Charles Darwin was all about this idea of “survival of the fittest”— and the sense I got from the book was this：
All organisms are fighting one another, in the brutal struggle for survival.
I felt like Darwin made the case that “survival” was the most important thing.
My idea：Focus on thriving, not survival. I will call this new concept: “thrivival”.
Life is short. Why focus on surviving, when you can thrive in life?
Making the best of what you were given in life. Paving your own path. No excuses. Hustling hard.
Struggle in misery. To complain about how cruel fate is.
I favor Nietzsche’s concept of “amor fati”— to love fate. That means, love all the resources you were given in life. Be grateful being born as the runt, or the underdog. If you were like me and born poor, see it as a blessing. Because poverty is what breeds strength. Being poor gives us the thirst to achieve “the American Dream”—we have something to work towards. We aren’t just fed a silver spoon, and feeling malaise and boredom from life (like some rich kids I knew)—who end up getting addicted to drugs to “feel” some sort of purpose in life.
Become the best version of yourself
Anyways, my idea of focusing on thriving instead of surviving is this：
If you focus on becoming the best version of yourself, and seeking to achieve really big or epic things with your life, of course you will naturally survive.
For example, let me make a basic point:
Let’s say your goal is to deadlift 405 pounds (four 45-Pound plates on each side of the barbell). After 10 years of training, you might achieve your goal. If you “fail”, perhaps you will be able to hit 335 pounds or something. But you still would be able to deadlift a lot more than setting a small goal for yourself (only thinking you can deadlift 225 pounds).
Another example：to THRIVE as an artist, set your expectations for yourself VERY HIGH. Don’t just think of yourself as a photographer. You’re a modern-day Renaissance person in the making. Master all visual arts— drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and study all aesthetics. Become an “erudite” (knowledgeable individual) on all fields of knowledge — study philosophy, science, physics, psychology, sociology, economics, aesthetics, ethics, etc. Don’t set a ceiling on your creative limits and imagination.
To thrive as an artist, don’t settle. In terms of judging your progress, only judge yourself according to your “inner scorecard” or “inner ruler”. Never compare yourself to other humans. Only compare yourself to yourself a year ago. Or be better today, than you were yesterday.
As a photography entrepreneur, to THRIVE might mean making more money. Rather than seeking to make a “middle class income” from your photography, seek to BECOME RICH. Seek to make your wealth pile up, seek to accumulate as many resources for yourself and your family — for the greater good.
The richer you make yourself (assuming you know how to be frugal, economical, and make good use of your money), you can help more people.
For example, I used to be afraid of charging more money for my workshop experiences. It was mostly out of fear that I might go bankrupt. That nobody would signup and I would be a “failure”. But the problem was that I was focusing too much on survival, rather than “THRIVIVAL”.
Thanks to my friends Todd and Joel who encouraged me to value my self-worth, and not to doubt me. Thanks to Joel, who told me to focus on THRIVING, not just surviving.
Anyways, now I no longer sell myself for cheap. I’ve been raising prices for my workshop experiences, and to reflect my own inherent value—acknowledging my expertise, my massive sum of knowledge of photography and aesthetics, my skill in empowering photographers by conquering fear, and my ability to foster a supportive and open community.
Essentially, I learned to value myself, and believe in myself, and to respect my creative labor… and to strive to work even harder.
And now, I’m making a lot more money in my photography. I used to be afraid that having more money would corrupt me. But in fact, having more money has helped me become MORE GENEROUS. Also, I’ve actually (funny enough) have become MORE economical and value-oriented with my lifestyle. Still eating my 6-10 “egg snacks” in the evenings after dinner. Still staying at cheap Airbnb’s with Cindy. Still flying economy, and wearing the same all-black outfit everyday. Still sharing one entree with Cindy at restaurants.
Having more money has helped empower my sisters ANNETTE KIM and JENNIFER NGUYEN. Cindy and I were able to send them over to Kyoto for a HAPTICLABS internship. And they’ve made great art for HAPTIC — none of this would have been possible if I just had a “middle class” income (death of the photographic middle class).
Money to me is just a tool for empowerment. Money by itself is worthless. If you’re hungry, you cannot feed yourself by eating a $100 bill. But, $100 can buy you ten $10 bowls of Ippudo ramen. $1,000 can buy one roundtrip flight for your family member to travel with you somewhere. $50 can pay for one night for an Airbnb or cheap hotel. $15 can pay for a good bag of coffee (that can last you many cups of coffee at home). $4 can buy you a good cup of coffee at a hipster coffee shop, where you can work at for about 2 hours with free WiFi.
For me, I like to trade money for tools. Digital tools (digital camera, phone, tablet, laptop). Money can pay for rent, travel expenses, and food. Money can be used as a tool of empowerment for yourself, your family, friends, or local community.
Help Yourself; Help Everybody
Also if you thrive, everyone benefits.
For example, now that I no longer worry about money, I can be MORE GENEROUS giving away free information, like this article without charging money.
I can produce more information and knowledge, and not be stressed out about how to “directly monetize” it. And not having to put up a paywall or “nickel and dime” people by charging for every e-book or preset.
Also not having to put up pop up banners on this site, or advertisements on this site, for a less distracting experience for you.
Best of all, all the information on this site is (and always will) be OPEN SOURCE.
Anyways I’m totally off topic, but friend… this is just a reminder to THRIVE as an entrepreneur.
- Charge 25% more for your photographic services, than you think you “should”.
- Your photographic labor is not free.
- Money is not evil. The more money you have, the more you can help yourself and others.
If you want to make a living (or a killing) from photography, download:
PHOTOGRAPHY ECONOMICS 101
PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS 101
- Chapter 1. How to Make a Photography Blog
- Chapter 2. How to Price Yourself
- Chapter 3. How to Find Your Market
- Chapter 4. Why Teach Workshops?
- Chapter 5. How to Build Trust
- Chapter 6. How to Market Yourself
- Chapter 7: Why Should Someone Attend Your Workshop?
KEYS TO SUCCESS
- Impatience is a Virtue
- Create Your Own Category
- HOW TO DREAM BIG.
- Will Not or Cannot?
- Why Not?
- How to Think BIG
- How to Stay Ahead of the Curve
- How to Invest in Yourself
- The Two Camera Rule
- MEANINGFUL DIFFERENTIATION
- Advice For College Students
- How to Thrive in Uncertain Times
- CANNIBALIZE YOURSELF.
- DO AND GROW RICH
- Does Fear of Punishment Hold You Back?
- HOW TO GET MORE FOLLOWERS
- How to Innovate
- How to Build Your Own Empire
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO HARD WORK.
- PICK YOURSELF.
- OWN YOUR PLATFORM
- 10 KEYS TO SUCCESS
Table of Contents
Learn how to make a living from your passion:
- Preface. BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PHOTOGRAPHY
- Chapter 1. How to Create Value
- Chapter 2. ZEN CAPITALISM
- Chapter 3. Scarcity
- Chapter 4. How to Brand Yourself
- Chapter 5. How to Build a True Following
- Chapter 6. The Blueprint to Success in Photography
- Chapter 7. HOW TO BE BOLD
- Chapter 8. How to Sell Out
- Chapter 9. GO AGAINST THE GRAIN
- Chapter 10. EXTREME ABUNDANCE
- Chapter 11. Photography Experience Economy
- Chapter 12. Why You Should Make Money for Your Photography
- Chapter 13. How to Become a Famous Photographer
Photography Business 101
How to Make Money with Photography
- How to Charge More Money in Your Photography
- Why You Should Not Pursue Photography as Career
- Can Photography Make You Rich?
- How I Earn $200,000+ a Year From Photography
- How to earn $10,000 a month as a photographer
- Why you must be an expensive photographer
Photography Marketing 101
- Why You Should Do Photography Work For Free
- How I Became an Internet Famous Photographer
- Photography Blogging Ideas
- Why You Should Promote Your Own Name
- How to Build a Following
- How to Stand Out as a Photographer.
- HOW TO GO VIRAL AS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
- How to Master Marketing
- How to Sell Yourself
How to Hustle.
- Entrepreneurial Advice to My 18 Year Old Self
- How to Become Insanely Productive.
- 5 Lessons From Hesiod on Hustling
- It is Better to Beg For Forgiveness Than Ask For Permission
- The Free Way to Become Rich
- JUST DO IT.
- 7 Steps: How to Make a Living From Your Passion
- How to Do What You Love for a Living
- How to Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- How to Fail Big
- How to Invest in Yourself
- How to Be Bold in Photography and Life
- Mission: Cover Your Rent and Food
- 1,000 True Fans
- The “10x Principle”: The Only Difference Between “Success” and “Failure”
- Make More Value Not Money
- We Live in a Photo Utopia
How to be a Full-time Photographer
- How to Make a Living From Photography
- The 3 Principles of Making Money With Photography
- Advice for Aspiring Full-Time Photographers
- Don’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography
- How to Brand Yourself as a Photographer
- Trust: The Most Important Thing You Need to Succeed as a Photographer
- How to become rich from photography blogging
- How to Make a Living with Blogging
- 50 Blogging Tips For Beginners
- How to Start Your Own Photography Blog
- A Photographer’s Guide to SEO, Blogging, and Social Media
How to Teach Photography
- How to Become a Photography Teacher
- How to Teach a Street Photography Class
- Why I Teach Street Photography Workshops
- Why I Deleted My Instagram
- The Social Media Blackbook for Photographers
- Why Do You Need More Likes or Followers?
- Instagram is Going to Be the Next Facebook
- Don’t Trust “Free” Photography Social Networks