[This post is part of a series on turning rejections into motivation. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Growing out of its start-up phase and in a recession, Submedia’s needs expanded beyond what my skills could handle a few years after we incorporated — physics trains you well to develop products, and passion will carry you far, but not knowing the value of a balance sheet and not even having taken a class in management, marketing, or finance can hold you back.
I wanted to keep working with the medium while no longer CEO. The company, having promised returns to its investors, was only interested in clearly profitable applications, so I looked into other directions and fell on creating art with it, which I came to love.
That I had negligible experience in creating art or expressing myself in a visual medium I saw as just a bigger challenge, an area for growth — the whole point of doing it. If it was easy or didn’t require new skills and growth, I wouldn’t have done it.
So my early work relied on collaborating with others, particularly others from whose experience and skills I could learn. I got to work with a brilliant fashion photographer. His work was amazing and his connections fantastic. We did some shoots with stunningly talented and beautiful models. His stylist got dresses and bathing suits for the model costing tens of thousands of dollars.
We had a slight disconnect in that I was interested in developing as an artist and he was interested, as I understood, in finding commercial opportunities with a breakthrough medium. But I don’t think I understood that difference then and, for that matter, I’m not sure how accurate that understanding is today.
In any case, one of the members of his team — a great guy — once suggested that to succeed I should keep working on what I was good at — building the technology — and leave the beauty for someone else, who was great at it already. From their perspective it made a lot of sense. From my perspective it was like the Penn department head lowering his expectations.
It affected me in the same way in more ways than one: I also used it as motivation to continue pursuing my art.
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