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How to grow your network of clients & friends

One of the most common questions I get from other photographers or people interested in my line of work is,

“So how’d you get this gig?”

And while the short answer of it may be simple “A past client referred me when their friend asked for a recommendation on a photographer”…the dynamic behind it all is much more complex.

I never just attribute each new client to the random “chance” that every person automatically points them in my direction due to the quality of my work. I attribute it to the fact that I’m always in the front of their minds and that it’s easier to have me pop in their head vs someone else they’ve worked with just a few months ago.

I think a lot of people approach business as a sprint rather than a marathon, and I wanted to take some time to explain why it’s the worst idea in the world.

Say you get someone’s business and you deliver them an awesome product. Great right? Yes. But where the real value is that this *first* interaction opens up the door towards developing one new relationship to include in your social circle.  The communication drops – you just stopped watering the plant that could have bloomed into some hella-beautiful flowers.

Regardless of whether or not you’d ever work with that client again, you’ve made a great initial impression. And that’s all you need. Because you’ve shown them your capable, and you’ve shown them you’re a great fit.  They’re now in the position to recommend you to anyone with full confidence.

What next?

HELP THEM however you can. Think of them often. When you see something that makes you think of them, send it to them. Could be a text, email, or on their facebook page.

I can’t stand when social interaction between two people steeps so low as to only get in touch when one person needs something from the other. HUGE.FUCKING.TURN-OFF.  (One of the worst feelings is getting that text “how are you?” and then shortly after – receiving a big long bulk text asking for you to refer business their way.  Trying to “fake” being genuinely interested works against you in the WORST possible way.  I’ll never EVER refer someone to that person based off that kind of sneaky tactic alone.  It has to truly come from the heart.  You want something?  Be up-front about it.  Don’t just send me a mass-produced text and move on to the next.  That’ll be your express ticket to getting deleted out of my contacts.  I’m sure you’ve felt the experience of feeling like a “number” to someone.  It’s not pleasant – and you’re no “one-night stand”.  You deserve at least a dinner damn’t.)

Transactional-style business is unpleasant, and takes the humanity out of working together. Add in some flavor. LISTEN to people when they talk about what their interests are. And then surprise-the-fuck-out-of-them with some originality and send something that’s specific to their life or what affects them on the reg’.

I want to make a point to make it known that I don’t do this kind of stuff  in a strategic/manipulative way to gain new clients – it’s just how I live my life.  I do this kind of stuff for clients and I do this for people that have an extremely low impact on my life and probably wont have ANYTHING to do with my work at any point in time – sometimes they live thousands of miles away!

But I can’t stress to you how much it TRULY makes a difference to be original in your communications and really can’t express how much value it brings in terms of attracting the right kind of people into your life.

So since I know some people like to skip straight to the bottom and some people need a little summary of it all, here are a few key take-aways for you to help grow your network. (Think of it like a garden – water those plants, feed em nutrients, HELL – talk to those ferns!! Ask ‘em how their day went!)

-LISTEN TO PEOPLE, AND MAKE A POINT TO REMEMBER THINGS PERSONAL TO THEM.

-CALL SOMEONE ON THE PHONE.  DON’T JUST TEXT.  ASK THEM ABOUT HOW THEY’VE BEEN AND TAKE GENUINE INTEREST IN THEIR LIFE.

-HELP PEOPLE CONNECT WITH OTHERS THAT DEVELOP SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIPS

-DON’T JUST DO THE BARE MINIMUM.  THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORDINARY AND EXTRAORDINARY IS THAT LITTLE BIT OF “EXTRA”

-BE ORIGINAL.  BE YOU.  DON’T TRY TO PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE ELSE.  THERE ARE NO COVER BANDS IN THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME

-ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP OR IMPROVE SOMEONE’S CIRCUMSTANCES.

-STOP BEING LAZY AND OFFER A HAND WHEN YOU CAN HELP.  WATCH SOMEONE’S MANCOON CAT FOR A WEEK IF THEY NEED A CATSITTER (I DID THIS A FEW WEEKS AGO)  PICK SOMEONE UP AT THE AIRPORT.  (IF YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE THEIR DAY, EMAIL ME AT TIM@TIMKINGBLOG.COM AND I’LL TELL YOU A WAY YOU CAN BLOW THEIR MIND)

-SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS.  IT’S FUNNY, I’VE FOUND THOSE CLOSEST TO ME HARDLY EVER “LIKE” MY POSTS – GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO MAKE IT KNOWN YOU SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS.  IT REALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE.

-HELP STRANGERS.  FOR NO REASON AT ALL, BUT THE FACT THAT YOU *CAN*

 

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I hope you got some value out of this post.  If you agree with what I’ve said and want others to follow the same mentality – help me encourage others and “share” this blog post on facebook or twitter.

 

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BONUS – if you ever want to talk marketing or photography – I often tweet out at moments when I’ve got some extra time to kill & offer to chat on the phone about anything you want.  Find me at @timkingphoto

 

Have a great one guys!

PS – thanks to my friend Josh for this shot!

PPS – if you want to watch something that had a HUGE impact on how I think about how I approach social media/relationships, watch this clip.  It’s an hour long, but really worth watching.  Grab yourself some popcorn and a notepad – and afterwards let me know what you got out of it!

Phil Lambert - This has to be the best one I have seen in a while:

“-BE ORIGINAL. BE YOU. DON’T TRY TO PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE ELSE. THERE ARE NO COVER BANDS IN THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME”

Very good read.February 8, 2013 – 4:04 pm

Kristin Bobb - Thanks so much for sharing this, Tim! I really loved the video, he is hilarious, and so smart.February 8, 2013 – 6:38 am

Anastasiya - I am not in the photography business. In fact, i am in no business at all. But you’ve described the kind of behavior im trying to practice in every day life. Like you said, I’ve experienced being just a number to somebody and it’s not the most pleasant thing ever, so i cut these people off (gently, step by step), and i am making sure none of the people who matters to me feel like “just a number’.It’s so important for everybody to know that they matter!February 8, 2013 – 2:50 am

Lisa Strickland - Great piece, Tim. There’s value in being genuine – thanks for reminding us not to lose sight of that.February 7, 2013 – 10:24 pm

Cajsa Andersson - Well, Tim, you are inspiring! And I guess I got a little bit to deep into this. BUT, if you want to read about what I think and my evaluation of it all take a look at;

http://anderssoncajsa.tumblr.com/post/42557453536/im-a-kind-of-girl-who-switch-mood-every-5-minutes#disqus_thread

Best regards,
CajsaFebruary 7, 2013 – 8:02 pm

amber fischer - Holy mother, you’re so right. As I read this I could see certain people in my mind who have done this to/for me – sent me links just because they thought of me, told their friends about my business, shot me a text to say “hi.” Those people stand out in my mind as being super awesome…. and I totally want other people to think of ME as being super awesome. Seriously, you’re onto something here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Really great stuff for everyone – not just those trying to build a business and market.February 7, 2013 – 6:04 pm

Natalie Holtz - Very informative and great tips.February 7, 2013 – 5:46 pm

Michael - Epic post my friend. You know, I’ve been in the same industry for over 25 years, but STILL need to remind myself how important it is to not loose touch of the fact that we are all people, with real feelings, real insecurities, and ultimately in need if real connections. It’s easy to loose site of that. Thanks for the reminder!February 7, 2013 – 5:34 pm

Danny - Excellent post Tim! Loved the line “no cover bands in the rock and roll hall of fame”…so true.

This post rang true for me, I have a couple of friends whom I considered close only to find out I had only started to hear from them when they needed something or had extreme negativity to pass along. Was extremely off putting as you said. I called them out on it only to have them back pedal, deny and attempt to weasel out of what was clear as day, but the damage was done…this was a repeated pattern over several years. No time to waste on people like that in our lives.

And yes, doing things for others without some quid pro quo attached is one of the keys to truly becoming a person of sound character. While at the same time staying top of mind to those in your social vortex, so when and if they can help YOU out they’ll willingly to do. You’re a good man Tim, keep up passing on the wisdom :)February 7, 2013 – 5:05 pm

Heather - LOVE that you’re writing again, I love following you and your adventures! Thanks for sharing :-)February 7, 2013 – 4:57 pm

Case of the Fridays – Dave B the Boat Captain

For today’s post, I’ve selected boat captain and dive trip leader Dave B.  He opted not to entertain the idea of people getting in contact with him unless they were hot girls, so I’ve shortened his last name to just “B”.  (This is him below, shot through the window looking into the helm of the boat – reflection of the open sea in focus)

 

I chose Dave because I feel he has a significantly different viewpoint on the world than most people his age, and he has a very interesting career intertwined with adventure and utmost responsibility for people’s lives.  He has a colorful personality (which you’ll see in the interview), and his background & perspective on schooling was particularly fascinating to me.

Here’s a shot from us in the helm of the boat – Dave was an avid smoker and I felt it would be best to “play the part” by joining him for a smoke while we held our conversation.  (I think that was my 3rd and final cigarette of 2012.)

Hope you enjoy the interview – and if you know someone who might be interested in Dave’s story – I’d love it if you shared it with them!

 

 

 

What is your name/age?

 

Dave B – 40

 

What is your occupation?

 

Skipper (Boat Captain) and Dive Guide

 

Where did you grow up?

 

Hong Kong for childhood, adolescence in between boarding schools.  I’m a Scottish Ex-pat

 

How long have you been doing what you currently do?

 

14 years

 

Did you have a 9-5 job before that?

 

Never

 

How did you become involved in the work that you currently do?

 

Travelling, backpacking, rented a boat in the Philippines and found that boats were cheaper to BUY in Papua.  I have a passion for the sea, and it seemed like an appealing idea to try out

 

How much longer do you envision yourself working in the field that you’re in?

 

I don’t know, not much longer.  Maybe another 5 years, and I’ll retire early.  Should be set for retirement in about 5 years.

 

What level of schooling have you completed?

 

Fuck, I dropped out of half a dozen schools.  I guess my top level is “Scottish higher”.  (Equivalent to American high school).  Whatever.  A little bit of University, but I never really made it through all the way.

 

What is it that you love about your work?

 

Nature.  I like diving, beautiful places, and I like being my own boss. I have a problem with authority.  I worked at a bar once, so I guess I’ve worked for somebody at least once in my life.

 

What is your least favorite thing about your work?

 

Oh fuck, where can I start…I don’t like mechanical headaches, working hours (sometimes 16 hrs/day), on a dive trip, the hours are super long – cruises 3 or 4 times a day, I don’t like dealing with heavy weather, and mechanical problems.  I didn’t sleep last night, so today I’m pretty tired for work.

 

Is there anything you miss about life back home?  (In the Scotland)

 

I miss the music scene.  I miss gigs.  I miss live music.  I don’t miss pop culture, but I love live music.  And of course I miss my family.

 

What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?

 

I get to spend a lot of time diving, and exploring.  I make a fat salary.  And uh, let me think about that…chicks dig it.  I get to explore beautiful island groups, look for the ultimate beach, ultimate anchorage, ultimate dive site.  You meet a lot of interesting people, and make a surprisingly large amount of money.

 

What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?

 

Well you’re isolated from your friends and family, work super strange hours, you’ve got shitloads of responsibility, like – life threatening responsibility, manage divers, manage a boat.  Sometimes I envy those that flip burgers.  They don’t have to think about things.   When you man a ship, you’re always thinking about something or other, there are a ton of logistics.

 

How different is the dating scene for you?  Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?

 

Well, to be honest, for most of my career, I’ve been in monogamous relationships.  Other than that, you get to know somebody for 10 days while they’re traveling through.  When girls come on the boat, they fall for you bc there’s something “sexy” about having your own boat.  The environment is kind of an aphrodisiac – people dream about this kind of stuff, you know?

 

Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for?  Is your income predictable and regular, or entirely dependent on what you produce?

 

One of the advantages of being in the middle of nowhere is that you don’t spend much.  By the end of the boating season, your bank account is pretty fat.  So fat you can’t spend it in the off-season.  You have to own the business though, you can’t just be a skipper working for someone, you can’t just be a dive master, you have to own the business in order to make the real money.

 

“You do something entrepreneurial, and don’t work for anybody.  You’ll earn boatloads.”

 

How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?

 

I really don’t know.  I have no idea.  I’d like to focus a little bit on spirituality.  I’d like to have zero commitment on my time.  Zero responsibility.  I’d like to understand the subtle energy systems of the body, ya.

 

You said you’ve traveled when you were younger – are there still areas you’d like to explore?

 

Yeah, I’d like to go to western and northern Africa, eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.  That’s really what I’d like to do when I retire – you know, get to know my soul, and spend my time traveling.  Understand that Chi flow.  When you work, you’re in a regime – like a virus, you know – affects your reality, perception of judgment.  The things that matter are irrelevant.  That’s the point of early retirement – to focus on what’s important.  There are times when you’re manning the ship where you experience moments of clarity, and sometimes you’re buried in work.  Sometimes I’ll cruise out on solo dingy missions to secret bays and meet with friends that are in the area.  Solidarity with other dive boats, you know.  More of the dive masters, dive instructors ya.

 

Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for a family, or do you have the desire to have a family?

 

Definitely not.  Unless you find like a boat ship – you definitely can’t raise a family.  Not sure if I want to have a family.  Maybe.  Everyone I know have popped out kids, buying houses…it sucks.  If you’re in a relationship your girl’s gonna want to have kids – then everything gets sloppy, ya.  I’m recently single and am planning on enjoying it for a good amount of time.

 

What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?

 

Spiritual development.  Spiritual rejuvenation.  Once you understand the energy around you – you can really rejuvenate the energy within you.  When I free dive & go down deep, I get these fleeting moments of clarity…it’s why I love it.  I’m sure there are plenty of people in the world that can flip that kind of thinking on in a lightswitch, that’s what I want you know.

 

Have you studied religion/spirituality?

 

I don’t have a degree in yoga or anything, or say I’m an expert in philosophy or anything…but I listen to a lot of talk radio & download podcasts to listen to talks of spirituality and politics.  Mainly, Red Ice Radio and coast to coast AM, a lot of conspiratorial kind of stuff.  But I also listen to a lot of philosophy, 20th century history etc.

 

If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?

 

Don’t bother graduating, just drop out – because it’s gonna get you no where – fuck getting a job, and try setting up a small business.  And go travel.  Visit the developing world.  Tons of opportunity for westerners in the developing world.  You can set up a really nice business with a little investment.

 

A college education is only really helpful if you’re planning on working for someone else.  And at that point, you’re in the system and you wont get out.  You’ll have a mortgage and develop debt.  My advice is to wander the earth and to see what comes up.  You don’t need a lot of money to do that.

 

If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?

 

Set up a business for tourism in somewhere beautiful.  Use your initiative, and you look for somewhere beautiful and pristine, where there’s no one else doing it.  Don’t just follow the pack, find somewhere no one’s at, and get ahead of the game.  If you’re lucky you’ll find some sweet place, whether it be kayaking, whale watching, eco tourism – the way to succeed is to do something DIFFERENT than someone else.

 

Who inspires you?

 

Mantag Chia.  Fuck, I can give you a list of people, but you’ll have to bear with me cause I’m tired ya?  Noam Chomsky, Fred Burkes, John Pilger.  Those are some people that have opened up my mind. Joseph Farell.  I guess I listen to a shitload of interviews while I’m behind the wheel.

 

What do you think about authority?

 

I’m a libertarian.  I despise big government.  I do NOT like being told what to do.  That’s always been my issue.

 

~FUN QUESTIONS~

 

What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?

 

I wanted to be able to fly.  Not an airplane, but actually fly, ya?  I wanted to be Jack Custo and have the Calispo – that cool ass boat and hang with a bunch of cool guys and go diving.  In a way it kind of worked out, ya.

 

What are some of your favorite sounds?

 

I like the sound of this copper bowl and people beating on it, tango drums, waves on the shore, the sound of the sea, small waves, jungle noises, bird calls.

 

What’s your favorite memory from your past?  (Highlight of my travels)

 

I don’t really quantify things in that way you know, like some people are like, “I have a favorite color” and I’m like, “the fuck – favorite color, what the hell do you mean”?

 

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?

 

One of those gigantic whales with super complicated songs, they’re like the philosophers of the ocean…I don’t know if I’d like to be one, but just to understand what’s going on in their head.  Incredible sense of self.  Nothing to worry about, no predators to think about.

 

What are some of your favorite smells?

 

The scent of someone’s skin…if it’s the right person, ya? 

 

If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?

 

Tim Roth in reservoir dogs.  “Okay everybody be cool this is a robbery!”

 

If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?

 

September 2001 to find out what the hell was going on with this 9/11 shit, ya?  Set up video cameras and all to figure out what went down.

 

If there was one celebrity you’d like to punch in the face, who would it be?

 

Dick Cheney – he’s a super dodgy asshole politician – pure evil.

 

If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, what would be the best way?

 

They’re not allowed to get in touch with me unless they’re a hot chick.

 

On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to get back to them?

 

It depends on the photo   :)

 

Sarah V - Sweet! I like these interviews! One thing, isn’t the robbery line from Pulp Fiction? Get your movies right, Skipper ;)February 1, 2013 – 3:38 pm

Buenos Aires

This post is going to be a little different than the my other typical travel posts.  Mainly because we encountered some elements that didn’t lend too well towards achieving great photography…

 

*Note – the way we had designated responsibility for planning each part of the trip was as follows:  

Tim – Amazon

Jason – Patagonia

Bryan – Buenos Aires (To see why I refer to him as Bryan instead of Ryan, click here)

 

Everything up to this point had been incredible.  The Amazon was an experience unlike any other, and Patagonia’s scenery was breathtaking.  I’m not saying that the failure of Buenos Aires rested entirely upon Bryan’s shoulders…well, yes…yes I am.  Way to go Bryan.

Just kidding.  We like to give Bryan a hard time.  In all honesty, if it weren’t for him – we wouldn’t have experienced one of the coolest trips we’ve ever been on.  So on behalf of myself and Jason – thank you Bryan.

In any case – back to the trip!  When we first arrived in Buenos Aires, we set out on the town in an area called “La Boca”.  We quickly realized that while this part of town had the most colorful history, along with that came the over-abundance of tourism.  And if there’s anything we can’t stand, it’s tourist traps.

La Boca was full of it.  Every 5 steps you’d see a couple doing the tango – bucket for tips to their side of course.  Our waitress at the lunch spot we went to almost poisoned Bryan with rotten cheese and tried to overcharge us – I called her bluff and told her to go to the cops if she wanted.  And furthermore, we were told on separate occasions by different people that we should put our cameras away in our bags or else they would get stolen.

Great.  That sounds like fun.

Put a major damper on the trip right off the boot.  But we weren’t going to let that phase us – we’d rather have our cameras stolen than experience traveling with fear on our side.

Here are Jason & Ryan talking with a policeman about what to watch out for in terms of thieves.  He told us to keep to the main part of the town and no side streets, and to carry our bag in front of us as if we were a pregnant woman with baby.

 

So we worked with what we had and said to hell with it.  We decided instead of taking pictures of the surrounding buildings (the architecture was really cool and colorful – but now that we know it’s tarnished with that tourist trap covering, it’s just not the same…), we’d take pictures of how damn touristy it really was.

 

 

I feel like you can see the frustration in his eyes.  It’s a conditional experience – if you give him money, he pretends that he likes you for a moment, and you get a cheap show that’s identical to the guy 4 buildings down.

 

 

For those that have traveled to any major metropolis throughout the world, you’ll know that there’s one of these in every city.  Ours (in San Diego) is “Seaport Village” and “Old Town”.

 

 

A lot of the homes were made out of scrap metal from the nearby ship yard.  The colors on each building were really vibrant – reminded me a bit of the Caribbean.

 

 

On our 2nd day we linked up with a friend of Jason’s who runs a bicycle tour company in the city.  We rode for about 8 hours exploring everything that Buenos Aires has to offer.  Had some great food right along the boardwalk, and for once it was an authentic local cuisine – rare that you’ll find that on a city tour…most times it’s businesses that sponsor them.

At one point during the tour I asked our guide (the fit girl on the right) where Madonna lived.  She looked at me like I was an idiot and kept on talking.

 

 

Here’s me being a good role model for all the youngsters out there.  (I smoke about 2-3 cigarettes per year.  Just felt right that day to smoke one while cruising around town)

 

 

*THIS* is really interesting.  This is the stadium that the Boca Juniors hold their soccer matches.  And while the team comes from a very poor neighborhood, they hold their sense of pride very well.  As you see here, Coca Cola advertises on the top banner of their stadium.  What’s that you say?  Coca Cola’s colors are RED and white?

Well, so is their opposing team, River Plate.  The team refused to allow Coca Cola to advertise their colors atop the building, regardless of how much money they were offered.  So what happened?  Coca Cola advertised in black!

 

 

These trees were fun to climb.

 

 

Another really cool sensation was the weeping trees.  While walking underneath certain trees, it felt as though it was raining outside.  But the sky was PERFECTLY CLEAR.  The Argentinians say that the trees are crying…maybe it was for Eva Peron.  (You can see a little bit of the drops in the picture below.)

 

 

Loved these purple trees.

 

 

Made our way to the above-ground cemetery.  Some of these tombs cost $1 million per year just for the space usage.  And if they don’t pay?  They will haul the tomb out.

 

Creepy.

 

 

I’m not really into history, but figured I might as well see it since I’m there.  (Side note – tourist central at this spot)

 

 

On our last day we randomly stumbled across a parade coming through town.  From what we heard, it was for Uruguay appreciation day.

 

 

One tradition that we’ve established for our travel crew is to treat ourselves to Ice Cream.  It became a running theme ever since we got our cameras and laptops stolen before running with the bulls in Pamplona.  If you’re a long time follower of South Park, you’ll know the expression, “Now that’s what I call, a *sticky situation*.”

 

 

Retiring for the night, at our apartment rented via AirBnB.  Shout out to Pomi!

 

 

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Cost – now that I’ve reached the last post on this South American adventure, here’s the breakdown for the associated costs for each portion of the trip:

(I do this break down because I frequently get asked about how much trips cost me, so I thought I’d lay it out for anyone that was curious.  I hope this helps you in your decision making and your budgeting – and of course I’d be glad to answer any questions you have.)

Flight (LAX to Lima RT) – $340 each

Flight (Lima to Puerto Maldonado RT) – $107 each

Lodging, food, and transport to the rainforest reserve – $450 each for 4 days, meals included.

Flight (Lima to Puntas Arenas to Buenos Aires to Lima) – $830 each

Hostel in Puerto Natales for 2 nights – $80 each

Tent and cookware equipment – $40 each

Food while in Patagonia – $65 each

Bus from Puntas Arenas to Puerto Natales RT – $40 each

Taxi from Buenos Aires airport to our apartment RT  - $25 each

Apartment rented out via AirBnB for 3 nights – $120 each

Random Airport food/skittles – $42

Staying in the Ramada outside Lima airport for nights leading in/out of the trip because that city sucks – $100 each
 

Trip total – $2,239

 

Trip of a lifetime – Priceless.

 

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Note – while I wasn’t thrilled with Buenos Aires (there were definitely some cool things about it, but not sure I’d recommend making a trip for it) I’d love to hear about your experience if you’ve traveled there.  I know I’m probably going to get a ton of flack from all the girls who told me to visit Mendoza and get drunk off wine.  I know, I know – you were right.

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Cole - Hey Tim – who was the friend who runs a bike company over there?? I have a hunch I might know him too…February 7, 2013 – 10:49 am

Case of the Fridays – Pro Paintball Player Oliver Lang

For today’s post, I’ve selected professional paintball player Oliver Cameron Lang as my subject for the “Case of the Fridays“.

 

I chose Oliver because I’ve known him for quite awhile now – and I always see him posting about his adventurous around the world, but also his adventures from our home city of San Diego.

I really think Oliver shows a passion for life in regards to his showmanship style of fashion, his zest for travel, and eagerness to do something exciting with each day.  A lot of people think you have to travel in order to have adventure – and while he *does do that* - he also leads a prime example of how to have fun on a daily basis.

Here are a few photos I snagged from his facebook page that I feel give a good sense of his personality:

 

 

I met up with Oliver at his loft in downtown San Diego just as the sun was going down.  Here’s a visualization to help give you an image of the discussion that follows.

 

 

What is your name/age?

 

 ”Oliver Cameron Lang – 30″

 

What is your occupation?

 

“Professional Paintball Player”

 

Where did you grow up?

 

“Marin County, CA”

 

How long have you been doing what you currently do?

 

“Since I was 14…so 16 years”

 

Did you have a 9-5 job before that?

 

“I worked at Blockbuster in high school, and then I worked with a paintball sponsor when I first started playing, and that kind of segwayed into more opportunities within the industry.”

 

How did you become involved in professional paintball?

 

“The big tipping point was when I was recruited to play for a certain factory team – they got me involved with research and design for manufacturing equipment, I contributed (and they valued) my opinion in meetings, sales…I was heavily involved in communications.  The companies own a portion of the league, so my opinions even factored into the formats of how the sport was being played – to an extent.”

 

How much longer do you envision yourself playing on the circuit?

 

“I’m at a level right now where I love the sport so much…I can’t live without it, but I’ll continue playing the sport as long as my body can hold up.  I understand the history of the sport and where its been and where it’s going – it’s a strong connection that I’ve had for a long time.  If I take care of myself well enough, I can really stay involved playing for the next 10 or 15 years if I wanted to.

I think my next goal within the sport is to create my own league and format according to the kind of style I envision is best for the sport.  Almost like an *Oliver Lang* event series.  I have an idea of building a format that would be great for spectators and create a lot of growth opportunities for these younger guys that haven’t had the option with some of the other formats. 

It’s not a sport that can be owned – you really have to educate everyone on who people are and what their roles are.  You really have to paint a picture for the audience to understand the dynamic.  It takes true education and understanding of how the sport is different in order to watch the game and really “get it”.

There are several different types of leagues all over the world that have separate rules and separate formats, it’s almost an entirely different game sometimes depending on which country you go to.”

 

What level of schooling have you completed?

 

“High school with a little stint in community college.  The small stint ended right where the pinnacle of paintball was really hitting.  Economies were booming all over the place, and we were just there at the right place at the right time.  I plan to go back and take a few classes to learn about art.”

 

What is it that you love about your work?

 

“It’s what I love to ‘do’.  I get to travel, make friends, try new and exotic foods – I get to experience things that you don’t normally have the opportunity to do in a 9-5.  A lot of people don’t know what’s out there, and what’s possible…once you understand new standards of living where luxurious ideas become reality or amazing opportunities present themselves, you get used to a new ’normal’.  But you have to make sure it doesn’t go to your head and maintain a mindset of being thankful for what we have.”

 

What is your least favorite thing about your work?

 

“There’s a lot of emotional tie into the experience.  People don’t know that competitive side of me, sometimes I have to be an asshole on the field to get the job done.  There’s a huge emotional drain if you don’t win, sometimes you feel like you let people down.  Especially when you lose by a small fraction of error.  Everything that you’ve done – traveled thousands of miles, slept in shitty hotel rooms, eaten shitty food, and lost sleep – all of that just seems pointless if you don’t come back with the win.  It can be really frustrating at times to lose, and it’s difficult to not take that emotion out.  I’m the nicest guy off the field, but when it comes time to compete – I take things pretty seriously.”

 

What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?

 

“Flyer miles.  (laughing).  I’ve become accustomed to travel, and the biggest perk to my job Is that I get to hang out with my friends.  It’s a bond that’s like none other when you win with a team composed of all your friends.”

 

What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?

 

“It’s difficult traveling so frequently – it makes it hard to have a long term relationship.  I like sleeping in my own bed – even though I love traveling.  A lot of times your sleep patterns are fucked from timezone changes, you’re bundled up in a ball in the airport – it all really depends on how willing you are to go through these experiences.  Sometimes you lose a bag, and you just gotta think of it as ‘gone’ – can’t dwell on it.  Just gotta keep moving forward.”

 

How different is the dating scene for you?  Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?

 

“It’s difficult to have a long-term relationship because, really – how realistic is it to expect to have a solid relationship with someone that’s traveling 70% of the time?

It’s definitely a good conversation starter (playing pro paintball), but it really depends on the countries and if they speak English.  In America, the common language is sarcasm and some places don’t even know what that is.

I’ve had long term overseas relationships and they’ve been great – at the same time San Diego is full of beautiful women and there are some girls that I’ve really looked forward to seeing when I get back from traveling.  I’ve had some great physical connections with girls & that’s always nice, but really the most important thing is having an awesome conversation.”

 

Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for?  Is your income predictable and regular, or entirely dependent on what you produce?

 

“There was a moment in life I thought I was making a large amount of money (so I thought), then I realized that it wasn’t that much when there’s even more possible – and then I realized that money isn’t the end all goal…it’s just the standard people have established.  I need a little cushion for sure – but I definitely like to live month to month, let’s put it that way.  I absolutely believe in having some tucked away in case of an emergency and health insurance doesn’t come through, etc.

Without a doubt – never ever get into debt.  I’ve learned that if the cash flow slows down a bit, I know I gotta go out and hustle.

Once you establish a standard for the kind of money you make, you really can’t go back down – you have to realize what you need to do to earn to maintain it.”

 

How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?

 

“I’ve got a plan – 60 – I’d like to be sailing around the Caribbean.  Being cap ron.  With or without my wife, ha!”

 

Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for a family, or do you have the desire to have a family?

 

“Not right now, but I understand that.  I’m at a very selfish point in my life – my new years resolution was to treat myself like a king this year.  I want to have ‘myself’ resolved before I can fully meet someone and be in a relationship with them.  I’m on a path right now and there are certain things I need to do before I move forward and have a family.”

 

What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?

 

“I think a lot of people look at money as the benchmark of success, but I look at spirituality, friendship, and experiences.  You have to sit down and really evaluate what’s REALLY important when it comes down to it.    One time I didn’t have much money and it made me really realize how valuable money really is.  Family is definitely important…me and my mom are the only ones in my case.  The only requirement that god has placed on you – is our responsibility is to procreate.  You can be an individual and experience life for sure, but I think it’s easier with a mate – you’re supposed to have a “team”.  Together we have a seed, we plant it, and we make this human being as good as it can be.”

 

If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?

 

“They have a long, long road/life ahead of them.  Take that leap, get uncomfortable.  A well-lived life is a delightful struggle.  If you’re just graduating college & you don’t know what you want to do, you’ve got a long road ahead of you.  They say you switch careers 10 times in your life.  Explore the things you’re curious about, and if it doesn’t work out – you’ll learn and take that knowledge into your next endeavor.

There’s a lot of life to live, and it’s a wide road.  The biggest way to understand that there’s a lot out there is to travel – see how people live differently.

I’m just realizing this now – and I’m just starting *now* to really open my wings and fly.

I’m at a point where I want to ascend…full blown artistic lifestyle.  Get in to music, painting, dancing, really explore myself in terms of theatrics – maybe acting.  But I’m curious about how I do in these kinds of things.  I know I might not be great, but I know I can do them.  I’ll figure out which things I like the best and sail those into the next decade.”

 

If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?

 

“It’s all about practice.  I can always practice to get better and improve my style of play.”

 

Who inspires you?

 

“Well, I’d like to think one day I’d be a nice blend of Salvador Dali, Dr. Seuss, and Errol Flynn.

Shane Pestana – he taught me how to win.  He taught me a certain kind of confidence that just allowed you to go after something and just win it.  You just have to do what it takes.”

 

What do you think of authority?

 

“I think it’s very important, unless it’s abused.  I think the right people in the right positions are important to make things happen.  The desire for power is what corrupts it.”

 

What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?

 

“I used to skateboard a lot and it was a constant battle with the police.  The sport was kind of like where paintball was right now.  We used to get beat by up the cops or we used to beat them up…or other security guards, it wasn’t always just me but we’re in a big group and when someone comes at you in an abrasive manner – you kind of put on your punk attitude.  Everyone just wants a little respect though – and it goes both ways.”

 

 

~FUN QUESTIONS~

 

 

What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?

 

“An underwater archeologist to find treasure.”

 

What are some of your favorite sounds?

 

“Haha, I actually invented a sound – when you rub a piece of rubber together – it goes *Brrrrrraaap*.  I like the sound of aluminum getting sprayed with a faucet when it’s getting cleaned in the sink.”

 

What’s your favorite curse word?

 

“It’s gotta be fuck.  I like cursing, but only when it means something.”

 

What’s your favorite memory from your past?  

 

“Going to a skateboard competition where I met this proskater I had followed in the news for awhile, he introduced me to his crew and they all signed my t-shirt.  I couldn’t read any of their signatures when I got home though, ha!  Except for one guy though – Drake Jones, he wrote his name in all block letters.  If I ever become famous I’m gonna sign my name legibly.”

 

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?

 

“I’d have to say some sort of cool bird.  How could you not want to fly??  Hummingbird maybe.  It’d be cool to kind of zip around and drink nectar”

  

What are some of your favorite smells?

 

“I love the smell of this Paulo Santos stuff – which holy wood.  Holy basil is by far my favorite smell – discovered it on a shamonic adventure.”  (hands me a branch to smell)

 

If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?

 

“James bond.  Hands down.”

 

If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?

 

“Probably the point where they started creating pesticides so I could stop it from happening.”

 

If you had to obtain $1m illegally, how would you do it?

 

“Smuggling cocaine.”

 

Which long lost childhood object would you most like to find?

 

“A gold necklace that my dad gave me.  It was beautiful, and my dad was a jewler – I lost it in a bush one day, I searched and searched but just couldn’t find it.”

 

What age do people become “old”, what’s the secret to staying young?

 

“60, or just on the cusp.  Simple – eat well, exercise, sleep, and feed your soul.”

 

What’s your favorite quotation?

 

“Nature is the true definition of art.  I came up with that the other day.”

 

If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, what would be the best way?

 

Facebook

 

On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to get back to them?

 

8 or 9.  It depends.  I get a lot of paintball kids emailing me all the time…if it’s a genuine question or thought – I’ll 100% get back to you.

 

If you got a lot out of this article & think you might know others that would as well, I’d love it if you’d tweet/share on facebook.

/////////

 

Hunter - i am your biggest fan what your paintball positionJune 29, 2014 – 9:12 pm

Allisa - Interesting article – has Oliver ever played at a Delta Force centre across seas?

http://www.paintballgames.co.uk/February 26, 2014 – 11:00 pm

Craig - What did you want to be when you grew up?

“An underwater archeologist to find treasure.”

Lol – a pirate then? Or an underwater pirate! lolJuly 16, 2013 – 12:54 pm

JulesFoote - good pictures and a better interview.January 26, 2013 – 1:40 am

Debbie - There are times in life when we meet someone and feel a great connection. Oliver is.the exact age I was when I married my soulmate. The exact age I was when I left home to travel the world with my hubs. The exact age I was when we moved to Asia for 2 1/2 years. We experienced different cultures, traveled to surrounding countries. And never looked back.

Fast forward, I’m now 44, still no children and since our move to Asia, we’ve moved 7 x’s, lived in three different states and like you, we too reside in beautiful San Diego as of three years this past October.

I used to tell the hubs that all I need is an hours notice before our next move. But now that we are here, he understands I need at least a five year notice. :) jokes aside,I will continue to follow him to the ends of the earth, and when it’s time to go, I’ll be ready.

I say all that to say, keep doing what you love, life is too short to sacrifice…

Loved this post and you too Tim are just as awesome!

Happy Travels!

Blessings – DebbieJanuary 25, 2013 – 9:35 am

Patagonia

On the 2nd leg of our South American adventure, the three of us decided to see one of the world’s most well-renowned nature parks – Patagonia de Chile.

If you’re just joining now joining us along this adventure, here’s a shot of my buddies that are accompanying me on this journey.

(Ryan on the left, Jason on the right)

*Note – during this trip, Jason and I decided to mess with Ryan’s head and call him “Bryan” from time to time in a subtle way until he noticed…then we’d of course deny it and make him think that his mind was playing tricks.  He didn’t catch on until we were calling him “Bryan” repeatedly pretty much every time we addressed him on the last day of the trip, so from this point forward I will be referring to him as “Bryan.”

If you know Bryan personally, I suggest you do the same next time you see him.

 

The weather was looking gooooooood.  The area around Patagonia is known for it’s strange cloud formations.  Some of the most rare types of clouds can be spotted in this region.  These (pictured below) appeared to be as if Bob Ross took a brush and just smudged them across the skyline.

 

 

It was an interesting trip – there weren’t many people are age around.  There were a bunch of old people like the guy below, and it appeared as though this was a destination that appealed towards that kind of demographic vs the young party crowd we’ve seen in places before.

 

 

The winds were strong.

 

 

But stoic llama was optimistic.

 

 

And so was Bryan.

 

 

So we set forth and set up camp for day 1.

 

 

At the entrance, there was this mascot that they called “Smokey the Squirrel”.  It came across as a rip off of our “Smokey the Bear” – we joked about starting a fight with him and stealing his head.

 

 

The first day’s hike was full of some really interesting trees.  They were thin, but thick at the same time – and the leaves were this vibrant green color that didn’t seem natural.

 

 

For some reason it made me think of an asian forest in regards to how spacious it was between the trees, but how thick the foliage atop was.  I asked Bryan if this was what China looked like, and he seemed insulted…I don’t know why.

 

 

Here’s Jason pulling a “Bryan” and recording himself talking to the GoPro.

 

 

Day 1′s destination:  Torres Del Paine.  Looked like the entrance to Mordor or something out of a Harry Potter movie.

 

 

Peter Pan syndrome right here.

 

 

Really.

 

 

The view on the way back down the hike.  Each day, we hiked about 25 km.  By the end of the day, you can bet we were exhausted.

 

 

But not so exhausted that we couldn’t do handstand photos in front of this majestic landscape!

 

 

And not too exhausted to mess around and hide in the bushes while other people walked by.

 

 

Making dinner was a chore though.  Luckily for us, soup isn’t the most complicated dish to make in the world.  We still managed to f*ck it up though.

 

 

Taking down the tent the following morning.  Took a spike to the fingernail.  Not gonna have a good time.

 

 

More cool foliage.

 

Apparently this part of the forest burned down a couple years ago.  Made for a great spot to find good walking sticks.  We had several sword fighting matches breaking pieces of  dead wood and leaving it to be with it’s “family” in the woods afterwards.

 

 

The water was so damn inviting.  However you can bet it was cold as a mofo.

 

 

Didn’t want to test this warning.  For those that don’t speak Mexican, this means “don’t crucify more than 2 people at a time.”

 

 

A little nerve-racking crossing the bridge.

 

 

(PS – if you thought I was serious about the “speak Mexican” comment and “crucify” translation above…you can relax now, I’m kidding.  Welcome to my blog.)

 

I *will* say however, it was a trip to see Spanish speaking indigenous people in such a cold climate.  It’s a weird thing to think about, but I just don’t think that’s a common association for most people.  When you think of Spanish speaking countries, you think of hot, humid places like central America – you don’t really think about how cold it can be down here.

Here’s some more majestic stuff.  2 waterfalls leading into one, which led into a HUGE waterfall behind us.

 

 

We all agreed that the water was clear as f*ck, so we decided to drink straight from the stream.  Here’s Ryan getting a shot of me going head-first to get a little natural spring water refreshment.

(Oh man, I know there’s going to be someone in the comments to tell me about what I could have ‘gotten’ by doing this.  I don’t even want to know.  But it was pretty damn refreshing – I’ll tell you that!)

 

 

I don’t know what the hell I was doing here.

 

 

Bryan ‘Noosing’.

 

 

This hike spanned about 10 hours on this day – with all the breaks we took for photos, it ended up being a little longer.  Unfortunately we ended up getting back around 11:30 at night (yeah, I know – crazy) – here’s a shot of Jason a little before midnight before we got back to our camp.

 

 

Day 3 – Glacier time.

 

 

It was not that cold.  This is just me just being theatrical.

 

 

A lodge on the way back.  Playing with the leading lines a bit while we wait.

 

 

I started feeling a bit of rain dripping on my head, so I put my poncho on over my coat & backpack.  These guys made fun of me at first, but once the rain really started coming down along with some harsh winds – guess who had the last laugh!

 

 

Man that water was cool.

 

 

This trip was too short to do this area justice.  While it’s hard to justify returning somewhere when there are so many other places in the world to visit – this is definitely one that allows for an exception.  It’s pretty radical.

 

 

To see more photos of me, Bryan, & Jason – I’ll be uploading an album on my facebook later today.  Subscribe or add me as a friend to check em out

Lisa - Looks like a fabulous trip! and a lot of fun.
I can’t believe you had a set of photos titled “Glacier Time”. That is just hilarious.

And wow, great photos.January 24, 2013 – 6:50 pm

Cate O'Malley - I can’t help but feel a serious case of wanderlust when I visit your site and see all your pictures and adventures. I’m going on a cruise to the Bahamas (with a stop in Florida) in March, and while that is no trip to Peru or whale watching excursion (those photos were awesome), it will have to do. ;)January 24, 2013 – 11:45 am