Why I had to cancel speaking at WPPI 2016, and the reason I don’t feel bad about it

Author
Bryan Caporicci, Professional wedding photographer and CEO/Founder of Sprout Studio About Bryan

You love photography, and you have many reasons for becoming a photographer. But why did you become an entrepreneur?

I'll bet you didn't become an entrepreneur so you could spend more time behind your computer than you do your camera. I'll bet you didn't become an entrepreneur because you wanted to feel like a slave to your business. I'll bet you didn't become an entrepreneur because you wanted to have no work-life balance.

A photographer friend of mine once joked that he “left his 9-5 for a 9-9”.

I left my 9-5 for a 9-9
– Photographer

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you, too, work way more than you expected. Maybe you don't have the balance you once thought you could achieve. Maybe you're overworked, overwhelmed and stressed out.

I wrote the Redefine Busy series to help you with this.

I wrote it to help you gain control of your life and take ownership of the way you spend your time. I wrote it to help you get more done in less time. I wrote it to help you find balance and spend more time doing the things you love to do, with the people you want to spend time with.

I wrote it for you, but I also wrote it for me. In fact, I started it for me. I'll tell you more about that shortly.

The lie of busy

My research into our relationship with time and the way we equate success with being busy started in 2009 when Sprout co-content creator Robert Nowell and I gave a presentation called the Lie of Busy. In researching for the presentation, we interviewed a group of individuals we deemed to be the “experts” in life about their perspective on our busy culture.

Here is that video:

Since 2009, the problem with “busy” in our society has only gotten worse. My Redefine Busy series was perfectly timed to help thousands of photographers who are not able to gain control and balance in their life.

What does “redefining busy” look like?

For me, personally, the idea of redefining busy means achieving a healthy, sustainable balance between work-life and home-life.

My wife and I met at a very young age. We were high school sweethearts, and in fact, we just celebrated 12 years together. This photo below is one of the first photos we have together. Embarrassing, I know. Gosh, look at that hair! And let's not talk about the shirt.

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We married in July of 2010, and in March of 2013, we were blessed with our daughter Ava. These girls mean everything to me; they're the reason why I do what I do. This is a photo of Ava from back around Christmas time:

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In late 2013, on top of running my full-time photography business, I founded Sprout Studio and SproutingPhotographer.com with ambitions to inspire change in our industry. At the time I had no idea what I was about to get in to.

Since then, we have reached over 150,000 photographers with our education. We've been named “Best of iTunes” by Apple, were featured in Inc Magazine as well as almost every other mainstream photography industry blog and magazine. I've also had the pleasure of speaking across North America at conferences and conventions like WPPI, Shutterfest and Canada Photo Convention all about the business of being creative.

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Sprout Studio – our flagship product – has taken me on a journey unto itself. It's been equally rewarding and challenging.

Initially, there was the challenge of inventing and conceptualizing a software that was a complete innovation in our industry. Sprout Studio really is an innovation in every sense, and it required thinking about things in a completely new way.

After the “idea” stage, there were the stresses of partnerships (and the legal battles that come with it), managing contractors (the developers who were building the software) and pitching investors (how we were going to pay for things). This is all what happened behind-the-scenes before anyone in the industry even knew we were building Sprout Studio.

I feel like the last 2 and a half years looks like something like a combination of an episode of Suits and a pitch from Dragon's Den. Multiplied by 100. I could write a book about the journey.

The saying “nothing in life comes easy” is ever prevalent in our story here.

The one thing required for success that hurts the most

It's been struggle after struggle for the past 2 and a half years and I have often said “most people would give up right about now”. But not me. I kept pushing through, because to me, success requires hard work, determination and perseverance.

But, do you know what else is required for success? Sacrifice.

Achieving the successes I mentioned earlier and in launching Sprout Studio, I have sacrificed a lot. One of the sacrifices that has hurt the most is time with my family; the people who mean the most to me in this entire world and the people for whom I do this all for.

For a while, the 80-hour workweeks seemed to never end, and the stresses of dealing with partnerships, programmers, contractors, investors and users weighed on me heavily. At times, I felt as though I was carrying the weight of the whole world on my shoulders, and that I was walking the path alone. After all, I'm the CEO and the Founder. No one cares about this like I do. No ones wants this as much as I do.

The best time, then the worst time

In September of 2014, my wife and I found out that we were expecting our 2nd child. We were ecstatic. We had been trying for a few months, and were excited to grow our family and give Ava a sibling. A short while later, however, we found out that we had lost our baby. My wife had miscarried.

I remember that very moment like it was yesterday. Time stood still. What seemed like one of the most exciting moments of our lives had suddenly come crashing down right at our feet. My wife had to go through surgery because of it all, so in addition to the emotional defeat and devastation, there was also a very difficult physical recovery.

Through all this personal devastation, I was trying to stay strong for Sprout. I kept working hard, pushed the emotions and feelings aside, and did what I do best – hustle. Sprout kept going and we kept growing.

During this, I flew down in New York for PhotoPlusExpo where we spent the entire week networking, brainstorming and building great relationships with some of the industry's top leaders. We were staying at the Hyatt Grand Central with our good friend Skip Cohen, and I remember a phone call one night from Al, who was back home. She was in tears, telling me how difficult it was for her to recover (emotionally and physically) while she was home by herself as the sole caregiver to Ava while I was away.

It killed me.

A few months went by, and we slowly recovered. But it wasn't without any scars.

Let's try again …

In early 2015, we found out we were pregnant again. It was bitter-sweet and marked the closing of a very difficult chapter in our lives. For the first ultrasound, we were brought back to the same room where we had received the bad news the first time.

We both had a knot in our stomach.

I had to sit in the waiting room for what seemed like hours while they took the initial measurements of my wife for the ultrasound. When they finally called me, I raced in, and was relieved to hear a little beating heart coming out of the machine. I also got to see the fuzzy black-and-white image of our baby on the screen.

We spent the next few weeks on pins and needles, knowing that we still weren't out of the clear, but hopeful that everything would continue in the right direction. At the next ultrasound – the 12-week one – we held hands in the waiting room as we impatiently listened for them to call our name. Our palms were sweaty and our hearts were racing.

We went in, and the the lady performing the ultrasound told us that the “doctor will have to give us the results”, but we knew what that meant. When baby is healthy, they flip around the screen and show you. When things are not good, the doctor has to be the one to break the news. We had been through this before.

The news of our 2nd miscarriage was like salt on the wound.

Along with the compounded devastation, it made us question all kinds of things, asking ourselves “is there something wrong with us?” or “why did this happen to us?”.

Depression is not something I have struggled with, but the darkness that overcame us at that time in our lives was overwhelming.

Through all this, I kept a face on for Sprout. I didn't even really take any time off. Quite the opposite, in fact. I coped with it all by keeping myself buried in work. At the office, to our investors, to the partners, to our employees, and to our users, everything was status-quo.

You may have heard or seen me use the duck swimming on the water analogy, but perhaps you weren't aware (until now) that I have been that duck – seemingly gliding along, all the while furiously kicking beneath the surface.

The tipping point

Sprout kept moving, and I kept hustling. In November of 2015, after months and months of delays, we launched Sprout Studio. It was incredibly rewarding. After all we'd been through, and the struggles I'd fought, we were finally moving in the right direction.

Shortly thereafter, we went through some rough waters with our partners and investors. I reminded myself, again, that success doesn't come easily. I kept hustling. After a few incredibly stressful weeks, things settled but I had hit a tipping point.

I felt as though I was a shell of the person I once was not that long ago. I had gained 60 pounds, I was unhealthy, felt aches and pains constantly, I wasn't sleeping and was stressed to the max.

I said to myself that 2015 was the most difficult year of my life in every way possible, and that 2016 would be different. This would be my year. This would be our year. This would be the year that things turned around. This would be the year I re-gained control, took ownership of my life and found balance.

I started the Redefine Busy series as a means of self-medication. I went back to the Lie of Busy. As I rediscovered a passion for topics such as mindset, awareness, habits, balance and time, I was inspired to help other photographers find their path, too.

Through the process of writing the Redefine Busy series and helping other photographers, I helped myself. I started to re-gain control and take ownership. I was the teacher and the student.

I needed to become the Bryan I once was. After all, the people I was doing this all for – my family – needed me. They needed me more than ever before. Because in March, my wife will give birth to our 2nd child. Our rainbow baby (x2).

After the 2 miscarriages, we were understandably incredibly nervous, but this pregnancy has gone off without a hitch. Our baby is healthy, and we have come to peace with what has happened. This is the baby we were meant to have.

WPPI 2016

My Master Class at WPPI 2016 is titled “Stop Being So Busy — Take Back Your Time!”, and I had chosen the topic and title early on in 2015, not knowing how close I would be to all this. I didn't know how personal this would become. What I also didn't expect though, was that my wife would end up getting scheduled for a c-section on March 7th.

You see, it all comes around full-circle.

Why did I become an entrepreneur? To support my family. To do something I love. To make a difference. To enjoy a home-life that is balanced with my work-life. But throughout these past couple of years, it seems as though my work-life has always taken priority, even through some of the most difficult times of my home-life.

No more.

I'm still working hard. I'm still hustling. I'm more passionate than ever about what we're doing with Sprout. None of that has changed.

Do you know what has changed, though? Now, I'm doing it with intent. I'm doing it smarter. And I'm doing it while I'm in control.

On March 7th, I could be in the operating room with my wife, delivering the baby that we have been waiting over 2 years for, after what has been the most difficult journey of our 12 years together. Or I could be on stage at WPPI speaking about the importance of work-life balance and teaching you how to gain control of your life.

Do you see the irony?

All this being said, I will not be at WPPI this year. I am taking my own advice. Family first. I'd be teaching you at WPPI to find balance in your life, it's only right that I do the same.

Spreading the message

Now … this isn't to say that the message won't be spread. Quite the opposite, actually.

First, I am hoping that you would share this article. I'm hoping that together we can inspire photographers to take a real hard look at their lives and finally take ownership and gain control. Perhaps you'd be inclined to share our Redefine Busy series, where I teach photographers how to do just that.

Second, I spoke earlier about the fact that when I first started researching the topic of “busy”, that it was with Sprout co-content creator Robert Nowell. Well, it just so happens that Rob is an excellent teacher, too. In fact, he's a professor of photography at Mohawk College, and has been a constant source of inspiration and education to me personally for almost 10 years now.

Rob will be taking my place in speaking about the Lie of Busy at WPPI this year, and I am so excited for him. I'm equally excited that you'll have the opportunity to learn from him (and our research) about how to gain control of your life and take ownership of your time.

In addition to him speaking in my place at WPPI this year, he'll also be there representing Sprout Studio. Along with Justin (one of our support reps) and Sandra (our CFO and office manager), they will be manning our WPPI booth.

That's right, Sprout Studio is exhibiting at WPPI, and we couldn't be more excited! Come see them in the Marquee Ballroom at booth 1129.

All the while, I'll be at home, snuggling with our new baby. And while I will wish I was down in Vegas with you at WPPI, I know that I'll be in the place I need to be with the people I need to be with. Because ultimately, I believe that if we don't have the freedom and flexibility in our lives to focus on the things that matter most, why did we become entrepreneurs in the first place?

#Personal Growth #Productivity

20 Comments

  • Great post Bryan, and thank you for your honesty. It definitely helps all of us who see others we look up to who seem to always be working, take time for themselves and reevaluate their purpose. I wish your family all the best. It was a pleasure meeting you back at Inspire in 2015 and love the redefine busy movement.
  • Well done Bryan. Congratulations on your upcoming March 7th miracle! My wife and I were in the same boat - after nearly 2 years of trying and a miscarriage alongthe way we finally met our little girl Morgan this past September. I'm reading your post this morning with her snoring away beside me. The lie of busy sparked a new train of thought for me quite some time ago and it's been a conscious climb ever since. Sprout has been every bit the game changer you had envisioned, thank you for pushing through to make it happen.
  • Very moving! Well done and we wish you the best on 3/7/16, a day that will go down in history for your sweet family! God bless!!
  • What an insightful post to say the least. Thank you for sharing your wisdom & for sharing your personal story. Your daughter Ava's eyes sparkle with joy - a sure sign of loving parents. Sending good vibes over to you and your wife on March 7th. (My second "baby" will be fourteen on March 11th and she is amazing - full of spunk and beautiful to boot - you will certainly have your hands full, but it is SO worth it!)
  • Yes!! Choosing what matters will ALWAYS be the best choice. so happy for you and your family!!!
  • Thank you for sharing your story, Bryan! I am so incredibly sorry to hear of your losses. It takes courage to share such personal news and I pray that your family has been healing. Many blessings to you and your family on your new arrival and prayers for a safe delivery! Thank you so much for reminding me of what counts -- family first! It's so important to prioritize!
  • Wow Bryan! Thank you so much for a great and real post to share. Wishing you all the best on the new addition to your family and I'm sure the Sprout Family will do you proud at WPPI :D
  • Jen Hibberd
    Bryan, you've inspired and motivated me many times. I've listened to you speak; both in podcasts and in person at GTA (in 2015 nonetheless...) but this article hit home on so many levels. THANK YOU for your genuinity, for baring your soul in this article. It's moving and so very, very real.
  • Thank you for your transparency Brian! Your decision to practice what you preach I believe will have a great effect on those that follow you and Sprout. The Sprout podcasts have truly been an asset to me personally and professionally... Props to you and the team for doing such a great job! Prayers for a safe delivery and a healthy new baby!
  • Laura
    I think you HAVE to stay home, of course, and you're a rock star for creating this lesson for all of us anyway. I will be sharing!
  • I need to qualify the phrase "have to"... you had a choice but we all understand that there is really only one decision that makes sense, not that you are staying home because you're forced, I hope I was understood.
  • What an article from the heart, Bryan. I'm sure there are a lot of photographers out there who needed to read this. Thank you for all the work you've done on the podcast and sproutingphotographer.com.... we don't mind if you take some time for yourself too :)
  • Thank you for your honesty and emotional authenticity in this article. It's a great lesson.
  • Great Article, Bryan. Great insight and it's awesome that you stepped up and said it...and did it. Congrats on the new baby!
  • Awesome! Love the writing, love the message, so sorry to hear you've had such a struggle... and so happy to hear you'll be having another little one. Cheers, Bryan!
  • Nice post. Best wishes. Instead of a 40 minute speech you will have something that will speak for you for a lifetime. Easy decision I think when you thought about it. I really enjoy your podcasts.
    • Bryan Caporicci
      Thanks Dave - really appreciate it!
  • Congratulations to and your family! Thank you Bryan for being so real with us, for sharing your story, and for reminding us that in the midst of busyness we need to take the time to be with the ones we love. I will be keeping you guys in my thoughts and prayers for a safe delivery.
  • I've been struggling w going to WPPI this year. Vegas is 5/6 hours down the road from Phoenix. While it is an easy way to get in a Photography trade show, it is 3-4 days out of my life.... and, I'm not even a wedding photographer. I'm almost down to shining it on... unless i can find a really great reason to take my gf out of town and still get in some tradeshow time and see my publisher and such.

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