On May 7, 2002, I filed a business license application for the company Don Ron Entertainment. I also listed the additional names (Don Ron Video, Don’t Trip Dance Productions, and to my recent surprise, I also registered Dare Dreamer Entertainment). Listed as the services/products provided: videography, film production and dance instruction. (Don’t ask.) In September of that year I shot my first wedding for $800.
As the saying goes…we’ve come a long way baby.
As this month marks the 10th anniversary of us being in business, I thought it would be fun this week to share my top ten secrets to success, AND the top ten mistakes I’ve made. I’ll start with success.
Secrets to Success
I consider this my G.O.Y.R.A. memorial list (any listeners of the podcast Filmspotting will get that reference). This list does not include what I consider the ULTIMATE secret to success which I call G.O.Y.R.A. (see video below). What this list does include are the ten things either I’ve done or observed throughout my nearly quarter of a century in the business world. Readers of my book “ReFocus” (Peachpit Press 2009) will recognize this list. But, as I’m sure it’s been like forever since you’ve read that part of the book, it may be worthwhile to re-acquaint yourselves.
So, here you go.
1. Find your one
I like to recount the scene from the movie City Slickers where Jack Palance’s character Curly tells Billy Crystal’s character Mitch the secret of life. He then proceeds to hold up his index finger and says “One”: the one thing that means more to him than anything else in the world. That is the secret to happiness.
Find the one thing that you’re absolutely passionate about. If you do that, you will find a way to make a living from it.
2. Shoot for the Stars to Hit the Moon
First of all, I hate it when I hear the saying “Shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars.” That’s just stupid. Stars are way, way further out than the moon. This belief of mine stems from the essay I wrote when applying to business school. I told the story of two eagles competing to each fly farther than any eagle as ever flown. One shoots for the highest mountain top, the other for the sun. The former reaches his goal. The eagle shooting for the sun only made it as far as the moon (which is obviously much further out than the highest mountain).
The moral: aim higher and you’ll go farther in life.
3. Think Outside the Box
Yes, I know this is a very clichéd saying. (I actually think saying “‘Thinking outside the box’ is cliché” has itself become cliché. But I digress). No matter how clichéd it is, that doesn’t make it any less true. In everything I do, I’m always striving to do things that bucks the trend: whether it was shooting at a 1/30th shutter speed during my wedding video days (when most videographers shot at 1/60th), to starting a podcast for photographers (the now defunct F-Stop Beyond), to doing a podcast for filmmakers that DOESN’T focus on what camera they shot their latest film with. In everything we do, we look for a way to be different.
4. Surround Yourself with Winners
I actually just wrote about this recently on the blog. From the people you hire, to the colleagues you hang around, to the professionals you look to as mentors, surround yourself with people who are successfully doing what you want to be doing. Also look to be around people who have succeeded in many different aspects of life.
Always give your clients and those around you more than they expect. Shoot for positive surprises. But beyond your business, give to all around you. Give so that your giving outweighs your getting. Whether it’s helping others on their business and craft, giving of your talents to local charities, or sharing knowledge on a blog. The rewards will go beyond just repeat business from clients. There’s also the personal reward of contributing something positive to the world.
6. Stay in School and Stay Inspired
Always strive to be learning. Continue to educate yourself about business and your craft. But look beyond that. Read magazines and blogs that aren’t necessarily related to what you do for a living. Watch videos that will give you insights into the human experience. Go beyond your bubble.
7. Embrace Failure and Celebrate Success
Among many other things, Michael Jordan is famous for his quote on how many times he’s failed at life, and those failures being the reason for his success. Be like Mike. Embrace those times in your life when you’ve totally flubbed. As we’ll learn later this week with the follow-up to this blog post, we often learn more from our failures than our successes.
But when you do succeed, celebrate it. When we first started in business, every time we signed a new client, we’d go out to business dinner to celebrate with our employees (who at the time just happened to be me, my wife and our daughter). I’ve let the practice subside over the years, but I’m starting to bring it back. Celebrations like this inspire your team and give you an opportunity to revel in your success. You deserve it.
8. Re-Evaluate. Re-Adjust. Re-invent.
You should evaluate every aspect of your business to see what’s working and what’s not. Then make the adjustments and tweaks necessary. The “re-” prefix suggests this is an iterative process that repeats. The last one “re-invent” is one of my faves. As I also blogged about recently, your long-term success in business and life will be tied to how often you adapt and evolve with the times.
9. Envision Where You Want to Be
When your start to envision your life and your business where you want to be, you mind will actually start making you act and interact with people as if you were already there. Those actions will then manifest themselves in your life and business in ways you wouldn’t expect.
10. Just Do It
This is a philosophy I’ve held long before Nike made it famous. After you’ve done all the planning and researching for a project, there will come a time when there’s nothing left to do but to get out and do it. Go for it. The worst that can happen is you fail, which we have learned is just another inch closer to succeeding.
So what are you waiting for?
This List Goes to 11
In the spirit of #5, I have an 11th secret to success. For me personally, it’s been prayer. Many of you who read this blog know of my personal faith. I often allude to it. I try never to make this blog some kind of pulpit, but I would be remiss if I didn’t add the power of prayer in my life what I genuinely believe has been a huge blessing from God to do what I’ve been able to do.
But, let’s say you don’t ascribe to a belief in the supernatural. I still think there’s something here for you. If not prayer specifically, take time to stop, relax and meditate. Reflect on life and what’s really important in it. Keep things in perspective. That, more than anything, will lead to “success.”
So there you have it. Ten secrets which really aren’t secrets at all. I’m sure many of you do most if not all of these things. But, on the off-chance there’s something you’ve discovered that’s not on this list, please share in the comments.
Wednesday I’ll come back with the top ten mistakes I’ve made in business. Trust me. You WON’T want to miss that one. Until then…