere to things I truly believe could use it. Now I’m not talking about your BS compliments to try to get something or just because you, you want to impress on me and I’m talking about something like this woman where there’s no benefit for her to do it except to be nice and to help somebody else out. 

She probably went on her day and probably went home that day and whatever happened, not realizing the impact that she made, but never underestimate the power of an unexpected compliment because you never know how you could turn somebody’s day around somebody conference around or even just inspire somebody else to do it more. So I want to take this lesson and I want to bring it to you and I want to inspire you today to go out and find somebody or more than one person to give a random compliment to that’s unexpected that you truly believe in, but you might not normally have done it. And it’d be even more important if you know that the person really needs it. So again, to that lady in San Diego that made my day, I appreciate you, I appreciate you doing that. You taught me a wonderful lesson and I’m hoping to bring that lesson to more people. All right. There you go. I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 24- Yesterday


The transcript for Ep. 24- Yesterday

So I believe I mentioned in a previous episode or two that we homeschool. So we have three sons, they’re 14 they’re 11 and they’re 8 and we’ve done that for about four years now. And everybody asks, how do you do that? And this isn’t a podcast about homeschooling, but a lot of people ask, you know, how do you guys do that? Who teaches, how does that work? And it really depends on the day. And my answer is different all the time, depending on where we’re at. But my joke is that Elizabeth is the teacher and I am either the principal or the substitute teacher, whichever one gets less respect, that’s the one that I am. So I can be the substitute teacher that doesn’t get taken seriously. Or I can be the principal as the lay down the law sometimes. But homeschooling three boys, while running our business from home and Elizabeth and I work in our business together can get very challenging at times, especially with time. 

We have to be so much more efficient with our time than we used to be. And we actually become more productive with less time now than we used to be with a lot more time because each moment that we work has to be taken a little more seriously. When I need Elizabeth upstairs to work on something or to tweak something, we have to take advantage of that time because we’re generally with one of the kids or all the kids or their home or we’re doing different activities. So we’re really focused when we work, we’ve got to get the work done, which has created a lot more time freedom with our family and then more efficiency with our business between, we never would have figured out, but with the kids being home, a lot of times it can be very difficult. But we got the kids in the summer camp this year, so Andrew’s been going for about five weeks now and Nolan Dylan went last week and there’ll be going next week. 

So there’s like two weeks during the year that Elizabeth and I are going to have the entire day to ourselves. And it’s quite bizarre. We look at each other, we go when we talk about, because we’re so not used to either talking about the kids or talking about business or just having spare time or free time. And even though we have a life of freedom, it’s not a life of just kind of lounging around and quiet. It’s, it’s a busy free if that makes any sense. So on Friday with the kids in camp, Elizabeth and I took a date day and we went out to lunch and then we went to the movies, which is just, we haven’t done that in forever where the two of us just go and laughing and I’m back to just being goofy and telling silly jokes and her having to deal with it. But we went to go see Yesterday, which was a fantastic movie. 

It’s about a musician in the UK and he’s a huge Beatles fan. And then there’s a power outage and he gets hit by a bus and all of a sudden his favorite band, the Beatles and some other things are forgotten about. So he realizes that people don’t know the Beatles music and he starts playing it again, and everybody loves it and he winds up recording the Beatles songs. There’s nothing I’m giving away. There’s everything that’s in the trailers if you want to watch the movie. But there was a point in the movie when he figured out how to play the Beatles music again. Then he started playing this classic music for other people. Now it’s not his music, but nobody had heard of before. But these are some of the greatest songs ever written in pop culture that people know about. So he sits down at the piano in his living room with his parents and he starts playing Let It Be, it’s a really funny scene because it’s one of the best songs ever written and he’s so into it and it keeps getting interrupted. 

He’s getting interrupted by his dad who wants to go get something to drink. He’s getting interrupted by the doorbell, by the cell phone ringing, by people kind of just joking about it cause they’re not taking it very seriously. Even though he’s playing one of the greatest songs ever. They just don’t know it yet, but he’s not being taken seriously by the people that know him very closely. Mostly his parents, they’re supportive, they’re like here, play it for me. But he never got through the first verse of the song. At the same time, he’s got a group of friends, three or four friends who are just big fans of his, they just love him and they appreciate what he does. They’re the only ones when he’s playing these different concerts, they’re showing up. There’s 12 people there, but they’re there supporting him. They’re just true friends that really care about what he’s doing and they’re supporting what he does. 

So when he starts playing the Beatles music, they’re just blown away by it. They just cannot believe it. Like, how did you write this? And he tried telling them that it wasn’t him, that the Beatles wrote this, but it was erased from everybody’s memory. So nobody believed him. So we kept playing the music and recording it over and over again. So his friends are blown away by it. And then he’s playing it in some coffee shop and some music producer finds him and loves the music and then signs a contract and then he’s recording music with this guy. So all these people are appreciating the work that he’s doing and it goes on and on and he wants it become very famous. It becomes a superstar, but the thing that I noticed is his parents never took them seriously. His parents up until the very end, they show up at this big concert is doing to promote his new album and even the dad was as interested in the sandwiches that were in the room that were available then he was in terms of really the music that he’s playing, and what I pulled out of that movie was we’re so often looking for the approval of our parents in terms of the work that we’re doing that they might often be the ones that take us the least seriously. 

They might not be the ones that believe in what we do the way other people are going to. They might not be your biggest fans in terms of the work that you do because quite often they still see you as a 12 year old that burned rulers by the couch as I did. Or maybe it was that you weren’t good in school or that you weren’t very outgoing when you were a kid or you were just a troublemaker, whatever it was. Quite often our parents and our siblings see us as that person from way back and they don’t see us for who we are today and that’s why something like Jack Malik, who’s the musician, this movie had to believe in themselves even though he generally didn’t have the raving support of his parents. Now they weren’t putting him down in this movie, which a lot of us have to deal with a lot of. 

I know I’ve talked to so many people who are battling their parents’ perception of them more than they’re battling with what they’re actually able to do. But if Jack was looking for his parents’ approval when he was playing Let It Be, one of the greatest songs ever written in their living room. And by their reaction and by the friend’s reaction that showed up, he would’ve quit right there. Or he would have play at a coffee shop. We would have played in his room. He never would’ve done more, but he knew what Let It Be was. He had seen what it had done in pop culture. It just, nobody remembers it. So he had all the faith in the world that if he keeps playing this song, other people are gonna love it because they already have now his parents don’t get it and his parents don’t take them seriously. 

But they were the least of his concerns when he moved on to bigger and better things, they were never going to be his biggest fans. They were never going to get it. And he had to realize this wasn’t for his parents. He wasn’t doing this to get their approval. Even though his frustration throughout the movie with them showed because of their lack of seriousness in what he was doing. And what I notice in artists and entrepreneurs and freelancers quite often is how they’re doing something because they’re looking for the approval their parents, because they never got it. And thinking back to Jack Malik, Jack knew that he had loads of songs that the world was going to love because he’d seen it happen. He had an advantage that was bigger than his parents’ approval. It was bigger than what they thought about it. And I often wonder by those who get stuck because they’re so busy looking for their parents’ approval that if they realized they had something that was way bigger than what their parents understood, if they would be able to blow off their parents either disapproval or disinterest and actually go make the work that they need to make for the people that truly want it, cause quite often it’s not going to be your parents that truly want it or truly get it.

Now, I know there’s a lot of people that deal with this. I know this holds a lot of people back because they always felt like they weren’t good enough for their parents, so why would they be good enough for somebody else? But the truth is, there’s somebody else that needs what you’re doing, and a lot of times it’s not going to be your parents and they’re not going to get it. So do what you gotta do anyway. And then when you take what you’re doing and you make it a success for all these other people, that’s probably when you’ll get the approval of your parents, but by then you won’t need it. So it’s a perfect situation. So go out and do what you have to do, regardless of who it is that’s not believing in you right now. By the way, if you like stories like this and you haven’t read it yet or listened to me yet, go download for free my book Freelance to Freedom. I made the audio book absolutely free on our website. If you’d just go to freelancetofreedom.com/f2fbook, I’ll post a link in the notes and you can download a copy of the book for free. And I really hope you enjoy that. All right, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 23- I’ve Been To The Top


The transcript for Ep.23- I’ve Been To The Top

One of the fun parts of my career has been the ability to meet, to photograph, to interact with and get to know some really influential and oftentimes famous people. And it’s pretty cool sometimes, especially when there’s somebody that you grew up either listening to or watching or being influenced by in some way or the other. I’m an eighties kid, you know, I grew up in the 80s, I came of age in the eighties in terms of music, in terms of sports. So people from that era hold a special place within me because they, cause they shaped a lot of what I learned and thought and kind of just listened to and it was influenced by, so when you get to meet those people, it’s really quite bizarre, especially when you get to sit down and talk to them and get to know a little bit more of the stories. 

And I was fortunate enough that years back, it was probably, you know, early 2000s, I got to photograph a concert by John Mellencamp. Back when I was growing up was John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp and he came to Indiana where we worked. And lived and he came and did a concert there and only that I get to photograph, but I got to be there for an interview that the reporter was giving with Mellencamp and just to kind of hang out and just observe and I wish I could remember who the reporter was and I hate to do that. I hate to mention somebody and not mention their name and give them credit, but I just don’t remember this moment. And we’re backstage, I think it was the day before the concert and he was interviewing Mellencamp and he was asking some pointed questions, you know, camp being from Bloomington, Indiana is not far from Evansville where we worked. 

So we had very, very close ties to the area. I think it was kicking off his tour at that point. Melloncamp is a really honest guy, he just tells you what he’s thinking. He’s a down to earth, outspoken Midwesterner who just believes in what he believes. I love that there’s no holds barred when it comes to just the conversations that he was having and the reporter was pressing him on, you know, his career now and touring. I mean, the arena was sold out so you still have big enough name to do it, but he wasn’t doing what he did back in the eighties in the eighties it seemed like everything you put out was a major hit. Pink houses and Jack and Diane and all the songs that while on MTV and they became number one. He was just top of the world. And the reporter asked him, he like, do you miss that? 

Do you miss those days? Do you miss being on top as opposed to now where you’re not on top, you’re still doing well? And I think he, I was, I was impressed because it wasn’t like kissing up to them. It was just a really honest conversation. But Mellencamp gave a response that it was the only thing I can remember after the show. And then even now, all these years later, I think about it and I think about it even in terms of the quest for success and the quest for glory and the quest for more in the quest for bigger. He laughed when the question was asked and he said, he said, man, he goes, I’ve been to the top and there ain’t nothing up there. So I’m cool right where I’m at. And that’s honestly not even a question that many people can answer because many people have not been to the top. 

Many people don’t have any idea of what it’s like. Most people don’t know what comes with it. Those people see the glory of it and don’t see the other side of it. And I can tell you from photographing and meeting so many professional athletes, so many musicians, so many people, you know, business people at the top, often it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. It’s often not what it was cracked up to be at all. But to us it’s all just special. It’s all just awesome. It’s money and it’s fame and it’s notoriety and it’s all those things. And what we don’t know on the outside is what it’s really like in there. And for him to give that answer. There wasn’t one hint of him BS’ing on that. There wasn’t one hint of somebody who’s not doing as well as they used to and him just justifying that he doesn’t want to be there. 

It was the sense of wisdom. It was a sense of understanding of like, I know what that world is. I’ve been there. I have no need to strive to be there again. I want to do my thing and I want to do my thing the way that I want to do it because when you’re at the top, you don’t know who’s got their hand in the pie. You don’t know what it’s like in terms of people controlling your art and when you talk to artists, and a lot of us in the freelance world are artists. A lot of times the bigger you get, the more you have to sacrifice the quality of your art and that’s why you see people like Sting. You see musicians who made it to the top, made the money, and then you don’t hear from as much anymore. They’re still doing their thing. 

They’re not doing it for the pop culture way. They’re doing it their way. This is the thing about financial freedom. We talk so much here in terms of that becoming financially free because financial freedom gave Sting or John Mellencamp or anybody, the ability to be able to do what they want to do and not have to do it for quote on quote the man anymore. So maybe they’re selling less albums, maybe they’re making less money, maybe less people are going to the show, but they’re doing the work that they love to do. Whether it’s 8,000 people or 23,000 people showing up, they would feel better with less people doing the work that they want to do then more people doing the work that they don’t want to do. And I think that’s really hard for somebody that’s not there to understand. And it’s really hard. It’s very easy to like, yeah, I like to find out what that’s like. 

And of course we would, but I like to go by the wisdom of people who’ve already done it, the people who already mentally know what it’s like and learn from them. So when he said, I’ve been to the top and there’s nothing up there. Not that it reduced my desire for success, it didn’t, but it reduced my desire to have to be at the top. It reduced my desire to have to say, oh, we have to be the ones that are known. We have to be the ones that are, we have to be the ones that are judged and and are put up at the top of the pedestal in terms of the top of our field. So even with our photography business, even what we’re doing right now in terms of coaching, in terms of masterminds, in terms of the book, none of it was about being at the top because I heard from way too many people that said that the top is not what you think it is. 

So that’s not where you think it is. What am I striving for that for? What I want to strive for is to do the work that is most authentic to me and to the people that follow what we do and want this message. And it’s not about being at the top, the top off. It might mean you might actually have to sacrifice all the things that really matter to you for success and notoriety. So to hear that way back in 2002 before we even started our first business was a huge boost for me to say, do what it is that you truly want to do and the way that you want to do it, and don’t worry about the crowds or the adoration or the notoriety or the numbers of it. And that one interview had a big impact on the way that we went about building our business.