15 Career Principles for Everyone Working in Media

Posted on by Larry

I’ve been producing, directing and editing video for more than 50 years. As I look back on my career, here are thoughts I wish I learned when I was starting out.

May they be helpful to you as well.



  1. Media is a hard way to make a living.
  2. The most important person to your career is a mentor you can trust. If you don’t have one, find one. If you have one, keep them informed on what you are doing. Don’t try to navigate your career alone.
  3. Working in media is a life of peaks and valleys. The good days never last as long as you want and the bad days end sooner than you think.
  4. Every media project requires three sets of skills: craft, technical and people. People skills are the most important.
  5. Keep exploring new ideas – failure is the only way we learn anything.
  6. Telling stories is as old as time. Telling stories in an interesting way remains forever new.
  7. Great gear does not tell great stories. Great stories require a great story-teller.
  8. The gear we use to edit video makes the process fun. The stories we tell make the process worthwhile.
  9. If you aren’t interested in the story you are telling, your audience won’t be interested either.
  10. No one really knows what makes a program successful. We’re all just taking shots in the dark.
  11. It isn’t bad to ask for help – it’s a sign of wisdom.
  12. Collaboration does not diminish your role in a project – it expands it. Choose your collaborators carefully.
  13. You will never know “enough” – technology requires life-long learning.
  14. If you find yourself in a bad situation, analyze it to determine what makes it bad so you know what to avoid in the future.
  15. Don’t lose hope and never give up – but, sometimes, you may need to change your direction.

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26 Responses to 15 Career Principles for Everyone Working in Media

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  1. Tom Daniels says:

    My very smart granddaughter said to me a few years ago “grandpa you talk to everybody.” I hope i did a good job of mentoring creatives to be courageous communicate. To work hard and learn about themselves.
    The amount of media most of us absorb is probably too much. I see media as the house for a creative family that helps people make decisions, do and buy interested products and acquire a thought process about creative. Everything is a story. And has some form of emotion to it. Some learning and a call to action. I taught a morning a week at the Art Institute. Most of all I wanted to help and challenge students who
    needed help or motivation to enjoy their work and how to make a living.

  2. Mike Foley says:

    As you move through your career, don’t “burn bridges” with your co-workers, colleagues, and clients. The former two have a habit of becoming the latter if they liked their experiences with you.

    Also being a good writer boosted my photo and video careers (e.g., I’ve helped clients write lower-third titles, change scripts, etc.).

  3. Paul Fuller says:

    In the past 51 years, I’ve started three businesses. I was told by many that none would work. I sold the first two at a very nice price and am still actively involved in the third. The secret to all three? Simple…hard work. There are no shortcuts.

    • Larry says:

      Paul, Paul, Paul….

      No one wants to hear that it takes “hard work.” Magic is supposed to simply happen and wild success ensues….

      Thanks for your comment. After running two businesses of my own, the work never stops.


      • Clayton Moore says:

        I used to tell people when driving by a 4 million dollar house ….. that guy is probably on his 2nd wife because his first one was tired of the feeling he was married to his business and not her………. LOL!!!

  4. Hi Larry-

    Wonderful list that obviously hit home with many of your readers. Number 2 on finding a mentor is my favorite followed by number 12 on collaborators. Similar to your number 14, I tell my mentees “it is just as valuable to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do like.”

    thanks again for passing on the wisdom.

    • Larry says:


      Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I’m delighted with the range and helpfulness of everyone’s comments. And, while the number one thing I tell students is that there are easier ways to make a living than in media, the one comment that I wish I truly understood when I was younger was the importance of a mentor. That would have saved a lot of grief.


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