Embrace Unpopularity

There have been more than a few times in my life when I have said something or spoken my mind that made me “unpopular”.   You would think that I would learn.  Learn to keep my mouth shut.  Learn to be more diplomatic.  Learn to say the things that people want to hear, rather than say the things that I feel need to be said.  But, yet I seem to have a knack of saying and doing things that make me “unpopular”.

I just can’t seem to help myself from being true to who I am.  And each time, I’ve done or said something that seems to polarize the status quo; I beat myself up for it.  Bent stop sign at crossroads, Mississippi DeltaYou would think I would learn.  After listening to this TED talk this morning, I have learned.  And what I have learned is that maybe I’ve been trying to appeal to the wrong demographic.

In the talk, speaker Erika Napoletano, states:  “We spend our lives trying to build ourselves into something that other people think that we should be, when in fact we should be spending our time trying to actively polarize our audience.  Give them tools to help them know whether or not they should love us and give it early and give it often. Because that’s when we stop wasting time, both ours and every one else’s”.  Erika went on to say some things that really resonated with me because she was being perfectly honest.

I am a creative being – a photographer, a filmmaker, a writer and an explorer of what the world has in store.  After listening to Erika’s talk, I realized that I have wasted an awful lot of time and effort trying to appeal to the wrong demographic – the “popular” and the “majority”.  When I think about the things that I have created that I am most proud of, and that have been the most gratifying, I realize that every one of those triumphs have come when I’ve been honest and true to myself.  In other words – I’m at my best, when I stop apologizing for who I am and instead, I embrace it.

So, when I wake up on those mornings after I’ve beaten myself black and blue for being who I am, I try to remember that “being myself” is better than the alternative – trying to politely appeal to the “popular” crowd.  While, it may be easier to fall in step with the “status quo”, it is not only counter-productive to being true to oneself, it stifles creativity.

It’s tough to stay true to oneself in a society that often teaches us to favor politeness over honesty but at the end of the day, it’s far more rewarding.

“Here’s to the Crazy Ones.  The misfits.  The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.  The ones who see things differently”.  Steve Jobs


Why I Hate Being Authentic

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I’m authentic.  I’m never quite sure if it is intended to be a compliment or not.  I suppose it is what it is – I make no pretense. I make people laugh, I make them cry, I make people want to hug me and some want to wring my neck.  I mostly make myself crazy for being who I am – yet I just can’t help myself.

There are times when I wish that I didn’t care so much.  If I see a wrong – I’ll always want to right it. If I see someone or a cause that needs support – I want to be there for them. My passion sometimes consumes me and overwhelms others, yet I often feel that I have no control over what it is that drives me to be me.

I also have no control of how others perceive me. How someone reacts to me is not about me at all. When I’m being totally true to myself, I’m usually acting on my own instincts and not doing things for the sake or recognition of others. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate recognition when it comes – it just means that is not what’s in my mind when I’m working on something.

The problem with being “authentic” or being true to ones self is that, is that you usually make yourself and others crazy because your passion and vision are just too much for most people. There have been times when I’ve wanted to take a vacation from myself.  I’m sure I have alienated my fair share of colleagues and friends over the years.

I have always been the sort of person, even as a kid, to question and think for myself.  In that regard, I wasn’t an easy child to raise.  I can’t say that I’ve changed much.  I’m still questioning and still thinking for myself.  There are days, I wish I could turn off those voices in my head that constantly push me into unknown and potentially dangerous waters.  Some days I’m successful and take refuge in my familiar confines.  But there are more days when the voices in my head win out.

When the voices win out,  I remind myself something that Steve Jobs said “ Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.  Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

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Dealing with Rejection

Steve Jobs used to quote a saying “If you live each day as if it was your last – some day you’ll be right”.

I’ve pretty much applied this philosophy in my life and in doing so, many (but certainly not most) of my days are full.  Some days are filled with joy and accomplishment and other days it seems like nothing is working out.  Most days are a mixture of both – “hits and misses.”

I’m the type of person who tends to live life passionately, with hopes and dreams that are probably too lofty, and with that comes a lot of rejection.  A lot of successful people are like me in that way.  That’s not to say that I always feel successful, but some people may perceive me that way because every so often I achieve what I set out to do. What they don’t realize are all the times it didn’t work out. I can tell you, that I’ve had my fair share of misses.  So how do I deal with rejection?

  • I remind myself – not to take it personally.  Many times, it’s just that someone else has a different point of view and it’s just not the right fit.  It may be a job that I didn’t get or a party I didn’t get invited to. And more times than not – it’s not about me or my work at all.
  • I try to find out why something was rejected.  I do this because even though it’s hard to hear “why”, I know that if I can take my emotions out of the equation, I can learn and grow from it.
  • I remind myself that something I thought I wanted, maybe just wasn’t meant to be and in fact, many times that rejection ends up being a blessing in disguise.  I look back at some of the pivotal points in my life, where I took a different direction after things didn’t work out.  Almost every time, a low point prompted me to make a shift, it led to something extremely rewarding.
  • I tell myself that “playing it safe” is in fact very risky. If I don’t try, then  it’s a given that I won’t succeed. So, while “playing it safe” may seem like it can eliminate rejection – it can also eliminate feelings of accomplishment and maybe even self-worth.
  • I talk about my rejections, rather than pretend that everything in my life is roses.  In fact I have found in writing this blog over the past few years that the most popular posts have had the word “mistake” in the title.  Why is that?  Because, we humans seem to take comfort in the fact that we aren’t the only ones getting rejected. Misery loves company.  Ask any successful person how many times things didn’t go their way. You’ll find out more times than not.
  • I take comfort in the ones I love and who love me.  They get me through it every time and I’m grateful for those people in my life.

Rejection comes with living a life fully and I tell myself that every time I want to throw in the towel and give up on my dreams.  I want to live every day as if it were my last and if it comes with heartache and rejection, I’ll remind myself that it makes the “hits” that much sweeter.

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New Stuff

I haven’t done a lot of tech talking lately, but a couple of new items have me thinking that way. Here’s some interesting news about products, firmware upgrades and video delivery.

To start with, for all of you who own a Samson H4N Zoom digital recorder, and have been frustrated that you aren’t able to independently change recording levels on inputs 1 and 2 – you now can. Here is a link to the firmware download and instructions.

For all you “big chip” aficionados, Sony just announced the PMW-F3

Sony PMW F3

camera with a 35mm CMOS imager. However, with a price tag around $16,000 for the body and an extra $7000 for a set of three Sony prime lenses, it seems more like a competitor in the RED market, rather than in the DSLR niche.

Read more about it on engadget

PhotoCinenews.com had a great blog post by August Bradley, a couple of weeks ago that I almost missed, Thoughts On Motion Portfolios.

August writes:

“We recently went through the process of re-designing our website with one of the primary new objectives being adding motion content. So I did extensive research on the websites of directors, cinematographers, and leading production companies to see how they presented videos. I was surprised at how little effort most are making in this area.

I suspect the thinking of the directors and cinematographers is that nobody hires them for a serious commercial gig by discovering their website. It’s very much a matter of relationships and playing the inside game.

But I also think the world is changing fast with the barriers to entry lowering in the motion world, and with talented people increasingly able to compete on creativity rather than on access to expensive cameras and lights. The importance of a strong web presence is rising and becoming fundamental for directors and cinematographers.

So I set out to find the best-in-class practices and leading suppliers of related tools. I found some methods of integrating and presenting video to be more engaging than others.”

Read more

PhotoCinenews has also announced that the DVD set of their 2010 PhotoCine Expo is hot off the presses. It’s an 8 disc set of presentations from 14 filmmakers. I am honored to be one of them and as one who attended many of the other presentations, I can tell you it’s worth every penny. Check it out.

Here’s a big piece of news released yesterday. ” Steve Jobs to launch iPad Newspaper with Rupert Murdock” by Chris Matyszczyk.

Chris writes:

“Women’s Wear Daily offers a report that this iPad-o-newsthingy, which has been in covert development for several months, will be called “The Daily.” It will, apparently, have as its pulsating spirit “a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence.”

Oh, and there is a price for this melange of the tabloid heart with a broadsheet mind. A ticklingly enticing 99 cents a week.

The Daily will, apparently not enjoy such dated concepts as a print edition or even a Web edition. Instead it will be beamed straight to the iPad (or Galaxy, if you can afford one) from News Corp.’s high pod somewhere in Manhanttan.”

And here’s another milestone news item about YouTube. “YouTube: 35 hours of video uploaded every minute” by Don Reisinger

“YouTube attributes the growth to several factors. First, the company’s decision to increase time limits from 10 minutes to 15 minutes per video has helped. It also pointed to the site’s file size limit of 2GB. With the help of mobile phones, YouTube said that consumers are finding it relatively simple to quickly add videos to the site. It also doesn’t hurt that “more companies [are] integrating our APIs to support upload from outside of YouTube.com.”

Lastly, a thank you to everyone who has contributed to my film Opening Our Eyes, on Kickstarter.  We have gone past our half way point, meaning we are more than halfway toward our goal.  And to anyone who may be thinking of making a contribution – it’s a win/win because you get a DVD of the film if you make a $25 contribution.  The money will all go toward the hire of a professional editor who will give the film the polish it needs to have a chance at wider distribution – and with that, the possibility of inspiring more change makers in the world.  Here’s the link – please pass it along to people you know who may like to be a backer.

There you have it – a mixed bag of some interesting “new stuff”.

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