What Ninjas Can Teach Us About Thriving As Creative Pros #NINJAvan

I have a secret: I am a part-time ninja. Not the regular, sword-wielding kind—I’m an event ninja. I slip through shadows into exclusive conferences and sold out festivals.

Almost all of my big breaks as a photographer are tied to my event ninja knowhow. I pride myself on my ability to break my way into occasions I shouldn’t be at.

One of my favourite ninja moves of all time allowed me to make this image of Chris Martin (Coldplay)

Sneaking My Way Into TED ($7500)

On March 10th it dawned on me that the TED conference was coming to Vancouver on March 17th. Tickets were $7500 (and sold out) but I wanted in.

I got into a zen-like state as I began my hunt for leads. I discovered I knew people involved at the conference, and I squeezed them for referrals. With nimble precision I unearthed the contact info of the lead organizer and sent a series of slick emails to her staff.

I remained confident I would attend even as days whirred by. But on the morning that TED began, it struck me: I  failed.

A sane person wouldn’t be surprised when they couldn’t get into a blisteringly-expensive conference with a week’s notice. I’m not sane. I’m an event ninja, and I was unreasonably upset by this outcome.

You see, I have played things safe a lot lately, and this was the first time in a while I had pulled my big moves. Failing made me feel like I lost my spark.

#NINJAvan And The Formula To Success

Last night, I chanced upon an article about a last minute “ninja gig” featuring many TED speakers. I had just one hour to get to the venue, but I got excited. And when I was one of the last people through the doors, I felt like a ninja again. My efforts to break into the main TED event had somehow dominoed into this luck.

Skill plays a role in success for artists and entrepreneurs, but luck handles the rest. Smart creative pros learn how to get lucky as often as possible. (Tweet this)

I saw some personal heroes last night, and had a lot of fun. But in the moments between the songs and the speeches, I recognized a serious reminder. A reminder that the secret to getting lucky is to channel the inner ninja more often. Place discipline and tenacity into ambitious projects, and the universe might help in a strange and wonderful way.

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Is there a time you got lucky in your career as a creative professional? Tell me about it!

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