DERRICK Interview with Blind Filmmaker Michael Schwartz

November 11, 2016

michaelschwartzEncouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Michael Schwartz who is a legally blind filmmaker and owner of Trailhead Productions brings fifteen years of experience in television news and production to the table, and you’ll see what that means all along the way. An award winning reporter, Michael knows television and works for you with the same dedication and ideals valued by the best in the business.   “We’re the storytellers, not the story.”  That means that at Trailhead, we never forget that you and your dreams are the stars of the show.

D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?

I’m a big believer in breaking through boundaries. Although I’ve been gradually losing my eyesight since I was thirteen years old, my dream was to pursue a career in visual storytelling, and I’ve never taken “no” for an answer. Through a career as a broadcast reporter and photographer, and now as a documentary filmmaker, I’ve seen firsthand that it’s possible to merge the worlds of visual storytelling and visual impairment. From my first job all the way through my current film. Following my own passions, though, cannot and should not be the end of the story. My dream is to change perceptions, raise expectations and make a difference in the world of inclusion for people with disabilities.

E is for Education. What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?

I went to the University of Missouri School of Journalism. What I loved so much about my education there is that no matter what your specific goals were, you had to learn everything about the business. It wasn’t good enough to want to be just an anchor, or a reporter, or a photographer, or any of the other jobs in journalism. You had to learn it all, and I had so many opportunities to learn skills that have benefited me throughout my career as a storyteller. Understanding what makes up a good picture, learning how to tell a concise story, understanding how to combine dozens of stories to build a newscast that makes sense… it’s all about crafting stories that make a difference.

R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

The first resource actually doesn’t have anything to do with tools of the trade. It has to do with drive and resilience. The fact of the matter is that if you’re going to be a visual storyteller who’s visually impaired, there has to be an inner belief in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, nothing else matters.

I also rely on the twin pillars of of communication and partnership. While it’s easy to talk about the mechanics of how I do my job – working with the spatial and acoustic dynamics of an environment or a set to frame a shot, or shooting on a 4K camera to edit in a 1080 timeline, or not thinking of color itself as much as color profiles to use waveforms and vectorscopes to craft the mood and design of a shot, these are all just that” mechanics. They explain how do my job, but not why I do my job. I do my job because I get to work with a team of creative professions who share a creative vision. It’s what gets me up every morning in search of great stories to tell.

R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

I think the key to realizing your dreams is that you shouldn’t wait until you feel you’re 100% ready. The truth is that day may never come. There will always be at least one unanswered question, one skill you could hone a little more, one step you may feel you’re not ready to take yet. Life is about leaps of faith. When I set out to start my own business, one based on a risky proposition and an uncertain outcome – staring a video production company even though I’m visually impaired – the one thing I had was a belief that I could succeed. Yes, you start a venture with as many resources as you can muster and your prepare as much as you can, but success is based on action, and action requires at least a certain amount of faith in yourself. Really, I knew I was ready because I believed in myself.

I is for Individual. Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why?

I can’t speak highly enough of my colleague and friend Maxwell Ivey. Max calls himself the Blind Blogger, but his life is about so much more than his blindness. It’s about always seeking self-improvement, expanding horizons and making a difference. Max knows how to start with a dream, use the resources he’s developed over the course of a lifetime of finding unique solutions to difficult challenges, learning new skills to help him achieve his goals and always looking to the future.

C is for Challenges. What challenges have you had to overcome?

I believe that the challenge anyone with a dream has to overcome is facing down low expectations. What I’ve found is that people tend to rise to the expectations we set for them. As a creative artist – a filmmaker – who is visually impaired, I work every day not only to coordinate a creative vision with my team, but also to lead others to a world where there is no barrier to achievement. I direct and even shoot documentaries, and will continue to do this throughout and beyond the process of losing my eyesight. This is because there is a certain truism that we all have to come to accept, that pursuing one’s passion is the best starting point, because there are no barriers to accomplishment.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

There is really one key to success. Set the bar high for yourself and for those who share your passions. This doesn’t mean you’ll never make a mistake. As they say, that’s why pencils have erasers. High expectations push you to challenge yourself, and it motivates you to constantly question your own assumptions… even the ones you don’t know you have. Expecting the highest level of performance from everyone you work with encourages you to pursue nothing short of excellence.

Michael is a friend of mine, and I want to encourage you to support his new documentary series, “The Palette Project: Losing Sight, Maintaining A Vision.” He’s made it really easy to pledge with a micropayment of just $1 for the videos he’s posting on his Patreon feed. This is a great way to show your support, and you can make a difference by helping him make a difference. Plus, you get to see some pretty amazing videos of some pretty amazing people, and learn what it’s like to be a visually impaired filmmaker. – Maxwell Ivey


DERRICK Hayes Interview with Artist Joe Galaxy

December 25, 2015

JoeGalaxyEncouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Sun Star Records artist Joe Galaxy who is anything but your typical musician. The multi-hybrid rhymer showcases a futuristic sound that crosses genres and delivers music that appeals to fans of techno, pop, rock and hip-hop. Influenced by everyone from Beethoven to Nirvana and Led Zeppelin to Lil Wayne. 2016 is the year to be “Grateful” and release the debut album late Winter called the same: “Grateful”.

D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?

My dream is to succeed to ultra-success in my music career, family, peace of mind, and financially at the same time! I’m at peace now and know who I am regardless of which plateau I reach. For me, it’s a personal challenge to see how far we can take this thing man! Let’s get to the top. So far, I’ve achieved a killer album ft Pitbull & Renegade Foxxx, my music is playing worldwide on major radio, the fire is blazing. My goal is to win a Grammy Award, an Oscar, and be on the cover of GQ magazine. If I can inspire others to go for their dreams and have fun then that is an accomplishment too. Nothing exceeds like success baby! Follow me on Instagram: @TheJoeGalaxy to find out the up to the minute on my project and connect with me. I’d love hear from you.

E is for Education. What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?

My educational background is life, a Bachelor’s in Computer Science, elite military training, & extensive acting/comedy programs. I use all of these educational backgrounds in my daily life. The no-quit, determined attitude is absolutely required to make it in the entertainment industry, especially the music industry. Initiative is the life blood of an entertainment industry entrepreneur. Remember, it is your career, nobody else gives a s$*t. But we all are playing a role and humor and not taking yourself too seriously will put everything in perspective. I don’t know how I use computer science these days except to make jokes about nerds because I am
one. lol Nerd is the other N word, lol. But I can say it because I was in the National Honor Society for Computer Science in College. haha for reals…

R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

I have a universal appeal/look. I am a natural connector/networker. I am very confident but I come of humble, like a regular “Joe.” I do have a prosperity, personal development consciousness so my mindset is aligned with positivity. I understand cause and effect.

R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now? JoeGalaxy2

I was born ready. I just took awhile to find and get with the right people.

I is for Individual. Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why?

Mr. Ron King who is one of the single most talented modern day Picasso of our time. I’ve never seen anyone produce more masterpieces per moment in my life. We could burn all of his art to date and he would produce more even better master pieces tomorrow and start over. It’s truly a phenomena.

C is for Challenges. What challenges have you had to overcome?

All of them, OMG. There is nothing and noboday that can stop me. If this isn’t your attitude with supreme confidence in you then youre done. If you believe in yourself so much and your burning desire is there can’t nothing stop you. If you have doubt, then redo your work or work on your craft. The stepping stones appear out of nowhere when you believe and have a positive mental attitude. You will then see the way and not the challenges. I know that sounds like some Mr. Miagi shizl but it is true.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

I feel the most important keys are to stay the course, get with the right people, realize that over night success is a result of preparation that leads to that break through. How many years does it take to become a doctor or get a degree. Well keep that in mind when pursuing your dreams. Do it because you truly love it and it is your passion. Do what others aren’t willing to do. Develop yourself so you actually are the value and the money will flow to the value.

Visit Joe Galaxy for more information.


DERRICK Interview with Youngest U.S. Magazine Publisher Savannah Britt

February 4, 2013

SavannahEncouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Savannah Britt who is the socialite turned entrepreneur who successfully founded Girlpez Magazine at age twelve. Now at 18 years old, Britt has been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, The Anderson Cooper Show, and Scholastic’s Ahora Magazine. She continues the magazine while launching a luxury swimwear line and a PR firm.

D is for Dream. What is your dream and what have you achieved?

My dream is to inspire girls around the world, to show them that becoming an entrepreneur is possible to anyone who is willing to work. I have achieved so much as this age from being featured in Black Enterprise Magazine to becoming the Youngest Magazine Publisher in the U.S. But my dream continues, I am still trying to get my message to young girls out there.

E is for Encourage. What encourages you?

My readers are what encourage me. They are the ones who send me their stories and insight, they are the ones who push me to put out my publication. I am motivated by their everyday struggles and problems whether it be dealing with anorexia or shopping on a budget, I feel like I am able to help them and that’s what encourages me.

R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

I have a lot of industry friends and many of them I look to as resources. In addition, I have my family and friends that I look to for resources.

R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

I realized I was ready at age twelve, when I started the magazine. I had been writing children’s book reviews for a newspaper and after the newspaper folded I was left unemployed but hungry too. I knew I was ready to expand my brand and begin my own publication.

I is for Individual. Name at least one person that you know that you feel others should learn about and why?

One individual I feel others should learn about would be Oprah Winfrey. And I know it’s hard to say “learn about” Oprah because what’s there not to know about Oprah, but it extends far behind the surface Oprah. I think others should “learn from” Oprah, how one woman has been able to mold a brand, shape it and make money from it. She has attacked every avenue possible from hosting a talk show to owning a network to owning a publication to owning her own school for girls in Africa. She has managed to make a name for herself in so many ways which is a huge part of the idea of branding.

C is for Continue. When you fail, things look bleak or are not optimistic what makes you want to continue?

Seeing the end goal is what makes me want to continue. Failure is just a stop along the way. Seeing success is what pushes me.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

Several keys to success would be planning, executing, and branding. I really stress that entrepreneurs plan what they want and where they see their company going. That means having a business plan that makes sense. In addition, executing is a big portion. This means doing what you say you will do. And lastly, branding is important. Making a brand for yourself is important, especially having an online presence.

Visit Savannah Britt for more information.