Autonomous Creative

How to stop waiting for permission to be a professional creative, with filmmaker Henry Thong

Published 11 months ago • 3 min read

What’s one of the most consistent things I hear from every single successful creative I’ve talked to?

“There was this time when I just started doing this thing. I just started making this thing, and I did it because I wanted to do it, and because it was what made most sense to me creatively, I fully committed to it and I had no idea what was gonna happen, but that’s what opened all these doors.”

But those doors won’t open if you’re not out there doing stuff.

Listen, I know it’s a cliché. I know you’ve heard this a thousand times:

"There’s no such thing as failure.
Everything is a learning experience."

But not every cliché is a platitude, and this one can be particularly hard to internalize. Failure hurts! Mistakes are rarely fun to make! We’re human, after all.

And that’s why I’m always up for a conversation about Courage Before Confidence.

You can be enthusiastic and have doubts at the same time!

“I’m glad that I at least tried because then I can say that to myself. And then you just gotta look at what worked and study what didn’t work.

You know, have the couple of days of feeling bad for myself, and then I’ll figure out what can be done next. I prefer to put things into action and not just sit around and think about things too much, because if there’s something that I can control and something I can do about it, then I feel better.

So part of it is just thinking about what you can learn from that situation and what you can do differently next time, and use that to push yourself into something again in the future. And hopefully it’ll turn out better because you’ve learned something.”

On this episode, I’m joined by award-winning documentary filmmaker Henry Thong.

Henry’s entire career is arguably based on his willingness to get out there before he’s “ready.”

His original series Makers Who Inspire has amassed over 1.85 million views, and has been recognized and awarded in America, Australia, Europe and Africa.

Henry has also worked with like-minded brands and produced film and video content in Australia, Singapore, and the United States for the likes of ConvertKit, Bright Trip, Adam Liaw, and ABC Australia.

He began his freelance career right out of high school, skipping film school altogether.

He moved from Australia to NY, without a back-up plan, and parlayed his personal success into a full-time job as a filmmaker for ConvertKit.

“All of it was worth the risk because I learned something from it. Honestly the ones that were the mistakes and didn’t work out probably were worth more, because it showed me what I shouldn’t be doing. Or something that needed to change.”

Henry has a ton of personal insights to share about how to be more courageous with your work and embrace your unique talents and expertise, and why regularly taking imperfect action is the key to developing your creative business.

Ready to dive in?

Listen to the full episode, check out the transcript, and learn more about Henry’s work here.


P.S. I’ve got something else for you today, too!

I was recently a guest on an awesome podcast that touches on many of the same themes as my episode with Henry. We dug into how Courage Before Confidence played a role in my career, as well as what your outwardly-visible “brand” has to do with who you are as an artist.

If you’ve been stuck in the rut of cyclical burnout, taking on gigs that don’t pay you enough, or small projects that don’t fill in the gaps but still manage to fill up all of your available time, or struggling to figure out what it would take for you to finally get your work out into the world, this one’s for you:

Check out this new episode of Brand Your Passion, a podcast hosted by Hollie Arnett, founder of Maker & Moxie.

We went deep into what it means to get clear on your goals, develop security in what you have to offer and share with the world, and how to get your work out there, even when you’re plagued by the thought that “it’s just not going to happen for me.”

Click here to listen to the full episode, read the interview, and check out more episodes of Brand Your Passion (Henry Thong’s got an episode, too!).

Autonomous Creative

With Jessica Abel

For creative iconoclasts who want to pay their bills AND do the work they love, get insights, ideas, and next steps from a graphic novelist, author, & business coach. Find out how to build a balanced and productive creative life, and to thrive financially with simple, sustainable business foundations—without creative compromise.

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