Monthly Archives: April 2011

It’s The Little Things

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how the little things add up. Like plaque in your arteries.  I’ve seen that commercial with the little globules piling up in that guy’s heart.  Those globules are really tiny (they tell you the head of a pin tiny) but of course they go on to say the tiny gobs become a clog that can kill you, or you end up with a gurney following you around all day or any number of scary advertising metaphors.

Little things of course mean a lot. They say divorces start over small arguments over the toothpaste cap.  So much so that toothpaste manufacturers have been kind enough to attach the cap to the tube, an innovation that has saved millions in legal fees.  The point is that there becomes enough of anything (positive OR negative) and a critical mass will eventually arise. So, lately I’ve become obsessed with this concept.

I’ve also become a bit obsessed with cultivating a positive attitude. Now starting with heart attacks and divorce may not sound like an overtly positive person at the keyboard, but I think I’m becoming a pretty positive person. For instance, if you end up having a heart attack and it doesn’t kill you, you’ll probably begin to appreciate the important things in life with your second chance.  If you get a divorce, maybe there’s someone better out there for you. If you have a heart attack and get a divorce at the same time, maybe it’s time to realize that your attention to everything may need some work.

Our lives are a process and too often we bump along through that process letting the tide take us wherever it chooses to go.  It’s part of the American dream.

If you don’t believe me, just walk into any bar for Thursday night Karaoke and you will hear someone drunkenly singing ‘Rambling Man.’ But the other part of the dream is to have a successful, fulfilling career that showers upon us all the trappings of our achievement.  My assessment: the concept of American Dream lives at cross purposes and drives us crazy.

If you live and work in Hollywood as I do, you find yourself at the epicenter of this contradiction.  The media that we create tells us that life is easy, we’re supposed to be beautiful with not much effort and no matter the problem, it all works out in the end.  Even in Vampire movies for some reason.  Nothing more compelling than violent, brooding vampires finding true love, attacking helpless wildlife and living happily ever after.

So, our eyes and ears tell us yes, yes, yes, anything is possible and our brains assess our reality and tell us, no, no, no, all of this is BS.  The result:  paralysis.

So I want to talk about how to move past paralysis and a way to move forward.  I’ve talked in the past about the 1% solution.  The idea that making 1% progress in your career everyday compounds and reaches the tipping point that little heart globules can.  But how to exact that 1%?. I think I’ve found a way.

I recently read an article by Darren Hardy in Success magazine (yes, I’m one of the dorks that reads that publication) about an equation for building and maintaining your career network through doing little things.  It’s called the 3 – 15 – 5 – 1 equation.  It breaks down like this: each week commit to 3 – in person meetings, 15 written communications, 5 direct phone calls, 1 gift. The idea is to sit down at the beginning of each week and plan it out.  Then work your way through the plan over the next 5 days.

Here’s the paralysis that hit me with this strategy:  Do I know enough people to make this work week to week or will I just be hitting the same people over and over again?  It forced me to sit down and write a list of all my business contacts that I feel close enough to do this with.  I came up with about 120.  But, then I took it further, I wrote out a list of people and companies I’d like to get to know or that I have vague aquaintence with. Then I brought in the people I work closest with and reviewed the list, adding people they know well and want to get to know.  Now between us all the list is rather large and we can all do it.

It occurred to me as I was putting this together that these are all little things.  All doable if I write a weekly plan for it.  I haven’t figured it all out yet, the gift thing in particular because that seems a bit forward to me, but I am committed to trying it all out.

Instead of picturing globules piling up in arteries, I am looking at it as more of a turn of the flywheel with each communication.  If you want, you can go back and read that blog post also (Lord of the Flywheel).  See, I’ve been writing this blog for a year now and the material has compounded to a point where I can refer to previous posts!  This works the same way, only you’re compounding a network of relationships!  Do 1% daily, turn the flywheel and those relationships will begin to intertwine also.  When that happens you reach Hollywoods Holy Grail: BUZZ

Now isn’t this a better use of your time than sitting around waiting for plaque to build up in your heart?  As a matter of fact, I’m thinking the positive direction and actionable steps may prevent a heart attack. Oh, and lay off the nachos.

It’s Not About You…

Here I am at 30,000 feet…… again. Headed to Kentucky for my first vacation in a year. Kentucky? Vacation? The two don’t quite mix, but if you go back and read my last post, you’ll know why. Horses. Lots of horses for sale. Yes, I could buy a horse in California. Yes, I could even find a Rocky Mountain Gaited horse (Lexs’ breed and the breed we seek,) but we just needed to get away. So here I am on Frontier Airlines, (the choices to Louisville are limited.) Not my first choice of travel. Their slogan is “Frontier, a whole different animal,” which is curious at best. So far, my experience is so frills free and makes you quickly feel that someone with a chicken in a cage may sit next to you, that I came up with a new slogan for them: “Frontier, covered wagons, now this.” I firmly believe that an onboard cholera epidemic is starting in one of the exit rows.

Why so sarcastic this week? Obviously, it’s all about me! You see, budget travel just screams in your face: ” it’s NOT about you, we’ll get you there dammit, but it’s not about you!” Thus, my blog topic for this week, ‘It’s Not About You.’

Now, I’m not talking about your big breakup when your partner said “it’s not you, it’s me. You’re great.” In fact, that was about you, because well, you weren’t so great. I’m talking about business primarily, but there is a definite takeaway for life.

When Ari Emmanuel dumped Mel Gibson soon after the Endeavor/William Morris merger, it wasn’t about Mel’s douchey anti-semetic rants. It was about the negative publicity effect that his antics would have on the new WME brand and the comfort of other big stars repped there. Those who were just more important than Mel. It wasn’t a moral or ethical decision, it was hard business and in the end, it wasn’t about Mel, it was good for Ari.

While we’re on Emmanuels, let’s look at Rahm for a second. When he was getting knocked off the Chicago mayoral ballot as a non resident because of working in Washington for Obama, he didn’t take it personally. He knew it wasn’t about him. It was about the other candidates doing their best to secure a job for themselves.

Thus my thesis. Don’t take it personally. When I started my first agency years ago, I had left an old school Beverly Hills agency followed by many of the agency’s clients. Long story short, they sued me. I thought I had things pretty well covered but they kept looking until they found a minor issue that was actionable. At first I was incensed and depressed that they would come after ME so hard. Then I remembered the words of a good friend who had been in business for many years. He gave me the best advice of my career. When you get sued “and you will” (he called it) don’t take it personally, it’s just business.

I took his advice to heart and made it through the ordeal. Turns out that once I was able to step back from it, I found they were a lot more emotionally attached to the situation than I was. That allowed me to make well thought out decisions about how to proceed at each step, while they made emotional mistake after emotional mistake. I realized early on that it wasn’t about me, it was about that I hurt their feelings. Eventually, it wore them down and I did very well in the settlement.

The lesson here is: how do you feel about rejection? When you don’t get a job you were hoping for that your friend was directing or people are getting upset at you because your department is over budget, remember that those things are never about you. It’s about the other person’s fear about how any situation affects or reflects on them. It’s about their personal criteria and prejudices that lead to decisions that will propel THEM forward. It can be about personal history for sure, but on a primal level we are wired for self preservation. Conversely, When they do bring you along on a job, that’s about them also and what you can do for them. That’s why when people do heroic things that aren’t about themselves it’s such big news.

We all do it. No one is above it. We all make the majority of our decisions based on the outcome for US. For instance, I’ll never fly Frontier Airlines again. Why? It’s not that they’re a bad airline, they just didn’t meet my criteria for comfort, and when I look out the window I don’t want to see wings that are made of wood and canvas.

When I take on a client or not, the main consideration is if I feel I can sell them. If I misjudge this it could turn uncomfortable later if I am not having success, or should I say I get uncomfortable as the situation becomes more tense. See, me, me, me!

If you really look at it closely, you’ll begin to see these patterns everywhere. I’m often asked, what the key to negotiating is. My answer is this: whomever speaks more loses. For the simple fact that the more people speak, the more they reveal their personal agenda. What it is about the deal that is about them. Left to speak long enough, people will tell you all about their Mom, their dog, their strategy, or lack thereof. As an agent, I wait in silence for the cues they will give me. More often than not I will get everything I want by them offering it without any prodding at all. I’m not silent in a creepy way, I do a lot of “uh hus” and “I sees.”. People just love to talk about themselves and I let them do it. In the course of things I get a deal done.

See? That whole last paragraph was about me and my philosophy. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the way we are wired, although the world would be a happier place if we were wired to think of others first. I’m just saying you can save yourself a lot of wear and tear if you notice that in almost every situation, people are most driven by the outcome for themselves and underneath it all it’s rarely about money, and almost never about you. Capiche?

But, enough about me, how do you like my shoes?