Steven Manning establishes company after conquering bipolar disorder
By Rebecca R. Bibbs
In 2002, Fort Wayne videographer Steven Manning’s life changed drastically when he was diagnosed with the mental illness, bipolar disorder. That threw him into a cycle of severe depression and manic episodes. In addition, Manning said, the illness led him to make “bad” choices that resulted in him becoming “unemployed, homeless, penniless and suicidal.”
Manning managed to turn his life around after being placed on Social Security disability and being assigned a case manager with a local mental health agency.
He recovered enough to strike out on his own in 2013 to start Manning Video Productions.
Manning shares with us his triumphs as he expands his fledgling business.
IMBM: What inspired you to strike out on your own and start Manning Video Productions, LLC?
Manning: Actually, I was inspired to start MVP in a very unusual way. My case manager introduced me to the Carriage House Clubhouse. The Clubhouse movement focuses on a person’s talents, skills and abilities as one of the core aspects of their successful rehab program. This movement started in 1948 in New York city and now has over 340 clubhouses all around the world with over 150 in the U.S. and the rest scattered throughout parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. After being involved with the Carriage House for several years, I eventually began to get better. In fact, my rehab was remarkable, so much so that among several accomplishments, I was able to obtain a master’s degree in secondary education and began working at a Fort Wayne radio station, WFCV-AM1090-FM100.1.
The Carriage House started an in-house audio-visual department called CHAV, which is an acronym for Carriage House Audio Visual. I became the lead producer for CHAV, which ended up producing two shows: one called “The Carriage House Report,” which is tailored after a newscast and the other show called “Up Close,” focuses on a member, staff member or an event. These shows became very popular, not only within the Carriage House, but they also became widely known at various other clubhouses.
Over a two-year period, I became very skilled at producing dozens of those CHAV shows – so much so that a few people asked me to produce shows for them for a fee, including the mental health facility that I was a client of.
After producing several other video projects for a fee, I decided to start my own video production business. That was one of the most exciting and fulfilling decisions that I’ve ever made. From that point on, Manning Video Productions became a bona fide, very successful small business. Back in September of 2013, I set up my office in the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, which is a beautiful facility on Fort Wayne’s Northeastside, close to IPFW and Ivy Tech. It houses close to 60 businesses of various sizes.
IMBM: How did you secure funding to start your business?
Manning: Thanks to the Carriage House clubhouse I started my business with their equipment. So I really didn’t initially need funding to start up. To continue MVP without the Carriage House video camera and computer, I was fortunate to have a friend purchase a very nice high definition camera for me, and another friend purchased a laptop computer. With the current demands of a rapidly growing business, I’m now seeking funding from various sources, and I’m optimistic that obtaining some kind of financial support will become a reality
IMBM: In less than a year, you made the decision to expand your business to New York. What factors went into your decision to expand, and how do you plan to juggle your current business in Fort Wayne with your new ventures in New York?
Manning: I love to dream big, so I have plans to build an international business. Since I travel often to New York, I plan to build a clientele there and hire a producer to work there to help me grow MVP there. I plan to do the same thing in Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville and eventually in Europe.
IMBM: What has been your biggest challenge in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
Manning: I’ve not had any huge challenges. However, I’m sure there are some just on the horizon. One challenge that I’m faced with today is that my car died several weeks ago. So I’m having to take the bus to various places. One great thing, though, is here in the Innovation Center, not only is my office located here but there are conference rooms available for me to meet with my clients, and there are nice spaces here where I can shoot video for my productions.
Funding is also currently a challenge. However, over the years, probably due to the hardships I’ve encountered, I’ve learned to embrace change and take on the challenge, to also find out what could be learned during the process of the challenge.
IMBM: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned while getting your business off the ground?
Manning: I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned is no matter what challenge you’re faced with, always have a positive attitude; a positive attitude about myself, my decisions, my talents skills and abilities … Through this whole experience of owning a business, I’m learning to love myself and the wonderful gifts and talents I can contribute for God and mankind.
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