Stuff My Parents Told Me That Can Help Your Business

Above: My dad, Robert M. Sammon, Sr.

We are between Mother's Day and Father's Day. With my dearly departed parents in mind, I thought I'd share some of their wisdom with you - wisdom that can help you with your business (and which has helped mine).

I'll start with my dad's advice.

1) It takes a lot of peanuts to feed an elephant. My dad, who lived through the depression, encouraged me to make, and save, as many pennies as possible. This is sound business advice. Pennies add up, quicker than you might imagine.

Want to feed the elephant? Sign up for as many affiliate and associate programs (Amazon and camera stores, as well as plug-in companies, for example) as possible. Get into as many on-line sales opportunities as possible.

2) Even the President of the United States puts his pants on one leg at a time. My dad was telling me that we are basically all the same. He was offering me encouragement: If one man can do it, so can you.

Want some more encouragement? Read Real Magic by Dr. Wayne Dyer.

3) Hard work pays off. My dad never really said that, but he was a great example of that philosophy. 

I vividly remember one snow holiday in the early 1950s, when it used to snow heavily in New York, when he put on his hat, coat and buckle boots (which I don't think they make any more) and walked a few miles to the train station – while it was still snowing. He had an important meeting in New York City that he could not miss. He always wanted to do the best job possible. His hard work paid off. He died last year at age 92 in his own home, and could still afford to live comfortably. What more could you ask for?

So my friends: work hard and save those peanuts.

 Above: That's me in the early 1950s working hard on my homework. Photo by my dad.

Above: My mother, Josephine T. Sammon, with my son Marco.

Okay. Now it's my mother's turn.

1) Someone is always watching.

This is great advice to keep in mind in designing and posting stuff on your web site/blog. You never know who is watching. Someone may be watching who needs exactly what you have to offer. He or she may be a millionaire and may have a few bucks to spend on you and your services! 

Keep your site/blog up to date with the best you can offer. 

Also: know your audience. Post, write and design for your specific audience.

2) Always sandwich a criticism with compliments. 

If you feel as though you need to criticize another photographer's work, don't just jump in with criticism. Rather, try to encourage the person to do better - before and after you get to your point.

3) Never give up.

Every time I got a rejection letter or email for a book idea, I thought about this quote. Sooooo glad I followed my mother's advice. Today I have 36 books, my latest is Creative Visualization for Photographers.

I know it sounds easy, especially when you are down. However, don't let others get you down. Also remember that timing is everything. A "no" today could be a "yes" tomorrow.

4) To thine own self be true.

Ya know, I really did not like it when my mother used this quote. However, it's really good advice for photographers. Be true to yourself. Follow your heart. Photograph what you love. 

5) Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you.

Today, it's easy to hide behind fake names on the internet and post bad book, app and photo reviews. 

Don't listen to what others say while hiding. In fact, don't listen to negative comments from folks who just set out to be mean. Their comments often say more about themselves than you!

6) Don't curse.

I vividly remember my mother washing out my mouth with a new, big and white bar of IVORY soap after I used a curse word. Well, I am not saying that today I am a saint, but I never use an inappropriate word on the web. I have dropped people from facebook and twitter for doing just that. I don't want to be associated with 'em. So, keep it clean and you will not offend anyone.

7) Be a good listener.

Before I went on my first date, my mother told me to be a good listener. This was good advice, as I got a second date. :-)  

Today, we must be good listeners on Google+, twitter, Facebook, Instagram and in the comments section on our blogs. You can't just talk - you must listen. Get to know your audience.

Along the lines of being a good listener, remember this: There is always room for improvement.

• • • • • 

I'll end with something my guide in Brazil said to my son when we said goodbye at the airport: "Your best friends are your parents."

If you want to post some tips from your parents, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear.