Meet Max Muller: FSU Alum and Creative Director in San Diego

Her Campus (HC): Hey, Max, tell me a little bit about yourself! Where are you from? What did you grow up doing?

Max Muller (MM): Hey! Thanks for having me! I’m a Floridian at heart–I grew up in a small beach town, surfing, fishing, hunting and lobstering. I really took advantage of living on the coast in every way possible. Shout-out Vero Beach!

HC: How have those hobbies turned into a passion?

MM: Those hobbies were really just hobbies until things shifted during my senior year of high school. I bought a GoPro Hero 3 to document the fun things we were doing, like the weekend surf trips up the coast and some parties, too. This purchase was huge for me and was really the start of where I am today because I started to learn about video editing. I immediately got hooked. I reached out to people I strived to be like who were also creating videos. I just wanted to learn, and they graciously took me under their wing to teach me how they shot video, edit their film, and which equipment to use.

HC: Tell me about your time at FSU! What are the key takeaways from your college experience?

MM: It’s a bit of a stun getting back in touch with an FSU-based organization. To be honest, ever since I graduated, I’ve been so focused growing personally and professionally that I haven’t been engaged with anything FSU. That’s crazy for me to think about because, during my college years, I was at every football game, in so many clubs, a player on the lacrosse team, and a member of a Fraternity as well. Things change and now here I am pursuing my dreams!

Let me start by saying this–life can be amazing or terrible for you. It’s up to YOU to decide.

Looking back on my experience at FSU, I wouldn’t have changed a single moment. In college, there are so many people who come from different backgrounds, have opposing viewpoints, and think way different from each other. There are two noticeable factors about people that will make or break those around you in college. You have to ask yourself, are these people nice people? Are they good at business? Believe it or not, these two questions are everything, and once I realized this, my life got a whole lot easier.

I connected with as many people as I could. If they were nice, then cool. If they were nice and good at business, then even better, because now I want to hang out with these people. But here’s the thing -- I didn’t just hang out with people who were starting businesses. I found those who were good at business in other ways-- maybe they were the finance chair of their Sorority, maybe they were in charge of event production for a charity, or maybe they were a bartender who not only hooked it up with drinks but also knew how to excel at their job. These are the people who take the initiative to make the most of an opportunity. These are the people who I made sure to stay connected with.

And that made all the difference.

The most important thing I did was connect with people. If you are able to do this well in college, you will see far greater advantages than anything else the school can provide to you.

HC: Now an FSU alumnus, you’ve ended up in sunny California, how did that happen? And, as a creative director what does a typical (or constantly changing) day look like for you?

MM: Yeah, a couple of months ago I moved to San Diego, CA–a dream location I never thought I’d ever live in. At the end of college, I was a full-time photographer shooting clothing brands, luxury car companies like Lamborghini and Rolls Royce, music festivals, influencers, country clubs–you name it. However, I always knew I wanted to be more than a photographer, and it wasn’t until I started hiring other photographers that I realized I enjoyed a director’s role much more.

This led me to become a creative director where I now work to produce content best-suited for the client’s long-term goals and grow my clients’ audience through collaborations and partnerships. These two things work hand-in-hand. You could have the best content in the world but if nobody sees it, what’s the point?

Side-note: If you’re a creative working with any type of brand, ask them “How do you want this project to influence your long-term goals?” Watch them fall in love with you and thank me later.

HC: Not only do you boost clients’ personal brands, but you also are a photographer! Where in the world has that side of your career taken you? What are some of the most memorable experiences you have while taking photos?

MM: I still pick up the camera from time to time, and every time I do–I love it. This has enabled me to develop my own style. At first, I wasn’t sure what my style was. Over a period of time, I realized that I can have my own unique perspective. I would now describe that as a natural approach with creative angles and crisp editing.

HC: Where do you see yourself in five or ten years? Do you think that far ahead? What would you say is your philosophy towards your work/career?

MM: I think that far ahead every day. I write down affirmations every morning to keep me focused on my ultimate goals. It preps me for my day and I know everything I do that day is aligned with those goals. For me, my philosophy comes down to improving a certain area of the world. I really like the quote, “You can be anything, but you can’t be everything.” So when I think about changing the world, I’m going to do that by using business strategy and implementing that into coastal-living. If you live on the coast, you may worry about climate change. My life goal is to bring more awareness to this issue, supply positive changes, and do so through business.

HC: Going off of that, what advice would you give to those who are interested in a career like yours?

MM: Go learn from somebody in person. Then in your off-time, learn online. Here’s the catch -- for all that you learn, apply it to yourself and a side project. Don’t just help that one person you are working for because as Robert Kiyosaki says, “Living life by paycheck to paycheck is not really living.” Apply these lessons you learn to yourself and your project! Those things are what you can control. This will be your investment in yourself both financially and mentally. This project may take different forms, but you will learn from it and continue to grow.

And lastly, go out there and lose. If you are reading this, you have a whole lot more life to live whether that’s 10, 20, 60, or 80 years left -- you can do a lot in that time frame. So go out there, be risky, and lose so you can learn from those losses. Am I sounding harsh? Good. Life is harsh. But learn to twist it so you benefit.

Bonus questions!

HC: If you were a drink, what would you be?

MM: A shot of tequila–only the real ones can hang with me.

HC: Favorite animal?

MM: Orca Whales–I’m terrified of them but I will swim with them one day. By the way, check out my recent trip with Great Whites. They used to be my favorite, but Orcas take the cake now.

HC: What’s your life motto?

MM: You are stronger and smarter than you think you are.

Connect with Max on Instagram or Linkedin!

All photos courtesy of Maxwell Muller.

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