[quote style=”boxed”]Discover a way to make your business apparent to everyone around you, without saying a word.[/quote]
Kenon Lamont Thompson, originally from Kansas City, Kansas, was born with a passion for everything that is considered “work” in his life. While his school background may display his passion for food, he is a diverse artist.
Kenon is the owner/journalist/photographer of Kenon Lamont Thompson Journalism and Photography (formally known as Kenon Thompson: Food Journalism | Photography, but that will be explained later). Kenon’s vision for the business is to interpret how he views the world through food, journalism and photography. As a chef, he ardors how important food is to the human psyche. As a journalist, Kenon comprehends the power words posses over the eyes that view them. As a photographer, Kenon specializes in fine art, conceptual art, food and self-portraiture. He conveys complete, thought-provoking stories and concise thoughts within images–no matter what it takes to capture them with his camera. His work, in every form of artistry, ties together while taking you on separate journeys.
Kenon was recently named number one out of 34 NFTE’s 2012 Global Young Entrepreneurs of the Year, because of his drive and motivation, which make him undeniably destined for greatness. In 2008, Kenon was also named the 2008 Youth Entrepreneur of the Year by the Youth Entrepreneurs of Kansas (now Youth Entrepreneurs). Kenon Lamont Thompson Journalism and Photography is always making more progress than it was the previous day.
What are you working on right now?
Okay I have to break up these answers. My highest priority right now is the YE (Youth Entrepreneurs) Biennial Biz Bang Event in Wichita, Kansas. As an alumni of this organization, I have been chosen to represent and showcase my business along with two other alumnus. This is the biggest event I have ever been invited to as a business. A total of 600 civic, business and community leaders will all be in attendance that night. Talk about pressure!
In terms of photography:
- I just started my second journey of Project365, which is a project photographers endure for an entire year by taking at least one photo per day. Essentially, the purpose is to keep track of what happens in 365 days (366 if it’s a leap year), while becoming a better photographer in terms of your skills/concepts/angles/style. I am also working on my first photography compilation titled, Clear Visions, which was almost ready until I completely scrapped the first blueprint for it and replaced that with a better idea.
- I have formally entered (and am currently submitting new material to two worldwide competitions: The Sony World Photography Awards 2013 – Professional Competition and the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition.
In terms of journalism:
- I am working on my first full cookbook series. The first book is set to be titled, A Family’s Cafe: The Early Morning Gathering. The series will include recipes specifically geared toward families (and friends who are close enough to call each other family) who cook at home.
- I am also working on the blueprints for a food magazine, but I cannot disclose those details right now. You have to stay tuned in to my food blog, Coffee Induced Chef, to see how it progresses.
- As of July, I have been appointed the first food and nutrition editor for InHue Magazine, a new, healthy living, online magazine slated to debut its first issue on September 18th, 2012.
Where did the idea for Kenon Lamont Thompson Journalism and Photography come from?
The idea for my company came from my passions. Cooking, journalism/creative writing and photography are all things I do when I am not considered “on the clock.” In high school, I was fortunate to be among the first class of students introduced to the Youth Entrepreneurs of Kansas (now called Youth Entrepreneurs). Sure, the idea of having my own business and being the boss with all the control is enticing, however, what I cared about more was being able to expand the community with which I share my work.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day for me usually starts between 3:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. I watch CNN to see what is going on around the world, and then I read The New York Times on my iPad2. After that, I watch a video by motivational speaker Eric Thomas and enjoy a cup of coffee with breakfast. Everything I do after this varies depending on my to-do list for the day (which I generally create the night before). I’ll usually have some combination of doing photoshoots, cooking at home, editing and posting photos, writing on my laptop or in a notebook, shopping for props/ingredients/equipment/office supplies and researching ways to make my business better than it was yesterday. This mix of tasks consumes the rest of my day. Once everything on my to-do list is complete, I create a to-do list for the next day, set it to the side, and read as much as I can. (I absolutely love reading.)
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have an idea box, and every time I have an idea, I write it down on a piece of paper, label it with the current date, put it in the box and don’t think about for a minimum of eight hours. My endorphins are always high because I drink a lot of coffee on a daily basis. (It’s not because of the caffeine; I genuinely love to drink coffee. I believe that I am from Finland, where they have the highest number of consumers of coffee per capita, and no one wants to tell me.)
Persistence, organization and creativity are key to me being successful and able to produce great, quality work in a timely fashion (which I expect of myself, for my readers, viewers and supporters). I am also forcing myself to become a better drawer by sketching out my photos and platings for food in detail (not in sticks and dots), before actually taking photos.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that really excites me right now is called Flickr Meetup. First of all, Flickr is an online community where photographers of all genres/expertise can share their own photography and view and give feedback to other photographers. Flickr Meetups are opportunities for photographers on Flickr to meet up with each other! It is absolutely amazing being able to meet your favorite photographers, exchange knowledge, and even take/collaborate on some photos with them.
I plan on attending the Northeast Flickr Meetup in 2013. We have not set a date in stone yet, however, I can say that as of now, it is scheduled to be at the beginning of August! I am saving up every single penny I can to fly out to this event. With the group of people who are keeping in contact, the anticipation continually builds, as we all are anxiously waiting to meet each other. Heck, as crazy as it sounds, some of us have actually become great friends. Blame it on the power of photography and being artists!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worse job I ever had was working at a Subway during the year before I moved to Denver. It started off okay, until the managers began “spying” (yes you are reading that right) on me from across the street (which was completely absurd and offensive, because I could see them). While there were no real lessons to learn from the job, I made the decision (at that age) to never let my kids work at Subway.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would do nothing differently. It was fairly difficult to find a job when I started out, and as I began heading off to college, the only thing I could do in that situation was keep a professional composure.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The absolute one thing that I do over and over again is buy books and read them. At one point in my life, I had to stop buying books because I no longer had any room for them. I highly suggest buying multiple bookshelves or making one room in your house (or apartment) a personal library. There is so much knowledge in books that is hidden only because entrepreneurs don’t read and discover it.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As an entrepreneur in my fields of work, the one problem I encountered was successfully differentiating myself. There are many bloggers, journalists and photographers who have an interest in food, art and culture like myself. So instead of keeping myself in a box by just focusing on food, I expanded my journalism and photography skills into a variety of genres/topics and became great (not just good) in all of them.
With that being stated, initially the name of my business was (and currently still is until it is legally changed) Kenon Thompson: Food Journalism | Photography. My business is one-and-a-half years old, and I have thought long and hard about perception. With food being attached to journalism, people have viewed me strictly as a food journalist and photographer (which I am not). I am an all-around journalist who specializes in food, fine arts, conceptual art and self-portraiture as a photographer, which is why I am changing the name of the business to Kenon Lamont Thompson Journalism and Photography–effective immediately.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Discover a way to make your business apparent to everyone around you, without saying a word. I carry my camera everywhere (except into bathrooms)! So when I am at a cafe or local restaurant, at some point, people are going to see my camera as they walk past me or catch me taking a photo of something. The general way a complete stranger approaches me is by saying, “So you’re a photographer huh?” Sometimes people just want to talk to me, and other times (like just recently) a professional model who fits what I am looking for in a project expresses what she’s done and we exchange contact information.
Tell us a secret.
If you drink a lot of coffee, more time will be added to your day!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- . Without question, it’s the best food community online!
- MailChimp. I have been searching for an email newsletter provider for months now. Thankfully, I read Alli Price’s interview on here!
- Reminders on my iPad2. I do not know where I would be if I didn’t have my Reminders app on my iPad2! With so much going on daily, there is a slight chance that I may forget about things if I do not write them down.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @likedaffodils. Sarah Ann Loreth is, without a doubt, on my top-five-photographers-of-all-time list . Her photography and portraiture concepts are mind-blowing!
- @McKaylaMaroney is a member of The Fierce Five (recently renamed by the team also known as Fab Five) 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Women’s Gymnastics team. McKayla is always a breath of fresh air on my timeline! She demonstrates that it is possible to put forth the same energy towards your craft and when you are just having fun.
- @ericthomasbtc. Eric (The Hip Hop Preacher) is the best motivational speaker to date, and if you are ever having a lazy day, his tweets/videos will have you up and ready to pursue greatness the moment you are done reading/hearing what he has to say.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
The last time I laughed out loud was the evening of August 9th, 2012. My friend Shelly from Colorado sent me a surprise package and would not tell me what it was. I have anxiously awaited this box, which she took a photo of on Instagram. I was trying to get it out of her earlier in the day, however, she didn’t budge and said I would receive it by the upcoming Monday.
I came home after taking photos to see that her package was laying on my couch. While it was extremely hard to open, all I could do was laugh out loud with joy when I laid my eyes upon the contents inside: six CDs of eclectic music from various artists and bands! I am a music nerd and proud to admit it! I love everything about music, and I listen to any genre. I did not expect that from Shelly, and I am forever grateful for having an amazing friend like her.
Who is your hero?
My hero is anyone who has (or had) a positive impact on my life. I am an optimist who would rather work hard for what I want and then fail, as opposed to being negative and collecting a bundle of excuses to use when something is not easy to obtain. While I know everything is not great all the time, I always surround myself with positive people and thank them for their contributions and great vibes that influence my success.
What is the atmosphere like when you are working in your office?
Well, I don’t really have an “office” yet; it’s more of space in my house that’s allocated to work. If I am not watching any of my favorite shows or sports games, there is always music on. My mood determines what type of music I listen to. For example, right now, I am relaxed while responding to this interview, so I’m listening to Rules of Life by Eclectic Approach (from the Be Yourself album–one of the albums my friend Shelly sent me in the surprise package).
Where do you see yourself in one year?
In one year I see myself moving to Chicago, Illinois. That is the location where I have decided to settle down and make a home. I will have everything in one place! There’s snow during the winter, hot weather in the summer, and cool weather in the spring and fall (and that’s the way it is suppose to be). There is an amazing restaurant/art/entrepreneur scene, and that’s definitely one of the big reasons why I have decided to move to Chicago. I will finally take a photo with The Bean!
Kenon Lamont Thompson on Twitter: @kenonthompson
Kenon Lamont Thompson Journalism and Photography on Facebook:
Kenon Lamont Thompson’s website:
Kenon Lamont Thompson on Flickr:
Kenon Lamont Thompson on World Photography Organisation:
Kenon Lamont Thompson on 500px.com: www.500px.com/KenonLamontThompson
Kenon Lamont Thompson’s email: [email protected]
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.