Linchpin and the Art of Photography

This is the final followup from my previous posts, Are You a Linchpin, Assignment and an upcoming post Are You a Linchpin, Answer.  I took the above photo of Seth Godin back in 2009, see Tribes, We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin // Review, and shortly after I took that photo shoot, I gave up my art for dead.  I had spent the better part of 15-17 years chiseling away at my art of photography and had felt like I was rarely valued for that art (monetarily speaking). In fact, in over 15 years of actively shooting, I probably made less than $1,200 total ($1,000 of that coming within the last 6 months of that 15 years), on an investment of probably close to $30,000 or more in equipment.  With a degree in Accounting, schooled in the ways of business, that didn’t compute.  Expenses always have to be less than revenue, but I was looking at it totally wrong.

Rarely does a book motivate me to make an actual change. Many books motivate me, but not enough to do anything about it.  Linchpin on the other hand was one of those that just happen to light a fire under my feet and get me to look at my art in another way. Mainly, that an art is done for the sake of the artist, and those who receive his gift.  I knew this from the moment I picked up a camera, but over time and many other circumstances, I had forgotten that.

Profit, something which I was always taught was a simple mathematical formula; “revenue minus expenses equals profit”, was totally rearranged in Linchpin.  Godin explains profit, from the business side, as the value you, the artist, add or contribute minus the amount you are paid.  Same thing really as the MBA version, but when you look at the work, as “value” it adds something more than just money, it changes everything.

A fast food worker at McDonald’s can add a wide range of value to the company, yet they are pretty much all paid the same thing, minimum wage, so there is no reason to create or add value above a certain level, but that doesn’t mean some don’t create and add value where it is not needed or appreciated.  Brother Lawrence was one such person. A 17th century monk, and someone who had enormous value to add to all of society in his book of letters, spent much of his life doing dishes, as a cook.  His conversations with God and letters to his friends make an incredible book, and it is free, you can read it right now, doesn’t cost you a dime.

My art of photography had created value for years.  I gave it away to the wrong people, businesses and companies, and tried to charge those in my close circle.  So thanks Seth, I am going to get back to the business of creating my own unique art.  I don’t know how I am going to accomplish that, I have no equipment, no resources to buy any equipment, and at the moment, no clients to shoot for, but those are just details.  I have going on 2 decades of knowledge in my own art, the equipment is just a tool.

How to Determine if You Are a Linchpin :: Assignment

This week I was given a seemingly easy assignment. To answer the question; are you a Linchpin, and if yes, why? If you are familiar with the phrase that Seth Godin has made into a coined term at this point, the immediate answer to that question is easy, yes, of course. But the longer I thought about the second part of the question the more I got knotted up into a self debate of what exactly is a Linchpin before I could determine the why of the yes or no.

In short, a Linchpin is the irreplaceable person. You might say that in today’s culture and business market, there is no such thing as a person who can’t be easily replaced.  For a large percentage of the workforce, this is probably the case, but the key to that statement is “easily” replaced.  Many jobs today are just mental factory workers, plug and play, just take out person A and replace them with person B and in a short period of time, no one will notice the difference, certainly not the balance sheet.  It’s all about the value that each warm body adds to the factory by following the manual or map for each task.

The factory workers today are programmers, accountants, customer service reps, students (all positions I have done in the past), any position that can be given a set of procedures, required to then follow them without any thinking or creativity required, expected, or desired, to complete their task.

A Linchpin on the other hand is someone who creates spurts of enormous value to the company or organization by doing those tasks that can’t be written down in a manual because they require art, the art of thinking, the art of challenging the status-quo, the art of being a problem solver or troubleshooter, a person who is hard to replace in a replaceable world.

How about it, are you a Linchpin, and if so, why? I’m still thinking about it myself but I’ll let you know next week.

Amazon Kindle iPhone App and the Future of Paper vs eBooks?

iphone-kindle

macbook kindle

This morning Amazon released the new Kindle iPhone App, or an iPhone eBook reader.  Since I do not yet (but probably will soon) have a Kindle the news of the Kindle iPhone app was really intriguing, but I started wondering if the app was putting the horse before the cart.  The very first reaction on the Internet was people saying they were disappointed they bought the Kindle and now they can get this on their iPhone.  Totally wrong way to look at it altogether.  What Amazon did by making an iPhone app for the Kindle was make their product more relevant and more useful than it was last week.

I won’t go through a comparison between the two, there is a great review over on CNET, see Comparing Kindle 2 with Kindle’s iPhone app, but one of the great features is being able to read a book between the two devices.  It doesn’t come quite as close as Seth Godin’s request in Reinventing the Kindle (part II) to share books between Kindle users, but it comes closer.  If Amazon keeps going down this road they will really make the Kindle a breakthrough device.

Breakthrough in the same way the iPod was for music, the Kindle can potentially be for books.  Everyone grumbled about the price of the iPod, and it took until the 2nd generation for me to plunk down the money for one, but after a while, people realized that the iPod revolutionized the way we listen to music.  There will always be people who want to read on paper, but for many, paper is a hassle, uses trees, and culturally is on the same track and path as Kodak 400 speed print film, but it’s more than just that.  Don’t blink, traditional media is going fast, and in some cases pretty much gone.

  • Photography – Print Film —> Digital (almost totally complete at this point)
  • Music – Vinyl –> Tapes –> CD –> Digital (niche markets for anything non-digital)
  • Movies – Film –> Tape –> DVD –> Download (slower but almost there)
  • TV – Tube –> Cable –> Satellite  –> Streaming Live (computer only is coming)
  • Books – Paper –> eBooks / Digital (the slowest of the 4, but catching up)
  • Magazines / Newspapers –> Paper –> Digital (totally dying media in paper form)

My wife is currently working on her Master’s degree and last semester she spent something like $300-$400 on books.  After the Kindle 2 came out, I started looking at which books she bought were available on the Kindle.  About 30-40% of them are currently available, at $9.99-$15.  She paid $40-$50 for some of these books which can now be downloaded on the Kindle for $10.  Doesn’t take a genius to figure out the savings potential for College students all over the world, and seeing that Amazon is working on things like iPhone Apps is only going to make the Kindle more and more relevant in our society’s future.

kindle iphone app

Sometimes we go kicking and screaming into the future, and change comes with a fight. The Kindle / iPhone app is a great example of a transition of all forms of media to digital, it’s just a question of how long will we hold on to the past print mediums because that is what we are use to today.

Update March 2011

I have since written an update to this post in light of the iPad, which makes eBooks even more appealing, you can read that posts Printed Books vs iPad or Kindle eBooks and the Future of Books

Tribes, We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin :: Review

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

I have written over 615 blog posts on this blog that span some 8 years from March 2001 until now, and today I am breaking new ground on my blog.  Back at the beginning of 2009 I decided that this year I was going to read more, which wouldn’t be to hard to achieve.  I have never been a big reader of books, although I read a ton of material on blogs, news, and other media areas, but it almost always comes from looking at a computer screen, not paper.  Taking a small amount of inspiration (I say small because I can’t keep up) from Brian on his quest to read a book a week, I thought I would just try to read “more” than I did last year.  So, this happens to be the first book I finished in 2009, and therefore the first review as well.

This particular first book, Tribes by Seth Godin I happen to given a copy by the author during the Catalyst conference where he was speaking.  Naturally I do have some photos of Seth talking about his theories on Tribes just before he gave away 12,000 copies to every person in the arena that day.  I will not have personal photos of each author, but in this case I do.

Tribes, We Need You To Lead Us // Seth Godin

I asked someone who finished this book before I did what he thought about Tribes, and his reaction was lack-luster but interesting.  He said “it wasn’t a how-to book, I didn’t know what to do with it when I was done”.  That was actually a very good description of the book, Tribes isn’t a how-to book, but a book that talks about how we go about being successful as leaders to build a following, or how we can fail at it miserably.

More than about the Internet, yet spawned by the growth of social networking, barriers to building a tribe have been removed and we have basically been set free to build (lead) our own tribe of followers.  In many cases we are already leading a tribe and don’t even know it.  Blogs, facebook, iPhone users, Twitter, or amazing restaurants that only open once a quarter all have followers that need a leader.

Probably my favorite line in the whole book comes down to this: “Change isn’t made by asking permission.  Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.”

Tribes is a great leadership book, a quick read, and Seth follows his own advice in the book at the end when he says:

Give this copy to someone else.  Ask them to read it.  Beg them to make a choice about leadership.  We need them.  We need you.

Here are a few of the highlights I took away from the book

  • Leaders don’t care for the “official blessing” they use passion to lead not threats to manage
  • In every organization everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear
  • Heretics are too numerous to burn at the stake.  So we celebrate them
  • Change isn’t made by asking permission.  Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.
  • Religion at its worst reinforces the status quo, often at the expense of our faith.
  • Real leaders don’t care about getting credit where credit is due

If you have a chance to pick up the book I would recommend it, if you know someone who has a copy and has already read it, tell them to read the last page and hand it over.

Cold Day of Code and Godin’s Tribes :: Friday Feet

Scott Reading Tribes

Scott Reading Tribes

Today was supposed to be a day off but it was so cold outside today that I ended up just looking at code all day long (which was better than going outside).  So I took my friday feet photo today of what I had planned on doing today, sitting back and reading a book.  That didn’t happen but I was able to get moving on a few blogs and website development projects (the shoes in the pic are just for effect since each week I am wearing the same shoes).

I am in the middle of reading two books right now, Tribes and Unleashing The Idea Virus, both written by Seth Godin (his blog).  Some how I ended up reading both of these books at the same time.  Unleashing The Idea Virus was written first and Tribes is making more sense after reading some of Idea Virus.  I will be posting a review of one or both once I get through reading them, but so far they are both excellent.

I am about to finish my first two full months at the church and now I am really starting to get into the grit of my position.  Once the new website is launched over the next week or two it will really be a start to what I hope is going to be a strong Internet presence in the months and years to come for the church.  I am really excited about how it is starting to come together, and today I spent a good bit of time getting to know the code a little better.

After looking at coding for about 12 hours Deb and I went out to eat at a (very) local restraunt called Good ‘Ol Boys.  Tomorrow the Auburn Basketball team takes on Vandy in the next SEC matchup for the Tigers.  Doesn’t look like it is going to be any warmer, some are actually calling for snow on Monday night, yikes.

Catalyst Conference Photos with Furtick, Godin, Groeschel, and Collins

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

I am still trying to process the amount of information that was presented at Catalyst on Thursday and Friday.  Saying I was blessed by being there is just making a statement that doesn’t do the Lord justice, and only scratches the surface of what I was able to take away from Catalyst.

Not only was I blessed by the absolutely incredible worship music and some of the best speakers in the country, I managed to meet several other outstanding photographers who were hired to shoot the event.  I have never been around a group of artists that were more accepting (basically of an outsider to the event) and wiling to share their limited space with me, and in such a professional manner (thanks to all of them I met over the two days).

Steven Furtick at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Seth Godin at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Craig Groeschel at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Jim Collins at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Long before this week, I really felt God had opened a door for me with Catalyst (although I didn’t know what) through a series of events over the last 6-8 months.  Of course it wasn’t through door A (knowing the right people and actually being hired to do a shoot), it was door B, just show up and use the gifts God gave me to create as best I could.  Several times I almost didn’t go, even as late as Monday before Catalyst.

So I went to Catalyst with the intent to cover the event photographically as if I was hired to do so, even though I never could get a hold of the “right” people.  Regardless of where it goes from here, I was deeply blessed by the event in total, and thrilled with the contacts I was able to make while I was there.  It was a God sized thing.

Above are just a few I photos I grabbed from Thursday.  I haven’t had a chance to even go through a small part of the images in total.  Some will be posted here on my blog over the next few weeks.  The four speakers photos shown above are: Steven Furtick, Seth Godin, and Craig Groeschel, Jim Collins, shown in that order.  I wish I could have instantly memorized their sessions as they spoke, they were are incredible.

Catalyst Conference Photos in Atlanta with Steve Fee Band :: Thursday

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

Catalyst Conference in Atlanta

What an unbelievable day.  I thought I was actually going to have time to do a few blog posts but I am absolutely warn out.  The day started in a pouring rain with Spirit (the bald eagle) from the Auburn Raptor Center flying to open Catalyst.  Had never seen Spirit fly in the rain, but it happened today.

Once we were in the doors, the day was fast and furious with an overwhelming amount of real solid information from a set of the best speakers in the nation.  Today’s line up was Andy Stanley, William Paul Young, Jim Collins, Steven Furtick, Brenda Salter McNeil, Seth Godin, and Craig Groeschel, and some of the most outstanding, unbelievable music and worship lead by some fantastic musicians.  There was so much information shared by all these great speakers it was hard absorb it all.  I have only managed to pull the images from one card so far, so I will leave you with a few images from the morning session and will update the Catalyst08 gallery as soon as I can.