We talked to Brett Weiss of Your Legacy Your Story on how they are helping people turn their story into a video that will perpetuate their legacy across generations.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Brett Weiss: Surprisingly well. We have been careful, locked down, and living within a very small social circle. As somebody who used to meet 5000 – 10,000 people per year, it has been a big change and a big rest.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Your Legacy Your Story.
Brett Weiss: We started the company 9 years ago, primarily as a digitizing lab. I used to own a big dry cleaning plant in Downtown San Diego and transferred those skills running a labor-intensive manufacturing business into the more high-tech world of digital imaging. The two industries are oddly similar. Prior to that, I was a pretty well-trained salesperson. Over the years, I have constantly been getting myself into trouble by outselling my production capacity. Ooops.
How does Your Legacy Your Story innovate?
Brett Weiss: Well, we have a lot of really smart and well-educated people that work here. However, innovation is different. We approach it from the perspective that all knowledge already exists. It is simply a matter of application. So, we look at what other industries are doing and see how it might apply to our current needs or market demands.
For example, when we needed a slide scanner and found them to be either really good or really slow or really fast and really expensive, we looked at other technologies and designed and built the fastest high-quality slide scanner in the world.
Innovation requires time and patience. Even if you are sniffing around in the right direction, actually getting a working prototype will involve a lot of hits and misses. This has been our greatest struggle to continue to innovate. It can be so difficult to find the time.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Brett Weiss: Our numbers are still down. We seem to be settling in at about 60% of revenue. As a result, we are much leaner and have shed a lot of dead weight in terms of unprofitable customers and unproductive employees. We have opened up a video production and design business, and it has been doing really well.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Brett Weiss: There were a lot of choices that looked difficult upfront but became easy once the options were clearly laid out. We narrowed our circles, socially and professionally, and we are now doing a much better job serving a smaller group of carefully chosen employees and customers. We learned a lot about profitability vs. revenue!
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Your Legacy Your Story in the future?
Brett Weiss: That is a great question. Actually, stress and anxiety are only part of our pre-COVID life. How did the most impactful event of our lifetime make our stress and anxiety level go down? First, it is nothing like a tragedy to make you learn to be happy with what you have. Second, and most importantly, it was the shedding non-supportive relationships and some toxic people that made our lives better. This is not just me. It is our whole staff experiencing the same phenomenon. We love our little circles and I am never going back to what it was. Never.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Brett Weiss: Our competitors are changing. In the digitizing world, there are a bunch of our old competitors fighting for a smaller amount of dollars. But, in the story-telling world, there are not very many companies out there and most of them are 1-3 person shops. Our digital imaging experience and organizing expertise gives us a distinct advantage. We are still figuring out who our competitors are, but we know we are walking in as one of the largest firms in that space.
Your final thoughts?
Brett Weiss: This pandemic, like any other significant event, is an opportunity to re-invent your life, your business and your joy. 2020 will go down as one of the most turbulent times in the history of the industrial and information ages. I suggest and challenge everybody to use it as a path to make your life better.
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