Tag Archives: belief

It’s a New Year and I’ve Been Thinking

UnknownOnce again, it’s a new year.  OK, a little past New Years.  I’ve been kind of busy lately (I’ll get to that in a blog post next week). Anyway,  Is it going to be a fresh beginning?  Is it going to be more of the same?  Well, that’s always the question isn’t it? Maybe not for some people, but I think that if you can’t point to lessons you’ve learned and acknowledge that wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you’re learning. If you are paying attention, you can avoid making the mistakes of the past.  If it seems like you’re not learning, you’re just not paying attention.

Over the holidays, I take time to reflect.  Not just on the last year, but I think about what I’ve done over a course of many years to get where I am (wherever that is). It’s a process and there have been victories and mistakes.  Every once in a while you have to take stock and hone things down to a few concepts you know have worked for you.  In that spirit, here’s what I’ve been thinking about that has worked for me.

Invest in Yourself.  Here’s why: no one else is going to do it. At least not in the long term.  People will invest in you so long as their short term needs are being met and so long they maintain their profit margin.  So, be an owner, and if that’s not possible yet work towards being an owner.  How do you do that? Invent your job and when you’re done inventing your job, reinvent it.  You do that by doing way more than your job description. Own your position and commit to your evolution within it.  I’m not just talking about business. Invest in your physical well being, your mental well being, your spiritual well being. Own it all.  If you are not doing the investments, own it and change it.  If you are doing the investments, own the process, own the failures and successes equally.

If you’re already an owner, a freelance entrepreneur, an Artist: Examine your investment.  Are you constantly making it more valuable with everything you do? Or are you undermining it with time wasters, vamping, avoiding issues or excuses? Be honest and make sure you are on track.

Casals

Study and Be Curious.  When the world famous cellist Pablo Casals was 90 years old, someone asked him “why do you still practice 4 hours a day?” he replied: “because I think I’m making progress.”

When I’m not studying I notice.  When I’m not studying I have the nagging feeling I am falling behind.  Why do I care so much? Because this isn’t a frickin dress rehearsal.  I’m on stage right now. My career is happening right now.  I’m mentoring those around me right now.  I’m building a business right now.  

What are you trying to accomplish?  Are you seeking out the best information to accomplish it?  Are you stretching your mind and your skill set?  People who know me well, know that I am a big fan of listening to business books on my commute.  I am always looking for new ideas.  If I could do it all over again, I would have started and maintained my discipline of studying whatever endeavor I was involved in a lot sooner than I did. If you are not constantly bringing new ideas into your life, if you are not practicing what you choose to master, you run the run the risk of maintaining your own status quo.  Essentially, status quo doesn’t exist.  It’s against the laws of physics to stand completely still.  You’re always moving in one direction or the other.  Make sure it’s forward.

Trust Your Gut – When people say “my gut is telling me…” they are usually right.  You’re gut is the outward extension of your subconscious.  Our subconscious is much more in tune with how we are really feeling, because it’s not susceptible to the constant brain chatter we engage in.  The key with gut feelings is to separate them from excitement and fear.  After you work through your reasoning on a decision, take a moment to breathe and be silent and let your gut weigh in.

Feel Like an Imposter – I am driven by fear, I admit it. I’ve also found that it’s a good place to be.  So long as fear doesn’t paralyze you, it’s good to worry that you might be “found out.”  It’s good to feel not as smart or talented as people think you are.  It’s the trait I find most prevalent in successful artists.  It makes you humble and focused. Fear handled correctly will make you study harder, practice harder and be more driven. Confidence is great, over confidence breeds mistakes.

6a00d8341c630a53ef013480b8a92d970cTake Risks  “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky.  Usually attributed to Michael Jordan, but indeed he stole it from Gretzky.  This one is very tough, especially if you have a lot of responsibility.  It’s easy to stay where you’re at, do the things that got you to where you are now and maintain. You have to force yourself to step out of your comfort zone and try things that just might not work.  We have two parts of the brain, our modern brain, which reasons and our primitive brain which controls our fight or flight response.  Our primitive brain hates taking risks, because back when we were living in caves, if you took a risk that didn’t work out,  you usually died.  Our primitive brain doesn’t know the difference between a lion and making a cold call.  You have to push through the physiology and risk failure. You also have to fail a lot to succeed.

In my youth I knew the theater impresario Hal Prince quite well.  He once told me that only one third of the shows he produced over his career made money.  It wasn’t lost on me that he he had to produce 9 shows to get 3 successful ones.  He had to work on every one for years to find out if it was a success or a failure.  That is commitment to process.  That is knowing the math and accepting it.  So, accept the math,  get out there, take some risks, fail a lot and start realizing some successes.

Road-Perspective

Look to the Horizon – When I was learning to drive, I remember the instructor teaching us the concept of looking as far down the road as you can see and let your peripheral vision handle what is directly in front of you.  That way you can see problems as they develop long before they reach you.  This also pertains to opportunities.  I’ve always been interested and excited in the future.  The excitement of what’s coming.  I’ve always looked down the road, it’s just now that I’m realizing how well it’s served me.

Have Some Things in the Pipeline – This is the game of what’s next? In the music industry, you can have a song, an album, a tour, but you’ll never get a record deal if you can’t tell the label what else they can sell after they’re finished selling what you have now.  For every deal I’ve got, I have two more that are gestating in the background. For every move I make, I have two more long range ones that I’m working on. Some will work out in the long run, some won’t, but that’s not the point.  Things worth the trouble take a long time to develop.  You have to put in time on a variety of options and that’s hard when you’d like to have some instant gratification.

And Finally…….

The truth never lives in what you say, the truth is always found in what you do – This is the most important one of all.  People say a lot of things.  I say a lot of things. Sometimes I’m thinking or fantasizing out loud.  I do a lot less of that now, because as a leader, people tend to believe me when I say something and they expect it to happen. So, when I say something I have to back it up with action or lose my credibility. I’ve found it’s very powerful to put yourself in that position. The need to act based on my words will eat at me until I throw down and do something about it.  Declarations may set a standard to be held to, but what you take action on is how you will be judged. What you take action on will determine your success.  What you take action on tells the world your values, your standards and your true intent.

Good luck out there this year.  Make some magic!

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There is no Magic Bullet

I’ve spent my entire career looking for a magic bullet.  Yes, it’s true, I admit it.  It’s naive, it’s purposeless and the laws of physics pretty much don’t work that way. The kicker is that I know better.  Sorry, we all look for one, but there is no magic bullet.

bullet_5I’m not a behavioral PHD, but my personal feeling is that the reasoning mind works so diligently to find solutions to any problem put in front of it, that at any point, the mind feels that it will find a permanent solution and move on to solve something else.

Lets take something completely inane.  Say you have a coffee maker that you have to put water in every morning to make coffee.  You hate that. I know I do.  I just want coffee first thing, I don’t want any extra work to do.  Eventually, you’re in Starbucks and notice they never have to put water in their machine.  Why is that you ask?  simple answer: they have it hooked up to a water line.  You think, I can do that at home. So, you call a plummer, run a pipe from the main line (at great expense) to the coffee maker, problem solved permanently.  I will never have to put water in the coffee maker again.  You are totally satisfied, It’s a magic bullet. Until the coffee maker breaks. Then there’s a new problem. If I could only find a coffee maker that lasts forever and never breaks.  Good luck with that one, I’m happy if I find one that makes it to New Years from Christmas Day.

We look for the magic bullet everywhere.  The next project, the next relationship, the next business idea, the next job.  Nothing solves permanently.  At the risk of alienating my religious friends I’ll say that religion offers a magic bullet of permanent peace, permanent salvation, etc., etc.  But, as the saying goes: “Jesus Saves,” not “Jesus Solves.” No matter how committed you are, there is still a lot of work and adjustment to do while walking around earth.  Eternal life?  That sounds like a magic bullet.  I don’t know, I guess we’ll eventually find out.

images-1 Even the magic bullet in the movie JFK had a lot of work to do.  As Kevin Costner kept reminding us. “Back and to the left. Back and to the left.  That was one magic bullet.”  If the magic bullet itself has to work so hard to be magic, what makes you think there are any shortcuts for you.

Every project is another opportunity to advance your skill set.  It’s never a breakthrough in and of itself.  Your success is not just out of reach.  It’s happening right now.  Success is the never ending process of realizing there is no magic bullet. This project leads to the next project.  One challenge leads to another, so learn to take joy in the process of moving challenge to challenge. Do the best you can, find your way to the next one, and the next and the next.

Relationships are not any different.  You are finding the way to the next moment. But, what moment are you finding your way to?  Are you sculpting the moments or are you just watching them arrive and pass?

Since there is no such thing as a magic bullet, overnight success, perfect relationships, what are we to do to move things forward in our careers and life? The idea of creating conscious value.  If you ask yourself in any situation, job, task, relationship, am I creating value now?  The simple act of asking the question puts you much farther ahead than looking for a magic bullet.

You see, looking for the magic bullet is the act of looking for the world around you to bring something to you that will solve all your problems.  But remember, a bullet’s trajectory, no matter how magic, will eventually succumb to gravity and end up in the dirt.

Unknown-2Creating value is the act of bringing something to the world around you which is a far more powerful position. For to create value is to break through the challenges and the transience for one shining moment of clarity and success.  String together many moments of creating value and you will create a life well lived.

 

It’s All A Gift

MP900433167 (2)I heard something the other day:  “Successful people have learned to like the process.”  I think that’s true.  When I look back on my career, I see that in the early years as an actor and then as a producer, I spent most of my time frustrated, miserable, moody and depressed. If it wasn’t happening I wondered: why isn’t it happening?  If it was happening I wondered: why isn’t more happening?  I don’t remember ever being satisfied.  Quite frankly, I’m still not too sure that I’m satisfied. But, I have learned to like the process.

After all, lets face it, all of life is a process.  More than that, it’s all a gift.   No matter how you look at it.  If you feel God divinely put you here or if you’re an athiest who feels that our time on earth is the result of random consequence. Either way it’s a miracle that we’re here at all. So, no matter how you look at it, it’s a gift. The process is a gift.

So, how does one learn to like the process?  I think its about living in the moment. Granted, not all moments are created equal and some are just plain better than others, but when you think about it, this moment is really all you’ve got. It’s all that is truly real.  Where you’re going, the end result and your perception of all that has happened in the past, even if it JUST happened, is now in the past and relegated to a figment of your imagination.

Moments are like a grand puzzle.  If you’re concentrating hard on something it puts you in the moment.  Your concentration is the process of trying to figure out how the work you are doing in the now will fit into a larger canvas of the end result.

Now, keep in mind I did not say learn to LOVE the process.  There are some that love the process, but admitedy, the process is hard to love.  Just ask the artist who is suffering from writer’s block.  There may be parts of the process that you can love.  However, any process has moments of drudgery and frustration. It’s in that moment when you remind yourself that this moment connects to the next moment, so fully commit to this one.  Accept it for what it is and do the best you can to contribute something to the canvas. When you feel like you’ve made a contribution, you will like the moment. When you like the moment, you will begin to like the process.

It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a script, shooting test footage or making the dreaded cold calls to hustle up work.  The moment is a beautiful thing.  Remember, you have a finite number of them.  The day will come when you run out of moments, so you might as well figure out how to fully engage and like as many moments as you possibly can.

My world can be a strange one.  I’m helping to build a company and I have great aspirations and vision for it.  But, it requires that I shape shift and I constantly find myself doing things that I am unfamiliar with.  The unfamiliar sometimes fills me with great doubt about my skills, with uncertainly and frequent paranoia. Those are moments when I don’t “like” the process.  Those moments are the ones when I just want to be an agent and do deals and help my clients reach their goals through closing the deal on the table, and I still do that everyday.  But, there is the realization that through investing in the process of building a more powerful platform and learning new things I am helping my clients in ways that I never could before.  It’s better for the company, the clients, the agents I work with and myself. If I commit to my process as entrpreneur AND agent we will all reach more of what we collectively aspire to.

At home we have a little white board next to the door.  Adrienne and I take turns writing on it little inspirational sayings that we come across.  Last week she wrote “Now is the only moment that lasts forever.”  She wrote that before she got hit on the big toe with a cast iron cassarole pot lid, opening up her foot and requiring an ER visit and some stitches.  Granted, that moment did seem to last forever, the swearing, the gushing blood, the hopping around.  But, the reality is, it didn’t last forever.  It also came and went. The three shots of Tequila helped move things along also, but the moment came and went.

So, what are you doing in this moment?  Whatever it is, it will affect the next moment and the next and the next.  It’s all connected. That’s why you need to use this moment to make a call, plan a spec shoot, take a photograph, tell someone you love them, write a blog post, write a scene, write some goals or learn something new.

It’s all about living with intention and being aware of the moment instead of rehashing the past or day dreaming about a future that is not based on right choices and hard work in the present. Intent will always put you in the moment, because intent drives you.

quote-William-Law-be-intent-upon-the-perfection-of-the-144583_1

 

On Moving Forward

“Oh, What Now?” “Egads,” or just “Errrrrargh!” These are but a few of my Mother’s expressions of frustration. Whenever there’s an obstacle, she’ll put all 4 foot 11 of her being into one of these exclamations. I frequently find myself doing the same. Not these expressions per se, mine are a tad spicier. OK, a lot spicier. more like a sailor whose arm has just been severed. But, you get the picture. It’s something we all do.

UnknownIf you are aiming high enough, there will always be something in your way. If your path is always smooth, you are either not trying very hard or you see dead people. In every endeavor, in your career or your relationships, you have a choice. You can retreat, you can move ahead or you can try to maintain your current position by standing still. The reality is that there is no such thing as standing still. At any given moment, you are either moving forward or backward.

Sometimes the obstacles are situations like lack of money. Sometimes it’s a business or personal relationship. But, whatever it is, fear is involved. Fear of failure, fear of confrontation or even fear of success.

Our primitive brain and our instinctual responses equate any failure or confrontation with survival. Any change in the status quo will trigger our brains into fight or flight mode. With that trigger comes release of adrenaline and increased heart rate. Even thinking about an obstacle that will create change will pull that trigger. The net result is stress, and that stress is what makes us freeze. And in our frozen state, we think we’re just standing still or delaying. But, the world keeps turning, which means we’re being left behind by the simple laws of inertia.

The fear of success is even trickier. So many people think that means you’re afraid to be richer than your friends or more successful than your parents resulting in them seeing you as suddenly different. But, I don’t think that’s it. Being successful means increased work, increased commitment, constant thinking, constant doing and constant expense of energy. The thought of working harder and maintaining forward momentum can be exhausting in and of itself, never mind actually doing the work. So, many people just curl up on the couch instead and watch the world spin. But, they also wonder why they don’t get anywhere.

Put the fear aside. Put the triggers aside. Put aside things, relationships and habits that no longer serve you. Put your laziness aside and move forward. What you will find is that the process of moving forward is invigorating. it doesn’t sap your energy, it increases it. If you can get through the fear, you’ll find your mind engaged. You’ll wake up excited at what can be accomplished and what you can create today.

Say it with me: “Oh, what now? egads, Errrargh.” Your frustration means you’re passing obstacles and moving forward. embrace it, have a life well lived.

What Would Oliver Do?

In the summer of 1970 I met a man named Oliver Butterworth.  As school was off, I was just sort of hanging around the stores at the center of town.  Butterworth, a quasi famous children’s author was campaigning on the street for Joe Duffey, a very liberal anti-war Democrat who was running against Lowell Weicker for one of Connecticut’s Senate seats. It was during Vietnam and Oliver was handing out Duffey buttons and peace movement leaflets out of a VW Minivan. He had rigged a makeshift awning and had a card table with lemonade.  He was like a character out of  “Alice’s Restaurant.”  Kind of an old Hippie.

As I was just hanging around with nothing to do, (I realized later, he worked as a local teacher and was just hanging out during the summer too) he invited me to hand out buttons and leaflets.  He explained the anti war movement and how much was at stake in the coming election, and how it’s up to the people to change things.  I have a picture somewhere of me standing in front of that van with Duffey for Senate buttons all over my shirt trying to look informed and ready to fight for the people.  I wasn’t informed or ready to fight.  I was eleven, but I had a cause.

Butterworth had written a children’s book named ‘The Enormous Egg.’ It was about a New Hampshire farm kid (Nate) whose chicken predictably lays an enormous egg.  When the egg hatches, not a chicken emerges, but a Triceratops whom Timmy names Uncle Beazley.  As soon as this is discovered, all who had been laughing at the kid with the enormous egg develop their own agendas.  As the dinosaur grows amid media hoopla and opportunists trying to profit on the find, they need to ship Uncle Beazley off to the National Zoo in Washington DC, because he’s basically eating the farm.  Eventually, Congress, appalled at how much the Dinosaur is eating at the Zoo decides to declare it Un-American (Oliver wrote it in 1956 and was trying to turn 8 year olds everywhere against McCarthy.)  Timmy goes on TV and rallies the masses to petition Congress to “do the will of the people” and accept Uncle Beazley as a permanent resident at the Zoo.  They all live happily ever after.

During that summer and fall, Oliver would tell me where he was going to park the van and I would show up there, hand out stuff and get a civics lesson.  Did my Mom know I was out meeting an old guy with a van? Yes, and she didn’t think anything of it.  It was a different time and we didn’t assume everyone was out to molest us.  I’m sure she thought “well, it’s not like he’s a Catholic Priest or anything, so what the hell.”  Oliver only molested me with anti-war rhetoric and a far left liberalism (in retrospect socialism) that I think I still retain today. Actually, he was pretty cool.

Lowell Weicker sticking it to Nixon

At the end of it all, Joe Duffey lost the election by 90,000 votes.  Lowell Weicker went on to become the moderate Republican that swayed everyone against Nixon and forced his resignation.  In the end,  it pretty much worked out the way Oliver wanted it to. Oliver wasn’t a big Nixon fan.

After the election was lost, Oliver called me and told me we had stood for what we believed in and in taking a stand there are no regrets.  Not long after, he mailed me an autographed copy of the Enormous Egg which I still have.

Hollywood offers up many fights, competing agendas and deception so thick, Nixon would be proud.  Honor sometimes can be scarce.  The higher the stakes, the more ruthless people become.  Perhaps it’s just human nature.  I’m not complaining mind you.  By and large I find it fascinating, and those around me find my righteous indignation in the face of it a constant form of entertainment.

What I find myself fighting sometimes is the regret.  If I had only done this, or if only I had done that I would have gotten the result I wanted.  I always try to do the right thing and believe it or not, doing the right thing around here sometimes gets you screwed. I have a nasty habit of obsessing about that stuff long after the fight has ended.  I’m learning to let go.

For 2012 my main resolution is: WWOD (what would Oliver do.)  He had fought the good fight, done what he could, mentored where he could, spoke his truth in public, moved on from each fight with no regrets at the outcome.  He trusted that goodness would prevail, which it eventually does in one way or the other, and that setbacks are temporary.

It’s a funny thought. What WOULD Oliver do in Hollywood?  I guess I’m going to find out.  Stay tuned.

Learning To Persevere

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge

We live in a world of instant gratification, where success looks easy.  I don’t have any trouble making that statement.  If you watch TV at all, then your days are filled with instantly white teeth, instant and inexplicable celebrity and seemingly easy financial success. And we fall for it every time.  Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Sarah Palin and of course my favorite, freakin  Snookie. They all have the same things, white teeth, unexplained celebrity and financial success.

But, they also all have three other things in common: Head scratching mediocrity, an ability to manipulate us with our own desire for overnight success and that they only play one note. When we tire of that note, they are gone and the next one comes along.

You Betcha!

It is truly not them though, it is a very skilled media who chose them to hold up as examples of what we desire for ourselves. In many ways, they were just convenient.  In the right place at the right time when a hungry dream machine needed fresh fodder. Or, in Palin’s case, a fading and cynical political campaign’s need for a woman, a black person, anything to appear relevant to an increasingly diverse electorate. They really didn’t care much that they were promoting a half wit who thinks Africa is a country and the French Revolution a ballet step.

OK, so where does that leave the rest of us?  Well, personally, my sex tape didn’t really take off and my reality show “The Real Goys of Hollywood” didn’t get past the pitch phase, so to succeed I’m left with persistance, determination and hard work.

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” – Thomas Carlyle

It’s hard to grind it out every day. I get that. At some point you may ask your self why keep going? The answer to that question is purpose. It’s the purpose of loving your art, loving your family and loving those that work next to you. It’s the purpose of contributing to something bigger than yourself and creating a legacy. That’s what keeps you going. That’s what keeps you looking forward to the next step.

But what makes for purpose? Author Guy Kawasaki gives a simple equation in his book ‘Enchantment.’ He uses an acronym: ‘M.A.P.’ which stands for mastery, autonomy and purpose. He explains that in any endeavor, if we are given the opportunity to master a skill and receive autonomy in doing so, all we have to add is our unique purpose of something bigger and we will have no problem finding the energy for persistance and determination.

I find his equation not so much a recipe for success as a formula for joy. As we all have, I find I have reinvented myself numerous times. Life just unfolds that way. If you really look closely at it, what makes change interesting and purpose easier, is the simple act of learning new things. When your interest is held, you become persistent in your pursuit of practicing the new skills you are acquiring. That feeds your purpose and vice versa.  That’s right, what I am suggesting is that constant progress is the result of persistence, and persistance is the child of constant learning and expanding your skills. Mix it all together and you manage to support your purpose.

For myself, my learning consists of downloading a steady stream of audio books from iTunes.  I have a 45 minute commute each way and I have decided to fill it with learning.  In the past year, I’ve listened to books on business culture, leadership, happiness, purpose and entrepreneurship to name a few subjects.  My current title is: The Talent Code, Unlocking The Secret of Skill by Thomas Coyle. It’s a remarkable  study of where our physiology and habits meet to propel our talents. It’s all about how we learn, how we are coached by others and how we should coach others.

The bottom line is this: In pursuit of my purpose I have become extremely determined and persistent when it comes to learning. Even this blog is me learning. I’ve come to realize that no matter what I’m doing, I’m learning something.  Even when doing nothing I’m learning something (how to do nothing.)  For me, it’s become a question of what do I need to know to make my business better, my relationships better and what excites me and makes me want to get up in the morning.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese Proverb

Do you want  (or need) to be more persistent, tenacious, determined? Those traits want constant fuel to keep them ignited.  Even if you just surf the net, something as benign as Stumbleupon.com will help you learn.  It’s great. You just plug in your interests and the website randomly sends you to other websites that contain articles and information on the subjects of your choosing. As a matter of fact, just last night on Stumble I learned of a new concept: PLN or Personal Learning Networks. Groups of people that share what they are learning through Twitter.  They point out blogs, videos and articles.  Kind of what I’m doing here. I learn, I share, I learn some more.  It’s made me better at all facets of my life.

So, what are you learning about for your career? How is that translating to your life.  What things spark your passion, make you persistent and determined to push farther?  I want to know!  At this point I want to do more than throw words out into the blogosphere. I want to start a conversation! I want to start a PLN.

I’ve been writing this blog for over a year now.  In that pursuit I have been determined and persistent.  Learning new things has been the vehicle to spark my imagination to try and communicate new things and that’s my epiphany. What’s yours?

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn to do it”  – Pablo Picasso

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Want to share this idea with your own Twitter network? Here are tweetable bits.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese Proverb http://bitly.com/lF4tfb @agentonloose

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.” – Calvin Coolidge http://bitly.com/lF4tfb @agentonloose

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement and impossibilities: http://bitly.com/lF4tfb @agentonloose

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn to do it”  – Pablo Picasso http://bitly.com/lF4tfb @agentonloose

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?