Search Results for: opportunity

Fight Club, LOTR, The Godfather & Achieving a Growth Mindset

Recently I attended a seminar by Klemmer & Associates called Personal Mastery where I had the opportunity to explore many of the belief systems I held in my head. My approach was not to accomplish anything in particular, but to be open and available to allowing my mind to be changed. With that mindset, Klemmer put me through a clinic that fundamentally altered my thought patterns and the feelings I associate with that which is not connected. Here are some of my realizations that I feel may help those who want to have more emotional health.

Fight Club Mentality

I was once (and on many levels, still am) obsessed with Fight Club. The David Fincher movie is phenomenal, and I cannot suggest you read Chuck Palahniuk’s book enough. The counter-cultural tones that this story took on resonates strongly with my being. This seminar helped me fine tune that connection and comprehend why I related so strongly. I have the tendency to take an approach to life that relies upon the appreciation of others. There is a voice that tells me to go after accomplishment x because that defines success. Once I achieved x, that voice was right there to tell me to go after y. But what if my true self is uninterested in the alphabet of accomplishments? What if my true self felt more satisfaction with accomplishing that which society doesn’t necessarily categorize as success? I learned that although I may have needed to obtain x and y for my wellbeing, I am not defined by it. I am able to see decisions I make through my very own lens by understanding who I am and what I want more clearly.

“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Gandolf Lord of the Rings Mentality All we have to decide

Truer words of wisdom have seldom been spoken. It seems trivial, and I don’t really mean to wax poetic, but the reality of life is that time continues on while we are trying to ‘figure our shit out’. I propose that our shit is already figured out. We have figured it out long ago, and we have made our decisions based on what we have figured out. If you aren’t satisfied, you need to consider what it is that you figured out long ago that took you to this point. The decisions we make are guided by our underlying purpose which we live by. I have thought a lot about what my purpose is that drives my decisions in life forward. Here’s what I came up with: My purpose is to evoke a shared perspective that brings forward positive change in the world. All that I do is revolving around those words. Sometimes are harder than others to tie my actions to that principle, but I’m committed to a lifetime of practice in it.


Often times I look at what I do and who I am, thinking, ‘why am I not doing more?’ It’s like I have an expectation of myself that I am not meeting although I am accomplishing everything that I seek. What is the reason for this disconnect? The problem is not me, the problem is my mindset. My limiting belief system that told me if I were going to be great, I would have done it by now was weighing me down. That internal dialogue held me back from contributing all that I had to contribute to the world. It had me pulling away from situations that challenge me and kept me down that path most traveled. If I want to live my purpose and be a great person, I am going to have to make different decisions about what exactly I do and how I think. There is no ceiling on the growth of humanity, compassion, or care. So, why put a limit on my expectations when I approach any opportunity? I have changed my mentality around the possibilities of my growth in order to attain greater results given the same opportunities that I’ve had before.

Photo Credit:
Feed Banana

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Project Management 101

There is no better way to learn anything than to do it. No matter how much reading and planning I put into a project I have no experience in, I will never truly understand how to do it until I actually do it. It has taken a long time for me to comprehend that no one is really ready for anything (for the most part). People are usually just making it up as they go. Another way to look at it is that nothing is given; everything you want must be taken by your own hand. Doing is always the best approach.

I recently helped a friend who was commissioned to put together a series of videos. It is interesting to see how these things end up taking on the persona of the man in charge. In the first five minutes of the project, it is easy to see what the leaders’ strengths and weaknesses are. It is important that the person in charge understands what those strengths and weaknesses are composed of to not allow those weaknesses to interfere with production. Play to your strengths and get help with the rest.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
-Helen Keller

As mentioned above, most of the time we need to jump into things head first in order to begin learning. So how can you know what your strengths and weaknesses are until you do that? Well, there are two sides to that coin. Partially, you know there are overlying strengths and weaknesses that you can apply to your life in its entirety. If you are a slow reader, it doesn’t make a difference what environment you are put in, the outcome will remain the same. Those weaknesses that are inherent to your personality or skillset are easily manageable in the planning stages of a project.

The other side is those shortcomings you don’t realize you have until you are diving into new territory. Learn on the fly and be honest with yourself as well as those around you. There is no shame in my game when I am in unexplored territory. Simply saying I don’t know, this is my first time, and I will do my best to get it done has to be good enough. Plus, this is a tremendous learning opportunity to not allow your weaknesses to prevail in the future.

When working with groups of people, it is vital that the right person is at the helm. The others involved will benefit exponentially from concise communication. If the ring leader is not up to those standards necessary to move a project forward in a timely manner, everyone is going to suffer as well as the final product. Take time to consider who is best suited to do what, and then place unequivocal faith in each party to accomplish what they are best suited for.

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Harnessing Complaints & Branded Products: Getting ahead of the restaurant game

The southeast United States is full of rich culture, history, and especially food. The amount of deep fried fantasy turned reality left by waist line pushing my pants to their limit. I can’t describe food all that well, but when it comes to the business of restaurants I know what I’m talking about. Hyman’s Seafood, although I felt the food average, they had a remarkable brand strategy that catapults them to success in a highly competitive market.

Beginning with the first impression, Hyman’s quoted a long wait time. It was shorter than we had anticipated, so we decided to wait. They called us to our table in less than half the quoted time. Under promising and over delivering started us off on the right foot. All the way through the dining area, on the walls, and the tables are famous and well known people who had eaten at the restaurant. Everywhere you turned there was a name dropped. What better way to make you feel as though you’re somewhere exclusive?

Our waitress introduced herself, gave us our menus, and got a drink order. Before she left, she mentioned that if we had anything at all to say about our dining experience to let her know. I thought ‘that’s nice to welcome feedback’ and moved on. We had multiple coupons given to us from various other locations giving us free appetizers or dessert. This is a great and affordable way to generate traffic and get people to come eat.

Seconds later, the new manager introduces himself to our table. He had a cheerful disposition and gave us some recommendations on what he liked best on the menu. Then, he told us if there was anything wrong in any way with any of our food, he would like to know and they would fix it. Ok, so the second prompt for feedback is something I haven’t experienced before. The manager left, the waitress returned with our drinks and we told her we needed more time. At that point, the fam starting saying how great the restaurant was and how great the food will be. Nothing had been set in front of us accept a menu and some water, and the compliments already started to flow.

Another man approached our table and gave us a load of stickers. He said if we have these on our person while out in Charleston, there are Hyman’s employees out looking for them. If they see you, they will give you free gift cards or something. Again, a small discount to bring in more bodies to your eatery is a worthwhile investment. After his spiel, he encouraged us to let him or the wait staff know if there was any complaints about anything we ordered.

We hashed out what we all wanted to order and let our waitress know what we wanted. After she left, we noticed the owner come into our dining room. It was easy to recognize him because there’s a large picture of his face and a description of the lineage of owners dating back generations on the front page of the menu. He approached our table and engaged us in a conversation about his place as well as some of the celebrity name drops we had questions about. Before he left, he was sure to emphasize that he wanted to know if there was anything wrong with any of our orders. He said they don’t mind, there’s no reason to have anything you don’t enjoy, and they really care about what we thought. Feedback is extremely important, equally as important as acting upon that feedback. Hyman’s drove that home to every guest. They were practically begging us to tell them what they thought.

After our meal, there was a complaint that was brought to the manager’s attention. He acknowledged it, and after investigation returned to inform us that it was totally just. I refuse to complain about my food in the restaurant, but the constant prompts brought those around me up to the point of comfortability to complain.

With our meal was a free magnet we could pick up when we exit through the gift shop. Gifting is a fantastic policy. I don’t believe in gifting for the sake of getting something in return at some future date (which is likely the motive). However, a gift is sacred and appreciated in all walks of life. It was great to receive one. My girlfriend wanted two (one couldn’t be split among two households). The clerk complied without hesitation. She said never would she ever turn someone down who wanted an additional magnet. Every step of the way the customer experience in Hyman’s is structured to make you feel good about being there.

The last topic I’ll touch upon is the salt scrub. In the bathrooms they offer a salt and oil mixture to moisturize and make your hands smell good. The gift shop has branded t-shirts and mugs as well as hats and whatnot. Then, they have an entire room dedicated to the salt scrubs. A line of sink and sample testers dominate the center of the room, and each of many different fragrances line the walls. You’re introduced to something you didn’t know you liked then presented with the opportunity to have your favorite flavor of your own.

I would not say that I was blown away by the food I received at Hyman’s. Nor would I say that the service was phenomenal. I will say that they have everything in place to succeed in the highly dense restaurant world of Charleston, South Carolina. It’s really a lesson in internal procedures, culture, and continuous process improvement. Everyone had a cheerful disposition (attitude is everything, as they say on their nametags), and we were all they seemed to really care about. So, although I wasn’t amazed by the exquisite presentation or savory taste of fresh seafood, and our wait staff didn’t balance thirty plates on their head while refilling our Coke, we all walked away feeling as though we had been given a positive dining experience. What aspects can you take from Hyman’s to make your business run better? Tell me in the comments!

Photo Credit: Logopedia, TripAdvisor, American Cuisine

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Visionary Artist: Hans Zimmer

Hans ZimmerIn light of my upcoming trip to Coachella, I began thinking about how important music is in all cultures. Hans Zimmer is easily my favorite composer of movie scores (sorry John Williams) and I am excited to get the opportunity to see him perform live. His body of work has spanned movie genres and delivered a significant impact in the films he contributed to.

Hans has worked a handful of my favorite films including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight, The Lion King, and Inception. These movies take music as a force for storytelling. The score perpetuates the mood of each scene. It guides you along as you watch and instigates a reaction on top of what is created visually. Hans has a creative way of manufacturing something that is both truly unique and seemingly familiar enough to be easily absorbed.

Interstellar Hans ZimmerOne of the most significant contributions Hans has made to the film industry came with his work on the movie Interstellar. This space exploration film would inherently attract the average adventurous music accompanied intermittently with some dangerous or sad tones. The motif I found in the score throughout the movie was a deep and passionate desire for connection. Hans’ work compelled the audience to both wonder emotionally about those who are close to us and invest in the character’s emotional journey through what’s close to them.

To create such a powerful theme, Hans was simply asked to play something as if it were to be the last thing he could give to his son. His ability to harness his feelings and deliver them through an artistic medium is a lot of what made Interstellar so captivating. We, as consumers, feel that energy and it greatly contributes to our experience and how we feel.

Too often music is overlooked in the production of films. It is impossible to create an excellent movie without the use of an excellent score. I favor those who go beyond the trends and norms of what is expected in the genre. Hans Zimmer pours a great deal more of himself into producing meaningful sounds to accompany visuals than do most. We should all attempt to attach that same amount of ourselves to our passion.

Photo Credit: JoBlo, Den Of Geek

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United Airlines: Welcome Aboard (Until You’re Not…)

The power of images should never be underestimated, particularly by businesses. Images are easily associated with brands and they stick to the minds of consumers. This is why companies have massive budgets for advertising campaigns and departments dedicated to public relations. As United Airlines has learned far too late, sometimes disaster control is necessary to save face in light of harmful images. Unfortunately for them, the most important actions are at times reactions and theirs left far too much to be desired.

United Airlines

Consumers do not need to purchase goods or services from a company to develop an opinion about them. In today’s world, information technology spreads images and words to billions of people instantaneously, shifting the power dynamic in the favor of the public. The video taken by United passengers of David Dao’s limp body being dragged through the isle with a bloody mouth is disturbing. This is how we, as consumers, will associate the United Airline brand and customer service. Regardless of whether it was employees on United’s payroll or not, the company did a piss poor job of handling the situation. Spending significant amounts of dollars to motivate a person to vacate the seat would have clearly been a worthwhile investment compared to money and effort needed to regain any salvageable brand sentiment. They will be feeling the impact of these images for time to come.

As I said, United should have incentivized the compliance of their customers to the point where there were nothing but satisfaction in the resolution of the dilemma. Since that was the farthest thing from what happened, disaster control needs to rise to the occasion. The leader of the business, the CEO, who is (in essence) the embodiment of the company, had this to say:

It is infuriating to see the verbiage used in this Tweet. “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers” is an eloquent way of saying ‘sorry, not sorry’. The public isn’t upset you overbooked a flight and had to move people around; the public is upset because you smashed a man’s face into the chair and dragged his body off the plane to do it. It is a spineless and cowardice response to a basic humanitarian oversite. People, not to mention customers, are entitled to a higher standard of treatment as well as a compassionate response to mistreatment. Consumers expect a genuine and authentic response which accepts responsibility and promises resolution. Of course, if that were the anticipated reaction to the given situation, perhaps it wouldn’t have arisen in the first place.

This event has major implications for a wide ranging tangled web across the world. United’s mistreatment of the situation is one thing; the CEO’s response sends a comparably potent signal. They are signaling that their agenda reigns supreme, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to enforce it regardless of the impact it has on customers. Who is going to jump to the defense of the United Airlines brand? There is nothing that can force us to un-see the footage or unread Oscar’s Tweet. This is all seen as a representation of the United brand, as well as an extension of the airline industry, and the country they are operating in. Fortunately for consumers, and unfortunately for United’s bottom line, every individual party has the opportunity to determine the acceptability of the airline’s actions and cast their dollar votes for who they deem most righteous.

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Photo Credit: Pexels

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Tech Specs of My Photography

Cameras have grown and morphed into miniature specialized computers that fit in the palm of our hands. It is necessary to understand technology in order to maneuver a camera. Taking pictures with any device today utilizes new hardware, software, and technical knowledge. The best way I’ve found to begin comprehending any of these facets is to jump right into it.

I currently use a Nikon D750 for almost all of my photography. It is by far the best camera body I own. When shopping for my camera, I had a handful of features that were musts beginning with being a full frame (FX) Nikon. In short, full frames show more area due to a larger image sensor than does its counterpart (DX). I was gifted my first Nikon, and in that way inherently obtained a bias for that brands operating system. By sticking with a brand, or by doing your research, you can ensure that parts or lenses purchased for a certain camera body will work for others rather than constantly needing new equipment.

Video features on the D750 were a large selling point for me. As I narrowed down my selection based upon price, megapixels, and Wi-Fi connectivity I paid attention to video capabilities. The D750 records full HD video from 24 to 60 frames per second. This is far from professional film grade movie camera equipment, but for the time being it offers plenty of opportunity to build upon your skills.

Pictures are captured by the camera body, but it’s the lens that really makes the difference visually. The lens optics are dense and often debated amongst the experts as to what exactly creates the optimal image. Nevertheless, an exceptional lens is key to capturing the exact concept youre striving for. My go to staples are an 85mm Nikkor f/1.8G prime lens and a 24-85mm Nikkor f/3.5-4.5G ED VR wide lens. Each has a unique look, feel, and performance for use in different unique situations.

Equipment accumulation is the bane of photographers for good reason. It is expensive. There is usually a trade off in quality and price for anything and it can be evident in pictures. All situations are unique and require different equipment. Situational awareness as well as equipment familiarity will contribute to having the right stuff in the right place at the right time. Subscribe to this blog to learn more about technical and technological specifications that create a foundation for well made pictures.

Photo Credit: Nikon Rumors

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Life Changing Images

It isn’t often that we see something that fundamentally changes the way that we see the world. Some experience these moments more than others. It takes a highly powerful image with a potent message to bring about a life altering experience when viewing it. This situation can either be organic or manufactured, but the outcome resonates within the people it changes. Pictures are POWERFUL.

Taslima Akhter, who is credited for the above photo, puts together projects portraying the struggles that relate to gender and inequality particularly in the garment industry of Bangladesh. Her images are intense and propel her narrative forward in a way the sticks in the minds of us viewers.

It is simple to remove yourself from stories you hear or read about. Hearsay does not impact our lives on a very significant level unless we are directly affected by what we are learning. Photos and videos have a unique property in that they submerge the viewer into a new world. Our being able to see something in front of us brings a reality to it. Horror movies scare us because we empathize with the characters in it. It is easier to place ourselves there in the moment when we are seeing, hearing, and therefor feeling or living the experience.

This principle of using imagery to elicit an internal change goes far beyond the superficial horror-thriller with a twist at the end. Granted it is entertaining to enjoy these types of productions, but there is far more potential than jump scares. As an American, I enjoy a vastly luxurious life which I take for granted. It is difficult for citizens of our flourishing country to relate to those in environments of less fortunate circumstances. Images from around the world has helped me understand who I am and how I live relative to my counterparts in other countries, with less opportunity, and amidst tragic war and poverty.

Sometimes we see things we wish we can un-see, but we can’t. No matter what, we can’t shake that image out of our heads. This picture taken by Nilüfer Demir of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee, sent shock waves throughout the world for this very reason. We can’t un-see it. We can’t take it back. We are completely helpless and have to deal with our emotions on our own. This causes us to take an introspective look at ourselves to rectify our gut wrench by whatever means we find necessary.

Powerful images are a double edged sword. They can make us feel good, like we’re where we want to be and everything will be OK. Or, they can make us question our existence and what we are doing with it. Nilüfer Demir’s photo changed my perception of the world and how I interact with it. It put me in the shoes of immigrants, refugees, volunteers, and families who have had to witness these tragedies first hand. Next time you’re frustrated at the Starbucks line, consider how some of earth’s citizens are forced to survive. Reflect on humanity’s shame in Demir’s photo, and what changes about yourself or the way you feel because of it.

Photo Credit: Nilüfer Demir, Taslima Akhter

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Using Comedy and Humor in Pictures

Humor is not necessarily synonymous with photography in any way shape or form. So to explore the relationship between the two brings us to ambiguous territory. Nevertheless, pictures can be funny. Humor helps us through our day to day and gives us positive feelings that we associate with whatever or whoever makes us laugh. There isn’t something teachable that will infuse humor into a picture, but if you take time to find it, it’s there.

There are many aspects that can contribute to a funny picture. With widespread internet memes, the messages in humorous pictures can become diluted. However, using humor in well-made visuals charm people to feel good. Many companies aim to make viewers of their 30 second commercial laugh out of their seats and spend millions to do it. It is hard to say how effective the tech specs will be in conveying their message, but humor advances a consistently good sentiment.

How do you ‘be funny’? There is really no way of answering that. It all depends on the audience and subject, as well as delivery, timing, mood and various other settings. When aiming to appeal to the funny bones, you have to take an organic big picture approach. I like to juxtapose clashing visuals to generate something that is so unusual it becomes funny. By taking any ordinary scene and considering which aspect can be added, subtracted, or altered to bring out the humor in it, I leave behind a unique and cheerful feeling.

Let’s consider some of the classic comedy movies from days past. Obviously, when it comes to movies, there are more factors that contribute to the comedy than visual. Performance, dialogue, timing, and character development are among the added aspects from still shots, but all carry equal weight. Take one of my favorite classics, Dumb and Dumber, where Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are going to an upscale gala to meet Carrey’s love of a lifetime. Their characters have been established through dialogue, the story is ridiculous, and they take the opportunity to amplify their pre-established humor through visual antics. What’s funnier than Lloyd and Harry crashing this lavish party? Doing it in matching, bright orange and baby blue tuxedos complete with matching top hats.

It’s impossible to say what’s funny and how to create content that makes people laugh. Performers can amplify humorous messages through their charisma alone. People don’t look at pictures or films to see the mundane that they can see anywhere in the world. It is important to be unique. Be an individual that shows the world something it hasn’t seen before. To see what unique somethings I offer the world, follow me on twitter.

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