Michael Molinski | USMC Photographer and Graphic Designer | HSLD Podcast

p603417183-3Michael Molinski worked as a photographer and graphic designer for United States Marine Corps out of high school.

After his service he moved home to settle down and build his portfolio. In 2009 Michael used his wedding gift money to open a full time studio.  He also started a blog called 49coloumbia.com

Since then business has been booming!


HSLD: Besides the little background that we’ve give about you, could you tell us a little more about yourself?

Michael: I’m a small town guy who on a whim decided to join the Marine corps to really bide some time while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

When I went in they really gave me a lot of discipline and direction that I didn’t have before that really allowed me to take my life to the next level with photography and everything else.

I am a amateur blogger and full time photographer and athlete. I do triathlons when I can.

With business going on and weddings every weekend I don’t have as much time to run as I would want to but I still love it.

Between that and raising a family, that’s pretty much it.

Click here to listen to Michael Molinski’s podcast interview on iTunes.
Click here to listen to Michael Molinski’s podcast interview on Stitcher.


HSLD: Let’s start with your success quote. What is it?

Michael: This quote just came to me over Independence day from my uncle.

On the planes of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who have at the dawn of victory, laid down to rest, and in resting they died

I love it because it just sums up what I do.

HSLD: Let’s focus on your military experience. Tell us a story of your most pivotal moment in the US army and share with us some of the lessons you learned.

Michael: Its hard to knock down one distinct moment but after going against the grain and getting letters of recommendation from my commanding officer when I was just a lace corporal, I really wanted to be a Marine Coprs Martial Arts instructor.

To get that position you had to be at least an E4 but I was really headstrong and insisted on getting it. Finally I got the letters of approval.

They sent me through the course and we were just kicking butt and taking names.

Just a few weeks before my graduation I was given notice about a position to go back to my MOS school and get a secondary MOS as a combat photographer because at that time I was just a graphic artist.

The only condition was that I had to leave my martial arts course 5 days early meaning no graduation, no certificate of instructor- all that hard work and then no proof of what I had done.

I made my decision to go to photography school and at the same time continue with that course until the last minute until I had to go knowing that even if I had to go through a lot of pain and suffering I just didn’t want to let down my brothers and sisters. We had come to far together and I just could not leave them hanging.

It became the best decision ever. I went to my school as a lance. I picked up meritorious corporal. My book was good enough because of the things I did like staying true to my course.

I graduated with a distinguished honor. I ended up being top dog.


HSLD: Let’s focus on your transition out and the failures, challenges and lessons you got from it.

Michael: I had to make my decision whether I wanted to stay or get out. When I told my career recruiter that I wanted to go home they all kind of felt let down as I was in a way the “model marine” but I knew it wasn’t for me.

My transition was very lackluster. I moved back home with my parents, filed for unemployment and in the meantime was helping my brother build this amazing house.

I felt like I was missing out on something so I went in search of a job thinking tons of people would want to hire me but no way.

It was a struggle for me trying to find a job and then I knew that I had to take my life into my own hands.

That’s when I chose to really focus on being a photographer.


HSLD: What steps did you take to keep you moving forward?

Michael: Setting myself apart.

I knew that calling people was just not going to get it done so I worked my butt off. I got my name out there. I maxed out my credit card.

I just really had this drive to be successful.

The community responded in kind. They recognized that I was doing good work and they appreciated everything that I did.

Word of mouth got out and I just slowly quadrupled my business in 2 to 3 years.


HSLD: What would you say was that one thing that you did when you transitioned out that really got you going in the civilian world?

Michael: Something that set me apart was looking at little details.

I set the standard I was used to in the military.


HSLD: Talk to us about the downs you have had and how you’ve overcome it?

Michael: The very quick success that I was gaining caused me to have a big head. I thought “life is good” and people would grow my business for me.

In the wedding industry people book 12 to 18 months in advance and before I knew it I had lost half of my business in a year because I was sitting on my coattails.


HSLD: What did you do to turn all of that around?

Michael: I can sum it up in 6 words: While you sleep, the enemy trains.


HSLD: What’s the one thing that you’re most fired up about today?

Michael: I’m really excited about the flexibility I’ve managed to bring in my business. This year I’m working less hours but making the same amount last year.

The free time I can spend with m family or do things that I’ve always wanted to do.


HSLD: What is one thing in your life you are excited about right now?

Michael: Right now- my dream home. Less than a week ago my wife and I closed on our 11 acres with a pond and a stream with a little house on it. Life is good and I am so excited.


Michael’s Lighting Round AnswersFINDING-ULTRA-COVER-FINAL1

  • What is the most difficult adjustment you had to make to the civilian world? Being lonely.
  • What is the best business advice that you can pass along to people that are making their transition now? Invest in yourself and start now.
  • What is one of your habits that you believe contribute to your success? Consistent need to move people wrong.
  • If you can recommend one book what would it be? Finding Ultra by Rich Roll.
  • Give us one parting piece of guidance and What’s the best way that we can find you? Just invest in yourself and take the time to figure out what you want. Michael Molinski on Twitter and Facebook and also check out my blog 49coloumbia.com,