“Uh uh get money, get money”, I have to stop there since Biggie Smalls was “Notorious” for crude lyrics, but there’s your ear worm for the day!
I recently did a job that needed to be invoiced on the spot. I wanted something that would flow with my record keeping and make sure that it was more professional than an e-mail. I found the great iPhone app Get Paid. It allowed me to log the client and billing agreements and send an invoice immediately. Best of all, it emailed the client a professional looking invoice and stored all my billing info. It calculates taxes and flat and hourly rates. I was also able to export the client information via wifi when I got home. I didn’t even need to sit down at my computer. Once I was back on my home wifi it will sync with a computer on the same network with the push of a button I wouldn’t advise using at as your only system, but if you need to invoice on the spot to “Get Money”, then Get Paid!
One of the things I enjoy as a manager is learning from the people I work for, my staff. Servant Leadership is a whole other post. What I mean is I approach every relationship from the point of view of information sharing to make the business better. That said I have to do my part, bring something to the table to share. The only way I could do that as a Photo manager, was to keep my skills sharp. Reading articles practicing tutorials and staying up on the latest innovations of our creative craft.
One of the things I believe made me a credible manager in their eyes was that throughout my career I had done every job I asked of them. I knew what it was to freeze your butt off on stake out. I knew how hard it was to carry a ton of expensive gear and keep it safe in the most precarious of situations. I knew how frustrating it was to have done all of this and not get one image into the paper or online. I honestly felt their pain, for lack of a better Clintonian phrase.
So at 33 years old when I took the helm of the department, there was a certain amount of trust given and respect earned, from my earlier years in the business. My new task was to keep that respect in my new role. As a personal goal, I committed to learning each skill, even if only in a rudimentary fashion, that I asked my staff to learn. Often I allowed them to learn and then teach me. This step down from the lectern to put on my student cap accomplished two things. First, it made me understand their work style better. Secondly, it gave them more casual access to me as a person not a manager.
The conversations we had during these sessions were priceless. They were able to share inefficiencies with me in a way that was not seen as complaining. Slow computers, designers wanting images to be resized for every possible use in the future and unsearchable archive databases that crashed on deadline were all revealed to me in these personable interactions. In return, I offered software tips and shortcuts, best practices and support. I also, most importantly, took notes on their frustrations that I actually investigated, followed up on and in many cases fixed. Sometimes finding a way to buy a faster computer, with no capital budget requests being accepted, can change an employees’ whole outlook toward their work and the company. My advice is to step away from the desk from time to time, go learn from your staff and keep your ears open when you do.
A new year always sparks a cleaning house and getting organized bug in my brain. I have found that includes organizing the business cards I collect in my computer bag and purse. Card Munch is an irreplaceable mobile application for this feature. It allows me to photograph the business card with my iPhone camera. The image is then sent to a real human who translates to card and enters the information into searchable fields that will integrate into my phone’s address book. If that isn’t cool enough, it allows me to merge offline networking with online networking. The app has features that will send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn to any card you entered that has an e-mail address. What a brilliant feature! You can even customize your invitation message. I should note that Card Munch was recently purchased by LinkedIn, meaning they too noticed how useful it is! The app keeps track of your contacts and allows you to search them by name or company in its own address book if you’d rather not integrate your new contacts into your phone’s e-mail you can just store them in the app. I hope you find this as helpful as I do. I don’t receive anything for sharing this application just the joy of knowing I may have helped others get their bags cleaned out!
In this era of tight budgets creative directors are challenged with how to get projects photographed on a budget. There is always stock art but that doesn’t work if you need your own products or people photographed. Local freelancers are a great way to get agency quality photography without paying for the agency overhead and someone’s Christmas bonus. There are downsides to hiring a freelancer. The first of course is hiring a good one for your needs. I can help with that, as I have an extensive list of contacts all across the country. That’s a perk of having been an AP photographer. The second is the astronomical cost of photo and studio equipment for photographers, who are great but don’t have all the gear they need for your job.
“Well, I’m here to tell you, there’s something else”…. A place that will help recreate the light of the sun. No not the after world, but I do love that Prince Song! Lensprotogo. Gone are the days of having to give up your first-born and a huge deposit to rent gear! You only pay for your rental and the rates are extremely reasonable. I rented a new d7000 for 6 days for 137.00 dollars. It arrived on time in a pelican case for protection and even included a Tootsie roll pop! The only issue I had was they sent one lollipop and I have two little girls. Apart from the sibling wars. I couldn’t ask for any better customer service or pricing.
Yes this is another know your strengths post, but not for you, for your team. As a manager of a technological department in a period of change for our industry, I needed to map out a successful plan for my team. Again I used Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. This time I gave it to key members of my staff to find out their strengths. The results were enlightening. Not only did I discover why certain members of my team were better at dealing with different situations, I learned why they failed miserably in the same situation. Now that I knew the tools in my toolbox, I refined their uses. I began to use a hammer when I needed a hammer and a learner when I needed someone to use and review new software. I completely realigned my team. I changed their responsibilities in the department to match their strengths. I then began to manage my department in the division the same way. I asked people to see me to determine who should be asked to attend which meeting or assist with which project. I began to assign people according to their strengths. I know you’re thinking well that makes sense, but often it does not happen. I have seen performance reviews completely focused on making people stronger in their weak areas. After this personal experiment, I am a firm believer in Strengths based leading. Isn’t it more efficient to use your time to help people excel in their strengths? I’m just sayin!
My top five are WOO (winning others over,)strategic, communication, futuristic and significance. When you buy Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0, you get a code in the back of the book to do a strengths assessment on what you do well. I like people. I enjoy my relationships with people and I like to make sure people know where they stand with me. This is probably because every time I have taken this assessment I have scored WOO as my top strength. It is not just a fluke! The assessment is interesting because it asks you questions in a predictive way. The order is determined on your previous answers and the time it took you to answer it. It will then give you your top five strengths in rank order. There are 36 possible strengths and you can pay for your full list in rank order if you like, but the top 5 come with the book. I think the top 5 is enough since after the top 7 or 8 your percentage graph drops off significantly.
Learning my strengths allowed me to tailor my management style for success. I routinely enlisted buy-in for any new endeavor by being able to communicate the significance of that change. I was able to share the strategic reasoning behind a change and ultimately win over the people who needed to sign off or enlist. This is my strength on the team. I am a social butterfly, big picture seer and strategic planner who likes the work I do to be meaningful. If you know what your strengths are you are able to choose or sign-up for the tasks on a project that suit you. Set yourself and your team up for success.