Building A Legacy - PPA Today
Building A Legacy
Written by guest blogger, Danielle Brooks
As an incoming freshman at Flagler College you have to attend the annual convocation. When you enter the auditorium, members of the staff and faculty hand you a railroad tie. During the assembly, students are told that today is the first day in the journey to building their legacy.
Flagler College, located in St. Augustine, Florida, was originally the Ponce de Leon Hotel built by Henry Flagler. It became a college in 1968. Henry Flagler is most famous for founding Standard Oil. He was also the mastermind behind building the East Coast Railway. It runs all throughout Florida and up the East Coast.
Flagler, being a businessman, decided to build a hotel along the railroad, so the elite in society had a place to vacation. He didn't want them to stay for the weekend, because then everyone could do that. His hotel was exclusive. In order to stay at the Ponce de Leon Hotel, you had to stay all season.
Before he made it big in the oil industry, Flagler originally went into business with his brother-in-law to form the Flagler and York Salt Company. With the American Civil War, the demand for salt drastically decreased and they eventually went out of business. Flagler lost $50,000 he borrowed from his family as well as another $50,000 he saved from years of working. Because Flagler didn't let that failure stop him, he went on leave a legacy that is still standing and impacting thousands of students every year.
I graduated from Flagler College in December of 2009 with a degree in Communication. I got a job straight out of college working as an Associate Producer at Channel 4 in Jacksonville. After a year, I determined journalism wasn't for me. All my life, I wanted to be a journalist and I found I didn't like it. It was crushing.
Broken and a little lost for direction, a former teacher offered me a job writing press releases part time at Flagler. After a month or two, the Web and New Media Services Department decided to take me on as a contractor for a couple of video projects. Once that work ran out, my boss asked me if I knew how to use a camera.
Rule #1 in journalism, is never pass up an opportunity no matter how unprepared you may be. So I lied through my teeth and started taking pictures. Horrible pictures. But I was doing it, and I was learning quickly.
What was supposed to be a few weeks as a contractor turned into a four-year stint. I have been so blessed by my Alma Mater. Flagler College has given me so many things over the years. It helped me earn a degree, and it gave me my passion for photography.
However, at the beginning of the year, I really started thinking about Danielle Brooks Photography and how I was going to make it succeed. Because of my job I was able to invest 10 hours a week, but it wasn't enough. My business was stagnant. I wasn't generating enough consistent income to leave my job. I made the decision to give it my all and really start making the effort to get my name out there so that in a year or so, I might be able to reduce my hours at the college. During that time, friends would ask me when I was going to leave Flagler for Danielle Brooks Photography, and I would always say, "I'll know when it's time to run with it, but the time is not now."
About a month ago, I was informed that due to budget cuts, my contract had been terminated. Terminated. That's such a horrible word. I was lost again. What was I going to do? My last day was going to be May 1st. I applied for a couple jobs, one of which was in the department I was currently working in. But as time went on, I really thought about where I saw myself in 5 years. And if I was honest, I didn't see myself working 40 hours a week for someone else. But I also didn't think I could be full time in my business.
Ironically, I was out for a run the day I was told my contract was terminated and I felt like God was saying, now is the time to run with it. No. That couldn't be it; I wasn't ready for that big decision. When I sat down and thought about the last few years, I started to see how truly prepared I was to take that leap of faith. It was the most risky of decision, but the most exciting. It's time for me to run.
To bring things full circle, if you haven't already drawn the parallel, students are given a railroad tie to remind them that, like Henry Flagler, they too can build a legacy. They are told that throughout their four years at the college, they would be given the tools they need to grow and succeed. Most people need four years to learn all they can from a college; I'm lucky enough to have had eight.
With all that being said, I am happy to announce that I am officially investing full time in Danielle Brooks Photography. I am investing in my legacy. It has truly been an honor to be at the college for as long as I was. My goodbye was bittersweet. Tears were shed, but I know that what God has for me in the future is far better than what I am leaving behind.
I don't know what that looks like, and that's ok. I might not get it right all the time and I might epically fail on some aspects of business like Henry Flagler, but Flagler never let it stop him, and neither will I. Like Flagler, I won't let failure stop me from building my legacy.