With so many twists & turns and ups & downs in our crazy creative careers, it’s so easy to forget who we are in the matter, what we’ve accomplished, what we’re capable of and where we’re headed. And in my experience, pro artists & entrepreneurs are always stronger than they seem, braver than they believe and smarter than they think.
When a challenge arises, an artist/trep automatically rises to the occasion; like my creative friends and neighbors where I live in Thousand Oaks—where quick creative action has saved lives and property in an instant! And when suddenly blindsided with a difficult situation, an artist/trep will immediately begin to invent ideas, solutions and options right on the spot, often with rapid-fire reaction (while others stand there in awe).
That’s why whenever I’m confounded with a situation I much prefer an artist, entrepreneur or a creative thinker by my side, who acts on ingenuity and invention, rather then someone who is fixated on protocol.
Important because the only thing we need to learn is to trust the experiences we’ve had to teach us, honor the knowledge we’ve acquired to lead us, have confidence in our talents, abilities & skills to support us and have faith in that “deeper wisdom” we’ve attained to guide our crazy creative journey in the direction we want to go.
There is a reason why us artists, writers, musicians, actors, editors, directors and creative entrepreneurs are eager for this current political madness to end. And it’s not about money, it’s about truth. All of the creative work we do is about truth. Creativity itself is all about expressing and manifesting our truth through our creative skills and our crazy creative ideas. Heck, most of us rely on expressing our truth for our livelihood! And we all crave it like a drug. Especially during these dark days when fiction, falsehood and cock-and-bull stories are so transparent, making it clearly obvious who’s trustworthy and who’s not. And if we want to send a clear, personal message to the current frontrunners of fabrication then voting is the best way to do it. So go out and vote like you’ve never voted before! Vote like the future of your awesome creative lifestyle depends on it. Vote like you would vote if you were the only one voting!
Important because turnout is everything and your POV matters. And we’ve all learned the hard way that it’s not only about who votes, it’s more about who doesn’t.
So many of my clients get hung up on whether they are working on the right project, headed in the right direction or making the right choices. Why? Because most of them are blessed/cursed with multiple talents and interests and often get stuck in which specific project they should be working on today. Which always leads to indecisiveness. Which always leads to a head full of doubt and angst. Which always leads to procrastination, which always delays the progress of worthy work.
Important because on the one hand, the freedom to pursue our own crazy ideas or the choice to dance to our own drummer is a treasured gift and our greatest ally. On the other hand, the time spent wondering what we might be doing instead is our perpetual nemesis.
I’m so pumped and inspired! Like that time I saw Billy and Elton in concert. Like that time I stood in front of The David in Florence Italy. Like that time I met Paul & Linda. And like those times when I walk into my friend Amadea’s art studio and stand in awe of her talent. I am so inspired by champions. People who once stood in the same spot as me only managed to run further and faster to the top of the mountain.
That said, if the Dodgers and the Red Sox can still give it their best, after performing an 18-inning marathon (the longest game in World Series history, 7 hours 20 minutes of continuous grunt’n & spitt’n) and still get a good night sleep (huh?), then wake up the next day and go back out on the field to grunt & spit again, then I’m inspired to stop wallowing in my petty circumstances and get back to plowing my own field of dreams!
Important because while the amateur asks, “did they like me today?” the pro asks, “Did I leave everything on the field? Am I walking out of the arena with no fight left in me? Did I give them everything I had?”
Whatever resolutions, promises or plans we made at the beginning of this year, we are now, very quickly, approaching the end of our 2018 season. Did you knock the ball out of the park or are you standing at home plate, in the bottom of the 9th with two outs?
Important because there is one thing you can do right now that could make all the difference as you put the finishing touches on the final two-months of 2018 and boldly head off into the uncharted waters of 2019: In the deep silent privacy of your own soul, remind yourself what it is you really want. Remind yourself what truly matters. Remind yourself what your biggest most important dream is and refocus on the ultimate vision you foresee in your future. Then ask yourself, “What am I really committed to?”
Resistance invades our “to-do” list.
Worry invades our momentum.
Doubt invades our confidence.
Fear invades our opportunities.
Arrogance invades our choices.
Distraction invades our workspace.
Procrastination invades our timeline.
Important because in the 1953 20th Century Fox film, Invaders From Mars, the only way they destroyed the invaders was to call in the army and wipe them out with bazookas, hand grenades and bombs. Unfortunately, as artists and treps, we are just an army of one. And the only weapon we have to wipe out the invader’s is to stand up on our own two feet and declare that the invasion stops here! Not like positive thinking, more like taking a ruthless stand that enough is enough!
“I would hate to think I would ever be in a position where I’m faking it to get a paycheck.”—Trent Reznor
“Truth” is by far the most magnetic and attractive attribute we can express. And we all crave it like a drug. Especially during these crazy “point-the-finger” days when everything is so transparent, making it clearly obvious who’s trustworthy and who’s shady.
If you express the truth in your art, music, marketing, writing, acting, performing, life, etc. your fans, clients and customers will follow you, support your mission and join your tribe. If you try to “hype it” they’ll see through your ballyhoo like Superman sees through brick walls.
Important because I’ve said this before: every choice we make, every step we take and every bond we break triggers a series of extraordinary circumstances that will ultimately determine our destiny.
The biggest challenge for artists & treps is “uncertainty.” Go ahead and plan, meet, huddle, brainstorm, scheme and strategize all you want. In the daily lives of pro artists & treps, uncertainty still rules the roost! It causes smart business owners to have sleepless nights; talented, genius artists to self-medicate and seasoned professionals who stand in front of cameras, behind mics and on podiums to have upset stomachs.
Others wake up in the morning into certainty; a start time, an end time and a paycheck. However, when an artist or entrepreneur wakes up in the morning, uncertainty is sitting impatiently at the foot of the bed with a list of unfinished works and unsolved mysteries…that only creativity can solve. And you can forget the certainty of a paycheck!
Certainty is safe and dependable.
Uncertainty is risky and speculative.
Certainty makes folks feel comfortable.
Uncertainty makes folks squirm a little.
Certainty is limited to those options that are certain.
Uncertainty includes ALL possibilities.
The capricious works of Uncertainty will keep fans, clients and customers curious and coming back for more.
The predictability of Certainty will bore fans, clients and customers into moving on…in search of uncertainty.
So much we can learn from Uncertainty
So much we already know about Certainty.
Important because the truly committed artist and the most successful entrepreneur live in a perpetual state of uncertainty. No wonder they’re always a little edgy, no wonder they have quirky personalities, no wonder they rarely have time, and no wonder everyone loves them!
Is the work you’re doing too important to take chances?
Or is the work you’re doing too important to play it safe?
Important because taking intelligent chances will always move us to a new place. While playing it safe will always keep us standing right where we are. Of course doing nothing will always keep us standing right where we are too.
As pro artists & treps we are always waiting…perhaps more than others…
Waiting for our work to be recognized or acknowledged, so we can proceed with confident abandon.
Waiting for others to make up their mind.
Waiting for some free time…so we can finally gather our thoughts and catch our breath.
Waiting to be rescued from mediocrity.
Waiting for the pieces of our lifelong career puzzle to finally fall into place.
Waiting for a call back.
Waiting for all the negative thoughts between our ears to settle down.
Waiting for the unrelenting wave of technology to slow down so we can catch up.
Waiting for the unrelenting wave of media noise to quiet down so we can find our footing.
Waiting for people to eventually come around to our way of thinking.
Waiting until it’s our turn…finally.
Waiting for a miracle.
Important because waiting for our world to change is a sure way to jam the works, pause the action, slow our progress and keep us mesmerized by wishful thinking. Question is, what are you really waiting for dear genius?
While the dazed and doubtful complain about how hard it is to make it, “especially during these tough times,” The Committed are busy making dicey decisions, chancy choices and risky judgments.
While the dazed and doubtful remain confused about the economy and anxious about the future, The Committed are at work inventing new projects, growing their brand, upgrading their tech and investing in exciting new ventures.
While the dazed and doubtful see the whole world in chaos, The Committed are focused on their fans, followers, clients and customers; forming partnerships, making agreements, signing contracts and growing relationships.
Important because while the dazed and doubtful scratch their heads and wonder what to do next, The Committed are at work improving their art, expanding their base and building their future.
If you’re in it to prove something (even to yourself), you’ll have a tough row to hoe. I’ve seen extremely talented artists and super smart entrepreneurs crash and burn because their best work was repeatedly sabotaged by a desperate hidden agenda:
– “If I don’t make it I’ll be seen as a failure.”
– “I’m getting older; this could be my last shot!”
– “I must prove to my family (and my self) that the work I’m doing is worthy and has merit.”
Important because “I’ll show them!” is never a valid reason to struggle in any career. There’s only one thing that will propel our success: doing extraordinary work! We don’t need to prove anything to anyone. The only thing we’re beholding to is our craft, our unique talent and our dharma (our true purpose). I think if we honor THAT, we will have a fulfilling, successful career that lasts a lifetime.
California Wildfires have burned across the state non-stop for over a year. According to the California Department of Forestry, the Mendocino Complex Fire (currently active) has burned nearly 400,000 acres (an area larger then Los Angeles) becoming the largest complex fire in the state’s history. On August 4, a national disaster was declared in Northern California. I live in Southern California, however my awesome cousins in Northern Cal were forced to evacuate their home and family earlier this year. Thank God they were spared disaster.
I’ve never personally lost everything in a fire and I can’t imagine what it’s like. But I know this for sure: As creative artists and risk taking entrepreneurs we never lose “everything.” After the smoke clears in any sort of disaster; whether it’s a physical catastrophe, a career calamity or a personal letdown this is what we’re left with:
• We still have our unique abilities and our exceptional talent.
• We still have “access” to all of the tech tools, software and digital trappings to help rebuild, reinvent and reconnect with our fans, clients and customers.
• We still have that special quality which is reserved especially for A&E’s; the ability to “create” our way out of challenging circumstances.
• We still have our crazy, genius ideas, big goals and strong desires, which continue to tug at us and pull us forward.
• We still have a circle of influence—those few people in our life who we can count on and consult with.
Important because we still have that fire in our bellies which provokes us to keep moving forward and make something happen.
— 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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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: 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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
— 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
— 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.
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.