What’s It Really Take To Be Successful?

(c) by Michael Stern

Please meet a fabulous new contributor to the PhotoBizCoach blog. Michael is not just a colleague that I personally appreciate but he is also just a great guy. Enjoy his point of view and let us know how you feel about this post!

As I continue to transition to the education, public speaking and writing side of the photographic industry, I’m surprised at the lack of basic professional business skills (common sense skills) that early-career (and often mid-career) artists frequently lack. Their numbers are huge. Actually this phenomenon is not exclusively an artist issue but since that’s my big thing, for purposes of this post, it is. The mastery of the following list is crucial if you want to be taken seriously and have professional credibility. This will also give you negotiating leverage.

1)    Always do what you promise to do, without excuses or procrastination, in high-quality ways (show up on time, be well-groomed, be pleasant, be knowledgeable, etc.) and always with a smile. It’s OK to exceed a promise but never under-deliver a promise. Once attached, the bad rap (of being unreliable) is very hard to separate from.

2)   Always communicate in a professional way. Be fanatical about typos and grammatical errors in all correspondence sent out. You want your audience to consume only the best from you. The devotion to excellence directs a positive light onto all that is you and your world. Think of it as the foundation of your marketing and branding processes.

3)    Educate yourself. Daily. Be in a constant state of learning. I learn something everyday from teaching, writing, parenting, gardening, being healthy, being mindful, minding my business practices, etc. My list is long. And I continue to add to it. I’m able to extract daily kernels of knowledge. Don’t discard or dismiss any experience without first vetting it for that hidden kernel. You’d be amazed at what you regard as being wasteful.

4)   Take care of your emotional state. This is perhaps the most difficult for me to manage on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. Getting quality rest, eating healthful food, play time and someone to talk to are a few of my techniques.

5)   Learn financial management. Spend less than you earn. Make your money work for you as well as you working for your money. Tough to master, but the long-term payoffs are sweet. Define what you want and what you need. If you can’t pay cash can you really buy it? I don’t make a purchase until I have the funds available. I look for no-interest financing options and then make sure I pay it off within the allotted time. I can always pay it off if need be. I appreciate the power that comes with this knowledge. Get in the habit of saving, anywhere and everywhere you can. Don’t be concerned with what your friends make, be concerned with how frequently you pay into your future by spending less today.

This very short list is intended to get you thinking about the topics. If you don’t begin mastering these basic habits, it’s my opinion that you’ll struggle to develop and maintain long-term life and career success.

Be well and good luck in your pursuits!


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