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How to be a (GreyScale) Gorilla: Nick Campbell
Have you ever wanted to work with no pants on…
No commuting, no clients, just you and your creativity cranking out cool stuff and then making tutorials. Sounds like the dream, right? It totally is, and School of Motion is not the only place where that dream is a reality. There are quite a few places with people making a living off of tutorials including our good buddy Nick Campbell, founder of Greyscalegorilla.
In this episode Nick goes deep into what it’s like making a living off of creating amazing tutorials and other products to help the MoGraph community. He tells the story of how Greyscalegorilla got its start, how he built it into what it is today, and gives some great practical advice on how to take the leap into starting your own business. Hint: It’s not as simple as sitting in your PJ’s making cool stuff.
SOFTWARE AND PLUGINS
Joey Korenman: The motion design industry is still fairly young but it's matured to the point where something very interesting is happening. It's now possible to make a living in mograph without actually doing client work. You can create training products like Skillshare does or Learn Squared or yeah, School of Motion.
You can create products that help motion designers like Red Giant software, aescripts plus aeplugins, and of course, the mighty greyscalegorilla. Our guest on this episode is someone that I'm 100% sure you're familiar with. My buddy, Nick Campbell. Nick has been an inspiration to me since he started GSG several years back and getting to pick his brain was an absolute bucket list item for me.
We talked about how he started his company, how his mindset has helped him succeed and also how he have used the tutorial scene today. He drops a ton of knowledge and tips that apply to everyone in this industry. You'll get lots of insight into cultivating and entrepreneurial approach to your career and your life and you'll be crazy inspired by the end. Now before we hear from Nick. Let's hear from one of our incredible School of Motion alumni.
Heather Crank: My name is Heather Crank and I live in Bend, Oregon. I would recommend animation bootcamp to anybody at any level whether you're a beginner or you're someone who has 10 years in the field. The one on one help from the mentors in the program was invaluable and really helped me go deeper into areas that I may be had struggled within the past, or areas that I just wanted of push farther.
Because of the one on one mentorship that goes on while you're taking the courses. You can really go very deeply into any area that they're teaching. My name is Heather Crank and I'm a School of Motion graduate.
Joey Korenman: All right. Nick Campbell, my God, it is amazing to have you on our podcast. Thanks so much for doing this. I've been dying to chat with you, man. I'm excited.
Nick Campbell: Hey, man. Good to be here. Thanks for having me.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. Anytime, anytime. Let's start with this. I have watched you very eagerly over the years, you started Greyscalegorilla and it was just you and you were the gorilla and now many years later, it's this robust company putting out plugins and suites and tutorials all the time and you've got this awesome podcast.
From the outside, it looks like this whole thing has been set up very deliberately to lead you from where you started to this point in time so my first question is was this your plan all along? Did you actually set out to do this? Or does it just look that way from an outside perspective?
Nick Campbell: Yeah. I think what you're describing is pretty common. It's always easier to look at a thread of anything that's being built and say, that make sense, but for me, as far as starting Greyscalegorilla and what it's turned into. I had no idea. I had no idea it's going to be what it is today. I didn't know we'd make all these plugins. I didn't know we'd start doing more training. I didn't know I would have a team now. I didn't know that if you told me that we would be a six person team, I would have been really scared and I wouldn't have believed you.
I think for me it's just a matter of figuring out what to do next and learning as much as I can about it and then going in that direction but it definitely was not the plan. I'm sure people might have heard the story of how Greyscalegorilla got started but it was just an experiment. It was a year long experiment to leave my full time job as a motion artist and experiment with Cinema 4D. Make this website and make a plugin idea that I had and now we're here.
Joey Korenman: I can totally relate to the idea of having five or six people working with you full time on something like this. It's just bizarre. It really is. When you started the site, was there some piece of you that was hoping that it could turn into this. Was the goal, if everything goes well this will be my full time gig or were you not even thinking that far ahead?
Nick Campbell: Well, I learn a lot from watching a whole other people do their work so I'm usually inspired by other either artist or companies or just looking at things like at the time, it was Red Giant and still they're a big focus on for me is a company like Red Giant makes great products. They have a really cool community. They put out all these great films and I looked up to them as a company and I said well what they're doing is making really cool software.
At the time, I loved using Trapcode and Particular and all that stuff. I go well, that's somebody I can model. That's how I looked at it. I was like if I could go make the Red Giant for Cinema 4D. That would be a dream because then I can control my own schedule. I could work on projects I love to do in it, and I can move away a little bit from client work which I didn't love.
It's not why I got into Cinema 4D. It's not why I got into After Effects. They just happen to be the ones with the money. As I thought about this idea for a business, I said that that was my model. It was the Red Giant model. It was the Video Copilot. Andrew Kramer model is looking at this and saying I can teach people as I learn Cinema 4D and other motion graphics things.
I could put them on the site, teach people, build the community around with other people that are passionate about this and then as we make products and plugins and training. We'll have a built in audience that we could help as well.
Joey Korenman: All right, there was somewhat of a plan I guess in place, and you mentioned Red Giant which again another amazing company. Aharon Rabinowitz, one of my favorite people on the planet and they've been around a while, and they've got some pretty robust product lines and lots of customers and a real, that's a real operation, that's a real business.
At the time when you were looking at them and you were starting Greyscalegorilla essentially as an experiment you said. What did you do to get yourself over impostor syndrome? How did you feel that you had permission to be doing this? I know that that's something a lot of people listening can probably relate to and you even said that you were thinking, you would teach as you were learning Cinema 4D, so you consciously weren't quite an expert yet because you just learned it. Did any of that weigh on you and how did you deal with that?
Nick Campbell: I definitely at times have that feeling. Who am I? Who am I to teach this? I don't know all these stuff, and I don't have the experience other people have, and I totally understand that feeling. I think a couple things were in my favor at the time. One is that there wasn't a lot of training to begin with so anything was better than nothing at the time.
I got away with that for a little while, but it also made me step up my game. It made me look at some tutorials or some trainings or even things that I would say and go, that isn't really completely right or I didn't get the point across quite right on that and it actually, that feeling is what makes me try to become a better teacher and try to become a better everything.
That feeling of wow I could have done this better or trying to step your game up, that's for me the feeling that gets me out of bed to go learn more stuff and become better at what I do, so for me to talk to people out there that have that feeling and maybe somebody in your audience has a project right now or they want to shift gears in their career and they're like who am I to go be a freelancer right now. Some of the things you can think of is there's so many excuses.
You're either too old or too young or you have too much experience so you're too expensive or you don't have enough experience and that means nobody is going to hire you. There's all these extremes when you think of excuses and what's not talked about is almost everybody is in one of those categories. Almost everybody is either young or old or have been has experience and all of those things come with their own set of challenges and everyone is going through this. It's just not talked about as much.
People don't go around talking about how they feel like an impostor. People don't go around putting Facebook post up about how inadequate they feel about their design skills. I think just knowing that other people have similar feelings was what got me out of that mode. Knowing that everyone. Go read a book. Go read a book of one of your heroes and find the paragraph where they say exactly that.
Everyone goes through this, almost everyone has this feeling so that's how I approach problems. I like to think if one person does something then anybody in the world can go do it, with similar capability, with similar things around them. If one person has the ability to go build something, I think you do too. That's how I think about it, and right now as I say that in everyone's head right now, there's an excuse that is popping up.
Well, what about this person or what if you live here, what if you are in this part of the country? The fact of all of that is is whatever is in your head is right. There are always excuses but always remember that you just have a choice to go try it or don't. That's just how I've been raised I guess. I got to give a shout out to my parents.
I had parents I'm going on now, don't make me cry. I have parents that love their job and I was lucky enough to have parents that came home from work and talked at the dinner table about how their job was and how excited they were and new things that they were learning and they were creative, they were teachers, they were life long students and they pass that onto me.
Not everybody can have my mom and dad, but what they've instilled in me is the ability to just go try stuff and understand that some of it doesn't work but if you don't try it, nothing will work.
Joey Korenman: Preach. Wow. That was an amazing rant. Chills, chills. Really good.
Nick Campbell: There'll be a whole another podcast just about my parents.
Joey Korenman: I was going to say, momma and poppa Campbell. Let's dig into that, you were hinting at it, the fear of failure that holds a lot of people back and for some people, it seems to like you were just saying it excites you to be learning new things and to be right on the edge where it's like you're not comfortable and that's the place you want to be, but that hold some people back in the beginning.
I remember following you from the beginning and right off the bat, you had a lot of fans, but with a lot of fans, you're also going to get some trolls, you're going to get some people that don't like you. How did you deal with those micro failures, let's call them when you'd put out a tutorial and people didn't like that one or something or I don't know.
Every product you've released is done really well, but along the way, you must have had a lot of moments where you were thinking, okay, maybe this isn't going to work. How did you deal with those moments?
Nick Campbell: Well, trolls and haters and that kind of stuff. I think that's always been an interesting topic to think about because I think what happens with that, if whether it's a comment or a thread on Reddit or whatever. Like something happens that is negative. The only time it really hurts my feelings is when there's a shred of truth to it.
If somebody on a comment was like hey, you got an elephant on your head and you're an idiot. You're a dummy face. That isn't hurtful because I know I don't have an elephant on my head and I know I'm not a dummy face or at least that's how I [crosstalk 00:13:10]. But when they say, Nick, get to the point. Dude, you rumble on and rumble on, Nick, and you never, never say anything.
There's a shred of truth to that. I see myself like that and it's something I struggle with and try to get better at. It's like being a better communicator and not going off on tangents all the time, and so those are the comments that have a chance to hurt me, or have a chance to sting a little but it's also every time that happens, that's an opportunity to feel that in yourself and start to change it.
To get to your original point about becoming uncomfortable and learning how to fail. All of these feelings are the same thing. The figuring out how to fail is almost the same thing as having a hater. It's just an internal hater. It's your own brain going like you know what dummy, you tried it. You didn't do it. I knew you couldn't do it. A quick aside, see, I just told you I'm trying to focus on not going on tangents.
Joey Korenman: You're failing.
Nick Campbell: I'm failing right now. Quick aside. When your brain says I told you that wouldn't work. Who is it talking to? When you're talking to a separate part of yourself who is that person? I've always wondered what that is, because it feels like a separate person, that is inside of you that is just scratching at the inside of your brain and saying, what are you, an idiot? What do you think, you could do this? Who do you think you are?
It's definitely in me and I find it's in a lot of people and it comes back to that feeling and pushing past that feeling is what makes success, so try to make this a little bit more, even more abstract. Wow, I'm getting crazy today. When you go to the gym and you go work out and you're trying to build muscle. The only way it works is if you walk out of the gym hurting.
You have to go push yourself past where you could before to tell your muscle, we're going to do this again. That's really what your muscles are doing is they're preparing themselves for next time that happens so that next time it happens that you can lift that much, but you have to start by overdoing it a little bit and all the little inside scratches in your head, and all the fear, and all the I can't do it, is a good sign that you are stretching yourself.
It's a good sign that you're putting yourself out there for critique. People that don't have critique and don't have haters, don't often have anything online or not a lot of people are watching it. If your goal is to put stuff out, if your goal is to get more people to see your stuff and to whatever your big project is, it's going to come with stretching and people not agreeing with you, and it's going to come with your own internal battles.
All of those things, at least for me, the way that I look at it is that it's a good sign. If people, if nobody pirates your software, and there are zero haters on your website then you're not doing it right.
Joey Korenman: Right. Yeah. Okay, I agree with every single thing you just said. I want to add to that a little bit, because I think it's a really important concept and it served me very well too, one of my favorite authors is this guy, Seth Godin. I'm sure you're probably familiar with him. That voice inside your head, he calls that your lizard brain, and it's the part of your brain that was thousands of years ago meant to warn you if you're going to do something stupid, that might get you killed.
Don't go poke that Saber-toothed tiger over there. Don't leave the cave at night, stuff like that. Except in today's really really safe world, it's too loud and it's giving you bad advice. If you can learn to lean into that and I actually use it and it sounds like you do too. You can almost use it as, almost like a roadmap. If you have an idea and that voice starts trying to talk you out of it. That's actually a sign, it's probably going to help you grow, if you can just lean into that.
You develop this callous over time, and I also do this exercise sometime, it's called fear setting where I let myself imagine the worst case scenario and live, imagine it and live in it for a few minutes and then realize, that's actually not to bad. If you want to start the next Greyscalegorilla and you try and it doesn't work, what's the worst possible thing that happens. Nothing, really.
Nick Campbell: When I left, so when I left, I was working at Digital Kitchen at the time in Chicago, and I liked my job, I did good work. I liked the people I was surrounded with and when I left, that is exactly what was in my head. I go, I'm going to leave and I'm going to try this for a year and if it doesn't work out. What's the worst that could happen and I went through it.
I'm like, well as long as my arm doesn't get cut off, I can come back and maybe get my job back or go look around Chicago for other people that are hiring. I knew that I was decent at my job. I knew that DK didn't want me to leave, so that was a good sign. We left on good terms. I knew if everything really went to heck and I had to pay my bills, I could try to freelance, I could walk into a studio.
That mindset of why not go try it was huge for me, but I did have a backup plan. I want to make sure that I'm clear. I never left without saving money. I never left without a plan. I didn't just leave my job and then go figure it out. I was working at the time on Greyscalegorilla for, that site's been around since 2004, 2003, and it wasn't until 2009 when until I left my job, so it was a lot of upfront work and a lot of learning and figuring out things like how iPhone apps work.
I had that as a business too that helped me leave. I don't know if we have time to go into it today, but those, I just want to make clear. It's not a just leave situation. It's definitely a plan and make a plan because what that does is it quiets down that internal monologue. If you give that internal monologue enough of a plan to say listen, lizard brain, which I love that book by the way.
Listen, we're going to go do this, whether you like it or not, but don't worry, we're not going to die because that's what the lizard brain is worried about. It's worried about dying. It's worrying about your food and keeping you alive. If you can just quiet that part of your brain down a little bit and say listen we're not going to die. Our job is literally standing or sitting in front of a computer all day.
Joey Korenman: Probably won't die, yeah.
Nick Campbell: Yeah, we're pretty good and then you can get on with the real hard stuff.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, exactly. God, I love this man. All right, so let's dig into it a little bit. How did you support yourself when you left DK? Was Greyscalegorilla actually generating revenue at that point or were you like, I just need to look, I need to devote myself full time to this for it to have any hope of working?
Nick Campbell: At the time, Greyscalegorilla wasn't making enough to survive on. I think I had Photoshop for photographers out at the time so for the old school Greyscalegorilla fans. Greyscalegorilla was originally a photo a day blog. I got really in a photography and posted a photo a day for three or four years, and when I came out with the original Greyscalegorilla blog which you can go back and still read. It was all about photography. What camera gear I used, and I came out with a product called Photoshop for photographers.
It's just went through my photo process, how I import, take a bunch of photos and color correct them. That was out, it was doing okay, but it certainly wasn't enough to live off of, but at the same time. What really got me excited about starting a company was two other things that were happening at the time to me. One was, I discovered stock photography and then eventually stock video, and stock 3D stuff.
I learned that a very very unique thing that I didn't understand until I had it happen to me with selling stock photography. I took all these photos, I didn't really have a use for them. I just had a hard drive full of textures and patterns and buildings and all this stuff from Chicago. I uploaded a few of them to iStock just to experiment. I thought it was fun.
I looked back on the bank account a little bit a week later and there was a dollar in there or maybe it was $0.80. It wasn't a lot. It was enough to go, okay. Well, last weekend I went through my hard drive, I uploaded about 20 photos and now a week later, there's a dollar in there. That's interesting. Okay, so let's wait and let's see what happens.
Well then the week later there's a $1.80 in there, and it slowly started dawning on me that potentially what I could do is put hours of work in when I want to, when I have the energy and then over time if people find what I made valuable then they will pay to use it. What that taught me was the idea that I didn't have to trade an hour of my day for an hours worth of payment.
It wasn't a one to one relationship so if I found a really good photo or then when once 3D and video started coming out on these sites, I started experimenting with that. If I can make a really cool video, really cool animation, really cool texture, really cool photo, that people can use over and over again, then I potentially could do the work once and then people could use it and it will help their career or to help their life, and I will get paid every time they use it.
That was a big a-ha moment for me. I was like, I like this idea. It's not that I didn't like working. I just like working on my schedule and not my client schedule. That was one of the aha moments. The other one was I started making iPhone apps, so the iPhone was new at the time. I had some ideas for iPhone apps. One was turning your photos into Polaroids. That one's called ShakeItPhoto.
I was also obsessed with film cross processing. I shot a lot of film and learned how to emulate cross processing in Photoshop so I basically made an iPhone app that did that to your photos as well and those were taking off. So all these things came together, the idea that I could potentially make something that is useful for many different people. Sell it online.
It also combine with the idea that maybe I'm good at this. The iPhone apps took off. People were buying them and then to finally get to your point. I had the income from those other projects to start to save. What I did was I took those little projects and none of them were making a ton of money, but what I did was I pretended it wasn't my money.
This is, I think super important for any creative person that wants more freedom. Money does equal freedom. If you have a couple extra bucks in the bank account, you're able to say yes or no to certain projects, to certain jobs. If you have a buffer, what I did was I treated that money like it wasn't mine. Every dollar that came in from iStock photo and eventually turns into dozens and hundreds of dollars, and same with the iPhone apps.
I put it away in a bank account and said this is my one day I'm going to need this money. This is not my money. I didn't upgrade my car, I didn't go to live in a fancier place, I think I drank like nicer coffee and that was about it. What that allowed me to do is when I had the idea to start Greyscalegorilla. I said okay, well I have about a years worth of runway and plus all the iStock stuff was still paying, plus the iPhone apps were still paying.
I have roughly a good idea of what those were, and then I had the idea that if it all went to crap, I can go get my job back. All those things came together at once and that was the dawn of how the company got started. I know I talked around your question a little bit about that, and not everybody has an iPhone app that can help them do that, but for me the takeaway was never take all of your paycheck and pretend it's yours.
Always save a part of it for your future self. Whether that's a retirement thing or whether that's the idea you have to start a company in five years or two years or one year. When you need it, you're going to be really thankful that your young self thought of you, your old self. That's how I think of it. I literally think every dollar I put in and save that I don't spend on something young Nick wants. Older Nick gets to do and have more fun with.
Joey Korenman: Yes. This is entrepreneur advice, personal finance advice. I think we're going to have to transcribe this and turn it into a bible that we say to everybody.
Nick Campbell: It took me a while to get there, but the reason this is important to me is this solves a lot of problems that a lot of questions that I get all the time from people that want to change careers, that want to start their own website, that want to become a freelancer and everything revolves around. Well, what if it doesn't work. Well, if you could setup a little bit of runway for yourself. A little personal runway that's like okay. Let's live cheap.
Let's not go out to eat all the time. Let's put the money in there so that now you have the freedom to do that project you wanted to do or jump shift or start a new business. It seems to me that the money thing is really what pushes a lot of people away from trying things that they want to do. If I could just repeat it again, take 10% of your paycheck, no matter what you're doing right now. Take 10% of it and save it for your older self when they want to go start their new thing.
Joey Korenman: Amen, amen. When you're saving up something like that to start a business, a lot of times if you go talk to someone, the average person, you say hey you should start a business. In their head, they may have a number that they think they need to have in the bank before they start that business. I'm curious if you're comfortable like, what did it actually take for you to feel comfortable? What was the number that was in the bank where you said I feel like I'm good for a year, I can put all my effort into this.
Nick Campbell: Yeah. At the time, I was an animator at Digital Kitchen. I think I was probably, you're making me think of old numbers I can't remember. I think it was around like 50,000. It wasn't a ton. Didn't work there a long time and I was only in the industry for a couple years doing animation. Let's say it was around 50,000. What it was, what I did was I said I want to go start this project and like I said Greyscalegorilla was around for a while.
I knew this could have been something I wanted to do. Even if I just went and made more iPhone apps on my own time. This was something I wanted to do. I put every dollar in and I said as soon as I have a years worth of money in the bank, I'll leave. I think I had 30 or 40,000 saved. I've never really thought of it that way, but that's exactly how I internalized it.
As soon as I had enough money where I could basically pretend I had a job for a year that's when I left and so that was all the money from stock plus iPhone apps, plus all those things, and it took quite a long time, a couple years to get there.
Again, I bought one bicycle. I bought some iced coffees and some beers and then I lived in a cheap place in Chicago and that was my life. I knew that that was my goal. I think the problem is people, when they get more money at their job or when they get a bigger paycheck. They want to scale up parts of their life to accommodate that.
They're like, well now I'm getting older. I got more money, and now that also means I need nicer clothes and nicer car, whatever it is. Luckily I was never really interested in those things. I was always interested in the business side so yeah, this makes me think like I should write this up too because that's a really interesting concept. How much do you need? What I would tell other people is have about four to six months worth of money in the bank that you could live off of no matter what.
Joey Korenman: Everything you're saying, it's interesting, because I went through a very similar calculus when it was time for me to actually give School of Motion a real chance. I actually made a very big mistake early in my career, that it sounds like you didn't make so I'll share with everybody.
When I was still living in Boston and I started a studio with two other people and I became the creative director and we started to be pretty successful and I started making really good money, and we did scale our lifestyle up. We had two cars, and we bought a house, and we'd go on these nice trips. Then by the time I started School of Motion and I thought, I really like this, this is what I'd like to do.
There was really no way for me to even have a shot to save up a year's worth of expenses, would have taken forever, and would have been impossible. What we actually had to do was to deleverage. We actually had to, this is one of the reasons we moved from Massachusetts to Florida and sold one of our cars and lived in a very small, not very small but much smaller than our house.
Lived in an apartment for nine months and basically learned how to live frugally so that we could build up that bank account and what I learned by doing that was that I did not miss a single luxury that we gave up, once we scaled down. In fact it was one of the happiest times in my life when I was spending less than I'd ever spent before and I had very quickly 10, 20, $30,000 saved up. It is peace of mind. I would also say that another ingredient you could throw in there is to deleverage a little bit and actually to scale down.
Nick Campbell: Yeah. I agree. There's a really interesting book I was lucky enough to read when I was younger called, I think it's called the millionaire next door, and it's full of silly examples when you hear them. Basically the concept of the book is what does the average millionaire drive. Where does the average millionaire live and how did they get there? That's the conceit of the book.
What they find is the doctors and the lawyers and the accountants, the people that you would think have all the money because they get paid al to, tend not to have a lot of money saved because they're living that lifestyle. They lived the car and the suit and the shoes and the, and going out to the right restaurants.
They find that it's really does small business owner that buys a pickup truck and drinks Miller Lite that is able to save enough to be wealthy. That early on was one of those books that I just read because it was interesting and slowly as I look back at my spending and where I put my time and my energy and my money, which that's all money is, is just your time in another form.
I thought about it, in a lot more clear way, just reading through that book, so I would recommend that if anybody is thinking about, who's just interested in it. It's really interesting book, full of good examples. Now I wouldn't recommend Miller Lite. I've got some other examples for you. That's a luxury I just can't live without.
I get the good stuff, exactly. Coffee, think about what you do for a living. It's pretty, what a lot of us do, we need a lot less gear and a lot less stuff than most professionals. We don't need a truck full of tools and we don't need to spend gas to get to all of our customers and just picture, go look around your town and look at every book store, every coffee shop.
All the stuff that they need to be able to do their business and then think of you in front of a computer with a good cup of coffee, some good headphones and maybe a nice t-shirt, and that's it, you're good. You're ready to make. Buy your software. Buy a computer. Buy your coffee, and you're good. We're really more lucky than we give ourself credit for.
Joey Korenman: Seriously. You don't even need pants to do what we do, which I should have told you. I'm not wearing pants right now. Let me ask you about this. What I'm hoping everyone listening is getting out of this is that the road from being stuck in a career that you're not really loving. You've outgrown it or whatever, the road from there to basically where you are, Nick.
Where you started something, you gave yourself a good shot at succeeding and then has succeeded. It just takes a little bit of planning and getting over a little bit of fear. Is there anything about your old life going into a studio every day doing client work, is there anything about that that you miss?
Nick Campbell: I miss the people I worked with for sure. I love the creativity. I love Digital Kitchen. Everyone I worked with. The producers. Everybody there. I just had a couple of really really great years there, and really learned a lot. It wasn't just that we were, I consider them friends and we would hang out and learn from each other, but the amount that I learned on the job.
Next to all these creative people that I was able to lean over and tap them on the shoulder and ask them a question and have them a question and have them critique my work every day and I've told these stories a lot about the mentors that came up behind me and said Nick, your work is ugly and I'm here to help you. Dude, yes, you are one of the best designers ever. Can you just please tell me why my stuff is so ugly everyday, don't ever be afraid.
He didn't hold back. I've learned so much from that environment. I'm standing here in a small office in Michigan and I love it. Like I said I got my coffee. I got my speakers and I'm all ready to get some work done, but I do miss working around creative people like that. That was really really fun.
Joey Korenman: Do you find that it's a little tougher these days to stay motivated to keep up with the software and to practice and work on your design, animation skills, what have you. Now that you're not in that environment and especially now that you've got a team working on Greyscalegorilla, it's not just you, and so you're probably thinking a little bit more big picture and out of the day to day. Do you still have that fire like you did when you're at DK surrounded by all these amazing talented people?
Nick Campbell: My fire in your words, it changes. That's always been something about my personality. I have a short attention span. I'm really really into and passionate about projects and things, and they fizzle up. If you take digital photography for example, when that started. Not a lot of people had digital cameras, and I was really into it, and taking photos, and now I take some photos at family events and post them on Facebook but I'm just not like I used to be.
The real answer to your question is learning more about Cinema 4D and learning what renderer to use and all that stuff is not my day to day focus anymore. As the company grew, and as my interest changed too. My day to day is now trying to support a team that can then go teach everyone else all the things that you mentioned.
Something that happened over the last couple years is as the company grew was that early on Greyscalegorilla was just like you said, it is just me, I'm going to learn Cinema 4D and I'm going to teach you everything I know, everything I could learn about it. I'm just instantly going to turn around and make a tutorial. Well, in those years, it's been since about 2008, 2009.
In these years, there have been so many people that have watched our videos, that have gone onto now work at some of the best places in the world, and Nick, me, I'm not cutting it anymore. They are so much more artistic, so much more creative. I have people that come up to me, and I go, that's cool. I ask them, how did you get in all the stuff.
They go, you, you taught me all this stuff, and I go, me? Now, they're off working at Sony, and working at Dreamworks or they're working at all these amazing places, and so anyway, what's really changed for me in my day to day is the understanding that of what the goal is at Greyscalegorilla. Our goal is to make motion designers' jobs easier.
I consider it my goal to do that. To build a team and to build a community to help motion designers get their, first of all, get their first job so we do a lot of stuff about talking about, getting your first salary and getting, going, getting promotion and how to price your work. Really in general if you think of it, our goal is to make tools and training to help motion designers do their job better.
My job now is to create a team to help make that happen. That allows us to bring somebody in like Chad Ashley. Chad Ashley has been doing this stuff and building teams and playing with 3D professionally for over 20 years. He is one of the best in the industry, and now we have him at Greyscalegorilla helping us make more advance tutorials. Explaining more of these, the new renderers that are coming out. All the new ways that people are working.
In a lot of ways, my day to day is to help my team succeed, and also figure out the next steps for Greyscalegorilla. It's a little bit different. I tried to be transparent about that because anybody out there that really loves the day to day working in cinema and after effects and designing and all that stuff. They might want to second guess their want to go build a business.
Because when you do, your day to day changes. You can't sit in cinema all day or the business falls apart. This is getting into a lot of different things, but I just wanted to make that clear. I do miss having more time to play in Cinema 4D because it is very fun but now I consider it my main job to get people like Chad and Chris Schmidt and other guest artist, David Brodeur, in the website and on YouTube to help everybody out there move to their next level no matter where they are in their career.
Joey Korenman: That's really great that you realize that too. It's a difficult transition to make when you become a business owner. I wrote an article for Motionographer with Beth. Talked about a lot of these issue where it's easy to just keep climbing up the career mountain without actually looking around and thinking, do I actually want to be a business owner or do I just really doing the artist thing.
You mentioned, it sounds like you're, I guess the way I'd put it is your why has changed a little bit, and maybe before a component of it was, I want to get better at Cinema 4D. This is a great way to do it, and I'm helping people. Whereas now, you're totally focused on helping people be better motion designers, have a good career, and making tools that make their lives easier.
In order to do that, obviously, and the reason that Greyscalegorilla ended up on the map was because of your tutorials, and you have made a lot of tutorials. I went to your site, I was like, let me count, and I just gave up very quickly. I realized, you have hundreds.
Nick Campbell: Hundreds.
Joey Korenman: We're not there yet, but we also make tutorials, and I found it's very difficult, to make tutorials, and you're really good at it. I'm curious, if you have any insight into what makes a good tutorial. Why do some people just seem to be awesome at it. You mentioned Andrew Kramer, there's no one better than him. What is it about guys like him and you that these tutorials are just very watchable and people like them?
Nick Campbell: He's one of the best, and someone I learned from early on, he taught me After Effects through VHS tapes, so let me date myself. I learned After Effects 4.5, I think it was, through on watching VHS tapes of Brian Maffitt from Total Training. Now if you're not familiar with Brian. He's one [crosstalk 00:43:49]. Legend. When I started watching his videos, I just assumed everybody taught like this.
Very clear, very fun, practical stuff. He would always explain why everything was the way it was and how it worked. He didn't just show you what the buttons did. He was always drawing analogies to real life and all the stuff. I just assumed, video tutorials weren't really a thing back then. You literally had to go buy them on VHS or eventually DVD, this is pre-YouTube.
I just assumed everybody taught that way and of course once YouTube came out and people started teaching. It's like wow, there are some different styles. Some people connect, I connect with, and some people I don't. When I started doing tutorials. I thought really really hard about it because I really loved guys like Andrew Kramer and Brian Maffitt and Tim Clapham.
People that I thought were good teachers and knew what they were talking about. When I started making my own tutorials. I really thought about it a lot and I wanted to make sure it was up to the standard. The standard that I had was that it had to be somewhat entertaining and you also had to explain what the heck you were doing.
Because the tutorials that I hated the most were the ones that were like well type 10 in here and then type 50 in here and then get this widget here and put it here and make this black. In fact don't just make it black, make it this exact hex code number black or gray or red. I was like I'm not learning anything with those videos. I'm literally just following along.
That's not learning. Having your piano teacher sit behind you and go, okay now press this key and then you play it, and then they go, okay now press this key and you play it. Doesn't mean you know how to play a piano. We focused really early on to always explain why we were doing something, not tell you how to do it. We wanted to tell you why we made this decision.
I could go into a whole list of these things but it is something we practiced and something we focused on but I don't know. I don't know the what makes, what's the it factor. Some people just teach in a different way. For me, people that I hire at Greyscalegorilla to make more tutorials. Here's what we look for. We look for people that are good at what they do so obviously they need to be able to have done it in the past and not learning it in front of you.
The next one is they have to be able to teach it, they have to be a good teacher, a lot of people are really good at what they do, and they have no clue how they do it, they just go, like, I don't know, sit down and just make stuff, and comes out the other end and it looks good.
Yeah, but how, they're like, I don't know, do it. They have to be able to teach it well. The third thing is they have to be able to explain why, not how. So they have to know why they made this decision. Why is it a certain color? Why did you pick this camera? What are the arts and design side of things? The creative side of things? Not just the technical.
They need to be able to explain that. They need to be a performer, so this is where a lot of tutorials can drop the ball. They could hit all these other parts, and then they get on and they talk, like they're not talking to anybody. You have to pretend that you're on stage and in front of an audience, when you are teaching people. That's just at least to me, my favorite teachers are the ones that have energy, that are excited, that change their tone of voice.
All these performance things, they have to be a good performer. It doesn't mean they have to tap dance around the room like I do sometimes. They just have to have some energy. Maybe one of the last ones, they have to remember what it's like to be new, they have to talk to this person, not as if they're an expert, and a guru and coming down from above, to teach them something. They have to be humble enough to say listen, I know that you could do this.
I know it could be hard, and here are the things that always tripped me up about this, but I'm here to shepherd you through this, not to talk down to you. Yeah, man, we have a whole philosophy here at Greyscalegorilla about tutorials, but those are the probably some of the biggest things for me.
Joey Korenman: Well, I'm really glad that you said you have to perform because I think that is something that's not, it's not very obvious when you start making tutorials. Anyone listening who's never tried to make a tutorial. When you watch someone like Nick or Chris or Chad do a tutorial, it looks effortless, and it's not.
I can assure you, it's not, but because it is performance. Performance is a skill and a skill is something that you can improve over time. I watch the tutorials that Chris puts out now and they're just so good. Years and years ago, he was still ago, but not as good as he is now, he's clearly improved. Chad, you guys found a unicorn with him, he's good at everything.
I can't imagine how good he'll be at tutorials in two to three years. I look at it as something you have to practice and if you go back and find my first tutorial. I look like I'm terrified, and now I feel comfortable talking to myself in a room maybe with pants on, maybe not.
Nick Campbell: You could do this with me too, go back and find my intro to Cinema 4D tutorial. I even did After Effects tutorials before that that are even more [crosstalk 00:49:40]. I wasn't performing as much back then. I wasn't stepping up my energy game as much as I think I should know. It is a skill, you have to practice it, but if you start thinking of it as if you were on stage, and you're talking to 100 people, the energy will instantly shift.
Because even just describing something at lunch or at dinner to a friend, is a much different tone of voice, it's a much different cadence, it's a much different attitude than describing the same thing on stage to even 5 or 10 people. It's just a different way of speaking and I think for me at least it has to come across as something that has more direct energy.
I've always say I could listen to somebody talk about rocks if they have the passion and the energy and it comes through on stage or through the screen. Certain people just have that energy to go, this is awesome. Rocks are amazing. This is why you didn't know this about rocks, and that energy just soaks through screen, so I look for that when it comes to getting good teachers.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. It's like Neil deGrasse Tyson could just, he literally could talk about rocks and you'd listen for hours and it would be great.
Nick Campbell: Exactly.
Joey Korenman: Let me ask you this. How do you guys balance the topics that you're covering. You've got hundreds of tutorials, and at this point I bet, I don't know maybe not, but I would have assume sometimes you're like, I don't know what to make a tutorial about. We've covered everything. How do you balance making fun tutorials, where it's just some really cool thing that you've discovered.
It's one of those you'll use it once in your entire career things versus the things that aren't very sexy, but you'll use everyday and it's pretty hard to make an interesting tutorial about UV unwrapping or something like that. How do you balance, because your tutorials are your marketing, that's how you bring people in to learn about Greyscalegorilla and that's how everyone has heard about you. How do you balance those two needs for them to be entertaining but for them also to be really useful and informative?
Nick Campbell: Yeah, good question, so we think of it in a couple different ways. One is that our audience is very diverse, so we have a lot of new people obviously, that's how Greyscalegorilla really got started was hey we're all new at this. Nobody knows this software really, and we're all going to learn it together.
As the industry grew up, and now people are working all over with real jobs and real professions and huge companies. The needs of how they learn and what they want to learn definitely changes. Here's how we look at it. There's always the new person and luckily, most of our tutorials are still watchable and learn even from six, seven years ago, that you can go and start to learn the basics.
For the new person we have things like our intro to Cinema 4D series which is over 15 hours I think it is of free Cinema 4D training. You can go sign up, go watch all the videos, and Chris and I go through all the basics of Cinema 4D. After that, you can watch almost any one of our tutorials to start to learn the basics.
That's the new and intermediate people. We just have so much free content for them, over 400 hours I think it is, 500 now and so we have that. Then for the next level person that is moving into doing this for a living, maybe they're thinking about getting their first job or becoming a freelancer. That's where we see the podcast. If you're in that phase of your career, we have the podcast here to say hey, we all talk about how we got our first job and negotiating tactics and how to be more productive, and how to learn faster, and all those kind of things. We talked about that stuff on the podcast.
We have these really cool group of professionals that are working and frankly are too busy to watch an hour long tutorial, they got work to do, they got clients. They got clients breathing down their neck or a producer emailing them. They're not going to watch the hour long tutorial, no matter how cool it is. What they're in need of, and this is something we're focusing more on, what they're in need of are workflow tips to be able to apply to almost every job.
Ways to speed up your workflow, to render things out, render out a really fast render for your client so that they can approve it, all those things. The workflow stuff is where we're focusing a lot for that audience and also shorter tips for them. Instead of saying, hey, here's an hour long tutorial for you to learn. This big long technique, I think we have a lot of those if you enjoy that style. We have plenty of those out.
At least for this year, we're really focusing on shorter production based tutorials. Because we want to reach out to the people that are doing this for a living, that do have clients, that are freelancers, and help them. Like I said, our goal is to, our job is to make your job easier, so if we can come out with a 5 to 10 minute tutorial and say by the end of this video you're going to learn this technique to speed up your rendering, to set up your render so you never have to name one again.
Here's one of our popular ones is a new screen layout where you can see your renders a lot faster in Cinema 4D. That's how we focus on it and how we internally try to make it fun for the beginners because you do have to show off the fun shiny stuff at the beginning. That's what pulls people in and that's what gets people excited, but as they grow. It's almost to me that the further you are in your career, the less shiny you want stuff to be.
You want to get into the engine and start to figure out how this thing works and so that's our focus right now is really stepping up our game to the professional, to the person out there that's doing this and working for a living. We want to bring you expert training which we're working on and also plugins and also tutorials to help you actually do your dang job, that's our goal.
Joey Korenman: I took so many notes there. I'm like we should be thinking it like this. It's great to hear that you're not just, I got an idea, let's make a tutorial because we need to do one a week or two a week. You have a strategy and I think that's probably fairly unique with companies like yours using tutorials as the marketing channel.
I'm curious if you have any insight into why you think Greyscalegorilla has been so successful over the years and caught on and flourished while there's probably 100 or 200 that someone started making tutorials and they might have been really good to, it just didn't go anywhere.
Nick Campbell: I think having a clear idea of what our actual, how we would make money. I think that was really clear starting, I already had ideas for Light Kit Pro and some other plugins. To me it was really clear, it wasn't an advertising thing. It wasn't like I was going to get rich with YouTube ads or anything. It was a very specific thing based on a real company that existed.
If we go back to the beginning, we talked about Red Giant and I looked at them and I go, well they're still around, how did they make their money, what do they do and start to emulate some of those things and go, okay, we need good content which I loved making tutorials. I was trying to get better at it, people seem to like it, so we have that figured out.
Early on we said, well we need to have something here that can support this because like you said, the tutorials were free, what are we doing as a business and you do need a plan. You do need a way to pay yourself for your time, pay employees if it gets to that point. I think one of the things that I did write was understand that we needed a product early on and Light Kit Pro was so needed back then, it's still needed.
The lighting tools in Cinema 4D in most 3D apps are made to render really fast and look really bad and so Light Kit Pro is there to make instantly make a soft box and beautiful studio lighting in cinema, so we knew that that was a problem to solve and I guess as I'm talking through it, that's exactly what I would have anybody do that wants to go do more of this stuff.
What is the actual problem that you're solving and are people wiling to trade dollars to solve that problem and if they're not, you don't have a business. I always encourage people to go make tutorials no matter, if you want to make it a business or not, I think making tutorials and teaching is always fun. I think it's a just such a good thing to do for the community but it also helps you.
It helps you maybe get your next job, maybe somebody is going to watch this and know about you. I don't want to discourage people from making videos and tutorials, but if the goal is to do this for a living, you really have to figure out what your value is and understand will people pay you for that value and so that was always beat into my head early on through books from Jim Rohn and guys like that.
What are you bringing to the marketplace here? I would say maybe that's something that you could look into, but really when it comes to online stuff. I would say consistency is another one. It's really hard to get traction socially through Twitter or Facebook or YouTube or whatever if you don't show up and tell people when you're going to be on next, so people still have a TV mentality even though TV went away, Friday nights as 8 o'clock.
We knew as a family what we were doing Friday nights at 7 or 8 o'clock. You're about my age, or maybe a little younger, you probably know what we were doing as a family when I was about 10 years old at 8 o'clock. What do you think we were doing Friday night?
Joey Korenman: Probably watching The Simpsons or something.
Nick Campbell: TGIF. Let me tell you. We knew that those shows were going to be on every Friday which meant we moved our week around as a family. Like watch Urkel walk across the screen and you have to think about that if you're going to be a content person. If you're going to want to build a following, you need to be consistent and you need to provide value and if you don't, it's just, it's hard. There's so many more people now than when I started, so I'll say this in the most humble way.
I was at the right place at the right time. There weren't a bunch of other Cinema 4D sites around when I started, and that definitely played a lot into it, and so as more people popped up and competition popped out. We had to grow and build and hire as well, but that's definitely a part of it. There's always a luck part of anything succeeding, but that's definitely our luck. We were at the front end of the Cinema 4D curve. Again I was all over the place there, Joey, you slow me down. I apologize.
Joey Korenman: Well, I think you frankly, you have to realize that you are actually to blame for the amount of Cinema 4D tutorials that are out there now because everyone saw. Honestly, and I think I've told you this, but if not, I'll say it again, seeing you do Greyscalegorilla is the reason there is a School of Motion because I saw, this can be done.
One of the mistakes I made initially which you just talked about was I didn't think how well this make money. I guess I had the, people who don't own businesses, but you read about it or you hear about it on podcast or whatever. There's two kinds of business, there's the traditional Silicon Valley startup and a lot of those do not start a business knowing how it will make money, Facebook was not founded with any clue how it was going to make money.
Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, none of them knew how they would make money. There was maybe some ideas, maybe we'll advertise, maybe we'll have a freemium model, but no one actually knew. That model doesn't work very well for a small company like Greyscalegorilla or School of Motion and what ended up happening was, inevitably, that passion for doing tutorials all the time, at 10 p.m. at night trying to do it quietly while your wife's falling asleep because that's the only time you actually can do it.
That passion wears off. What you need is a way to make it sustainable and sustainable means you have energy to do it. You can do it during normal work hours. You don't have to juggle it with other things, and the only way that happens is if it's paying you, and so when School of Motion actually took off was when I had that realization I wish I had it earlier, which leads me to another question, Nick. Knowing what you know now, you've run a successful business for years. You've got a team. You've hired. I don't know if you've fired. Have you ever fired someone?
Nick Campbell: Luckily, no. Luckily, no, and I dread that so much. My personality is not built for something like that. It's also maybe not hurt us in a way but it's also potentially made it, one of the things I wish I did was hire earlier, hire more help early, and I think one of the reasons is exactly that. I would just dread. No matter who's fault it was, I would feel bad. Even if they were stealing from a company.
I'd still feel bad, I put them in a situation. It's my company, I'm ultimately responsible for everything that happens and so we make sure or at least I really try to make sure that people that are around have similar values and definitely a good fit before they get into a full time gig with us.
Now, it is definitely a scary thing to have a company that you're responsible for other people's salary. You're responsible for they're providing food and a place to live for their family. It's something I take very seriously, but it's also as we grow and as I become more of an owner of a company and less of the person that's doing everything in the front lines.
It's something I'm learning more about so we're actually looking at hiring part time right now, we're going through that whole process, and it's always scary but luckily no fires yet. I'll be crying. You call me. We'll talk about it. I'll need some Skype hugs.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I'm very lucky, I have not had to fire anyone. My team is amazing and I absolutely in love with all of them. I have had to fire before at a previous job and it's awful, and I hope you never do have to, but you bring up a good point. You've had to transition from, you've had a lot of transitions, you really are like a true entrepreneur. You were a full time at DK. You left. You had savings you were living off of. You started Greyscalegorilla.
Now several years later, you've got a team and you're responsible for their paychecks and their health insurance and steering the ship. What are some of those challenges that you've been struggling with as a CEO which is a role that I'm assuming you didn't go to college for.
Nick Campbell: The struggles, man. I'm not a very organized person. I consider myself not necessarily an artist but just very passionate about the things I'm really into but then I could almost just throw everything else in the garbage sometimes because I'm so focused on this one thing and I've always had this as a kid.
There's when Mario 3 came out, I wanted to throw everything else in the garbage, no baseball, no going outside, no swimming. Just Mario. That's just my personality, so one of the struggles for me is being more well rounded and understanding how to do some of the things that are necessary but that I don't naturally do. I like to think of it this way, entrepreneurs, and the more I learn about what I like to do, the more I do consider myself an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are really good at looking at something and going I'm going to go do this, let's go do it. Getting their fingernails dirty and just tackling something with as much time and passion until it either succeeds or just burns to the ground. That's my personality. What I'm realizing is that personality actually as you grow an actual company can fight against you.
My biggest struggle right now. I haven't talked a lot about this publicly because I don't know how many other motion designers have this kind of issues but it is interesting to me, and it's something I'm learning a lot about, my biggest struggle is learning how to get out of my own way, because my instinct is to just go do it myself.
That's a really good instinct to have when you're starting a project or building a business and when you do have to do it all. When I had to do customer support and pay the bills and write the check, everything. As the company grows, my big struggle is putting the right people in place to do those jobs and trying to give them the freedom to do it their way and not the Nick way.
Making sure that this doesn't become the, it has to be exactly how Nick wants it or you're fired show. That's hard for me especially as a creative person. As somebody that, sometimes I'm frustrated that they chose a color I wouldn't choose. You ever had that feeling, Joey? It's literally on an internal document to show off some things internally that we're working on and the designer that put this together.
It's not even a designer. Literally the person putting this together is tasked to put the numbers together and they chose an ugly green color, and I'm going to get mad, really, that's my personality. You could tell I'm struggling with this now because it's even hard to figure out how to get the words out, but I'll try not. Like I said earlier, I'll try to focus.
That is the internal struggle for me is, instead of me jumping on every project and saying I'll do it, I'll do it. Instead, giving somebody on the team the freedom to go do it and do it their way and not micromanage. It's very very difficult for me, and it's something I work on everyday. Sometimes the best thing I could do is just shut up.
That's very, as you could tell, as everyone out there listening, if they've made it this far could tell, it's very hard for me. I love talking about it and coming at it from every angle, and [inaudible 01:09:48]. I realized that not everybody wants that feedback. Not everybody wants it to their ... Actually let me take that back. I'm learning right now, Joey. This is good.
Joey Korenman: Love it.
Nick Campbell: I'm learning right now. Nobody likes being micromanaged. Think about the project that you had and I have to remember this now. I'm writing this on my wall. I think about the projects I hated the most working at in post-production. Those were the ones where the client came in and said can you move it like two pixels to the left. What about orange? No, what about purple? No, what about blue? I do that. I'm now the worst client.
I'm doing that and whenever I do that to my employees. I feel it. They lose their energy toward the project and it's just frustrating for everybody, and so that, this is a new thing for me actually that I'm trying to figure out. Trying to become more of a leader and a team builder and less of a task master.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. We're going through a lot of the same stuff. I'm a few years behind you but I can absolutely relate to all of it and anyone who's ever had to build a team I'm sure can relate to that. It's interesting you said you don't really see yourself as an artist and so I look at someone like, I think Ash Thorp might be a good example.
True artist, brilliant, amazing at making and also entrepreneur and able to juggle different projects in Learn Squared, and doing lots of really cool stuff like that, but I think there's this conception out there that you're either left brain or right brain and being left brain logical and able to see the potential and just go after it in a methodical way, I think that that side of your brain it's very helpful if you're trying to start a business if you're an entrepreneur.
At the same time, I think everyone listening would argue with you to say you're not an artist. Fine, maybe you're not people or something like that, but you're certainly talented enough at Cinema 4D and at design and especially at design. Do you think that in order to build something like Greyscalegorilla, you have to be a certain type of person. Because you clearly have the right side of the brain too, you are extremely creative.
You're creative in ways that people don't often associate with creativity, just the way you might approach launching a product. The way you might approach writing an email to your customers. That's in a weird way, it's art in itself. The reaction you want, the feeling you want people to get when they read something from you. If anyone is out there listening who is super duper right brain, literally can sit and work on one illustration for eight hours.
The opposite of me, probably the opposite of Nick unless you're in one of your manic, your obsessive mode or something. Is it possible for someone like that to start a business and to start a side hustle that grows into something or do you think that there's a certain personality type that has the, I don't know, I guess the intensity of focus for short burst to be able to pull off.
Nick Campbell: That's so hard. It's so hard because we all can only experience our own life. Things are so, I'm going to get hippy on here right now.
Joey Korenman: Do it, let's go.
Nick Campbell: Things are so slippery. The communication is such a weird thing. Let's just assume for now it's really hard to learn anything. It's really hard to communicate exactly how you feel about something, and all this is to say like things like left brain and right brain exist I think more of, more as a way for humans to understand how of a very complex thing like a brain.
We barely know how brains work, and so we use these slipper ideas of okay, well, you're this kind of person, and you're this kind of person and I think those things can be very helpful when trying to communicate the type of person you are. Let me take this just a little bit sideways. There's a big, there's a lot of talk right now of are you extrovert or introvert.
Those two words have this meaning but what that really means is there's not one or the other. There's not an introvert and extrovert. There are people that are extroverts that are very quiet and introverted for most of their day and then they stand up and they're like a standup comedian at night. There's people that are opposite.
I guess what I'm saying is everything is in this spectrum and it's very hard to understand and give advice to people without saying this, so all of this is to say this. If you have it in your head that you want to go start a business then it's already in you. There's already a part of you that's like I want to go experiment with this.
Make sure that you're doing it for the right reasons. Make sure you're not doing it because you think you're going to work less, because you're not. I forget who originally said this. I feel like I should say that no matter what quote I'm going to about to say. That's just going to be in front of every quote I say from now on. I forget who originally said this.
Entrepreneurs are the only people that will go work 80 hours a week in order to avoid working 40 hours a week. As long as you're clear about what your goal is then I would say go learn about this stuff, and you don't have to just go ditch your job to go do it. If you're sitting there right now and you're listening. First of all, bravo to you. This is one of my more crazy talks here. I'm glad you made it through, thank you.
Second of all, if you're sitting there thinking about if this is something for you. Go find people that are doing it. Go surround yourself with the people that actually do this for a living because you might find, you hate them. You might find they work too much. You might find they're not spending enough time with their family. They're not out riding bikes or going on picnics, or whatever the other things are in your life.
You might find just by surrounding yourself with other people that do this, that this either is for you or it isn't. Every time I surrounded myself with more people that were into it. For me, it was companies in Chicago at the time, they were called 37signals, now they're called Basecamp. They've been a huge part of learning how a small business is run and getting to know a few of those people.
Every time I learned about what their day to day was. I was more excited to build my own thing. Other people like Coudal Partners, they do field notes. They were also a huge help early on to look at what this means and I think I don't think enough people do that and to bring it all the way back to motion graphics, and my career. I didn't know that there were other options for me to learn After Effects and Cinema 4D and play around with this stuff.
I thought the only option I had was that I had to go get clients or become a freelancer or go work at a post house. That was it, and then I saw that maybe I could start a software company of all things. I didn't know that that was a potential thing. What I would say is I don't think there's a right answer, I don't think there's a perfect person for anything.
What I would do is if it's in you to experiment with this stuff. If you're listening to this stuff, and you're like, I want to try that. Go start seeing how their life is, don't judge it by what you see on YouTube. Don't judge it by what you see in your email newsletter from them as a company. Go try to literally meet some of these businesses that you might want to be like one day and see what their actual day to day is.
Let me tell you. They're not putting the sad stuff on Facebook, and they're not putting the internal struggle of the imposter syndrome and all these things on their Twitter feed. Really really pay attention to how they're really living their life because if you can see all the BS, and you could see all the hard struggle and the pain and all the crazy stuff, and you still are interested in it, then that's when you know you're onto something.
Joey Korenman: It's really good advice, and I would add to that too, to try to find a way to enjoy the process of whatever it is you're doing because had I known how hard and how many years it would take to build School of Motion into something that even had a chance of being a successful business, I might had never even try. Luckily I think there's a mix where you want to have that vision, you want to know, okay, at some point the plan is this becomes a company.
This makes money in this way and is it a side hustle, do you just need it to kickoff a few thousand bucks a month or is this supposed to be the way you pay your bills for the rest of your life and this becomes your thing. You also don't want to look too far down the line because then you might say wow, this probably isn't going to make money for four years. Still going to have to put a lot of work into it.
Nick Campbell: I think that's an interesting distinction because you do need a certain amount of ignorance to go tackle any big projects.
Joey Korenman: Yeah.
Nick Campbell: You need this passion. This mix of passion and ignorance because you're right. If you actually knew the time and hours and some of the painful parts of it. You would go, you know what, my job is pretty okay. I could deal with this client. I'm okay here, but I like the struggle. I think there are people out there that can see themself clearly enough to figure this out.
If you like learning and being uncomfortable and learning new things and thinking fast about new ideas coming at you. You might be a good fit for that. If you like structure and standard. How things have always worked if you have that kind of mindset, and I don't think there's right or wrong way to think of it. I think it's about being self aware of who you are, what your goals are, and then constantly comparing what you're doing with those goals.
I want to make sure I get this in there because it's something I always forget about. One of the main reasons I did all this stuff was freedom. I like being a teacher. I still love Cinema 4D. I like building a team. All this stuff is great, but the real real reason that this stuff was so interesting to me was freedom.
The ability to take a week off, the ability to work where and when. Most importantly when I wanted to. I liked working late sometimes. I like sleeping in sometimes. I'm lazy too. I like going on a ski trip out west and seeing some friends. I knew that that was going to be an important part of my life or else I wanted it to be and so one of the reasons I went down this road was to be in charge of my time more.
What that really means is I have a lot more complexity when it comes to my work, with my job, with the team and all this stuff, but what it really allows me to do is be more flexible and more free with my time, and my ideas. It allows me to have an idea and actually go tackle it and I knew that those things would be important to me in my life and that's why I think this road started to make sense for me.
I'm only bringing this up to give some words to the things that mattered to me, and if you're out there thinking about it, start thinking about what's really the goal. What's really the goal you're trying to go after, is it money, is it time, is it freedom, is it just moving away from the job that you hate? Maybe you just need a new job. Just be really ultimately super clear about what your goals are and I think that's just always helpful.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, something that you said earlier I think really resonated and ties into this, and that's don't think of money as what you buy stuff with. Money is a form of, it's time currency basically. Money, it can buy you stuff, but it can also buy you time. I talk about freelancing a lot. I preach freelancing actually. That's literally the reason, is exactly what you just said it's about time freedom.
It's about being able to work from home, between the hours of 3 p.m. and 2 a.m. because that's when you are most creative and most productive, and knowing that about yourself and knowing that that's a goal. That can really clarify what your options are in terms of how you get there and it might be freelancing or if you want something like Greyscalegorilla or School of motion which is scalable, meaning you're not literally trading four of your hours for $200 or $300, whatever it is.
You can do what Nick did and you can actually shoot a bunch of stock photography and do a bunch of stock video and build up some little passive income over a year to give yourself some more time freedom. I think just knowing that those options are out there, and getting clarity about your own motivations, it's super helpful and really liberating once you make the switch in your mind.
Nick Campbell: Yeah, I think that's a good addition to that. I wanted to let everyone out there know too. If you guys have any question, I know I can go on a million different directions, but if there's something from this conversation that is sticking in your head or maybe unique to your situation. Please don't hesitate to hit me up on Twitter.
I try to answer as many of these questions as I can and I just love helping other people. To get really to the whole thing, the reason I love what we do at Greyscalegorilla and doing podcast like this, I love helping. I just love being learning and teaching are two of my favorite things in the whole world, so if you guys are struggling. If you have any questions, if I could help in any way, just hit me up on Twitter, and I always do my best to try to answer or send you in the right direction. Maybe it's a book or maybe it's a website or something, but hit me up. On Twitter, I'm nickvegas, so I'd love to hear from you.
Joey Korenman: At nickvegas. Yeah, I'll add. If you have any questions about stuff I've said. You can tweet at Nick and he will answer it for you. Nick, man. Thank you so much for doing this. My head is spinning around, you've put all these thoughts in there and if I didn't already have a business, I'd probably run off and start one, but maybe I'll start another one, maybe I need to because you've got more than one. I want to be like Nick.
Nick Campbell: Thanks for having me, man. Everything you're doing there, I just love, every time I see a new video from you guys and the site, the whole way you're structuring everything is just been really cool to see. It's humbling to hear that I had a small part in that but I love seeing what you guys are doing as well. There's definitely a revolution happening right now with online education and just like I said learning and teaching are two of my favorite things, so I'm just glad there's more people out there figuring this stuff out. Thanks for doing what you do too, man.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. No problem. Thanks for saying that, man. That means a lot and yeah, we will definitely have to grab an in person beer very soon.
Nick Campbell: Very soon. Not the Miller Lite.
Joey Korenman: Not Miller Lite.
Nick Campbell: Awesome. Perfect.
Joey Korenman: Feeling inspired? I want to say thanks again to Nick for coming on and for sharing so much of the incredible story of Greyscalegorilla. Make sure you check out the GSG podcast if you dug what Nick had to say, or if you want to gain some serious knowledge about the 3D side of motion design. We'll have all the resources we talked about in this episode in the show notes, so check those out at Schoolofmotion.com, and one more thing if you dug this episode. Think about leaving a rating and a review on iTunes for us.
It really helps us spread the word about this podcast so we can keep this party going. Thanks as always for listening. You are amazeballs and I'll catch you on the next one.