Michael of Michael Chadwick Photography joins us for a great interview in his studio about his long journey from selling plasma to survive to owning his own home and award-winning business. Subscribe to our show at http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence for the extended version, where we also discuss the importance of focusing on the vast majority of things going right in our lives, Mike's surprising involvement in Deborah Voigt "little black dress scandal," carrying each learned skill through life, what marathons teach you about life, and more.
Michael Chadwick Photography: http://chadwick.photography/
Find Michael's book, Balancing the Art and Business of Wedding Photography, on Amazon:
This episode comes to you today from South Jersey, where I first met Michael Chadwick at my high school, where he was my student teacher. If you're reading this, you've found the LITE version, where even today's bio is shortened. That said, Mike has had an amazing life, and if you feel so inclined to check out the longer version on Patreon (http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence) by becoming a subscriber and supporting the show, I highly recommend it.
Michael Chadwick went from music education to the Interactive Voice Response industry and formed his own company. From there, he moved to Dallas, and formed his own artist opera company in the Dallas area called The Living Opera, which provided many opportunities for young opera singers in the region. He also stage directed and sang opera. He then moved to Manhattan, where he reconnected with his longtime friend Suzanne, and they were married.
He then took a job performing database administration for an arts fundraising and marketing company in Brooklyn. He continued to sing and direct opera, but began taking photography more seriously whenever time would permit it. When he pursued it persistently, it provided him more and more opportunities to take it from being a hobby to a full time job. After Michael and Suzanne moved to their first owned home in Medford, one year later, in 2013, Michael gave notice at his day job and took his photography business full time. Finally, at just over 40 years old, Michael is fully in control of his own life, and he feels he's finally achieved the goal that so many people seem to strive toward: Happiness and Success.
He believes that happiness doesn't always come easily, and it doesn't always come quickly. Persistence and patience, belief in one's self, and surrounding one's self with the right people are all keys to finding that happy place.
Let's talk about the moral to your story in your extended bio – that happiness doesn't always come easily, and it doesn't always come quickly. What does happiness mean to you?
Of course, this is different for everyone. For Mike, it's being in charge and in control of his life. Having that control gives him the ability to use his time to create and to do things for others to affect someone in a positive way. He feels fulfilled and satisfied and has the support system of his family and his wife Suzanne and her family. The safety net, he says, is invaluable. The same control gives him success, and he enjoys the luxury he has of being able to work harder and have it directly impact him and his finances.
I'd love to go back and explore the topic of control for you. In particular, a lot of people will talk about studies about internal versus external locus of control - the internal being that you believe that you have some kind of influence on the outcomes in your life. The external locus of control - those are the people who believe that other circumstances are responsible for the outcomes and events in their life. It seems to me that you've had a bit of a shift in your thinking in your life... Have you moved from a place of an external locus of control, believing that other things influenced your outcomes, to a place of internal locus of control, believing that you are in control of your life?
Absolutely. That change contributes to his happiness almost more than anything else. Because he's no longer blaming his lack of a degree, or giving up too much of himself in relationships, he can exert his own will over his life. Before he went to Westminster Choir College, in the late eighties in Louisiana, he remembers having no bed in a decrepit house, eating peanut butter sandwiches, and donating plasma twice a week so he could afford to survive, and realizing he needed to make a change. That big change of leaving everything, starting over, and working five jobs to afford school was the beginning of his long journey toward finding control in his life. Failing at the end of that time made him feel like he wasn't in control, and he didn't want that to be his life. Failing at his first marriage made him realize he could never give up that control again, and at that time, he shifted the responsibility back on to himself.
Mike wanted the opportunity to take responsibility for his life. He discusses the quote that is often attributed to Einstein, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." So many things in his life (in Dallas) were not working for him all at once, and he decided it was time to go. Immediately, he was able to be himself and excel at the things he did well. It was a long path from selling his blood for peanut butter money to having a successful, thriving career that allows him to support himself and his family, and to decide what he wants to do, even down to the wedding clients he chooses.
And you've won a bunch of awards from different places for your photography business as well?
Several awards from WeddingWire and every year from The Knot, he wins "Best of Weddings" because of reviews from his customers. He credits this to the realization he had when he and Suzanne honeymooned at Disney, where they went above and beyond everyone's expectations. He applies it to his wedding photography, knowing the names of the wedding party and family members, carries a bag with bobby pins and safety pins, knows how to help with bustles of wedding dresses and boutonnières - he says these are the things they remember.
What is your book called, and how can we find it?
Because artists often don't make good business people, he wrote Balancing the Art and Business of Wedding Photography. It's designed to give people the business foundation they need in order to succeed. It's not only the photography, but social dynamics, crowd control, relating well to the people, pricing, costs, equipment, etc. It also introduces them to many different types of weddings and what to expect from them - as well as surprising pitfalls.
Do you have any habits or traits that you'd attribute to your success and happiness?
Persistence. Belief, which he sees as a snowball effect, where the more you achieve, the more you believe you can. "Little victories over the years created a monster, where I really believe I can do almost anything." He jokes that his wife is an enabler, because she also believes in him and tells him so, and each success helps him achieve the next success.
Do you have any advice for us?
"Especially in this Internet age where we have such access to each other, be careful not to spend so much time minding other people's business that you let your own business go bankrupt."
Thanks, as always, for joining us on The Peace of Persistence. Please take a moment to share this episode or review us on Apple Podcasts, or come on over to our subscriber channel at http://patreon.com/peaceofpersistence. We'd love to have you join us in supporting this great show about happiness and success. Have a great week! We'll be back next Thursday with an amazing episode with investor and world traveler Wempy Dyocta-Koto.