Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Inefficiencies of Anger

Unknown-3Around the WPA offices, I am sometimes called Obi-Wan.  I try not to take this as the old, decrepit and hooded Alec Guinness of Star Wars, but rather, the sage, father figure and hooded Alec Guinness that is all at once serene and powerful.  I suppose we all tell
ourselves the stories we need to hear.

When I was a young agent in New York.  Well, a younger agent, I was prone to getting angry about the weirdest things, little things, big things, anything really.  One day, I actually got a call from the head of the agency in Los Angeles, informing me that if I kept throwing my phone headset against the wall and breaking it, I would have to supply my own.  Fair enough I thought at the time.

I’m not sure when I realized what a waste of time my emotions were becoming or when I realized the amount of mistakes I was making sans calmness, but at some point I turned over a new leaf. As I think back, I wonder if it was inexperience that made me angry or my fear of failure when I found myself in unfamiliar territory, or an addiction to the drama of it all.

I think I calmed down for good when one day, on a negotiation I said something out ofimages-1 anger to a producer, who instantly used it as leverage and not only beat the hell out of me in the deal, but then he (of course) used the comment to deride me to my client. I ended up losing that client, even though what sparked my outburst in the first place was my feeling the client was being insulted and taken advantage of.  Hard lesson.

Once I turned the corner, I was left with a few undeniable philosophies:

  1. We’re making movies, not saving the world.  We’re white collar executives, not Seal Team 6.  No one dies in what we do if we are close to competent. In the movie industry, it’s only the extreme hubris of a Ryan Miller that will kill a Sarah Jones. 99.999 percent of the time we are perfectly safe.
  2. If your client will walk away from a negotiation, you can go hard because you have all the leverage.  If your client is desperate, you’ll have to accept what they give you and there’s no use in being upset about it. Supply and demand.
  3. At this point I’ve seen so many people get into trouble through their emotions that it’s hard to miss the lesson.  I have passed on so many clients after hearing their reputation as a screamer on set or unreasonable in negotiations.  It means at the least that they don’t understand principles 1 or 2. At the most, they are just assholes. In a business based on repeat business, they will have a short shelf life. Sometimes, they are in the “so talented, they’ll be around forever category.”  But, that just puts them in my “life’s too short category.”

I’m left with the image of Abe Vigoda’s Tessio in the Godfather as they put him in the car to drive him to his execution.  They told him it wasn’t personal.  It was just business and he understood with a resigned calmness.  For him, it was life and death, well pretend life and death anyway, but again, in the end it was just business.

images-3Now, when things start to get heated at work, I take an imaginary step to the left and let the other person’s emotion pass by me instead of through me.  If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that the person who is more emotionally invested ALWAYS loses a negotiation. It’s a simple success model, be the calm one.

 

Scars

stapled-scar-resultsI have a scar on the knuckle of my left thumb.  I got it when I was in 7th grade and it was the first of many. It’s very faint now 40+ years later but it’s still there.  There was a kid in my neighborhood named John Coakley.  He was two years older than me and he had a penchant for terrorizing younger kids.  One day, outside a store in town, I came upon him pushing around a friend that was a year younger than me.  I stepped in the middle and told him to stop it.  He asked: “What are you going to do about it?” I hit him with a solid roundhouse from the left side and I caught him square in the teeth. Unfortunately for John, he didn’t expect that particular answer from a smaller kid, but he also wore braces and I think he assumed the unwritten law of “no hitting kids with braces” was in effect.  It wasn’t.  So the blow ripped open the inside of his mouth as well as my thumb.  He ran off yelling at me with blood flowing into his hands.  He never bothered us again.

All these years later, I have plenty more scars.  Physical, emotional and even spiritual I suppose.  I was reminded of it this morning when I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror.  I had surgery for a separated shoulder three weeks ago so I have a beauty now.  About 4 inches long, red and angry looking.  It runs from the top of my shoulder down almost to the top of my chest.  The result of another misadventure between man and horse.

I have some on my right shoulder from a Labrum repair, a few on my stomach from Gallbladder surgery and others here and there that I don’t even remember how they came about.

It begs the broader question: what are the cost of my scars?  See, horseback riding is a contact sport. Contact with the ground, with hooves, with dicey terrain and gaps in my horsemanship. The Gallbladder scars?  Bad eating habits. My emotional scars are from incessant worrying about my wife and children, the death of my father, mistakes, rejections, business failures and stepping up to do the right thing when I knew it would hurt my business and my finances.

But, now I realize that every scar means something to me. It’s the cost of standing up to a bully.  It’s the cost of having the sense of adventure to get back on horses that invariably will throw you into the woods now and again.  It’s the cost of doing business with integrity when others can’t or won’t, and those people will find the justification to call you inhuman, ruthless and worse when you show them the door.  They will multiply your scars by poisoning what they can long after. It’s the cost of loving someone who won’t be here forever and that particular scar will be where no one else can see or understand it.  That scar is on your heart.

I’m proud of my scars. I’ve earned them.  They mean that I tried.  They mean I stood for something. They mean I’ve loved some people and said goodbye to others.  They mean I had courage and I wasn’t afraid to fall down and fail.  And all those things put together ultimately lead to a successful life.

So, a big thanks John Coakley.  I hope you learned something from your scar too.

 

I Am A Citizen Of The World

I have decided that I am a citizen of the world. Coming off of St. Patrick’s day where my Irish American wife and my Irish American self scoured the southern California countryside for a decent corned beef and cabbage (and settled instead for King Crab legs) I have decided that I am not Irish.

My beautiful picture

Clara Riordan

Even though my great grandmother Clara Riordan, arrived from County Cork in the 1890’s I am not Irish. Even though my great great grandfather Jacob Jacob arrived from Prussia in the 1870’s I am not German or Jewish as he probably was. I’m not Italian like my great grandfather on my Mother’s side Joe Rosso, or even Canadian/American (is that a thing?) as would make me as my Dad’s mother, Myrtle Beck was born in Montreal, her grandparents (the Hoopers) were a British immigrant and Italian immigrant to Canada. With so much other stuff in me I’m not even sure I’m American.  Well, I am technically American as I was born just outside of Boston and at last glance it was and still is a part of the USA. It’s just very confusing and I can’t commit to it any longer.

My beautiful picture

Joe Rosso

I was brought up Catholic, though I gave it up for Lent one time and never started up again. I played music in Evangelical churches for years, but it turned out that I’m not Republican enough, fundamentalist enough, conservative enough nor insular enough to really make a go of it. I did have fun with some Methodists for a time, they’re cool.  I like Rumi and Lao Tsu and meditation, but I’m pretty sure I would wash out of the monastery life very quickly.   I am a Citizen of the World.

My beautiful picture

The Hoopers – James and Gabriella

I don’t want to “Make America White Again,” I mean “Great Again” as the idiot child of moron parents, Donald Trump wants to do. The message is Fascist, oppressive and makes people want to hit each other. His policies (if one can be accurately located) are probably in and of themselves the reasonings that my dear ancestors were escaping from in their homeland and making their way to the new world in the first place. Can you hear the hum of the millions of immigrant bodies spinning in their graves all over Brooklyn? I can.

This is a business blog right? What does this have to do with anything? Only everything. I’m an International Business Person. I travel abroad regularly. I have clients and partners all over the world. I have to think multi-culturally and globally. I have to get along in different environments with people who have very different backgrounds than me, and do you know what?  It’s not hard, because by and large, people the world over think the same way and want to get to know me, understand me and do business with me.

I’m still learning of course.  I got in trouble at a fancy London social club a few years back because I had improperly placed my silverware on my plate at the end of the meal. This resulted in the Lebanese waiter rebuking me on proper British table etiquette, which resulted in my British hosts getting really (yet politely) pissed at the waiter.

Conversely, the first time I was in Poland, I went in search of Pierogies. I pointed to the real thing on a menu and the non-english speaking waitress flagged down someone to tell me that if I ate what I had chosen, it would make my Gringo stomach drop through my shoes.  She chose something lighter in the Pierogi family for me and I felt like Chopin on a Saturday afternoon break. She was beaming that she had saved me from death by potato dumpling.

Do you know what I like?  Advertising with inter-racial families, same sex families and that PSA where people are looking at a giant X-Ray of other people behind a screen that turn out to be all kinds of combinations when they come out from behind.  They are all as much of a genetic, nationalistic, spiritual Mutt as I am. As we all are.  After millions of generations, aren’t we all just this caldron of DNA goo?  The same stuff in slightly different variations?

So there you have it. I renounce every bloodline corpuscle in my body in pursuit of being a Citizen of the World.  I don’t want to have to fit into the box of being American or Irish/American or Italian, German, Swahili/Eskimo, or whatever else worked its way in there over the eons. I’m a Citizen of the World.  Maybe I’m naive to think it’s possible, but if enough of us start to think this way, do business this way, maybe life and business will be in better shape.  Maybe xenophobes will have a harder time coming to power.

If I’m wrong? If Trump wins? I’m one quarter Canadian. I’ll write you from Vancouver, eh?

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Two Men Walk Into a Bar – The Story of WPA

imageTwo men walk into a bar. Ok, not a bar. Two men walk into a lunch place on Sunset Boulevard.  They talk for twenty minutes. The conversation stops when one glances out the window and notices a competitor stumble by drunk as hell.  They debate for a minute if it’s really him.  They concur that it is.  They continue talking. Before the competitor can weave around the corner and out of sight, the two men in the lunch place realize that they are inextricably linked to each other for the rest of their careers. And here begins the story of WPA.  Admittedly, before they walked into the bar, er.. lunch place, both had been thinking of getting out of the business.  One to be a Lawyer in Europe, the other to be a Luthier. I know, no one knows what a Luthier is. I’m tired of explaining it, Google it here for Chrissakes.  Anyway, they talked about the agency business. They agreed it could be done better.  They agreed that they were now working in a global marketplace. They agreed, boutiques didn’t work anymore because the big agencies now used them in Hollywood and abroad as talent farm teams to be shaken down when clients reached a certain level.   They agreed a global brand presence was possible. They agreed the big agencies treated their employees like nothing more than chattel to be traded upon. They agreed there was room in between for an agency with the roster size and power of the big agencies, but with a culture that allowed for humanity, development, free flow of information and closer relationships between agent and client and agent and agent.  They agreed on a lot. They walked out of the lunch place with a lot to do. The next weeks were a blur of activity.  One had gone out on his own 8 months before.  He had to convince his clients that it was a good thing to double the size of the agency.  The other had to dissolve a dysfunctional partnership and move on.  He had to convince his clients to free fall with him.  They met on a Saturday morning two weeks later and in 90 degree heat, loaded furniture into a horse trailer.  Yes a horse trailer.  They set it up in 3 tiny rooms on a back lot.  Why a backlot?  some say smarts, but the reasons were more practical.  It was free.

Molly manning the books.

Molly manning the books.

There were other intrepid warriors, Kristen, Trevor, Louiza and Molly.  Young, full of energy, passionate and ready for the fight.  Kristen named the place Worldwide Production Agency when we couldn’t come up with a name.  Trevor had left marble encrusted ICM just a few months before and now found himself smashed into a corner with his face plastered against the window wondering WTF. And Louzilla, well the name says it all. In the early days, Richard had dinosaur roar sound effects on his computer that he fired off liberally whenever Louiza made a deal. Molly, well Molly kept the unruly crew in line and finances headed in the right direction.

Trevor moving his elbows.

Trevor moving his elbows.

We started signing, we started booking, we started building. Megan, Derek and Amber joined us. The studio decided to move us across the lot to a bigger office.  Now instead of 3 tiny rooms, we now had 3 small rooms. Trevor wasn’t plastered against the window anymore. Now he could even raise his elbows when he worked. It was tight, but our culture was born there.  Everyone could hear everything anybody did. How could you not?  No matter where you sat, there was somebody literally 3 feet away.  We developed a style and working rules based on transparency, free flow of information, honesty and respect. We realized we were different.  Starting humbly had bound us together as a tribe.  We had our brushes with each other, sure. But, there was no door slamming,  because in truth, there were no doors to slam.

Kristen & Derek on Derek Appreciation Day.

Kristen & Derek on Derek Appreciation Day.

We also found we all had another thing in common.  An appreciation for Korean Bar-B-Q.  We started having appreciation days for whoever was the low man on the totem pole.  We had them for interns and receptionists.  If there was a reason to appreciate someone, it was off to Korean Bar-B-Q.  To this day, one of the interview questions for potential employees is the direct question: “Do you like Korean Bar-B-Q?”  There is only one acceptable answer. We grew and we grew.  We outgrew the 3 small rooms.  There were now 9 of us and and Trevor’s face was plastered against the window again.  We had been looking for an appropriate space for months and months and finally we walked into a space that all made sense.  3500 square feet with no walls.   Plenty of room, floor to ceiling windows, a garden courtyard on one side, a proper reception area, a conference room

Louiza on the BBQ

Louiza on the BBQ

and did I mention no walls?  Working right next to each other had become our trademark and our comfort level.  why not scale it? You see, the big thing with big agencies is that information disappears behind closed doors.  Everything we’re against. Our philosophy demanded the open space, the honesty and the 24/7 discussion that had brought us this far, this fast. Enter Adrienne. imageAdrienne worked tirelessly building us the open space, that all at once is serious and elegant, while at the same time being welcoming and comfortable.  In August 2012 we moved in and things really took off.  I mean REALLY took off.  We will forever be in her debt. Was it us? Was it the space?  Was it the philosophy?  Was it a commitment to client centric service without the Hollywood bullshit? In truth, it is all of it.  One thing led to another, fed into the next.  The openness bred imagesomething bigger than the sum of it’s parts.  The space Adrienne gave us was more than a space.  It tied it all together. It defined us.  It gave us confidence.

Frank Balkin

Frank Balkin

But, something was still holding us back.  We felt out of balance.  Something was missing and we knew it.  We were always strong in Features and strong in Commercials, but weak in Television.  We needed balance.  We needed Frank and Brian.

Brian Goldberg

Brian Goldberg

Like the mate who you chase for years knowing that you’re destined to be together, we pursued them.  They were the perfect fit and we knew it. Finally, they made the jump.  Things exploded, we had balance.  Barely a year later, it’s all humming along nicely.  But, we have never trusted nicely.  We have never trusted status quo.  As I’ve said before in this blog:  You’re never standing still.  You’re moving forward or backwards.  Status quo is an illusion.

Barnaby Laws

Barnaby Laws

So, here we are. What’s next is here. London. Meet Barnaby. Substantial and social, I met him first last November at Cameraimage in Poland. It was the same feeling as when I walked into the lunch place and met Richard. I could just tell. When I talked to the others, they could just tell also. I would say it was strange, but it’s not. We’d been here before and we knew the feeling. Richard was on his way to London to visit clients. We agreed he should look up Barnaby and ask if he might be interested in working with us at some point. It turns out that his contract was up and he would be available as of February 1st. When you build things correctly you have options. Lots of options.  You have to have criteria for culling through them. Our criteria have always been to look past the opportunity and directly at the people involved. Options will show you opportunities for fast money, for fast growth and power in the marketplace, but you have to brush all that aside and look at the people. Are they a fit?  Skill set is teachable, market knowledge is teachable, deep seeded philosophical values are not.  So we don’t ask: are they like us? That’s far too low a bar as you can always find something in common. The correct question is: do they have the same basic values and life philosophy that we do? imageBarnaby was a fit.  We had figured maybe Barnaby and London in a year, but in a month?  We go by the maxim: Go slow when you can, go fast when you must as the right fit is very rare.  As of today, WPA-United Kingdom is in operation. There will be more adventures, for that’s what it is, an adventure.  We’re not just building a business.  We’re building a lifestyle together.  Our clients, ourselves (we’re 16 employees strong now and growing) and our philosophy.  We’ve done it better, the marketplace is global, there is room for humanity, honesty and transparency. There is room for power, flexibility and exponential growth. So, that’s the story of WPA and it all started when two men walked into a bar, I mean a lunch place. image

Push, Grow, Rinse, Repeat

I’m feeling more and more these days that life is supposed to be a grand experiment in how much we can learn, and I’m finding it’s not always easy.  Sometimes it’s downright painful. But, more often than not, the pain and frustration leads to exhilaration.

4349Any attempt to grow will undoubtedly reveal our shortcomings.  All the reasons that we should maintain our status quo start screaming at us like Janet Leigh in the shower scene in Psycho. But, to achieve a well lived life, to advance, to become smarter, more capable, we have to move ahead despite the inner protests.  We need to push. I mean, that’s what they tell women at the end of childbirth to do right? PUSH!  Any endeavor, any growth, any attempt at bringing new energy to ourselves, to the world requires us to push.

I just did something absolutely frightening.  I took what is a relaxing hobby of mine and brought it to the next level. I love taking pictures.  I take them everywhere I go and I go a lot of places.  Even when I’m not traveling, I will sit in my backyard and take pictures of the birds or the sky or my feet or whatever strikes me. Taking pictures for me is a meditation. It takes my mind off of things and puts me in the moment.

But recently, on a lark I submitted some of my photos for a group show in New York.  I forgot about it and went about my life.  Then suddenly one night I got the email.  Three of my photos were chosen for the exhibit.  Then came the hard part.  They needed to be printed, framed and shipped within five days.

The photos that got into the show.

The good feeling of being chosen quickly gave way to panic, doubt and bad internal dialogue. “It’s going to cost alot. Maybe they just can’t find any good pictures so they picked mine. Oh, why bother, it’s just a hobby, it’s not really what I do anyway.” And the big one for me: “I represent visual artists, what if they think I suck, or worse, what if they think I want to do what they do and not what I do.”

All my thoughts were untrue, except the cost a lot part.  It cost a lot.  But, I found that growth comes at a cost and sometimes it’s a lot.  Not just financially, but emotionally, spiritually and even physically.

I figured it out.  I asked a client who does gallery shows where to go for printing.  The printers knew a framer. They lined it up and also handled the shipping. I gave them files on Tuesday, they printed, framed and shipped on Friday.

Adrienne and I flew to New York on the folllowing Monday.  Thanks Adrienne, you kept me sane!  On Tuesday, I stopped by the gallery to make sure all had arrived intact. Luckily, it had.  There were things I was unhappy with.  One of the photographs was printed too contrasty for my liking (I was now becoming the picky, petulant, ever unsatisfied artist,) the frames were good, but not really what I wanted, etc.  I was just picking it all apart.

Mind you, I had approved everything before it left LA.  I realized this was just part of the angst of the push. See, pushing is never perfect and it’s never comfortable.  It’s just about growth and I was 2nd guessing it all. Everything from submitting the photographs, to the cost, to taking the pictures in the first place.

The opening was Thursday night.  I was a wreck. My nervousness subsided once things got going.  There were so many people there and so many people that I had invited showed up to support me.  I had relatives, friends and whoa… clients.

The show was appropriately titled.  It perfectly described my angst.

The show was appropriately titled. It perfectly described my angst.

It was all well recieved.  There were other photographs in the show that were really great, but I didn’t get all judgy about it and didn’t get all crazy about people being judgy about my work. No one thought I was trying to be something I wasn’t.  I was just there learning what it’s like to be in a group show in a gallery. Nothing more, nothing less. Another experience and another opportunity to learn something.

When I was a kid, I hated school.  I wasn’t good at it. I resented all of the forced learning I had to do.  I just wanted to live, play and have a good time.  What I’ve come to find well into my life is that learning (even forced learning) is what it’s all about.  Learning actually is the living, playing and having a good time.  If you’re not learning and actively participating in your growth you’re just watching your life drift by.

Embrace the push. Embrace the pain.  Embrace leaving your comfort zone. Embrace failing and embrace trying again. Embrace the imperfection of a first attempt, a second attempt, any attempt, because so many people won’t attempt at all.  Embrace getting through it. Embrace the joy that comes from knowing there are people loving you through it and rooting for you to succeed. Embrace the learning and the growth.  Embrace the push.

Not that much worse for wear after all that pushing.

Not that much worse for wear after all that pushing.

The Favor Tree

freebiesThis post is long past due.  The subject is favors. How do I delicately approach this?  There is no delicate way.  If you ask for a favor be it professional or personal, don’t just be prepared to pay it back,  look for opportunities to pay it back.  If you grant a favor, don’t expect to be paid back, expect to never be paid back. Let me repeat, don’t expect to be paid back… ever.

When I was in my early twenties, it seemed one day every other weekend was spent helping a friend move.  It was a favor, you did it because when you needed help moving, supposedly your friends would free themselves up to help you and thats pretty much the way it worked out. It wasn’t exactly transactional, just sort

Probably about to drop the couch on a dog.

Probably about to drop the couch on a dog.

of understood if you’re there for me, I’ll be there for you, it’s part of friendship.  If my wife asks: Honey, do me a favor and grab the remote while your up, I do it because in any given situation she would do the same for me. These are not transactional favors, these are relational favors based on deep bonds.

In a work setting though, the wires become crossed. What is presented as a relational favor, as in, to build this relationship please shoot this (name your spec project here) thing for me. Oh yeah, and get your crew to work for free and your Mom to do craft service. This is not really relational or at least we don’t process it that way. Professional favors may seem relational, but the are really transactional.

When we do professional favors, we actually do expect something in return and why shouldn’t we? The problem comes when we never get paid back, which happens a lot.  It’s not that the person doesn’t want to pay back when they ask, they just go on to the next thing and never circle around again.  Or worse, they base most of their career on asking favors and tap you out as part of a long line of tapped out favors.  This of course requires that they  just move on to the next person that will do them a favor.  The account gets so long, no one ever gets paid back.

There’s also the person that once you do them a favor, they only come back for more favors.  The paying work that comes in goes to other people higher up the food chain than you that will help them get to the next level (or so they think.)  When they need a freebie again, it’s like somewhere in their mind they say, “Oh I know a guy that will do it, he did it for me last time.”

We have no money for crew, but it's just one shot.  It will be a short day.

We have no money for crew, but it’s just one shot. It will be a short day.

My biggest pet peeve are the celebrity favor askers.  the payment is supposed to be access to some celebrity or other that has more than enough money to compensate people in monetary terms, but feel they don’t have to because of the obvious benefits of just being near them. And it’s never the celebrity that asks for the favor.  It’s some hanger on that’s just trying to get into the inner circle. The way they see it is that they themselves are doing the favor you’re actually doing and they’ll be the one paid back someday by the celebrity. They won’t.

Now, having said that, there are people who do pay back.  There are even those who understand that if someone does a freebie, it takes two jobs at full rate to be even. The concept being 1 job at full rate makes the payback  job at half rate, thus another favor.

Having watched various incarnations of favoring throughout my career, I’ve come to the metaphor called “The Favor Tree.”  It’s simple, the tree has leaves (favors you ask,)  if you ask people for a favor you must remove a appropriate number of leaves from the tree.  To keep the leaves growing you must water the tree (favors you give.)   If you never water the tree and you use all the leaves…. well, don’t bother asking anyone for favors anymore.

I water the tree every chance I get.  I don’t wait until it looks dry, I water it regularly to keep it healthy.  I want as many leaves on my tree as I can get, whether I need them or not.  I don’t worry about other people’s trees, that’s their responsibility.  If they forget to water that’s their problem and trust me, it will become a problem.

The saying goes “It’s not show friends, it’s show business.”  However, the Favor Tree allows friendship within business to flourish and grow if handled fairly and with integrity. If everyone pays attention to the favors they ask versus the favors they owe, we’ll all be friends.

So here’s the takeaway: Do favors, lots of them, as many as you have time for.  Don’t worry about getting paid back.  See it as watering your tree.  People outside of the favor tend to notice your watering and they are the people that will make note of the character required to put favors out with no guarantee of a return.

But, also be aware of who you do favors for.  If someone asks a favor and doesn’t look for opportunities to pay you back,  they probably won’t pay back the next time either.  As George Bush famously said:  “Fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.

Unknown-1Don’t worry, I don’t know what that means either. You get the picture.  So endeth the lesson.

What’s Your Next Brand?

rebranding_starbucksI’ve come to a conclusion about branding.  There is so much written about re-branding, but I’m beginning to feel that re-branding doesn’t really exist. You start  a business, a career, a life and where you start becomes your brand.  When things aren’t working, you can’t suddenly decide to be something else. The marketplace knows you already and it has it’s learned opinions about you. As the old saying goes: Wherever you go, there you are.

I’m not just talking about business here.  You have a brand as a professional for sure. But, you also have a brand as a husband, parent, sibling, child and friend.  You’re known by others around you for certain traits, attributes and failings.   That’s your brand.

It’s the beginning of the year.  The holiday decorations are put away, you are (temporarily) back in the gym and if you’re like most people, it’s a time of reflection.  If you’re like me, you are compulsively writing new goals and considering where you want to go this year and how you’re going to get there.

Now, I for one am not fond of looking back.  That only spawns either self congratulations or regret. Neither of which are particularly useful.  I certainly allow myself to learn from the past.  However, my personal tendency is to assess where I am now and figure out where to go from here.  I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go.  So, if I can determine where I stand right now, (and if you can be honest with yourself, you can too) I can make a few minor corrections and stay on course.  Tweaking that course becomes my next brand.

I started as an actor and musician.  As I traveled that path, I learned that there were things about that life that made me very unhappy and that I just couldn’t reconcile.  I slowly started moving towards production and before I did production full time there was an overlap where I was still performing.  When I moved to repping from commercial production, I was still working in advertising, just in a parallel capacity.

The reality is that I started in entertainment and advertising and I still work in entertainment and advertising.  As I’ve traveled my career path, I’ve never totally reinvented myself, but I’ve grown. There are several times where I’ve leapt instead of stepped. But, overall it’s been a slow process of next branding. Of tweaking the course, of adding layers to my experience.

Next branding is a vertical process. Of putting experience and skill on top of each other like blocks.  The common thought is that brands scale horizontally, and they do.  But, only in response to the desire to grow vertically. You widen your foundation only in order grow upwards. It’s simple physics.

imagesSo, I ask the question: what’s next for your brand? What will add value to the brand you’ve built already?  What will add value to those you work with and those you love?  What horizontal steps do you need to put in place in order to grow vertically?

Write out what you want and an action plan for how you’re going to get there.  Your experience is invaluable, don’t look back at it in judgement,  learn from it to move forward.