by Melanie Spring
Passionate entrepreneurs are the infectious kind. Ones focused on changing the world, making a difference for those around them, or even just giving a different perspective. Whatever their business, I have a soft spot for the most passionate and excited.
I recently had a photographer in my office wondering about her brand. We set up some time to review what she wanted and figure out next steps. She knew herself thoroughly, even as a young entrepreneur. She had the skills of a seasoned photojournalist yet the fresh eyes of youth. She saw things others generally didn't see and was able to tell the story like no other. Her stated branding problem was that she wanted to figure out how to be seen as a serious photographer but also to be able to do weddings and portraits. (In case you don't know the photography industry, weddings aren't seen as serious photography to some, regardless of how hard they are to shoot.)
At first, my thought was just to focus on what she loved doing and from everything she was saying, she loved weddings. Until she said "I want to focus on weddings because when I have a family I'll be able to do it on the side."
My heart stopped. It took all of my restraint to keep from saying anything until she finished.
This beautiful, talented woman who was happily single, thriving in her new-found entrepreneurship and who had nothing to lose was stepping out of the game because someday she might want a family?! I mean, sure… I've read about this happening and know women who have given up careers to be mothers but this statement just hurt me on the inside.
Once she finished explaining her thoughts on her brand, I looked her square in the face and said, "What the hell are you thinking telling me you want to focus on something because it will be easier when you have a family… when you don't even have a boyfriend? You LOVE telling stories and, yes, your weddings photos are insanely gorgeous… but your photo stories are very obviously your passion." Her response sealed it when she said, "I have no idea. I don't even know if I want kids!… and I'm definitely not looking for a boyfriend."
The rest of the conversation went along with me telling her something similar to this (ok, a few choice words & exclamation points were edited out):
You're young! You have tons of time to worry about a family.
Take the next 10 years and focus on your career.
Do what you love. Love what you do.
You obviously love photojournalism. Do that.
The weddings will come. Be exclusive about those but don't focus on them.
Fly all over the world and do what you should be doing. Telling stories.
She left feeling elated and thanked me for telling her something she was actually really hoping to hear from someone. She knew it was going to be tough but she had the drive to make it happen. Later that day I received an email from her: "Great meeting today! It truly rocked my world!"
The whole meeting made me think about how many men and women are stepping out of the game too early without even realizing it. Are we doing things we don't love without a solid reason? Are we being mediocre at what we take on in life because someday something might come up?
Passionate entrepreneurs, it is your time to find your infectious excitement and pursue your passion at all costs. At 25 or 45 or 65, get out there and do what you love without regret. Who cares what everyone else thinks you should do? They're not the ones who will regret not doing it.