Monday, August 29, 2011

What you learn at Conventions only help if...you use it.

A few weeks back I was at Skip Cohen's Summer School in Vegas with over 300 other photographers learning from some of the best in the photography and video industry.



While it would be fun to recap all of the knowledge that was shared, it is more important to discuss what we do with what we learned. Too often we hear about how awesome a seminar or convention is, but when we talk to an attendee months later they have failed to properly implement anything they into their business.


So what happens between being energized at a conference with fresh ideas and the plane ride home? Generally life happens. Even more so, we fail to set proper goals and allocate our time correctly to best apply the ideas learned. This happens to everyone. Even as I was writing this post, I was feeling the temptations to watch Stargate SG1 reruns on the Sci-Fi channel. I will address the time issue in a future post, so for now let's focus on setting goals and implementing the new ideas.



The problem I used to face was going to a convention and trying to write down everything I heard. Once I returned home, I would re-write my notes and then attempted to implement it all. That was a sure fire way to set myself up for failure and disappointment. Why? Because I was trying to redesign 'my' wheel ['wheel' being an analogy for brand, business model, shooting style, etc] to look like the speakers' wheel, when in reality I only needed to apply small changes to make it more efficient.



The key is to select specific topics, apply them and later rate the measurable outcomes. Additionally, you can setup a timeline showing when you expect a Return on Investment [ROI] and estimated time until implementation is completed.  Keep a journal documenting the process. Also evaluate the implementation, did it work the way you expected? Is it a good fit for your business/brand?



Now for the next important question, what should you implement? Only you can answer that, but I will offer a few suggestions on what portions of your business to focus on when narrowing down your topics of interest. In addition, I'll touch on ways to make yourself accountable, followed by evaluating the implementation.

I suggest you pick 3 ideas that you learned from the conference, just 3. The reason I say three is due to 3 important aspects of your business:

1. The Business.
2. The Client.
3. You.

1. The Business: Choose one idea that will help your business grow. Whether that idea is a marketing campaign where you partner with another wedding vendor, investing in studio management software, or focusing on your brand. Look for the one idea that most inspired and energized you at the event. If the idea is large like with 're-branding your company' you should break that down into manageable and measurable action items. Let's say instead of re-branding everything at once, you first design a new logo, which could easily be broken down into the following steps:  (A)find a designer whose work rocks. (B) Brainstorm and talk about your vision with them. (C)review rough drafts. (D)Pick your new logo. This could be a 3 month project, after which you should look back on how you managed your time.





2. The Client: Find something you learned that will benefit your clients. The benefit could be a new album company, better gallery hosting solution [making it easier for them to navigate their memories], product packaging, an educational service, or even a booking gift for your future clients. Once you make a decision on a topic, research it and find a way to make the addition yours. When we learn from speakers's really meant to be a starting block, a point for you to innovate from. If you don't, then you are not really setting yourself apart from the others who went to the same seminar. Again, set a goal for this that is measurable, even setup tasks to be completed towards the goal. Make a deadline, and hold yourself accountable.




3. You: Lastly, take one topic for yourself, something to re-energize your passion for the craft while engaging a new technique. Two years back, I took on the 365 project and was blown away by how much I learned from shooting daily. I was even able to get back into the field (nature) shooting landscapes, foggy mornings, train tracks, stars, the moon, water drops, and my daughter. Find something you connect with.




Remember what brought you into photography, re-explore it via your one topic take away. Maybe you saw Jon Canlas and are inspired to try your hand at some film, or Roberto Valenzuela's banana test photos sparked your interest in shooting fruit. Find one topic and carve out a few hours a week to practice it, cut the TV off, get your gear,  a baby doll and shoot something. Or you can just open the window of your hotel room and practice long exposure captures, like below.



To sum it all up, pick 3 topics from the conference you attended. One topic should be based on improving your business, another to enhance the clients' experience, and the last topic is one that helps you expand your creativity. Also, make time to practice, research, and implement the ideas into your business. If you sit on the knowledge and do nothing, then you are wasting everything you invested in. Set achievable goals; start with small ones so that you will see accomplishments early on, helping to build momentum to go after the larger task. Make yourself accountable, blog about it, tell a friend, tell a stranger, tell your kid, heck tell me, I'll shoot you an email at the end of the 3 months. Leave a post about at least one thing you would like to implement into your business, for your clients, or for yourself - or feel free to send me an message and I'll give you a push to help you along.

Now go out and kick some butt!

2 comments:

Couldbe Anyone Youknow said...

Great feedback! Wish I could have gone this year...this helps for the next one I attend! :)

SDesigns Photography said...

Thanks, Brian--you've timed this just right, too. Prsonally, I'm working on organization, fellow business marketing, and using a handheld light meter. I'll catch you soon with updates.