Friday, September 5, 2008
Free To Succeed Tour: Charlotte, NC
It came in my email months ago. An invite. A call for my future. It was the announcement for David Jay's Free to Succeed Tour and it was coming to my state. Man, I got excited! I mean, David Jay is my hero! I'd followed his blog and forum for the last year and a half, just hoping I'd get to meet him and learn from him. And now he was coming within three hours of my house! There was no way I was missing this.
As it goes, our life got rather complicated as we started planning our move and then found out we have to be moved in less than ten days. The more I thought about it the more I was convinced that I would have to forgo Charlotte in order to get our large family moved in time. When I brought these concerns to my mother, she said there was NO WAY I was missing this opportunity to learn from the best. So with moving deadlines looming, we packed up and hit the road.
Traveling with us was my good friend, Christi, and her mother, and needless to say, we had a rip-roaring good time driving. The entire time I was trying to think of something witty and professional to say to DJ when I met him and even called Sarah Barlow for advice. I'd heard form many people who knew him personally that he was the kindest and nicest person you'd ever meet, but I still was unsure about what to say. I had this horrible thought of me stuttering and coming off as a complete idiot. We originally didn't think we were going to make it in time to get good seats (and everyone knows a conference is different when you have good seats) but as we neared the hotel we breathed a sigh of relief. An hour early. As we pulled into the hotel parking lot I spotted the tour bus and decided we MUST have a picture with it. Christi was a little - more like VERY - nervous as we approached the bus in it's grandeur but I reassured her that it would be totally fine to stand in front of it and take a picture. As I told her that they were probably in the hotel setting up, I saw him in the window. Great, now he's gonna watch us in our immaturity take our photo in front of his bus. Oh well, it must be done.
Long story short, as we pose and smile the door opens behind us and he comes out smiling, "Can I be in the picture too?" I thought "Um, no David, we just came to see the bus." It was awesome. We got a picture with DJ. Then we proceeded to talk to him for the next 20 minutes, asking him what we - two 17 year olds - should do that might be different from what he would tell everyone later.
Then as we went inside to stake our claim on front row seats, I saw her. No, it's not her. YES it is. It's Shyla! Whoa. Two of my heroes in one day? I can't take much more! Then my mom calls her over and introduces us and - get this - she gives me this huge bear hug saying how nice it is to meet me. (We'd been emailing back and forth about my senior pictures.) We talked to her for until she had to open the tour up. It was amazing. I had heard this, never really believing it until I met them, but they are both so down to earth. I mean, Shyla wouldn't even sign my arm!
If we had left then, I would have been completely content, but it was not to be. I then got to sit under DJ's tutelage until the late hours of the night, soaking up all I could about photography, but also about life. So many of his points were about life, about how serving others will free us up to secceed. "If you keep your business focused on others you'll always have work." Then he went on to talk about practicals in photography. HIGHLIGHT: seeing his images before anything was done to them made me feel so good. He's amazing, don't get me wrong, but he's also human. We pretty much cheered when he showed us! There IS hope for me yet!
Some (non-extensive) notes from the talks follow:
* We aren't building financial stability in order to sit on our success and do nothing. We are striving for freedom in order to serve others more effectively and live our lives focused on our priorities. If we make our goal to serve others, we will be effective, successful, and free.
*It's NOT OUR JOB to change the way someone looks based on our perception of beauty (on blemish removal and editing)
*One is too small a number to achieve greatness - John Maxwell (on outsourcing and networking)
*I'm a tall white guy, so my timing is a little off - DJ about slideshows :)
*Cut out stuff that is permissable but not helpful
*"The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn"
*Take 5 mins a day and invest in someone else. The most valuable thing we have to give is encouragement.
At the break, my mom and Christi's mom went on a frantic search to find a Krispey Kreme doughnut shop to no avail, but did find some of their doughnuts at another store. (I had learned from Sarah Barlow that DJ is highly fond of these sweet treats and since he's been faithful on his diet, he deserved a treat.) We wanted to get him a Krispey Kreme shirt, and had to ask his AMAZING girlfriend, Allie, what size to get him. Unable to find one, we ended up with a shirt stating that "Chuck (Norris) does all my stunts." Pretty rockin.'
Before the moms left, they asked Shyla if we could get her anything and she said some 'southern' sweet tea, because she can't get it in Boston. So they got her a half gallon from Bojangles. We went to give it to her but couldn't find her. We asked Regis - another photographic great - where she was and he said on the bus. We went to give it to her and she asked if we'd like a tour of the tour bus. OMG yes! So we got a personal Shyla-guided tour of the FTS Tour Bus. It was awesome.
All in all, an AMAZING day. I am so thankful DJ and his crew saw it fit to come to NC AND for being so humble in all that they did. THANK YOU David Jay! I really appreciate all you're doing to help teach and train other photographers. God bless you all!