I started out just like a lot of you. Found an AOL list serve, moved on to Zuga, DWF, The Foundation Forum. These were my gateway drugs.
I told myself “I can quit anytime. I just happen to like being helpful. I like being a resource for other photographers.”
Truth: Owning your own business is isolating. There is no watercooler, no cube mate to bounce ideas off of, no “team building exercises”. But with a click of the mouse, I could ask Dan in New Jersey a question about portraiture. I could ask Shalista in South Dakota how she markets to seniors. I could bitch to Susan in Florida about brides who thought I made them “look fat”. And with little kids at home my “office hours” were after they went to bed. These people were my lifeline.
My kids got older, and my schedule freed up a little. Seeking people like me in my own town, I began to network. If it had an acronym, I was on it. NAWP, NACE, SEWPPA, WPPA, WPPI,SouthcentralPPA. You get the idea. My days and evenings were filled with My People. People in my industry, who spoke my language. People who “got” me and who could drink a beer with me in person.
People who referred me and brought me buisness. HELL YES.
Once I got a taste, I was hooked. When Charo was unable to find jeans to wear to go to a local meeting , I was volunteering to be on the board of pretty much everything and flat out LYING to her about what I had volunteered for.
” Oh yeah…hahaha, funny story, someone nominated me so, whatever I guess. Midwest Regional Director is really just, you know, a title and doesn’t MEAN anything, I just have to send out a few emails and you know. No big deal, it’s just some bullshit title and I get free lunch.”
I found My People, and I was not going to let them go! I discovered that I am in many ways a natural leader and that I truly enjoy making things come together and assembling a team to do it. That’s heady shit. It’s the kind of stuff that makes Presidents do naughty things with interns and think they won’t get caught, I am guessing.
The problem with committing to everything, is that at some point, you don’t do something well.
And what I was not doing well was working.
I was networking. Lunching. Drinking. But not actually WORKING. My days started with good intentions and morphed from one lunch to a dinner to a few drinks and the next thing I knew it was Friday and I had a wedding to shoot on Saturday.
So this post is for you, the over-committers. The “I can’t say no” people (because secretly you believe that no one will do it as well as you. Oh, I know you. Yes, yes I do)
I’m going to teach you how to say things like “I’d love to help, but I cannot commit my time at this moment”
“I fully support your cause, but I cannot take on another commitment. I’d love to make a donation if that’s okay. To whom should I write the check?”
Stop the madness and get to WORK. That “Industry Leader 2010” trophy you have on your shelf is not paying your bills or impressing anyone but your mom.