We had the good fortune of connecting with Kody Kohlman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kody, what’s your definition for success?
Success is a really hard one to measure for me. I think in America, it’s often correlated with your financial well being and productivity, but I’ve been trying hard to restructure that in my own life. As a kid and even in to my early to mid twenties, money was the last thing on my mind. I was focused solely on doing the things that I loved and figured out the money aspect after. As an adult, I’ve noticed it harder and harder for me to stay in that mindset. Responsibilities come and additional pressure is self-imposed, but at the end of the day, success is still what you make it. Working to get back to success being a life well lived over monetary gain isn’t an easy task, but one I am finding to be very worthwhile. I’ve realized that the more I stress over financials, the lower my happiness is. I think the reason this is often used as a measure of success is because we can analyze it directly by the numbers. More numbers should mean more happiness and less should mean less happiness. This isn’t the case for me and I’ve found the more I strip this away, the more I return to that younger self that was more carefree. That being said, America isn’t based around a barter system so there is a monetary amount that is required for each person to be able to live a happy and healthy life. As a freelancer / small business owner, this can be a tricky line to walk. There are tons of expenses that go into these fields that are behind the scenes. For me, updating cameras and gear, insurance, monthly app subscriptions, the hours of e-mails that aren’t billed, office rent etc. These are different for everyone but do often add up to significant costs and have to be taken into account when looking at what type of baseline is needed to manage the lifestyle you’re pursuing. Wrapping your head around what success is for you is a challenge in itself. For me, I’ve found that I correlate success with joy, which I define separately from happiness. These words are often used interchangeably, but I find them to be quite different. Happiness is cultivated from external things. I can hop on my bike or skateboard or go see friends and feel happy, even if I wasn’t feeling great prior. Joy, on the other hand, is more consistent and an underlying feeling of being content with where you are at. I try to measure my success in my own life by joyand the ability to sit down and breathe easily knowing I value the things I’m putting my time and energy into, whether that’s based around the activities I’m doing, the people I’m spending time with, the clients and projects I’m taking on or the overall difference I’m trying to making in the world. These are big questions to consider and contemplating the mark you want to make on the world in correlation with success definitely isn’t something that comes overnight. It’s a constant cycle of self-analysis and digging to get to the core of who you are and what is important to you.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think I’ve developed/am developing my own style within this space. I enjoy walking the line of commercial and editorial/doc projects and letting them bleed into one another when it’s possible. Storytelling is a very powerful tool and the more companies understand this, the better off they will be. I’m excited to be in a space where this is developing and awareness is being pushed towards who these brands really are rather than just focusing on what products they make. It wasn’t easy. I don’t think anyone who works in the creative realm would ever tell you it’s easy. It’s a constant battle of measuring yourself up to others and often applying self worth based on the art you’re creating. This can lead to serious issues of self-doubt. Staying motivated and pushing forward in those hard times has always paid off in the good times, but it’s certainly a tough ebb and flow. I am not a brand. If I was a brand, my campaigns would be mountain biking in Hawaiian shirts and skating with 15 years olds at the skatepark and drinking warm beer camping with my friends. Probably not the greatest brand identity for an individual that strives on making meaningful work, but that’s why I’m not a brand. I’m a person, just like everyone else, that is just trying to navigate the best way to live a meaningful life.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Everyone that has pushed me forward in any regard and challenged me to be a better person. The individuals that have held me to a higher standard that I sometimes have held myself. Everyone that listened to me ramble ideas and bounce them off walls unknowing which ones will come to fruition.
Josh Uhl, Andrew Bydlon