Stuff My Parents Told Me That Can Help Your Business - and your life


Above: My Dad Robert M. Sammon, Sr. in 2001 with his trusty Linhof.

As we enter the holiday season, I am thinking about past holidays. Naturally, my dearly departed parents come to mind. I am thinking about all the stuff they taught me - and how that stuff actually has helped my business . . . not to mention my life.

Check it out, starting 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 as possible. Get into as many on-line sales opportunities as possible. Get into apps! With apps, potential sales are worldwide, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

After writing 36 books, I am done with books. Now it's only apps for me

2) Even the President of the United States puts his pants on one leg at a time

My dad told 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:

Real Magic: Creating Miracles in Everyday Life

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 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.

Me in the early 1950s working hard on homework. Photo by my dad.

Me in the early 1950s working hard on homework. Photo by my dad.


Above (black and white): That's me working hard on my homework in the late 1950s. Above (color): That's my son Marco in the early 1990s, who is now working hard at his job in Boston, MA.

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Josephine T. Sammon and 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! 

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, I thought about this quote. Sooooo glad I followed my mother's advice. 

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.

When 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 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.

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I'll end with something one of my guides said to my son: "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.

Happy Holidays everyone,

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