Ok, so, this is a really difficult post for me because it’s going to be very personal and revealing more about myself and the person I am than anything I’ve ever written. It all started with watching a video, something that for nearly a week has made me look inside my mind and heart trying to discern whether what I am doing is the right thing or not. Ah the joys of self-analysis… at times it can reveal things that are so scary that they make you want to run in the opposite direction!
This little something I watched is one of Jasmine Star‘s extracts from the Free to Succeed Tour. If you are a photographer, or an entrepreneur of any sort, you must watch this video. It is by far the most encouraging advice I’ve received in a long time.
Anyway, I was so compelled by Jasmine’s words, that I decided to write her an email to say thank you. I am the most cynical person of all times and, in any other circumstances, I would have told myself “Do yourself a favour and don’t waste your time. Someone of that calibre doesn’t have time for you”. But this was a different situation. I had to say thank you, even if it meant receiving no reply. Putting it in writing was like making a covenant with myself; writing it to Jasmine was like having a witness and realising that there is no turning back… But as it happens (generally to me!), on the day I sent her the email, she wrote on Twitter that her email went down. Typical… The following day she would have such a backlog of emails that mine would end up at the very bottom of the pile and be forgotten…
That’s what I thought… until…I got mail! But instead of receiving a reply 2 or 3 weeks later, Jasmine replied just ONE day later. And she thanked me – can you believe it? She thanked me and she said that people like me make her feel blessed.
Now, if you have watched the video, you’ll know that one thing Jasmine Star drums into everyone’s ears is K.I.R., and when the girl says that she’s keeping it real, she REALLY is keeping it real. I’m here, sitting in my little office trying to figure out what I want to do with this thing that I don’t even know if I should call business, and one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world takes her time to send me a note back and humbly thank me? Seriously people, if we think we are someone just because we manage a few people at work, or because our blog is read by a gazillion people, or because we plan weddings for the London elite, then think again. This girl teaches each and everyone of us what keeping it real means.
Anyway, this is not why I am sharing this anecdote.The point is: becoming a successful person requires skills, but it requires personality more than anything. And I’m not just talking about having the right attitude towards others (which, if genuine, will allow you to make friendships even among your competitors), but also having the strength of character to push yourself, challenge your limits and action changes.
So, Jasmine Star made me have one of those moments…
First of all, let me say that I am rather lucky to have a brother who is a designer. Some people have to pay a fortune to get their brand identity designed, but my brother is able to do it for me just because he loves me and believes in me. But please note that ‘Linen and Silk Weddings’ is not his creation. I know he would want me to say this because he would actually be appalled at the idea of being associated with it, and he is right. Seriously, ‘Linen and Silk Weddings’? It made perfect sense when I was trying to find a name, by myself, as a spontaneous reaction to the fact that I had to find a name for my blog, but now I feel that it doesn’t quite belong to me. I also don’t have a logo, which, you know, is a massive problem when you are trying to promote yourself and produce marketing documents or stationery. And so in the spur of the moment, I called my brother and with the usual insistence I tend to have with him, I informed him that I need a new brand identity by end of September. ‘Got it? Off you go’.
Now, let me just make a small digression here: I am a Project Manager for a branding and communications studio, so you’d think I know the process… I do. I promise I do! But when it comes to my own business, I want it done – now. I became so irrational that I completely skipped one or two stages of the process and expected the designer to come up with a brand out of… well, nothing! And so what does my brother do? “Give me the brief” he says, “and I’ll work on it”.
Great! So I sat on it for over three weeks finding all possible excuses not to do this. He is my brother, he should read my mind and know what I want, right? WRONG! Ding, dong – wakey wakey – anybody there??? Life ain’t that simple. Branding isn’t that simple. Get up and do some work. That’s what I got from Jasmine.
Am I determined? I think I’ve proven it more than once, from leaving home at 21 to start a new life on my own in a foreign country, to going back to university and being one of the only two in the class graduating with a First despite being a foreigner (sounds familiar, Jasmine?!), to waiting patiently for 6 years for the one is now my husband… So what is stopping me from making my wedding blog become a buzzing hive with lovely people reading and contributing with their comments and photo shoots? What is stopping me from becoming a wedding planner with capital W and capital P? Nothing except my own self-esteem.
I’ve grown up with a bit of a complex: I am never the fun person to be around, I am never the pretty girl, I’m never the witty one, I’m never the stylish one either. I’ve always been ‘mothering’ everyone, telling my friends to keep quiet when they were too loud; I’ve always been the girl that only older boys liked when all I wanted was someone of my own age to like me; I’ve always been far too rational, and the only times I used to make people at school laugh was when I was making fun of myself; and I’ve always been the tomboy, wearing Adidas tracksuit and Pumas with large laces…
So, you see, when you grow up feeling like that you start thinking that no one will ever take you seriously and that everyone else is the business person you want to be, while you are just trying to catch up with everyone else and get someone’s attention. And when I look at my Twitter followers, I still feel like that. 130 (when I wrote this). That’s it. Is my blog pathetic, I wonder? Am I just exceptionally boring? Is my picture so ugly that makes people not want to press that Follow button? Seriously, these are the kind of things I wonder, even though none of these may be the actual reason.
And then the blog. I don’t get that many comments at all… I know people do visit the blog because I can see the traffic stats, but who my readers are is something I still don’t know. You can’t believe how happy I am when I get a little comment – it’s such a rare occasion that I get it out of the spam box at the speed of light and reply to the comment with a big Thank You. It’s such a nice feeling to know that someone is appreciating what you write…
Inadequacy. Can you see it? In just a week I will be attending a Get Together with other industry professionals in London. I got my business cards done (with the terrible branding and no logo) and then thought: “What is the point? They will all be established wedding professionals with lots of experience, and I will have nothing to say…”. But then, what do I have to lose? I’ll wear my best smile and hope for the best! This time next year I might be the person organising one of these events. I know it’s possible, just as it was possible for me to graduate in a foreign country, just like it’s been possible for me to deal with lots of obstacles in order to stay in this country and follow a dream.
So it’s now time to get rid of this low self esteem and do things seriously. This week/end I’m going to do exactly all the things Jasmine Star suggested to do in her seminar:
♥ Write down all my assets and all my liabilities and then figure out how I can leverage my assets for the good of this business.
♥ List brands that I like and then ask myself: why do I like this brand? What does it make me feel?
♥ Choose 5 words to describe who I am.
♥ Collect images or objects that I like and give them to the designer to help him perceive exactly who I am from the things I have collected (my designer, AKA my brother, would otherwise think about all the negative sides of me just to wind me up a little, so I better do this myself properly!)
The output will need to be a new brand identity – new logo, new name, new website; but, more than anything, a business that I’m proud of so that I no longer feel like a fraud, but like someone who is truly a professional.
My other hurdle that needs to be overcome ASAP is getting a bit of experience as a planner. I genuinely don’t think that the little experience I’ve had with some friends and family can be used as part of my portfolio so I desperately need to assist an established planner at a few weddings. And yes, I won’t be able to include these experiences in my portfolio, but I know it will give me a lot of confidence and will allow me to speak with authority about the subject to any prospective client.
I do have many more goals but I’m a strong believer that the best way for me to achieve, is to set one goal at a time. The above tasks feel monumental enough, so I’ll start with these and let you know how I’m getting on as I achieve them, one by one.
As usual, I would LOOOOOVE if you shared your thoughts and experiences with us… Please would you make me so happy as to leave a comment?
Image Credit: Goal and Wish notepads by Etsy
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