Someday, it will happen. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. It’s the mantra of every artist/entrepreneur: “Work hard, never quit, and someday I’ll get there.”
Back in the day, it was the gatekeepers that got in our way. More recently, it’s the challenge of mind-numbing, non-stop, exponential technology, and the total transformation of our entire industry, caused by the disruption from the global pandemic.
However, for an aging artist or entrepreneur it’s the challenge of time—the push to achieve our big goals & dreams before we run out of gas. Many artists & treps find themselves growing older with an ever increasing fear that the biggest opportunities have already passed them by, and the only thing left to do is settle-in or toss the towel. To others it’s no longer about getting there, it’s now about staying there. Even the word “dinosaur” has shifted from a jurassic zoo animal, to a personal insult to anyone approaching 50.
That said, I think the biggest time-wasting mistake we make is waiting; waiting for the economy to turn around, waiting for a vaccine, waiting for new leadership, waiting for the kids to grow, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for an offer, waiting for things to return to normal, or waiting for that breeze to blow in, and that ol’ second wind comes along!
Important because maybe it’s as simple as changing our mantra, from “What’s in it for me?” to “How can I continue to be relevant and offer my best work, to those who continue to want it?” Truth is, you may not have an audience of 100k, but you still have an audience. Your video may not get a million views, bit you still have viewers. Your company may not have 50k customers, but you still have customers.
In the meantime, Elton John continues to shout his own timeless mantra from the mountaintop: “I’m still Standing, better than I ever did, Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid.”
This year, for many, Rosh Hashanah will be acknowledged without the close embrace of family. Perhaps, making it an even more profound experience, since it is a time of personal introspection and private reflection. Kinda like when you’re sailing in the ocean at sunset, and no one else is in sight…not even land, when your mind starts to deconstruct the day as it slowly reconstructs a new tomorrow.
And as an independent, crazy, creative artist/entrepreneur, reconstructing a new tomorrow is what you do best. And only you can motivate yourself to get up in the morning and construct something that matters. Then, at the end of the day, at sunset, it’s only you who truly knows what creative angst you’ve been through that day, what “inner” battles you’ve won or lost, who or what has challenged your efforts, and whether or not you caved in to resistance and vacillation, or stood your ground and followed your truth.
Important because this extraordinary, creative, independent, life we’ve chosen is truly all about self-motivation, self-dependence, self-discipline, self-confidence, self-validation and self-awareness. And Rosh Hashanah is the perfect time to take a solo dive at the deep end of the pool and rehash our failures, rethink our wins, and reload our impossible goals…whether we’re Jewish or not.
Whatever pisses us off is precisely what we should be chopping away at (not chipping)!
Like a great idea that can’t catch fire, an annoying problem that won’t go away, a project (or a career) that’s been stalled in its tracks, or a critical breakdown in need of a triumphant breakthrough.
Important because unfortunately, it often takes getting pissed to make right an obvious wrong, or to bring to life a worthy idea.
Inspired by civil rights activist Helen Singleton
My art teacher told me, “Don’t draw past the finish line. There is a point when the picture is done. Be careful not to over design it.”
Makes me think:
Don’t over compose the song.
Don’t over write the story.
Don’t over sell your righteous opinion.
Don’t over think your big problems.
As crazy, genius, artists & entrepreneurs, we are all victims of the last minute whims of our inner muse. Just when we think our best work or great idea is finally ready to launch she offers yet another option, another new idea, another POV. And as beautiful as our muse is, her ONLY job is to consistently feed us unlimited options, NOT to tell us when the project is finished or the job is done.
Important because I think being aware and conscious of where the finish line is, is just as important as knowing how to cross it (whether it’s in our work or personal life).
We set goals, make plans, and with great enthusiasm proclaim our boldest intentions to the universe (and those around us): “this I shall do!”
Then we allow paltry distractions to rob our focus, divert our attention and easily tempt us off course, leaving our “bold goals” stalled on the sidelines. Do this too often and we’ll never reach our destination…ever.
Important because we are fools to forget what really matters, as distractions abound and time goes by…
It doesn’t matter if you’re a songwriter, a screenwriter, an artist or a CEO, if you want to make something happen, take a minute and answer these five simple questions:
1) What must happen in your life, career or business?
2) Why do you think it must happen? Why else?
3) How will it happen? How else?
4) Who will be the one(s) to make it happen?
5) When will it happen?
Important because nothing will happen until you resolve these questions.
It’s hard to remain motivated and excited about our big goals and future dreams when there are so many exciting and thrilling nightmares happening all around us!
That said, here are a few reminders that you may have forgotten in the heat & hoopla of these challenging times:
— Progress, growth and success are simply a consequence, an upshot, a byproduct of relentlessly doing the work.
— 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.
— Change is not a sin. Denying it is.
— Procrastination can be ass-kicked! At any moment we have the power to quit a mind-numbing, time-crunching, useless habit and choose where to give our complete attention.
— Your Choice: Stand up on your own two feet and declare, “this I shall do!” Or, continue to vacillate in indecision and wallow in the mire.
— Behind every great jaw-dropping success there’s an artist or entrepreneur who faced a difficult internal struggle at a critical moment of choice: choose risk, and possibly become a legend. “Flinch” and possibly become an unexceptional footnote.
Important because in the heat of the hoopla, never forget who you are as a crazy, creative genius. And lean on all the experiences you’ve had, the knowledge you’ve acquired, the talents and skills you’ve learned, and your unique ability to create, invent or dance your way out of any crummy situation.
Right in front of us, staring us right in the face, is an entertainment industry that is currently in the process of intentionally disrupting itself; rethinking, reinventing, reimagining and rebuilding a 21st century global show business aimed toward world domination. And there are crazy, committed showbiz geniuses with unlimited resources, who are right now gazing into a future beyond the pandemic, and building a bigger, stronger, more tolerant, more profitable and more (politically) influential industry. And while the dazed and doubtful scratch their heads and wonder what to do next, those crazy committed showbiz geniuses are at work extending their reach, forming partnerships, growing global relationships, improving and refining the craft of making great entertainment, in all it’s forms, and hunting and gathering compelling, impactful content to produce, record and distribute to a prepped, primed and eager global audience.
Also, right in front of all of us artists & treps, starring us right in the face, is an unexpected chance to move forward. A chance to move up. To define our new normal. To return to our work with a renewed purpose; a chance to begin producing, performing and writing songs, scores, screenplays, scripts and visual content that reflect the plight of our times and the mixed feelings and jumbled emotions that we, and all of those around us (and in the world) are experiencing today.
If ever there was a time to be involved, entangled and embedded in a career in show business, today is that time. And you should be proud and excited to be part of it. And you should take advantage of these unprecedented, historical times to step up your game, master the new elements of your craft, and study, research and learn every aspect of our new, expanding entertainment empire.
Important because throughout history, even in the darkest of times, people were inspired and enriched and often dependent on art to help get them through tough times. Not just as an entertainment experience, more like a spiritual uplifting. And I think all artists, entrepreneurs and crazy, wealthy showbiz geniuses are being called up to a higher purpose at this time of global darkness. Not like a heavy responsibility, more like a profound opportunity.
Wall Street says, “The trend is your friend.”
But the buck doesn’t stop there. Whatever the trend is it will continue in your life until YOU alter its course.
If money and good fortune gravitates to you, most likely it will continue.
If inspiration, creativity, and good ideas easily bubble up for you, chances are they will continue.
If you enjoy the company of many friends, that trend will continue.
If good health always follows you around, it’s very likely that will continue too.
It’s not about being lucky, it’s about being aware.
Important because unlike the stock market where you are at the mercy of social, cultural, industrial, political and global trends, YOU are in control of directing or redirecting the predictable trends in your creative career and independent lifestyle.
In the past five months of the Covid lockdown I’ve Zoomed with lots of clients, friends, family, artists, treps and geniuses. The only person I haven’t Zoomed with yet is Billy Zoom! Here’s what I’ve learned:
If you Zoom with musicians you’ll learn that practice is paramount, success is illusive, who you know is everything, and if your audience can’t come to see you perform, you should figure out creative ways to bring, stream or present your live performance to them.
If you Zoom with actors you’ll learn how to bond with your agent, live with rejection, and embrace home-casting and self-taped auditions. You’ll also learn the true value of Masterclass!
If you Zoom with graphic illustrators or painters you’ll learn about that deep compelling tug that provokes pro artists to create with total abandon. Then you’ll be envious.
If you Zoom with a screenwriter you’ll learn more about creating a great pitch than creating a great character.
If you Zoom with agents or managers you’ll learn more about behavioral development than career development.
If you Zoom with an Attorney you’ll walk away pondering “what if” for the rest of the day.
If you Zoom with a business owner you’ll realize why tiny beads of sweat dance on their upper lip when they try to explain why it’s not working.
If you Zoom with a marketing expert you’ll long for the good ‘ol dinosaur days when simple magazine advertising worked.
Important because we should Zoom with artists & treps who are looking forward to trying new ways of doing old things. We should avoid Zooming with people who can’t wait for things to go back to the way they were.
“May you live in interesting times.”
Actually it’s not a Chinese curse at all, it’s an old English expression.
Nevertheless, we happen to be alive during a very interesting time when our awesome industry is (nearly) shut down and yet our desire to get back out there and do our best work is stronger than ever! Trouble is, the formula we used to get out there is now obsolete, and the rules that have always defined how the showbiz game is played are suddenly okay to break! Huh? Not only that, the insider “go to” people who always pointed the way are as clueless as everyone else!
Important because it’s not hopeless. There’s a new Chinese curse: “May these days of doubt and uncertainty provoke you to look outside the boundaries of a once reliable box that no longer contains the answers.
Your plight is no different than any other hard working, pro artist or entrepreneur, who constantly questions and doubts their own choices and abilities, and who is tempted off course, almost every day, by the seduction of distraction, and the tug toward vacillation.
The common wage earner knows that the road they’re on will lead to a predictable destination. However, YOU walk the road less traveled, uncertain of where it will lead, yet confident you’re headed in the right direction. All the while knowing that even if you’re on the right road you’ll get run over if you just stand there.
Important because during these days of uncertainty and doubt, we need to use that one extraordinary talent that is exclusively reserved for artists & treps: the capability to imagine and conceive what’s next, in every area of our life and career, then create or invent a way to manifest it. Not like that ability is a learned skill, more like it’s embedded in our bones.
— Take a look around and get to work on fixing what is broken. You can do this. You have the intelligence to do this. You have the inner wisdom to figure this out. You have the ability to “create” a way to fix what is broken; in your career and in your life. Not like wishful thinking, more like taking a profound stand that “enough is enough!”
— In gathering collaborators, investors and support, focus on “what’s in it for them.” This will garner their attention, and inspire their intention to respond to your call to action.
— We do our best work when we’re on the court calling the next play and moving the ball forward. Not sitting on the sidelines wishing and wondering how to get back in the game. Stop being afraid of making the wrong move and start moving things around. That alone will get the balling rolling to the winning side of the court.
— Remain aware, mindful and conscious! Have your thoughts, words, actions, heart and wallet all going in the same direction.
— Truth is, having too many irons in the fire becomes fuel for distraction and food for resistance. The only iron you should have in the fire is the one that will bring you closer to the dreams and goals that are most important to you. The rest of those irons are just a great excuse for why you haven’t arrived yet.
— Be generous. Your scarcest resource is your time and when you spend it helping other people, you reward yourself, others and your business. “Gimme your heart make it real, or let’s forget about it!”
— The deeper we dig to find the truth in our art and commerce, the greater it will be, and the more people will relate and respond to it. Why? Because great art has zero competition.
— Remain vigilant and aware of those signs that tell you when it’s time to change direction, and be willing to proudly toss in the towel. While “never quit” may be our mantra, there are times when changing course is the only real intelligent thing to do—so you can recover, regroup, reorganize and reinvent a new game.
— Having something at stake is the greatest of all motivators. It gives purpose, grants meaning and provides reason. It also sharpens focus, validates intention, beefs up resolve and pumps adrenalin through your veins. Not to mention it brings doubt to its knees and knocks the wind out of procrastination! Not having anything at stake provokes the question: Why are you doing it?
Important because every choice we make, every step we take, every move we make, and every bond we break provokes a domino effect that will ultimately end at the foot of our fate.
Ask any crestfallen musician, discouraged business owner, frustrated manager or confounded writer and they’ll tell you endless stories of the way things were, and recite countless reasons why their antique formula is still the only way that’s been proven to work.
Ask any Gen Z young’n and they’ll show you detailed algorithms on where things are headed, endless data to prove that continuous disruption is inevitable, and a daunting warning that you better catch up with the technology, or stand aside.
However if you talk to other like-minded pro artists & entrepreneurs, who are currently hard at work, knee-deep in the hoopla of their career, they will tell you how the biz is operating TODAY. They will share with you how to navigate the obstacles and circumvent the challenges of TODAY. They will give you an accurate narrative direct from the muddy playing field TODAY.
And while others sit in the bleachers and “rant n’ rave” about how better it was, or how different it’s going to be, it’s the creative artists & treps like you, who are hard at work, day after day, pushing the envelope, taking the risks, and building a dream.
Important because when you need advice or direction, ask someone who has their feet firmly planted in today’s industry. Ask one of your own kind.
While Chipping away gets us closer to the end zone, dumping excess baggage will get us there quicker. Here’s what we should dump:
— Everything that doesn’t align with our commitment to advance and succeed.
— Daily activities and behavior that waste our precious time, steal our focus and slow our progress to a crawl.
— Our resistance to change.
— Our Chronic indecision.
— People who consistently bring us down.
— Resistance to reach out for advice or guidance.
— Every petty step we take, and every promise we break.
— Any stupid or ignorant activity that could put us or anyone else in harms way.
Important because what’s left is everything we should chip away at.
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 on which specific project they should be giving the most attention to.
For the especially talented pro artist, every choice is plagued with an endless, agonizing stream of perpetual possibilities. And for the super-smart, risk-taking entrepreneur, every decision is overwrought with limitless, time-taxing, number crunching options. It can all be so overwhelming that most often, important choices and decisions remain on the back burner, cooking in a stew of indecision.
Based on research, the number one reason for chronic indecision is fear of making the wrong decision. And while that may be true for others I don’t believe it’s true for artists & entrepreneurs. The number one reason for chronic indecision for a&e’s is chronic creativity! The angst we go through when we’re manifesting an idea from nothing is not as much fear based as it is perfection based. This is who we are. This is how we work. We stand in front of our unfinished canvas and fret over which color to use next. It’s not an indecisive problem, it’s a creative challenge. It’s the process a&e’s go through. And even though that process may take a bit longer than others would like, and may look to some like fearful indecision, it has nothing to do with fear and everything to do with freedom. The freedom to choose our next move independent of a premixed formula. The fact is, pro artists & treps work in a total absence of formula! Hence, the indecisive nature of our work.
Important because give yourself a break! You are not chronically indecisive! On the contrary, you are particular with your work and meticulous with the process it takes to produce it. Give yourself permission to be a crazy, genius, creative person and embrace your chronic creative, indecisive process. Not like a disregard for responsibility, more like a high regard for accountability.
The truth is, after you’ve read the latest self-help books, watched the current TED videos, taken your third MasterClass, attended your umpteenth Zoominar, and finished reading your favorite blog. And after your pastor gives his blessing, your Rabbi says Shalom and your Guru offers Namaste. And after your eyes have closed, your mind has opened and your last stick of incense has burnt out, the only thing you’re left with is a choice: Play it safe, or raise the bar. Stick to the road you’re on, or take the high road, which may be bumpy but yields higher benefits. Or, you could also step out, way beyond where you are, and reconsider where you want to be.
Important because Every day, actually every minute, we artists & treps have the opportunity to take what’s already there and accept it, or take a look at what’s missing and manifest it.
Depth of focus is a skill that all pro artists & treps must eventually master. Kinda like that precision focus you need when you’re standing in front of an audience, or your staff, or a camera. Kinda like when you’re pitching buyers, or writing dialogue, or composing a soundtrack, or searching for the right lyric. Kinda like when you’re so lost in the creative zone, nothing else exists because your focus is so fixed. Kinda like deciding what to do next.
Important because the truth is, everything is not #1. Divide your to do list into Urgent, Essential and Constant. It’s probably best to do this on paper, not between your ears. If you’re ruthless and disciplined about this, it becomes obvious where and how to adjust your depth of focus.
If we expect our devoted fans, clients and customers to respond with likes, hearts and happy faces, then we should continue to give them whatever we think will achieve that goal. However, if we expect them to respond with greenbacks and credit cards, or if we want them to share our videos, stream our music, read our stories, hire us, or purchase our hard work, then we need to give them what THEY want, give them what THEY need, give them something that’s missing in THEIR lives, give them something to help them through this pandemic predicament, give them something that doesn’t sound or look like everyone else, or feel like all the others. Give them something they need but don’t know it yet.
Important because we often get trapped in thinking that WE know what’s best for our cohorts—which is usually the same o’l cookie-cutter version of what we’ve been offering infinitum. The way out of the trap is to take a deep, honest, humble, selfless look at what is truly wanted and needed, then simply provide it. For your clients, customers, agents, managers, fans, followers, friends, family, and anyone else in your circle of influence. Not like a blind gesture, more like an insightful one.
Today presents a profound opportunity to trust your gut-feelings and harness your emotions, whether they are sadness, anger, fear or excitement, and help us all get through these extraordinary times with your extraordinary talent and creativity. We’re certainly not depending on our leaders for that! That’s what artists and entrepreneurs do. We use our “gut feelings” as a lens to see what’s missing, to see what’s wanted and needed. Then we use our precious gift of creativity and incredible talent to manifest it.
It’s your job to look forward into a non-existent future—a future that we depend on YOU to create and provide for us. A future filled with great songs, exceptional videos, inspiring stories, phenomenal performances, encouraging books, award winning screenplays, amazing art, breathtaking architecture, eye-popping apps and jaw-dropping products & services that help us move forward and reach further.
Important because you chose the path of the independent, creative, artist/trep. And we’re relying on YOU, the writer, director, producer, songwriter, musician, actor, designer, and courageous risk-taking entrepreneur to create, manifest and contribute your best art and commerce for the benefit of all of us! If you build it, we will come.
Just because so many articles and blogs point to “do more now and get ready for later,” doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to spontaneously be creative and impulsively come up with extraordinary ideas.
Just because you may have more time on your hands doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to fill every hour with your genius greatness.
Just because others appear to be progressing further than you doesn’t mean they are. (And why should that matter anyway?)
And while it’s true that the global pandemic itself is like carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, it’s also nevertheless true that we should lighten up, slow down, and give ourselves some mental and emotional “thought space.” So we can create our art, run our business and manifest our ideas on our own terms, and in our own time.
Important because our routines have changed significantly, and every day now looks like the weekend. Therefore, there’s no reason why we can’t release some of the pressure and give ourselves permission to enjoy some of this new found free time.
“When you can’t do what you do, you do what you can.” —Jon Bon Jovi
If you zoom out into the future, then turn around and look back, ask yourself these questions:
— What did I do every day while I was quarantined?
— What did I accomplish?
— How far did I advance my career? My business?
— What progress did I make?
— Did I sit at my computer, just clicking away, pretending to look busy?
— Did I reconnect with friends and family?
— Did I abandon anyone?
— What am I embarrassed about?
— What am I most proud of?
— How did I help? Who did I help?
— What would I do differently?
Important because the future is coming, and when it arrives there will be a few unanswered questions that we will have to reckon with, for the rest of our lives. That said, it might be a good idea to get a head start on the future today. Not because we want to defer accountability, more because inside all of us, there is a desire to do our best work, and at the same time make a difference in peoples lives. We all know that desire is there, because we can hear it…every day…screaming to get out!
The great part about learning or rehearsing a new song is that you don’t know what you’re doing. So you have to listen very closely, and sharpen your focus on the music, and concentrate on each phrase, and hone in on the chorus, bridge, solos and lyrics. However, once you learn the song you’re not listening anymore. You’re just playing on automatic. Then your mind drifts off and your performance suffers.
Kinda like cabin fever. We’ve only been quarantined for five weeks and already I know someone who said she’s getting restless, so she invited friends over for dinner. And the friends came! Yikes! Really?
I believe that confidence is everything. It trumps experience, rivals talent and beats the beans out of a good education. However I also believe that “overconfidence” causes artists & entrepreneurs to overestimate their knowledge and underestimate the risks. It provokes blurred reasoning and leads to flippant decisions.
And while it’s true that as we grow in knowledge and experience we also grow in confidence, it’s also nevertheless true that our minds are sharpest when we don’t know what we’re doing.
Important because consider the words of Shunryu Suzuki as he whispers his wisdom from the grave: “It is better to remain in the beginners mind. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”
I recently read in the daily Bloomberg blog that CEOs, central bankers and money managers say: “they’re operating in a world where they have no idea what’s coming next, leaving them with few options but to prepare for the worst.”
That quote is so on the mark for left brained, weak-kneed analysts and so off the mark for right brained creatives. Pro artists and treps experience the angst of living in a world where they have no idea what’s coming next every day of their lives! It’s a given for them! The next line says: “leaving them with few options…“ That’s crazy! Creatives know that the quantum field of all possibilities is always accessible with endless options and constant streaming ideas! The last part of the final line gets me the most: “leaving them with few options but to prepare for the worst!” Huh? The only way right brained creatives can manifest something from nothing is to think the worst, but then invent ways not to let it happen!
Important because be thankful that you are a crazy, creative, genius, right brained, thinker!
Mike Tyson said: “Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face!”
We’ve all been punched in the face, really hard! Not just us but every human being on the planet! For the first time in history every human being all over the world is thinking about, talking about and fretting about the exact same thing. Never before in history has every human been so unified and aligned on a single thought at the same time! That has to mean something, right? Shouldn’t that move a mountain, or part the sea, or make a dent in the universe?
Hopefully that punch in the face knocked some sense into us. Not only about our own survival and our humanity, but also about the survival of our career, art, business, etc. I assume you’re working on upgrading, digitizing, reinventing, rethinking, trimming the excess, updating your contacts, and generally looking at ways to remodel and refurbish your career and or business. Because this darkness will definitely pass. And when it does we certainly don’t want to be frantically trying to catch up while a new wave of artists and entrepreneurs flood our personal turf that took us years to establish. And flood they will.
Important because I think those who are reaching out a helping hand, or advice, or art, or coaching, or consoling, or even freebies to their constituents will reap the rewards of that gesture for sure. And people will remember who stood up and shined a light for them in the midst of the darkness. However those who remain silent and hypnotized by TV and talk radio will suffer the consequences when the flood gates finally open. And open they will.
Everyone is home now watching and listening to ART! Music, TV, movies, books, documentaries, YouTube videos, TED talks, podcasts, and more. Meanwhile, musicians are at home jamming & recording together online, actors are auditioning online, writers are collaborating online, and artists are camped out in their studios splattering paint all over their Photoshop docs. Thank God they didn’t quarantine our devices! Meanwhile entrepreneurs are reimagining their businesses, upgrading their tech, reaching out to their customers and clients and shifting their gaze to planning & plotting their first move once the darkness passes.
They’ve told us over again how NOT to catch the virus: stay far away from human beings! If we follow that simple rule we should be fine. They’ve also sentenced us to solitary confinement and told us to be patient, because however long it takes it takes. If we follow that simple rule we should be fine.
Important because pro artist & treps work in isolation and uncertainty every single day of their lives! The process of creating art and making risky decisions is a lonely one. Therefore, it stands to reason that creative people can handle being shut in much better than others. More reason to believe we should be fine.
It may not happen all at once and it may be sporadic across the country. However, a new wave of change is coming to overwhelm us: A return to normal. Actually a much better normal! It will be a triumphant end to a spellbinding story. Books will be written, movies will be made, and songs will be sung all about the darkness that took over the planet. And as a crazy, creative genius you will be part of that story.
When this darkness finally passes, people will be dancing in the streets! Literally! And your family, friends, neighbors, fans, customers and clients will remember how you selflessly helped them get through the darkest of times. There will also be an avalanche of entertainment; from TV shows and movies anxiously awaiting their release date, to production companies eager to complete important critical projects that were put on hold, to recording studios surprised by the sudden onslaught of new business.
Plus, after we see the green light and our confidence in socializing returns, nightlife will explode with the reopening of bars, restaurants and summer festivals. Your favorite movie theaters will reopen (hopefully). Friends will reunite and deeper friendships will be forged. That wonderful smell of summertime neighborhood BBQ’s will fill the air. Grocery stores will stock rolls and rolls of toilet paper! In a variety of colors! Enough to TP a house! You’ll take your kids to school and they will be so happy to reconnect with their friends. Your teenagers will be back on the hunt for a college. And hopefully, there will be a kinder, gentler, more patient culture of human beings populating our planet.
Important because we need to keep this vision locked in our mind’s eye everyday. And start looking at who we will be and what we will do on the day the darkness passes. And it will. Not like wishful thinking, more like facts, predicted by science and history.
The reason I haven’t written is because I just had quadruple bypass surgery and I was in UCLA hospital for a week! What a dicey time to be in the hospital, right? I’m hunkered down at home now, licking my wounds and hiding from Carona.The bad news is my chest hurts from the surgery. The good news is my chances of ever having a heart attack have been drastically reduced. Thank God my awesome wife is a nurse!
The other good news is that I really had to totally tune out the corona catastrophe and focus on my own personal catastrophe. My surgeon, who is also the chief heart transplant surgeon at UCLA, said that’s what he has to do: tune everything out of his head except the task at hand. Kinda like when you move all your other projects and distractions, not only to the back burner but completely off the stove! So you can give 100% to your most critical creative work. Reminds me that at any minute we have the opportunity to choose where to give our complete attention.
I’m also reminded that while the fear, confusion and uncertainty of our fate is very real, what’s most important is how we react to it. When I am hit with an unexpected catastrophe I immediately try to move out that which does not serve the moment and slam the door on gossip and rumor. Then I diligently scour the global info-sphere for factual guidance.
I’ve said this before, and I think it means more today than ever: when we find ourselves standing toe-to-toe with the demon of disaster the best thing we can do is 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 divine wisdom” we’ve attained to help us navigate the perplexing labyrinth we’ve unexpectedly found ourselves lost in.
That said, after we’ve secured our personal situation and settle into a “new normal,” we need to return to our work and look for ways to use our talent, imagination and creativity to help others and contribute to the global family. Now is the time to write songs that reach in and touch us, videos that inspire us and give us hope, and blogs and podcasts that remind us who we really are and what we’re capable of. There is absolutely no one on earth that can profoundly inspire us as much as you, the creative artist and risk taking entrepreneur. We need you now more than ever. Don’t worry about the money. Just use the awesome tools you have to express your art…and don’t stop! Overwhelm us with a flood of your work during this time of global uncertainty. We need you now to step up.
Never forget, you’re a crazy, independent, genius artist/trep! Now is the time to use your crazy imagination and creative talent to help us all get through these most challenging times in our lives.
Important because All things must pass and we are going to get through this. Not like positive thinking, more like realizing that thousands of brilliant scientist, specialist and billionaires around the world are working 24/7 to solve this problem. I trust them.
P.S. Just this morning I received this poem from bestselling author Steven Pressfield:
“Pandemic” (by San Francisco poet Lynn Ungar)
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
I assert that deep down inside, held hostage by your ego, hidden behind “I wanna be a star,” and just around the corner from “I wanna be stinking rich,” you have a burning desire to make your own personal contribution to our industry and the world. Perhaps you think the only thing that prevents you from really making a difference are your circumstances. If you only had more money, you would do more philanthropic work. Or, as soon as you find more time, you’ll get involved in those specific community affairs that tug at your heartstrings. In my 40 years in showbiz, I have learned that “If only” and “as soon as” are the best excuses we artists & treps can come up with to forestall the responsibility of playing bigger.
Tim Ferriss said: “It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. Therefore, the level of competition is fiercest for realistic goals.”
It’s time to give up the notion of waiting for your life to turn out before you up your game. It’s time to take a stand that showbiz is your dharma, your purpose in life, and pledge to do your best work—honestly, and with integrity. It’s also time to promise yourself to remain conscious and vigilant regarding the pettiness in our awesome industry and commit to doing exceptional work that will set an example for all of us to follow.
Truth is, what you are seeking is also seeking you. The world is now waiting for people like you to start being the extraordinary artist you said you’d be, and doing all the extraordinary things you said you would do someday!
Important because This simple shift in your POV may be the only piece missing in moving your career to the next level and achieving your wildest dreams.
A smaller project that is easy for its devoted followers to consume (and easy for its creators to manage), will continue to show growth and profitability as it sets calculated, controlled plans for the future.
A project that’s too big is more prone to collapse.
Important because as more artists & treps continue to downsize their lives & careers, its not because they’ve run out of killer ideas to manifest, its because over time they’ve learned that the value of monetization lies in thinking BIG, but taking smaller, smarter, strategic steps to get there.
The moment greatness is recognized, it jettisons to the top of the heap. Doesn’t matter if it’s a song, screenplay, video, performance or product. If it’s great, word spreads fast and we all clamor for more.
As a pro artist/trep you know what greatness feels like because you’ve experienced it before. That feeling only reserved for those talented creatives who are willing to confidently stand down and trust inspiration and great work to flow through, instead of trying to force it.
Even your bones sing when you achieve greatness. Actually your whole body sings. And all you can do is smile, with that cocky, confident satisfaction of knowing you nailed it. Almost like you’re right on the verge of saying “I told you so.” More like you’re right on the verge of saying “I knew it!” That’s because you did know it. You couldn’t prove it but you could know it.
Important because sometimes we need a gentle reminder that that fleeting feeling of bliss is why we chose the path less traveled. And it’s why we continue to walk the rocky road of an independent, creative artist/entrepreneur. And the secret to experiencing more moments of greatness and bliss is to not reach backwards to try and repeat or recapture it, but rather to drum up the confidence to stand down, lean in and allow creative intuition, divine inspiration, and those great, crazy, genius ideas to simply flow through us.
I fall into them too and so does every crazy genius I work with. A creative rut is usually caused by confusion, or not knowing how to proceed, or mental exhaustion, or boredom, or resistance, or not playing big enough (things we have control over).
The creative work we do, inventing something from nothing, day after day, then trying to figure out how to sell it and make a buck, is mostly exhausting, and the process can be tedious, frustrating and mind-numbing. At some point it just becomes easier to slip into the “tred-grooves” of what others have already created, and just follow along. Problem is, following along the path of the status quo only compounds the problem. It supports the antique illusion that “the trend is your friend.” And while that may be true on Wall St., it’s certainly not true on your street.
Important because ruts are too often misinterpreted as failures, but they’re not. They’re an opportunity in disguise. Because “Rut Time” is the best time to recommit to your biggest dreams, rework your projects and reinvent yourself as the creative genius you are. Believe me, I know you know this. I’m just reminding (both of us) of what we tend to forget in the hoopla and drama of our awesome, creative, independent lifestyle.
I used to be pretty good at knee-jerking a quick answer. I could flower up a response and snap it off before you could catch your breath. However, I don’t want to be good at that anymore. Maybe back in the day when I was CEO of MC Inc., when I was making my bones and building my world, I thought I had something to prove. Not anymore, especially if it doesn’t serve somebody. I want to be good at pausing and thinking through a challenge, doing the deep research and consulting others before I give away my decision or choose too fast.
Important because show business and life are now moving at nearly the speed of thought. And I welcome and embrace that notion, along with all the opportunities that come with it. However, these days, I think that moving at the speed of “forethought,” and taking just a little more time to get it right, is better than shooting a blind arrow. Especially when it comes to growing and enriching our awesome, crazy, genius, independent, creative life.