You’re Thinking Too Small

Don’t just try to be Apple or Samsung or Ford; be what they all need: Bluetooth. Every phone I’ve had since my first one (including some once popular brands that have fallen out of good graces with the public) have had Bluetooth. Every American car company offers BT software integration. Each smartphone and computer manufacturer. Right now, I have seven BT devices that I can connect to in the house (two sets of headphones, three speakers, a sound bar, and my MacBook Pro). While I didn’t buy my laptop because of it, I did buy my headphones because of that specific capability. Sure, the headphones say Jaybird but, when I talk to my friends, I call them Bluetooth headphones.

And that’s not just a tech thing. Patent something of that can be yours that an industry needs. What will make life easier or a service more seamless? Will you make the new barcode? How about a virtual keyboard? Will it be a new kind of sleeve for bananas that keeps the fruit fresher for longer? Whatever it is, make it bigger than branding. Have it be something that is integrated in multiple brands.


Make thinking bigger a priority.


Move Forward With Confidence

We’ve all had those interviews. You know, the ones where your confidence was through the roof, you and the interviewer connected, and your outfit was spot on for the culture. You reached out to me and I got your résumé in tip-top shape, with a cover letter to match. The hiring manager told you to expect a call in the next couple days.

A few days go by but was she talking about business days or days days? A business week goes by and you decide it’s time to reach out to HR. You find out that no news really is good news. Their timeline got thrown off but they’re still considering the candidates. Definitely a relief.

They finally call back on the second date they gave you and, this time, the news isn’t so good. They’ve gone with an internal candidate. But how? You did all the right things. You were genuine, but impressive. Well-dressed but not over-dressed. Articulate but not pompous.

While I interview well a strong majority of the time, I’ve had my share of interviews that didn’t yield the results I expected. For a long time, I thought I’d done something wrong. But, truth be told, I can pull out all my best answers, shirts, and slacks and still be the wrong person for the position.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re not qualified or a great person for the field. It just means the position isn’t for you.

This post is just as much for me as for you all. Your time is coming. Don’t give up. I won’t either.


Make pressing forward a priority.

What Do You Want to Change?

This weekend, I got up and I knew it was time to begin writing here again. After nearly six years running, I had to take a step back and regroup because the quality of my content was deteriorating and I was running out of fresh ideas. I needed to remove myself from the blog in order to come back stronger.

What areas in your life are so overcome with monotony that you feel like you’re putting staleness into once fresh spaces? Have you taken a break from them lately? If not, this may be the time. If it means taking a mental health day at work so you can drive 3 hours away to your favorite restaurant for lunch, do that. If it means escaping for a weekend to hang with your boys or girls from college because your relationship is consuming, so be it. And, if it means taking months away from your daily blog, I will not object.

If you see that you need a brief change, chances are others see it as well. Make sure you make the change before they think the shift would be better if it were permanent.

Make being honest about what you need a priority.

…And Be Comfortable With It

The first part of that title is “Charge What You’re Worth…”

Too often as new entrepreneurs, we want business and experience so much that we timidly charge the amount that we know our services are worth. (I know that goods can be equally difficult to price but factors such as inventory and shipping can help you stabilize that.) In my instance, as one of a heck of a lot of photographers, I started off with a sliding scale that really wasn’t a scale at all. Folks would ask me for a deal and I’d give it to them because I just wanted to shoot. And, as a hobbyist, that’s perfectly fine. As an entrepreneur, it’s not.

I have a former coworker who has a great eye but who doesn’t consider herself to be a photographer (I don’t know why and I know she’s reading this and could make shooting a GREAT additional source of income). She does favors for friends and family sometimes. Sometimes they thank her with a monetary gift and sometimes they don’t. The difference between the two of us is I invest in equipment to become better. I spend time daily practicing to become the best version of myself I can be.  So, when I do inform people that the cost of an hour shooting* is between $100 and $150, some are ok with it. Others aren’t. And that’s fine if it’s not in their budget right now. Everyone who wants to eat at Angus Barn can’t do it right now. But if they want to badly enough, they can put a bit away throughout the year and have a great holiday dinner. The same is true for the quality goods and services you offer. If they see value in it, they will find a way to pay for it.

Before I go, I’ll toss you another example: I have worked on résumés for hundreds of people. I started in college just proofreading them and then I began formatting them. To begin with, I was doing the work for free but, as I began to hone my skills and invest in more resources that would make me better, I knew it was time to start charging for professional development services. I let people know my price. Initially, I thought I was charging too much (mind you, at the time, I was charging half of what I do now) because people didn’t want to pay the amount. I found myself giving everyone discounts. Then, one day, I decided no more discounts. Sure, there are times of year (specifically at the end of a semester) when I may run a two-week special on professional development services but that’s more so marketing. If they want that first $35,000 or $45,000 or $150,000 job (yes, my work has opened all of those doors), it’s nothing to invest $100-$200. It’s all about what we’re willing to spend our money on.

Long story short, charge what you’re worth, be good at what you charge for, and someone will pay for it. Respect your time and others will respect it as well. As my guy Fabolous said, “let these (people) know your worth. Ain’t no discounts.”

*Price varies based on distance traveled and number of subjects in the photograph.

Make knowing your worth a priority.

Been a Minute

I’ve been neglecting my readers because it’s hard to be looking for a job, writing a book, taking photos, developing brands, and figuring out how to find joy in my life’s work.

Life is crazy. For centuries people had no clue that they weren’t living to their fullest potential. How could they know? It takes knowing what you’re missing to miss it. How do you know you need to protect your mental health when mental health isn’t a concept? Happiness was reserved for the rich.

Well, guess what? I reject that school of thought. I believe in doing what you must but what’s the point of living for a life you hate? I’m not saying you shouldn’t live if you hate your life. Instead, you should create a life that you will love. How do you do that? Well, since our country doesn’t offer free healthcare (specifically healthcare that includes mental healthcare), you have to put up with nonsense. But, while putting up with it, don’t lose focus. Know that you’re putting up with it to get to a place of less stress and more smiles. A place where relationships are more valuable than materials. You’re putting up with the rubbish so you can eventually put it down for peace.

Make more smiles a priority.

Do You Really Need Kanye to Validate Me?

Don’t wait for someone else to validate your friend’s work to support him/her. Ask yourself, “If Kanye said my homie’s art was dope, would I start supporting?” If the answer is yes, don’t wait for ‘Ye or Kim or Barack or Cardi or LeBron or Beyoncé or Cole or anyone else to say it. Just support your people the same way you support ‘Ye or Kim or Barack or Cardi or LeBron or Beyoncé or Cole. Go to their shows. Rock their clothes. Hype them up on social media.

And, while money is ALWAYS nice for artists who pour our souls into our art forms, I get it: We don’t all have bread to spend on every little thing (I blame Sally Mae). But you can click a link. You can repost a piece of work or a web address. You can have their new track playing on your Instagram Story while you’re driving up I-95. You can go hard for your homie’s business like it’s yours every now and then. If you wouldn’t buy their stuff regardless of whether ‘Ye liked the work or not, that’s cool. But if (s)he is truly your friend, still repost because art is like food: everyone has different tastes.

In short, stop killing genuine art (and, ultimately, your friends’ livelihoods) with your apathy. It’s not 1984, it’s 2018. Supporting is as easy as tapping a touchscreen once or twice. If you don’t even do the bare minimum to support, don’t expect to get put on when your talented friends make it.

While we’re on the subject of support, check out my Patreon page and subscribe to get an exclusive look at my creative process and weekly pieces that won’t hit the public.

Make supporting your team a priority.

Make Today the Day

You made it through the day. If no one else says it, I’m proud of you. And yes, I know it’s a holiday. Most of you aren’t working. You deserve a day off. But take some time this evening to do something, anything, that will make every tomorrow easier. Read a book. Start the first page of a book. Purchase that domain name.

For me, that something was starting my Patreon account. It is going to help me monetize my content going forward. Click here to see what comes with a monthly subscription. I hope you’ll invest in my words and photographs for less than the cost of a happy hour drink.


Make finding a way to live off your craft a priority.