Photo by  Grant Sweetwood  (IG: @sweetwoodgrant)

Photo by Grant Sweetwood (IG: @sweetwoodgrant)

I’m writing this article because at work we tend to associate ourselves with people in the same function or group. Even when we’re in cross-functional teams, we gravitate towards like-minded people. This can limit our perspective and growth. The group we work with is usually the same group we seek advice or receive feedback. Challenge yourself to expand your network to include “creatives;” not just sales and marketing or operations and finance. Mix in a few artists, graphic designers, photographers, poets, authors, or others like that.

When you finish reading this article, you’ll see how I learned from branching out. If you add a creative to your network, I guarantee your perspective will change, and your business mindset will improve. 

My friend, Grant Sweetwood is a commercial and advertising photographer. He see’s the world from a different perspective. He has a passion for all things lighting. I give him a little hell for that, but the dude is legit!

Sometimes I work from home. Sometimes I work from the loft of Grant’s photography studio. I prefer the studio! Here’s why I prefer the studio.

1.  Perspective

As a creative, Grant views the world and business from an alternative perspective. He approaches activities from entirely different angles. His thought process challenges me to look at my customers and business through multiple lenses.

Not a day goes by that I don’t say, “Grant, what do you think about X?” Without failure, he rises to the occasion and challenges my thought process. Next thing you know I’m saying out loud, “Well damn, I haven’t thought about it that way before.”

His creative perspective pushes my thought process forward. It helps me to gain a 360 perspective on my clients and work. This perspective has helped me grow as a business owner and consultant.

2.  Creativity

No doubt about it, my creative abilities have increased. Similar to how my perspective changed, I’m continually flexing my creative muscles when I work from the studio. I’m not a scientist or doctor, but the surroundings help generate this creative atmosphere. 

This boost of creativity helps when I need to think outside the box. When a challenge comes up, I want to tackle it from the studio. When I’m designing cool social media imagery, I want to be at the studio. I can do both from my home office, but I’d much rather be at the studio surrounded by cool creative tools and people. 

3.  Drive / Hustle

We are both extremely driven individuals. We are entrepreneurs, small business owners, solopreneurs, or any other category you want to throw out there. Working next to another driven individual makes you even hungrier. We feed off of each other’s hustle.

When I work out of my home office, it’s just me. I’m the only person keeping myself accountable. I’m pretty damn good at it, but when I’m in the studio, it’s a different level.

4.  Full Spectrum

As a marketer or salesperson, you typically see or approve the end product of promotional materials. Sure, you might get involved in coming up with the general concept. But, you probably don’t get to see the full spectrum … from ideation all the way to the result.

I’ve been lucky enough to support a couple of Grant’s shoots. I had no idea the amount of time, effort, brain power, and creativity it takes to capture 5-10 perfect shots. Grant does this flawlessly. Watching him combine his creativity and analytical mindset has helped me fully grasp the wing to wing marketing / promotional process. 

Understanding the wing to wing process changed my level of appreciation for the terms “marketing” and “advertising.” Now, when I provide marketing consulting services to my clients, I can see the bigger picture through the fine details. Before, my knowledge of the photography or videography part of the process was conceptual. I had an “understanding,” which worked reasonably well in most cases. As we all know, the experience is king! I’m able to serve my clients better because I’ve experienced the wing to wing process. It’s the same concept as putting a rising leader into different functional experiences as they climb the corporate ladder.  

5.  Dog

Last, but certainly not least, he brings his dog, Hodges, to work. She can make the day so much better. HA. Kind of a funny one, but I enjoy having a dog around while I’m working. Good laughs, a bit of cuddles, and a welcome break when you need one.

Life as an entrepreneur can be tough. Startup life can be stressful and demanding. Animals have a way of helping us relax, take a deep breath, and smile…even if it’s just for a moment.

Now that I’ve laid out a few reasons I like to work around a creative, have you thought about a creative that you can add to your close network? Make sure you provide them value too. We have a good working relationship. We ping thoughts and ideas off one another, plus respect each other’s business.

I hope this post helps you consider broadening your network to include a creative person. Do you have any experiences like this one you’d like to share? You can see some of Grant’s work on Instagram - @sweetwoodgrant