Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Golden Circle

OK, I want you to go with me on this one.  The most powerful way to increase your business is not a question of “how”.  It’s not a question of “what” can I do.  It’s a question of “why” do I do what I do.  It’s really a question of what do I “believe” about what I do that makes me different and sets me apart from everyone else.  Is it about passion?  Yes, absolutely, but, it’s also about convincing others to believe in your vision, your belief.  I would like you to take a few minutes and watch the following video from the TED conference.  It is a talk by Simon Sinek titled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”

It’s important that you watch the video before you continue.

It’s not easy stuff.  But, the concept of the “Golden Circle” not only makes sense on a visceral level and a biological level, it makes sense on a practical level. Why do we do what we do?  It’s a hard question to ask yourself, but it’s the difference between a way to make money and a way to innovate and make a difference in the world.

I’ll go first.  Why do I agent?  I believe I can help people reach the goals that their artistic passion demands of them.  It’s MY passion to protect artists and guide them.  I’ve seen the Artist’s path from all sides in my career and as a result I believe to my core that I can make a substantial difference in their artistic careers and livelyhoods.

What do you believe about what you do?  Why do you shoot, direct, design, act?  My challenge to you is to define it.  I have to say, after writing the previous paragraph, I feel empowered and clear.  Try it yourself and see what you can find out about yourself as an artist and an entrepreneur.  Write it down, print it out and put it in a place where you can refer to it often.

If you have the time,. Come back to this in a few days and watch the video again.  It took me a few times to really let everything sink in.  Let it inspire you and drive you forward!

On Attitude

There are so many opinions and motivational systems that attack the issue of attitude that I am almost unwilling to put my two cents in lest it be just thrown into the pantheon of power through positive thinking hype.  Go on Amazon sometime and search “postive thinking.”  The deluge of titles will blow you away.  The deluge not withstanding, here are my humble views based on a 30 year career.

The phrase “If you believe it you can achieve it” is pure BS.  It is an external superficial idea that will inspire you temporarily.  Personally, I think that phrase is backwards.  It should be: “when you achieve it, you’ll believe it.”

The question is:  achieve what?  I’m not sure I believe that I can write coherently, and in an engaging way, never mind with appropriate grammar.  But so what?  Here is where I achieve:  I get myself to sit down everyday and write, no matter how I’m feeling.  The achievement is turning on the computer and actually typing on the keypad.  Achievement is based on small incremental steps that result in believing that I can do something.  Just changing what I say to yourself or how I say it means nothing.  Thinking about what I will do means nothing.  I could care less about a positive attitude.  I care about an “action attitude.”  If I can get myself to fully engage in pursuing my goals through action, my attitude can’t help but change for the better.

I must inspire myself from within not without, by the sweat of my own action.  If I am constantly watching the horizon for what will inspire me long term, I will be staring for a long long time.  If I’m feeling uninspired, stuck and negative, I look inside.  Look for the small first step that I can take, that will lead to a small second step that leads to a third and on and on.  After a while, these steps become habitual and begin to have exponential results.

There’s a great song by Colin Hay called “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin.”  It is about a man, presumably an artist, waiting for his big break.  There’s a great lyric in it that goes

“When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened,

But in my dreams I slew the dragon.”

It’s a sad song really.  He keeps stating in the song that “He has a plan” and yet he does nothing to execute it!  He’s just waiting around for the phone to ring. There is a lyric in the song that goes:

“Any minute now, my ship is coming in,

I’ll keep checking the horizon

And I’ll check my machine, there’s sure to be that call

It’s gonna happen soon, soon, soon…”

He sounds really depressed and helpless.  Every time he gets to the “I’ll keep checking my machine” part, I want to scream: “pick the damn phone up and MAKE a call you idiot!

You see, it never occurs to him to slay the dragon in real life.  Maybe not all at once, but it could be done slowly, one call at a time, one opportunity at a time.  There is no such thing as an overnight success.  There’s working in anonymity for a long time and the hard work hits critical mass, resulting in success. But success is never there without concrete hard work and consistent action.

Do you want things to happen in your career? In your life?  Do you want to FEEL more positive about your situation?  It’s simple, do something, anything to add to the foundation that you are building your life upon!

I challenge you to do something unexpected today.  It may be something small, but make it something that stretches you out of your comfort zone.  Tomorrow do the same, and again and again until it becomes a daily habit.  If you falter in your discipline, start again.  We all lapse in our work ethic, in some cases from time to time, in other cases constantly.  It’s human nature.  When that happens, don’t wait for inspiration from the outside.  Take action and it will inspire you!

Slay the dragon.  Start with a toenail and work your way up as most of us will, but take a first step and start building an attitude of action.  It will be surprising how daily effort over time WILL slay the dragon.  Do this. You’ll feel positive and more in control of your destiny, I promise.

The 1% Solution

There is a 1% rule of thumb in social media.  According to Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba who coined the phrase “1% rule,” out of every one hundred users on let’s say Facebook, 1 person will create all the content and posts and the other 99 will read it, react to it, but not become involved in any significant way.  That is a completely staggering statistic, but one that provides a huge opportunity for that one person out of 100.

And so it is the same in business.  Out of every 100 people, only 1 is proactive in reaching out in some way every day, while the other 99, react, wait for an opportunity to present itself out of coincidence or luck, or both.  However, it also presents a huge opportunity for that one out of 100 that is proactive.

There is another adage in business involving one percent: “Improve your business by one percent everyday.”  Now there is no possible way to determine what one percent of your business ACTUALLY is, but the theory is compelling and can improve your capacity to create business dramatically.

If you are a singer, I assume you practice everyday you are not working. A lighting technician, will hopefully be spending time everyday in pursuit of researching new lighting techniques and equipment.  A dancer goes to class. But, what are you doing everyday to bring in more business?

Just as you hone your craft everyday (at least by 1%,) you need to hone your business chops everyday… by 1%.  This generally means: Do at least one thing, one call, one email, spend time working on goals (I’ll cover that in depth in a latter post,) even just developing a general plan of attacking new work.  The object though is undertaking AT LEAST one thing.

Personally, I carve two hours out of my day, to work on new business and business opportunities that are diversifications of my core craft which is running an agency.  I conquered the 1% rule some time ago and now split my time 70% core business, 30% new business.  I’ve found that most of the 30% I execute off business hours, but the beauty of technology is that now more than ever it is possible to do. It extends the day and can be used whenever the inspiration strikes.

Consider this:  If you were to commit to improving your business by only 1% per day, after one year you would have improved your business 365%!!  Even if you take holidays, some weekends and a vacation off, you are somewhere in the range of a 300% improvement!!

Where to start?  Today, sit down and write a list of everyone you can think of that you know in the business.  Put their emails next to their names if you have them.  Go WAY past the people you know well.  Aquaintances are fine, writing their names down will help you think of other people you do know well and some you’ve forgotten about.  Plus, there will be situations that come up down the road that may shed them in a new light.  Create this master list and you will find a myriad of uses for it.  Build it and update it monthly.  If you do this on your computer, make sure you have a written copy also, as it quickly becomes an irreplaceable document.

Once you’ve built this phone book, I challenge you to contact someone from it everyday.  Phone, email, Facebook. Whatever.  Take one step at a time and you will find soon enough, that you will contact more than one each day.  It becomes a habit and it gives you great confidence in yourself and your ability to reach out.

Try it. No, do it!!  As Yoda said, “There is no try, there is only do or do not!”

A Portrait Of The Artist As An Entrepreneur

How do you see yourself? As an artist, a craftsperson, a producer, actor, photographer, whatever, I can think of a million things. How hard do you work on your craft? Do you practice, study, experiment, create? Are you so passionate that you can’t keep yourself from it? That’s great!!! That means you’re doing the right thing with your life!!

However, at the same time, are you frustrated with how often you get hired to perform your craft? How much money you make? The level of work you do? Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is: You can change whatever it is that is frustrating you. The bad news: you have to be willing to stretch and switch gears. You have to be willing to spend part of your day, everyday, away from the passionate part of your life, engaging the “nuts and bolts” of building and sustaining a career.

But wait!! There’s more good news!! Artists, and for that matter all freelancers by nature are “creative entrepreneurs.” With a change of perspective, you can, and you must become better at the business of show business. Business makes up 50% of the phrase, so therefore to succeed, you have begin to see yourself as a “creative entrepreneur” that is willing to take the bull by the horns, get better at the business end of your profession and blaze a path for yourself!!!

There is strength in introducing yourself as an entrepreneur. The word connotes, independence, freedom, a willingness to take risks and an ability to think above the fray and sustain a livelihood on your own. I love seeing myself as an entrepreneur and being able to introduce myself that way. Knowing your craft (in my case agenting) to a point where you can run a company and at the same time driving other opportunities to fruition is a completely liberating feeling.

Take a moment and assess where your head is at. Does reaching out and pursuing work as opposed to taking whatever comes along make you nervous? Does it make you afraid of appearing desperate? Does it cause anxiety over possible rejection.  Does it make you realize that you really haven’t kept up on your contacts? So what?  Number one, all of that is wrong except you may not have been sharing the love enough with your contacts and number two: all of those feelings are natural and you have to move past them in order to really succeed and have the career you want.

I challenge you to see yourself in a new light! It’s my goal with this blog to teach you some business fundamentals that will help you redraw your portrait from Artist to “Entreprenuer.” I’ve been teaching it to my clients for years and it works. Give me your attention just twice a week and I will show you the tools, give you business confidence and help you arrive at a new place. Lets get started!!