I was in Midtown running an errand and brought my camera along for fun. I guess it's Midtown, I think it's technically called City Center. I found this great backdrop and then waited for someone interesting to walk by. I tested the light, and waited some more. I asked one woman on her way to an appointment so didn't have time and another who quickly said no thank you, and then circled back to say apologize and say he hated getting his photo taken. He was a good looking man, but I understood. Most of my clients ironically have told me prior to working with me, that they hate getting their photo taken.
Eric strode around the corner, chicly dressed and well-heeled in a beautiful fitted blue suit and gorgeous tan brown, leather loafers. I eagerly approached him and asked if he would let me photograph and interview him, explaining the project and he said yes!
Name: Eric Murchison
Photographed in: Center City at JFK and 19th.
Lives in: Bala Cyn Wyd
Occupation: Senior Business Banking Manager
1. It could be said that life is one big improvisation. Where in your life have you had to improvise?
Many times. I come from very humble beginnings. I grew up in North Philadelphia where you're just in survival mode. You just got to figure things out and there's not a lot of direction. There's no direction as far as like how to survive, why we're living, thinking about what you're passionate about in life. You just kind of figure it out. I'm an anomaly from where I come from.
I was just in my own neighborhood a few days ago, visiting an investment property and kids were coming up to me, they see me in a suit, and they're like, "What do you do? How did you get there? Oh you're a banker, what is that?"
They don't even know about banking or what a banker does. They know I own some real estate, they're like, "how do I get real estate?" No one has taught us these things.
So very much I had to improvise my entire life. Growing up from an adolescent from humble beginnings to working in corporate America and obtaining a higher education and now leading a team of people.
Even right now, I'm a very introverted person. People don't really get that or understand that from me, but it's improv-ing, you know. Every time I come across someone, even meeting you today, you know, it's improv. It's just like going with the flow, trusting your intuition.
I think that's a big part of what life is. I'm learning that no one really has this figured out, but we figured it out together. You figure it out. A big part of improv is intuition, trusting yourself, knowing who you are.
K: Do you have a specific example of a time things went a different way than you expected and you had to improvise?
E: Yeah. Recently, actually in my career. I will always have a different perspective in my industry, coming from where I come from, being a minority. In the economic environment that we live in now, where women-owned businesses, women entrepreneurs, Asian, African-American, Latin — a lot of people have become enlightened during the pandemic. We're like, "Hey I don't want to work for someone. I have this passion, this fire in me and I want to do this." And a lot of it is owning a business.
I work for a bank where we provide access to capital. We provide banking services and I expressed this (enlightenment) to my boss. Hey, this is important, helping these businesses, helping these entrepreneurs is important right now. And that person didn't see it that way, right now.
I didn't expect the conversation to go south, so in that moment I said (to myself) Hey how do I make this make sense for my leadership, but also help them to understand the passion that I have, without sacrificing my job or looking bad in their eyes. A lot of it was just communication at that time.
It's like bridging a gap of knowing what I'm passionate about and what I care about, but also understanding that this person has a different outlook, has a different lens on.
I think that's where we a lot of us go wrong, is thinking that everybody sees the world the way we see it. Even though the way we see it it may be right, we may ask 100 people and 90 of them may agree with us and only 10 agree with the other person. That still doesn't make that person right or wrong nor does it make me right or wrong.
Where we bridge that gap in understanding each other and understanding we have different perspectives...So in that moment I had to understand that this person has a different perspective than me. Neither one of us are right are wrong, but how do we understand each other? I had to be the the person in that time to have that perspective to bridge that gap.
K: That's a really huge strength.
E: A lot of that comes from coming where I come from. Coming from humble beginnings, where you have nothing, you have to improvise. You have to figure things out. There's no one here giving you answers or laying out-- there's no foundation. There's not much guidance and the guidance is really poor guidance in a way.
The people you may look up to are rappers, drug dealers, you know, people who, their futures aren't promising. But, I know I can do more. I feel like I have a bigger purpose in this life and I don't feel like I'm supposed to be in prison. I don't feel like I should be an entertainer. I feel like I should be a business man.
How do I get there? You got to figure it out. So you're constantly improvising, you're learning how to manage your emotions, your attitude. You're learning how to become smarter, become educated or more intelligent in a specific field. You're learning about life, about people. I'm shy. I'm scared. Okay, well, I need to not run away from that, I need to push into that. People are telling me I'm a great speaker but I was so scared of this, how did I become great? I leaned into my fear. That's all. I'm improvising at that moment.
2. What is your hidden talent?
E: This might be weird, it's not anything like playing basketball or anything like that. I think my hidden talent is being able to reflect. Taking the time at the end of every day and saying, how could I have done better. Like our conversation today, meeting someone, or maybe having a moment of adversity and being challenged and I just didn't have a good day and I treated somebody bad. How could I have done better? Even though I wasn't having a good day, how could I have done better. And if I'm having a great day, still, how could I've done better. So taking that time to reflect I think is my talent.
3. What inspires you today?
E: Today or in life?
K: Let's say today.
E: I'm inspired every day by just having another day. I lost very close people to me at an early age and some of it there was no explanations. I think that gives me a different appreciation of life. So everyday I wake up like, I'm alive! Oh shit, thank god! Let's have a great fucking day. So every day really just motivates me already.
4. How do you feel about being photographed and why?
E: It was different, it was a unique feeling. It's hard to really place a word on it right now or articulate it, but it was different. But you made me feel confident. But then I guess the name of the of the company (Hello Gorgeous), and you, you stopped me. I'm like, I must look great, I must look good, so yeah. It was different though.
K: Is this your first time being photographed?
E: I've been photographed before. I actually just came from NBC news station with my boss. I wasn't being interviewed he was, but they did a random a couple headshots of us. So I'm not new to it, but it's still just a different feel. It's just new to me outside of Instagram. It's weird because we all have iPhones, we all have social media, but when someone's holding a camera like that (pointing to my large lensed camera) it's just like oh what's going on, you know? Am I even worthy of this in a way. Because we look at supermodels and everything like that. But nah, I think you helped out a lot though, you made me feel comfortable.
K: It's interesting that worthiness. I encountered somebody else and he's like no, no thank you and then he kept walking and they turned around he's like, sorry, I hate getting my photo taken. I was like oh you're the perfect person to be photographed because of that. We are all worthy. And yet it is weird to get your photo taken.
E: Especially because we're strangers in a way you know. And then it's culturally different. I've been in Philly my whole life. Philly is very standoffish in my experience, unless you know someone or whatever. So typically, someone comes up to you and you're like, "Hey no, what are you doing? No I'm not interested, I don't want to buy your thing, or whatever.." But again, me traveling and stuff like that, I think has helped. And then there's just energy you feel from people. Where I felt like a welcoming energy from you, you know, so I said okay what's going on? How can we help each other?
5. What piece of advice have you heard that you use or think about most often?
E: My great-grandfather used to tell me: If it was done you can do it, when I was younger. It was very, very simple and it could be looked at from different perspectives. Because some people may say, what if you're the first to do it? Anyone's hardly the first to do anything at this time that we live in. So where I work at in my space, there's not a lot of people that look like me or is from where I'm from, but I'm doing it. And that inspires other people.
But there's somebody that I've seen that has done this. Not in banking or anything but, I've seen firsts. First women who've accomplished things, the first African-American, first Latin, first this, first that in this world that we live in today, that would inspire me when I was younger and and that was enough to be like yes, I can do it. Somebody did it. I can do it.
I'm gonna be that for somebody, you know. That inspires me that I'm going to inspire somebody with those words from my great grandfather when I was younger. If it was done you can do it. That helps me with so many things.
Right now I'm training for a half marathon, it has nothing to do with what we're talking about, but it's really hard. It's 13 miles and it sounds like a lot, but I'm listening to this gentleman named David Goggins and he runs hundreds of miles. So first thinking about running 13 miles was a lot, but I'm listening to his story about him running 100 miles and I'm like maybe I can run 100 miles next. Because he can do it I can do it. Everything ain't for everybody, but if it could be done you can do it. So yeah that inspires me.
Yesterday I ran eight miles and I remember I was hard on myself because I wanted to run 10. But I was like, Eric a year ago you couldn't run a mile. But it all starts with your mind and that's why that quote really resonates.
K: How do you think he arrived at that piece of advice for you? What was it that was happening in his life?
E: You know the same way I came from humble beginnings and adversity, he had his own version of that, but he still accomplished so many great things. So I'm blessed to have somebody that's not just saying it, they had their own experience of coming from nothing to achieving what he had. He had multiple properties, he retired when he was in his early 60s. He didn't get to enjoy a great life with his kids or even his grandkids because he worked two or three jobs his whole life. But he was able to give that to his great grandkid, me. I spent so much time with this man, it was so much wisdom. I don't think he knew the gifts that he was giving me.
I think that through his own experiences somewhere along the line he dumbed a very complex thing down and made it simple for himself. If somebody did it, I can do it. If somebody became a homeowner, I could become a homeowner. There's no homeowners in my family, but there are homeowners so I can do it. No one I know of retired but, I can do it and so on and so forth. I know somebody did it so I can do it.
I never asked him how he arrived to it because when he used to tell me this I was like, whatever Pop Pop. I was a kid. I was Teenager. He passed away a week before my 21st birthday and I'm 32 now. Now here I am nine years later now and everything is starting to make sense. Things that he used to say when I was 13, 14 years old. It really went in one ear and out the other, I thought. But to answer your question I think that is probably how he arrived to it— just going through his own experiences and asking, how can I relate this to a kid. That's how it came out. If somebody could do it, you can do it.
6. What is something you believe but cannot prove?
E: The first thing that comes to my mind is God. I strongly believe in God, some higher power, whether it's multiple powers, I'm not sure. But I know there's a God. Somebody, something, somebody created all of this. It's too magical it's too perfect, yet not perfect, but that's what makes it perfect. I don't know if I've ever seen God or not I don't know but I know that something's there somebody's there.
K: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed our conversation.
E: I really enjoyed it, too. You made me think of a lot of things I haven't thought about in a while.