What To Focus On

— Focus on improving. Everything you’re good at today you sucked at in the past. That’s because you kept improving.

— Ignore know-it-all’s. There’s nothing worse than being told what you already know by someone who doesn’t. Focus on Facts.

— Don’t worry that time is running out. Stay focused on what truly matters to you…even if you’re running on empty.

— Don’t focus on how hard it is. Everyone who has ever made it in showbiz worked hard. Rather, focus on how great it is to work hard on something worthy of giving it everything you’ve got.

Important because a new entertainment infrastructure has been built along with a new protocol: Anything Goes! Focus on that.

Eye On The Prize

A barrage of publicity and a boatload of “likes” will certainly put a lot of eyes on your work. However, once the hoopla wears off and the true essence of your hard effort is revealed, the only thing that matters is:
Do your reps love it enough to sell it?
Do your fans love it enough to share it?
Do your customers love it enough to buy it?
Do your subscribers love it enough to re-up?
Do your clients love it enough to return for more?

Important because it’s important to get “eyes on the prize.” It’s more important to create a worthy enough prize.

Craving Validation

When to share your brilliant idea:
Never at the beginning stage: Asking others what they think of your great idea, while it’s still just an idea, is like asking for permission to be excused. It’s the perfect catalyst for procrastinating, a great justification for shelving and a wide-open back door out of the project.

Never at the developing stage: Asking others what they think of your emergent project while you’re right in the middle of producing it, constructing it, writing it or crafting it is a setup for creative disaster!

Always at the finishing stage: Welcoming suggestions (even hiring a consultant) when you are deep into the final stages of your project can be enlightening, inspirational, informative and revealing. It’s a way of shinning a bright light into those areas of the project that you may have overlooked or you just couldn’t see.

Important because everyone has an opinion on everything, and for the most part we can’t wait to give ours.

More about “When it’s OK to Quit”

The reader response to my last blog “When it’s OK to Quit” has gone way off the charts! It reminded me of another popular blog I wrote titled, “Seven Questions Before You Change Course.”

I think this is important because while “never quit” may be our mantra, there are times when quitting or changing course is the only real intelligent thing to do—in order to make use of the very best talents we have and bring us closer to the lifestyle we desire. I think as pro artists/treps we need to remain vigilant and aware of those signs that tell us when it’s time to shift direction, so we can recover, regroup, reorganize and reinvent a new game. Once again, here are those seven simple questions. Hope this helps…

1. Why did I pursue this in the first place?
2. Have I completed my mission?
3. Why do I feel the need to change?
4. What do I have to gain by changing course—how will my life/career be different?
5. Will this change cause a hardship for others?
6. Am I enthusiastic about the possibilities that could arise out of making this change?
7. Am I willing to take the necessary steps to initiate this change?

When it’s OK to Quit

Big projects begin with a mix of anticipation, excitement and cocky confidence. Then things start to get more chancy and less fun. Then, over time, things get real gnarly, the money leaks through every crack, you lose faith, and the project becomes a stressful quagmire for you and all those involved. Then people in your inner circle start to ask, “why are you doing this to yourself?”

Important because I hear the same mantra in my head that says, “never give up!” However, if our desire to continue sailing in circles is waning, or our ship is truly sinking, as the captain of our world, perhaps it’s time to give the order to “abandon ship!” and move on to something more personally rewarding, desired or worthy.

Don’t Buy Any of This!

— Don’t buy that others know what they’re doing just because they’ve been doing it a long time.

— Don’t buy your own story that just because you’ve been doing this a long time you can’t fail.

— Don’t buy the hope that when others finally understand what you’re trying to say they will side with you.

— Don’t buy that over there is better than over here. Because the instant “there” becomes “here” you’ll be looking for over there again.

— Don’t buy that “everything” happens for a reason. Most things happen because of the choices and decisions we make or don’t make.

— Don’t buy that more is better when “enough” can be an extraordinary achievement.

— Don’t buy that it’s over. The truth is, it ain’t over till it’s over, and even then, it ain’t always over.

Important because why buy conformity when going rogue is priceless.

Flying Lessons

I can’t help you rise up if you keep aiming the plane down!

I can’t point the way unless you know where you want to go.

I won’t help you succeed if your hidden agenda is to prove something—to yourself or others.

I won’t stand beside you if you can’t keep your word.

I won’t help you prosper unless your goals and dreams not only benefit you, but everyone else involved.

I can’t answer your questions if you already have all the answers.

Important because it doesn’t matter if you’re a rapper an actor or the owner of a biz, I can’t help you fly, or solve your problem, launch your project or pull you out of a rut, until you’re willing to let go of your tight grip on how it was or how it should be, and embrace the way it is or how it could be. If you can do that, then I will stand in your greatness even when you fall from it.

Dear Readers

I was recently interviewed on a popular music podcast hosted by L.Ariel.  Although I never like to talk so much about me, I hope you find the conversation insightful and interesting. It’s only 58-minutes. Let me know what you think…http://musicjobspodcast.com/podcasts/

Bucket List vs. Fucket List

Bucket list: Someday I’m going to make it happen.
Fucket list: Fucket! I’m going for it now!

Bucket List: Eventually I’ll have more time.
Fucket List: Fucket! I’ll make the time! Procrastinating ends today!

Bucket List: One day I’ll have handlers.
Fucket List: Fucket! I’m hiring a personal coach!

Bucket List: Sooner or later I’ll figure out what to do next.
Fucket List: Fucket! I’m moving on with my life.

Important because while your bucket list contains the hopes of “someday,” your fucket list contains the determination, resolve and audacity to kick the bucket and make something happen right now.

Ruthless, Ridiculous and Crazy!

In my 35 years of running a media company, consulting with start-ups and working with artists, nothing I’ve ever seen can take down a legend or stall the progress of a promising career faster than self-doubt.

Self-doubt causes CEO’s of multi-billion dollar corps to have sweaty, sleepless nights and forces remarkable, groundbreaking artists to toss in the towel—or at least become so frustrated, confused, unfocused and uncertain that absolutely nothing worthwhile gets accomplished.

Self-doubt’s prey of choice is artists & treps because we’re the ones who play on the skinny branches of life; bravely attempting new ideas, laying our reputation on the line, problem-solving on the spot and making precarious, risky, unproven career choices every day.

However, to the degree that we are ruthlessly and ridiculously, crazy committed to doing the work that needs to be done, completing those projects that need to be completed, and taking on new, worthwhile projects that further our interests and bring us joy, to that degree the demon of doubt retreats into hiding like the rat he is!

My definition of a ruthless, ridiculous, crazy commitment: finally arriving at that clear, cocky, confident place where you no longer allow the pettiness of others, the immaturity of ego or the damaging effects of self-doubt to distract you from achieving your goals and dreams.

Important because if you doubt what I’m saying, listen closely to the words of the great poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as he whispers his wisdom to us from the grave: “Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.”

Especially Now!

The world may have shrunk but choices for music, art, movies, TV and videos have expanded to the stratosphere. Why? Because we need an escape from the constant media barrage of doom & gloom, and creative artists seem to be the only ones who can provide it.

Important because now, more than ever, we are all desperately craving truth wherever we can find it. And now, more than ever, we need to hear your truth, roused from the dormant depths of your soul and passionately expressed in your music, writing, performing, producing and creative projects. Now, more than ever, we need the blazing light of your unique talent to shine brightly into the darkest corners of Humanity. Now, more than ever.

Wasted Genius

There are so many important things to do,
so many things to fix,
so many great ideas waiting to be born,
so many great songs to compose,
so many inspiring scripts to pitch,
so many characters to play,
so many ways to contribute,
so many ways to make a difference,
so many people to help,
and so many opportunities to create entertainment that inspires and products & services that matter.

Important because excuses be damned!

Sinners Strategy

I’ve been so fortunate in my showbiz career to work and consult with some of the most comitted, hard working, intelligent and talented artists and entrepreneurs. However, most of the time, the conversation is not focused on their success but rather their sins.

Here are just a few sins that we artists & treps consistently commit—against ourselves:

— Allowing the drama of the day to steal our focus and obstruct our work.
— Resisting “change” as if it were the enemy.
— Setting attainable goals instead of impossible ones.
— Sabotaging the project 3/4 of the way through.
— Faking it!
— Allowing others to direct our destiny.
— Procrastinating until we have to run a mad-dash to the finish.
— Permitting pettiness to dictate our to-do list.
— Allowing fear of failure to thwart a worthwhile project.
— Believing the demon of doubt is actually the voice of reason.
— Taking the low road even when the high road is always less congested.
— Waiting to become rich and famous, before helping others.

Important because absolution is in our control.

For Better or Worse

— Your music or acting career won’t advance without your persistent progression.
— Your story or script will never see the light of day without your continuous, ruthless resolve.
— Your business will never, ever grow without your willingness to change.

Important because things don’t get better on their own. In every hour of every day, we make choices and decisions that either affirm or deny the advancement of our dreams and goals.

Tired Old Donkey

One beautiful sunrise morning a man, a woman and a donkey began their journey down the bumpy road to the village for supplies. Being the head of the household, the man rode the donkey and the woman followed behind. After a while a passing traveler stopped the trio and said, “You should be ashamed of yourself! Making your poor wife walk behind as you sit on top!” So the man got off the donkey and the woman got on the donkey and the man walked behind. After a few miles in the baking mid-day sun another passing traveler said, “You should be ashamed of yourself! Riding high on your mount while making your tired husband walk behind after working all day!” So the husband got back on the donkey and nudged up close behind his wife and they rode together down the road. After a few miles in the setting sun, a third traveler said, “You should be ashamed of yourself, the two of you on the back of that tired old donkey!”

Important because no matter how many people admire us or admonish us we will never impress everyone with our endearing personality, satisfy everyone with our very best work or convince everyone that our way is the right way. The moral of this fable is to ride your donkey to the village, pick up your supplies and return home and don’t allow the criticisms of passersby to alter your strategy.

(This story was adapted from a 6th Century B.C. fable, from The Harvard Classics. Photo Credit: Martin Usborne)

Busywork

Artists and treps spend a lot of time thinking, wondering, dreaming and imagining. That’s an extremely productive process for us. That’s how we create stuff. However, if someone suddenly walked in, it may look like we’re not doing anything. That’s why we make up a game called “I’m busy.” It’s the best ever excuse to tell friends, co-workers and family when we don’t want to participate. However the danger is we load ourselves up with faux busywork, and then convince ourselves that we really are too busy! Huh?

Important because It’s easy to look busy. Not so easy to look effective.

Sweet Urgency

I recall the urgency I had back in the day, when the letters at the end of my name were CEO, and the voice inside my head kept prodding me to “keep my eye on the prize.” I still feel it today; the rush to complete, the race to finish, the itch to make a buck, the determination to extract that great idea out of my head—before I lose it. To finally arrive at “a fait accompli” so I can get on to the next big project.

That urgency is NOT the stressful kind, nor the nerve-racking kind. Rather it’s the kind of urgency that keeps us awake at night—with excitement and anticipation, as opposed to worry and fear. It’s the kind of urgency that comes with knowing we’re on the right road, even though the final destination is unclear. It’s the kind of creative urgency that tugs at us from deep inside, and beckons us to search further, search deeper, for the answers, for the truth—in our art, in our work, and in our lives.

Important because it’s crucial that we continue to strengthen our ability to recognize the difference between the positive, stimulating urgency that pulls us forward and the negative, stressful, urgency that holds us back, and causes us to vacillate.

We Need 3 Miracles

In addition to exceptional talent and extraordinary skills every artist and entrepreneur needs these three miracles:

1. Escort: We need somebody who believes in our mission, supports our efforts, points the way or introduces us to others in the inner circle with the wherewithal to make things happen. No one has ever accomplished their biggest goals or made it in the entertainment industry without a helping hand or expert direction from someone else. No one…ever.

2. Resolve: We need Herculean strength and Wonder Woman balls to dispel the noisy distractions of the day, and lift our cursory commitment up to a new level of ruthless resolve. And then park there indefinitely.

3. Luck? I’m not a believer in luck, it’s too illusive and unreliable for me. However, I love what Roman philosopher Seneca said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” That said, I think the third miracle is less about luck and more about developing a razor-sharp, fail-safe antenna. So we can see & seize those sudden, unexpected opportunities without flinching or pausing to ponder. And while others depend on hope & luck, we need to keep our radar tweaked, and remain alert & aware enough to recognize the telltale signs of an impromptu opportunity. Just like smart market investors do.

Important because while it’s true that others look at artists & entrepreneurs like WE are the miracle workers, it’s also nevertheless true that we need all the miracles we can get, to help us create all the miracles that others expect from us.

Why Your Winning Strategy Sucks

— It keeps you thinking you’re on the right track.

— You believe that if it got you this far, it will take you the rest of the way.

— It’s the success story of the past you keep selling yourself over and over.

— It feeds your fear of change.

Important because the world was a different place when your winning strategy was an original plan.

Joy Ride

As soon as someone says, “there is no other way,” you can count on a creative artist or entrepreneur (who cares) to find another way.

Important because just because we arrive at a dead end doesn’t mean our joy ride is over.

Why It’s Taking Forever 

1. We convince ourselves that what we’re already doing is actually working.

2. Our resistance to change slows our progress to a crawl.

3. We struggle and procrastinate way too long with important choices & decisions.

4. We hire and hang with people who agree with our way of working.

5. We don’t know what else to do, so we do nothing…or repeat the same o’l, same o’l.

6. We’re resistant to learn and reluctant to make full use of the tech tools available today that could actually make a profound difference in the results we produce.

7. We’re too proud to hire an experienced coach or consultant, who could help move things forward.

8. We use the excuse, “it’s because of the money.”

9. We justify, “it’s because of the technology.”

10. We buy the story, “things will eventually return to normal.”

11. We convince ourselves, “we’re not worthy.”

12. We remind ourselves, “it’s all about the journey.”

And while the journey itself has it’s rewards, remaining stuck and stagnant without forward movement is more of a never ending round trip to where you’re already sitting right now.

Important because the question to ask yourself is: What is the real (deep) truth of why it’s taking so long?
– Better question: What will you do if nothing changes and it continues to creep along at this petty pace?

Try This

1. Choose! The biggest reason we procrastinate and can’t make important choices and decisions is because we’re afraid of making the wrong choices and decisions. Keep the game moving forward. Do the deep research, gather the facts, consult with a trusted expert, then make those important choices. Don’t flinch. Don’t pause. Keep the ball moving down the field.

2. Loosen your grip! Holding a firm grip on how the end result must look only blinds you from seeing the unlimited options and possibilities that are available. Especially today, in every area of the entertainment industry.

3. Raise the bar! We set the bar too low, thinking that winning the small ones now will give us the courage to go for the big ones later. But that’s a trap. Winning the small ones only keeps us stuck in an illusion that we’re getting somewhere. If you look deep, and tell the truth, you know you’re capable of playing a much bigger game.

Important because the way to advance the ball down the field is to stop wondering and start doing that which you’ve been resisting, that which you’ve been avoiding, and that which you know in your heart you should be taking action on.

Prolonged Plight

While others remain puzzled about politics, confused about the economy and anxious about the future, the pros are busy growing their companies, improving their craft, upgrading their tech, mastering their art and recreating their future.

Important because every one of us artists & entrepreneurs fight the same enemies; uncertainty, rejection, confusion and indecisiveness. And while none of us like the battle, the difference is, pros take it in stride and keep moving forward, while others take it personally and prolong their plight.

7-Questions Before You Change Course 

1. Why did I pursue this in the first place?
2. Have I completed my mission?
3. Why do I feel the need to change?
4. What do I have to gain by changing course—how will my life/career be different?
5. Will this change cause a hardship for others?
6. Am I enthusiastic about the possibilities that could arise out of making this change?
7. Am I willing to take the necessary steps to initiate this change?

Important because while “never quit” may be our mantra, there are times when quitting or changing course is the only real intelligent thing to do—in order to make use of the very best talents we have, and bring us closer to the lifestyle we desire. I think as pro artists/treps we need to remain vigilant and aware of those signs that tell us when it’s time to shift direction, so we can recover, regroup, reorganize and reinvent a new game.

A Frantic Pace

— If struggling worked, you’d be winning the fight.
— If lots of irons in the fire worked, you’d be a hot commodity by now.
— If setting a frantic pace worked, you’d be taking a victory lap.
— If spreading yourself thin worked, you’d be spending more time experiencing new adventures and less time sweating the same o’l, same o’l.

Important because while struggling and sweating may impress your friends it does absolutely nothing to win over those who would ever consider working with you.

Leg Up!

It’s not new news to any of us artists/treps who have spent a lifetime working in show business that the conversations we have and the agreements we make with others in our creative industry are often unreliable, unpredictable and fluid at best.

Important because realizing this phenomenon and accepting it will give us a leg up, and help us communicate and negotiate with more clarity, determination and precision.

What We’re “Not” Doing

It’s so easy to get tangled up in what we’re doing. Our to-do list rules the day, the news of the hour dulls our motivation and blurs our creative thinking, and giving away so much time to clicking & cruising fools us into thinking we’re accomplishing something.

That said, it’s what we are “not” doing that could move the dial and make a difference. It’s the confronting work we resist that could produce the breakthrough we so desperately crave. It’s chipping away at all those grand ideas we dream about, that we know deep down inside, that’s what we should be giving our time to today.

Important because if we start doing what we are “not” doing we would probably get much better at doing it more often.

Getting There

Knowing where you’re going is top priority. The commitment to get there is a very close second.

You don’t need to know how you’re going to get there.

You don’t need to know how you’re going to pay for it.

You don’t need to know who’s going with you.

You don’t even need to know how much, how many, or how come?

You just need to stand tall on your own two feet, point a steady finger in the direction you want to go and make a ruthless commitment that “come hell or high water” you’ll get there.

Important because to the degree your commitment is unwavering, to that degree the important pieces will noticeably reveal themselves. Not like positive thinking, more like constructing a tabletop puzzle.

How To Train Your Elephant

— Set impossible goals (like balancing on a ball).

— Make a ruthless commitment to achieve the goal. (Elephants are very trusting. She will believe you and commit too).

— Practice! Practice! Practice! (Mostly the trainer). Repetition is key. Master your craft.

— Use compassion as a reward. (Mostly for the trainer. Elephants already have it in their DNA).

— Acknowledge often. (Mostly for the trainer, to build confidence. Helpful for the elephant too).

— Never punish. Neither the trainer nor the elephant…ever.

— Patience. Use it like a verb.

Important because elephants are smarter, stronger, happier and more inspired when they know what the goal is and how to achieve it. Just like their trainers.

Conversation Crash!

Haven’t we read enough books on communication yet? Didn’t we learn anything from all those seminars we took and TED Talks we watched? What will it take for us to realize that miscommunications and misunderstandings disrupt our creative process and slow our projects to a crawl? And why do we allow such pettiness to derail our goals and delay our dreams?

Important because the result of this conversational apathy is that ordinary discussions are misunderstood, urgent documents are poorly written and hastily proofed, important meetings are carelessly organized, deals don’t go down, and the money never makes it to the bank! Meanwhile, attorneys get rich, sorting out the sea of miscommunications and misunderstandings that abound in this industry. Ultimately, it all leads to stress, frustration, anxiety, and needless to say a total waste of time and money. Not to mention the fact that the creative part of our career gets helplessly entangled in the drama and hoopla of the business part! That said, in our everyday interactions with the people we work with, the people we serve, the help we hire and the experts we trust we need to insist on clear, precise communication in every corner of our career, and demand it in every area of our life!

Volume is at Max!

The volume is getting louder and the distractions are getting harder to tune out; news, media, the Trump show, politics, weather, tech, markets, etc. We’re moving further away from productivity and sinking deeper into the hoopla and I’m not sure that the noise train is going to slow down anytime soon.

Important because I am sure of this: that which we give our attention to will scale. That which we give our time to will advance. That which we act on will produce results. If we give our time and attention to our biggest dreams and desired goals, it’s guaranteed we’ll get closer and closer. If we give our time and attention to the distractions of the day, it’s guaranteed we’ll sink deeper and deeper. That which we give our attention to scales.

Beware The Answerman

“This is the only option we have.”
“This is how it really works.”
“There is no other way.”
“Allow me to explain.”

Important because our industry is currently operating in “anything goes” mode where imaginative, ingenious possibilities rule the roost. Therefore, we need to be vigilant of people with answers. We need to be aware of worn out protocol. We need to leave the door wide open for the unimaginable.

The High You Get From Progress

Progress is my drug of choice.

Like that feeling you get when you step on a scale and weigh less. It motivates you to lose more.

Like finally working out a complex song lyric or complicated composition. It inspires you to raise the bar on the next one.

Like figuring out an app and realizing how it completely changes the way you do something. It emboldens you to figure out another one.

Like when your new, risky marketing idea produces OMG results, you’re inspired to try more risky ideas.

Important because progress is addicting. Once you experience it you want more. Once you see how far you’ve come you’re driven to go further.

2018 Posts