Dear Mike (An encouraging letter to myself I wish I would have received in 2009)

Dear Mike,

For some strange reason you have decided to start a business during a recession. You're not exactly setting yourself up for success here, but I digress... A man named Peter Hurley is going to come into your life and he will have a coaching platform named PH2 PRO. You need to follow him. You need to do as he says. You've got a difficult road ahead, but you have confidence and as long as you can maintain your confidence, you will succeed.

It's lonely working for yourself. You need friends to discuss your successes and failures. You need friends who understand what you're going through. If you don't embrace Peter's love, and the love and support of your friends on his platform, you will run out of steam. You'll give up on your passion. Your confidence will waver. Your belief that you can be the best will dwindle and you'll ultimately give up. Another failed business. Another missed opportunity. A psychological blow from which you'll likely fail to recover.

Your work is good, but not as good as you think it is. You're aiming high, but not high enough. You're imposing a ceiling that only exists in your mind because at the end of the day there are 9 million individuals in your market and they all need a better headshot because you haven't photographed them yet. Peter will release video content and you need to watch it. He'll give you advice and you need to listen. He's bringing a workshop to market and you need to attend it. He will continue to offer you opportunities to better yourself and your craft and it's your responsibility to recognize those opportunities for what they are and seize them.

As time goes on, you and Peter will grow close. You'll host him at your studio, you'll host him in your home, he'll befriend your family and you will travel across the country together doing great things and helping others.

It's going to be hard. No really, it's going to be HARD. You're going to face rejection on a level you've never experienced before. People are going to copy you. People are going to try and tear you down. People are going to tell you that you're too expensive. People are going to tell you that what you do isn't that important or special. You're going to fall down and that's OK, because Peter and his crew will be there to pick you up and dust you off. They will always be there for you, if you let them.

When someone tells you that you're too expensive, that's not a reflection of your work or the value that you provide, but instead is a reflection of their own lack of belief in themselves.

When someone steals your idea or copies you, rather than be upset or angry, channel that energy into something positive and create something even better. It won't be easy but it will elevate you to a level that others will only be able to aspire to.

One of the hardest things you're going to have to do on this journey is to embrace your competition. I use that term loosely because the truth is that you'll have no real competitors. It might not make sense right now, but if you keep your head down, work hard, and stay true to yourself, you will be playing at a level where others can't compete. You must choose to embrace the other photographers in your market rather than making them your sworn enemy. These will be valuable relationships if you allow them to be and if you stay close to Peter, he will help to bring you together. These people will be some of the greatest assets to your business if you allow them to be. They'll be some of your closest friends as well.

PH2 Pro will evolve into something much larger than Peter ever believed it could be. As long as you stay close by Peter's side, he'll take you on a pretty amazing journey. After all, at his core, Peter is a sailor and a rising tide lifts all boats. Peter will go on to do great things, and as long as your vessel stays in his immediate proximately, you will too.


“You must choose to embrace the other photographers in your market rather than making them your sworn enemy.” ♥️

That’s easier said than done, and I’ve been privy to some scenarios where it just can’t happen.

If you have true competitors, then you’re doing something wrong and it’s probably marketing related. There are lots of photographers in my market, but none of them are competitors and most of them are friends.

If someone in your market is creating negative energy in your life, it’s time to repurpose that energy into something positive. It might just be the kick in the ass you need to get out from behind your computer screen and actually do something productive for your business.

I have one such thorn. She positioned herself as wanting to learn from me - I'm literally just starting out but I've got lots of momentum and hours of coaching under my belt so I suppose to the outside world, it appears that I'm thriving. She allowed me to use her studio space, rent free in exchange for my assistance on shoots. She was very curious about my business model and I suggested she raise her pricing. I never really gave her much advice.

One day, a few days before a corporate headshot session that had been scheduled a month out, she told me I couldn't use her studio because she needed it for the next day and she was 'sure I understood'. She did this over TEXT message.

I never responded to her.

This experience made me get over my head trash of shooting from my home and I'm grateful for it.

Also, I've NEVER heard from her since then.

I'm sorry you had to deal with that, but it seems like it all worked out for the best in the end. You took that negative energy and turned it into personal growth. That's what it's all about.

Wow man, this is so good. My internal compass says to keep following Peter and the HSC as my North Star. This is the way to go, it seems like it has been chosen for me. I feel like as long as I continue to work towards this ideology, I'll have served my purpose in life (obviously if I could survive the initial hiccups of setting up the business with limited resources and life happening)

Mike, what a powerful journey you've shared! Embracing challenges and opportunities with Peter's guidance, you'll sail toward success. ⛵️✨

*how to get business* for future generations.....

"When someone steals your idea or copies you, rather than be upset or angry, channel that energy into something positive and create something even better. It won't be easy but it will elevate you to a level that others will only be able to aspire to."

This is one of the best things I've read, Mike. It's so easy to fall into the trap of hating, but as Jay-Z once said, "You gotta get that dirt off your shoulder." Focusing on yourself is something so hard and so lonely but this is a great reminder that just because you're in business alone doesn't mean you're alone as you have an entire crew with you. I've always been in awe of your journey & where you are is where I aspire to be, and now to call you a friend is just dope.

If NAS and 50 Cent weren't there to push Jay Z, would he have ever risen to this level of power? Probably not. I'm not suggesting that our marketing should read like a diss track, but the principle holds just the same.

I have no problem saying that I've got the best headshot website in the game and it has nothing to do with coding ability (I'm not a coder). Each and every incarnation has forced me to raise the bar. It's forced me to dig deep and think about what makes me unique. What I do isn't a commodity, so at this point it would be very difficult to steal my ideas in a meaningful way. It's so fine tuned to me and what I do, that if someone were to copy it, it wouldn't be in their best interest. It's marketing on a level that other people just can't touch.

Love this Mike. Should be required reading for all of us.

Beautifully put Mike. A "must read" for everyone on this journey.

Excellent thoughts and well written letter. Parts of this applies to each one of us.
May we all be encouraged to keep moving on and up to higher levels of excellence and achievements.

I completely agree that photography is a lonely business. When I started my photography business, few people were willing to talk to me or help me. I love the crew and how supportive the group is. My success has all come from being part of the crew.

Michael Schacht You are an amazing human and the way your brain works is so cool.
I’m glad to call you my friend. Thanks to Peter Hurley for building a community that brings such high level people.
And you are right. It’s hard. But totally worth it!

Great post, Mike. Definitely a good one to tape to the fridge and revisit on a regular basis.

If you do that, send me a picture please.

This is awesome, Mike. I put headshots on hold after the Intensive at your studio in 2019 due to the pandemic and a divorce. Just really launching again now, and these are just the words I needed to hear. Thanks for this, and I hope all is well.

You got this and we're all here for you!

Beautifully written, and a great message that captures the journey we've all embarked on.

lovely letter Michael, perseverance wins!!

You made me cry. I love you my friend. And yeah I remember that kid.

Well said!! “These will be valuable relationships if you allow them to be and if you stay close to Peter, he will help to bring you together. These people will be some of the greatest assets to your business if you allow them to be.“.

Well I'm f@#king inspired!!!!!

Man, did I need to hear a lot of this! Sometimes messages come to you at just the right moment. Thank you Mike, we are all blessed to know you.

Absolutely incredible insights and wisdom.

😭😭😭 wowzer!!!!! UGH! Such an encouragement to my heart Mike, thank you! Thank you for saying yes to the journey with Peter and the Crew and being such an example to us newbies, even in my fifties! I appreciate you taking the time to write this and share it with us, means more then you know!!!

Mike, this is so awesome on so many levels. I remember starting in 2018 after a full career in the corporate world. I knew it was going to be hard for me starting a new journey at my age. After over 40 years of working for someone else, who was I fooling? How could a 55 year old woman start a photography business? What do you mean you’re turning your hobby into a business? I got all these questions from people who I thought was my friends and even some of my family members doubted me and called me crazy. I was told to go home after retirement and join a community of retirees and play bingo or something. I knew with everything in me, that wasn’t in my DNA. Then I stumbled up on this man name Peter and my entire world changed. So I get everything you’re saying Mike and the younger me has told me over and over…I’m built for this! I love this crew and I will forever treasure our conversation Mike. You’re one amazing human. Love you!

This is so closed to me. You literally has taking my words and put them all together. Thanks! I already had my business in 2020 but, I decided to build a new one. During the pandemic, right? I knew it was going to be hard, lonely and difficult the path. Luckily I found Peter and the headshot crew.

Well said!

Mike, this is incredible.

Amazing post! Thank you seems too weak of a response, but it is a start. Yes, this is getting printed and carried with me. I am making decisions lately that are for ME and removing all the mind/family trash talk that I have been told/hearing from others and myself. This is exactly what I needed - THANK YOU!

Love love love this! Just read it again today.

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