Create 🤬 You’d Pay For

Today, I was at the Triangle’s dopest barbershop, Rock’s. Not only do I get a consistently phenomenal haircut from Jennifer but I also get a craft beer with every cut. Today, I chose a Founder’s IPA and, right under the can’s rim were the words, “BREWED FOR US.” I thought that was great. They brew the kind of beer they want to drink.

Some people say you should make products or provide services that your customers would like. While I agree with that, I also think that you should never create something that you, yourself, don’t consider dope enough to pay for. In the case of barbers, yes, there are people who want really weird cuts and stuff. But that’s ok. Just think of it this way: if I was that kind of person, would I pay me for this caliber of cut?

If it’s not quality, don’t do it. Every photo I give clients is a photograph I would love to put in my portfolio. Every résumé and cover letter I craft is one that I would provide an employer with myself.

Be proud enough of your work to never give anything that isn’t good enough for you. And, if they want something that you wouldn’t be proud to tell others you did, turn down the business. It’s not worth it.

 

Make creating 🤬 you like a priority.

Advertisements

People See It In You. Why Don’t You?

So many people see greatness in you. They see that you are capable of accomplishing your dreams. Sure, there are people who don’t support but that’s life. The bottom line is, the person who needs to believe in you the most often doesn’t believe in you enough.

Trust that your passion will get you where you need to go. Today, I got a call from my brother to help him as he develops an internship program for his business. Lately, people have been contacting me for more and more creative gigs. While development consumes my days, my creative juices are always flowing. At night, I stay up creating content and editing photos.

I’m not saying quit your job to follow your creative aspirations… yet. I’m saying don’t let those things that pay your bills keep you from using your gifts. They are stepping stones. A means to an end. A seed of passion was placed into you for a reason. Water it so it can grow or it will die.

 

Make using your gifts 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.

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.

An Open Letter: This Thanks Is For You

Dear Everyone,
It is an empowering thing to see us breaking down society’s rules of what it means to be successful and, instead, define it as our happiness. Certainly, many of us stunt a bit on S.M. but we are making progress and that’s what matters. I love scrolling down my timeline and seeing my friends defining success and joy for themselves.

Whether they just got out the bing or started their own business or got a promotion or switched careers or decided to pursue dreams of spitting bars or finished reading a book or learned a new word or quit their job to travel the world, I’m happy for you. You may have just saved your first $100 or $100,000. I am happy for you. You may have just gotten engaged or announced you’re having a kid out of wedlock. I am happy for you. I am happy because I know that every step you take, even if it is a challenging one, is another step toward your destiny. You are going to be great and you’re getting greater each day you do something that causes love in and for yourself to grow.

Life is short. If you aren’t loving it, you’re wasting it.

Sincerely,
Deryle

The Adventure Begins/International Communication

This is the first in a two-month series of blog posts on the time I will be spending outside of the United States. Desirée and I are on a journey to see parts of the world that I never thought I would have an opportunity to see. And, while it is a major blessing, it is one that comes along with great responsibility. As I am overseas, I will be navigating the tail end of a hiring process, maintaining my professional development business, and blogging more frequently than I have over the past month.

That’s enough about the plans though. Let’s catch you all up on this first day. I’ve spent about the past twenty-six hours on the move from Durham to London and I am currently on a two-hour train ride to Cardiff, Wales. Yesterday morning, my younger sister Aja dropped Desirée and me off at the Durham Transit Station where we caught the Megabus to Washington, D.C. In the District, we grabbed some food before heading to Dulles to catch an Icelandair flight to London, by way of Reykjavik. Of course, once we landed at Heathrow we had to go through Customs (consistently my least favorite part of international travel) and now I’m on this train ready to eat. Outside of a happy hour beer and wings special I was able to grab in D.C. and a personal pizza at IAD, I haven’t had a meal in the aforementioned 26 hours (if you want to call those meals). I’ll be diving into a plate of fish n’ chips the moment we arrive in Cardiff and set our luggage down.

In the hour since I stepped through Customs, I have noticed one thing: the English take better care of their public transit than we do, at least in the form of trains. From the Heathrow Express to the Great Western Railroad that I’m riding now, the comfort and cleanliness exceeds the standards set by any major rail system in the United States that I’ve ridden, be it Amtrak or a citywide transit rail. And, on top of comfortable seats, they have “trollies” (handcarts) of food that well dressed customer service associates push down the aisles offering snacks. I feel like I’m one of the three black kids on the Hogwarts Express right now, as I enjoy my crisps (look up the lingo). Since they took notes from our democracy, maybe we could borrow a few from their transportation experts. Just a thought…

*Fast forward a few hours*

OK, now that I’ve eaten, I can go ahead and write about what I didn’t feel like pulling together on an empty stomach: communicating overseas. I have a few tips and, while I’m no certified expert, I’ve done this enough to know what has worked for me and will likely work for most American travelers.

1) Not to come off as elitist but, if you’re traveling internationally frequently, I strongly suggest investing in an iPhone. Under most circumstances, I wouldn’t consider an iPhone an investment and, in a traditional sense, it never will be because it doesn’t appreciate but, when it comes to traveling, it’s a cost-effective way to stay in touch with others. Yes, I know that the sticker shock associated with iPhones is a real thing but you don’t need the newest edition to take advantage of the international benefits that come along with an iPhone. Because Desirée and I won’t have a consistent income while overseas, we needed to cut as many expenses as possible and one of those expenses was our phone bill while we were away. What’s cool is, between iMessage, FaceTime (video or audio), and What’s App, I can call or text everyone in my phone as long as I have a WiFi connection (another cool thing about transit here: there is a connection not only in each airport and train station but on the trains). So, though I’m not paying Verizon for these two months, I am still able to check in with friends and family in a way that doesn’t involve Facebook.

2) Social media is an awesome way to stay in touch. Though I’m on Facebook a lot less than I used to be, I still have strong presences on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.  Social media serves a couple purposes for me: a) It allows me to maintain my brand and brand awareness while away and b) it lets me let people know I’m both alive and well without having to regularly reach out to those who know I’m away. All in all, it’s an easy way of maintaining an engaged community of followers.

3) E-mail is a must for me because communication is not a one way street. While Stateside, I have a few publications, such as the New York Times, and newsletters, such as Morning Brew and Blavity News, that I subscribe to. Not reading these is simply not an option for me, as a young professional who other young professionals come to for paid advice. Additionally, I have clients with whom I still must work. This afternoon (morning EST), I received an e-mail from one young lady who recently earned her master’s degree and needs work done on her résumé. Though I’m not overseas to work too much, I have people who rely on me to help them succeed and, because I care about the successes of those I work with, I’m glad to correspond via e-mail until she has dynamic document that allows her to take the next step in her career.

Those are the good things about e-mail. The terrible side of it is when you get behind in checking it. While I haven’t go through and cleaned it up yet today, I know I’ve gotten an ungodly number of e-mails over the past thirty hours. Now, imagine those days when I don’t check it. Most people I know have gotten the inevitable point of e-mail fatigue where they just stop checking for a couple days or even a week. Finally facing that e-mail inbox, overflowing with newsletters, advertisements,  and actual important communication is a challenge to say the least. My goal, while here, is to try to avoid that from getting out of hadn’t and missing no more than two days in a row.

4) You cannot go wrong with good old fashioned snail mail. I’ve got family members who have never left North Carolina. I’ve got friends who cannot legally leave North Carolina. I know some people who just don’t know how to make it fit into their lives. But, to all of these people, my postcard or letter will serve as a peek at a part of the world they may never see. I am my grandma’s eyes over here. I am my incarcerated homeboy’s international experience. The postcards I send out are pictures of a world I had only seen on television before this moment but they are reminders that, if I’m here, they can make it too if they want. Or, if they can’t, it’s letting them know that I wish I could bring them with me.

Communication is key to the human experience and, while here, I will communicate with those I care about, either through direct means or more general ones. Make sure that, when you decide to make the trek across the pond, you have a plan on how to communicate (and let those who you plan on communicating with know the plan).

Check out our journey on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook over the next two months by checking out the hashtag #EatPray10v3.

 

Make exploring the world a priority.

You Are Young Enough to Change

I don’t know what age people become “too old” to change so I’ll say this: You are young enough to change for the better. As I prepare for the next step in my career, I’ve gotten some great advice from a few seasoned professionals who each said, “Whatever the next step is, life is too short to do something you’re good at but that makes you unhappy.” It’s the truth. I’m not saying that I am unhappy but there are days where I ask myself “How can I make the most out of my talents?”

Don’t just jump without thinking about it but don’t not think about it. What really gets your wheels turning? What do you go to bed thinking about and then wake up with on your mind? Answer those questions and figure out how you can make a career out of it. It could be in working for yourself or you could work for an already established entity. While the point isn’t necessarily ownership, it is certainly happiness and it’s not being a slave to any place or person.

No matter what stage you’re at in life, you owe it to yourself to start your days with a smile. Figure out how you can do that and do it. Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a fantasty. All we have is now.

By the way, taking that dope photo above? That made me happy.

 

Make following your dreams a priority.