Welcome to Michael’s Blog!

Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist.


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07.15.17         instagram  

In a sport shooting match up between the 1Dxii, A9...


In a sport shooting match up between the 1Dxii, A9 and D5, each with their manufacturers best 70-200 2.8 lens, which of the three would you think absolutely annihilated the other two? (Hint: it basically happened this am, and it wasn't the one I thought would) I think this #epicshootout will be finished in about 10 days. #squadgoals #a9 #nikonphotography #canonphotography #canon1dxii #sony #d5 #sonya9

07.15.17         movie reviews  

War for The Planet of the Apes


Mixed feelings on this:

Liked: World class CGI, great emotional investment connection with the characters (one of the most important things for any movie). To me the film was asking the question: What defines humanity?

Disliked: Political undertones. Im not a fan of overt political propaganda in entertainment I pay for.It never pays off well for me. There were some editing issues, the mid to late part dragged out. The payoff at the end didn't fit right for me either, it sort of felt like it wasn't so much about the planet of the apes at all.

Recommendation: Very good, an absolute yes no rental, 50-50 on seeing it in theaters. It isn't for every one, but many of you will enjoy it.

07.14.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

6 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make - Episode #006



Good morning everyone! Today we are going to be talking about the top 6 mistakes a new entrepreneur makes. This is just my opinion, not based on study or anything in that nature. This is what I've seen in the real world, from my friends, and from my photography students. These 6 things that tend to mess up the most when you're starting new. This is in no particular order. Some of these are more important than others but I just want to give you my list.

- They are risk inverse. They are afraid to take chances. I talked about this a little bit in the book. I talked about tearing up a hundred dollar bill. The number one problem that new entrepreneurs have is they are fearful of failure. The truth of the matter is if you are an aggressive entrepreneur, you will look at failure as an opportunity to learn. You want to make a mistake quickly so you attack because you want to fail. And then learn those lessons and make the adjustments and move on. But time and again, this is preventing people from becoming business owners, is because they are afraid. There are a lot of fantastic ideas out there for businesses that I've seen from countless associates. But they do not have the courage or the willpower to bring it too far. That is far more important than a spectacular idea for the business. If you look at more common things such as selling pineapples on the side of the road or cleaning swimming pools, that's something my dad does or  any kind of lawn care services, it's not really a sexy idea but because they are willing to roll the dice as entrepreneurs, they are able to have that business. That is a critical barrier to entry. In my mind, to become an entrepreneur, you have to be brave and courageous to deal with risks. Live with it and not hesitate because of the chance to fail. The best entrepreneur is looking at failure as a classroom. They have full speed.
- There is no competitive advantage to the business. When I say that, what I mean is if you are going to have a business and is going to be spectacularly successful, and you do not have a competitive advantage, somebody is going to come and attempt to steal it from you. This is not really a place to go on what a competitive advantage is. Think of it as a barrier that prevents people from doing what you're doing. This could be a trademark, or a formula, a brand name, a personality.. things that are not replicable. When somebody comes to me and say. " Hey, Michael. I have a business idea and this is what I want to do." I will say. "That's a great idea but the problem is you can't protect it from somebody else steals it." It's very common to see that. No competitive advantage.
- New entrepreneurs often do not understand what marketing is. I have seen this so many times from very talented and creative individuals who make a product, start a business and they're unable to get it in front of those who are their target market... The people who would buy it. There is one example I am thinking of. In this person's mind, marketing is posting a picture on Facebook or Instagram. They believe that is marketing. Well, that is only soliciting to their circle of friends. The truth of the matter is Facebook and Instagram limit how many people see that. If you guys remember business pages on Facebook when it first started, when you post something, pretty much everybody saw it. What a powerful tool. All the people following your business would see and then they changed it. Now, it's only 1% of your business followers would actually see something that you put on Facebook. The idea is that Facebook wants you to pay and it's worth for them. Yes, you have to pay to get your promotion in front of your followers. That's kind of messed up. Marketing is getting your products and services in front of the people who really want it. This means strangers. People who are not in your pool of customers already. Finding new customers. Finding where they are. It's sort of like fishing, you have to understand what kind of fishing going after, where they exist, how to bait the hook, how to get it in front of them. That is a totally different discussion. Marketing is a very common problem. If you are not able to get your product in front of the people who want it, you're gonna have problems.
- Trying to create a business instead of trying to capture a demand for their products and services. For example, an entrepreneur wants to start consignment clothing store. She focused on finding the place, finding the building, talking about rent, figuring out how to set up the storefront instead of figuring out where are the customers that would come to the store in doing some demographic research. Location in retail is huge. Just because you have a storefront does not mean people are going to come. It has to be in the right place. Let's say somebody wants to start a business who needs a web programmer to make the website. They go out and hire one. Spend a couple of thousand dollars and get the website all set up and is ready to go and they do not understand why they are not selling anything. It is because a storefront or a website is not a business. Demand for services is a business. When you have people throwing money at you for something that you have.. now you have a business. That is a business!
Additionally, if you cannot give a product away for free, chances are, you are not going to be able to sell it. if you a new gadget or widget go to your friends and say " Hey, I have ten of these, who wants them." If I am not able to give away all ten of those, I will not invest a lot of money into trying to create a product. That's how the Maven Adapter was born. I had this 3D printer, and I was putting up these adapters that would allow us to connect cameras to window pulling poles and I spent a lot of time developing that. I didn' know what the demand for the product was so I gave it away. I gave them away for a test, not for marketing. I sold out 40 or 50 of them. Just among my friends, I knew there was demand. What I wouldn't do is continue to sell Maven adapter to my friends on Facebook. Once we made the product, I went to the company called Photo Wow, a newsletter for hundreds of thousands of photographers. We had a deal with them and sent them specials offers. That is good marketing because it was a product directly in front of the customers who want to buy it. So if you cannot give it away, you will not gonna be able to sell it.

-  They do not focus on their business. What I mean is if you start a company and after a year or two they're having success and they start to say. "Well, I'm good at this. Let me try to do that." Some other business that is completely unrelated to what they are doing now. That is like creating a brand new business. In a world of entrepreneurialism, the chances of starting a new business venture, if you want to do 10 of them in a row, you will be lucky if 1 or 2 of them pan out. The best entrepreneurs are really good at reading out opportunities because they know that there is gonna be a high chance of failure. There have to be certain things in that business in order for it to work out.
When an individual is an expert in something and they're having success, then they try to go out and start a new business in something else where they don't have the specified knowledge or the skills set to thrive, they merely believe that because they're successful at one thing, they're going to be successful in another. Look at Michael Jordan, a spectacular, number one basketball player of all time. He tried baseball, and he went and played baseball for a little bit and he was good at it but not like he was on a basketball court. So you want to play to your strengths in a  business world. You don't want to find the thing that you're terrible at just because you're interested in it. That is not enough to start a business. You got to have specialized knowledge in my opinion.

- They pick business ideas that they are not passionate about. In the long run, this is not sustainable. If you pick a business or some kind of work that you don't really enjoy, At some point, you will get tired of it and that is a huge problem because then it becomes work. If you are doing something that you truly love and you're getting paid for it, What a blessing that is! So make sure that you pick something that you really enjoyed doing.
So let's summarize: people are so risk inverse, there's no competitive advantage, they do not understand what marketing is, they try to create a business front instead of focusing on demand, they do not focus on what they are good at, and they pick something that they are not passionate about.

In any event, thank you guys for listening! And I'll see you next time!

07.13.17         photography  

How to Read MTF Charts for Beginners


Been getting so many questions about the lenses I use in my Epic Shootouts, that I thought we would go back to the basics and review MTF charts. I hope this clarifies how to read them, as well as tell the difference between (micro) contrast and resolution.

Enjoy!


07.12.17         instagram  

Flagship Epic Shootout testing is underway....


Flagship Epic Shootout testing is underway. Seriously loving each of these cameras and have found some strengths and weaknesses of each. The #a9 is really fascinating to me because of the new sensor tech, but I've already found some limitations. the #1dxii is just a beast of a beautiful camera, holy cow...I'm falling in love with Canon again. The #d5 is a like a little tank, surprising me the more I shoot with it. Excited to get the focusing tests underway, just waiting for a new CFast card to arrive. #sonya9 #epicshootout #sony #canon1dxii #canonphotography #nikonD5 #nikonphotography #photography

07.12.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

The Law of Sustainability - Episode #005



Good morning listeners! Today Im going to talk about the Law of Sustainability. Its another chapter didn't make it into the Efficiency playbook. Let me give it to you here real quick. The Law of Sustainability basically means that if you cannot be sustained indefinitely, you should look to make a change sooner rather than later.

I have a great friend in Utah, I've known her for 12 years. She is engaged, she keeps on getting engaged to this guy and breaking up over and over and over for different reasons. One example that I can talk about is she hadn't known he was as a smoker. So they were dating and lo and behold now he's smoking. She can smell it on him. "What is going on? I didn't know you were a smoker!" He said " Well, I hadn't done it for a while... blah blah blah... " And they break up! In a month later, now they are back together. Something else happened, they break up. And now, they're back together.

In my mind, when I hear the story, basically this is not sustainable. If in the honeymoon phase, you're having problems like I talked about in the book, if you're having all these problems like right before you get married, guess what, when you're married to this guy, he is going to be a problem.

What you are doing is prolonging your agony. It's like having a rock in your shoe. Some rocks are more comfortable than others, if you're walking 15 miles in a day with a little teeny rock, if it's cutting into your skin, it's gonna be a pain and guess what, sooner or later you're going to stop. Undo your shoelaces and take that rock out.

Question is, if you are in a situation in your life, whether it's work, home, school, if you do not think that you can finish it, this is something that you feel like there is no way in HELL that you're going to be able to continue on, you need to quit now! Like earlier... I know and I told my friend this that her relationship with her guy is not going to work. I know this because they're always fighting, they're always breaking up, they're always calling it off, they're always getting back together. This has been going on for years. She is basically wasting her very valuable time with him. I kind of advise her to move on, but she can't.

I've also used this in my own life. If I am in a situation that I cannot personally sustain and I hate to say that because I like to think I can do anything but it's not true. I know, for example, a certain type of diets, I cannot sustain indefinitely. There's just no way it will happen. I know there is certain kind of exercises or workout programs that I cannot do for more than a week or two because they're sort of pre-contest training. If you are getting ready for a bodybuilding contest, leading up to that contest, it is very difficult to sustain that kind of workout indefinitely. It's pretty much impossible. So I try to go for routines, systems, relationships, opportunities that are all sustainable. That is basically the ruler that I used to measure how I spend my time. It's what I'm doing indefinitely sustainable and I'm comfortable with it. I'm having success with it.

It has been very useful weeding out people and opportunities that I know I cannot continue in a relationship with. In any event, that is the law of sustainability. If you cannot sustain it indefinitely, don't do it. Most of the times. I know there are some exceptions but as a general rule, if you're having friction with something, it's better to end it sooner versus later. That's what happened to me with my Ph.D... I know I couldn't sustain research. After five years now, I’m like “I am done, I'm gonna walk away from this. It was the best decision I have ever made. The law of Sustainability if not going to work out, better to give up sooner rather than later.

07.11.17         instagram  

Well I guess this means things are about to get...


Well I guess this means things are about to get really interesting here for the next couple weeks. I literally heard angels singing when I opened this box. With the #a9 in the house, each of their best 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8 lenses, this is going to be my most ambitious Epic Shootout ever. Hopefully it won't take too long! Huge shout out to @bhphoto & @lensprotogo for the support! Let's get these tests started! #epicshootout #canon1dxii #nikonD5 #sonya9

07.10.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

The Law of Existing Resources - Episode #004




Good morning everybody! Today we are going to be talking about one of the missing chapters of the book. It's called the Law of Existing Resources. In some ways, you probably already practice this, in other ways you have not consciously thought about it I'm guessing, because it's something that is really obscure in niche like. And it's something that I see time and again results. The first time I really started thinking about it, was Haiti, the first disaster trip that I have to travel to a foreign country. I did not know anybody and there were reports that there were shortages of water. So once I arrived in the Dominican Republic and started thinking about this bus ride over to Haiti, we bought a couple of cases of water. The problem with this was that we had to carry the water in our bags once we got off the bus. Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to go too far. But the following day, we had to travel a couple of miles. Carrying that water, became a real pain. Now, you may think that water is everywhere but we didn’t know how hard it was to get water in Haiti. Clean water. And the problem with not getting clean water is if you're drinking sketchy water, you might get sick. So this becomes a real problem when you're doing disaster aid work.

Happened again in Japan, as I was traveling into the devastated areas, I had heard reports that water was being rationed and I didn’t know if I was going to have access to water so I actually brought a little handcart.. 3 cases of water! I obviously not going to have any shortages of water. So I was carrying this water with me and it slowed me down.

In Haiti, we wanted to get clothing for all these orphanages that we were serving and clothing was getting harder and harder to find. And so we started looking at having Salvation Army ship clothing in from the United States and what I learned from somebody at the convoy of hope in a discussion with him... was very insightful! He said he always tries to get aid in the country instead of shipping it in from the United States. Number one reason is... it's more expensive in the United States. Number two, you have to pay for the shipping to get it over there. And number three, it takes longer. And so while the devastated areas in the country may not have clothing if you travel just maybe 20 or 30 or 40 miles away to the part of the area of the country where typically you will be able to find it. This has happened to me many times in disaster situations.

I remember the time in the Philippines where we actually bought $35,000 worth of food. It had flown into the Philippines from Florida. It was very expensive. It was very time consuming. The costs bang for the buck was not very good. It turned out that that food has arrived just in time to the right places but it would have been smarter I think to go to the outer cities, the non-devastated areas in the Philippines to acquire that food. We would have been able to buy 3 or 4 times as much food. And the shipping would have been almost nothing.

This is the real theme for the Law of Existing Resources. When you are traveling to an area and you have a need for a certain to be used in that area. The only time you should bring assets with you is when that commodity is no longer common. When the demand is very high for something, that is when you should bring it. If you know for sure you can get it in the location you are traveling to, then you should definitely try not to bring it. For example, an interpreter. In the first couple of trips that I went disaster zones, I would bring an interpreter with me or somebody who knew the language. I will pay for their flight or get their ticket over there so that is very expensive. When in fact, there are plenty of interpreters in the country. I just had to find them. I didn’t know where they were. It sounds like really kind of super niche type of piece of information. But the fact of the matter is if you know you can get it where you are going, it doesn’t make sense to bring it. Lighten your load. The faster you travel the sooner you can go. All those things come into play. I know it's kind of super niche thing and this is why I did not include it in the book. If you take the example of water, it is typically pretty common but that changed when we had disasters. Now, there is water purification, water filters, typically you can get water almost everywhere.

In Nepal, we were hiking for days we just go get the water out of rivers. That made my pack much lighter. The very interesting piece of knowledge that I got is the Law of Existing Resources. When something is common, available, in low demand and you can get it anywhere, it doesn’t make sense to try to bring it from somewhere else. In any event, that is Law of Existing Resources. Hope you enjoyed it. See you guys next time!

07.10.17         instagram  

Well...I guess this means im more of a #sony...


Well...I guess this means im more of a #sony shooter than a #canon one now. I still have my #5d3, but without 4k I touch it less and less. I'm loving what I see so far on the #a9 - 20fps, just wow. Pics & Epic Shootout to come #sonya9

07.09.17         photography  

Olympus EM1ii vs Panasonic GH5 Epic Shootout | Which camera to buy tutorial


Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud and excited to announce the Panasonic GH5 vs Olympus OMD EM1ii Epic Shootout! Lots of interesting things learned about both cameras! If you have questions, comments, feedback or suggestions, I would love to hear them in the description.

Enjoy!


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