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

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DERRICK Hayes Interview with Music Mogul Preston “Prizzie” Reid

December 15, 2015

priz shot 2Encouragement 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 Preston ‘Prizzie” Reid who is an American mixing/recording engineer and record producer based in Chicago, Illinois, Atlanta, Georgia and Los Angeles, California. As a native of Chicago, Prizzie was born the son of a musician and was introduced to music as well as electronics at a very young age. Preston spent his teenage years developing his skillset, soon partnering with Space Jam Jaye as a collaborative duo. Shortly after attending Columbia College Chicago, Prizzie set sights for the music scene in Los Angeles where he quickly gained a name for himself not only in music, but in film audio and scoring as well under CannonVision among many other film production companies. Since then he has been primarily working out of his private studio in Chicago along with remote studios throughout Atlanta where he has mixed and/or produced records for Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, and several other genres for artists including Space Jam Jaye, T.I, Energe, Fetty Wap, Scotty ATL, Duru Tha King, Mykko Montana, Cam’ron, Cash Out, Gorilla Zoe, Ab Soul, Stuey Rock, Gucci Mane, Jerm 9V, Slide Dillinger, Zeus, Tim Stacks (W), 2 Chainz, Cap 1, Ronn Makk, Breezy Montana, Yo Gotti, GBE, various film credits and many other very talented artists and producers along with a variety of film credits.

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

My dream is simple. Inspire. That’s what helped me get to where i am so far. And what propels me to keep reaching. I think people can achieve great things as long as we keep the fire burning and inspiring each other.

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

Well, as far as music goes….I attended Columbia College in Chicago, IL. But as far as where I’ve actually developed, it’s a little tricky. I grew up heavily rooted in church. I mean every Sunday (and Wednesday). So as far as watching what music can do to people and how it can move people emotionally…that’s where i learned it. As far as having the “ear”, I think it was genetically passed down by my father who is a lifelong musician and exposed me to a ton of music early on in life. But as far as overall creativity, I think life and living through different experiences is the best teacher.

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

I think the fact that i was exposed to so many diverse situations throughout my childhood, naturally makes me versatile and adaptable. My favorite music ranges from modern hip-hop to Zedd to Ingrid Michaelson to The Fray to Hoobastank to Earth Wind & Fire to Jim Morrison to Frank Sinatra. I can’t get enough of music. I love it all.

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

Honestly, i don’t know if i was ever ready. I think it’s more so a matter of being ready to embrace whatever you are faced with and having an optimistic attitude.

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

Sounds crazy, but my Uncle Josef Cannon. He’s an actor living out in LA. He’s one of the craziest and most brutally honest people i know. But i think when you can get past his blunt approach, you’ll realize that there’s a method to his madness.

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

Where do i start?? Everyday is a challenge. I think what a lot of people may not realize is that following a dream can be an extremely lonely path at times. It’s like GPS’ing a location and realizing the only way to get there from where you are at is through a long dark dusty back road. To make it even more tough, sometimes the weather may be bad and you can’t see what’s in front of you nor do you have anyone else’s taillights to guide you. But you know that you just need to keep going. You know you’ll get there as long as you don’t stop.

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

I think to me at this point, the biggest key is to lead by example. Be brave and bold in what you want to do. I admire people like Ken Lewis, Miles Walker, Leslie Braithwate (i probably spelled that wrong) etc. I admire them not only for their skill set and ability, but more so for their mind and hustle. i’ve learned more from these people when in comes to taking care of business and doing good work. That you are a walking product and brand. At this point, almost EVERYBODY is good at what they do. We all have the same resources. I think what ultimately sets them apart is their sense of maniacal work ethic and professionalism.

Visit Preston Prizzie Reid for more information.


DERRICK Interview with Marketing Specialist Sam Abbott

December 2, 2013

SamAbbottEncouragement 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 Sam Abbott who is a God-fearing, 25 year old from Columbus, Georgia. He is currently a Marketing Specialist at United Parcel Service (UPS) in Atlanta, Georgia. In this position, he utilizes market trends, historical data, and competitor information to set service rates and pioneer revenue-generating initiatives. He is an active duty Air Force veteran and current Logistics Plans Craftsman in the Air National Guard.

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

At 25, I have managed to earn three college degrees, which allowed me to pursue my chosen career path. I have proudly served my country, and had the ability to live in Europe for two years while doing so. This year I became a published author on Amazon and bought my first home, a condo in Downtown Atlanta. God has truly been good to me!NikeBrand

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

I have an Associate’s Degree in Logistics from the Community College of the Air Force; a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing & Business Administration from Auburn University; and a Master’s in Business Administration from Kennesaw State University. I use the knowledge as well as analytical, decision-making and problem solving skills gained from these programs on a daily basis, both in personal and professional areas. No matter what a person’s career goals are, I believe education is vitally important.

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

I’m constantly learning new things and striving to reach the goals I set for myself. I have an inherent hunger for achievement and am able to remain focused on completing objectives. Regardless of obstacles, my determination does not waiver.

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

While earning my undergraduate degree, I realized I wanted to have the occupation I currently have. I knew I wanted a career in Marketing, and as I better understood the different facets of it and their characteristics, I knew I wanted to be more involved in the strategic aspects of the field. I have been in my current position for almost a year now, and have been able to use my existing skills and abilities, while continuing to learn from tasks, challenges and my peers.

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

While in graduate school, I worked on campus at Kennesaw State University as a Business Operations Assistant in the Information Technology Services department. I really looked up to my director there, McCree Lake. He was young, very intelligent, and driven. McCree was one of those rare managers who served as an inspiring mentor for the whole staff. His high level of technical expertise and interpersonal skills were reflected in the department’s success. These qualities were most notably depicted in his ability to motivate a team to care about its project and be invested in the project’s success. McCree’s positive attitude and the respect others had for him were palpable. It was truly a privilege working under such leadership!

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

I’ve faced many challenges in my life, but I always challenged myself to evolve through them. I view each one as an opportunity to learn and grow in a way that will help me in the future.I keep my faith in God and remember that He has a plan for me.

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

The key to success is God’s grace. No matter how much money I earn or what connections I make, I know I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my goals without His help.

Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with?

It’s important to utilize the resources you have to accomplish your goals. Make a plan that details the steps you will take, and recruit the help of someone close to hold you accountable if needed. Never assume you’re dreaming too big.

Social Media Contact Info

LinkedIn: Samontini Abbott

Facebook: Sam Abbott

Twitter: @samontini

Instagram: @samontini

Amazon: Nike: The Global Brand


DERRICK Interview with Luke McGowan the Small Business Advocate at Thumbtack

August 26, 2013

ThumbtackEncouragement 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 Luke McGowan the Small Business Advocate at Thumbtack and represents the company and the answers in this DERRICK Interview are through the voice of Thumbtack.

DOur dream here at Thumbtack is to help service professionals find new customers for less than the price of lunch. We’ve made a lot of progress -250,000 service pros are using Thumbtack to find new customers, but we still have a lot of work to do.

EThe Thumbtack team comes from many different educational backgrounds. Big colleges and small colleges. Universities on the east coast, west coast, midwest, and abroad. Law degrees, engineering degrees, business degrees, you name it. We put all of our educations to use helping service pros grow their business.

RThumbtack has a team of online marketing experts who know how to create advertising campaigns that connect with customers. We have a team of designers and engineers who have created a simple, easy to use product that is always being improved. We can leverage the strength of our community of pros in a way that smaller companies couldn’t.

RWe realized we were ready when we started seeing our local service pros double or even triple the size of their businesses using Thumbtack. When we realized we could do that, we knew we could help 1,000s more pros.

IWe can do better than just a single individual…here’s 7 pros who have used Thumbtack to achieve success in their businesses – http://www.thumbtack.com/pros/stories

CWe have had to lift ourselves up and be scrappy – like many of our service pros, we are still a small business ourselves. Fixing the market for services so that customers and service pros are satisfied is no easy task – but we love big problems!

KThere are many keys to success, but we would say that working hard is one of the biggest. Our team is working around the clock, and a huge reason for our success is the energy we’re able to put towards moving forward. We also make an effort to surround ourselves with quality people, both here at HQ and in our network of pros.

Visit Thumbtack for more information.