Bryan Wright is a captivating storyteller with lifelong experience as a production, staging, audio engineer, recording artist, and prolific creator, serving clients of all sizes, including behemoths like eBay and PayPal. His work has been published by media giants like Forbes, Business Insider, and TechCrunch.
We had so much fun chatting with the incredibly creative Bryan Wright of Gravity Images and are in love with the powerful simplicity of his website!
Tune in to hear more about Bryan, including:
- His liquid smart
- How Bryan fell into a new career within his old one within a huge major corporation, (a great example of “luck” happening to the prepared).
- What it takes to create the most effective content
- How he accidentally made a 40 minute video that was featured on the biggest mountaineering site on the internet.
- How Bryan worked through fears of doing/trying a new career and how his own boss at PayPal encouraged him to seek new opportunities.
- Bryan’s valuable advice on how to get a large corporate client, whether you’re on the inside as an employee or on the outside, seeking access.
- Opportunities entrepreneurs have that big corporations don’t.
- Opportunities for freelancers to get clients.
- Best social network for corporate clients and how to use it.
- Things freelance writers—and any kind of freelancer—can do to get clients.
- How Bryan was able to save the company millions of dollars.
- The things Bryan struggled/struggles with:
- When taking the leap to new things in corporate and then from corporate.
- In being an entrepreneur/solopreneur
- Following your passion versus stepping out of your comfort zone.
- The essentials of good branding and good writing.
Inspiring Quotes from Bryan:
I call this [coffee] liquid smart! ~Bryan Wright, Gravity Images
If you can’t put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you’re not going to be able to have the most effective content. ~Bryan Wright, Gravity Images
You have to do what you love. As an artist… you’re going to be the best at the things that you love. But you also have to do things that scare you. The things that scare you are the things that are going to push you [to grow].” ~Bryan Wright, Gravity Images
If you keep creating, somebody’s going to pay attention to it. Keep creating, keep doing the right things. Follow your passion. ~Bryan Wright, Gravity Images
“Artists, if left to their own devices, will never finish a project.” Sylvia Massy, world class music producer
Bryan’s former drummer partner’s advice on “just shipping” your work. Getting it out there, and getting it done!
“How about we just get it done because getting it out, we can actually sell it, and we can figure out other stuff.”
“[Creatives]…we get lost in our heads. So I’ve learned that it’s really important to focus on what’s important.” ~Bryan Wright, Gravity Images
“Fear is important. The things that push you hard and make you go, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this.’ Don’t default to comfort.”
~Bryan Wright, Gravity Images
“There is tremendous power in simplicity.” ~Bryan Wright, Gravity Images
Bryan is a delight! Enjoy!
Bryan’s AWESOME website: GravityImages.us; it’s an elegant example of the power and beauty of simplicity.
Screw the Nine to Five with Josh and Jill Stanton
Kate Erickson, EOFire. Bryan said, “I was just blown away by some of the techniques that she’s used.”
Bryan’s interview with world famous music producer, Sylvia Massy, that was used to teach corporate creatives how to think out of the box
Full Episode Transcription:
Devani Alderson: Hello, everybody. Welcome to the I Create Daily Podcast. I Create Daily is a movement for creators serious about their art. I’m Devani.
LeAura Alderson: I’m LeAura, and our guest today is Bryan Wright, founder of Gravity Images, which is a video photography and audio production company. Bryan has lifelong experience as a production, staging, and audio engineer, recording artist, and prolific creator, serving clients of all sizes, including behemoths like eBay and PayPal, but that’s not all. His company, Gravity Images, photography and video work has been published by media giants like Forbes, Business Insider, and Tech Crunch.
Bryan Wright: Thank you very much. What an intro! You guys are awesome.
LeAura Alderson: So are you.
Devani Alderson: Definitely. It’s awesome to have you, and as we were just saying before we started recording, this is your first video podcast interview, so now we get to turn the camera on you. So, what is your story? How did you get started in your creative work? How did it become your life work?
Bryan Wright: First of all, before I get into any of that, I felt like it was almost disingenuous to you guys to show up on a podcast with coffee-obsessed people without some coffee of my own.
LeAura Alderson: Absolutely.
Devani Alderson: Amazing.
LeAura Alderson: Absolutely.
Bryan Wright: So, I got some really, really good coffee. It’s like my safety blanket for this.
LeAura Alderson: Nice. Well, you’re in California, right?
Bryan Wright: Yes. San Francisco Bay area.
LeAura Alderson: San Francisco, and we’re in North Carolina, so we’re on eastern time. Three coffees ahead of you.
Bryan Wright: [00:01:33] I call this liquid smart.
How did I get started? Wow. It’s been a really incredible journey because I’ve spent most of my life … There are a bunch of things that I do, and most of my life and work has been spent as a writer. I’ve been writing professionally for a really long time for, again, some of those same big corporations all over the world. I’ve been in Silicon Valley since ’99, so been doing it here for awhile. I like to say I’ve been laid off from some of the best companies in the world.
But doing that was kind of what my life was all about, and it’s about creating. It’s about finding the right message for customers. It’s about putting yourself in customers’ shoes, and if you can’t … For me, my philosophy was always if you can’t put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you’re not going to be able to have the most effective content that you can.
So, I did that for a lot of years, and in the last … Boy, I started working for eBay/PayPal in 2007, and I was there for about ten years. I started there as a writer, and about halfway through that, one of my mentors came to me. She was a VP, and she had some familiarity with the fact that I had just started getting into video and photography and some other things as a result of some other hobbies that I have. She came to me one day, she pulled me aside, and she goes, “We’ve got a whole bunch of footage that these executives shot at a Home Depot release that we’re having for this product that we’re going to put out. I wonder if you know anybody who could cut this together for me for Global All Hands in four days,” wink, wink.
I was like, “Okay. What do you need?” She sent me the footage. I took a look at it. It was completely unusable. She trusted me enough to actually go out and do this on my own, so what I told her was, “Hey, we’ve got to go get every single one of these executives.” These were just guys shooting cameras, nothing of themselves. Nothing of them talking. Nothing of them talking about strategy or anything, so it was basically just a bunch of garbage-y B-roll by people who don’t know how to shoot a camera.
I said, “We have to re-shoot this whole thing. This is too much.” And getting executives from big corporations in one place all at the same time is very nearly impossible, especially with a four-day window. So, we got lucky, actually. We got really lucky. There was an All Hands [mtg] that was happening with all the executives. It was like an executive retreat at a local hotel just down the street from us, and I said, “Let’s go over there, and let’s just write up five questions. I’m going to set up a set with my own camera gear.” It was just me and my camera stuff. And I said, “I’ll just do some interviews with these guys, and they can just tap the next person on the shoulder and send them out and go back to their meeting, and it should be really easy.”
So we did that. I hastily cut a hilarious cut of this thing together within that four days. It aired to the entire global organization, and the second that it did, I got dog-piled on by everybody in the corporation worldwide. They were like, “How do I do this for my group? What is this video? How can I do this? This costs so much to do. Who did this?”
So, while continuing on my writer journey, and I was actually a very senior person within the writing organization at PayPal. It’s part of the user experience and user interface and design team, which is under product. I was doing that while all these requests were coming in, and I just talked to my management and I said, “Do you want me to do this stuff?” They’re like, “Yes, go. Just do the thing. If you can hold it down, just go.” “Okay.”
So, I started doing it, and about 15 productions all over the world later on my own equipment with no support from anybody except travel budget and stuff, it was clearly obvious that this was a real need inside the corporation, so what I did was … At that time, there was a different VP over my organization, and I went to that VP and I said, “Listen, obviously there’s a huge need for this worldwide. How about we just give me some money and a space and we’ll make this my job for real.” He goes, “Here’s a quarter million bucks. Go build me a studio.”
LeAura Alderson: Wow!
Devani Alderson: Wow! That’s like every creator’s dream, right?
LeAura Alderson: Yeah.
Devani Alderson: Especially inside of a job. If you’re not on your own doing your own thing. It’s like if you’re inside a company and you have this creative outlet, or this opportunity for an amazing creative outlet, which is a really interesting segue to how if you are working with a company, how can you expand your role and bring up, like, “Hey, I have this creative potential that we could be utilizing,” and also just sort of as a way to also have that secured day job, which a lot of people are worried about. How does the money work? So that’s interesting.
Bryan Wright: That’s a good point that you make because, honestly, as a creator, it can be … I don’t know. Creators have a type, shall we say. I’m one of those particular types. I’m really good at creating stuff, but I’m really bad at marketing stuff, or caring about the data behind it. Or if it involves numbers, I run screaming.
Devani Alderson: I can relate. I can relate for sure.
Bryan Wright: Yeah.
I like to call this … Anyway, just to finish that out, before I move on to answer your question, I just ended up doing that. I built a studio for PayPal. It was just me for two years. It was run and gun. I was me with a camera all over the place, and I was the audio guy, and the lighting guy, and the electrician, and the gaffer, and the grip, and the director, and the producer, and the editor. I was everything, doing all of it.
Eventually, I got some people, and we built it up. It ultimately became a pretty big space. About 2,000 square feet of world class production space inside the company. So, we had a space, and it was beautiful. But that whole journey, to your point, Devani, is this whole idea … The thing that helped spark me and push me in this direction to get to Gravity Images, to get to Crash Force Camera, to get to whatever I’ve got going right now is this idea of being able to hone your entrepreneurial chops while having the support of a big corporation. It’s like you said. It’s kind of like entrepreneurship with training wheels because that budget. You’ve got people who believe in you. You’ve got your support, your network, and you’ve got all the resources behind you to make this happen that you don’t have to put out there yourself.
I call it intra-preneurship. I don’t even know if that’s a word.
LeAura Alderson: It is.
Devani Alderson: It is, yeah.
[NOTE: A newer term is corpreneurs and intrapreneur/intrapreneurship].
Bryan Wright: But basically that’s what I was doing, and that’s how I honed my craft. I was so terrified. Terrified! My lifelong occupation of a writer, to go, “Oh, I’m going to go do this now.” Left turn. What’s going to happen? No clue. Complete blackness out in front of me. I had no idea.
And it can be really, really scary, but it’s because of that fear … But I had belief in myself, too. I’ve got a lot of the skills from lifelong audio engineering, long before I ever got to photography and video, that sort of translate well. Software workflows translate well. I know a lot about it.
“I accidentally made a 40 minute video that was featured on the biggest mountaineering site on the internet.”
LeAura Alderson: Accidentally.
Devani Alderson: Just in your free time.
Bryan Wright: It was literally my first film I ever made, and it turned out to be this 40 minute thing, and they picked it up as the Trip Report of the Month.
LeAura Alderson: Wow.
Devani Alderson: That’s amazing.
Bryan Wright [00:09:36] I got a lot of traffic off of that, but I only made it because I was out in the wild with some stupid camera, just shooting dumb video clips. I was uploading dumb single 25 second video clips to my YouTube channel and just being ridiculous. And I got back from this one particular expedition in 2011, and I went, “You know, rather than doing this clips thing, I could probably just make a movie out of this.”
So, I made that, and then you go, and then you go, and then you go. And so in order to sustain that creativity, just to answer your question, it’s having some fear, I think, is important. Having something that you’re very passionate about. The things that you care about are the things that you’re most going to be successful at. You need to be able to believe in yourself enough and your own skills enough that even if you don’t know the answer right now, you know that you can figure it out.
I think that’s a really important aspect of being successful in this way. So, once I left PayPal, I had had all this experience. By this time, I had been managing people. I had been managing hardcore IT infrastructure. I had been doing all these really serious things that I could’ve gone to another company, like a Google or a Facebook or a whomever and said, “Hey, I want to do this for you guys,” but I just was like, “I can do this. It’s going to be basically taking a few steps back.” I chose to be poor, if you will, and that’s sort of a joke, but it is. You’ve got to roll it back. I don’t have the people. I don’t have the giant financial resources. I don’t have all this stuff anymore, but I can do this, and I can make it go.
Through the amazing help of some really key people that I met at the time, Josh and Jill Stanton of Screw the Nine to Five, and some other folks that have been really influential in helping push me toward being creative every single day and being able to make creativity my job, you just kind of go toward it. Hopefully that answers the question, but that repetitive belief in you. That having the drive to actually go out and do it. That being scared of not knowing what’s out there.
My mentor that asked me to create that very first video for PayPal, she was on the back end of me trying to make this transition, and I was kind of sitting in her office going, “Hey, is this a terrible idea? I feel like I’m just terrified. This feels like the worst thing ever. I’m stable in my writing career.” And she said, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? You’re not going to get fired for wanting to take on more responsibility, so just go ask. I happen to know.” So she was like, “Go! Get going.”
LeAura Alderson: That’s fantastic.
Bryan Wright: So you just have to do it.
LeAura Alderson: You were so fortunate to have that supportive, open-minded, visionary person to help guide you in that direction. One of the things … I mean, there’s so many different aspects we could talk about of the story that you just shared, one of which is some of our audience are writers and would like to know … Well, most of them want to know is can I make a living at my art? Some of them, as writers … Like, you were working for, on payroll, full time for PayPal, eBay, as a writer. So, yes you can.
This is the thing that most people don’t realize. A huge company didn’t yet have its own video production team, and part of the reason is because all this movement into video and accessibility of video, and proliferation of video and audio is still fairly new, especially for larger corporations that are big ships that move slowly. And so what many creatives have as an opportunity either if they’re already working full time, as you were, or if they’re freelance, looking for some bigger clients is that there are corporations that are definitely hiring freelancers on temporary basis or even an ongoing basis to fill some of those needs. So that’s one opportunity. Same thing with writers.
If someone was on the outside of a company like that, looking to try and get a contract, do you have any advice of how they might approach them?
Bryan Wright: This is something that, looking back on my corporate career and looking at the way that my video role at eBay/PayPal sort of unfolded, I feel like one of the best things that somebody could do on the outside of an organization like that is … It’s the same thing that I did. I just happened to have access to the internals, but basically do the thing that you want to do for them. Prove that there is a need. If you just write emails and say, “Hey, I’m a really great writer. I can really do these things. Blah, blah, blah,” that’s great, but everybody says that.
What people want to see is action. Corporations are especially blind. Big companies are especially blind. They don’t know what they even need, and the big value proposition… I’ll give a good example that can apply to writing, it can apply to video, or any other creative discipline within a big corporate structure. They were addicted to spending a ton of money on agencies to create video, and that’s all fine. A lot of big companies do this. However, if you look at that situation, there’s a marketing team or a brand team that has to interface with that creative organization. They’re often hiring more than one agency to create more than one video, and sometimes the marketing team or the brand team is not using the same agency as the product team, or this team, or this micro team, or this micro team. Hundreds of these little cells inside the corporation that, because of the nature of the organization, don’t really get talked about amongst one another, or consolidated in a way that makes sense.
So, what’s going on is, and this is true of writers and other disciplines, but they are spending a lot of money, and by extension, time. The brand team and the marketing team have to explain the product, what the product does, who the audience is, what the point of it is, in order for the creatives at the agency to even be able to begin to go, “Okay, well, hmm. Maybe let’s go away for a week and think about what this video, written piece, marketing piece, micro site, whatever needs to be.” And then they come back four or five times in a row having meetings and more meetings and more meetings getting up to speed on this thing.
If you know that company and you’re inside that company already … I had the advantage of being on the inside to know that I already knew these products. As a writer, I covered every one of the products across the company, so I kind of knew how these things are working, who they’re targeted at, all the other things. And I could just go straight to the team and go, “Hey, how about you don’t spend $150,000 and I make this for you for $15,000 or $20,000 instead?” They’re like, “Holy crap.” “And also, I’m just downstairs. You can come down and knock on my door any time, and we only have to have one meeting to explain all these other things.”
Through that, I was able to save the company millions of dollars. Literally in my first year of operation with just me, I think I calculated out something like $3.4 million I saved. The number of productions I created, if you had taken that number to an agency versus what I cost to do it, it’s a big dollar figure.
I guess what I’m saying is for other creatives on the outside looking to try and figure this out, how to crack into that either on contract or something else, do the thing that you can see the opportunity for for that company. These companies don’t talk internally. They don’t know what they need internally often.
And what I mean by “do the thing” is, for me, that sometimes means just making a contact, developing a relationship, and then doing a project for free. Honestly, if your heart is in it and your passion is there, it’s going to come through. It seems like free work, but the only way that I was able to make this happen inside a company that… Like, if I had gone to my mentor and said, “Hey, you know what? We need a video studio.” They’re like, “No, we don’t. We’ve got agencies. Bye. Catch you later.” That would’ve been the end of that conversation. But because they saw something that came out the other side, they went, “Wow. Holy …” That was the tipping point that made them go, “Huh. Maybe we need something like this.” That was me working for free, because I already had a job as a writer and I was holding down my writing job at the same time running around the world doing these 15 or so productions that ultimately netted me the thing.
Devani Alderson: And that’s important. The offering value. It’s almost like instead of just showing up with your resume and being like, “This is all the stuff I can do,” which the 15, 20, 30, 100 other people are doing as well. It’s like showing up and like, “Let me show you my resume. Let me show you what I can provide to you, and the back end value to your company that it’ll have.” I know a lot of people are starting to speak up about the value of doing free work, the value of just showing up and adding the value of the content that you’re creating first. Because a lot of times, people promise so many things, and so now we’re almost wary to, “Oh, you’re promising all this stuff. Are you actually going to deliver, or are we just wasting our time?”
Their side is … You know and you have the confidence that you can pull it off, but the company, no matter how big or small they are, they’re looking at it like, “Well, I have no idea if you can actually pull this off. You say you can.”
LeAura Alderson: And you’re just one voice in a sea of people.
Bryan Wright: Right, exactly.
So, for writers specifically, I will say that some of my clients are some big names in entrepreneurship out there right now, and as a video creator, I have to work with the writers and the web developers in order to make cohesive web spaces for these people. In doing that, I used to be on the other side of that where I was the writer working with the video guy and the web people to make that thing happen. But having heard a number of these folks going through struggles with content people, with writers, and when they finally find the writer that they didn’t know could do the job but they discovered through their work that they are just killing it, it transformed their business, honestly.
That’s what I’m saying. These folks that are the writers that were discovered by my clients, they were definitely looking for work. I’m not exactly sure of the nature of the way that those relationships developed, but, honestly, if you can show somebody …
Like, take a company’s webpage. Just rewrite the whole thing. Cut it down from three scrollable pages to a couple of paragraphs. One of the things that I used to do all the time, to the dismay of the legal team at eBay, was to take terms and conditions, which are awful … Awful reading! Awful. Nobody has ever read one of those in the history of the world. But my job in certain projects was to take terms, like an agreements thing, and cut it down. Take all the legal speak out. Completely rewrite it without changing the intent or the meaning or the legal voracity of the content itself. And the legal people were like, “Ah! Don’t touch it!” But in working with them, you actually could read the thing. It’s like a normal language that people understood. It did not change what the legality of the content meant.
So, that’s, of course, one of a billion opportunities, but for writers specifically, that’s something that I would look at. That’s really boring writing, but you can take any webpage on any website. So many of these big corporations have the worst websites.
One of the biggest pain points for PayPal was their Help site. Nobody wants to touch it. It’s awful, boring content, and blah, blah, blah. So, there’s this backwater in the company, and every company that size has one that’s a backwater where everybody’s like, “Ew.”
Devani Alderson: It’s like the elephant in the room that we all just … “Eeeh.”
Bryan Wright: Yeah, and because they’re that way, they also don’t get funding. They don’t get buy-in from the executives. They don’t get a sponsorship. All these things from internal that an organization needs to succeed.
People, creators of all kinds … Whether that’s UX, UI, writers, video, audio, artists, crafts people, whatever … You can find those areas where … It’s not that hard. Everything is out on the internet these days, and if we’re talking about web-based workflows and entrepreneurship online.
I work from my house here in San Jose, but I’m traveling all over the world making films for people. So, this is not something you have to do right here. You can go out and find those opportunities really easy. It does take some work, and you might need to make a few phone calls, and do some social engineering. This and that, and oops, randomly dial a random number inside a corporation and go, “Hey, is Bob there?” And they’re like, “Bob who?” Work your way through the company until you find somebody that’s the right person, because all of the normal pathways into these organizations are sort of … They have gatekeepers that are designed to eject people that don’t seem to have the right message coming in. So you can get around all that stuff pretty easily, but you do have to find that opportunity, and you do have to be able to do something with it and show the right person the right kind of thing that’s going to make them go, “Wow, I need this.”
LeAura Alderson: So that’s the tricky part. So, a couple things come to mind as you’re talking. One is for people looking for freelance work and landing big contracts, instead of spending time as an Upwork person to establish themselves for a ridiculously low rate, they could potentially scan a company that they love, scan their site, and create something of value. Whether it’s video or writing or product idea, whatever it may be, and then present that to the company in about the same amount of time it would be for them to try to peddle themselves for a little just to get good reviews. They could actually be using that same time to land bigger, very lucrative contracts.
The biggest barrier being, as you indicated, the gatekeepers. So you have landed some big contracts with corporations since leaving PayPal on your own, right?
Bryan Wright: Yeah. I’ve done a little bit of work for some big companies here and there. Companies like VMware, the company that provides PCOS operating systems on your Mac. They’re just up the road here, so I’ve done a bunch of that kind of work. But when I was at eBay, it was like the entire eBay family of companies, which was like 30 or something. I was like Red Laser and Milo and Stub Hub, and all these companies I was doing work for, and it was all different and all felt that way.
I will say that … Crap. I lost my train of thought on this one. I’ll come back to it.
LeAura Alderson: Okay. Go ahead. You got it?
Bryan Wright: Almost there.
LeAura Alderson: We were talking about access. Like if you didn’t already have an inside to these large corporations, how do you get beyond the gatekeepers? How do you ever get them to look at the work that you created for them as an example for free?
Bryan Wright: That’s a good question. That is a good question. Before I get into that one, because I do have a couple of thoughts on that one, I also want to point out that what I’m talking about here is not exactly … I mentioned earlier that creatives have a type. Doing this kind of sleuthing and communicating is often not in the wheelhouse of the stereotypical creative. Again, that’s painting it with a broad brush, but it is true that a lot of creative folks don’t like getting out there, putting themselves out there, having really intense conversations with people, socially interacting and some of those other things. There are barriers that we place on ourselves to that, too. I happen to be a loudmouth. I like to talk.
Devani Alderson: Extrovert.
Bryan Wright: Yeah. But what I think a lot of creatives in general do love, and especially this is UX people, UI people, even writers … I’ve done this so much. I love solving hard problems. I love putting pieces of things together that make something awesome. And that’s really all this process of getting around these gatekeepers is. It’s observing the places on websites or public information where you might be able to have an opportunity. Being able to work your way through a system on the phone sometimes, and I would say the phone is a great way to go. Sometimes email. Sometimes that’s LinkedIn, sometimes that’s Recruiter, sometimes that’s other people.
But working your way through that system in a way that allows you to put together all the pieces of this puzzle that forms a more complete picture, that they go, “Hmm, this actually is an opportunity here.” I’ll say that.
So, to answer your question, one of the best ways you can get into some of these people is on LinkedIn. Every single big corporation has an HR department. Inside every HR department are recruiters for that company, and those recruiters are out there. Their names are out there. Who they recruit for and who they work for are out there. Yeah, you could go to a temp agency, like a Vitamin T, or an Aquent. There’s a million, million, million … Like Beyond.com. There’s a million job sites you could go to. Go to LinkedIn. Find the internal recruiters for the company that you want to work for.
Have a dialogue. That person’s job is all about making the company better with the right personnel, so what you’re doing is you’re lobbing something right into their wheelhouse. They’re like, “Wow, I got this really great person. Where can we find a place for this person?” You do have to do relationship building. You’re going to have to have a conversation. Sorry, creative people. But it’s about developing relationships. That might be an online relationship.
Recruiters of all kinds absolutely love taking people to lunch, or going to lunch with people to understand what they do, why they do it, what drives them, what makes them good at what they do. I’ve done this a thousand times, having been laid off from some of the best companies in the world. I’ve had a lot of lunches with the next company, or their recruiters, or some temp agency. That’s a really easy one for people to start getting.
That’s a great “skirt the switchboard.” “Press one for this person. Press two for this person.” Skip all that. It’s the attendant on the phone who’s trying to, even if it’s a small company, it’s going to be only one person who is often the gatekeeper, and you can get around that.
But this is for bigger corporations. They’re always going to have those people. And those people are always looking to be successful themselves, and for them to be successful, they have to find the right people that fit the right thing. If you’re the right person and you have that ability to develop that relationship, they’re going to find you and they’re going to put you in there.
Devani Alderson: And you’ve made their job so much easier, too, because you’ve literally dumped an opportunity in their lap, and that’s your work. That’s a good point.
Bryan Wright: That’s right. It’s all your stuff.
Devani Alderson: Linking back with the next question, you were talking earlier about how you do the thing that you want to do so you can continue doing the thing you want to do. Whether it’s for yourself, whether it’s for a company, whatever your creative passion lies. What do you do on a daily basis to keep doing your thing? Do you have habits? Do you do rituals? Do you just show up and you’re like, “Here I am. I’m going to make one video today?” What do you do? What are your routines around creativity?
Bryan Wright: That is a good question. In a corporate environment where you have a lot of structure, that’s a lot easier to do. It almost happens by default because if you’re not on board and part of the machine, you’re the one that’s screwing up, and therefore you’re not going to be on that team for long. So you spin yourself up to speed, and you find the dynamic of the team.
When you’re sitting, working from home by yourself, every entrepreneur knows this. It’s really easy to go, “I think I’m going to have a glass of wine. I’m going to [inaudible [00:31:35].” Thinking about the things you need to do is not doing the things that you need to do, although sometimes it feels like if I think about it enough, maybe I’ll actually do something. I swear I’m going to do this thing, but I just need a snack right now. Right after that snack, I’m going to get to this thing.
This is a constant battle for me. Finding the ritual has been pretty easy for me up until the last, I’d say, three or four months actually. In the last three or four months, I’ve started running into these barriers where I’m just feeling resistance in myself to actually doing certain kinds of things. And in examining that feeling, I look at it and have gone, “What are the reasons that I’m starting to feel that decline?” One of those big reasons is the lack of that structure. I’m pretty self-motivated. I’m pretty able to get stuff done when I know what I’m supposed to do, but at corporate, it requires lists. And it still requires lists, but I stopped getting away from list because I get too confident in myself. I’m like, “Pah! I could just totally knock this thing out tomorrow. It’s no big deal.” Go to sleep, wake up the next day and go, “Wow, I’m hungry.” And you don’t even remember that you had this thing to do.
So, keeping track of stuff is really important. It sounds so dumb, I know, but for me, if I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or I don’t plan what I’m supposed to be doing tomorrow, it often doesn’t get done. Not because I don’t want to do it or not because I’m resisting sometimes, but sometimes I just don’t remember.
Devani Alderson: You have to set yourself up. Like any habit, creativity is a habit and a muscle, and if you’re not setting yourself up to do that, then it’s not going to happen. If you don’t set yourself up to go to the gym every day or to work out every day, it’s not going to happen. If you don’t set yourself up to go to work every day, it’s not going to happen. It’s the same thing with your own endeavors. It’s not going to happen if you don’t say, “Hey, this is the timeframe to write the article, to contact the HR department, or whatever.”
LeAura Alderson: Yeah, and your honesty on that is really appreciated because you struggle along with many other people on that same thing. That’s a very normal thing. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why some people don’t choose entrepreneurship or don’t think they could, or maybe even aren’t suited for it.
I would think that, on the one hand, you would be perfectly … So what you know is the kind of structure you had in corporate, and how that was required. It was not optional. So then it’s just a matter of inculcating that system, that design, designing your day, to be the same unequivocal thing for yourself. Do the favor for yourself that you had to do in corporate, because we know what happens when we have the most productive days. We are the most happy. At the end, we end up with more free time, in a way, typically, and more comfort at engaging in the things that might have had us meandering otherwise.
Bryan Wright: That’s right. That’s right.
One of the best things I’ve seen recently that I heard at the exact time that I needed to hear it was just a few weeks ago in Austin. I was there to shoot an event called Screw You Live. If you’re familiar with Screw the Nine to Five. That’s the [inaudible [00:35:02] product. Screw You Live is an elite membership thing. They have a great crowd there, but as a byproduct of me going to shoot the thing, I also get to hear all the things. In hearing all the things, there were two very powerful people there. Some of the earliest people I ever met as a result of my relationship with Josh and Jill, and it was John Lee Dumas and his [significant other], Kate.
There are lots of things that make this couple a great couple, but she is the systems person to his other skills. So what she’s brought to his business and their business is this idea of systematizing things in a way that helps even the smallest people run like a multi-billion dollar corporation.
There was a presentation on this idea, and her name is Kate Erickson.
LeAura Alderson: We interviewed her. Her interview will show up before yours.
Bryan Wright: Very cool. She’s amazing. I was just blown away by some of the techniques that she’s used. Her story goes all the way back to being a corporate admin for some of the same kinds of corporations that I work for, and not being valued, and not feeling like there’s a future, and wondering what she’s going to do with life. And then realizing, “Hey, I’m really good at X, Y, and Z. Why don’t we just do that?” Having the courage to do that is really amazing.
I heard her message. Josh and Jill actually presented right after, and they had a whole bunch of stuff on this topic, too. But what I knew walking into that was that I was going to order this thing, and it’s sitting right here by my desk. It’s the Mastery Journal from John Lee Dumas. It’s about being productive. It’s about systematizing. It’s about building methods and practices that help you get things done. The methods that JLD uses are things are really powerful stuff. Some things that people don’t think about like batching and other things like that.
That’s one thing. And then there was a second thing there that I have started doing. It’s kind of this idea of beginning to plan out your next day the day before. That used to be automatic, but as you fall out of those routines that are forced upon you by a corporate organization, that stuff sort of falls away, and you get into your own patterns as a human. Your memory of the need for that begins to fade, and you don’t even realize it’s happening. So, when you start feeling these weird feelings of, “Wow, I’m not being productive. What’s going on?” It’s important to take a look back at yourself and go, “Why am I not doing that? What’s going on here that I can fix and adjust?”
Rituals-wise … Mandatory. [Bryan holds up coffee cup].
LeAura Alderson: Yes.
Devani Alderson: Coffee, for those listening and not viewing. Just audio.
Bryan Wright: The next thing that I do that I make a point of that helps me be more productive is … You notice I didn’t get dressed up for you guys. This is how I get dressed every day like I’m going to work. [If I don’t get dressed] my bathrobe helps me not do stuff.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah, absolutely. We do the same.
Bryan Wright: Yeah. I love making music. I make a lot of music here, and doing that in your bathrobe is great, but that’s not what’s making me my current … I’m not making a living off of making music right now. So I get dressed, get some coffee, and not in that order. Actually, the reverse order. Get coffee, get dressed, shower, put myself together. Have my day plan ready to go, and I am just now starting to get that machine going back up again. Winding up the routine again through the Mastery Journal and some other stuff.
It’s really important. For me, it is. It was shocking to me how much I struggled with this in the last few months. I was like, “What is going on?” I’m a self-starter, I’m a do-er, I’m a this, I’m a that, and I’m just not doing it right now. What is the barrier?
Devani Alderson: That’s such a good point because my mom has always been really good …
Devani Alderson: Oh, sorry. Can we hear? Can we hear now? Uh oh.
Devani Alderson: All right. And we’re back guys.
LeAura Alderson: Looks like we got our sound back, and for the viewer and listener, it wouldn’t have been that long of a pause, because we paused the recording. But we’re back with Bryan. We were talking about rituals and routines. It was a good place to actually pick up on the next thing, and I appreciate your sharing about that. You are using the Mastery Journal.
One of the things that we’re doing … In fact, that’s one of the reasons we created this whole movement, I Create Daily Movement, is that knowing, bottom line, if we just keep working on our passion and doing our art every day, something toward it every day, then results will come about. It’s creating the discipline and structure around that that works for us.
Devani Alderson: And accountability, too, because that’s the thing you have at a job. Whether you love your job or don’t love your job, either way, you have the accountability because if you don’t show up and if you don’t do the work, or you don’t provide the results, somebody’s going to come knocking at your door and say, “Hey. You’ve got to do this.”
Bryan Wright: That’s right.
Devani Alderson: So, as personal creators in our own spaces, if we’re trying to be a creator inside somebody else’s company and we want to get that ball rolling, you have to create systems yourself to do that.
LeAura Alderson: Do you have about ten more minutes?
Bryan Wright: I’ve got as much time as you need more for.
LeAura Alderson: Okay, awesome. Now that we’ve been talking about productivity, we don’t want to step on your schedule for the day.
Bryan Wright: I’m yours for as long as you want me.
LeAura Alderson: Awesome.
Bryan Wright: If you don’t mind, I would love to talk about something about creatives because I think one of the biggest moments as a creative that I had as a realization of the way that tend to operate is we get lost in our own heads. I discovered this. I’ve been getting lost in my own head for as long as I can remember. I just wasn’t as conscious of it as I was until this moment that I’m about to describe, which is …
I did a interview with a woman named Sylvia Massy, and Sylvia Massey is a world famous record producer. She has produced System of a Down. She has produced Tool. She did Tool’s first two albums in fact. Won Grammys for them. She’s worked on Johnny Cash’s last album. She’s worked with Rick Ruben and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince … Like, bam, bam, bam. You name it, she’s done it.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to meet her and we recorded a bunch of tracks with her. Me and my band. We got some stuff out there that was produced and engineered by her and her team. Amazing stuff. Many years later, I come to PayPal, and I ultimately get into this video role, and there’s a team of producers inside PayPal. The producer’s job in a corporate environment is to help the creatives figure out when good is good enough. Help enable them get their stuff done. Help remove obstacles for those folks to actually get out what they need to get out.
And I did this interview with Sylvia. I just hit her up and said, “Hey, would you mind if I sent a crew up there and do an interview with you? Because we’ve got this producer summit coming up that they want to illustrate this idea that no matter what kind of producer you are, it’s kind of the same job. And we’re going to talk about the music industry producer versus a corporate producer, and draw some parallels between the two.”
It was a great interview. She’s a fantastic … In fact, this is out on my Vimeo channel. If you guys want to go watch it, I can give you some links to it.
Devani Alderson: We’ll link that for sure.
Bryan Wright: It’s a phenomenally important piece of information that she provides in the form of a six minute film for creatives to think about and observe. And what she said was, in a nutshell … One of the quotes, I think, from the film was “Artists, if left to their own devices, will never finish a project.”
LeAura Alderson: Hmm, interesting.
Bryan Wright: True. Absolutely true. We’ll be like, “Well, I could make it better. I could do this, I could do that.” “Well, it’s not exactly quite perfect.” We suffer from anxiety. We suffer from perfectionism. We suffer from not wanting to put out crap. We suffer from all kinds of things that both enhance the work that we do, but also stands in the way of delivering the work that we do.
I happen to be in a band with a drummer who is just the guy that I need to be … because I’m providing all the artwork. I’m a graphic designer, by the way, way back when. I’m doing all the writing. I’m doing the website development. I’m doing all the engineering, the producing, the recording. Everything. He’s a really pragmatic guy. He’s like, “Listen,” way back when. He’s like, “Okay, why is this album taking so long to get done?” I’m like, “Well, because it could be better here, and better there, and better this, and better that. I’ve got this thing to do, and all that stuff to do.” He’s like, “How about we just get it done because getting it out, we can actually sell it, and we can figure out other stuff. Keep this in mind, Bryan. We have eight fans right now. They don’t care. Get it out. Let’s get it done.”
I’m like, “Okay, well, then I’ll move onto the t-shirt designs. I’m going to make this two designs absolutely perfect.” He’s like, “Why don’t we use six or eight designs? Because if you get eight designs out there, you’re going to have somebody that’s more likely to buy one of those things. They might find something they like. If you’ve got one, they go, ‘Eh, it’s not my thing.’ You’ll never make a sale.”
So, spread out your influence in a way that makes sense. And so between the Sylvia thing and being in a band with this guy, I’ve really learned that it’s important to focus on what’s important. So, we get lost in our heads. Devani, to your point earlier, I think the counterpoint to that is actually just doing stuff and just continuously creating daily is really important, but it’s equally important to make sure that you’re not just creating and doing things that feel good because those things that feel good, they’re rarely going to be the things that scare you. And the things that scare you are the things that are going to push you. This is why I said earlier that fear is important. The things that push you hard and make you go, “Oh, I don’t want to do this.”
Creating. Absolutely. Get the cycle going. Get the creative going, but don’t default to comfort. Don’t default to the stuff that you want to do because we’re artists and we want to do fun stuff that feels good and sounds awesome and looks amazing. It’s beautiful, but is that the stuff that’s going to make us successful entrepreneurs? Sometimes. Sometimes that’s why people hire you, but that’s a byproduct of your ability to actually run a business and get the important stuff done.
LeAura Alderson: That’s so true. In fact, one of the things we’re running is a 100 day creator’s challenge. It is a group of people who have committed to get goals done, specific goals done. In fact, we’re using John Lee Dumas’s Freedom Journal, the 100 Day Freedom Journal, and setting goals daily. That kind of thing. In fact, what you just said came up just this morning and yesterday as part of the conversation. It’s about two things. One, the perfectionism, and the other is never getting things done. In fact, for one of our members, that was actually their goal. That is, just to finish something. Of all the things that they had, to finish something. To finish one thing, essentially. So, yeah, absolutely essential.
Devani Alderson: We need to become finishers, too. We start projects, and we’re so good at starting the book, starting the painting, starting whatever endeavor it is for you, and then it’s like, “Okay, well, now we need to finish it. We need to bring closure,” and I think it’s also such a good point. You said you had the drummer. It’s interesting. You’ve had very critical people just when you needed them that have been there for you to be like, “Okay, just get that album out, dude,” or “Give me your [crosstalk [00:48:02]. Stop worrying about that one perfect design.” Because the thing is, too, when you create a lot of stuff, even if, for awhile, it’s not what you personally love, love, love … It’s not your perfect vision. It’s may be mediocre. You feel like it’s mediocre. But nobody knows that because they don’t know exactly what you wanted the end product to be. They just know, “Oh, hey. Oh, cool thing.”
The second is when you get in the habit of constantly putting something out there, eventually something will take off. Just the laws of how that works, eventually something will be that thing. I love Hans Zimmer. He does a lot of the sound music for some of the epic movies, but I’m sure if you go back into his history of creating soundtracks, I’m sure in the beginning a lot of them were like, “Meh.” I’m sure he goes back and takes a walk down the memory lane of his content, he could definitely pinpoint the areas where it started to hit the mark for him and his career, of this is what a good track is for me now. But that took years!
Bryan Wright: He’s one of my favorite composers, and now he has his own master class. I don’t know if you’ve seen that.
Devani Alderson: I have, yeah.
LeAura Alderson: We have [seen MasterClass]. I hadn’t seen his. That’s wonderful!
Bryan Wright: Are you guys familiar with Master Class?
Devani Alderson: Yeah.
Bryan Wright: So, Hans Zimmer, How to Compose Like a Boss. The guy’s a legend.
LeAura Alderson: Wow. Are you going to take it?
Bryan Wright: I’m so torn on Master Class, because there’s one from Deadmaus. There’s one from Martin Scorsese. There’s one from all the people that I’m just like, “Must do all the Master Classes!”
Devani Alderson: And then you get info obese, where you’re just consuming too much information.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah.
Bryan Wright: Exactly, exactly.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah. Well, there are several other things we’d really like to ask you, even going off script a little bit because these are carrying on the conversation to us is more important. And to us, we’re just trying to keep in mind not just what we want to know, but also what our audience wants to know.
One of the things we talked about recently with our audience is branding, and your website … First of all, it’s beautiful, it’s elegant, it’s simple, it’s striking. And your video samples are amazing.
Devani Alderson: It’s gravityimages.us, and we’ll link that in the article.
LeAura Alderson: So I wanted to ask you … We were working recently on slogans. The way you came up with “Simple, beautiful stories,” that just says it all. Now that I know you’re a writer also, I missed that somewhere along the way, do you want to say anything about your slogan and the creation of slogans in general?
Bryan Wright: Yeah. I have a lot to say about that. I don’t really talk too much about the fact that I’m a writer. Almost my writer resume has been like shoved under the rug, because I want to go do this thing now.
But there is tremendous power in simplicity. My first job at eBay in 2007 was for the relationship marketing team, which was an arm of the brand team. My job at the time was … The eBay website was full of these dumb little icons, and these little cartoony things, and they were just using these as little populated brand icons. This is actually on the heels of the dot-com collapse, where they hadn’t quite evolved out of that cartoony, weird brand space yet. My job was to create content for hundreds and hundreds of these little x-number-of-pixels-by-x-number-of-pixels. Some of them were banners. Some of them were little, tiny squares. Some of them were 50 by 50 pixels, where you get 12 characters times two lines. I had to say all kinds of stuff in those 12 characters by two lines.
My boss, at the time, she had and still has been in direct mail marketing for about a billion years. She was an older lady, and had a ton of experience. She is the one that helped me hone my craft at getting leaner and leaner and leaner in terms of slogans. In terms of saying what you want to say in as few words as possible. There is nothing harder than saying a lot in nothing. This is why haiku is so hard, because I can vomit out great volumes of content, and it’ll be fun to read. Blah, blah, blah. Off topic. It’ll wander and be all these things, but it’s not going to be necessarily what people want to read, or even is the right message for what I want to say. Cutting that down into let’s take a paragraph and cut it down to two lines. How do we do that? Wow, man. Okay. Shit’s about to get real here, and it does, but the more you’re able to target your audience with simplicity…
That “Simple, beautiful stories” is an evolution of a whole bunch of other technical, nerdy crap that I put in there initially when I first started. I was like, “But this isn’t really about that.” The people that want to come and do work with me don’t care about this. They want it to look a certain way, but they don’t care how I get it. They just know that I know how to get it. What’s it about for them? It goes back to this idea of knowing your audience.
The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is put messages about products in 12 characters times two lines. Honestly, I would do that, and my boss, who was so good at this … I’d just labor over it for like four hours, just this one stupid thing. I’m like, “This could be better. This could be better. It could be better.” Finally, I’d go, “Ah-ha! I’ve got the thing!” And I’d go running over to her desk, and I’d go, “What do you think of this?” And she goes, “That’s pretty good. What about if you did this?” Just like that. I’m like, “Oh, my God. It’s so much better. How did I miss that? I don’t get it.”
So, it’s that process of reducing and reducing and reducing all of your messages to their absolute essence so that people can understand. They remember the first thing they read. They remember the last thing they read. All the crap in the middle is usually, unless you’re a researcher and a nerd of whatever you’re nerding out on, is lost.
So, let’s take a recent mountain bike obsession with mine. I’m back to mountain biking obsessing again. I had a mountain bike obsession … Huh?
Devani Alderson: It’s a great thing to obsess about.
Bryan Wright: Yeah, but I nerded out about all of the things mountain bikes. Like, which bike, which gear … Everything in the middle and the beginning and the end, I remember all of it because I cared about that. That is something that’s really going to impact my life in a different way, but if I’m a business owner. We’ll talk about one of my clients. They provide virtual assistant services. Their greatest dream in the world is not to make a beautiful video. Their greatest dream in the world is to make the best virtual assistant company that there is. That’s their greatest dream. The video is just a means to an end.
The first thing they read is going to mean something. The last thing they read is going to mean something. Yeah, they’re going to pay attention to some of the things in the middle, but a lot of that stuff, unless it’s simple and absorbable and memorable, is not going to be something that you can really grab onto in an easy way.
My website is designed to spark conversations. I like to have phone calls. That’s different, I guess, maybe for creators. But I do like to talk to people instead of text or message or whatever. My FAQ page is kind of a nightmare because it’s really, really long if you go look at it, but it has all the things that I need to say-say in it so that when a client comes in, I can just go, “Let’s have this call, and if you have any further questions, go check out my FAQ page,” and they can go scroll that at their leisure.
But, slogans, man. Slogans are … To me, they need to be visualizable. “Simple, beautiful stories …” When you’ve got that image behind it of a dude with a camera, or some kind of technical setup or something else, helps people really lock in what they’re getting when you come to Gravity Images to do something. I want to give you the simple, beautiful story, and as an artist, that speaks to what my passion is, too. I love making beautiful things. I just do.
Probably one of my biggest faults-slash-strengths is the fact that I will not put out shit. I just won’t do it. Even in corporate, I was probably let go from a couple of positions because I’m just not going to put out crap. I want it to be good, and I recognize also that doing the bread and butter work, the really boring stuff, the stuff that creatives hate doing … It’s like, “Yeah, I’ve got to do this thing. It’s not fun. It’s not pretty. It’s not light. It’s not …” Whatever it is … Is not always the most fun, but I also recognize that I had to do that stuff in order to do the fun stuff.
But at the same time, I’m not willing to just put out garbage because you say so. Because my name is on that, too, and the names of every single one of the dudes or girls that helped create that is on that, too. Everyone’s name is on that, so I want this to be a portfolio piece. Can everything be a portfolio piece? No, it can’t. Some of the worst work I’ve created in my life was with the biggest resources that I had at PayPal.
So, keeping in mind that your slogan, to me, it needs to speak to what you do, but more important than that, it needs to be what customers need. Understanding who your customer is is so, so, so, so, so, so, so important. This is what Apple does very, very well. They know their customer, or at least they used to until Tim Cook… But they worked backwards from the customer rather than going…
I did work for a smaller internet company out here in Silicon Valley for about a year and a half, and it was a start-up. The job was very broad and sweeping, but their entire business model was engineering-based. So, they had this problem of the engineers would go into a dark closet for six months and then come rushing out at the end and go, “Look at this thing we created! Now let’s figure out how to market it.” I’m like, “But who even wants that? Nobody even wants that thing. Who is this for?” They’re like, “It’s just cool.” It’s not that cool.
Devani Alderson: Yeah, and at the end of six months, especially at the pace technology is moving, it really does get back to who wants it now because look at this new technology that just came out by this other company that’s basically already destroyed your thing before you’ve let it … Because you’ve spent six months hiding to create it.
LeAura Alderson: Sorry, go ahead.
Bryan Wright: Real quick. Let me just finish that out. As an artist, it’s not always possible to go create the thing that you want to create because your customer might not connect with that. And this is the struggle that I’m having with Crash Force Camera, frankly.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah. No, that speaks to exactly what I was getting ready to ask, because … A couple things. One is I would think when it comes to slogans as well as knowing your customer, one of the concepts that we work with a lot is Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. It’s like your why. Why are you creating it, as well as what is the customer’s ‘why’. That helps you get to the soul of things, which helps you get to the simplicity. What is the soul? Cut away the fluff. What is the soul of it?
But when it comes to art, when it comes to whether it’s someone painting or whether it’s someone writing a fiction novel, or whether it’s someone composing a piece of music, or playing in a band, it’s really hard to gauge, then, in a way … Especially for visual artists, it could be harder to gauge what it is your customer wants, and to have a perfect image of an avatar. So, how do you work with that?
Bryan Wright: Wow, you’re right on the money with that one. It can be hard. I’m more approaching it from … I don’t know. I’m sort of split down the middle on what you just said because to one-billion-percent agree with what you just said, I would say that, as a musician, you have to do what you love. As an artist, you have to do what you love. You’re going to be the best at the things that you love.
At some point, if you keep creating … Devani, to your point … Somebody’s going to find out about it. Somebody’s going to pay attention to it. Keep creating, keep doing the right things. Follow your passion.
Again, the other half of me says sometimes you have to do the hard stuff to get to the fun stuff. When you said being in a band it’s hard to know what your audience wants. I don’t know what my audience wants. I just know what kind of music I like to make. There are people out there who like that kind of music, and in some ways, that kind of goes to this idea of allowing your customers to find you. If they’re not your right customer, then you’re not going to be working together, and that’s perfectly okay. You don’t even want to be working with people who aren’t your customer. It’s an energy drain. I’ve been there.
LeAura Alderson: Definitely. It really seems like maybe what the distinction is when it’s product driven, then we need to address the customer and what they’re looking for. When it’s art/creator driven, then it really needs to be we create because that is our essence, and we will bring it forth into the world, and the people who want it will find it. We can also, on our side, try and know where they might be because if that’s coming from us, there’s a kindred spirit thing going on there as well.
Bryan Wright: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s exactly right. You put your soul out there, it’s scary. In either scenario, it’s terrifying, but from a business standpoint, it’s a little bit more manageable than when you’re going out there for pure creation and just joy out into the world, putting yourself out there. Creating a painting or creating jewelry or creating written words or creating visual arts of any kind is just … Again, it goes back to that Sylvia Massy interview. She said, “Vocalists, when you record them, they’re baring their soul to you,” so she clears the studio. She doesn’t want anybody else to get in the way of that kind of performance. It is very, very personal. That’s exactly right. I think you nailed it.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah. Two more questions. Go ahead.
Devani Alderson: The next question is what are the one to two activities you do that produce the most business results for your video production and creation? On the business side of all that.
Bryan Wright: Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm. What are the one to two things that I do on the business side to help produce the best creative results or the best business results?
LeAura Alderson: What makes your business most successful essentially?
Devani Alderson: Aside from showing up and doing the best work you can do.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah. I guess you could say in terms of marketing. What are the things that you have found produce the most revenue for your business?
Bryan Wright: Mm-hmm (affirmative). This is a tricky one for me because I’ve been fortunate in the sense that up until recently I haven’t really had to work on finding new clients. It’s been through word of mouth and through other forums online and in other ways that clients come to me. But I think that the way to … It’s tough because there’s one aspect of it, which is this idea of valuing yourself. By valuing your work and simple things, like what you charge for your work, how much of yourself you’re going to give to your clients, these are really important and energetically draining, potentially, things for creators.
Valuing yourself appropriately, I think, is one of the biggest ones for me. I made a shift where I was like, “Today, I am doubling my prices,” because this is just a lot of work, and people don’t understand how much work goes into this. People also don’t understand how much heart that you’re putting of yourself into some of these things, too.
From a business standpoint, like I said, and a marketing standpoint, my website has been my best tool. I don’t put it out there a lot. Honestly, I think I’m failing in getting search traffic, in getting visibility, and finding huge volumes of the clients. I can scale this business. The place where I am right now is I’m at a spot, an inflection point in this business, where it was like back in the PayPal days where it was just me versus starting to build a team. It’s kind of that same inflection point where I’m like, “I know I can scale this.” I can run five, ten, 12 productions at a time, and I can staff up with associate producers, line producers, people and crews on the ground in North Carolina. Which I did shoot in North Carolina not too long ago.
And I can do this, but I can only do this if I’m getting the client work to make that happen. So, how do I make the client work a success on the business side? What generates the most revenue? The thing that generates the most revenue right now is valuing myself appropriately. The second thing is finding new clients that are the right kind of client.
I recently took on a client who I was kind of on the fence about, and I probably should not have done that work. It was very draining. It didn’t pay well. I don’t like to do things just for money, but on the other hand, I’ll happily go to a job all day long and do it for money. I’d rather be happy and make money, and that’s a hard question, you guys. I’m really struggling with it, honestly.
LeAura Alderson: No, no. That’s okay.
Bryan Wright: Because it’s tricky. It is tricky. You’ve got to find a balance between … Sometimes it feels like chest thumping when you’re marketing yourself. You’ve got all this bravado, and you’ve got all this ego. You’ve got all these other things. That’s how it feels sometimes.
So, I’ve been a marketing person my whole life, but I’ve probably been a terrible marketing person my whole life. I’ve got Gravity Sound, which is an extension of Gravity Images, which is a live sound system rental company. That sound system has sat in storage in road cases until somebody calls me that wants to use it. Like, it’s not me putting it out there to go find new clients. This has been for ten years this system has sat around. It could be making a few thousand bucks a week for me, if I were good at marketing, but I’m apparently not good at marketing.
I think that it’s that I don’t care. That’s the problem. And I don’t mean that to sound negative. I just mean that because I’m not interested in traffic and numbers and data and lead generation. I want to just go (snoring sound). [crosstalk [01:07:44] lead generation. I just want to go to sleep. So because I don’t care about it, I’m not making myself good at it either. What I feel like I need right now at this inflection point is a partner who can help me begin to transition this into something bigger because they’re going to be passionate about it.
LeAura Alderson: I’m going to nudge you just a little bit on that one because you spoke earlier about how we had to work beyond our comfort zones. This might be your next …
Bryan Wright: Oh, ouch!
Devani Alderson: What did I say?
Bryan Wright: That’s a good one. I think there’s a distinction here, and I think the distinction is it’s not that I’m scared to do it. I’m not fearful of doing lead generation. It makes me want to slash my wrists. That’s a whole different thing.
LeAura Alderson: The resistance isn’t only from fear, though. It’s also things that we just don’t want to do. Sometimes we have to do the things we don’t want to do in order to get to do more of the things we want to do. I would just think that from stepping back and looking at your brand, just imagine this is going to be my last question that I’ll get to in a second, but just with all the hats you’re wearing, you have within you just yourself without even the added team yet so many qualifications and skills and talents that could very easily just write an article one time that has the right kind of key words to attract the traffic to the microphone. You could fall in love with sound for a minute and write that article that could end up attracting people. And then that becomes … Just imagine if it was $1000 a week. That’s passive income. You’ve written it once and it begins to pick up speed and generate something for you.
Sometimes we kind of assume that we don’t like it, and assume we don’t like marketing, but we can also reframe that and say, “How can I look at that differently?” I like to write, I like to serve people, I like to talk about the finer qualities of sound, or whatever it might be. This is what I love about sound. So, there’s another way to do that.
Devani Alderson: Especially now since marketing has become story driven as opposed to, “Hey, buy my stuff. Buy my stuff. Buy my stuff. Rent this out. Buy this, buy that.” All this in-your-face copy. Not to bash copy, because copywriting is an incredible skill. If you can do it well, kudos to you. I just mean very overtly in your face, offering no value and just trying to get people’s money type of stuff, which is a whole different category.
Bryan Wright: I love how you guys just totally called me out on that. That was awesome. And hearing you talk about it makes me go, “Yeah.” I think I’m going to figure out a plan to do just that. I guess what you’re describing is sort of a lead magnet in a sense.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah. [inaudible [01:10:46]
Bryan Wright: Yeah. You guys just gave me some ideas for doing this, so thank you.
LeAura Alderson: Love that. We love doing that.
Bryan Wright: Here’s me. I’m going, “Meh. I don’t like this.”
LeAura Alderson: Well, but the thing is you are the one who also said earlier in the presentation creators get in their own heads. We get into this nebula of stuckness sometimes where it’s a vast world unto ourselves in our head, and we love it, but because it’s vast, we don’t realize sometimes where we are stuck within it.
Devani Alderson: Which bunch of brambles did you run into today?
Bryan Wright: Yeah. It’s totally awesome in here. It just doesn’t go anywhere sometimes.
LeAura Alderson: So, back to that structure kind of thing. I’m sharing this as much for the creatives who will be listening to this because so many of the struggles that you described are so common to so many of us. So the way that I would envision the concept of the day for creatives is if you have a client and you’re producing a video for them, rather, then you have that structure and that deadline. When you don’t, then you’re the client. You then have that structure and deadline for yourself, to produce for yourself, to create those sample clips that go out to prospective clients, to create the things that you love.
So, I think it’s also about falling back in love with things, and that was going to be the last question I was asking you, and that is … Okay, so producer, director, videographer, photographer …
Devani Alderson: Sound engineer.
LeAura Alderson: Sound engineer, writer, graphic designer.
Devani Alderson: He’s also a cook, guys.
LeAura Alderson: Musician. And a cook.
Devani Alderson: He’s a gourmet chef. I see the mouthwatering images every day on Facebook.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah, so, okay … Of all those hats, what do you love most?
Bryan Wright: Yes.
Devani Alderson: That’s amazing.
Bryan Wright: For me, I don’t know how many people feel this way. For me, I think one of the reasons I wear so many hats is because the thing that I’m in love with is discovery. The thing that I am in love with is knowing. The thing that I am in love with is understanding. That does have sub compartments that are, like, my passion is video, my passion is audio, my passion is this. But if you look at all of those things, every single one of those things is about … And I say this all the time. Every single one of those things is about creating something from nothing.
I only have one hobby that doesn’t actually create anything, and I’m not doing it anymore because I discovered what I needed to discover about it, which is my passion in life. And then I’m like, “Well, I’m good enough. Maybe I don’t need to do that anymore.”
So, I’ve been accused of being serially obsessive because that’s kind of how I learn stuff. I dig into it until, “Ooh, I got this one,” and then I’m like, “Hmm, catch you later. Next thing.”
Devani Alderson: It’s a lot like the childlike mind, where it’s always next week. It’s always the new career path. This week I want to be a basketball star when I grow up, and next week I want to be this other thing. It’s sort of like the difference between falling in love with a craft versus just falling in love with creating, because when you fall in love with creating, you’re going to find literally anything to do. You will never be bored. Every single thing you do is going to be like, “Oh, my God, this is so fun. I’m learning all these things about making music, about cooking a meal, about whatever it is.” Then it just doesn’t matter what you’re creating because it’s all part of the story that you’re creating that’s going to weave this tapestry of “I’m Bryan,” “I’m whoever, and I made all this stuff.” It doesn’t even matter what box I’m going to put it in. It’s just “Here’s all the stuff I made,” and I think that’s a really incredible thing.
LeAura Alderson: So then you put that into that passion for it, and say, “I have loved this to death, and now I’m ready to release it into the world by creating an article about it, a video about it, or whatever about it, and then I can move on.” Because the only other thing that I think most of us creators like more than the creating is sharing that.
Bryan Wright: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s true. I think from a brand perspective, that’s one of my biggest struggles is knowing all of these things and getting good at all these things and being obsessed with getting good at so many different things makes it really hard for a customer who wants to come and work with me on something, and it’s only really video and photography right now … To understand that this is what I do. So, I had to get really specific. Some of the stuff in my background, some of my other passions, don’t really matter, but they want to sneak in there when you’re writing about it or you’re talking about it from a brand standpoint, from a slogan standpoint, from all those sides … Just to kind of go back to that quick message.
I have to just go, “Okay …” Because for people to understand what I do in terms of what they’re looking for, it needs to be one thing. Maybe two things. Video and photography are two things. It’s one more than I’d like to have, but they’re closely enough related that I think it’s an okay pairing. But all the rest of the other stuff doesn’t really matter. Most of my clients don’t really understand the value that I can bring to them in all these other ways that don’t have anything to do with video production.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah. Definitely.
Devani Alderson: Yeah, so then that’s the difference between “I can do all these things” and then marketing your skill so that somebody can hire you for the trade of a specific thing.
LeAura Alderson: Yeah. That’s where you focus and that’s your market.
This has been awesome. It’s been wonderful to get to know you some, and all the wonderful things that you shared will definitely help our audience. So it’s really wonderful to spend this time. Thank you so much.
Bryan Wright: Thank you for spending the time doing this with me. This has been so much fun. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have my first interview ever. How awesome!
LeAura Alderson: Your first…? Amazing! You did great! [ [01:16:33]
Devani Alderson: Before we leave, what other links besides your website … What’s the best way for people to find out about your or connect with you?
Bryan Wright: Gravityimages.us is probably the best way. There are lots of other ways that you can get in contact with me, but that’s probably the best way. It’s easy.
Devani Alderson: Awesome.
LeAura Alderson: Okay, fantastic. We’ll include that link that you talked about, the video on … What was it? Vimeo.
Bryan Wright: Yes, the Vimeo link. I’ll send that to you guys. Yeah, it has a lot of good messages in it, so I think that’s going to be good.
LeAura Alderson: Fantastic. We’ll let you know when this runs. It’ll be in November.
[NOTE: This didn’t publish until January… we fell behind our goals!]
Bryan Wright: Thank you, dears.
LeAura Alderson: Okay, thank you.
Bryan Wright: You’re the best.