Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Benjamin Koren, the founder and CEO of Frameology, knows how important it is to use your time wisely and to push yourself. Having majored in International Relations at Brown University, Benjamin went on to study at Columbia Business School. After he spent time working abroad in Brazil, he started his own company that focuses on making printing and framing beautiful and easy.

Benjamin has had a variety of experiences that he has both learned and grown from, and he shares some of those lessons. Whether he’s living abroad and working, studying to earn a degree, or making the most of every day to build his company, Benjamin seizes his youth day in and day out. Read on to learn more about what a day in his life looks like, what he’s learned from being an entrepreneur, and what books influenced him at different parts of his life.

Name: Benjamin Koren
Education: Brown University and MBA from Columbia University – Columbia Business School
Follow: frameology.com / @BenKoren

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Benjamin Koren: Taking the opportunity to really push yourself to learn and have experiences. It’s about using your time wisely and getting the most out of a very unique phase of your life.

CJ: What did you major in at Brown University, and how did you determine what to study?

BK: I studied International Relations. Honestly for me it was a bit of a cop out. IR allowed you to take classes in a lot of different things, and as I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, it seemed appropriately broad. And I love to travel so there’s that…

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CJ: You later attended Columbia Business School. What inspired you to earn this degree, and how did business school help you?

BK: I kind of fell into business. I originally wanted to be a lawyer. My first job out of college was as a paralegal at Shearman & Sterling working on IPOs (initial public offerings). These are transformative events for most companies and are super interesting for that reason. However, I found myself most drawn to the business aspects, not the legal ones. After a year at the law firm I was fortunate enough to get a job at a merchant bank that was one of Shearman’s clients.

CJ: You’ve spend time working as a paralegal and in a private equity company in Sao Paulo, Brazil. What is it like working and living in another country? What were those experiences like?

BK: It was awesome. Living in another country for a period of time is something I would recommend to everyone. It’s challenging – you’re forced to be independent and figure things out that are not so easy to understand (either because of cultural or language barriers). For me it was one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences I’ve had.

CJ: You are the Founder and CEO of Frameology, a company that makes printing and framing beautiful and easy. How did you come up with this idea? What were the steps necessary to execute your idea?

BK: I came up with the idea when I wanted to buy a framed photo for my girlfriend as a gift for Valentine’s Day. To my shock, I couldn’t find anyone online who would allow you to upload a photo and get it printed, framed and shipped to you. A light went off. Framed photos are awesome – they make the ultimate personal gift and they help people focus on the things in life that are most important – their best memories. And my dad owned a frame shop so I knew a bunch about the business already. Starting Frameology was the logical next step.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned so far from being an entrepreneur and running your own business?

BK: Starting something from scratch is hard and it takes much longer than you think it will. I’ve truly learned so much. But if I had to highlight just one lesson, it’s the following: stay focused on your vision. Products will change, branding will evolve, the people helping you will change, but the founding vision is what provides the real consistency in your business and life. I (as founder) believe strongly that the people and experiences in life are what really matter. Our vision, as a company, is to help our customers to focus on the things that matter. Everything we do is a function of that vision, and we constantly test new tactics to bring that to life.

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CJ: Every day in your life must vary depending on the time of year and project you’re working on, but what does a Monday look like for you? Take us through your day.

BK: It does vary constantly! But let’s see. This Monday I woke up at 5:25AM to go to the gym (I know, it’s really early). When I got home I checked my Google Analytics account to monitor our key performances metrics from the weekend. I usually get into the office around 9AM. We have our company standup at 10:30. Then throughout the rest of the day I strategized with our Marketing Director about how best to promote a new program we launched for professional photographers. I fielded some questions from a TV producer that hopefully will put us on her show for a holiday gift spot. I spent time QA’ing some of the new features being built on our site. I participated in a planning meeting to decide on inventory levels that we would carry for the holiday season. I’m sure there were some other things as well.

CJ: What advice do you have for those interested in running their own business one day?

BK: Don’t give up. Starting a business is really hard. Things often don’t go the way you plan, but that’s OK. You will figure it out. Also: test, measure, analyze, repeat. When you have a startup, you actually know very little about the market in the beginning. You need to put together tests to figure things out. Measure the results. Analyze them and figure out if there is a better way to achieve your desired outcome. Then test again using what you have learned.

CJ: How do you stay organized and keep everything running smoothly?

BK: Asana. And hiring great people that I can trust.

CJ: With such a busy schedule, how do you keep yourself energized and inspired throughout the day?

BK: I try to stay in shape and eat well. I think that’s really important to maintaining energy. Most importantly I try to keep focused on Frameology’s vision. We want to help people focus on what’s important. Our customers upload such meaningful moments to our site, I’m constantly reminded of why we do what we do. One customer contacted me recently to tell me how he framed a photo from his wedding for his father in law, who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He broke down in tears, because he was so moved by the gift. Hard not to be inspired by that.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

BK: Professionally, there are a lot. I read The New York Times and The Economist regularly. I’m also digging the new Apple News app. Personally, here are the books that really influenced me at different parts of my life: Catcher in the Rye, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Song of Solomon, and The Old Man and the Sea.

CJ: When you’re not working on growing Frameology, how do you like to spend your time?

BK: I spend all my time growing Frameology. But I do find time to hang out with friends and family (while working on growing Frameology).

CJ: What are you working to improve upon, and how are you doing so?

BK: Right now, really all of my attention is on my company. I don’t think much about personal growth and improvement these days. That’s not to say that I don’t have things to improve upon – I have a ton of things. But starting and growing a company just comes first right now at this point in my life. This goes back to what we discussed before about “seizing your youth.” When you’re young, you can put yourself first (or at least a lot of people can – some aren’t even that fortunate). Later in life you are responsible for others – employees, investors, children, etc. I’m sure I’ll have other periods in my life that at a later date.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

BK: Don’t force things – figure out and focus on what you love. Everything else will follow into place.

Ben Koren Qs

Images by Ben Koren

Education

For those of you applying for college, declaring a major can be a little nerve wrecking. Photography majors have things to consider but they also have a lot of fun!

Creativity.

Want to do a fantasy photoshoot? Paint with developer chemistry? Photograph… without a camera? The photo world is vast and growing. It has become acceptable as an art, so you’re not only studying the technical aspect of photography, but also art and history and current events. You start applying your creativity to other places. If you write or paint, you start putting detail into the smaller things. In work, you might have out of the box ideas that would benefit you and who ever you’re working for. You learn to be a bit more open-minded. Have fun with it!

New friends, new perspectives.

When you go to university, you meet people from all over the world. That comes in handy when you have art galleries, thesis projects, ans collaboration assignments. Your new friends love photography just like you, but in different ways. You guys eventually will grow together and learn from each other. In some cases, you make lifelong friends. You’ll also see the world differently. You’ll notice the light coming through the windows, the shape of shadows, the way your reflection mimics the mannequin on the other side. Because of the types of classes you take, you’ll start noticing the various fonts, colors, and designs on advertisements. You’llstart seeing scenes in movies and think, wow, that landscape was amazing. I wish they cropped it more. It’s silly, but it’s fun, and when you meet people who think like you, it’s pretty amazing!

The meaning of life.

Ok, maybe you don’t learn the meaning of life. But you do learn about everything else. From news and events to self portraits, your experiments with the medium that is photography will take you places, let you see and think about things you never even thought to consider before.

Photography is a beautiful and deep subject to spend a few years on. Even if you learn that you’re not the best technically or conceptually, you still grow as a person, and what else is college for except to learn about yourself and the world?

Being a photography major is a lot of work, and sometimes it can drive you crazy. At the same
time, being a photography major is so amazing that it leaves you breathless and wanting
more. Whether that comes from learning, from meeting new people, from seeing in new
perspectives, or from realizing that you’re growing and being more than you were before, you
will come to find that being a photography major is more than simply photography. It is much,
much more.

Image: Rev Stan

CultureTravel

Travel season might be over at the moment, but that isn’t going to stop us from daydreaming about all of the places we have yet to explore. Luckily, we found 14 stunning Instagram accounts with photos that will stir up some serious travel envy. Whether you want to travel to the country, city, or abroad, these accounts will keep you entertained and in awe until the next time you can pack your bags and fly away. Here’s a guide to the best travel Instagram accounts you’ll want to follow ASAP:

1. @bkindler – Björn Kindler takes some of the most beautiful photographs we’ve ever seen, and we just want to jump right into the picture. His photos are highly contrasted, giving it an even more fantasy-like appearance. Spoiler alert (and thankfully for us): these are real places in the world.

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2. @onemileatatime – Ben Schlappig is a full-time travel blogger who flies over 300,000 miles per year. Since he doesn’t like to stay anywhere for more than three days, there is never a shortage of travel photos.

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3. @aladyinlondon – Julie Falconer is a writer, consultant, and travel blogger who documents her travel photos. Originally from California, Julie moved to the UK in 2007. With photos like these, we’re happy she made the move.

4. @legalnomads – A former lawyer who now travels and eats her way around the world, Jodi Ettenberg has been to some pretty neat places.

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5. @zachspassport – Zach Glassman promotes the transformative power of travel through his stunning photos. Having mastered more than five languages and getting quite a few stamps in his passport, we’re not sure if there’s anywhere Zach hasn’t been.

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6. @laurenepbath – This travel photographer is seriously talented. Lauren Bath’s photos are captivating and colorful, to say the least. We can’t stop staring at these mesmerizing photos of her travels.

7. @kevinruss – Kevin Russ’s rustic looking photos are simply incredible. He captures the beauty of nature with ease, reminding us that places like this exist in our world. His photos make us want to disconnect from technology and immerse ourselves in these remote locations.

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8. @kirstenalana – Kirsten Alana is a New York City-based professional photographer who captures the most beautiful moments in life, from boating in Central Park to exploring a lighthouse off the coast of California.

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9. @colincabalka – Colin Cabalka, film director and cinematographer, takes photos and Instavideos to show where he’s been, and his journey has been visually remarkable, that’s for sure.

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10. @fosterhunting – Foster Huntington documents his #vanlife with unparalleled beauty. From his van to a tree house in the sky, Foster snaps photos that look so effortless and free that you’ll want to hop into a van and just drive.

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11. @pascalpics – Martin documents his time exploring the city and doodling in cafes around Scotland, and the results are unreal. Once you see these photos, you’ll be asking for a one-way ticket to Edinburgh.

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12. @doyoutravel – This Instagram account showcases people from all over the world’s travel photos, proving that people are having some seriously cool experiences.

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13. @hirozzzz – Hiroaki knows how to capture places of the world from unique and thrilling angles. Gorgeous pictures.

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14. @iartu_jennifer – When we see Jennifer’s photos, we just want to walk down a foggy pier or road to nowhere. Through her photos, we can tag along on her stunning journeys.

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Which travel Instagram accounts are giving you #travelenvy?

Travel

There are many things you can do on a road trip. I know you can think of a lot it on your own, but I thought I’d provide some inspiration.

1. Play Games

Dig up cards from your Trivial Pursuit game or something similar. Trivia is a way to keep everyone in the car involved. However, any game will do. There are even games on your cellphone that can be played by multiple people. It is fun and a great way to stay awake on the road.

2. Sleep

Road trips last a long time. Unless you’re behind the wheel, you do not have to be awake the whole time. Take a rest so you will be rested enough to do things when you get out of the car.

3. Listen To Music

A good playlist can make a road trip. Even if you just listen to the radio, you could find out what different people in your car like. You may even learn to like something new.

4. Snack

If you’re on the road for awhile, being able to snack every now and then just may keep everyone happy.

5. Talk

It is the simplest thing in the world but talking is a great pastime. People can talk for hours. You only need people to make it happen. If you talk long enough, you may get to know each other better than you thought you would.

6. Write

Travel journals allow you to remember the great times you had on your journeys. You can always look back at them and remember the times you had. You will also have stories to tell others.

7. Take Photos And Videos

If writing is not your thing, there is always visual media. It is something to look back on. We live on a beautiful planet. There are a lot of sights you do not see in your everyday life. Take advantage. Take photos of the fun people you are traveling with. You can capture a laugh, a smile, or some other stolen moment.

My most important advice would be to remember to look past the camera lens. Sightseeing is totally fun but documenting a moment is not as important as experiencing it. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to remind myself to look past the photograph I was taking and into the view before me. I never regretted it once.

Image: unsplash