Somehow, you’ve stumbled upon the blog of Dan Schenker, the aspiring [insert future here]. Yeah, you guessed it — Those brackets were intentional. How about I start you out with a little backstory?
Before my senior year in high school, I hadn’t the slightest idea of what I wanted to do after graduation. Sure, I had a few hobbies, but I really didn’t see ultimate frisbee or “hanging out” developing into terribly lucrative careers. My favorite teacher suggested I make a film to enter into a technology competition, so naturally, with no knowledge of anything about technology, a partner and I began working on what would become an award-winning short film on both state and national levels. Thus, the first bricks of my career path were lain.
I eventually stumbled out of community college with a degree in communications (my parents are still scratching their heads at this one) with a concentration in broadcasting. It was during my time there that I realized how completely impractical it was to practice “filmmaking” when I wasn’t a writer or director. Don’t get me wrong — I loved being behind the camera, but once I was there, I was essentially staring at the inside of the lens cap. So, in what I still to this day regard as a logical step, photography became my outlet. It was then that I could still practice composing the things I loved most about film, but I didn’t need to set anything up beforehand. I could literally pick up a camera and shoot. And point and shoot is what I did. For a WHILE. Luckily for me, I have always surrounded myself with wonderful, creative people, so learning the basics of photography happened much faster than I ever would have expected. I really began to feel confident in the products I was producing instead of the dumb luck photos I had always previously gotten. And then social media came along.
“But wait,” you exclaimed as you read that sentence, “what kind of twenty-something male are you? You should have been social since the days of AOL Instant Messenger!” Okay, you caught me. I’ve had my fair share of social media accounts, from the dark days of MySpace all the way up to Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn… The works. After plugging away at these networks and growing with them, somehow or another, I ended up with a pretty large skill set of marketing tools to spin my epic time-wasting pastime into an extremely important asset to my future as a member of the working class. Now, I use what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) growing at least two businesses every single day. “But wait,” your ever-inquisitive mind shouts, “Aren’t you supposed to be out having fun?” My question to you is this: How is that not fun? I get to wrack my brain, trying to spin a handful of free services into money. Like, REAL money. Social Marketing careers have grown over 600% in the past few years. That’s two zeros. In the business and marketing world, this is where it’s at.
“But wait,” your increasingly annoying brain asks one final time, “You didn’t say anything about marketing when you were talking about photography and all that other stuff I skipped over!” Well, as always, you’re right. Marketing, advertising, and business all sort of progressed into my lap naturally. From video, I needed a way to excel, so I shifted my interests to photography. When I realized I was dumping my money into a hobby and getting no return, I decided to find a way to monetize it. Once I determined that decided to make money and making money are two entirely different things, I needed to learn business, and with business comes marketing. Take that, Kevin Bacon!
So, in closing, now that you have absolutely no idea who I am, what my interests are, or basically anything about me other than what I did and didn’t study in the past five years, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote:
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
No matter what path you’ve gone down, don’t let roadblocks, forks, and other obstacles get in your way. Don’t let hinderances become excuses. Go, figure out how to get past them, and do it.
Oh and also, definitely learn to surf. You’ll be way cooler with that under your belt.