I was nervous y’all. Growing up I’ve never considered myself photogenic. Ever. I’ve pretty much hated every picture I’ve taken until I was about 28. However, I know that I would have to eventually get over that if I was ever going to be as successful and public as I dreamed I can be. I’m good with a good selfie… because normally I can give you a good goofy face or something dumb to hide my camera awkwardity.
Well I couldn’t do that today. Today was my photoshoot. My day to document my image, to create my packaging really. Again, another investment. This one was roughly $150 with a photographer that I’ve worked with before. The test shots that I saw came out AMAZING! Like far better than I ever could have imagined.
I didn’t do much to prepare… I mean I did tell a handful of people about the photoshoot. I think that helped calm my nerves a little bit. Normally I can keep some things too tight lipped and it builds my stress around completing successfully or not. The few things I did to prepare were –
1: Plan – I wrote my plan down. Nothing too crazy. But I had scenes/locations, outfits, and props. I also had a pretty decent idea of the type of pictures I wanted to have in the outcome. Meaning how my body would be positioned in them, and where I would use them once they were done. This helped me during the shoot make sure I was giving what I knew I wanted in the end. (Does that make sense?)
2. Scout – I mentioned in the video herethat I was scouting for my photoshoot. Same time of day before the shoot. This was key. My locations were going to be JAM PACKED. Like I didn’t really think about how crowded DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN would be at NOON on a weekday. But, seeing that that scene didn’t work, I was able to make some location edits and it turned out so much better.
Alright, once I was sure about my wardrobe and locations, I had to get sure about what the hell I was going to do in front of the camera. Youtube is our friends, and using my Knowledge Hacking theory, I found a couple videos to help give me something to hold on to while I was infront of the camera.
3. Research Moves, Looks, and Poses – It may sound overly scientific… I don’t mean for it to. But like I said I’m not the person who likes to be infront of the camera. I normally RUSH to be behind the camera, and then feel crunchy later on when I’m not in any of the pics. I needed to have some ideas of what to do infront of the camera. A quick google search showed me taking good pictures is an artform, and pieces of it can be learned and used for our own benefit if we try.
Watch your Eyes!
Aren’t we all pretty sure that Peter Columbused Tyra Banks – Smize (Smiling with your eyes). My years of America’s Next Top Model school taught me that. I’ll give it to Peter that he explained it better though. Years of hearing Tyra didn’t hold a flame to 15 minutes with Peter.
Watch Your Jaw!
I also really tried to pay attention to my jaw. This was another great video. Again. I watched it the night before…. Nothing super duper crazy.
5. Review a portfolio of reference – I just so happened to check Instagram on my way to location. It was great. I was able to study some poses and grab some confidence from InkedApe to help bolster up my own. Find a profile you like and study their moves and looks shortly before. It’ll pay to mimic them once you’re on.
6. Bring a music/portable speaker – I felt really weird at first. Motioning and doing stuff in front of this guy in a completely silent room. Once I turned my music on on my phone. Everything changed. I instantly felt so much more comfortable. Talking to myself, being free, trying to connect with the camera.
7. Talk to your photographer – I tried to be as transparent as possible with my photographer. I let him know what I wanted the pictures to be used for, I talked to him about my nerves, I talked to him about his business and his own goals. I tried to be as relaxed and open as possible.
Hopefully these tips helped. What do you guys think? Would you be willing to take the next step with your own businesses and projects to do some professional photography? It was overwhelming, but I also was getting so inspired while I was taking the pictures. I knew they would allow me to grow so much more.
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Entrepreneurship Is The New Black: Counting Consulting Checks
BEDA Day 12 of 31
Shout out to my mom. Today is her birthday. Love you pretty lady.
You’re looking at a check I received for some consulting work I completed this Spring.
I was never a fan of gloating about money. But, I did want to show you that the idea that you can turn YOUR idea into a hustle and a business. That is a real thing. Ya boy Paladin did it. And I promise you yall are so much more talented than me. This blog was a Launchpad for my creativity. And now I get paid, on top of my teaching salary, to perform my skills for folks!
I want yall to be able to do the same thing. I already know you’re talented enough to! Now we just gotta give you a little blueprint to get you started.
The past 2 years I’ve pushed to break into the workshop and consulting scene. In the past year, I also hopped on the opportunity to obtain my personal training license. As a result. I was a legit entrepreneur in this year of 30. I’ve managed to identify at least 3 sources of residual income that I can bring in for Empire.
How to read this:
I’m going to share 3 sources with you. While I can’t be certain the real reasons these ventures have turned into revenue streams in my life. I do plan to describe my intentions and short trajectory in each. Remember, think course roadmap. Use my journey, tweak it for YOUR use and purpose, and go kick them doors in yo! (See my post tomorrow to know why I’m oh so serious about this!)
Income Source 1 – Produce and Facilitate Workshops – I’ve run a handful of workshops over the past 2 years. To date I’ve run roughly 10 workshops ranging from 4 participants to 100 participants. My largest client to date has been my former graduate school.
Definition: A workshop is a presentation or performance in which a group of people are facilitated through a discussion or activity on a certain subject. Skills: Planning, Communicating with clients and audience, finding and modifying tools to share during workshop. Making any additional materials needed such Feedback survey, handouts, creating presentation PowerPoint/presentations, organizing photography and video collection. Training trying new types of workshops, not being afraid to work with large crowds, soliciting feedback from partners and collaborators. Income Type: Largest independent cashflow I receive. Currently have a bid out in the thousands. You’re invoicing here, which means you wont see your money for weeks, if not months down the line. Growth: Continue to search for larger audience. Develop partnerships with institutions to provide trainings and workshops for them. Learn additional skills and tools in the field. Start submitting to speak at more conferences.
Income Source 2 – Personal Training Sessions – Last Fall, I became a certified personal trainer through the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM CPT). I’ve taken on the task of providing private personal training lessons.
Definition: A customized fitness lesson used to improve someone’s fitness levels. Fitness can include weightlifting, aerobics, cardio activities, body weight training, stretching, etc… (I’m sure I missed a few) Skills: Conversation, Workout/Lesson Planning, Strength Training Knowledge, Exercise Safety Knowledge, Ability to push clients, Knowledge and application of force on the body, charisma. Training: Teaching is daily training for this. Each session I tried to create new and unique programs from my own knowledge. Income Type: Fast turnover. One client: Four 45-60 minute trainings sessions over 2 weeks would bring in roughly $180 -$240. At one time I was juggling 4 clients. I was brining in over $1,000 a month – and I was playing. Growth: Finding ways to maximize my earning potential. Currently can only earn when I’m with a client physically. Want to develop programs that can be utilized without needing me to be present.
Income Source 3 – Graduate School Technical Assistance – I’ve done some consulting work with my former graduate school. This all began from developing a good name with some of my professors. I pushed to produce excellent work, and that work ethic has carried over into consulting opportunities.
Definition: Consulting is a very vague word. To me, it means providing a company/entity services they either can’t or don’t want to do themselves. There’s BREAD in that! And a lot of super valuable experience points. Skills: Consulting work can be anything. For me it looked like grading papers and giving feedback, giving classroom lectures, creating teaching tools for the school like writing prompts, running focus groups, reviewing work expectations with students, helping students develop masters portfolios, etc…Training: Consulting is training to me. It allows me to practice the things that I want to learn how to do better. Anything that I don’t want to do I can either say no, or do it anyway to learn a new skill.Income Type: Invoicing, have to wait for invoices to be processed by clients. For 10 hours of work, I’ve billed $500. Growth: In order to be successful I need to develop better relationships with clients, potential clients, and potential partners.
Each of these methods has been a great confidence booster for me. While I enjoy personal training the least. There was something about knowing that if I ever lost my job, I could pick up clients and be ensured a secure livelihood that gave me freedom and confidence. Each method has built my confidence and skills. And both are equally important to me!
Have you thought about consulting/running your own business before?
What skills do you have right now that you KNOW you can sell for profit?
What do your friends always ask you to do for them, but you say no?
(People had been asking me to be their personal trainer for at least 6 years before I finally got out of my own way by saying no)
What do you do at work, that you can use in private to make a profit?
Tomorrow we find out about Limited Liability Companies and how to set them up. 😉
Drop your questions/thoughts in the comments! Lets make this an on-going discussion.
What makes me tick? Well, there’s a large combination of things that keep me focused and help me push even when I don’t feel like being bothered. Oprah has her yearly favorite things, I figured I would share my Inspirational Things for anyone interested in diversifying their own sources of inspiration. I have allowed these things to have power over me in a way that is a bit fanatical in the sense that they give me the one-track mind that I feel has helped me get to where I am today. That’s not to say that on the surface I agree with everything that is presented here. But it is to say that on a deeper level, these things continue to push me to question my own motives and actions toward those motives and goals on a fairly consistent basis.
Black Scholars and Historical Figures
From Booker T. Washington to Thurgood Marshall to Malcolm X to Carter G. Woodson to Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu to Marva Collins to Barute Kafele to Lisa Delpit – there is nothing more enthralling to me than learning what these Black scholars and, in my mind celebrities, have to offer. I can honestly say that I didn’t know anything about Malcolm X until perhaps 4 or 5 years ago when in one of my nightly Youtube trances I stumbled upon some of his speeches. From that moment on I was captured by his eloquence and capacity to string a lethal combination of words together that clearly conveyed his non-restrained message. I don’t know if it’s the fact that Black history and knowledge is in a way hidden from mainstream grasp, or that the characters involved are filled with the same blood and roots that I am that empowers me so. But, all in all, I love finding new pieces of information and knowledge left by my predecessors. Most of their messages, warnings, and predictions are still quite true today, decades and even for some even a century after that fact. I’ve actually amassed a personal library that far exceeds my capacity to download and process the information contained within the pages. Part of me wants to one day be one of those books on someone’s bookshelf that made them think more critically about the world and their responsibility to change it.
Life Coaches and Motivational Speakers
Over the past 3 years I’ve worked with, or at least connected with 3 different life coaches/motivational speakers. I’m drawn to people that are go-getters and have the ability to remain positive all of the time. I like to think I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy. But I absolutely don’t think I would be where I am today had it not been for these particular people in my life. About 2.5 years ago I somehow ran into an ad by my frat brother Darius Gant who was looking for new clients for his life coaching business. At the time I knew that change was in order and that my days at my non profit youth development job were numbered. Working with Darius on a weekly basis helped keep me accountable to clarifying my goals and finding the doors that I once thought were hidden from me. I looked forward to our phone calls, the homework he would assign me, and the ability to just talk my plans through with another motivated young professional. To date, I’ve run into quite a few similar characters who have helped me in varying ways keep my eyes on the prize when it comes to my own success as a person and professional. If you’re at a crossroads, or just need some extra motivation to see your own goals through I would definitely look into life coaching from a peer OR searching through youtube and Google to find easily accessible motivational tools. I actually am still benefiting from the residual connection(s) with these individuals and hope to one day show them that I was serious about finding my own way to success.
I don’t know what to call this one… I was trying to think of a fancy title, but I really just carefullychoose the media and messages I allow myself to consume, consciously and subconsciously. There is power in the messages we hear and surround ourselves with on a regular basis. As the old adage goes, if you tell a child they’re stupid long enough, they will eventually believe you. Better yet, if you’re never exposed to success then you never quite understand that it is always possible. Donald Trump once said that in order to become a successful business executive you first have to visualize yourself flying around in your private jet closing million dollar deals. If you don’t visualize it, then you’ll never work hard enough to make it happen. That’s not quite the life I want for myself. But, I am crafting my version of success, and in order to do that I purposefully surround myself with media that either agitates or develops my mind toward that direction. I don’t want to come down on people that watch TV. But, I’ll say this, an overwhelming majority of the images that are on tv aren’t positively framed images of people of color. Somewhere I read a study that said the only individuals that can watch tv for X amount of hours and come away feeling better about themselves are White males. If you’re going to spend your time watching tv, you also need to supplement those messages with more positive and developmental images and messages that represent characters that look, think, and feel like you. Below are some of the links I visit regularly.
It’s sort of a gift and a curse, but I’ve always been the type of person that wants to be the absolute best at what I do, whenever I do it. I can remember early on in grad school people I knew would say that at some point you just have to find a balance between getting enough done to survive and doing a good job. For the most part I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at trying to push for excellence in every action I make with teaching, graduate school, and my personal life. Of course excellence isn’t always what is achieved. (just ask my supervisors) But, I do appreciate the little engine in me that expects to go all out every time I’m called up to bat. I’m not quite sure what process I went through to make this happen. But I’ve gotten to a point where it is ingrained into my system to go hard and don’t go home. As I mentioned in a previous post, being an athlete I learned the difference between coasting and training. Now, I purposely try to direct my energies toward things that are difficult or that don’t immediately peak my interests. The practice of doing what I can’t do and don’t want to do is the sure fire way to make myself grow into a better and stronger person. When I was younger and first starting to understand what growth truly meant I likened it to being a robot, and not having any weapons to fight with. However, the more experiences and challenges I go through in life, the more I weaponize my person into someone who is more capable of handling and conquering grander situations.
All of this work would be pointless if I was only doing it for myself. Realistically I am indeed focused on being the absolute best version of myself I can be for myself. But, in reality the benefit to pushing for the best version of myself will, or rather should, spill over onto the communities and individuals I come into contact with each day. For that reason they serve as a huge source of inspiration to me. Its difficult to quantify how much my students, the neighborhood(s) I represent, my family, peers, etc… get from the work I do. But, the driving force for me is to be so good at what I do that the people around me benefit through proximity or through more direct influence and actions I have taken for those individuals. There’s nothing like being tired, exhausted, upset, drained, whatever, and thinking about how my audiences rely on me to deliver a purposeful and quality product to them regularly. I think people often feel they’re too small to truly impact their communities, but I don’t agree. I do have an actual impact on what people believe they can do and achieve. And much of that belief is ingrained when I keep pushing even when I’m ready to say Fuck It.
BONUS: My Peers and their projects
Looking back, its amazing to see how peers groups work together in unison and in conflict to move themselves forward. For instance Martin and Malcolm were peers who for the most part stood on opposite sides of the same coin. But part of what makes both of them so great is that they in a way worked together to help bring change and revolution to the world. Booker T. Washington had George Washington Carver and W.E.B. DuBois. Even Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen on his side, and people like Magic Johnson across the aisle. I’m not quite sure who my peer group is as of yet. Its something that I’ve searched for and haven’t quite found yet, which is irritating to say the least. But, I do appreciate that I have found some figures out there who are doing some amazing work in their own communities. At the very least it shows me that I could be doing a lot more than I’m doing now. And for that I respect them!
Brandon Frame – Founder of TheBlackManCan.com, and author of The BlackManCan Presents: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men. Brandon a former teacher has his hands full with his Black Man Can Institute that has made stops in Baltimore, New Haven, Atlanta, and New York City. While I’m struggling to wake up on time for work Brandon is working non stop to educate and empower youth of color… in multiple cities. *Respect* Check out The Black Man Can’s facebook page.
Aaron Mallory – I actually went to school with Aaron way back in the 90’s. He was a few years younger than me. But I remembered him because his mom was a substitute teacher at our school, and his family lived across the street from the school. Since those years Aaron has become a motivational speaker, author, graduate student at the prestigious University of Chicago, and has even built great community organization for the Chicago community – Guide Right Organization. *Keep it up homie*
1.Take risks– Pursuing your passion means making yourself vulnerable in every aspect. You must become emotionally naked, allowing yourself to make mistakes and risk being terrible. Even if you don’t desire fame and grandeur, pursuing your passion means that you want to be good at it. It means that you want to excel in it; and excellence only comes with de and re construction and you cannot be deconstructed without exposing and becoming vulnerable. Risk also involves opportunities; seizing every one that is beneficial to you and the pursuance of your passion. Read up on the stories of the people who excel in your passion, whatever it may be, and guaranteed that the level of success they achieved is almost directly associated with the level of risk they had to take to get there. Its not easy and can even be as serious as violating the values and priorities to which you adhere. But, it is necessary and it is ultimately this that distinguishes the difference between a hobby and a pursuance of passion. Do what no one else would and become what no one else can.
2. Remain Teachable- One of the hardest parts of being a human is pulling down your ego and learning from and listening to someone else. As hard as this is it is integral in pursuing your passion. You must be able to accept what you are not good at and listen to people you respect on the road to change and growth. Defense is an enemy; you must listen to criticism and be able to be broken down and take any criticism objectively and use it to your advantage; appreciate it. Now, there are people out there to whom you shouldn’t listen, as their intentions may not be genuine or they could be haters to put it plainly. These people are to be nodded and smiled at and their “criticism” taken in one ear and out the other. Discerning between them and true friends may be difficult, but with common sense and evaluation of character, they will be found out.
3. Make complacence your worst enemy- In your passion there is ALWAYS room for growth, always. Whether you grow vertically and improve on what you already do or horizontally and switch lanes to tackle something different or use a different approach to what you already do, growth is possible. With this said, it is most definitely ok to be happy with something and to leave it alone. When a song I have finished gives me that complete feeling, I leave it alone. There are times I even have to be told to leave it alone, but, nonetheless, I do. Sometimes things are perfect just the way they are; but, holistically, as far as my vocal ability and the way I sing and how my voice sounds, there is no limit to how much I can improve. It is easy to become happy with where you are and dwell on that but just know that you can go higher. If you’ve conquered a city, focus on conquering the state, then the region, then the country, and dare I say the world? And yes, the universe as well. It all lies in the balance of knowing your limitations and not having any at all.
4. Research and analyze- As a musician I no longer listen to music, I analyze it, unconsciously sometimes.When a song enters my brain I almost automatically hear harmonies, tone, technique and how the singer hits the notes, and everything in between. A passion consumes you and you cannot be afraid of that. In whatever your passion is you must research and analyze the best of the best. It is necessary to get yourself familiar with what makes the greats great. Watch their interviews and how they work. Research their stories and their history. In an age of ubiquitously available information, you have your passion at your fingertips; take full advantage.
5. Don’t be afraid to be great– An unknown fear of greatness is what I believe hinders us all. There is comfort in mediocrity and people don’t realize how limited their mentality is and how they hinder people from their own greatness. In short, Mothafuckas are haters and in most situations their hate is a reflection of their own limitations, doubts and fears. I used to be afraid to say I wanted to perform like Michael Jackson or I wanted my vocal tone to be as pure as Whitney’s in her prime. I used to be afraid to have standards higher than those around me for fear of standing out. In pursuing your passion you have to have the confidence to RESPONSIBLY associate yourself with the greats. I say responsibly because we all know someone who LOVES to do whatever it is they love to do and claims they’re the best at it, but in actuality they suck, morbidly! If you’re a painter, set Van Gogh or Warhol as your standard. If you act, aim to be as good as Meryl Streep. If you are a film director, be Michael Bay and nothing less, but do it responsibly and in your own manner of course and know the work that’s set out for you to be that great. Above all, prove it! Don’t just talk about it. Greatness speaks for itself. Know internally what your standards are and claim them commandingly. Know that you are and can be THAT GREAT and let the work speak for itself.
Back 2 Music is the motto. Hailing from Baltimore, Md currently living in Boston, Ma, Antoine is an independent artist bringing back real music one song at a time. His style mixes so many inspirations and genres alike. His versatility and appeal as an artist sets him apart, making his style unidentifiable, but his music and performance an identifying unmatched signature in itself. Working to make every record and live performance an unprecedented experience Antoine is sure to entertain and inspire, one note at a time. Be sure to check out Antoine’s latest video for his song Make You Love Me.