To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

Every couple of years, usually in October, I share this post my Dad wrote several years ago. Halloween was Dad’s birthday, and although he passed away at 93 in 2015 I still have this big smile on my face looking back. When I was a kid the poor guy never had a birthday without the doorbell ringing and kids looking for candy. What’s truly ironic is that back then he was in the wholesale candy business!

Dad’s point of to thine own self be true couldn’t be more on target for so many artists and small business owners today. We all know the stress of running a business, but often it’s not the “biz” creating the problem but a missing component in our heart and the journey we’re on.

If you feel like you’re caught in the perfect storm and stuck between technology, your skill set, a changing business climate and a lack of focus, then it’s time to step back. Take some time off whether it’s an hour or two or a day or more. Take a camera and just go out and shoot – no client – no specs on what to photograph – just you and a camera thinking about why you got into this business in the first place.

I’ve written this before: You can’t create images that tug at people’s heartstrings if your own heart isn’t in it!


Just Watch the Left Front Fender! Guest post by Skip’s Dad

Last week I talked about working to convince my Dad to do a guest post now and then.  Well, I finally closed the deal, but only after we negotiated a life-changing compensation program that hopefully won’t disturb his Social Security and is comparable to what he underpaid me as a kid!   What I’m most happy with is simply being able to draw from Dad’s years of experience.  His message in this first blog is everything so many icons talk about. 

This blog is a prime example of as much as things change they stay the same!  The principles of business, while the vehicles to deliver the message might be different, the message itself is still the same.  So everybody, meet Pop, Skip’s Dad, with some great foundation tips to help you build your business.

Yesterday was my 88th birthday.  I have been happily retired for many years, and unemployed for at least 15 of those. Now, out of the blue, comes our son, Skip, threatening me with employment! The pay he considers adequate is $.02 per word. So gathering together, my 50+ years of business experience, I thought this would be a good time to put my two cents in.

I am not a plagiarist, but I must quote my father who spent the last months of his life writing advice to his children:

“Conduct your business in an upright manner and remember, the most important thing in one’s life is, to be honest with one’s self. Maintain the high standard and dignity that your business requires. Do not go into deals hastily and be visible in your business as much of the time as is possible.  If you take time to play, do it away from your business because your livelihood needs all the attention you can give to it.”

Early on, I concluded that the best testimonials came from my many friendly competitors. We didn’t really compete with each other, in the true sense. True, we were in the same field of endeavor, but we all knew we were there to help each other. Happily, the “tough competition” fell by the wayside.

I remember giving Skip driving lessons and I told him, “Watch the left front fender…the rest will take care of itself!” I’ve found this is really true of everything in life.

An old axiom says “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.” That is all part of reputation-building. I found that, sadly, in the field of real estate, truth is hard to come by for many. In our case, it was a major building block in the reputation which we enjoyed, and helped us to thwart the competition.

Goodwill is all of the above, plus a lot of caring for your clients as well as your competitors.  If life is a give-and-take situation, giving is the more important of the two.  The taking will come with time and be far more appreciated.  Just remember – you heard it here!  Ralph Cohen, Founder and Creator of Skip Cohen!

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This article was written by
Skip Cohen

Skip Cohen is an industry executive recognized for his diversity. He has served as past president of Hasselblad USA, Rangefinder/WPPI and in 2009 founded his own educational consulting company. In 2013 he launched Skip Cohen University dedicated to helping artists build a stronger business. He's a regular speaker at a variety of conventions and writes for several different magazines, as well as having two business classes at Lynda.com. Click above to visit the SCU blog.

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