I spent part of last week in Chicago for the Creative Freelancers Conference courtesy of an invitation from Marketing Mentor’s Ilise Benun. I had the pleasure of hearing an opening keynote from Luke Mysse who describes himself as an “Activator and Strategic Thinker” and has become an influential speaker within creative circles.
Among the many suggestions he had, I thought one was particularly applicable to photographers, and that was to form an advisory board. Luke’s personal advisory board meets with him on a quarterly basis and is composed of people that have skill sets and experiences that don’t match his own. For example, he has a CFO on his advisory board because running numbers and thinking about his business from a purely financial perspective isn’t his forte.
Does it sound weird to have an advisory board for a single person? Perhaps. But the upside of doing so can be dramatic.
In a meeting a year ago, the advisory board got on the topic of Luke’s health (at the time he was weighing in over 350 lbs). And during that conversation, he revealed that he had never had a physical — ever. The board stopped him right there and refused to continue to help him until he had a physical and came back with his test results — the notion was that if he was unable to take care of himself, then why should the board bother helping him.
Luke had that physical, and then decided to take his health very seriously and became a hard core biker, and lost a ton of weight in the process. Simultaneously, he made similar strides with other aspects of his business, and it was the objectivity of the board that let him to make a series of decisions that benefited him tremendously.
In the world of photographer, there are cooperatives like LUCEO that provide a similar support structure, but I like the informality of Luke’s advisory board (the board has no formal obligations, and all he does is buy them lunch), and the fact that he surrounded himself with people whose occupations were different than his. This gives him a perspective on his business that he would otherwise not have.
Certain segments of photographer are experiencing a lot of turmoil and transition (e.g. photojournalists), and I think allowing yourself to be influenced by people who are doing completely different things can provide a perspective that you cannot get by strictly socializing with other photographers.
So I challenge you to find three non-photographers who can bring a different perspective to the table. Ask them nicely to join your advisory board, and make it formal enough so that everyone takes it seriously. This isn’t an excuse to have lunch — this is a commitment to improving your business over the long haul so you don’t feel like you’re stepping out into nothingness on your own.