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.
It’s doesn’t matter if it’s the game on the field or the halftime show on the stage. Whenever the lights go up in the arena, and the crowd roars in anticipation, there is a talented person (or persons) standing right in the center spotlight. And that person may appear fearless on the outside, all dressed up in colorful matching battle gear, or showy, flashy costumes, ready to step into the arena and declare victory. However, on the inside, the demon of doubt lurks between the ears of every super pro, and taunts them with distractions, fills them with uncertainty, and relentlessly reminds them of what they haven’t achieved, what they haven’t attained, and what they have yet to accomplish.
Both athlete & artist will attempt to leave all they’ve got in the arena. But will it be enough to satisfy a hungry crowd? Others can’t appreciate the barenaked courage it takes to put your ass on the line and step in front of a billion fans & foes around the globe, and give your performance of a lifetime, while a group of self-proclaimed critics eagerly wait for you to blow it. And it doesn’t matter if you’re singing the National Anthem or passing the ball as far as you can toward the end zone, it’s the onlookers who are torn between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Important because talk about being in the moment! Thank God, there is a time when the athlete or the artist can experience some fleeting moments of complete ecstasy and peace of mind. And that time is when they are nowhere to be found! Lost in the instant of their battle, and vanished in the evanesce of their dance.
Artists & treps strive to be “relevant.” Why? Because we’re in this for life, and sustainability is imperative. Nobody wants to look like a dinosaur in their field. However, once you find your groove, achieve some success, and enter the comfort zone, fighting obscurity becomes a bigger challenge than getting there in the first place.
That said, the two things that breed relevancy are consistency and change (two opposing forces). Consistency is the act of constantly producing exceptional work that exceeds the expectations of our fans, followers, clients and customers, and that actually provokes eager anticipation for more. Change is the ever-present tug in all artists and treps, to learn, grow, innovate, re-create, invent, take risks, and push the boundaries.
When combined, consistency & change = relevance.
Important because it doesn’t matter if you’re an artist, musician, actor, writer, director, PR expert, or business owner. To the degree your work consistently exceeds expectation, to that degree you’ll continue to be relevant. Not like an Amazon robot. More like an unremitting pro.
Alas, we are doomed! Doomed to work and interact with showbiz morons for the rest of our lives. Why? Because our awesome industry is filled with them: moron agents, moron actors, moron writers, moron musicians, moron editors, moron producers, moron publishers, moron attorneys, moron staffers, moron employees, moron bloggers…
Question is, why do you continuously work with, and put up with the pettiness of morons at such an emotional, physical and monetary cost to you? And it’s absolutely moronic to use the incompetence of others as an excuse for why it’s taking so long for you or your project to advance: “I’d be much further down the road if it wasn’t for those morons!” Huh?
Heck, we even allow morons to dictate what songs are the best, what movies are the best, which artists are the best, who gets into the hall of fame, and what to wear to the Grammys!
Important because thank God we get to work with brilliant people too. People who are grounded, not flighty. Pros who are confident, not cocky. Team players who are committed to more for us, not more for me. And while the morons we work with slow us down, the smart people we work with raise us up, and elevate our game.
The question is, as the CEO of your creative career, are you content to produce half-ass work just to “get it out there?” Or are you committed to doing everything in your power to produce full-ass work that will strengthen your personal brand and blow away your fans, clients & customers?
Important because every success (or failure) stands on the shoulders of the leader of the band.
1. Your unique abilities, exceptional talents, and that uncommon quirk that no one else in the world has but you. Without them you’re toast.
2. Your incomplete to-do list of unfinished tasks, abandoned goals and postponed projects, staring you right in the face, and still waiting for you to take action.
3. That remarkable skill you have to “create” your way out of crummy circumstances. Without that, you’ll be constantly stalled by crummy circumstances throughout the year.
4. Your biggest goals, wildest dreams and strongest desires. They lead, you follow.
5. Your advisory board. Those few people (or that one person) in your life you can count on, confide in and consult with for advice, guidance, direction and inspiration.
6. Trust, in all those experiences you had in 2019 that taught you something. Confidence, in all the knowledge you acquired that lead you somewhere. And Faith, in that deeper wisdom you attained that prodded you to look deeper.
Important because the only thing you can’t take with you into 2020 is any hope of a better 2019.
What if we joined other like minded people and stood our ground together?
What if we spun a sign that expressed what we feel inside?
What if we spoke our truth, from deep inside our guts, right into the lens of a media camera?
What if we chose the perfect location, stood up on our own two feet and howled at the moon?
Important because our voice and our presence matters.
Knowledge provides a bigger picture, a wide angle lens to see how to get to where we’re going.
Experience validates that the knowledge is true…or not.
Wisdom makes all the critical choices and decisions when knowledge and experience flinch.
Desire takes knowledge, experience and wisdom and turns them into a lifelong game worth playing.
Important because for the pro artist/trep, the biggest block to knowledge, experience and wisdom is the arrogant attitude that “I already know.”
Show Biz is the only biz that you break into. You don’t break into plumbing, you don’t break into nursing, and you certainly don’t break into politics. However, you break into Show Biz. Why? Because we assume the door is locked, therefore, we have to break it down to get in the building! Huh? Then, after we’re in, people laugh and say, “What a lucky break!” Huh?
It’s time to let go of that mythical, antique slogan and realize that our awesome entertainment biz is the only industry where the door is always unlocked, always wide open, and always on the lookout for the next great song, an inspiring screenplay, a stellar production, a great movie or TV series, a mind blowing startup, a jaw dropping performance, a creative artist with an extraordinary talent, or a brave entrepreneur with an impossible vision.
Important because somewhere between impossible and hope there’s a less-traveled road that leads to all possibilities. The best part is there’s no toll booth, turnpike or stop signs!
1) You’ve been faking it for so long you’re exhausted and it’s getting harder to keep up the charade.
2) You’re selling a new story: instead of telling people where you’re headed, you’re telling them stories of where you’ve been.
3) You’re still waiting for someone to walk in and save you and your career or your business.
4) Not making it for so long has become the new normal.
5) Every time you’ve come close to the brass ring, you’ve been afraid to let go and reach out for it.
6) You’re stuck in a thinking that “success” has to match your definition.
7) You resist “change” as if it were the enemy.
8) You’re too embarrassed to admit to yourself or others that it’s time to fold up the tent.
9) You will never admit or even listen to the notion that the choices and decisions you’ve made in the past are the reason you are where you are today.
10) You need help and you’re too proud to ask for it.
Important because nothing on this list is more important than #2. If you can (honestly & confidently) start telling people where you’re headed instead of where you’ve been, that would mean the other 9 reasons don’t apply to you.
A crummy song sung by a great singer?
A great song sung by a crummy singer?
A crummy screenplay performed by a great actress?
A great screenplay performed by a crummy actress?
A crummy product sold by a reputable brand?
A great product sold by an unknown?
Important because even a great actress can’t make a crummy movie a box-office hit. Craft outshines uniformity. And even though the industries of certainty are disrupting all around us, and even though we have entered into a time of political ambiguity, what matters most during this time is the art we create, the songs we compose, the books we write, the movies we direct, the worthwhile content we produce, and the worthy ideas we manifest. And that art and those manifestations will outlast and outlive adversity and mediocrity, and they will be remembered, recalled, recited and reproduced over and over again for generations to come.
It’s frustrating when we stand tall in the middle of our creative career and confidently point in the direction we’re headed, only to be dismissed by those who just don’t understand.
It’s defeating when we are absolutely certain that our talent, idea or product has the potential to be great, and make a difference, but others don’t or can’t see the vision.
It’s sad when our best effort can’t even get off the ground because others scratch their heads and just don’t get it.
Important because we can never stop the incessant, ongoing process of inventing and devising clear, clever, articulate ways of asserting who we are, explaining what we do, describing what we have to offer, and clarifying what we expect in return.