Have you heard that quote, the one by Jim Rohn that says “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”? I think there’s truth to that. But I wanted to take it a step further for today’s post and talk about the five people who have INFLUENCED me the most as a business owner. Not necessarily the ones I’ve spent the most time WITH, but definitely the ones from whom I’ve learned the most. Whether through workshops or mentoring, one-on-one conversations or coffee dates, these are the people who’ve changed me the most as a business owner.

classic Washington DC wedding at the Four Seasons | Abby Grace

In no particular order, here we go!

Kaitlyn Phipps– I’ve known this lady for a LONG time and have had the privilege of watching her business grow from the very, very beginning! Kaitlyn was one of my shooting interns during my 2014 season, and she’s also assisted me at every A Practical Wedding Workshop to date. The thing I love about Kaitlyn is that she’s a quiet influencer- rather than bluntly calling me out on my crap, she gently pushes me toward seeking Jesus. She’s like sand that slowly softens a piece of broken bottle over time, until it becomes smooth, rounded sea glass instead. She’s humble, so humble, and knowing her makes me a better leader for sure!

Katelyn James– I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve written about Katelyn on my blog. This woman’s been an influence from almost the very beginning, too. I remember walking into her workshop in November of 2011, super self-conscious that I was the last one to arrive. Katelyn saw me enter and exclaimed, “it’s my number one blog commenter!” and then enveloped me in a hug. I don’t think she even remembers that, but it was one of the most encouraging experiences I’d known at that point. Katelyn, too, is one who’s softened me. She’s redirected me when my gut instinct is to react in anger or assume the worst, and instead pointed me to love like Jesus, and to look for the best in people. She’s never condemning, never judgmental, always loving and always kind. And I love that with Katelyn, I’ve never once had to worry that she has anything but the BEST in mind for those she’s teaching.

Rustic fall wedding at Breaux Vineyard | Abby Grace

Mary Marantz– I remember my stomach hurting the first time I looked through their blog- their work was so beautiful that it created this physical ache in me to make my work better, more refined. I finally got to meet J&M in person when I attended Walk Through A Wedding in 2012, just two weeks after I left my corporate job, and it was a complete game changer for me.

Mary’s a gentle pusher. She doesn’t settle, and she won’t let you settle either, because she believes in following a call when it’s placed on your heart. And that’s one of the things I love so much about her- Mary cuts through the fluff and the (sorry) BS that other people may unintentionally surround themselves with. You guys know me; I’m never one for fluff, and that’s what has made Mary such an influencer in my business- when she speaks, I know it’s because she truly believes what she’s saying. And during a late-night conversation at United when Mary told me she saw true leadership in me, and that I was on the cusp of something incredible, I knew she wasn’t saying that to fill me up with hot air. Mary’s one of those people who gives you the permission to pursue with abandon the things that mean the most.

Chianti, Italy anniversary session with vintage Fiat | Abby Grace

Rebekah Hoyt– this lovely gal isn’t shooting weddings anymore, but that’s not to say her reach in my business is over. Rebekah & I were business buddies for a couple of years- she was my person! My go-to when I had a question or problem arise, the person I talked through difficult emails with, collaborated with, and bounced referrals back and forth with! Rebekah was my partner in crime as I entered the world of educating other photographers (remember the Q&A we hosted? That was so fun!). She also wasn’t afraid to call me out when I was being stubborn or butt-headed; I remember one particular conversation when I was complaining about an issue I’d faced early on in my business, and she pointed out that I was letting that one unfortunate crisis color EVERY client relationship I’d had since then. Rebekah’s actually the reason behind why I went from fearing families to loving them on wedding days.

View More: http://abbygracephotography.pass.us/stutzman-wedding

Mike Lesnick– he was my first mentor, the first one to ever pour into me as a wedding photographer and business owner. Our paths haven’t crossed in quite some time due to our businesses heading in different directions, but his impact on me as I worked to build the foundations of Abby Grace Photography are still being felt to this day.

He gave me my first shot at assisting and second shooting, lent me gear to shoot with, and never failed to answer any of my questions, no matter how impertinent or obnoxious I might have been. Mike modeled for me what selfless small business ownership looks like, and if I hadn’t started out by learning from him, I could have very quickly fallen into the trap of being that bitter, closed-off business owner. I apprenticed under Mike for more than a year before shooting any weddings on my own and am SO grateful for the chance to practice extensively under his watchful eye before taking on clients of my own!

So there we have it! The five photographers who’ve have the biggest impact on my business to date. I can only hope that my business is the average of these five people’s affect on me, and I’m so grateful for each one of them!

My top 5 influencers

February 17, 2016

  1. Jean says:

    What a wonderful tribute to these professionals who have inspired you along your way! They could see something in you that you could not see. I am so proud of the person you have become.

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