Overcoming Fear

Surviving as an Entrepreneur

Me Ra Koh

Surviving as an Entrepreneur – Overcoming Fear – Dallas Speaker & Author

I can’t decide whether this post would be more appropriately titled Surviving as an Entrepreneur or How to Survive When You Feel like You’re Crashing. Let me explain and you can decide.

Being empty seems to hit us when we least expect it.  Or at least this is my experience.  Does anyone else feel that way?  It’s like I’m moving along fine, my business is working and growing (or I think it is), and then WHAM! 

How do we fill up when we are empty?

Even if you’re not an entrepreneur or working mom, I think we can all relate to exhaustion. In 2014, we spent a month filming and photographing Egypt.  The first three days we were back home was all about recovering from jet lag, getting food back in our fridge, and turning forty.  But by day four, I started crying like I haven’t cried in years.  I cried, no joke, for FIVE DAYS STRAIGHT.  Pascaline yelled to Brian “build that boat dad because mom’s tears are making a SERIOUS river!”

Egypt was amazing, intense, challenging and life changing.  And tears have always been my release.  But at the end of all the crying, I was EMPTY.  That WHAM hit me hard.  Knowing I wanted to give all of me to the ladies at an upcoming CONFIDENCE Workshop, I went away–by myself.

I checked into a hotel for two days, and 60 plus pages later of writing, I’m thinking I had a few things to process.  LOL!

But oh my Lord, what breakthrough I found after pushing my pen across 60 pages, pounding my fists against my pillows and then dancing in my underwear by the second morning!  (Yep, that’s the woman behind this blog and Disney’s TV show Capture Your Story with Me Ra Koh”.)  I have to laugh.  I’ve got a deep need to keep things real.  But surviving as an entrepreneur also takes a support system to be this honest when you hit empty.

I have to thank my husband; Brian pushed me out the door to runaway for two days. 

I have to thank my Confidence Photography teachers who all sent me words of encouragement during that intense week of crying.  I have to thank my girlfriend at church who prayed for me while I just cried and cried.  I have to thank Kayla, my Director at SONY, who gave me crazy girl power through our phone conversations.  And I have to thank Jeff Jochum, a man who I owe much to.

Jeff started mentoring me with our business in 2005.  One of my best memories is arguing with him at his Colorado home during his first workshop (side note: I don’t really argue with many people, let alone yell at them in their own home.  In fact, this was a definite first and only moment for me doing this in another person’s home. After ten minutes of him questioning why you do what you do, you’d agree.).

He was challenging me to risk making my focus all about empowering moms. 

This was in 2009. I wanted to do it, but I was afraid to stop shooting high end weddings.  I didn’t not how we would stay afloat and as you can imagine–a conversation that is about what you dream of doing and how to feed your family can get seriously emotional. 

Surviving as an entrepreneur means choosing a focus. I am so glad I took him up on the challenge.  The clear focus of our business made it that much easier for Harpo, Nate Berkus, Disney and Live with Kelly and Ryan to know whether or not we were the right fit for their own purpose and mission to moms. (To watch some of my TV segments: CLICK HERE)

He has challenged me time and time again to “choose” my focus, my vision…versus stay in the security of being generic and general. 

He has equipped me with business tactics and wisdom that have directly impacted our successful partnerships with several large corporations.  Seriously, the list of all the things his counsel has impacted is far to long. 

Most of all, he cares.  And even though it sounds simple, finding someone with as much experience and wisdom who deeply cares is a gift.  He cares for the photo industry, and he’s making the industry a better place all the time with his coaching among photographers.  If you ever have a chance to learn from him, get coaching from him, here him speak,  you MUST take the opportunity.

It’s amazing.  Jeff happened to be coming into Seattle for two nights when I called him while I was crying my eyes out.  He was coming to support another photographer.

I was in shock when we sat down for dinner together–that he was HERE in SEATTLE.  And for the next five hours, he did what he does like no other.  He spoke to my fear of surviving as an entrepreneur by challenging my fears, anxieties, insecurities, ALL of it…and then reminded me of who I was–who I am–regardless of how distraught I felt in the moment.

Surviving as an entrepreneur, Me Ra Koh and Jeff Jochum

The conversation had so many gems, and I wanted to share a few with you.  I know that pulling quotes out of context of a five hour conversation is tough.  But some of these quotes are universal truths that have to be passed on.  I’m not sure how full or empty your tank is today, but I hope these truths will give you a little bit of energy, hope and vision to keep building your dream.  I used many of them as journal prompts during my two days away and discovered more than I expected.

One liners of wisdom for surviving as an entrepreneur;

“Anyone can copy what you do, but no one can copy who you are.”

“It’s not what you do but why you do it.”

“You can’t get fired from your own life.”

“Retirement is what you do when you hate what you do.  But if you love what you do, why would you ever stop doing it?”

“Everyone is either an Explorer or Discoverer.  The Explorer is all about the process.  The Discoverer is all about the result.  Knowing which one you are helps you measure your success.”

Can’t you just journal about each one of these?! 




  1. Erin says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff at your Arizona Confidence workshop in February 2011. My initial thought was “what is this MAN doing here!?” But he added so much wisdom and insight to our workshop. I still remember him learning to use his DSLR along with the rest of us ladies. He had one pearl of wisdom that has stuck with me ever since. At one point he mentioned that he looked for the shadows in order to help him see the light. That was a huge “ah-ha” moment for me. Thank you Jeff! That truly helped me in my photography journey.

  2. I attended this workshop also and agree with Erin! I had so many ah-ha moments!

  3. Mike Larson says:

    Jeff has been instrumental in so many peoples lives. We are thankful for him and he is a good friend! THanks Jeff and have a great day!

  4. I LOVED this post and needed to read those quotes you shared! Must try and remember this one..“You can’t get fired from your own life.”

  5. Jill Velazquez says:

    Congrats Janna, I hope you have a blast and enjoy some time to yourself to refuel.

    Mera, this post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been in tears off and on today since I woke up. It has been years since I have had a day like this and it’s neat that you would write this post about this topic on this day. I will take it as inspiration and maybe you will help guide me 🙂
    Take care and have a wonderful weekend, may the energy help fill you up as well.

    Thanks for announcing the winner! Now I can stop stalking your page. 🙂 One day I will make it to a workshop…. I will. I will.

  6. Oh MeRa! This post is beautiful! Jeff has been so instrumental in all of us finding our happy place to “work happily ever after!” Thank you for challenging is at all the right bends in the road. And thank you for being the encouraging coach that you are! Much love to you and the Team-X family!

  7. “Anyone can copy what you do, but no one can copy who you are.”
    I’m taking this with me. thank you for sharing. xo

  8. Beth says:

    Those are wonderful lines of wisdom. 🙂

    What questions do you ask yourself to decide if you’re an Explorer or a Discoverer? Can you be both? Can you be an Explorer about some things, and a Discoverer about others? Curious…

  9. Sunni says:

    Great post, MeRa. I don’t know Jeff, but I love the quotes. Watching you blossom over the years has been beautiful. If he’s part of that, then blessings to him.

  10. Tracy Moore says:

    Loved reading this, Mera! How lucky are we to have Jeff!? You are such an inspiration to so many, and your love and kindness is so contagious.

    I met Jeff a few years ago in Vegas and we have been on quite the journey ever since then! He has challenged me in so many ways and helped my grow my business into what it is today. I could never have done it without him. He is not just my business coach… he is my family now, and I am so thankful for that. Anyone that gets the chance to learn from him is very blessed. 🙂

    As you can see from all the comments already… this guy is extremely loved and living out his purpose while working happily ever after. It’s so great that he is continuing to help all of us get there too! 🙂

    We love you Jeff… and you too Mera!!! xoxo

  11. This post was perfect timing for me. Thank you for sharing!!

  12. Julie Watts says:

    Jeff coined the name “Photopantz” in the lobby of the Murano Hotel in Tacoma two years or so ago when I met him. Next month, I’m flying my husband and I to WPPI in Vegas JUST to attend Jeff’s party. Yeah. He’s that magnanimous…baseball cap and all. 🙂

  13. Jeff is has not only been a fantastic mentor for our business, he’s been a remarkable friend. We love you Jeff! – Jason + Gina.

  14. Stephanie Ostermann says:

    Jeff completely changed my life. He has helped me to be fearlessly passionate, and he has become like a father figure to me. I can always count on him for eye opening clarity, even when it comes with a little frustration. MeRa is the reason I even met him, so… thank you to both of you!

  15. Me Ra Koh says:

    Tracy!! Every time I catch up with Jeff he tells me about the awesome things you have going on for Senior Girls. And I want to just reach through the phone line and hug you because I LOVE how you are empowering girls at such a pivotal time in their beginning confidence. Girl, I wish we lived closer. I simply need to get on the Team-X FB page more! And I LOVE your specialty “Trouble Maker Photographer for Mischievous Senior Girls” That phrase for your business, describing you is simply brilliant.

    And Julie Watts, PHOTOPANTZ inventor!!!, SHUT UP, it has not been only been two years ago! You forgot to mention your pants for women photographers are the ONLY pants for women photographers and have been featured in crazy, awesome magazines, plus been in tradeshows AND you didn’t even know how to sew before you started building your dream! You rock girl!!!!

    love you ladies!!!
    Me Ra

  16. Pamela S. says:

    After being really empty for a month or so (when all of one year’s work came in two months, 100% serious, the numbers don’t lie), I was thinking this morning that I really need to look at Me Ra’s blog, I bet she is telling it like it is & I probably need to hear it. Then, lo & behold, what you described is exactly what I have experienced. So much so, that I will have my husband read it to show how incredibly similar this is to what it has felt like. I say in a very humble place, “Thank you.” (and I honestly need a mentor… was thinking this this morning & your post confirms it).

  17. Me Ra Koh says:

    Pamela, I love how those road signs come to us when we need it most. I totally get it. So glad I was able to play a part in it, and the ripple of Jeff continues. Hang in there girl. All is not in vain, if any.

    Love you!

  18. He sounds like such an amazing man!!! I’d love to meet him one day. I’m so glad he was able to help you wade through things!!! 🙂 🙂

  19. Julie Massie says:

    The decision to work with Jeff has probably been THE best I’ve ever made for my business. Jeff helped me see parts of myself that I wasn’t even aware existed. By uncovering those things and discovering my true “why,” I realized what a unique experience I could bring to my clients. Within an hour of publishing a website with my new “message” and my Why, I had over a dozen people contact me telling me how my message resonated with them and they “needed” me. I thought my business was doing well pre-Jeff, but I’ve NEVER had someone say they “need” me (ME! Not my photos…) before. Thank you for believing in me, Jeff.

  20. Wow MeRa! Thank you for sharing. I think we might be kindred spirits. I too did a fairly good job of telling Jeff off during and after my December Fight Club, and then followed it up with a few days of intense emptiness, and maybe some more harsh words. And now, 2 months later, I am literally doing the exact thing Jeff said I should be doing. And I am doing it because I chose to, I need to, and I want to. And I am doing it because a man I met a year ago loved me enough to push me off a cliff, and say “you’ll find your wings”.
    Jeff, thank you for being my rock, thank you for seeing me, and thank you for loving me for who I am and who I am not. Because of you, I can say, I believe everyone is worthy and deserving of health and wellbeing. And, I believe in celebrating all things beautiful.

    I LOVE me some Jeff Jochum.
    Go get ’em

  21. Jane Ammon says:

    Oh MeRa if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have met Jeff…and now I can’t imagine my life without him in it!

    Jeff not only changed my business, he changed my life. He’s the Dad I had been longing for most of my life. He made me see the person I really was and I liked her so much better than the person I was pretending to be.

    It’s an honor to call him a friend, a coach, a Dad and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    Love you lots Jeff and MeRa! 🙂

  22. Jared Bauman says:

    I really echo with what you said above Me Ra! I couldn’t believe that someone with this much expertise, knowledge, and accomplishments also would care and invest so much in individuals. Ever since I’ve met Jeff, circa 2005, we have developed a tremendous relationship. At the core is a fantastic friendship and a trusted mentor. Beyond that, though, are the amazing things that have come from the relationship. From the years we’ve worked together at ShootDotEdit, to the workshops we’ve taught together, to the new business we’re working with eachother on, Jeff has brought an intense focus and drive that is truly amazing. So so so blessed to know him, just like you. What great timing for him to come to Seattle!

  23. Ivona Dixon says:

    I signed up to work with Jeff in Dec. 2011 and met him for the first time in person at WPPI two months later. We all went out for a late-night dinner and as we sat around the table, he looks at me and says, “What are you getting to eat? I want to make sure you’re eating.” I had just announced my pregnancy, and the dad in him emerged at that random moment. I was so happy to be working with someone who cared not only about the success of my business but about my well being. Random, I know…but that moment has stuck with me. So, thank you Jeff for caring on all fronts! …Great post, Me Ra!

  24. Rachel says:

    When folks ask me “who’s Jeff Jochum?,” I reply without pausing, “A force of nature.” He does everything INTENSELY. And that’s sometimes scary for those of us who are introverts masquerading as extroverted executives 😉

    Yet his intensity isn’t applied only to “work.” In fact, it’s most often applied to LIFE, because for Jeff, life is meaningful because it invites us to create intensely, care intensely, and build intensely.

    Thank you, Jeff, for forcing many of us to live with intensity. It’s really the only way to live…

    Love you, dear friend and mentor.


    PS: Me Ra – I think my tank needed to be filled by reading this today. Thank thank, thank you, thank you.

  25. Rachel Aberle says:

    Um, wow, amazing post and just awesome.

    I never talked to Jeff before until Fight Club. When we met, he was personable. I started listening to his talk at Fight Club and was drawn in to his knowledge and down to earth approach to it all. He pushed me on things and really made me think beyond what I thought. I went into it with a bit of a brick wall up, not really knowing how to express things about myself. Jeff knows how to draw things out of you that you didn’t think possible.

    I am honored to know Jeff and think of him as a wonderful friend and mentor. For one person to be able to turn you inside out and find out your true essence is amazing.

  26. Jeff says:

    I am truly speechless at all this love. Thank you Me Ra. For loving me enough to want to share our experiences with others. For loving me enough to trust me, even when you’re angry. For loving me enough. 🙂 And, mostly, for letting me love you.

  27. Oh Me Ra… this is beautiful (and entertaining!) I’m so grateful for Jeff, too. Deeply. The quotes you gave are perfect. They’re the ones we need to write down and tuck away for future refernce. Thank you for posting this – it’s a great reminder of why he’s my business coach. (And why I love him so much!) He listens with his ears and heart. He sees things we can’t. And he questions the limitations we put on ourselves. I can’t imagine my life without Jeff’s infulence and guidence.

    He’s changing the photography industry. It’s amazing to witness and be a part of. THANK YOU, JEFF!!!! XOXOXOXOXO

  28. Jeff Jochum, we love you. We love you as a coach, as a friend, as a business partner, and as a father figure. You are a giver. You constructively challenge and push those who trust you in a way that I have yet to witness in any person on this planet. Damn it, Jeff! Your “way”, by the way, works. For a preacher of “uniqueness” and “authenticity”, you walk the walk. And, you pass it on so that it brings fruit to those who adopt it. It brings ROI 🙂 Thank you again, man. Can’t wait to see you next

  29. kathi cook says:

    When I first met Jeff, I was both entranced and a bit scared. This guy thought differently. That was good, but it made me a bit nervous. The nervous was good. It took me awhile to wake up and smell the ‘dammit jeff-ness’, but I’m so glad I did. One fight club and some coaching later, my life has changed forever. Jeff, thank you for making me see myself, believe in myself, find my why, my love for who I am and what I believe in. I believe in YOU too. You are the most generous person I have ever known. I can’t wait to see you and TeamX in a few weeks:)

  30. Love love love love. Every word. Jeff is amazing. Work doesn’t feel like work since meeting Jeff. And you said it. The best thing about Jeff is not all of this wisdom he shares, but that he actually cares. He really really does.

    Love you Jeff!!! 🙂

  31. Tori says:

    Wow, reading all this post and all the wonderful comments makes me so excited that I met Jeff in January and that I decided to take the plunge and sign up for coaching! I start next week. Thank you Tracy for sharing Jeff with us!

  32. Sarah says:

    Oh my heart is feeling this post right now. Two weeks ago I was talking to Jeff and in our conversation I mentioned what I *thought* I might want to do with my career. He said, “do you know MeRa”? Of course, I had heard of you but I wanted to make myself more familiar with your work again as it had been a while… so I put that on my to-do list. So here I am, two weeks later, and I sit here reading this post. In hits home entirely, as I have been feeling for some time that my cup was empty. This was a particularly tough week, feeling as empty as ever. And then I read your words and feel as if you are speaking to me. Thank you for sharing your soul with us, MeRa. I think I am on day two of tears, and I am just starting to feel like I am getting some clarity thanks to Jeff Jochum and my mentor, Jane. I feel vulnerable and raw and torn open, but those moments of clarity are getting me through. And those positive and encouraging words/quotes that I so needed to hear. Stay the course, MeRa!! Your Team-X family is here supporting you and loving you. Thank you for sharing your truth. xo