Persistence and Grit in Running a Portrait Business
Let's talk about what it means to be persistent. And what it means to practice grit. You guys all have heard, right, just stick with it, you've gotta be persistent. What do you think the difference is between grit and persistence?
Pushing through no matter what.
So persistence is, I'm gonna do it no matter what. I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it. And in so many ways that's great. We talk about persistence with sales, right? Trying again a second time, a third time, and a fourth time. But grit. Many people will tell you that grit is the magic formula. 'Cause grit means I'm gonna try, I'm gonna try, but I'm also gonna take a break now. I need to take care of myself. I need to rest. I need to give it a minute. I need to actually stop going down this path, 'cause it's not really working for me. This revenue isn't worth my effort. Then I'm gonna try again, I'm gonna try again, I'm gonna try again. Grit means I'm always...
moving forward, but not relentlessly, at the point where I'm not actually stopping and taking account and taking stock of where I am. I have not been super persistent in my work, but I have practiced grit. I've stopped, slowed down, reevaluated, made sure it made sense, moved forward some things, dropped other things. Practice grit, conserve your energy. Minimize the friction of those you work with around you. Find the most effective and efficient ways to do it. Make sure you're working on the right things. And treat your energy like the precious commodity it is. Keep moving forward, but do it with a lot more of intentionality. A lot more care for yourself. And better focus and direction that you can keep evaluating as you move forward. And oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness! Just get started. Let me tell you something, if you haven't started yet, or you haven't done the next wave, let me tell you something that's gonna make you feel significantly better. No one's gonna notice you anyway. When you first start. When I logged the domain name tamaralackey.com, and I uploaded my first picture, guess how many people noticed that I was now in business? I had to ask my mom, "Can you just take a look at this?" Nobody. Nobody noticed. And they didn't notice for a while. They didn't notice for a long while. Get started. CreativeLive. Seven years since I've been here. Do you know how different CreativeLive is since November of 2010? To what it is now? Completely different operation, different sets, different building, different structure. CreativeLive when it first went out, it was great. CreativeLive now is great. It's changed. It's progressed. It's changed tactics, it's expanded, it's been more specific about things. It's not like it sucked back in, but it's different and it's change, and they went out right away, before they had it all figured out. Because they didn't need to have it all figured out just to start. And they adapted and changed along the way. Do you remember when Amazon went out? It was just books. Remember? Amazon.com, we sell books. And then they said, we think we're gonna get into a bunch of other things. Like, you're a bookstore. What else could you get into, Amazon? Just get started. Figure out the rest as you go. One of my favorite quotes from Reid Hoffman, who started LinkedIn, he's a venture capital guy, with Greylock. Reid Hoffman said, "If you're not embarrassed by the first product, you waited too long to launch." If you're not embarrassed by how you started, you waited too long to start. My first website is humiliating. But I started. Because here's the other part of that. Some people will say, gosh, I don't even know how to get started. How many people here feel that way? Like I wanna get started, I don't even know how to get started. You actually do know, you just took two pages of notes. You do know. You know what the first step is. The first step is gonna be the one thing that you feel like you should have to work on the most. Maybe it's launching a website, maybe it's narrowing down your portfolio, maybe it's defining your identity and your brand. Maybe it's managing your own self doubt. You know what the first step is. You're just confused about the one after that. That's the part that you haven't figured out. But you know what the first step is. Does anybody here not know a first step to take? You all know how to get started. You're just not completely clear on what to do next. And by the time you start, clarity sets in. You then know what to do next, because you find the direction and the focus, 'cause you started. You figure out what the second step is. And because I know all of you are gonna be very clear headed, you're all going to start, you're gonna make decisions and committed. Committed to the process and committed to the final product, and committed to your brand. You're also gonna practice grit. You're gonna give a crap about what trolls think, and what the background noise is, 'cause you're gonna keep focused on what you know you can do. And you're all gonna become consummate professionals. I wanna remind you of one other thing. You wanna remain an amateur. You know what's great about an amateur? They love what they do. They're so passionate about this, they're only doing it 'cause they love what they do. You're only a photographer because you love taking photographs. You're an amateur, not saying you guys are, but you're an amateur 'cause you love taking photographs. As you progress and you get the structure in place, you're gonna be professional, and you are turning it into something you exchange for money. Congratulations! You got money, you're in business. So you're gonna be a professional. Great. There's a lot of good reasons to become a professional, we've gone through a ton of them in the last two days, and you can build an entire life turning something you love into a profession. But the most successful photographers out there are professionals who remain amateurs. 'Cause the second you're just doing it for the money is the second you get a lot worse at it than you think you are. 'Cause it's a commodity trade, and it's not you being so passionate, because you love doing this. Which brings us to our final point. Do not forget who you are in the thick of all this. Who you are, what you're worth, what you're capable of. Who's the engine in your business? (Audience member murmurs) Yeah, just you. (laughs) You're the engine in all of their businesses. (Audience murmurs) Tying back to brand, identity, focus, everything we've gone through for the last couple days, you cannot forget who you are in the thick of all this, because who you are is the key to making all of this happen.