7 Ways Being a Wandering Photographer Helped Shape Me into a Leader, Part Two

This is the second half of a guest post by Mick Haupt. He is a photographer and graphic designer, and has worked with Cru for 25 years. Mick is a foodie, a cyclist, and family man with two uncontrollable boys. Check out Mick’s blog.

In 7 Ways Being a Wandering Photographer Helped Shape Me Into a Leader, Part One, Mick shared four lessons he has learned about leadership as a photographer. This week, he shares three final lessons with us, along with another sample of his awesome photography. Enjoy!

5. You learn to make decisions quickly. Sometimes this is as simple as where to stand for capturing the best shot. You need to evaluate and make a choice. Sometimes it is more complex like where to go and not to go for your own safety when traveling in foreign lands. Frequently there is no luxury of time, it’s just “take in the options” and choose. I wanted to catch the sunset on Eileen Donan Castle in Scotland, but it meant not crossing the bridge to the Isle of Skye. A hard decision, but I turned back and captured one of my most memorable images. A leader continually weighs the options and makes decision that bring success to the team.  


6. You learn that you’re not really in control.  A strange thing happens in photography, clouds and people keep getting in the way. One person asked me how I always capture images without people. I answered, “I wait.” Many times I’ve waited a while, because you can’t just go telling tourists where NOT to stand. I’m not that patient, but this has developed humility and restraint in me. Oh, I have flung my hands in the air in frustration, but I’ve also learned to endure not being in control of the environment. A leader develops composure and poise to persist while managing scenarios that can’t be entirely controlled.

7. You learn to enjoy small victories and happy accidents. Have you heard that term “a happy accident”? The Urban Dictionary defines it this way, “when something unexpectedly good comes from what would otherwise be considered a mishap.” Not every cloud has a silver lining, but sometimes a great outcome arises from the ashes of disaster. A small victory could be getting one great shot out of 100, or the light being perfect on someone’s face just as someone else moved their head. Rejoice when the perfect moment happens, even if they don’t happen often. A leader finds joy in little successes and shares that joy with her team.

A photographer is an observer by nature, but they are also a learner. The environment’s we find ourself in are constantly changing…people move and light shifts by the minute. So success is predicated on evaluating and adjusting moment by moment. A leader learns from their environment. They are constantly taking in and making informed decisions based on what they see. Perhaps you can now see how the challenges that face a photographer can develop a leader. I’m grateful for how every challenging and majestic experience has helped shape me. And maybe, just maybe, I have transcended the stereotype of the flighty, disorganized creative.

mick haupt

Thanks Mick for sharing your insights on leadership! You can follow his blog, Wandering 40 Days.


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7 Ways Being a Wandering Photographer Helped Shape Me into a Leader, Part One

This is part 1 of a Guest Post by Mick Haupt. He has amazing insights into leadership and being human that apply to all of us. Mick Haupt is a photographer and graphic designer, and has worked with Cru for 25 years. Mick is a foodie, a cyclist, and family man with two uncontrollable boys. You can read more from Mick on his blog: Wandering 40 Days.


Artists sometimes get a bad rap. Flighty, flaky, disheveled, disorganized, in-their-own-world, temperamental, opinionated, and prickly could be words to describe the creative nearest to you. Do you know one? Those aren’t the words to describe a leader, wouldn’t you agree?

In today’s world where you need to be on top of things in order to earn respect, an artist needs to be organized and sensible. They need to transcend the typecast of a creative, and somehow learn things that make them worthy of following. As a self-proclaimed wanderer (which to me encapsulates being an explorer, photographer, and philosopher) here are a few ways that I’ve grown into being a leader.

1.  I may wander but I still need a plan and a road map to get there. Wandering is a beautiful thing, but by definition it means moving from place to place with no fixed plan. Wandering allows you to find the hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path jewels…a major pay-off. But to be successful in finding the images that move people’s emotions, I need to research and plan. Ultimately, I need to know how to get there. Putting in the time to create a good exoskeleton of a trip still allows the space for spontaneous. A leader embraces the tension between execution and improvisation that allows a plan to succeed.

2.  I’ve learned to be OK with uncertainty. On many a trip through Europe, there are days when I don’t know where I will be sleeping the next night. I’m not super big on that kind of uncertainty, but it comes with the territory. Once I’ve nailed down a spot, I usually relax and start exploring. Looking back, I never had a sleepless night shivering in the cold. Everything turned out just fine. I’ve had to grow in being OK with uncertainty. A leader needs to confidently live in the tension of uncertain resolutions and organizational direction.

3. You may make a plan but still need to be flexible. Too many times to count has my planned itinerary been altered for some reason or another. It’s great to have an agenda on what you want to see and in what order. But hold that loosely. Having a flexible attitude that rolls with it when you are thrown a curve ball can make the difference between a bad and a great day. A leader has the capacity to flex and change direction when obstacles appear.

4. It forces you to be adaptable in a wide variety of circumstances. I thought I would be staying in a guest house, but ended up staying at the house of a co-worker in urban Uganda. Quite the difference I’ll have you know. Especially when using the latrine. Being a traveling photographer has landed me in a huge variety of situations, some not very pleasant. The ability to make the most of every situation, smile and be gracious endears you to the people you find yourself among. A leader’s ability to be graciously adaptable in every circumstance raises the level of follower’s respect.

mick haupt


Join us again for Part Two of 7 Ways Being a Wandering Photographer Helped Shape Me into a Leader. You will learn from lessons 5-7 and see another sample of Mick’s awesome photography. Don’t forget to check out his blog.

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Looking in the Rear View Mirror and Asking “How Long?”

When you buckle into your vehicle, you check the rear view mirror; as you drive, you naturally glance up regularly to see what’s coming behind you. I was not aware how much I depended on my mirror until it fell off, and I was without it for several days. The rear view mirror is essential for safe driving. It keeps drivers up to date with what’s happening behind them. Context, one of Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 34 talent themes is very similar to looking in the rear view mirror. People with strong Context have a unique ability to understand the link between where they have come from and where they are going.

Gallup explains Context further, “Perspective and background are important for people with strong Context talents. They look back to understand the present. From the past, they can discern blueprints for direction. And, counter intuitively, they become wiser about the future because they can see its seeds sown in the past.”

I have Context and Learner in my top five StrengthsFinder talents. I love to learn about history, not to look at the past, but to learn from it in order to change the future. To take your own assessment, go to Gallup StrengthsFinder official site.

I recently subscribed to THIS DAY IN HISTORY. Each day I receive an email of what happened on that particular day in history. Two significant events, separated by 82 years happened today in history that made me pause to ask,

“Have we learned anything from our past?”

abraham-lincoln-148527_640The first event happened in 1865. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States died from an assassin’s bullet. Lincoln was president during the Civil War, fighting to end slavery.

He changed history when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. With one stroke of his pen, he declared all slaves to be free men.


The second significant event that caught my eye happened in 1jackie-robinson-1172118_1280947. Up until that year, baseball was segregated.



On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke a 50 year color barrier and became the first African American player in Major League Baseball. Despite his great success, Jackie Robinson faced tremendous racial discrimination throughout his Hall of Fame career.

1865. 1947. 2016.

Another 69 years have passed, and looking into the rear view mirror at events in our country and around the world, we have not traveled very far toward oneness, equality and diversity. There is still much racial tension, and the issue of slavery has added on the current horrors of human and sex trafficking.

I echo what Martin Luther King, Jr. cried, How Long?

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Hammerin’ Hank

hank aaron

On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers. Here is my childhood baseball card of Baseball Hall of Fame player and my favorite player of all time.

Some fast facts about Hank Aaron:

Born February 5, 1934 in Mobile, Alabama to Herbert and Estella Aaron.

Nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank.”, Hank Aaron played in 25 All-Star games.He was the winner of three Gold Glove awards.The Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers have both retired his jersey number, 44.

Baseball Timeline:

1951 –
Begins playing for the Negro American League’s Indianapolis Clowns.

1954-1965 – Plays for the Milwaukee Braves.

April 13, 1954 – Makes his Major League Baseball debut with the Milwaukee Braves.

April 23, 1954 – Hits his first Major League home run when the Braves play the St. Louis Cardinals.

1957 – The Milwaukee Braves win the World Series. Aaron is named National League MVP.

1966 – The Milwaukee Braves become the Atlanta Braves.

1966-1974 – Plays for the Atlanta Braves.

April 8, 1974 – Breaks Babe Ruth’s record with his 715th home run during a home game.

1974 -1976 – Plays for the Milwaukee Brewers.

July 20, 1976 – Hits his final home run (755).

October 3, 1976 – Plays his final game.

1976-1989 – Becomes director of player development for the Atlanta Braves.

August 1, 1982 – Is inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hank Aaron and Racism

Here is what Great Black Heroes has to add regarding Hank Aaron.
Breaking Ruth’s record was not simply a sports milestone, it was a societal milestone. The racial animosity that he faced in the form of death threats were symptomatic of the way that millions of Blacks had lived for years under Jim Crow laws in the south where just ten years before, anything a Black person did that might offend a white person could end in a death sentence. For Aaron, with the pressure burdening him like a yoke upon his neck, to break the record in front of a worldwide audience, the moment became a symbol of moving beyond the past. As Dodgers play-by-play broadcasters stated:
“What a marvelous moment for baseball; what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron.”

Who was your favorite baseball player of all time?

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The Man Behind the Photo


Photo courtesy of USMC Archives on Flickr

On February 23, 1945, an unknown photographer snapped a photo which became one of the enduring symbols of the U.S. Marine Corps. During World War II, at the bloody battle for Iwo Jima, five Marines and a Navy Corpsman took the crest of Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest peak and most strategic position to raise the U.S. flag. The moment was captured on this camera.

Graflex Speed Camera, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The film was sent back home, the photo developed, and the image went viral in those days before Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It immediately appeared on walls (physical ones) around the country: movie theaters, retail store window, banks, factories, and billboards.


Franklin Roosevelt, the president at the time, made the photograph the theme for a War Bond Tour, which raised $24 billion for the U.S. Treasury. A stamp commemorating the photograph was issued. It was awarded the Pulitzer prize was awarded in 1945. It became the model for a 110-feet tall bronze Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. The six men who raised the flag in the actual photograph were ordered home and were treated to a hero’s welcome, but only three had survived.

Joe Rosenthal is the man behind the photo.

Joseph John Rosenthal was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in Washington, D.C. on October 11, 1911. His interest in photography began as a hobby during the years of the Great Depression. After many odd jobs as an office boy and reporter/photographer, he eventually landed a job with the Associate Press and followed the Army and U.S. Marines as a war correspondent into the Pacific during World War II. On February 23, 1945, Rosenthal took this iconic photo that became a symbol of victory and gave hope to entire nation. CNN goes so far to say that “Basically, this simple photo was so powerful it helped win World War II.”


How did a relatively unknown, obscure man make such an impact on so many lives in a nation? Look back at his story, and there are a few clues.


He had passion. He loved photography. He was not worried about success or a particular role. He simply loved taking pictures and looked for every opportunity to live out of his passion.

He developed skills. People with passion but no skill, get dismissed as fanatics. Rosenthal worked arduously to develop his passion and hone his art. Luck helps to be in the right place at the right time, but it was his skill that allowed him take advantage of the opportunity to catch his award winning photo.

He persevered. He was previously rejected as an Army photographer due to his poor eyesight. He did not let that stop him. He eventually followed the Army and the Marines into the Pacific as a war correspondent.

He was consistent. Daily he went to the island of Mount Suribachi on a Marine landing craft. Daily. Every day. In the end, consistency wins the day. Habits determine character and destiny.

He overcame limitations. Rosenthal was relatively small, measuring a mere five feet and five inches (1.65 m). To get the right vantage point for the picture, he constructed a pile rocks and a sandbag on which to stand.

He was humble. When Rosenthal was asked about the photo, he would say “I took the picture, the Marines took Iwo Jima.” He knew his role and was content with that; and he gave others credit for their role.

Rosenthal’s name does not appear on the Marine Corps statue commemorating the moment at Iwo Jima. In spite of some fame that came with the photograph, he made little money from it. He died of natural causes in his sleep in 2006 at the age of 94. The Hollywood movie, Flags of Our Fathers recounts the story behind the iconic photograph and its impact on the six men, one photographer and an entire nation.

What inspires you about Joe Rosenthal’s story?

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