You know, Nike was really onto something there. Recently my life has been throwing me all kinds of signs, all of them more or less amounting to the same message: JUST, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO IT. As is customary for the end of a year and the start of a new one, I’ve been taking stock of my life and my goals, and have been trying to apply myself fully in the pursuit of those goals. As I’ve been filling my brain with useful, inspirational advice and generally just consuming knowledge from the Interwebsphere, one thing that I have observed time and time again is that successful, happy people don’t let excuses or worries or potential outcomes stop them from focusing on what they want to do. Instead, they just do it. They work hard, plow forward, and create something. Actions, and thus results, speak volumes more than words or good intentions or even… believe it or not… dreams.
I don’t typically get too personal here, and I want to avoid sounding preachy. But I thought I would blog about this because this lesson–just do it–really hit home for me at a travel event I went to recently, hosted by Matador Network, Tripfilms, and Hostelling International NY. After the actual event, in which several of the higher ups at Matador and Tripfilms talked about their craft and gave insight and advice about how to be good at what you do–whether it be writing, taking pictures, making videos, or just traveling–I went and drank with them. (But of course. Isn’t it always over a drink that one makes connections and/or a fool of oneself?) I know what you’re thinking–and no, I did not solicit these people to join me at the bar. The well-planned event also rightly presumed that people would want to socialize and network afterwards (with the added lure of free drinks). I would be a fool not to go and bug the head producer/filmmaker at Matador because, you know, that’s kinda what I would give my first child to do.
So I did just that–assailed Scott Sporleder, Head Producer at Matador, with questions, and to his credit he was a very good sport about it. I chatted up Ross Borden, one of the founders of Matador, as well as David Miller, the Senior Editor at Matador, and a lovely, spunky travel video blogger and life go-getter named Joanna Franco. I have to give mad ups to these individuals for having found success in something they are really passionate about and love to do. Scott took a leap of faith and bought his camera, lighting, and sound equipment on a credit card, hoping eventually he’d make stuff good enough to pay it off. Ross was atrophying at a job at Oracle (hello middle management) when he decided to start Matador. David wrote and typed and submitted and pitched and reported and wrote some more, all the while working a construction job. And Joanna? Joanna and her best friend Damon were studying abroad in Paris when they just started filming themselves doing stuff (like roller blading in front of the Eiffel Tower), and doing it cheaply, not really concerned about how professional it’d turn out or who would be watching. Now, (and you guys, this is incredible, they’re still in college) Joanna and Damon have several gigs lined up to host travel videos professionally, i.e. travel the world and act goofy and get paid for it (omgmindexplodesfromawesomeness).
The one central thread in all these stories is that they all got their start by doing it and not sitting around talking about it. Ultimately, regardless of good timing, or lucky breaks, or fortuitous partnerships, they were the creators and architects of their own success. I was finally starting to realize that the biggest obstacle keeping me from doing what I wanted to do was myself. Scott, if you ever read this, I have mostly you to thank for this revelation.
It came at a sort of opportune time because I was leaving for Burlington, Vermont the next morning and had toyed with the idea of trying to make a video from my trip there. But I don’t have a video camera or a DSLR that takes video. But I won’t have good sound recording equipment. But I won’t have anyone to help me film if I want to appear on camera. But I don’t want to detract from the trip by annoyingly having a camera out at all times. But what if people look at me funny when I’m recording things during the middle of a busy dinner service? And what if, worst of all, I actually really super suck at making videos? The list of excuses was endless.
I resolved as a walked home from the Matador event that I was bringing my dinky little point-and-shoot camera with its pitiful 1G SD card (that’s about 3 min. of footage that I can shoot before having to upload off the card). I’d bring my laptop (to do said uploading) and be a total nerd and be that Asian who constantly takes pictures of everything, except now it would be video, and I was gonna just shoot it. Shoot, capture, and then decide if the footage sucks so much that I should probably consider business school… or something else entirely.
Now that I’m home from the trip, and I’ve seen what I shot, I haven’t decided to abandon ship–yet. But I have discovered that it’s hard. It’s hard to be that person taking video at a restaurant when you know that girl at the next table over is saying to her companion disdainfully, “What is she doing?” It’s hard also to shoot video when your camera is from 2005, and you have bad lighting, and no mic, and the memory card maxes out every three takes. It’s hard to put your conversation with your travel partner on hold, or to make him wait, because you’ve “just got to get this shot.” It’s hard, even when you feel like you haven’t even put your camera down for more than 5 minutes at a time, to remember to capture everything you should have captured.
But you know what? I did it. And that’s already more than I could say before I went to Burlington. In retrospect, it’s kind of like finally starting to floss. (Which, people, is another thing you should really just be doing. It will change your life. And your gums will thank you.) It’s impossibly hard to start. But then finally, finally, when you do actually start to do it, you realize it’s not so bad after all. And that honestly, I should have been doing this all along. So now, onto the really hard part: editing. Anyone want to give me a Final Cut tutorial? 🙂