Ambition is good:
What is the greatest source of inspiration and motivation in life? Ambition.
- The best MacBook laptop (the fastest, smallest, lightest, most powerful) you can afford.
- In-ear monitor headphones (I don’t like bluetooth headphones nor the airpods — not enough bass and high fidelity for music)
- Great sleep the night prior
- A bunch of coffee
- Powerlifing at least once a week.
- Don’t use your phone or iPhone. Lock it up when you don’t need it.
Life without music would be a mistake.
Make music that bangs, and also listen to music that bangs and gets your body moving.
Don’t care too much for your self preservation
In order to become more ambitious, and to attempt more, we must become anti-self preservation. For example, the mistake that a lot of people make in the gym is that they only work out in order to “maintain” their health.￼￼ This is very boring. Far more interesting to strive to figure out the limits of your body, and supersede them.
For example, my personal curiosity is how physically strong I can become. I don’t take any supplements, no protein powder, no creatine, only coffee and meat.
Therefore, it seems that the source of ambition is fulfilling a personal curiosity about yourself, your limits, and what you’re capable of.￼￼￼
Keep filtering down
In order to maximize your impact on the world, you must be very selective. For example, I think it is good to pursue all of your interests, but at the end of the day, you cannot do 1 million things. You cannot care about 1 million things, nor care about 1 million issues.
This is the big problem with politics and news: my personal reservoir of physiological energy I could spend on caring about the external world or people is limited.
For example, let us assume that your limited time on earth is 120 years, and you must sleep at least eight hours a night. And given the day, any sort of thing you do or attempt will deplete you of some of your physiological energy resources. Then the question:
Given your limited energy, how do you want to best leverage your energy, in order to maximize your impact on the world?￼￼￼￼
For me, during my waking hours, I first care about taking care of Seneca, and training him. Then, my attention and energy towards Cindy. But after that, it is energy for myself. There is nothing much else I could care for.
Even a personal realization: as much as I love going to the gym, there is a lot of wasted time. There is the time I must walk or drive to the gym, be stuck in traffic, and then once I actually do get to the gym, having to warm up, and often the equipment I want to use like the deadlift platform for the squat rack is taken, which means a lot of wasted time￼￼￼￼. ￼At least one of the biggest advantages of just doing heavy kettlebell swings at home, with my 105 pound kettle bell, is that I could literally finish the whole workout in less than 30 seconds. Maybe if you strive to maximize your time, just buy a bunch of (very heavy) kettle bells.￼ Maybe this is even a better investment than spending money on a car, a home, etc. ￼
Why did Elon Musk sell his house, and get rid of all his physical possessions?￼￼
This is the funny irony: everyone wants to become a billionaire in order to buy a bunch of￼ stuff. They want to buy the really really nice house, in a very great location, do you want to buy the very very expensive car, and they want infinite money to travel the world indefinitely, and stay at all the nicest hotels.
But, stuff and time is a commodity. Any physical thing you purchase, or even a home you purchase, or real estate you buy has a hidden cost. For example, even if you have the worlds nicest home, there is maintenance you must do. Even if you hire a bunch of people to do it for you, you must maintain them.
It took six months to get the Maybach all matted out
And my assistant scratched it soon as he backed it out (Kanye)
Or, let us say that you have the worlds nicest Lamborghini. Do you still need to get it serviced every once in a while. Even if you had a personal assistant to take it to the mechanic to get serviced, there would still probably be a little bit of concern or anxiety if your assistant scratches your car. Even if you had a Rolls-Royce, you would still probably need to pump your own gas, which is very annoying. Or, if your assistant pump your own gas, the stress or concern about giving them your credit card, or having to always fill up a gas card.￼￼￼￼￼￼
Just use the Internet
What is the best technology which exist for us as entrepreneurs? The internet. Funny enough, I think the Internet is still very underrated in terms of what you can do. For example, one of the upside of COVID-19 is that they switched a lot of learning to online via zoom. And this is 1 trillion times more effective than going to learn in classroom. Consider that you don’t need to live in a dormitory, or you don’t need to commute to class, or wake up for the dreaded 8 AM class. Being able to just wake up in your pajamas, and attend class is much more efficient.
But what about the socialization? Just go to the local coffee shop, gym, marketplace, or cafe and chat with folks.
The difficult thing is that you as one human being is not infinitely scalable. For example, even if you wanted to, you cannot answer 1 billion emails a day.
This is why I think publishing on the Internet is so great: in theory, you can have 1 billion people look at your one thing on the Internet at the same time. This includes a blog post, photos, videos, podcast, YouTube, etc.
Yet, why are we still stuck in this antiquated notion of the in-person gallery, or the printed book? I think it has a lot to do with people who have fragile egos. They feel that in order to feel “successful“, they need certain old-school markers of success, which include a printed book, preferably hardcover, a solo exhibition, etc. It is funny because I even look at a lot of very very successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who are trying so hard to become famous and well regarded, that it actually feels a little bit sad.￼￼￼￼
￼￼￼The number one advice I could give to you: create your own self hosted website. bluehost.com, and install wordpress.org, and start publishing.￼
Actually, I’m starting to think that perhaps coding is overrated, and blogging is very underrated.
Just have fun with it, and don’t take yourself too seriously
Some of the funniest innovations that I’ve personally made, whether on YouTube, my blog, etc. is actually very unserious. For example, my recent obsession with blogging and recording me cooking food, or eating food, with my GoPro. Or recording my workouts. Or just recording other random parts of my life.￼￼￼
Even with my early very viral videos of me shooting Street photography gopro POV, it was out of a personal sense of curiosity, and unseriousness.￼
Even our obsession with Elon Musk and his Memes is very fun, because Elon Musk is just having a fun time with it. He actually doesn’t take himself too seriously.￼
The same goes with Kanye West: in the early days he tried to hard to be serious, and well regarded, but now, he has taken a more playful turn, which I think is good. For example, his innovation in “dad“ fashion. In the past, it was regarded as very lame to dress like a dad, but Kanye West thought to himself: what if we just lean into this aesthetic? And does he innovated with his Yeezy sneakers, to make cool looking “dad shoes” (the 700 series)
And therefore, in order to become more ambitions, perhaps it is better to be adventurous and fearless like a child. No regard for social norms, or cultural norms.
On becoming a more ambitious photographer￼￼
Photography is our craft. How can we leverage our ambition in the context of photography? I see it as simple: strive to become more ambitious to innovate a new aesthetic, a new approach, new techniques, and always strive to make new images. This involves infinite travel, and infinite genres.
What is the most limiting thing you could do for yourself as a photographer? To just limit yourself in one genre. For example, it is very unfortunate that Trey Radcliffe has pigeonholed himself into the HDR genre. Also, Henri Cartier Bresson also pigeonholed himself too much into the street photography genre, even though it seemed that Henri was actually more passionate about making portraits.￼￼
One for for who has done a good job of escaping being pigeonholed is Joseph Koudelka. For example, he got famous for his Gypsies project, shooting with a very wide 25 mm lens on a film SLR camera, and then soon he realized he had to move on, and just got a Leica and 35 mm and 50 mm lens, and kept traveling. Then, eventually he started shooting panoramics and epic landscapes.
All great artists and entrepreneurs in the past have always allow them self to encroach on different genres. For example, even though we know Picasso as the painter, he also did sculpture. Or, Andy Warhol not only did paintings, but photography. Even the great innovation of Kanye West is that even though he started off as a music producer, he got into rapping, and fashion, and now technology (His very innovative STEM player).
Even Steve Jobs: even though Apple was his primary pursuit, he also greatly innovated with Pixar.￼￼
I know for myself personally, the worst thing I did for myself was pigeonhole myself in street photography. Now, I just pursue all photography, all video, and all forms of recording, whether a screen recording, or life recording, or life vlogging.￼
Unlearn the notion that selfish is evil
What is the worst thing that holds us back as entrepreneurs and innovators? Morality. A lot of the morality of America is based on Puritan and Quaker ethics, protestant ethics, Judeo Christian notions, Catholic guilt, etc.￼￼ all of these religions say to be selfish and focused on yourself is evil, and will cause you to burn in hell. Even a lot of Caucasian Americans who grew up without religion still feel this guilt, for uncertain reasons.
Therefore, in order to become more ambitious, prune away a lot of these antiquated, self limiting morality.
For example, I think actually being selfish is the most virtuous thing you do. Why? You focus on yourself, without blaming or praising others. Also, in today’s world, to pursue selfish ends can also be very altruistic. For example, even if you devote your life to altruism and helping others, there is a certain personal ego boost you get from helping others, less fortunate than you. And I don’t think this is a bad thing. It is a good thing. If there was no personal ego boost that we got from helping others, a lot more poor and suffering people would be in a bad position.
Therefore, moving forward, I say become more selfish, yet, don’t hoard things for yourself, just share it openly and widely. When in doubt just open source it. ￼￼￼￼￼
Self speculating yourself. Self speculation funds. Spend your money based on your physical fitness, health, diet (get a Costco membership, and go to the Costco business center and buy lots of beef brisket and beef ribs), eat more grass fed beef, purchase pasture raised eggs. Buy more kimchi, without sugar added￼￼￼￼￼ (look at the list of ingredients on the jar￼).
Invest in your own personal travels, accommodations, lifestyle experimentations, and yourself.
Don’t track progress
The worst modern idea comes from Peter Drucker, the notion that in order to improve, or to feel progress, you must track things. I say this is bad. Why? The grandeur of the human being is a quadrillion times more important than mere numbers. It is man who invented numbers, not the numbers who invented man.￼￼￼
Spread the wealth
- Share your thoughts and personal findings in your blog posts
- If you prefer, just make a podcast out of it, or upload it to YouTube.
- Send your own email newsletter. I recommend using￼￼￼ a self hosted option like sendy.co instead of mailchimp
- Never stop posting: the goal is to become like a stream of water: never stop flowing.
What are you made of?
- HENRI NECK STRAP MARK IV (Available in the OG Mahogany Brown with the Red Crimson Underbelly or the deep PHANTOM BLACK)
- ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II: Ricoh rules everything around me
- Zen Photography
- Photography Startup Manual
- 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography: Dropbox PDF // Direct DL
Tell a friend!
If you got a friend needing a shot of photo inspiration, feel free to forward this to them!