Tag Archives: Potential

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 I learned In Rehab

My post op nurse taking advantage of my inebriated state.

My post op nurse taking advantage of my inebriated state.

No,not that kind of rehab. Physical rehab. A week ago I had shoulder surgery. I’ve had a torn Labral tendon for a while now and bursitis.  I’ve been telling the world, it was the result of saving a horse from a terrible fall and I thought it was. The truth turned out to be not quite that heroic. The surgeon got in there and found that the damage was a result of over use and maybe, and I mean maybe a few sports injuries from when I was a kid.  Mostly, it’s a natural degeneration of the tendon over a lifetime.  The bursitis, just bad luck I suppose. So, I’m not a hero. Just falling apart a bit.

The Doc said in his office the procedure was no big deal. As he walked into pre-op   and there I lay with an IV hanging off my arm, a pain block needle just having been extracted from my neck and fresh from having been told they would be putting in a breathing tube, I questioned his definition of no big deal.  He said “the procedure was no big deal for him. It’s an easy fix.  Not so much for me though.” He clarified that indeed this was major surgery. That it was going to hurt for a while and it would be a long road back.

I woke up in an immobilizing sling. My arm clamped into one position, it was pretty unclear to me just how long I was going to be in this thing and what exactly lay ahead for rehab.  Earlier, a nice fellow had come by with my prescribed “cold machine.” A unit complete with 6 feet of tubes that pumped constant cold water into a pack that was part of the immobilization rig. Deeee-lightful. I looked like a defective astronaut that they picked for a suicide mission.

My 3 day stay on the couch. Thank you fat Chargers fans, or I would have had no wardrobe.

My 3 day stay on the couch. Thank you fat Chargers fans, or I would have had no wardrobe.

The first few days were really bad. Very painful, lots of painkillers and pretty much propped up on the couch hooked up to my machine, wearing cut up XXXL San Diego Chargers tee shirts and watching football.  Now I like football, but after watching 4 games in a row on Sunday, it was getting boring.

Well, it’s a week later, after a post op visit to remove the surgical wraps, getting some exercises to start my rehab, I’m feeling a lot better. I’m out of the rig and into a sling. I can sort of use my right arm again and I had my first pain free night last night.  So, after shaking off the cobwebs, I can gather my thoughts again and let you know what I’ve learned. As always, as in life, so it is in business.

1. Have great people around you. Without Adrienne taking care of me through this, I’d be dead.  I didn’t have to look around for help, ever. She was always right there anticipating what I needed and pushing me to get better. She’s the best nurse, and dead sexy.

2. Do your research.  My doctor is great, he’s the orthopedic surgeon for the LA Kings and the Olympic Volleyball Team. He’s great at fixing you. He also works with pro athletes that know when they get hurt and need surgery, it’s going to be a big deal. What I realize now is that it was my responsibility to know just what was coming, not his to spoon feed me.  The internet was right there, I could have Googled “just how bad is this going to be?”

3. Do the work. The past few days, I have really pushed myself. Making sure I did my rehab without fail or excuses.  I have over done it a few times and gotten wiped out. But, I’ve found the right pace now and and am getting steadily better.

4. Be thankful for the experience and grow from it.  I don’t take as good care of myself as I could. While this injury wasn’t necessarily connected to not taking care of myself, if I exercised much more regularly and watched my diet better than I do, perhaps I would have been more in tune with my body and felt this coming much earlier.  Maybe even avoiding surgery all together.

getting better

getting better

Well that what I got right now.  A new year starts and though a bit gimpy, I’m fresh off a great life lesson and ready to start anew.

F#@$ The Status Quo

Steve-Jobs-Apple“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Apple Inc.

I love good advertising copy, and this is about the best there has ever been, with the possible exception of “That’s a some spicy spicy meat-a-ball.”  Apple built a whole brand on taking the assumptions of design, product lines and marketing and throwing it all out the window.  I don’t believe for a minute they were certain any of their ideas would work. But, they were certain that doing things everyone else’s way would be boring and unfulfilling. So, they were willing to take risks, and as they say: with great risk comes great reward.

More than this, they were unwilling to sit on their laurels.  They kept moving forward. For them, the status quo doesn’t exist. They continually stay out in front, finding new areas to compete in and developing products that people want.  What’s interesting is that the products are not even necessarily the best products out there, as other companies catch up and eclipse them. But, with a culture of constantly moving forward, of bucking the status quo, they are looking to eclipse themselves as a daily practice and many of us are willing to go along for that ride.

As I was contemplating this today, I received an email from Linked In asking if I wanted to follow Ari Emanuel, CEO of William Morris Endeavor. I found his philosophical statement so compelling I signed right up.  There was so much I wanted to say on this subject, but found that Ari just summed it all up.

timthumbFrom Ari Emanuel’s Linked In profile:

“Next” doesn’t sound like a motto to live by. It doesn’t make for an epic battle cry or moving political campaign slogan. But it was – and still is – an Emanuel family mantra that my father used every day when I was growing up. Sitting around the kitchen table after school, my brothers and I would spin our day’s success stories. Our father’s response? “Nu” (Hebrew for next).

So why am I telling you this?  Who gives a shit what my father said?  I’m sharing this with you because it’s a philosophy that has carried me from the family dinner table to where I am today.  While I acknowledge that you can learn a great deal from historical precedents, I think we all spend too much time and energy looking backward.  The successes or failures of your past don’t define you.  It’s the ability to turn the page to the next, better chapter.

Take my career as an example.  If I had paid attention to my “career indicators” – bad grades, dyslexia, ADD, non-Ivy League school (I could go on, but my parents would prefer I didn’t) – who knows where I would be.  Certainly not here, sharing my opinion on life.

And when a few of my colleagues and I decided to leave one of Hollywood’s most established talent agencies to start our own, above a burger restaurant, there were plenty of reasons (families, mortgages, expense accounts) to stay put.  But we weren’t satisfied.  We could see that the business was changing.  We knew that in order for our clients to play in this new landscape, we had to form an agency that fit our vision of the future. Even when Endeavor became a formidable competitor to the Big 4 talent agencies, my father’s voice once again rang in my ears.

What was going to be the next great leap forward for our clients and our company?  The answer was merging our startup with a 100+ year-old institution, a risk that many warned against, citing countless failed mergers.  Again, it was that same question: “What’s next?” It forced me to keep moving forward, and now WME is just getting started.

My point is, if you’re looking for an excuse to fail, you will always find one. Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem celebrating the wins.  They instill the confidence that propels us forward.  Just don’t trip on your victory lap.

To some, “next” may come off as a dismissal. To me, it’s the catalyst for endless possibilities.  As an agent, my job is not done when the deal is closed. It’s about constantly watching  the road ahead.

OK you’ve heard enough from me…..next.

– Ari Emanuel

That’s a pretty awesome statement. One can argue that perhaps Ari’s next with the William Morris merger actually propelled Endeavor backwards and made just made them into another iteration of the big 4.  But, that would be missing the point.  Wherever the “Next” took Ari, it took him in a direction that will spawn another “Next” and another and another….  Some will go forward, some backward.  But to have the opportunity to move forward, you have to risk going backwards sometimes.  To do nothing, to stay put is just maintaining a status quo.

What’s your status quo? How can you shake it? Can you gird your loins and take a step forward with the risk of taking two steps back?  If you can’t, maybe it’s time to ask yourself what you’re afraid of. And, if you’re afraid you’re not alone. Being afraid doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart. But, move anyway….. and move now.