In other words, don't try to be something you're not.
We all want to grow, and we creative professionals should always be learning new things: skills and practices. It is the practices that I will focus on in this entry.
First skills. There is an abundance on the web and in the real world of opportunities to get new skills. Training classes for Final Cut, graphic design, using the RED camera or whatever. I get the Maine Workshops catalog every year listing everything from an intro to lighting week course to a 6 month live in sabbatical where you write produce and shoot a film for the low low price of $35,000. At the local or internet level there are hundreds of tutorials, DVD products and books. Pick your software and get moving.
In other words, there is no shortage of ways to learn new skills. And we should all be honing one skill or another at a given time.
Practices can mean different things depending upon your point of view. If you are a motion graphic artist, your practice is how you interact with a client to see their vision and turn out a great end product. If you are a DP, your practice is how you approach a scene, your preferences for lighting and how you achieve the desired look. Sounds like a skill, but a practice is a personal methodology for taking the skills you have perfected and doing great things with them.
For example, a resume may be packed with software titles and equipment, but the important question to ask is not "can you make a 3D animation with XYZ software," rather it is "what can you do for me?"
In business, your practice is how you meet and interact with potential customers. Your spiel.
You need to talk to potential customers in a way that makes them want to work with you. Don't immediately get in someone's face about all the wonderful things you can do for them. Learn about their business, even if you think you already know, you may be surprised. And when you do get the opportunity to bid or make a proposal, do what you do best. Don't try to be all things to all people just because you're afraid you might lose out on a bigger contract. Focus on what you know how to do.
If you are learning how to do new things, these new skills don't become part of your practice until you know how to do them. So your practice should expand over time, but focus on what you know until what you don't know becomes what you DO know!
This week I talked with several vendors of HD surgical cameras. I was interested in how they are recording HD in the OR. Up until about a year ago, you needed an XDCAM deck to record the SDI signal out of the camera control unit. But now manufacturers have realized that's not gonna happen in most places. So did Sony and Olympus come up with their own digital recording systems? Nope. At least two competing manufacturers have teamed up with the same 3rd party outfit to use the same h.264 recording. This may sound like it diminishes market advantage, but actually it levels the playing field. Since Olympus is not a software company with no expertise in digital video recording, they focused on what they know - imaging - and let someone else do the recording. Sony knows digital recording, but not necessarily proprietary software. So in reality, the two similar recording systems cancel each other out, and the consumer can focus on comparing the image quality among brands - and when you are trying to tell the difference between the cystic duct and the common bile duct, two structures the size of your fingernail on your little finger, image quality is king, recording is a bonus feature.
Focus on what you know, and your business will grow.
Thanks for reading.