Ben's Comp Newsletter: Special Issue 02

Jul 31, 2023 3:01 pm


Ben's Comp Newsletter

Special Issue 02 -- Thoughts on Teaching.

Hey ,

It's a turbulent time in the VFX Industry, with economic factors driving studios (our clients) to create less content with smaller VFX budgets. We're also dealing with a writers' strike & an actors' strike, halting lots of productions, and causing VFX work to dry up in the immediate future.

This has happened before, and it will happen again. It's a good reminder that we should always keep our portfolios up to date, and take any opportunity we can to learn something new and sharpen our skills.

A non-traditional approach to learning something new is teaching. This email aims to share some brief thoughts on how you can leverage teaching to your advantage & advance your career.

Hope you enjoy!

You don't understand something well enough until you can teach it to a beginner.

Deep down, you know how to do your job. You intuitively make the right decisions about how to solve the creative and technical problems in your shots. But if you've ever tried to explain this decision-making process to a junior artist on your team, or someone new to the field of VFX, you know it's more difficult than it sounds.

I would argue that teaching is one of the most important skills you can learn, because it helps you to understand a topic with more depth and clarity. It forces you to keep up to date with the latest techniques and think critically about the most important details before you share them.

When learning something new, I always try to teach to an audience that isn't there as a way to reinforce my learning. Any parts I stumble over give me a great indication of where I need to focus to improve my understanding.

Teaching enhances your communication skills.

The best way to convey information to someone is to keep your message clear and concise. Many courses promote how many hours of content they provide as a selling point. Likewise, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that are filled with fluff and are 10x longer than they need to be. This is the wrong approach.

To be an effective teacher, you must work towards refining your message until it’s as clear and concise as possible. There are plenty of smart people who don't do this, and their message gets diluted.

You don't need to wait until a teaching opportunity arises -- practice this every day when replying to emails, or talking about your work in dailies.

Teaching enhances your portfolio.

Imagine you are a recruiter, deciding who is a better fit between two artists with great portfolios. One candidate is just a great artist, while the other also shares their knowledge & demonstrates their experience. Who would you pick?

I see many artists sharing certificates of courses they have completed on Linkedin. Instead, what's more effective is publicly demonstrating the knowledge you have learned in that course, by showing practical examples. Perhaps you could re-share that knowledge in your own voice to help others like you understand a specific topic?

Talk about your work, and share knowledge publicly. It indirectly signals you are an expert in your field, deepens your own understanding of a topic, and most importantly, it helps others.

Teaching demonstrates leadership.

If you are aspiring to move into a leadership role, teaching is a great way to build skills and demonstrate that you're ready for the next step in your career.

Being proactive about sharing your knowledge and expertise with others not only benefits your team, but also showcases your ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Providing your peers with the right tools & methodologies to help them solve their problems will naturally cultivate patience, empathy, and problem-solving skills, which are essential qualities of a leader.

If you put in the effort and do this well, it will be recognized by your supervisors, and will boost your chances of being promoted into a Lead role when the opportunity becomes available.

Teaching can diversify your income.

Society often talks about diversifying investments as a sound strategy for reducing risk. I like to flip this on its head and think about how one can diversify their income. Especially in times like today where work is drying up, having a secondary source of income can help to weather the storm.

Teaching can be a great way to bring in additional income, especially when you have the time to commit to it. I teach openly on the internet, keeping the majority of my content free to access, as a way to help others. But, as you know, I also sell great courses for a low price.

Teaching provides new opportunities.

As a result of sharing my knowledge online, opportunities to give talks, and partner with local schools in Vancouver have come my way. I've had multiple opportunities to mentor students, which has helped to sharpen my own knowledge, as well as create an additional stream of income.

These are just a few brief examples of how teaching can help you develop your career, help others, provide new opportunities, and maybe even bring in some additional income.

The most important thing you can do is just start. I would like to challenge you to share something online -- a video tutorial or a blog post -- about something you haven't learned yet, or don't fully understand. I bet you will be surprised at how much you learn and grow in the process. Please share a post and tag me on LinkedIn when it's done!

If you enjoyed this newsletter, or would like a deeper-dive into anything mentioned, please reply to this email and let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Comping

- Ben