How do we define Success and Fulfillment in the Wedding Industry

Show notes:

Today I’m chatting with Ben Chernivsky, a wedding photographer and founder of Gifyyy, a portable photo booth company. Ben shares his journey from disinterest in weddings to becoming a successful wedding photographer and entrepreneur. He discusses the challenges of work-life balance, his midlife awakening, and the importance of living authentically. Ben reflects on his work addiction, and his decision to prioritize family.

Today we go deep into many subjects that some of you may find difficult, so please take care whilst listening.

Find out more about Gifyyy

Follow Ben on Instagram

Visit Head Heart Man on Instagram

Time Stamps:

The intro (00:00:00) Becca Pountney sets the stage for a deep and important conversation, addressing potential triggers and encouraging open dialogue about mental health.

Introduction of Ben (00:01:10) Becca introduces Ben, a wedding photographer and the founder of Gifyyy, a portable photo booth, and expresses excitement about their conversation.

Ben’s journey into wedding photography (00:02:39) Ben shares his unexpected entry into the wedding photography industry and his initial disinterest in weddings, leading to his eventual passion for the craft.

Growth of Ben’s wedding photography business (00:06:56) Ben discusses the expansion of his wedding photography business, including the number of weddings and photo booth rentals, and the balance with family life.

Building a team (00:07:59) Ben emphasizes the importance of teamwork and the need for a team to achieve success in the wedding industry, acknowledging the support he received from mentors and coaches.

The decision to take on a team (00:09:15) Becca and Ben discuss the pivotal moment when Ben realized he needed to expand his team due to overwhelming demand and the emotional toll of turning down opportunities.

Taking responsibility for business decisions (00:12:49) Ben emphasizes the importance of taking full responsibility for the decisions made in one’s business, particularly when hiring and managing a team.

Creation of Gifyyy (00:15:21) Ben shares the conscious decision to commit to the wedding industry for ten years and the development of Gifyyy, a portable photo booth, as a specialized addition to his photography business.

The journey of Gifyyy (00:19:22) Ben discusses the portability and success of his Gifyyy photo booth business, its global reach, and his approach to managing it as a side hustle.

Personal and professional transitions (00:20:36) Ben reflects on his life plan, goals, and the significant changes and self-discovery he experienced around the age of 35-40, including examining his family background and addiction to work.

Reevaluating success and life balance (00:27:10) Ben shares his definition of success, emphasizing the importance of balancing career, financial stability, and personal fulfillment, and overcoming past struggles with the concept of family first.

Importance of financial planning (00:31:58) Ben discusses the lack of focus on future financial planning in the wedding industry, the need for financial education, and the complexities of personal relationships with money and success.

Challenging industry norms (00:35:56) Ben addresses the industry’s focus on superficial success, the importance of substance and integrity in business, and the necessity of engaging in conversations about business and financial planning.

Normalizing future planning (00:39:03) Becca Pountney emphasizes the need to normalize conversations about future plans in the wedding industry, including long-term career goals and life transitions, to encourage new perspectives and ideas.

Mistakes and Growth (00:40:16) Discussion on the importance of making mistakes and the impact on personal growth and development.

Unexpected Paths (00:41:09) Exploration of how unexpected opportunities and decisions can lead to unforeseen success and personal evolution.

Evolution and Destiny (00:42:17) Reflection on personal and professional evolution, and the realization that destiny may unfold in unforeseen ways.

Connecting and Reaching Out (00:43:01) Information on how to connect with Ben and his various businesses, including Gifyyy and his personal projects.

Closing Remarks (00:44:37) Closing thoughts and encouragement for listeners to engage in deeper conversations and seek support when needed.

Transcript:

Becca: Before today’s episode starts, I just wanted to explain to you that today’s episode is going to go a little bit deep. We’re going to have some difficult conversations talking around mental health, family, looking back at the past, and there may be some subjects that some of you may find difficult. So I wanted to just let you know before we dive into this conversation, I think it’s an incredibly important conversation to have, but if you don’t feel ready to hear that kind of thing right now, then feel free to skip on back to a different episode.

If you do decide to listen and you find that it does bring up some difficult things for you, then please can I encourage you to get out there and speak to someone don’t suffer in silence. I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation. I’m Becca Pountney, wedding business marketing expert, speaker and blogger, and you’re listening to the Wedding Pros Who Are Ready To Grow podcast.

I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level. If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business, doing what you love, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get going with today’s episode. Today I’m chatting with Ben Chernivsky, wedding photographer and founder of Gifyyy. A small lightweight photo booth that is fully portable and fits inside a bag. We met out in the U. S. when I used his photo booth at an event, and as usual, we got chatting. I loved our conversation, so I wanted to bring it to all of you as well, so I invited him to be on the podcast.

Ben, it’s great to have you. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome.

Ben: Very grateful to be here.

Becca: Thanks so much. I’m excited to have this conversation because exactly as I said in the intro, we were just chit chatting while we were eating our nibbles at the party and we got deep into conversations about business and weddings and as tends to happen when we have a conversation, these kind of things.

And I thought, yes, more people need to hear this conversation. So thank you for your time. Thank you for being here. Yeah.

Ben: Very, very grateful. And I agree. I agree. The conversation is out there. It’s a matter of like, who’s, who’s got the patience to listen to it. Who’s got, who’s got the. Courage to look within, you know, I think the conversation is really important for business owners and people in general, but I think a lot of people choose to walk away from it and that’s okay, some people just aren’t ready for it.

Becca: Well, we are going to dive deep, but before we get to that point, what I want to do is go back to the beginning, because I think it’s really important for people to understand where someone came from and to understand their backgrounds before we dive deep into these subjects. So. You’re a wedding photographer, first and foremost.

That was kind of your first foray into weddings. How did that happen?

Ben: Oh, geez. Well, I was. I, I, I was really, really uninterested in weddings and I was very, very interested in like saving the world through documentary photography. That was, that’s where my heart was at. And man, did I, did I push for that so, so hard.

And it was just like, I was just swinging at the bat and it just like was not hitting the ball. You know, do you guys baseball out in the UK? Is that a thing?

Becca: We do but not as much as you do.

Ben: Very classic US sport man. So I, like, and maybe, you know, you’re sitting you, you’re, and you were just swinging and swinging and swinging.

the tee you guys have baseball out was going nowhere. And it came to a point where it’s just like, I, I, I, I had enough self-awareness that like I knew, so something wasn’t working with, with documentary photography. And I wasn’t meeting the right people, like the stars didn’t align, like the talent wasn’t quite there.

I think the talent was there. I was pretty good at what I did. But it didn’t really align with like my future goals and what I deeply yearned for in my heart, which was to have a family. And it, yeah, so I just, you know, like a friend, but I was obsessed with photography. Like it was, it was like for sure my passion, 100%.

A friend was like, yo, I’m getting married. And I was like, okay. Yeah, yeah. You want me to shoot your wedding? Okay. Okay. And it was funny because like, I’m, I’m kind of, I’m a guy that like, just whatever I do, I put my full heart into it a hundred percent. And so I started going on these forums. It was back in the day.

It was like these forums called Fred Miranda forums. And it’s like, it’s like, it, that’s where a lot of really good wedding photographers were connecting. And it was literally just like conversations like back and forth. I wasn’t on Facebook back then, even, I don’t even know if it existed for me. And I just like, I started like getting really into critiquing other people’s works and having opinions about what, what, what worked on wedding days and photography and what I like and dislike.

And I just went into that first wedding, just like completely fueled and ready to go. Just like, I really. And I’m sitting there. I’m like, why am I giving this so much effort, man? And it was just like, that’s just my personality. That’s like what I do is like, whenever I do things, I, I really put my heart into it, but I didn’t realize I just cared about it.

I really cared. I mean, I fell in love with like what weddings were about. Like, I didn’t, I didn’t even know what like a processional recessional, like, I didn’t, I didn’t know any of this s***. Like, dude, I got married like five years after my first wedding. I didn’t even know there was a difference between an engagement band and a wedding band.

So like a month before my wedding, someone’s like, where’s the wedding band? I was like, Oh, I, you know, I give that to Vanessa when like we propose like, dude, there’s another freaking ring. I’m like, what? And I like even like that was like five years later after seeing my first wedding, I, I just, that stuff, all the tradition, all that was, was like, wasn’t really there.

So, so yeah, I friend asked me, you know, And then I was, I was in, I was in school for like photography. There was like a technical photo program at a community college. I went to college DuPage in the suburbs of Chicago. And they had this photo list that you could join. And it was like, just do photo lists.

Like these things, the guys, this was back in like. This was back in like two thousand three, four, five, six. Okay, so what they did is they had these photo lists that people would send requests, like random people in the community would be like, Hey, I’m looking for like a student photographer for like a birthday party.

And I just like, would any job that would pay money for photography, I’d just say, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. And a few of those were weddings. And so yeah, just Just shoot really weird weddings back then for sure, like, like weddings in like church gyms and stuff. It was pretty wild.

Becca: So you ended up in weddings, which you didn’t really want to be in in the first place, which quite often is what happens in the wedding industry.

People sort of fall into this industry and then find this weird love for it. Over time, though, that business has obviously grown. Tell us what that business looks like today.

Ben: Yeah, today we shoot like, you know, I got a photo video team, I’ve got a photo booth. We do 125 weddings a year. You know, I’d say like a hundred.

Yeah, just a few, just a bit. We do, I do about, about 200 photo booth rentals a year. Yeah. It keeps me busy. And you know, my wife is a full time mom. She does other things. She’s, she’s actually a really cool person. She’s not just like a stay at home mom. There’s a lot more to her identity, but we got, you know, we got through like, we have a six and eight year old at home and I’ve been able to like, you know, make enough income to.

to take care of my family and not stress them out. I’ve been stressed out. That’s another story though. So yeah, it’s, it’s been like a huge blessing and I, I would, I would, I would say I am successful in this industry and I feel really good about that and I’m proud about that.

Becca: I definitely think I would say exactly the same.

But I know that the, I know that the listeners are going to be shouting at the podcast saying, how can one man possibly do 125 weddings and 200 photo booths? So I assume you have a team. How’s that all panned out? Talk to me about that.

Ben: Teamwork makes the dream work man. You don’t you don’t achieve success on your own.

I don’t think so I don’t there’s no such thing as is doing it. You know, I have this sticker It says self made and it’s just such a it’s a bunch of bulls*** man. It’s it’s ridiculous I wouldn’t be where i’m at without the help of like mentors coaching teachers Educational programs, podcasts, conferences.

Now, yeah, quite practically I have a team. Okay. Boots on the ground. I have employees out here that helped me out. Yeah. There’s no way I’m doing 125. I think the most weddings I ever did was 47. in a year. And that s*** just, whew. I was like that back in the day I was shooting, he was shooting triples like Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

It was like crazy, dude. So I put my time in. Yeah.

Becca: That’s a place that a lot of wedding pros get to though, because a lot of people I see, they start out, they’re just hustling. They just want the work, they get the work. And then they suddenly hit this point where they’re getting the work and now there’s too much work and they’re working, working, working all of the time.

And it’s difficult to make that decision to go. Okay, I’ve hit this income ceiling. I need to take on a team. Like how going back, how did you know you’d got to that point to take on extra people into the business?

Ben: I, I would get like emotionally enraged when I had to say no to a new lead. That came in, I was like, I’m booked.

I’d be like cursing. I’d be so, I, I, I, I just like, it drove me nuts. I was like, dude, that is an opportunity for money in this industry. And then this, you know, in my job, I’d have to say no to it. And, and that was it. I mean, I, it, but, but there’s another part of it too. You know, one of my, like someone who was a friend of mine and a bit of a coach, his name is Steve Saperito and an incredible guy.

Yeah. And I met him when he first started coming to the US and, and he, he saw a lot of potential in me and this is the other part of it. Okay. You got, you got to, like, I didn’t just wake up one day and be like, Oh, I’m one of the team. I actually despised having a team, the idea of having a team, the idea of, I mean, I was open to like working with other people, but like I w I couldn’t see past my own limit, which was like me as a creative doing the best f***ing job in the world.

Kicking ass in this industry and like, just defeating the creative glass ceiling, that was, that was my mentality. So I didn’t see that, like, there was an opportunity to create a team, train other people until this guy was like, he met, he met this. Another, this one assistant that was working with name with me.

His name is Mike. He runs a small studio called jungle branch weddings down in North Carolina. Now he worked with me for like a long time. He was assisting with me in, in like 2012. He would say, Hey, Ben, can I come to weddings with you? Yeah, sure. No worries, man. And Steve really like pushed me to be like, Mike’s amazing, man.

Like give him, like give him more responsibility. And I, I, I even like was limiting. Mike’s potential because like I only saw Mike as a, as a, as an assistant, a second, I saw him through such a critical eye that I didn’t have the ability to be like, Oh, he could just lead weddings. I could train him to do that.

So I needed help with that. So that, that was the kind of like the transition. It wasn’t just like. Oh, I can take more work. It didn’t like fall on my lap. It was, it was, it was a series of conversations and discussions and someone seeing my potential and helping me see someone else’s potential. It was, it was, it was a lot of things in the, a lot of, a lot of things in the pot, so to say.

Becca: And I think it’s difficult because that business is our baby and it feels hard to let go. It feels hard to let go some of that control. It feels hard to pass some of that over to a team, but that is the only way that we can grow. And I think we are, all a bit self centered when we think, well, we’re the only person that can do this at the best, actually.

Yeah. Why don’t we empower some more people to do this for us? But how do you keep the control over the quality? Cause I know that’s a fear that lots of people have about bringing on team members that, well, what happens if they don’t do a good job? What if they let the brand down? Like, how have you dealt with that?

Ben: Full. Okay. I need everyone to hear me really, really clearly, like take off, like. The, the, the, the glasses that you see the world through and like the, the ear muffs and just listen to the words, all right, the most important thing in, in this realm is this thing called taking full responsibility for the decisions that you make in your brand.

So what I mean by that is when you hire someone, you hire their talent. And a business owner will be like, Oh my gosh, you’re amazing. And you’re really good. And I’ve trained you. And it’s like, they’re so good. But the second, the second that person messes up and makes a mistake. What’s the most common thing that’s going to happen that that owner is going to be like, you messed up, you made the mistake.

Why do you do this? They, they will use the employee for their benefit and their talent, but they will not, they will not own up to the fact that that that is a person and you have taken them on to your business. And you need to take responsibility for when they make a mistake. Now, I’m not saying that you caused the mistake or you were physically there at the wedding when they made a mistake or something went wrong.

That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is like, there’s an opportunity there to just take responsibility. Yes. I hired this person. Yes. I trusted them to take on the responsibility of my brand, my identity. And there’s, there’s a path I need to choose right now. And. If, if, if, if you take the path of taking full responsibility for your business and your brand, there’s a reward there, not, not just for you, but for that person that is going to continue working with you because you’ve fostered their growth.

So yeah, to, to cut it down, taking full responsibility, a hundred, hundreds in my, in my experience. That I might not be the same with other people. I don’t know if you’ve recorded other people in the same boat as me, but that’s been like just a North star in, in, in my business since the beginning.

Becca: I think it’s so true as well, because even when I look at my own team and when someone makes a mistake, most of the time it’s because I haven’t communicated properly because I haven’t trained them properly, because I haven’t spent enough time with them.

And actually. Yeah. It’s easy. It’s easy to quickly point the finger, but actually when we self reflect and work out how we can grow them better, it works better all around. So you’ve grown this team, you’ve got this huge wedding photography business, and then in comes Gifyyy. As I mentioned in the intro, that’s what I, I met you at, at Wedding MBA when you were there doing the photo booth.

Gifyyy spelt G I F Y Y Y. If people want to look it up, where on earth did that come from? I don’t know.

Ben: Yeah. So one thing y’all got to understand is I didn’t like becoming a wedding photographer was actually pretty conscious decisions for me. Yeah. I do understand a lot of people fall into it and then they get wrapped up in the income and they start taking jobs.

Next thing they knew it there or they know it, they’re kind of burnt out and they’re like, this isn’t really what I want to do. But everyone who’s listening right now has to hear this. Like I, I made a conscious decision that I was going to commit to weddings. For 10 years. So I got married in 2010 and a year after that I was at a conference and I kept hearing this message.

Because like, if you really sit and think about you and your experience in the world, you will hear a message over and over and over again. And you know it. It’s there. You know exactly what it is. It’s not going to be my message. It’s your message. So I came, I came home from this one conference and I just kept hearing this thing.

Specialized, specialized, specialized. Yeah. I was like, you know, twisted between like so many different types of photography, editorial, documentary, newspaper weddings. And I was like, dude, I just, I felt the call. I was like, just commit to it, commit to 10 years without distraction. So I, that was 2011 first season of wedding photography, 2012 got 25 weddings.

book 25 weddings. So 2014 ish, I started thinking about this. Like, I think I was going to conferences and they’re telling me how to make additional income. And one thing that was pretty hot between the years in 2012 and 2015, I’d say it was like, you had a photo booth, but those photo booths were crazy, man.

They were like big clunky. And you know, they take 20, 30 minutes to set up and you need to plug them in and you need a higher staff and to run them. And So I I had one. It made me like four or five, 600 bucks every wedding that hired it. But it was just becoming like a, like a, there was like emotional weight that was coming with it because it was like a burden.

And so I just stopped offering it. And I had come across this like device that was really simple. It was the iPad based photo booth at this one event, like a wedding I was shooting. And I was like, this is so amazing, man. And I called the company. And I was like, dude, I want one of these. I will pay for this.

And the company just kind of like, they were like, well, you know, you can like book it and we’ll give you a percentage of the booking. I was like, no, I was like, I don’t, that’s not, no, they, they, I was like, literally just tell me how much I will pay you so much money for this thing. And they just refused to sell it to me.

So then I, I, I, I knew there was potential there and I called my friend, my college roommate. And I was like, yo, let’s like make this thing. Can you help me make this thing? Cause it required, you know, software and hardware. And we built up this like prototype. And it was awesome. It was so cool. It was so much fun, man.

It was so simple, so easy. It wasn’t a headache. And I just got this idea, like I could like share this with the industry. People will buy this thing. This is a valuable product for event professionals and photographers. And it was one of those things that like, you just, I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like a calling and you just can’t stop hearing that call.

That is what was going on. I couldn’t like look away from this idea of. Mass producing this and selling it and I was having a lot of internal conflicts because I was it kind of got in the way of my Focus of you know, my commitment focus 10 years on the on wedding photography So I slightly tweaked that and I said 10 years.

I’m gonna I’m gonna change my commitment goal, which is totally okay like you everyone has the right to do that and I just tweaked it to I’m gonna I’m going to commit to the wedding industry for 10 years. And that’s, you know, that’s what it gave me permission to like open up and really continue like going headstrong in the industry and continue to be a wedding photographer and also create this thing called Gifyyy.

So that was, I would say that it was like 2015, 16 this year.

Becca: And it is pretty cool because I saw it when I was out in America and you said to me, Oh, it just packs in a bag. I took it carry on, on the plane. And I was like, no, it didn’t like, no, it didn’t. And then you went and picked up the bag and you showed me this like handbag size thing.

And I’m like, really? Because here in the UK, you know, there’ll be photo booth people listening and they still, there’s lots of them that still go around in a van with this huge. machine, like building this thing that takes ages. And it blew my mind that this piece of equipment was so small and so portable and so great.

And so now you’re selling that across the U S you’re selling it to photographers. Is that kind of where we’re at with it?

Ben: Yeah, worldwide. There’s a bunch of people in the UK that actually have one. So yeah, I’ve shipped a bunch overseas. So yeah, but yeah, I mean, that’s, it’s, it’s like a side hustle. You know, I’m not putting 40 hours a week in Gifyyy.

It’s like a fun project that I did with my friend and it’s earned me supplemental income. And I’m very grateful for that. It is, it is like not a traditional business model, but it works for my life and my goals and where I’m at and how much time I want to be spending on it. So yeah, it’s still a thing.

Becca: So we talked a little bit when we were out in America about your life and your goals and how people don’t talk about these things enough. So you kind of have gone down this route of having multiple revenue streams, different things working for you in different ways. What would you say now, as you look forward, is your life plan?

What are your goals?

Ben: Yeah, that’s, oh man definitely going through a transition. Listen, I’m 40 years old. I just turned 40 in April. And I think there is 35. And, you know, people call it the midlife crisis. 40, right? I, to me, my experience of it was like the midlife awakening, all the energy that was around me turning 38, 39 was like, I just kept, there’s this big empty thing within me and something just didn’t feel right.

Something wasn’t sitting right. You know, I had my first kid in 2015, second kid in 2017 and I was just in like work hustle mode, but there’s something like missing inside of me and I couldn’t, I couldn’t locate it. And I started really searching for that I’d say around like 2016, maybe like 17, 18 is when I started like really like getting curious about that.

And it was the beginning of like a very beautiful like healing journey. of looking at my family, where I came from, my family origin. And you know, we don’t have to get into too many specifics, but it is a really important part of like my life and where I’m at right now. Just like, just really like examining like internal traumas and the environment that I grew up in and how that created me.

And just asking big questions like, am I living the life that I want to be living, or am I living the life that was handed to me or created for me or produced for me by society’s version of, you know, what a man is, you know, what masculinity is, what being a father is like, I, I really started to ask myself.

If, if I was being, you know, I, I, I’m not a big fan of the authentic word, right. But I’ll use it. Was I living like my authentic life? I might’ve been living in an authentic life according to society or people that had their own definition of success, but there was definitely something missing within me.

And that’s kind of where I’m at right now. Like I, I, I have for sure located my addiction in life. And I think this is a really important thing for everybody to, to examine whether that’s a vice or an addiction. Everyone has them and it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just, it just is what is, you know, it’s like you, like everyone has things And my addiction is a very, very Like socially acceptable one, it’s work.

And what I mean by that is like, if you look up the, the, my definition of addiction is, you know, I got to think about this because I used to say it all the time. I don’t say it so much anymore. What is the unmet need? What do you, what are you using in your life to cover up your unmet need? And for me, that was work.

My work was covering up my unmet need. For a true, warm, loving family atmosphere, the loving father I could be, the amazing marriage that I wanted, I was just busying myself in like all this work. So, as I located that, I really dialed down a lot of my businesses and my work responsibilities. To focus more on family time, to focus more on doing things that I really enjoy, like, like playing, like going skiing and surfing and spending time like out in water and nature.

So it really just like, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve correct, I’ve done this massive like correction, I would say, not that anything was incorrect, but to me, I feel like way more in tune with like where I should be in life. Which is, you know, work is a big part of that and purpose, like, you know, being a, like, I love wedding photography.

I love the wedding industry. I love providing for my family, but I balanced all that work career with like spiritual health, mental health, being, being more of like a complete, like, well rounded man. That’s, that’s, that’s kind of like where I’m at right now. And I would say I’m, I’m like very, it’s like the intermediate stages of that.

Like, there was a time when I was like stumbling around in the dark, like. What is this empty feeling inside of me? And I’ve gotten a little bit more stable with that. Like, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m feeling really good about like the things I’m doing and time management where I’m spending my time, how I’m doing things and.

But yeah, where’s it going? I, I don’t, that’s, I’m actually working with a coach right now to figure that out. Cause I don’t like, I don’t know. And it’s such, it’s an exciting, I’ll tell you, I’m really excited about, about working with this guy. And it’s like really, really invigorating and bring a lot of life back to me.

And I’m very, I’m very grateful for that.

Becca: So, and this is part of why I really enjoyed our conversation. out in the U. S. because I think it is important for us to think about these things. And we live in a culture which is very much hustle, hustle, hustle, work, make loads of money, get richer, get richer, get richer.

And especially in what I do, like there’s people all the time, like how to make six figures, how to make seven figures. And I would class myself as almost being a little bit like anti hustle culture, because actually. You know, there’s, there’s things that we can do, but I always say to my wedding pros, like family comes first, like put family first, because when you look back over your life, you will regret the time you didn’t spend with your kids over the time you’ll regret that you didn’t spend at work.

Like let’s, let’s, let’s make it real. Yes, we can be successful. Yes, we can make money. But actually, you know, where, where is that leading us? Is that, is that actually going to fulfill that feeling inside of us? Because at what point do we feel like we’ve made it or are we just always looking to the next thing?

So. Where, what would you say your main drivers are now? Like, what would you say is your definition of success in your business?

Ben: Yeah, that’s a good question. But before we go there, I’m just gonna just, there might be some people out there that are listening and like, I agree, family’s first, a hundred percent.

My reaction to family first in, in, in the past was vicious. Like that, that phrase used to drive me nuts. It was very hurtful. It was very painful. It didn’t make sense to me because the family I grew up in was very hurtful, very painful. So I literally didn’t understand like the concept of family first.

And if you’re listening and you have a similar reaction to that, I’d say that’s okay. Like, just keep on going, keep on exploring your, your safe place might be work right now, and that’s okay. Your safe place might be in productivity right now. I’d say just, just keep on going because there’s a lot of answers in that.

And what you can discover about yourself through another, like, jacket or coat that you’re gonna put on, let it teach you a lot of lessons because I agree with you, like, now, a hundred percent, I spend way more time, and I think people, like, spend way too much time working and they don’t have a balance. And it’s not like family first, friendships or time to yourself or like these other things.

So I just had to make that note because. This is me and that’s where I came from. And if you want to understand what success looks like for me, a huge part of my success was looking at my mental health and looking at my family origin and looking at the traumas that I experienced growing up. I had to look within in order to get to a place of what I now consider success.

So success for success for me in the past was like just making a s*** ton of money. And I was, that was, that was the model that was handed to me. Like everybody. And success for me now is, you know, I saw this one meet this mean, and it was like, you know, like one of those internet things on Facebook and it was like, You know, a house, the old status was like a house and like a car and like something like that.

I don’t know. And it’s like the new stat, the new, the new status and the new flex is flexibility, time, time and flexibility and, and having the freedom of that. And so right now I’d say success to me is having the ability to choose like my timeline, my schedule, the things that I want to be able to do. And money and careers is absolutely a part of that.

I’m not just like it being irresponsible to my streams of income and what provide for my family. I’m very grateful for that. And I honor that, but it’s, it’s very much balanced with like the freedom. And flexibility. of being able to do the things that I’m curious about, the things that I enjoy doing. That, that, that’s, that’s what I would consider success right now.

It’s like a balance of like the things that I prioritize in life that are important to me and make me feel really fulfilled.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. And I think what you shared is incredibly important because different people will have different reactions to different things. It’s interesting. I was having a discussion recently on a training with my members where we had a money mindset coach coming in and she was talking about these phrases because we, we roll them off the tongue, like, you know, charge your worth.

And we had a whole discussion around that because actually like, if you feel like you have no self, if you don’t feel like you have self worth, like if you struggle with that, if you feel like you’ve come from a place of low self esteem, low self worth, then that phrase actually means Nothing to you, but then to someone else, that’s what they need to hear, right?

So for some of my wedding pros, they need to hear exactly what you’ve just shared. And for some of them, they need to hear, actually don’t feel guilty when you stop work to go and spend time with your family because that’s okay. And I think this is why these conversations are important. We need to be opening up and talking about these different perspectives and, and thinking some of these things through rather than just seeing this whole like shiny, you’re like make six figures.

Buy a designer handbag, buy a car, and then you’ll be happy because like the reality is a whole lot deeper and there’s a whole lot more levels than there is there. Now, one of the other things we talked about when we were out in person was how we don’t necessarily talk enough in the wedding industry about future financial.

planning. So we’re very much like in the here and now we’re hustling, we’re building, we’re spending time with our families, we’re doing all the things, but we’re not necessarily thinking forward. So how have you started to think about some of those things in your own life and business?

Ben: Yeah, there’s a few things there.

First off, I think a lot of people don’t talk about this because the mentality is, you know, we’re the wedding industry or that we’re photographers. So, you know, what’s on stage is like, listen, I’m good at photography. That’s what I’m going to talk about. Okay. And I respect that. That’s that’s, that’s right.

We’re not necessarily here to talk about retirement and that’s why there’s financial advisors. But the, the, the, the conversation around money is just garbage in almost every area. Almost every area of life when it comes to money is there’s a taking mentality. Even financial investors want your, they, they want a piece of your pie.

Okay. So. When it comes to money, it’s a really difficult conversation. I would definitely like start, like, the first thing is like, get, get good education, like find like valid resources on financial, like freedom and, you know, budgeting, like all the things you don’t want to talk about, or you find like very mundane.

I still like for the longest time, I had a very adverse reaction to numbers. I’m still working on my relationship to money. It’s, it’s, it’s constantly a work in progress. You know, I went to this one retreat and like we they’re like, Oh, talk to me about your relationship with money. I’m like, yeah, it’s, it’s pretty good.

Yeah. I feel pretty good about money. Well, like an hour later I was beating the s*** out of a pillow that was supposed to be my, my, my money. Like monster that I realized was controlling my f***ing life So it’s like it’s it’s really sneaky the conversation around money and finance and stuff And that’s you know, it’s very it’s it’s very like multi faced and it’s it’s it’s complex but like most put put simply It’s a, it’s a really important conversation.

And I think that anyone that’s truly successful and does have a financial plan, it does think about things like retirement. They will talk to you about it. Some people might want to sell you something about it. Okay. Okay. Take that with a grain of salt. But I consider like one of like, I’m in a very fortunate position where like I’ve, I’ve made good money.

I’ve been really smart about my financial decisions. I’m very conservative about how I spend my money. I don’t, I don’t spend. But I don’t have, I don’t go into like massive amounts of debt. And with that, Come the freedom to use my capital to do things like create Gifyyy, you know, like someone had to pay for that.

I paid for this, my, my photo brand, this is feeling photography paid for that. I had that capital. I didn’t have to like ask, ask for a loan from a bank. So it’s, it’s a, it’s a complicated, it’s a very complicated and very personal conversation. But, but I completely support the conversation. I absolutely think it’s an important conversation because the veil of the industry and this, I don’t think this is intentional, but the, the, the, the, the veil and the seduction of this industry is we create these beautiful f***ing photos and, and on the outside, it can seem like the person up on stage has their s*** together.

Everything’s great. I know like husband and wife teams that are like going through divorces and they’re, they’re still giving talks. To people about how to make it in this industry. They’re not talking about that. And it’s like very personal. I get it, but it’s like, you gotta, you gotta really think about what you’re listening to out there, guys, you gotta really start putting, put, put the things together, you know, like put, just put the pieces together.

Like, like it, what one person’s version of success could be might not be your version of success, where that person came from and is not going to be where you came from. It’s not a copy and paste model out there. And it just, there’s so much more to running a business than just creating pretty photos.

Which is what the industry focuses a lot on. God, I don’t think that’s, that’s like anyone’s fault. And it’s a numbers thing. It’s all about numbers. What, what, what, what are people interested in? Well, they’re interested in creating these amazing epic photos. They’re beautiful. It’s like looking at like, it’s like looking at, excuse me, what I’m about to say.

It’s like looking at pornography. There’s a lot of lust around it. And if it’s not balanced with like, you know, It’s just like dating, man. Your relationship to your, your profession is very much like dating and a healthy relationship. If you’re just doing it just to get like a quick rise and a quick like reaction and like just thought if you’re just focused on the beauty of it, that’s what you’re gonna get in.

That’s, that’s gonna be what you harvest as a business owner, too. You got to have some substance behind there. You got to have some integrity. You got to have Well, you don’t have to have any of these things, man. But, you know, having, having like having a business that’s making money is probably a smart thing, like the conversation around money.

necessary in order to, in order to foster successful business owners. So yeah, there’s, there’s a lot, it’s complicated. I used to be very, very critical about this stuff. I still kind of am, but, but I’m starting to realize that like, you know, seeing it more through like a nonjudgmental point of view, it’s just like, it’s just a difficult conversation and it’s a very personal conversation, but I will tell you at every single conference, there’s at least one or two.

Like people that are talking about business, I’d say, just start there. Go, go feed those people, like go and up those numbers. Be a part of that conversation. I, I sat through so many quote unquote boat, boring business conversations. Like I remember one, it was like back then it was a guy named Jared Bauman.

He’s not even in the wedding industry anymore. And that’s all he talked about. And I, I, you know, I, I, I did like a one hour, like mentor session with him and it was mind blowing, man. So just, I would, I would say, just go there, go there, feed that conversation and like be a part of it and do that stuff. If it’s boring to you, there’s, there’s probably, there’s probably like a lot there for you to discover.

You know, like again, going back to your point, you know, like, like just you know, ask, ask for what you’re worth, you know, that’s hilarious because, you know, one of the, one of the messages I got growing up in this industry a lot was like, you know, be authentic, be yourself. And the first question that came to mind, I was, who am I, how do I discover who I authentically am?

And I saw what drove me nuts. I saw these people acting like other authentic people, which was like big personalities and being super loud. And it was just like, that’s cool, I could just see the veil and it was just like, it was really hard for me to be a part of that because that, but I mean, it’s, it’s really, really important to, it’s really important to just ask these, ask these questions around.

yourself and look within because what the industry is painting, it’s not, it’s not always true. It’s, it’s very much about smoke and mirrors. Yeah. Yeah.

Becca: Smoke and mirrors is a, is a phrase I use a lot about this industry. And I think we need to normalize some of these conversations. Just for people listening, like normalize talking to each other about like, what’s the future plan?

Like where’s your business going next? Do you think you’ll be in weddings forever? Have you got other ideas? Like what are you thinking about in 10 years time? We just don’t talk about this stuff. We’re talking about next week, next month, next year. But are we really having the conversations about, well, do I still want to be running around taking photos of weddings at 65?

Or do I want to be doing something totally different? So we just need to, we, we need to normalize this stuff. And I hope that this episode today has just got people thinking about some of these different things, maybe sparking some different ideas and maybe thinking a bit differently about how they go forward.

So thank you for your time. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable and sharing so deeply. I. I really do appreciate it. Now we always end the podcast with the same question. So I am going to ask you that as we conclude, which is this. What’s one thing you personally wish you’d known sooner in your own business?

Ben: Dude, I, I got, I gotta be honest, this question drives me nuts. I dislike this question very much.

Becca: Yeah. I love it that you dislike it. Go for it. Tell me the answer anyway.

Ben: That’s cool. I, the reason I dislike it is because all the mistakes you make. are so important. And so I wouldn’t, if I had the opportunity to go talk to myself 10 years ago, I’d keep that door shut.

I wouldn’t whisper a single, it’s like the butterfly effect, man. I would not have the life I have right now if my future self whispered into that, into that ear, get out there and make some mistakes, look within. And I wouldn’t, this is very much who I was 10 years ago. So I just, I have to remind you of that.

Yeah, that’s been the driving mentality and I, and I, and I, I’m telling you that right now, make mistakes, look within, get loud, get big, disrupt some s***, ask difficult questions.

Becca: I love it. I love it. I love that you are so like the opposite of everything. I love that you say my hate, my questions. I also love that you said you didn’t want to go into weddings and you didn’t want to disrupt your plan and start a photo booth company.

Ben: Oh, I have a whole thing, man. No, yeah, you, you gotta watch out for the things that you say you don’t want. I’ll tell you guys, this is, I didn’t, I didn’t. My mentality growing up, dude, my, all the things I said I didn’t want I have right now, dude, I’m driving a Dodge Ram truck. I used to drive Priuses. I own a boat.

I own like a vacation home, dude, all this s***. Was I was like, f*** no, I don’t want any of that too many responsibilities too much stuff too much stuff to think about man And you gotta you gotta watch out for the things that you say say no to it’s important No, that was very very very important But yeah, you got, there’s, there’s another whole podcast.

We can go there some other time.

Becca: Absolutely. And I think we evolve, we change the things that we think we don’t want. Like I always look back and I, when I was growing up, I looked at what my dad did. He was a business consultant, used to go to networking and I used to make fun of him. I was like, why are you doing this? Like it’s not a proper job.

You’re just going and chatting to people and eating breakfast. And then one day I woke up and realized. I definitely just become my dad. I just,

Ben: yeah, yeah. I was, I was about to say you’re describing like, that’s exactly my experience of you.

Becca: And so I’m like, well, you know, like maybe we just don’t know what our destiny is and maybe sometimes our dad does.

Ben: No, we don’t. Yeah. We don’t let, let, let the universe. just give that gift to you, you know? Yeah, for sure. I’ve loved it.

Becca: It’s been such an interesting conversation. I’m glad that we could have this conversation again, a deeper level for people to listen to. Me too. Ben, if people want to find out more about your various businesses, about Gifyyy, where’s the best place for them to find you?

Ben: Man, that’s a good question. So I, I’d say like maybe on Instagram, just like my personal page at bench and if the N C H E R N like Nancy, I F like Frank, it’s like my personal stuff. And I’m starting to like be more like real to myself on there and speak about like, you know, what, what’s important to me. I have like my, this is my, my wedding photography at, at this is feeling.

On Instagram Gifyyy photo, you’re not going to find any updates on there. We, we hardly update that it’s, it’s, but it is, the Instagram is at Gifyyy photo. So G I F Y Y Y P H O T O. And then like a little, like a little bit, if you are interested in like the healing work and like, I I’m a part of this men’s work industry or movement, whatever you want to call it, there’s a, there’s an Instagram called head heart man.

And that’s at head heart man, and that’s some crazy s*** there. So prepare yourself, take a few deep breaths before you listen to that stuff. But it’s honest. And yeah, if you’re called to it, cool, reach out to me.

Becca: Fabulous. Thank you so much for your time. I will ensure that I put all of those links in the show notes so that people can find you.

And I hope that we get to be in person again, taking photos at your photo booth somewhere, somehow very soon.

Ben: Me too. Thanks so much. I really appreciate that.

Becca: I love that conversation. I told you we were going to go deep. I told you we were going to go to some interesting places and I hope that you’ve enjoyed thinking a little bit differently about some of those things.

But if there has been things that have come up for you that maybe have made you ask deeper questions, reach out to someone, talk about it, and if you need anything, reach out to me. I’ll speak to you soon. See you next time.

Becca xo

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