Biggest Mistakes Models Make When Submitting to Magazines

What follows are a list of some of the biggest mistakes models make when submitting or pitching themselves to magazines. But first a few notes and housekeeping items.

If you like the article – be sure to check out my full e-book on how to get published in the fitness industry at

Secondly, we just launched a new episode of TheProExposure in which Jason and myself interviewed Sheree Hartwell, the owner and director of Ford/Robert Black Agency and she answers all your questions on what models need to know about signing to an agency. You can listen for free here.

Lastly – our website and blog will be going dark for about a week as we update and launch our new web design. We will be returning after this time with your routinely scheduled blog articles. I apologize for the delay in content but believe this update is a great step in enhancing the James Patrick website! Thank you for your understanding.

Now onto the biggest mistakes models make when submitting to magazines.

1. The pitch was addressed “to whom it may concern” instead of to a specific member of the publication. Be sure to do your research and find out who specifically to submit your work to.

2. You sent a duplicate pitch to multiple publications and it is obvious that you cut and paste the text from one e-mail to the next. It would get worse if you forgot to change the magazine’s name in the e-mail. Write tailored and custom pitches to the magazines you want to submit to.

3. You sent one e-mail to a handful of magazines and placed all their e-mails in the TO or BCC field. It shows you did not want to take the time to write a customized e-mail.

4. You focused too much on yourself as opposed to talking about how the pitch would benefit the magazine or its readers. Show what you can do for them – not what they can do for you.

5. You have grammatical or spelling errors in your pitch.

6. You did not do your homework and pitched content that a publication would not run. Like pitching swimwear images to a magazine that never features swimwear photos.

7. You over-embellished or focused on details that do not matter. We had a pitch come in for a magazine I work for where the talent’s main credential was that he had 2 million Twitter followers. Not that a legitimate social media follow does not help (it does) but 2 million followers from someone that most people haven’t heard of raised a red flag.

If you get the gist of this post it is that you need to do your research, customize your pitches and build trusting relationships with the media to get your submissions picked up.

Best of luck in your media pitches!

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto

Margin of Error

In 2008 I was starting to feel like I was more than capable in my marketing job. Roughly two years in, I was confident in my abilities – feeling almost invisible. Then came an incident which would go on to be known as the margin of error incident.

Often times in the pursuit of high dollar work – a strict guideline is put in place to weed out those not paying close enough attention to the job duties. On one particular project we were chasing – the client was extremely detailed in how they wanted the submission to be put together A very specific number of pages, in this specific font and size with margins exactly one inch on all sides.

I prepared the proposal document, combed it over to ensure compliance and turned it in. A week later I received a letter from the client. Our proposal was rejected for failure to follow the guidelines.

The final page of the proposal was a resume in the appendix from a contractor we brought on as part of our team. The margins of their resume were measured at .9″ – just .1″ that prevented us from getting a sizable contract of work.

My boss at the time gifted me a plastic trophy shaped like the back side of a donkey. The plaque was inscribed with “You’re an ASSet to this firm.”

Having the opportunity to hire various people on different projects I can be assured that sometimes things will not go as planned. The graphic designer may not return the best designs. The modeling talent may have an off day. The makeup artist may not deliver on set. The production manager may have messed up the booking. It is almost a certainty that human error will impact you and your business.

However, these situations become compounded with difficulty when the responsible party tries to skirt the responsibility. Thus you hear phrases like:

“Someone else messed up and as a result I was unable to perform my duties”

“I’m just doing what I was told to do”

“No one else seemed to be putting forth any effort”

Or the worst yet,

“Well I tried my best!”

Each of these excuses attempt to dismiss or pass on blame. The result is a problem that persists, grows and is not resolved moving forward. The alternative, when responsibility is accepted is an accelerated progression to a solution.

I messed this up, it won’t happen again. I designed this wrong, it will be fixed. I did not deliver today, it will be made up for. When it is rephrased this way, it becomes much easier to move on from.

It has been owned and settled. No argument, no back and forth and no resulting resentment.

Going back to my marketing job. I had the opportunity to deny responsibility. Well, it was the contractor;s fault! It was their resume that got our proposal tossed out. But who was running the project? Who was responsible for the proposal? And although I did snarl at the contractor – I knew I was still the responsible one. I had to own the failure. It was mine.

That trophy my boss gave me so kindly awarded me… that stayed on my desk for years as a reminder, It was the last time I ever had a proposal rejected.

Eventually, as you can guess, someone else at the company messed up a project. The next morning the trophy displayed prominently on their desk.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto

Resourceful Reading List Part 4

Very excited to share with you my fourth annual resourceful reading list. Each year, starting in 2011, I’ve shared the best books I’ve found on personal development and solopreneur marketing for yourself and your goals as a talent. As with the previous three year’s worth of lists, each one includes Amazon links for your convenience should you want to purchase any.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
This book discusses the impediments we face in our journeys and how we can overcome them on our way to success. “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
I have been a tremendous Daniel Pink fan for years and have listed several of his other books in previous lists. Definitely check out Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind as well. In his recent book he discusses how all of us work in sales – even if we are not aware of it. Unlike any book about selling before it – Pink shares some surprising facts about selling in a new industry today.

Make Success Mandatory by Jeremy Scott
A good friend a client, Jeremy Scott, recently shared with me his new book on overcoming failure to achieve the success you deserve. The book introduces 22 different exercises you can implement immediately to help aid you in your journey. My favorite was instead of making a TO DO list, make a DO IT list.

Neuromarketing by Patrick Renvoise & Christophe Morin
I know the title sounds boring and/or intimidating. However this was one the best read I had this year. It discusses how to appeal to the consumer’s brain in your marketing messages. It is an easy read filled with lots of information and idea inspiring stories on how you can enhance your marketing efforts.

Content Marketing by Rebecca Lieb
We are essentially all publishers now vying for people’s attention. In this book, Rebecca Lieb discusses various ideas on developing attractive content for your audience to consume.

Body of Work by Pamela Slim
If you have not heard TheProExposure interview we did with author Pamela Slim – go listen to it now! Her latest book Body of Work was such a fantastic read on how to develop a body of work that you want to represent you and your brand.

APE by Guy Kawasaki & Shawn Welch
Interesting in self-publishing? You need to read this book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. It discusses everything from writing the book, to publishing the book to profiting from the sales of the book.

Killing Giants by Stephen Denny
Ever feel like a small fish in a sea of professionals that you cannot overcome? This book addresses those feelings and gives 10 various strategies on how you can outdo, out-market and topple the giants in your industry.

Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs
I literally devoured this book. We are all in the business of telling and exchanging stories. It is part of the human experience (see Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind). This book looks into some of the greatest stories we’ve told in advertising as well as how we can win our own story wars.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
This was a great book from the creator of Dilbert on his own journey through his career, what he has found to be true about achieving success amidst failure. This book is funny, extremely mentally stimulating and very insightful for anyone looking to chart off their own journey.

Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields
I am a big fan of the works of Fields, from his books (also see his other book Uncertainty) as well as his video project The Good Life Project. This book explores how to take your passion and turn it into a career. Throughout the book Fields gives practical and useful tips and tools to help you in doing this.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
A follow up to his previous book, Steal Like an Artist, his new book delivers 10 various ways you can share your creativity and get yourself discovered. It is a quick read – but one of those books that lights the fire under you.

Fit Model Guide by James Patrick
Okay, maybe it is a little blowhard to put my own book in this list, but for those looking to get published in the health and fitness industry – this is the key resource you’ve been looking for! Interviews with key editors from fitness magazines, communication experts as well as highly published fitness models all giving you the information and insights you can apply today to your modeling efforts!

Happy Reading!

James Patrick

Who to Build Relationships With

A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with this fantastic marketing specialist in creating some images. At some point they switched careers and ended up leading the marketing for what became one of our biggest clients. They took us with them in their journey.

I had this great working relationship with this art director. He left the company that I was doing a lot of work for to join a new company. Our working relationship continued on at his new company.

I had this project manager at one firm. She left to head off to a new company – which I then started doing work with.

Notice the trend?

When you set out to build great business relationships – focus on the people (as opposed to the company). Build great relationships with great people you enjoy working with. If they ever shift jobs (not uncommon) – chances are they will take you with them.

How do you build strong relationships with your clients?

1. Know their wants and needs. What are they in need of that you can help with? What problems can you alleviate?

2. Demonstrate your experience and expertise. Show them how you can help them solved their problems or achieve their needs.

3. Deliver and then deliver some more. Constantly reinforce why they hired you.

4. Stay in touch. Most of our work comes from our previous clients. Stay in touch, continue the loop and get to know their next needs and wants.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto

August 2014 Featured Talent Dave Dreas

Dave Dreas First Photo Shoot with James PatrickI first had the opportunity to meet and work with Dave Dreas on a very cold beach in Los Angeles. It was severely overcast and the temperature was (at the most) in the low 50s but realistically in the low 40s with the wind coming off the ocean. Yet there was work to be done and Dave handled the cold as much as possible to make sure we got the best shots we could. With that said – myself and my entire crew were huddling together with coffee to stay warm between sets.

Since that cold photo shoot years ago I’ve had the privilege of working with Dave on many projects from photographing pieces for his gym Arizona Training Labs, to portfolio images as he is a signed modeling talent, to a variety of editorial spreads including two covers with Max Sports & Fitness Magazine, a cover with Australian Iron Man Magazine, a cover with Scottsdale Health Magazine and multiple spreads in publications such as Fitness Magazine His Edition and Inside Fitness Magazine.

Australian Iron Man Featuring Dave Dreas by James PatrickHowever what has really impressed me about Dave is his ability to take all these publications and features he does (which do not pay) and turn it into profit through his affiliate marketing efforts. Read to learn how he did it.

James Patrick: What was your first launch into the online sales and affiliate marketing efforts?
Dave Dreas: I launched a product called Shredded Abs Now. The domain is and it is still live and running.

JP: What lessons did you learn about your initial project?
DD: I took the approach of ready, fire, aim. My overall goal was to get an info product up and running in less than 30 days. It took me about 35.

The biggest thing I learned was the process. Once I launched and was able to see how it was done it got my gears turning. I was able to create a much more extensive product that will do much better.

I also learned that it takes a lot of work. It’s not an easy thing to do. My goal is to provide as much value as possible to someone who purchases my product. Therefore I want it to be extensive and worth it!

Dave Dreas Scottsdale Health MagazineJP: Talk about the importance of collecting permission to market to people
DD: If you’re in an online business it is the most important thing next to writing sales copy. If you don’t have a list you don’t have a business!

JP: Describe how you approach your online conversion strategy and sales funnel
DD: I am learning along the way and I have a few things that I will be implementing in the near future. The key is to set up what is called a squeeze page that provides your customers with quality information. In order for them to receive they must subscribe and provide an email address.

The best advice I could tell you is this. If you want to grow an email ring sell more of your products. Every product you sell is a new email.

Max Sports & Fitness Magazine Featuring Dave Dreas Photographed by James PatrickJP: How does this assist you in marketing to new clients and selling additional products
DD: Once a prospect is in your funnel per se, you have the ability to provide value to them. The more relevant content (based on your field/business) the more you can help your prospects. The more your prospects know, like and trust you the more apt they are to purchasing from you. It’s very difficult to convert cold traffic so to grow a list and provide quality information is only going to help convert when you have good offers.

JP: Talk about your background in being published
DD: I’ve been modeling in the fitness industry for over 3 years. I’ve landed covers both nationally and internationally. I’ve been in numerous spreads in major magazines along with a handful of advertisements .

I never really thought I would be a published fitness model but it’s funny how things work out. I will be honest though, you need to have other plans rather than just “modeling.”

You need to build a business and treat yourself as a business. Modeling is a very difficult industry and the worst part is the fitness industry pays the least. Build a business bigger than just modeling. Be more valuable than just taking pictures.

JP: Going further, how have you leveraged print features to benefit you and your business financially?
DD: You have the ability to grow a platform that people will begin to know, like and trust. Share everything that you know. Give tips, resources, value to everyone that follows you. I hear all the time that fitness people want to inspire others. If that’s the case then quit being selfish and really help others.

The more you do this the more you’ll be able to build a credible business that will reward you financially. However, you’ll get more joy out of seeing others transform rather than getting paid.

JP: What advice would you give to someone looking to put something out to market as some good initial starting steps?
DD: Six things...
1. Find a niche that you are knowledgeable in
2. Brainstorm 10-15 product ideas that fall in the niche
3. Find a domain name that is SIMPLE to understand like – it isn’t confusing you understand it just by reading it
4. Create the product
5. Learn to write sales copy. Study other success sales copies in the industry
6. Work your ass off.

I launched my first product in 35 days. If I had to do it again, knowing what I know now, I could get it done in 7 days. (and that’s even long).

Launch and let the market give you feedback on your product. You can always tweak it as you go.

JP: What do you feel separates a product that sells from one that does not?
DD: Good copy. There is nothing else. You could have the worst product in the world but if your sales copy is awesome you will sell more than you could imagine. Everything else is 1/100 as important as your sales copy.

JP: What are your upcoming plans?
DD: My new product The Art of Abs is launching at the end of August. I have put a lot of time and effort into this as it’s a much bigger and more in depth product. Once it launches I will get quality data which will allow me to do a major launch later on in the fall. At that time I should be ready to rock and roll! I’ll keep you posted!

Special thanks to Dave Dreas for sharing his insights on affiliate marketing and growing an online business. You can connect with Dave Dreas through his website Modestly Refined and through his Facebook Page.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto

Difference Between Being the Client and The Model

As you develop your portfolio you serve the role of the client. You hire the photographer or photographers, the makeup artist and possibly even the stylists to work with you in crafting the images you need for your portfolio.

You are essentially the boss and as such you are typically able to defer to the professionals for help with your posing or looks as it is your best opportunity to get your on-camera experience. To get comfortable knowing what works for you, how to pose and how to exude the right emotions on set. The more opportunity you have to do this, the more of your on-camera presence and ability grows.

However; when you are booked for a job the roles are slightly different. You are now in the role of the talent and it is your opportunity to showcase and prove why you were hired for the gig.

Regardless of whether it is for a magazine or a commercial shoot – you are cast both for your looks, but also for your presumed on-camera abilities.

Use the shoots you have now to grow that experience and comfort so that when the call does come for the work – you are prepared to execute it beautifully.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto

Updates on Many Projects

I wanted to take a moment to update you on a variety of projects that myself and my team have been working on throughout the year to let you know what the status is and what you can expect coming up in the remainder of 2014.

First off; the Fit Model Guide e-book has been completed and is available through the website at – in it you will find everything you need to know as a fitness talent to get published in the health and fitness industry. It includes interviews with 6 various magazine editors, 5 highly published fitness talents, several communication experts and more! I truly hope you are able to check it out.

Secondly, TheProExposure is going to be undergoing a large change. For two years myself and fellow host Jason Black have run this podcast which includes inspiration and information for talents to succeed in our industry. Now we are taking the brand into somewhat of a new direction. We will keep the podcast which presently we do every other week. However on the site we will be adding in blogs, articles, videos, interviews, how-to’s and so much more. Thus TheProExposure will become your online networking for information to succeed in the talent industry. The network will also include additional types of podcast content as well. We just recorded our first new podcast geared towards photographers – which will be announced and released soon. We are soon going to be looking for writers and content producers so stay tuned for that!

Thirdly, myself along with a few other industry talents are working on a series of get togethers to happen later this fall. I don’t have any specific details I am able to share just yet – but expect some exciting announcements about this soon.

Thank you so much for joining us in this journey! Excited for the rest of the year.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto

A Lesson in Burning Bridges

Earlier this year I had a very unfortunately interaction with a self-proclaimed publicist who was insulted that I would not photograph one of her clients for free. She was evidently so distraught and offended that this is my job that she took to my Facebook page posting how about rude I was (for not wanting to work for free) and so on.

I chose not to respond to the online attack but I also chose not to delete the post. The reality is that I have nothing to hide – and if she chooses to display herself this way publicly – then so be it. Such posts hurt her more than myself. But I never heard of or from this person again until…

Flash forward eight months.

A national publication I work with received a message last week from this very same publicist pitching her latest fitness model client. Yet she will not get a press booking from this magazine – nor will she even receive a response.

She does not need to know I work for the publication as there is nothing to prove or gain by trying to explain that her know that her lack of professionalism eight months ago is negatively impacting her business today.

The real query about this situation and what she must truly evaluate is how many other bridges has she forever burned? How many other magazines aside from those I work with will never consider using her services? And how much longer will she be able to run her business if this is a common trend?

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto

Photographing Patrick Peterson

Scottsdale Health Magazine - Patrick Peterson Cover - Photo by James Patrick
Scottsdale Health Magazine – Patrick Peterson Cover – Photo by James Patrick

It was about two weeks ago that Arizona Cardinals Cornerback Patrick Peterson signed a contract extension which made him the highest paid corner in the NFL today.

It just so happened to be a coincidence that this occurred on the very same week that my photos of Peterson were published on the cover and interior spread of the new issue of Scottsdale Health Magazine.

Over the past few years my team and I have had the privilege of working with multiple professional athletes including players from the NFL, LPGA, NHL, MLB and NBA.

We’re occasionally asked about how these shoots work from a behind the scenes perspective including the pre-production (storyboarding, planning, logistics, etc) to the shoot itself (how it is run, working with the professional athlete) and then post production.

Scottsdale Health Magazine - Patrick Peterson Interior Spread - Photo by James Patrick
Scottsdale Health Magazine – Patrick Peterson Interior Spread – Photo by James Patrick

Now each of these photo shoots have been completely unique and working with professional athletes can add a bit complexity as you often don’t have a lot of time but still have a number of different shots to make.

There have been shoots with professional athletes were we had a total of 15 minutes to make enough images for a cover and for an interior spread.

Fortunately with this photo shoot we were given a lot more time – but in either case (and out of respect for the athlete’s time) a lot of planning is done prior to the photo shoot.

Scottsdale Health Magazine - Patrick Peterson Interior Spread - Photo by James Patrick
Scottsdale Health Magazine – Patrick Peterson Interior Spread – Photo by James Patrick

The pre-production began with conversations between myself and the magazine’s Creative Director Anthony Cox.

I’ve enjoyed working alongside Mr. Cox for the better part of five years and have worked on probably 50-60 different magazine covers together for three different publications plus a number of other interior spreads.

Having this history is extremely helpful in the conceptual process as we are able to have extremely productive creative brainstorming sessions. Over the course of a few e-mails and phone chats we swapped ideas back and forth and landed on making three separate types of photos in the time we had.

Scottsdale Health Magazine - Patrick Peterson Interior Spread - Photo by James Patrick
Scottsdale Health Magazine – Patrick Peterson Interior Spread – Photo by James Patrick

The first was the cover which, to keep with the branding of the magazine, needed to be shot on white seamless.Secondly we wanted him in some action shots for part of the interior spread. Lastly we wanted a casual attire to complete the spread.

We noted a few specific poses and set ups we wanted and I jotted down the lighting styles we needed to do.

It is important to do as much prep work as possible so that no time is wasted on set trying to figure out what to do.

The next step was to find a location to do the photo shoot at. My assistant and I had worked together at this indoor training facility which had a turf field as well as enough space to set up our mobile studio. Being that I had worked there previously – I knew what to expect in regards to setting up lighting.

The day of the shoot we arrived on set early to allow us to set up. I wanted every minute we had with Peterson to be used shooting as opposed to having him wait for us to get ready.

The flow of the shoot was to accommodate what he would be wearing (to prevent him from having to change back and forth between outfits which can take a lot of time). So we structured the shoot in the following order.

1. Studio shots in full jersey and pads
2. Action shots in pants, no pads or jersey.
3. Studio shots in casual outfit.

Behind the Scenes James Patrick Photo Shoot with Patrick Peterson
Behind the Scenes James Patrick Photo Shoot with Patrick Peterson

For the studio images I wanted there to be a strong edge light to separate Peterson from the white background as well as to add some dimension to the image.

For lighting we used 4 strobes on the white seamless to keep the light consistent across the backdrop. We then used 2 rim lights with stripboxes to edge light our subject. The main light I wanted a nice specular light so I used a white-lined beauty dish.

On the first shots it was a bit too specular so I added the diffusion sock to give me the effect I wanted. As a fill light, I added a light with a large softbox on the ground under the subject to fill in some of the shadows I did not want. I kept about 1.5 stops between the main light and fill light as I still wanted some shadow and drama coming from the beauty dish.

We ran through a variety of shots including holding the ball, holding the helmet, running towards the camera, in a defensive position and even catching the ball in front of the backdrop.

Behind the Scenes James Patrick photographing Patrick Peterson
Behind the Scenes James Patrick photographing Patrick Peterson

From there we moved to the action shots using the indoor turf. Myself and my assistant quickly shifted the lighting gear. For this we used three lights only.

I wanted the background to fall completely to black and all the light to be focused only on the subject.

I edge lit him with two strobes using the stripboxes and kept the main light as the beauty dish.

We marked the spot he needed to hit for each photo and ran through another few variations of poses and action moves.

After every cluster of images we did I allowed the creative director to see how the shots were coming out – if the lighting was working for him, if there was anything else he wanted added into the shot and so on.

Behind the Scenes James Patrick photo shoot with Patrick Peterson
Behind the Scenes James Patrick photo shoot with Patrick Peterson

We then finished the shoot off by having Peterson wear a casual outfit. To make this last portion of the shoot look different, we placed him right against the backdrop and used only a single light (the beauty dish – only this time without the diffusion sock).

The look I wanted was a hard light that would cast a shadow of him against the backdrop. Placing him close to the paper roll and using the single light source achieved this.

We had a few other pose ideas for this final portion of the shoot which included some casual stances with hands in the pockets as well as a few gripping one football and finally a last shot of him holding two footballs – which is the one that ended up going into the magazine. And just like that – the shoot was over in what seemed like a flash.

After the photo shoot came the shortlist. I typically like to give about a day between the shoot and when I shortlist the images to allow myself to approach the shoot with fresh eyes and mind. Every photography approaches this a bit different but I have a two step process.

I first go through all the images and flag whichever images jump out at me as being interesting and worth noticing. After I do that I then take a second pass through only the images I flagged and remove the ones that don’t need to be considered.

I send the final shortlist over to the creative director for him and the rest of the magazine’s staff to make their final selections.

The publication ended up selecting five total shots (a cover, an image for the table of contents page, and three images for the interior spread).

What I feel made this shoot a success was the planning myself and the creative director were able to do leading up to the project, having a reliable assistant who worked quickly on set to minimize downtime between the shots and finally that we had a fantastic subject who was extremely easy to work with and made the shoot a lot of fun.

Hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes feature of the photo shoot as much as I enjoyed piecing it together!

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto

Succeeding at Failing

The guy who invented the ship – also invented the shipwreck – Paul Virilio

My first brush with running a business was at the age of nine when I became a financial trader. I know, I know that seems a bit too young to be handling lucrative transactions – but when it came to trading for profits I put Bernie Madoff to shame.

I was netting a return on investment of 250% for each and every single exchange. I challenge you to name one other financial adviser or trader who yielded those kinds of profits.

At the time my younger sister was about five years old and she had this porcelain piggy bank stuffed with quarters she got for doing odd jobs and choirs around the house. Meanwhile I, who was not as keen on helping out around the house, only had a handful of pennies.

That’s when I discovered a fantastic opportunity of supply and demand. My pennies were bright, shinny and new meanwhile my sister’s quarters were old, dull and fairly worn out. It only made sense to satisfy her demand for bright shiny objects with my overabundant supply. The cost was a mere ugly quarter.

Business was booming. That was of course until there was an unexpected intervention from a controlling party. My parents became privy of my ruse and thus began to educate my young sister on the actual value of legal tender. I became barred from processing another transaction and was forced repay the allegedly impacted party. Thus I failed as a financial trader. However I suppose I did learn a valuable lesson in honesty.

My next business venture was hosting the timeless and constantly entertaining classic known as puppet shows. My sister, a year or two older at this time, agreed to allow me to hire her to design the puppets, construct them and put on the performance. My job was to make sure we sold out every performance – not a hard task as the living room theater only housed two people and I had two parents to pitch to.

For each new performance we put on – I made sure the ticket sales increased slightly. It was my first rudimentary understanding of inflation and negotiation. As with my last business; this one started out beautifully with a net profit of 100% over cost. I was able to keep expenses at zero as I sourced all the needed materials from stuff around the house.

However, the fact that I was not paying my sister anything from the profits did not sit well with her and I lost my labor force. As such I failed at hosting puppet shows. Although I don’t feel I can take too much blame. After all, the state I live in is a right to work state and there was no worker’s union backing her. I suppose the veiled lesson was sometimes along the lines of treating your colleagues with respect and paying them what they’re worth.

My appetite to run a business did not cease. By the time I was in middle school I partnered up with my best friend to create our own comic strip series we marketed to our school newspaper. Now when I say “I partnered up with my best friend” what I really mean is that he wrote and drew the comic strip and I got to put my name next to his as co-creator. I like to think that I was the visionary leader of it.

In reality, it was my mission to promote it as much as possible. Yet after some “creative disputes” I took over the comic strip by myself. It was about (count in head) one day later I realized that not only could I not draw, but I am really not that funny either. Thus I failed at running a comic strip. There may have been a lesson in there about being able to back up what you promote.

My list of failures continued in high school when I tried to be a lead singer, a farmer and a professional spy… sadly not joking on the last one. In college I failed at trying to be an actor, a lead singer (again), owner of a promotions company, manager of a record store and even a wedding ring salesman.

But I don’t look back on my failures with negative impact in my life. Each one taught me something new, guided me, helped me refine my focus and directed me into what I wanted to be doing. However most importantly – it taught me the necessary value of taking risks.

When we set out to do something new and different – we try so hard not to fail. As such we often rob ourselves of taking the risks we need, not only to succeed but, to grow.

James Patrick
instagram @jpatrickphoto