Today marks the official 10th anniversary of Chris Martin Studios.

In 2005, I left my day job unsure of what I was going to do. I had a variety of skills in design, web development, and video production, but I didn’t think of starting a business because I always thought that was something I would do in my 40s. Over the course of a few months, I was landing projects with a variety of non-profit organizations through contacts and I decided to establish and incorporate Chris Martin Studios.

Throughout the past 10 years, I have learned many lessons. Running a business is hard work. It is non-stop action and will consume you if you let it. Burnout can set in if you have nothing else to provide a sense of balance. Many people will say they believe in what you do, but only a few will stick around to help.

I have thrown in the towel a few times, but miraculously the business and myself bounce back even stronger. I have gone off on tangents and painful detours. I have made mistakes. I have learned to take nothing for granted. I understand the importance of vision, follow-through, authenticity, and asking for help.

  • Without vision, I will go whichever way the wind blows. I will lack enthusiasm for my work and I will be prone to hiding from others.
  • Without follow-through, I will become trapped in backlogs and unending projects.
  • Without authenticity, I will constantly compare myself to others and let others define who they think I am.
  • Most importantly, I am learning to ask for help when new business, new friendships, and new skills are necessary for growth and success.

Here is a small glimpse at what I have experienced through my business and professional life the past 10 years:

  • In 2008, I traveled to Gambia, Africa to document in photos and video the construction of a school building. I would end up becoming a member of the board of directors for Shared Blessings, which I continue to serve on to this day.
  • In 2010, I was a nominee for the General George C. Marshall Public Leadership award. This taught me the value of sharing your work, even if it feels like no one is watching.
  • In 2011, I spoke with Bruce Elgort at an IBM annual conference. This was the first time I had spoken publicly about any topic. It would be the first of many collaborations with Bruce, a strong supporter of the work I do. Thank you Bruce for all that you have done throughout the years.
  • In 2012, I traveled to Haiti to document the construction of an orphanage. During the summer, I traveled to East Oregon with the Kate White Band to document the music they play in prisons. Both experiences were eye-opening and strong examples of people doing amazing things to make the world a better place.
  • In September 2012, I began teaching at Clark College in Vancouver, WA, which I continue to do today. This has transformed the way that I think about my business and the way I approach my craft. I have learned the importance of constantly pursuing my craft and transforming the knowledge and experience in my brain to words and actions for others.
  • In 2013, I received a Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership degree from Warner Pacific College. This continues to serve me well as I apply a lot of the coursework in both a business capacity and in the classroom.
  • Thanks to some good friends, I had the privilege to work on two feature films in 2013 and 2014: Made Me Do It and Showbread: The Music is DeadBoth experiences emphasized the importance of collaboration with other professionals and just how great a project can be when you have a supporting team around you.
  • In 2014, I was one of four recipients of the Exceptional Faculty Award from Clark College as voted by students and peers. This award in many ways emphasizes the importance of teaching what I have learned and the ways that I have been able to connect with students and my peers.

While this is just a short glimpse of what I have accomplished, I am looking forward to transforming and changing Chris Martin Studios into the business it needs to be in the coming years to continue providing me an opportunity to unveil unique stories throughout the world.

To the 163 people, businesses, and organizations I have worked with, thank you. Without your patronage and support, I would not be in business today and I would not have had the opportunities I was a part of the past 10 years.

To my friends, mentors, family, and distributors of wise council, thank you. Your support and belief in me keeps me going when times are tough. Most importantly, you help me to see what I am unable to see.

To my wife, thank you. It has been a challenging road the past 10 years, but thank you for your never-ending source of belief in what I am capable of.

Finally, to myself, thank you. While many won’t know or understand the struggles, triumphs, sacrifices, and mistakes you have made, you put every ounce of you into your work and have accomplished more than you ever thought you would. Keep pushing yourself to learn your why and tell the stories that need to be told.

Here’s to the next 10 years.