Steven's Blog

The World is Given, But The Frame is Yours

The world is given, but in photography, you frame the world as you want it. The photograph is your own. The leader of a business does much the same. You take the world as you want it.

The frame is of your own choosing.

People who are serious about travel photography often advise avoiding photographing the tourist attractions because there are so many photos of these in circulation and you cannot create something distinct. I completely disagree. You can. Just don’t try to replicate Ansel Adams’s photographs of Half Dome. Take your own. It will be much better and it will be yours.

Just as in art, it is your distinction that leads to success in business, not conforming to the framing prerogatives of others. You might lead a Western company’s operations in Japan, but that does not imply that you must abide by the Manichaean world frames of Western versus Japanese as dictated by others.

You can compose your own frame no matter what is supposedly given.

Rakuten is a Japanese company lead by Japanese CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, and staffed mostly with Japanese people, at least in its Tokyo headquarters. Everyone is required to use English as the language of business, and promotion is based on merit, not seniority. So is Rakuten Western or Japanese? Rakuten fits into neither frame, but who cares? Mikitani unapologetically composes his own frame of the world for his business, and that is what makes the business successful.

Amazon is an American company lead by American CEO, Jeff Bezos, and staffed mostly with Americans, at least in its U.S. headquarters. The business leads the world in customer service and customer experience, not by accident but rather by company ethos. Does Amazon’s obsession with customer service, akin to what one might see in a Japanese retailer like Mitsukoshi Department Store, make Amazon a Japanese company? Hardly. Bezos frames the world the way he likes and thereby changes the way the world is. That is the root of Amazon’s success.

In photography, you choose what to include in the frame and what not to include. You choose the orientation, color or absence of color, and use of light. You can use filters to block what you don’t want and to emphasize what you do. A single scene has myriad possibilities. It’s just that you have to allow yourself to see them, and the courage to realize them.

Have a look at the photo below. Do you recognize it?

It is the same scene as the photo at the top of this article. It is just that I have chosen my own frame from among myriad possibilities.

The world presents endless possibilities for your business, if you allow yourself to see them. Click To Tweet

Just like Mikitani and Bezos refuse to allow the world frames of others dictate the composition of their respective businesses, you too can frame the world as you want for your own business.

The world is given, but the frame is up to you. What does yours look like?


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