Whew, this was a doozey of a post to put together!! But I'm so glad we did.
Looking back through this whole year, at all the places we were able to go and all of the sweet couples we had the honor of photographing, was such an incredible reminder of just how very lucky we are to get to do what we do. My Dad often reminds us when we get together with him, of what a blessing it is that this thing that we do- by its very nature, without us doing anything more - it leaves something behind. Think about that. How many jobs can say that? How many people can say that just by the career or calling they've chosen, the work they do with their hands creates something that people will hold on to and pass down? That the work they do creates a legacy that will last for generations? Not very many.
Not very many, indeed.
And I think that's why we just keep falling more and more in love with photography. And why we hope we never stop getting better and pushing ourselves and learning new things. We have the privilege of documenting life. How COOL is that?? In a world where things get tossed aside for new and better and more, this thing that we get to do, it lasts. It endures. It goes beyond us. We get to tell stories that matter. And long after we're gone, those stories will live on.
That's a calling we are lucky to answer.
So here's to 2014! A year full of stories that matter and people we are lucky to now call friends!
PS: I apologize in advance for the massive size of the post!! There were just too many that meant something to us!
I am a voracious reader. Especially when it comes to books that can make me better. Although I am totally guilty of reading a book about three-quarters of the way and being like "ok, I get it!" and moving on! :) Does anybody else out there do this?? But there are a few that I just haven't been able to put down and have read cover to cover a few times now.
As entrepreneurs, there isn't assigned homework for getting better at running a business. No one is going to check up on us with a progress report to see how we're doing. It's all in our hands how much we educate ourselves. It's up to us how much time we dedicate to become better business owners. And that can be kind of scary, can't it? Because it's tough to know where to even start.
So that's why Justin & I wanted to put together a list of our top business book recommendations for people to read (or re-read!) to kick off 2015 right! These are the books that we come back to time after time. The books that have taught us SO much about marketing, systems, money and so much more. If we were teaching our own college course on running a business (how fun would that be? I would totally wear a tweed jacket with elbow patches. And carry around a pipe!), this would be the required reading...the books you would have to go to the bookstore for. We would have tons & tons of "supplemental reading" that we would recommend, but this would be required! So if you are looking for a good, core place to start, then look no further than just a scroll down! Read on to see what our top 2015 picks are!
*E Myth: We think this is a MUST read for every small business entrepreneur out there! In the book Gerber argues that the number one reason 80% of businesses fail in the first five years is actually not because of money but because of burnout. He says entrepreneurs start a business thinking they will get to do only this thing that they love. But pretty soon they find themselves wearing a ton of other hats: doing the books, creating the marketing plan, sweeping the proverbial floors. And it's in all of that mundane stuff- the too much work & not enough time- that people start to hate what they once loved. This book has the solution!
*Purple Cow : this is an oldie, but a goodie and one of our all time favorite business books. It's basic premise is this: in a sea of 10,000 brown cows, you stop paying attention when you see yet another new brown cow. But see a purple one on the side of the road? You're going to pull the car over, take a picture, and tell all your friends about it. In every industry, the tendency is to just follow what all the brown cows are doing (what am I supposed to do? what is everyone else doing?), but in doing so we seal our fate to be ordinary. The basic summary of this book could come down to two words: be remarkable. In other words, don't just do what's been done before....do something WORTH remarking about.
*Selling the Invisible: this book is just phenomenal! I don't know if I've ever underlined so many passages before! It's basically all about this idea of how do you sell something that you can't see (like service based businesses for example!) There are so many gems all through out this book and Beckwith's understanding of how people buy and the thought process they go through will change your perspective forever. One of my favorite quotes: "Don't give them what they need, don't give them what they want, give them what they would LOVE to have but don't even know is possible yet."
*Talent is Never Enough: John Maxwell is one of my all time favorite authors and Talent is Never Enough is one of my all time favorite books from him. This book is so powerful for beating the "talent trap" We have heard something similar from countless people that we've mentored. They'll all say something along the lines of "I just don't get it. This person is newer than I am and their work just isn't as good...and yet they're killing it!" That's the talent trap. That's the belief that the way businesses succeed and the way people buy is based on talent alone (Beckwith dispels this myth a lot in Selling the Invisible too). Now please don't get me wrong, talent is HUGE. Commitment to the craft should be a number one priority. But the premise of this book (and it has proven true so much in our lives and in the lives of our friends) is that talent alone is not enough. To become truly successful you have to have a BUNCH of other qualities (Maxwell identifies 13 in fact) that if they are missing, they will hold even the most talented people back. Talent is the starting place. But talent alone is never enough.
*Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover: This of course isn't a business book per se, it's a personal money book. But it has everything to do with running a successful business. This book has rocked our world and it's all about living debt free, building up financial momentum, and leaving a legacy of true wealth and radical giving. And if that stuff isn't in place, the business will be poisoned every time. So they go hand in hand! I think everybody should read this book!
*And finally, The Guide. Now I know that this is totally biased because we wrote The Guide. :) But the truth is that this ebook contains everything that it took us 8 long years to learn the hard way. Everything that it took us reading all these books and many, many, MANY others, and being out there in the trenches to figure out. And it all right there in those pages for you to shortcut through. I truly believe that sitting down for a day and reading through the Guide could save you months (maybe years) of setbacks and standing still, and thousands of dollars spent on the wrong stuff trying to market yourself. We hear from so many people how these pages have rocked their businesses (and their bookings!) right away. And sometimes all you need is someone who has been there to point you in the right direction and steer you away from the pitfalls. That's the heart of The Guide right there, and we would love for every single person reading this to be able to get a copy.
**So that's why we're doing a New Years's special of 50% off! Just click on the button below and you can grab your own copy of The Guide for half off! (reg. $150) Here's to making 2015 the year that changes everything!
As always, we hope these recommendations helped & that you're able to pick up some of these books! So tell us, what is YOUR favorite business book of all time?
Last night, after we did our Christmas in New Jersey with Justin's family, we started on toward WV where we will see my family today. When we decided to stop for the night we found ourselves in no other than.....the little town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that is! AND the best part? We couldn't find a room. At least we couldn't find one that would take Cooper for the longest time (we finally did). So literally for a while there, there was no room for Mary at the Inn in Bethlehem on Christmas! HA! :)
Today we are onward for the rest of our journey where we will meet up with my family & take in one of the most amazing displays of Christmas lights around at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, WV!! But before we hit the road, I just wanted to hop on & tell you about two of our latest obsessions that we are LOVING lately!
First up is the Heads Up app from the Ellen Show!! We have to give FULL credit to Buddy & Jill for introducing us to this amazing game when we were all hanging out at Katelyn & Michaell's! It's seriously SO much fun! We broke it out last night for Christmas with Justin's family and EVERYONE got into it....even Justin's 88 year old Grammy! Basically you just take turns holding the phone up to your forehead and everyone has to get you to guess what's on it by acting it out, singing or giving clues...and it even takes video during the act it out ones. Hilarious! Has anybody else played this game yet?
Our second new addiction lately we heard about from our friends Kristin & Bill when they were up for our cookie swap party. Serial is a 12 part podcast from the folks who do This American Life all about a potentially unsolved crime where the man (the high school boyfriend of the victim) they convicted just might be innocent. There are all these twists & turns and just when you think you have it figured out...you don't! And it's all a true story and an ongoing investigation. For any of you crime show junkies out there like us (we're addicted to all the Law & Orders, Bones, and now Criminal Minds)...you'll be hooked instantly! We are listening to them in the car as we make our long drives and it is totally making the time fly by! Are there any other Serial fans out there??
Right now the Christmas tree lights are on. We've had breakfast in our pajamas and Home Alone is playing on the tv. A sleepy golden retriever is napping at our feet and an "apple cider" candle is making the whole house smell amazing. We will spend the day watching movies, wrapping up the last few presents....and trying our best to BE present. To spend time with one another and the ones we love most, to slow down, to be still.
Over the next few days, more than anything what I want is to stop and stand in wonder. At this season and what it stands for. I want to see the miracles all around us and believe deeper than I ever have before. I want to fall on my knees in awe at these word: the thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices. O Holy night, indeed.
This Christmas season, we just want to stop and say thank you to ALL of you who have become not just regular readers here, but friends. You have cheered with us and teared up with us and gone through life with us. And we are just SO thankful that you have become a part of our lives. We wish for you the merriest of Merry Christmases!
Barns at Wesleyan Hills Wedding: Ashleigh & Andrew
Today we wrap up our 2014 season with our last wedding of the year! Ashleigh & Andrew had the most GORGEOUS wedding at the Barns at Wesleyan Hills! It was cold on their day (like REALLY COLD!) but the warmth of all the amazing people who were there more than made up for it! Both sets of parents were just incredible & it was one of the NICEST bridal parties we have ever gotten to work with! Which just makes all the more sense why Ashleigh & Andrew are both so amazing themselves!
I loved everything about their beautiful, cozy day especially the perfect combo of Fall meets Winter vibe! There were so many things about these two & their day that made it our ideal kind of day to shoot....so much so that I'm going to do a whole separate post for that! But for now, let me just say CHEERS to an amazing 2014 and what a way to go out!
A&A, we LOVE you guys!! Consider yourself official Clients Turned Friends now!! :)