Friday, May 18, 2007

Mixing Pleasure and Business

One of the greatest things you can do in life is marry your hobbies with your business.
If you enjoy something tremendously, it’s even better when you get paid to partake in it.
One of the reasons I freelance is because I have many hobbies. The open schedule allows me to enjoy them more often than most. As I grew older, I started strongly believing in the philosophy of working to live rather than living to work. Many weekday mornings I have battled rush hour traffic to sit not at a desk, but rather in a golf cart or on the bank of a trout stream. I have been fortunate enough to mix my hobbies with business and I have produced several projects for people I have been paired up with on the golf course.

In the last two years, I started playing serious poker several evenings each week. I’m not a gambler but an adrenaline junkie and there is nothing like the rush that is felt when you’ve beat over 100 players and are heads-up at the final table.

I’ve since won several tournaments and poker awards. I’ve even earned a nickname around the city's tables and have been profiled on a poker site.

To me, playing poker is very much like working in the advertising industry. It starts with a vast number of players trying to quickly move ahead, not knowing exactly how long they will last, hoping that others are getting eliminated thereby allowing them to reach the big money at the final table. Chips are the equivalent of (industry) awards and the more you accumulate, the easier it is to move up the ranks and compete with the best players.
During the entire course of the game, you make your own decisions which can make or break you. This is why you will find many business owners around the tables and because I have a very strong entrepreneurial spirit, I relate to it.

I quickly realized, if I’m going to have this hobby, how can I make money to support it doing what I do best?
I started approaching the organizers of the poker clubs and tournaments. Dropping my business card, bringing them some samples of my work, and asking if I can produce their next project.

The result:
In 2 years I have designed dozens of logos, posters and advertising campaigns for several of them. I won a creative award and have some pieces being published in 2 upcoming creative books/annuals. I had a poker ad campaign included in a foreign University’s curriculum and I've seen it grace the walls of a casino’s high stakes poker room across the border.
To top it all off, I’ve hung out and played with the world champion (DN), and been given free buy-ins to many large tournaments because I rub shoulders with those that run the industry. All this by simply taking a chance.

Then of course comes the word of mouth. People at the tables being recommended my services by the dealers, the operators, even other players, and I have worked on other projects thanks to this domino effect.

So, because of some initiative, I get to be creative working on something I really know and enjoy (in a VERY open minded industry towards creative solutions) and the perks and results have been outstanding.

No matter what your hobbies are, there is the potential with what we do to make money in it. You like fishing? Speak to fishing lure companies and lodge operators. You enjoy playing golf? Start calling the pro shops and clubhouses.
The next thing you know, you’re not only making money creating work for them, you’ll hear the words that I love best...
“You should come play tomorrow. It’s on me.”

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