Purpose, Struggle and Making Magic
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey talks about purpose, struggles, and making magic happen with David Drebin. Our guest is the owner of David Drebin; he talks about a hidden formula to achieve success in your chosen career path.
Covered In This Episode
Matt and David have some secrets to reveal when it comes to purpose, struggle, and making magic as an entrepreneur. The duo also shares the factors to consider in your formula for success.
Wait, there’s more! Their conversation also tackles how to create a personal brand. And how do you sell a hundred-grand work in a competitive market?
More insights are waiting for you. Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode now!
- The David Drebin backstory (02:19)
- David’s thoughts on personal branding (05:01)
- Reasons to create a brand (07:45)
- The key to making your own brand (09:10)
- Are you driven or obsessed? (11:20)
- On giving more than receiving (13:10)
- How to sell a photo for a hundred grand (16:41)
- Doing something that you love (19:20)
- David’s work (21:03)
- On public speaking (24:15)
- Doing business and friendships (25:55)
- Flipping NFTs (27:07)
- Thoughts on being an artist (30:00)
- On chasing growth (31:20)
- Is it possible to not work a single day in your life? (33:20)
- Letting inspiration come to you (34:35)
- The materialization of the “final piece” (35:44)
- Attachments to what you create (36:59)
- Selling the hundred-thousand-dollar work (41:43)
- The success of feeling good inside (42:44)
- When to say “No” (44:47)
- Best advice for entrepreneurs (45:55)
I’m a service working for these people. But I’m actually the brand. I had to learn that by working for other brands that I’m actually the brand. People should really look at themselves as walking brands.– David Drebin
If people at my company can’t be successful, then I have nothing.– Matt DeCoursey
Do what you love, and the money will follow. If you chase the money, you never catch the money. If you build something that you have an incredible passion for, the money will always come. But if you do things for the money, it just doesn’t come.– David Drebin
The following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode.
Matt DeCoursey 00:01
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation that I’m hoping will help your business grow. Alright, so let’s talk about purpose, struggle, and maybe making magic. Those all sound like great things in theory, but how do you get it, do it, or just handle any of that stuff in real life? That’s what we’re going to talk about before I get too far into who today’s guest is. A quick reminder that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. There’s a link in the show notes for that. With me today, I’ve got David Drebin. David is a multidisciplinary artist working in various art forms producing limited edition works, including photographs, light boxes, neon light installations, sculptures, etching, and glass. And not only has he done that, but the dude’s also written a lot of books too. So, you know, let me just go ahead and say, David, welcome to Startup Hustle.
David Drebin 01:25
Thank you for having me on the show.
Matt DeCoursey 01:27
Yeah, I appreciate you calling in from New York City. Now, if you want to learn more about what David does, you can go to DavidDrebin.com. There are also some amazing resources in the show notes where you can find him. And join his over 80,000 followers on Instagram and see what that’s all about. But, David, let’s go ahead and start our conversation today with a little bit about your backstory.
David Drebin 01:39
I’m originally from Toronto, Canada. I moved to New York in 1994 to go to Parsons School of Design for photography. But, for me, photography was always a hobby, and I always thought I was going to actually just be a waiter. Until I realized that I had a very unique skill set. And I started working commercially with companies all over the world for many, many years in New York, based in New York. And then, I realized it was better to create a product than be a service. And then, I began making many different limited edition products and selling them through the finest galleries all over the world.
Matt DeCoursey 02:16
Okay, so I have recorded many episodes about how bands are startups and artists or startups. In fact, almost the purest kind of startup because you have to create everything. And you mentioned kind of going through the difference of, like you say, rather than being a service. So when you said you were a service, you were working and creating art for the corporate world or something like that.
David Drebin 02:49
I would do ad campaigns for Mercedes and Coca-Cola and just top companies all over the world. And they would just basically hire the least expensive photographer to get the job done. And they never really cared about the final result as much as they did about who can we get for the least high price. And that was service work. But while I was doing those jobs, I took photographs at the end of the shoot. And I ended up selling the photographs that I made at the end of the shoot of the stylist or the models for myself, far more. I had far more interest in that work than the campaign itself. And I realized that instead of working for the brand, I’m the brand.
David Drebin 03:29
And that’s what doing commercial work taught me. I’m a service worker working for these people. But I’m actually the brand. And I had to learn that by working for other brands, I’m actually the brand, and people should really look at themselves as walking brands. But what is it about your branding? A lot of people don’t even know what their branding and value are to other people in the world. And that’s what it’s all about: creating value for other people.
Matt DeCoursey 04:04
So when we talk about doing it, you know, there’s been so much to do in the last 1015 years about creating your, quote, personal brand, you have all these different forms of social media and ways to get yourself out there. I mean, so if you have no brand, where do you start? Like where, where do you create something purpose-driven and move forward? Because what I see is a lot of people trying to create a quote or personal brand, but they’re not doing it. They’re really just kind of doing what everyone else does and doing a mediocre job at it.
David Drebin 04:41
How many entrepreneurs are successful? It’s a very, very tough road. And it’s true that I think that the most important thing is to figure out what your purpose is in life. What you want to say, how you want to say it, who you want to say it to, and just Make it happen over a sustained period of time. A lot of people don’t even know what their purpose is. So they’re putting up just junk spam on social media. Yeah, I mean, I hate to say it but think about all these women photographing themselves in bikinis and just doing sexy images on Instagram. That’s there like if that’s what they think that they’re worth, they’re just sex on a stick. And for me, I never, like, that’s just crazy to me. But that’s how they see themselves. That’s their own. That’s their brand. Look at me. I’m sexy. I just, it’s good. I actually think it’s given women a lot of opportunities to flaunt how sexy they are, but that’s their brand. Okay, so I’m just saying it’s crazy.
Matt DeCoursey 05:47
You know, I agree with you, I agree with you, I look through like, I’ll scroll through Instagram, or YouTube or whatever. And maybe this says something about what the search algorithm thinks about me. But half these shards, videos, real stories, and everything I see. It’s just like, they that’s what they refer to as the thirst trap, which is just like, you know, women doing they’re like, hey, look, I have big boobs, or I have something else and like, Okay, now, I’m not going to necessarily say there’s no value in that. But at the same time, like you said, that’s a brand that, in my opinion, has an expiration factor on it. And I think one of the things that scares me about future generations of entrepreneurs is, you know, when I talked to a five year old and a seven year old, and when I talk to kids that age, I think that they’re gonna grow up and be an influencer. And like you said, how many entrepreneurs are successful, it’s a small percentage that are, and it’s the same thing with influence and building the brand. I think if you’re going to build a brand for yourself, and you want to do it with some purpose, I think you need to be prepared to help someone, or provide value in some way that potentially has the ability to be bigger than yourself.
David Drebin 07:00
Yes, what are you offering the world, that’s the whole key for me, for being an entrepreneur is What can I offer the world to make the world a better place. And for me, I was lucky enough to find a way to express myself creatively through multiple different art forms, and market my art forms all over the world, and meet incredible people who love buying the art, putting it in their homes, and then telling their friends about the art that they have. And then I have books that I’ve made, I’ve made nine books that my publisher in Germany called to noise with PR, and distribution, and I give all my collectors books, and I’m just building my brand through connecting with people through art. That’s what I do. That’s what my brand is.
Matt DeCoursey 07:58
So one of the things that I’ve learned is that a lot of people that want to create a brand, build an audience or get noticed of any kind, a lot of them, you know, they put like, they do like three things. They make like three videos, or three posts or three or something. And then they’re upset that they don’t that it didn’t go viral. And they don’t have 100 million followers and stuff like that, how long did it, so the question is, how long did it take you to gain traction or to build an audience because I oftentimes people think, a lot of folks have an audience or an overnight sensation.
David Drebin 08:39
The key for me is I’ve never actually felt like I made it. I never feel like I’m that successful, I lead with my mind, and not my ego. And I have something to say that showed the world. And I just put it out there. And my expectations are so low. And then when I think about my low expectations, I go even lower. So I think the most important thing is to be persistent, patient, but have a purpose with what you’re trying to say, focused and be relaxed.
Matt DeCoursey 09:22
David, you’re maybe the first person that has said to me, Well, the first highly successful person that said to me, Hey, man, I just keep trying to set my expectations lower. Actually, I like that. I like that because I think most people are trying to ratchet them up and ratchet them up to the point that I might be one of those people to the point where you’re kind of always chasing that carrot. You’re always running on the treadmill and then you know, as I’ve gotten a little older I’ve really just kind of wanted to either eat the fucking carrot or stop on the treadmill or do I’m trying to do fewer things and I bring up the point about creating an audience because I get a lot of people that asked me questions. So you know, this podcast has been really successful, my business Full Scale has been even more successful. And you know, I tell people, they’re like, Oh, you’re lucky. I’m like, I don’t feel lucky when I work 90 hours in a week, because there’s been some real battles with, like, well, am I driven? Or am I obsessed? And I feel like I know a lot. I worked in the music industry for almost 10 years, and I’ve had this conversation with a lot of like, high performing people that feel the same way. And, you know, it’s like it my Have you found any of that, like in order to do what you do, or the creative outlet has that created any kind of you we talk about purpose and struggle has has been successful as an artist created struggle and other categories or parts of your life?
David Drebin 10:51
Well, first of all, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. So from the moment I wake up, until the moment I go to sleep, I’m always connecting with people all over the world through art. And I just reach out to people every single day to tell people how much I appreciate them, when I actually really do appreciate them. I’m not looking for people to appreciate me, as much as I’m looking to appreciate other people. And I think a lot of people think in the reverse way, I think a lot of people are looking to be appreciated. But if you just turn that around and think you know what, let me appreciate you, before you appreciate me, then things will all turn around from there. I like to appreciate others for their greatness. That’s what makes me happy. I’m not looking for people to appreciate me for my greatness, because I don’t think that way. I just put the work out there. And thank people for loving the work. If that makes sense. It’s a bit of a riddle.
Matt DeCoursey 12:02
But if that makes any sense, it makes a lot of sense to me, because I actually almost confused people. Because when I see my peers, like winning awards, or doing something notable or, you know, selling a company for a bunch, I’ll send them a note. And I’ll say, Hey, man, I love seeing other people be successful and get what they want. And that inspires me. So thank you for the inspiration. And there’s, it’s like, that’s definitely a different message than what they’re used to getting.
David Drebin 12:28
I really appreciate you having me on the show. Far more than Hey, Matt, Aren’t you grateful that I’m on your show? No, I’m really grateful that you took the time to have me on your show to have a conversation with you. So I’m grateful for you. And I think that you get so much more when you give to other people than when you’re trying to get things from people, and a lot of young people are trying to get things from people, I think it should be kind of reversed. And think about what you can give to others and not what you can get from others. And then you’ll be a much happier person by giving, as opposed to thinking what you’re gonna get.
Matt DeCoursey 13:13
I think there’s an easy default form of giving that you can do for the people around you. And that’s just to try to help them be successful. And you know, I’ve built my whole company on that, on that platform of you know, it’s like I have 300 employees, and they often will occasionally I get a get a, I get a Hey, thanks for the paycheck. And I’m like, Thank You, I should be thanking you, you showed up, you’re helping me. If the people that work at my company can’t be successful, then I’m nothing, I have nothing like I’m just a guy looking for something to do. It’s really that simple. So, you know, then with that form of giving it the hardest part of it, and this is all Buddhism stuff here. But giving with no expectation of return is really the purest form of it. And I can’t you know, I give money to charities and do donations and stuff like that. And they all want to recognize you and I’m like, don’t, it’s all good. You know, I’m not. And you know, sometimes there’s things that might be the opposite of that, but and I’ll be a little more outward like we’ve we’ve done a bunch of fundraisers and stuff through the Startup Hustle chat on Facebook and different stuff like that, where the thing that our listeners don’t know is I’m usually matching the amounts that they add in and and why do I not, you know, our PR people or even other people I know, well, why aren’t you telling people about that? Because it doesn’t, that’s not what I want to be known for. So it’s a challenge, but I’ve definitely trained myself to try and do that. And it’s, you know, I think that that I mean, hey, isn’t a new principle it’s been around for for a long time.
David Drebin 14:54
I think. I think true philanthropists give without it. matching their names and fake philanthropists give as long as their name is attached. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it’s because I love kind people. The people I know who are big, the people I know who are hashtag Be Kind people are usually at the core, nasty diets, manipulative, cunning. That’s a big kind gesture to me. It’s actually the behind under the guise of actually nasty movement.
Matt DeCoursey 15:37
Has that happened as an entrepreneur? I won’t, I don’t want to get on that soapbox. Now, because I’ll go off for about 20 minutes or so I want to shift a little bit here. So, you know, for those of you listening once again, go to David drebin.com. Because this dude’s phenomenal. Just I got to ask, how do you sell a photograph for 100 grand?
David Drebin 16:01
How do you do that? Well, the reason why it sold multiple photographs for 100,000. Plus, actually, my goal was not to sell the photograph. And I put it at that price through my galleries as leverage to have a piece that was that expensive. Because the moment you sell it, you can’t use that as leverage anymore. Interesting. But when I sold those pieces for 100,000, which I’ve done repeatedly, I didn’t have pieces for $100,000 To sell anymore. So the pieces for 100,000 were more as a rageous number. So I wouldn’t sell the piece because the work is in limited edition. So when I sold them, I had no more leverage. That’s why people want it. So it’s actually a lot easier to send to sorry, it’s a lot easier to sell expensive pieces of art than inexpensive pieces of art for whatever reason we sell works in the 20 to $50,000 range. Far more than works in this 6000 to $8,000 range. I never got into this to sell the work though, I just put the prices up, because I wanted to hold on to the pieces so I wouldn’t sell them and then the people wanted to buy those pieces because there was limited availability. I’m in the limited edition business, the limited availability business.
Matt DeCoursey 17:30
You know, I’m a bit of a limited edition person myself. I like one of one things and you know, those of you listening can’t see the wall behind me. But the first thing that David said to me when we can see each other through video chat, and the first thing he said to me was he noticed the paintings that are on the wall behind me which are all by an artist named Nate Trotter, and you go to Nate trotter.com see more of his work, but those are all one of one. And I love that because there’s just something about that. I don’t know. Maybe I’m materialistic, maybe I’m not. I think they’re beautiful art. A couple of them are my wife. That one you can see I’m pointing to David. But you know, so with that I like unique things. I’ve also got a few I’ve got a few sports things that are like one of one now I like to surround myself with these inspirational things or things that that were worn or like in moments of greatness, because I look around and I see him and I’m like I I’m creating an environment of inspiration for myself. I don’t really, I’ve never really bought anything like that thinking, oh man, I hope I resell it for more. In fact, I think the opposite. I’m like, I don’t think I’d ever sell this stuff.
David Drebin 18:40
So being a great entrepreneur. Do what you love, and the money will follow. Yeah, you chase the money. You never catch the money. If you build something that you have incredible passion for, the money will always come. But if you do things for the money, it just doesn’t come if you think Steve Jobs built Apple for the money or from his passion. I photographed Steve Jobs in 2003. And the passion that that man had for the original iPod blew my mind. He wasn’t doing it for the money. He was doing it to provide value for literally billions of people around the world. It was from a vision and not for padding a bank account.
Matt DeCoursey 19:31
One of the most common questions I’ve had or was the most frequent question I’ve had over the last 10 years is how do I make more money and I always say to people, I’m like you need to quit focusing on money. You need to get good at something, you need to become an expert at something. And speaking of which, if you need to find expert software developers, which is difficult, you can do so easily when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. You can use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and then see what Available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. They’ll be passionate about you. And I can tell you that much. Go to FullScale.io to learn more. So all right, so you mentioned Steve Jobs while you’re here, man, who are some of the more interesting people that you have photographed. And if people are things over your career, I’m just curious.
David Drebin 20:24
I photographed many stars from all different walks of entertainment, sports and politics, and entrepreneurs. For me, it’s all about the chemistry that I have with the people that I photograph. And if they’re willing to actually be photographed, by me, because sometimes there can be a tension with what I want to photograph and how people want to be photographed. So I could take a massive star. But if they won’t, let me take the picture that I want to make of them, then it may not be a great experience. But I care far more about getting the photograph than I do about making sure that it’s a pleasant experience. It’s like a movie director, I will do whatever I can to make a great photograph. Because sometimes, the worst experiences make the best photographs. I know it’s a crazy conflict. But if we were having no it’s not, no, that makes seven dinner together. And someone took a picture of me shaking your hand or me throwing a glass of wine in your face. I think throwing a glass of wine in your face is a far more interesting photograph than you and I shaking hands together. So I thought about big stars. But I always wanted to get my concepts across, maybe photograph them freaking out crying, some kind of emotion other than just standing against the wall staring at the camera, because I find that to be really boring. I like to create excitement.
Matt DeCoursey 21:54
Will you still need to tell me a couple people that were interesting, David?
David Drebin 21:57
Oh, I mean, for me that for me, the real highlight was actually I thought about Michael Jordan and his prime. He was the nicest guy. His team told me that I only had five minutes with him and he said you take as much time with me as you want. And he was a very, very cool guy. I photographed him for a Gatorade campaign. I used to do all the ads for Gatorade. So I photographed all these major stars in their prime: Michael Jordan in his prime, Peyton Manning in his prime, Derek Jeter in his prime, Vince Carter and his prime. So I really love doing ad campaigns with athletes that I really admired. But then I photographed entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, and Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary Vaynerchuk was spectacular to photograph. He was so he was so into all the concepts. He said, Do whatever you want to do. We have as much time as you need. So I love entrepreneurs. I love athletes. I photographed a lot of movie stars. Also, I photographed Charlize Theron, at the Chateau Marmont, in LA, she was just about to win her first Oscar. And that was an incredible moment for me where I was actually very nervous to photograph her. And sometimes I like being nervous. And I missed the days when I was nervous to photograph people, because it doesn’t happen very much anymore. But I love that nervous feeling because to be nervous, is to be alive. And I crave situations that make me comfortably uncomfortable. To get a little bit nervous. I’m looking for situations where I can be a little bit nervous. And that’s why I like doing public speaking also, with no notes. Public speaking with no notes with a little bit of nervous energy is for me, a dream-like scenario.
Matt DeCoursey 23:49
I do the same thing with public speaking. My wife thinks I’m crazy. You know, she’ll be like, how many people use spring I don’t know, four or five.
David Drebin 23:56
Let me tell you something. What you let me tell you what you just did for me. You just gave me the most amazing piece of art and I’m gonna make this. It’s gonna say I’m going to make neon, it’s gonna say My wife thinks I’m crazy. And I’m gonna put it in our basil this year. And it’s going to be an absolute masterpiece. So we’re speaking right now. I will make a neon sign that says My wife thinks I’m crazy. Let me just write this on my phone right now. Oh, please, my wife might hold on a second. Hold on a second. My wife thinks I am crazy. I will make this in pink or purple. I will put this at an art fair in December. And people will come and people will see it and people will buy it. I’ll put it in addition to nine. So that’s entrepreneurship we’re seeing right now. You gave me a great idea. I wrote it down. I’ll put it into fabrication in the next two weeks. In four months from now. I will take a picture of it at the Art Fair. I will send it to you. You will probably buy one yourself and I will make an addition of nine and I will sell them all but I didn’t do it for the money. I had that conversation right now. That is an incredible art piece. My wife thinks I’m crazy. Just spectacular. Do you feel it? You feel it?
Matt DeCoursey 25:10
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it. I think you got to send me one of the nine though. You’re gonna make me buy all my friends.
David Drebin 25:18
All my friends say to your friend, you should give me the art.
Matt DeCoursey 25:21
I’m like, yeah, so if I wouldn’t let you do that, well, if you wanted to, I would take it. But I wouldn’t ever show up and be like, Hey, man, I inspired you to do this. You should give me one.
David Drebin 25:31
Well, it’s like owning a restaurant. A lot of people I know in restaurants, their friends come in, and they think they could just eat for free. Well, no, this is a business. If you come to my restaurant, you have to support me. I’m not giving you free stuff.
Matt DeCoursey 25:43
Yeah, I would if I came to your restaurant, I would actually pay more than was on the menu. Happily, and I do it’s I mentioned working in the music industry for 10 years. If you know, I go and I get to hang out with some cool people. And they would guestlist me anytime I ask. And I have to buy my own ticket 100% of the time because for the same reason, men don’t show up at my restaurant and ask me for free shit in their work. And so that’s a great thing. I’m a bad wife who really does think I’m crazy, by the way, I think most people’s wives do. And that’s why that’ll be a big fucking hit. Now, you know, we talked about that. You talked about doing the neon and doing the photograph, I see you’ve done some stuff with NF T’s how has that journey been for you?
David Drebin 26:28
I worked with Gary Vaynerchuk agency Vayner NFT. And I really enjoyed being part of the NFT movement. The problem I have with any NF T is that people were buying my NFT’s to sell them for five times more money the day after the auction ended. And I felt like it was more about people looking for quick flips, then about buying the art. And I like to make art for people who love the art and not for people to buy the art and flip the art for five times more than the next day. So I like the concept, but I think the people trying to flip it are ruining the NF T’s instead of the people who want digital assets on their phone. I love the concept of digital assets. But I don’t love the concept of buying digital assets to flip them the next day to try and make five times more money. It’s like buying penny stocks, thinking that you’re gonna get rich, too many people are going to get rich fast. And that’s just not my business. I build the business based on hitting singles, the odd double, occasional triple, but I don’t hit grand slam on every single one I have. I’m a singles hitter.
Matt DeCoursey 27:38
I actually had someone say that to me a few years ago, they were that I had requested that I do a call with them. And then when I got on the call, the guy was like, you know, Matt, I was really looking at a lot of stuff you do and seems like you’re really good at like hitting doubles, and you don’t really ever hit home runs I’m like, Yeah, you can make the fucking all-star team every single year, if you’re a great double setter as well, you know, now, the thing is not all as an entrepreneur, if you’re only going up to the plate trying to hit home runs, you are going to be walking back to the dugout hanging your head a lot. Because, you know, look, very few. I mean, very few microscopic people get rich quickly. And also like and those are just like, a lot of times it’s timely. You know, I’ve met some people that are rich beyond any person’s belief, and I leave my meeting with them. And I’m like, What the fuck? Like, how did this person get rich? So sometimes it’s just like you’re I mean, I’m not a big believer in luck. But you know, everyone that I know has been successful and done notable things. It does not happen quickly and sometimes it appears as if it does, you’re not considering the 10,000 hours of practice or iteration that went into that moment where they finally did it. And a lot of times I think you’ll agree with this as an artist and as an entrepreneur. My goal is I’ll take 10 ideas, and I’ll run them all forward. And I’m hoping that one of them ends up great. And that’s all I need. And I would imagine that’s the same thing as an artist in some regards. Like, I mean, everybody I know that photographer takes a shitload of photographs and 99% of them get thrown away.
David Drebin 29:21
I don’t think that way though. I don’t think that way. First of all, I don’t see myself as an artist, I project myself as somewhat of a crazy eccentric artist. But there’s nothing crazy or eccentric about me. It’s just an image. But I spend my life as an entrepreneur or an entrepreneur, and I market the art that I’ve already made. Because if I was living as an artist every day I’d be broke. So I market the art that I’ve made all over the world. So I make art sometimes, but I market my art all the time. It’s pure entrepreneurship by making people feel amazing. That’s what I do. I make people feel great through art, and through appreciation. My dream is to be an artist. But I’m an entrepreneur.
Matt DeCoursey 30:19
I love the comment earlier. Well, I think if you think you’ve made it, you’re in the process of undoing that.
David Drebin 30:29
I never thought I would make it. I’ve never felt successful. I’d never thought I made it. I never put my hand on my own back. And all I want to do is grow and be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday and tomorrow than I am today.
Matt DeCoursey 30:48
So what are some of the things that are going to help assess without and what do you have planned for the future? David Drebin? Everything other than my wife thinks I’m crazy, which is going to be a hit. Pause. Have you heard it here? First?
David Drebin 31:03
My wife thinks I’m crazy. Well, probably one of the fastest selling pieces of art that I’ve ever made.
Matt DeCoursey 31:13
I hope it is. I hope it is.
David Drebin 31:16
And actually, people say what inspires you? How do you create art, and for me, it comes out of nowhere by paying attention to conversation. That’s how I make it just just just by having this conversation with you right now. And we get off the phone, I’ll call my neon manufacturer, I’ll ask him what the right size is, I’ll call my designer, my graphic designer, they’ll put it into production, they’ll give me the font, they’ll make my wife think I’m crazy. I’ll send it to my team, I’ll send it to my galleries, ask them what they like and make it happen and promote it like crazy. That’s the key. The key is to believe it, to see it. Have an idea and make it happen.
Matt DeCoursey 32:05
I’ve got my method. And I kind of consider myself more of an artist on Sundays and an entrepreneur because to do as an entrepreneur, to pull off some of the shit you have to pull off, you have to do it in an artful way. But you know, I think my key is you mentioned lessening and listening to what’s going on around you. And for regular listeners of the show, you probably know what I’m gonna say you gotta listen, there’s an echo, there’s always an echo out there. When it comes to problems that need to be solved, you’re gonna hear the same people complaining about the same shit. And you gotta find you got to find an echo that you’re passionate about solving. And much like David said earlier, you said you do something you love, you know, you know, work, I decided several years ago that my hobby was going to be making money. And I haven’t worked a single day since that either. So I get to hear you on that. And that helps me get up and do it on the days that I might not. And you know, honestly, on the days that I really just don’t want to do it, I don’t it’s maybe not the most motivational thing you’re ever going to hear. And it might not even be the most responsible or adult thing, I don’t really care. Because if I’m not, because I will get more done. When I’m passionate about doing something and locked in like an inspiration is hard to find. When you do find it, you gotta ride that fucking horse until it’s not gonna go anymore. And you know whether that’s three straight days, like don’t get off of it. If you get off of it, then it’s sometimes you don’t know when it’s gonna come back around and say, hey, get back on now. And that’s a question I have for you. It’s like, what are there? Can you turn on inspiration? Or do you just have to look for it? And when you spot it, go with it.
David Drebin 33:55
I don’t look for inspiration. I let it come to me. Just like us right now, just like you and I speaking right now, I wasn’t looking to create an art piece based on our conversation. But because of what you just said to me that got the wheels turning and inspired me to make an amazing piece of art that many people around the world will be able to relate to but I’m only going to make nine pieces. So that was my inspiration of the day, but I wasn’t looking for inspiration. And I think sometimes the key is to be calm and let things come to you. While you’re very aware of what you need to inspire you and what rings a bell in your imagination.
Matt DeCoursey 34:51
So I’m curious as an artist when you mentioned something that does inspire you, whether that’s a comment or something you see do you see the finished and final piece For the most part, like in your head, like do you do you already see font colors like all of that, because you split that out pretty quick.
David Drebin 35:07
Yeah, it’s the mentality right now that this is perfect. You saying My wife thinks I’m crazy, it’s already done in my mind. I’ve already shown it at five art fairs. And I’ve already sold nine of the pieces for $25,000 Each, they’re all sold in my mind, it’s done. It may not happen in one day, but I guarantee you in a year and a half from now, those pieces will all be sold. People are very happy with those pieces in their house, they will all post them on their Instagram, it will go viral, and people will love it. But at the same time, if I never sell one of them. That’s okay, too. Because I imagined and I also managed what I can expect from the creation that you inspired me to create. And that half the fun is taking somebody for inspiration. So whether I sell them or not, it’s okay either way because I’m in the game. At least I’m in the game, and I got excited.
Matt DeCoursey 36:17
So do you ever get attached to the stuff that you create? And it hurts when you sell it? Or do you create? Or do you know that it’s meant to go? Do you get more pleasure out of knowing that someone else is getting it and enjoying it?
David Drebin 36:30
That’s a really great question. For many years, art sort of came through me. And then I just became a product for all of my galleries and distributors all over the world. And sometimes I want to say I’m not just the product. I’m actually a person as well. So I actually like to practice detachment far more than attachment. I’m not really attached to anything. Especially outcomes, I’m more attached to the process than I am to the outcome. That’s my attachment to the process, not the outcome. That’s a great question, though.
Matt DeCoursey 37:16
That’s my favorite thing with entrepreneurs. And you know, they started, I think so many people start a business and they accidentally, you know, read one of my books. In my book, Million Dollar Bedroom, I mentioned that it’s like literally right there. Near the beginning, my accidental business. And so many people start a business because they’re passionate about it. Like artists are great examples, artists will start an art business, but they don’t know anything about business. They know a lot about art. And then they find themselves having to learn so much about it, which kind of takes a lot of the flavor away from what they’re trying to do on the other side of the room. I have a feeling about you. You mentioned your team or people and stuff like that. Is that a key component of it? You know, I want some of the best advice I got was from a guitarist named Jake Sen. And Ben Humphries, McGee, they’ve been playing big venues for a while, and I was struggling to try to scale my business. And I asked him, he said, Well, what do you have a problem with? I kind of laid it out. I was basically doing too much stuff, too much stuff. He said the guru doesn’t take selfies, Matt. And meaning like you gotta let people around you help you. So you can be in your moment. And he went on to describe, he’s like, you know, there are people setting up my gear on the stage and bringing it in, you guys, I’m capable of doing that, in fact, I’m willing to do all of it. The problem is, is if I spend time doing it, the more of that, the more and more I do that, the more and more I’m dragging myself away from the place I need to be when this place fills up tonight, and I have to hit my notes and, you know, sing the songs and do all of that. And, you know, for me, that changed my outlook on a lot of things because I started asking myself more and more and more, should I be the person that should be doing this?
David Drebin 39:03
I think delegating is very important to find people who can do things better than you can do things for your business.
Matt DeCoursey 39:15
Yeah, and that’s hard to do. I mean, that’s hard to do. You have to develop a level of trust. And I would think that would be challenging as well. Because you know, with art, I mean, so much of that can be subjective. Is this, is this worth nothing? Is this worth 25 grand? Is this worth 100? Grand? Is this worth infinity? Who knows? Who knows? I guess if you were talking to my dad, who I always remember when I was a kid, I had a baseball card collection, and I’d be like, hey, look, this is worth $4. He’d be like, do you have someone to give you $4 for it? Well, no, then it’s not worth anything.
David Drebin 39:49
So yeah, let me tell you, let me tell you something. If I did work for $100,000, I never sold them ever. I’d be totally fine with that. Because I could spend the next 30 years letting people know that I’ve got work for $100,000. Obviously, you can’t afford it. But when you can afford it, let us know. And we’ll make the image for you. The worst thing about having a piece for $100,000 is actually selling it. Because then it’s gone. The worst one was selling a piece of work for $100,000.
Matt DeCoursey 40:26
I love the sales approach there. That’s true.
David Drebin 40:28
I like to listen. After I sold a piece, I was depressed for months, and I’ve sold multiple pieces for over $100,000 Multiple. And every time I sell it, I get depressed. Because I think now it’s gone.
Matt DeCoursey 40:45
I love that approach, though. And there is something now if we just talk about more like just sales in general, the good, better, best approach, right? And so like you said, like here, this is, this is 100 grand, you probably I get it, you might not be able to afford this right now, which you tell some people that and they’re like, Fuck you, I can’t afford it. Let’s bring it up.
David Drebin 41:09
The thing for me is I am never thirsty. I always like to say I love money. And I love girls. But I never chase money. And I never chase girls. I just don’t like people who are thirsty. And when I see people who I know have a lot of money. The last thing I do is try to sell them anything ever. If anything, I’d rather buy them a drink. I’d rather give them a book. I’d rather compliment them on something. Because I take all their power away by wanting nothing of what they have. And I truly don’t actually, and people who’ve worked with me in the past have said to me, you’ve left so much money on the table. And I will say I rather leave the money on the table and feel good about myself than take the money off the table and feel bad about myself. I’d rather feel good about myself with less money than have more money and feel bad about myself. I’m driven by the success of feeling good inside internally. And not the rewards of money and external validation. Money never made me or anybody I know happy. But peace of mind is the ultimate success that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with being grateful for what you have.
Matt DeCoursey 42:33
You’re without peace of mind. Nothing else has many flavors. I’ve said that a lot in my life. I did the same thing at Full Scale. And this seems like a good time for me to do my final piece of real work here, which is if you need to hire software engineers, tests, or leaders, let Full Scale help. We have the people on the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts when you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions and let our platform match you up with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers, or leaders at Full Scale. We specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you to learn more at FullScale.io. Once again, with me today, David Drebin was a very interesting guest for so many different reasons. I really enjoyed this conversation because I love talking to entrepreneurs that do so many different things. And this is me. Actually, I think I’ve recorded over 700 episodes of the show, and I can’t remember another artist. And you know, congratulations on all of your success. I love that. I love the outlook on so many things. And yeah, honestly, David, I really love the sales approach on some of it. Whether it’s intentional or not, it’s strong. Maybe I like it because it lines up well with what I recommend. Now, you know, one of the things that you mentioned, and I want to encourage everyone out there, especially entrepreneurs that are starting any kind of new business and you’re bringing on new clients or customers or whatever, you know, what be mindful of who your clients and customers are, it’s okay to say no, it’s okay to say next, I do it all the time. Because you’re gonna get some people that are going to drive you crazy and just drive you nuts. And that will ruin your peace of mind. And, you know, it’s hard in the beginning because you’re like shit, I better make some money here. So you kind of say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And then you find yourself in a spot where you need to say, no, no, no, no, no. And you kind of go nuts over the attachments. And you know, some businesses are not like that, meaning you can make a one-time transaction, and then you’re gone. But for us, we do recurring stuff for the long term. And if we don’t have a good relationship with the client, or they treat our people poorly, then it’s just a shitty thing, and I just rather not even have the money than deal with that. And you know, there’s a lot to be said about, about all that. So David, as we wrap up today’s show, you know, and thanks again for the interesting take on entrepreneurship. I’m hoping the future, My wife thinks I’m crazy, is going to be a big hit because I believe, although I will enjoy watching all of that, what’s some advice that you could give if you had to give some advice to entrepreneurs in general? I mean, what would that be? Feel free to throw an art flavor in there if you want because I know we hear the term struggling artists are starving artists for a reason.
David Drebin 45:20
The advice I give to others is the advice I give to myself, which is never chasing money. Find a passion, pursue your passion, believe in yourself, and then convince the world to see you the way you see yourself and your passion. And then, if you’re lucky, and you win, the money will come. Money comes from winning. Focus on winning. Don’t focus on money. Do you think Michael Jordan, when he was taking the last shot in the game, or LeBron was thinking about his paycheck? No, he’s thinking about winning. Think about winning before the money. And then, because you win, the money will come.
Matt DeCoursey 46:04
Yeah, I agree. And I liked that I’ve used the term expert, more so than winning, and the references I’ve made in the past, but getting good at something. If you get good at something, you’re going to be fine. And it’s like even during the pandemic, even though my wife does think I’m crazy and still does. She said to me at one point, she’s like, I don’t understand how you’re not going crazy right now. So now I’m going fucking crazy right now. But this is just another problem. I’m learning how to deal with it. And I’m going to show up and handle those problems every day. David, thanks for joining me, man. I really enjoyed the conversation. I’m going to click stop so we can talk about all the stuff that listeners won’t hear now.
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