Some of you know me as a video director, speaker, and violinist. But my sport is weight-training. (Not bodybuilding, fyi.) I’ve been a lifter for 20 years, and it’s changed how I think about a lot of things, including my creative work.

First, a little bit about how we build muscle. It’s a multi-part process.

Me, taking a selfie break at my local Anytime Fitness gym.

Pushing yourself to new levels

To get started, you have to load the muscle. This means applying more weight than what the muscles are used to. Which is why we train by lifting progressively heavier weights. If you just stick to the same program, you won’t be doing your body any favors. And you’ll get pretty bored, too.

Once the muscle gets loaded, you get sore, which tells you the inflammatory molecules and your immune system are activated. Muscle glycogen helps to swell the muscle and connective tissues grow, too.

The muscle literally has to break down to rebuild, stronger.

Lesson 1 from lifting: Getting out of your comfort zone, literally, is part of the process.

While this is happening, you have to rest the muscle. This is why we lifters rotate “back days” or “leg days”. Rest is key to success!

Lifting Lesson 2: You can’t always be in “building” mode. We all need regular breaks in order to stay creative.

Failure leads to success

Another element of weight training is “training to failure”. This means repeating an exercise (such as squats or bench press) to the point of momentary muscular failure, i.e. the point where the neuromuscular system can no longer produce adequate force to overcome that weight workload.

Lesson 3 from lifting: Failure is part of the growing process.

To successfully train to failure, you have to pick a weight that’s heavy enough to make you struggle to complete your last rep. But you have to know what you’re doing with this technique. You can lose form and then hurt yourself, if you aren’t training properly. Thus the need for spotting, which you will see a lot with bench press and squats.

Lesson 4 from lifting: Often, you need help to get to the next level.

If you do know what you’re doing, then working to failure can help you break through a plateau—get past a barrier that in some ways is in your mind, not only your body.

Being in the moment

One of the things I love about lifting is how it forces me to be in the moment. My work already feels like a series of marathons with various finish lines up ahead. But with lifting, there’s just this moment. This one lift, right now. That forces me to focus. To make the most of the lift. And to ignore all the other looming deadlines and projects.

Lesson 5 (and super hard for me as a go-go person): There is value in simply being present in the moment.

What you put in matters

Lifting definitely helps me focus on the foods I need to eat. Your body needs both carbs and proteins to build muscle. You need a sufficient supply of amino acids.  Your body doesn’t produce leucine, isoleucine, and valine, so I add them to my workout mix (you’ll hear the term BCAA’s–branch chain amino acids–from lifters, and everyone tinkers around with their perfect workout mix). BCAA’s are the body’s essential tools to build muscle, decrease muscle fatigue, and a lot of lifters think they also reduce post-workout muscle soreness.

So Lesson 6 is that creative muscle-building requires “input”–going to museums, concerts, plays, films, installations, as well as simply time to think about these things–in order to create more interesting “output”.

By now you’ve figured out that my point here isn’t about weightlifting. It’s about creative work and life.

I’ve learned that it’s important to push myself and my team to try new things. And a trainer often helps me do that–find a new creative way to exercise the same muscle group. Or try hitting an entirely different muscle.

In my work, team members and sometimes coaches help support my creative reaches. It would be easy to just phone in the work and repeat the process for each new video, workshop or speaking engagement. But instead, I’m often trying a challenge I’ve never taken on before. And in turn, pushing my team to do the same. This helps us learn and grow. And ultimately do better work.

We sometimes try and fail. And that’s okay. (And that’s where my producer backup planning comes into play—often the client isn’t even aware we tried something and ended up going a different route.)

We often need help–creative work is a team sport. As with lifting, we need spotters and trainers to support an inspire us.

We also need breaks. Last year, our team really pushed ourselves because we had so many new and exciting projects and clients. But we also got really fatigued. So I shut down our virtual office for 11 days to recharge our creative selves before starting in on work for the New Year. And I plan to bake in plenty of vacation time in between creative workouts this year, to be sure I’m coming at them with full energy.

We also need time to focus on the moment, and not worry so much about what’s coming.  And we need positive input. As a creative, I love going to museums, concerts, plays, long walks–anything that gives me the visual and auditory version of those branch chain aminos.

Whatever your sport or passion, I hope you are building in time for trying new things.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a spotter or a trainer.  Try and fail, and try again. And set aside time to regroup and recharge.

Here’s to building some new muscles in 2023!

What are the key trends affecting jobs in film and content production? This was one of the questions I answered in my recent talk at the University Film and Video Association annual conference—a meeting of college educators. A couple of the trends I spoke about affect not just job-seekers, but those of us already working in content creation, plus any company or nonprofit producing their own content.

Two key trends are affecting all content creators, from small nonprofits to streaming networks: remote workflows and massive amounts of data.

Remote work is here to stay.

Let’s first talk about remote work.

I’m not just talking about Zoom meetings here. In our content creation world, remote work preceded Covid, and new technologies accelerated our ability to do everything from remotely dive into a sound mix session to allowing a director to see what the camera sees without being on set. In addition, we use tools allowing clients to give us feedback asynchronously directly onto a video timeline, and these tools got even more sophisticated during Covid. For example, ADOBE tools allow us to begin editing with temporary video files directly from the camera before we even arrive at the edit room. And systems like the Teradek, which I often use so that I can see what the camera is doing when I’m sitting near-set. But paired with an encoder and decoder, we can bring that signal to a client or producer sitting several hundred miles away.

What does this mean for content creatives and the people who hire us? We need to be extremely organized and good at self-management. And each of our team members must also be motivated, organized, and able to deliver their components of our workflow whether or not we’re sitting in a room together. Everyone also has to be excellent at communication. Even if our happy place is working alone, successful creatives must be able to collaborate and synchronize the vision—often very quickly.

The Teradek can be paired with a variety of devices to give us a remote view of the shoot.

The second trend is data.

So. Much. Data. We can shoot terabytes of data on a single shoot with multiple cameras. So it is no longer realistic to have the junior production assistant or intern function as a DIT (Digital Information Tech) on set. We use people who have real expertise in how to tag the metadata, organize the files and ensure everything is getting backed up properly. We can’t afford to lose track of anything in the transition from the shoot to the edit. There is so much data that Netflix recently released a list of jobs on set and near set that are involved in the management of data from field to post. In addition, we have many clients who like to update and revise various videos, to give them a longer lifespan. That means we need to be systematic about how and where we archive our projects, so that we can bring them “back to life” at a moment’s notice.

Both of these trends mean that successful creatives, no matter what our job description, need to be massively organized, and always thinking ahead about how we can work smarter to deliver our best creative results. That’s what my team and I try to do every day. And we’re excited about all the students learning the ropes, and entering the workforce to join us in the near future.

Data management is a big part of the workflow in professional content creation.


I was recently asked “how do you nurture your creative soul while advancing your career?” It’s a great question. I believe there are four keys. Today, I’ll take a look at the first: curating experiences to inspire your creative self.

At my company, when we launch a video project we often start with inspiration boards—something to inspire us; a visual framework within which we can build the story.  In the same way, it’s important to create your own “inspo board” for life. For me, that means going to a lot of museums and installations. Earlier this year I experienced Man Ray: The Paris Years at the Art Museum of Richmond–a fantastic look inside the creative process of this great photographer, as well as the creative milieu in which he soaked daily while living in Paris. And one of the things that surprised me the most was how much of Man Ray’s archetypal photos were created for commercial projects—commissions for magazines, book covers and the like. One of his most iconic and insightful images is of Ernest Hemingway with a bandage wrapped around his head. At the time, Hemingway had been struggling to write. At a party, he drunkenly mistook the chain of a previously broken skylight for the toilet chain. The glass came crashing down on him, he was rushed to the hospital, and reportedly spent hours on the operating table. That night, Hemingway almost died. Man Ray snapped the photo a few days later, capturing Hemingway’s vulnerability, courage, and a slightly rakish look with his hat off kilter as he looks into the middle distance. After the accident, Hemingway’s creativity was unblocked and he wrote A Farewell to Arms, probably one of his greatest works. Some of my many takeaways from this curated experience: a crisis can move us to action. The pivot point in a story can be unexpected. And getting paid to work doesn’t mean the work isn’t worthy–it’s a gift that allows us to keep creating.

Some of my other favorite inspirational experiences are outdoor installations, sculptures and murals. Living in Washington, DC, I’ve got plenty to choose from locally, including the haunting Korean war memorial, Some of my other favorite inspirational experiences are outdoor installations, sculptures and murals. Living in Washington, DC, I’ve got plenty to choose from including the haunting Korean war memorial, including life-sized statues by Frank Gaylord[ making you feel as if you are right there with them in the cold and relenting rain.

And the joyful murals surrounding Ben’s Chili bowl done by artist Aniekan Udofia.

I was also lucky enough to catch the multi-floor Adam Pendleton exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York when I was there last month for a project.

Now that Covid restrictions are lifting, I’ve got lots more places on my list to inspire my creative work this year. I can’t wait!

What art or installations have inspired you?