The Reason to Love Rejection

Today I will share with you some of my most useful career experience. Believe it or not, it comes from rejection, and lots of it. Who likes rejection? I’ll tell ya who – I do! Well, maybe not ‘like” it, but certainly I can appreciate it.

I knew I wanted to be in show business (singing, acting, walking the red carpet) ever since I was 4 years old. At the beginning it was easy. I got the lead in all of the school plays (Red Riding Hood, Peter Pan, solo for the class song on the radio) and grew up in a house where my dad was a comic. I was fully supported and when I wanted to go to North Carolina School of the Arts for high school, I got in on the first try.

During the summer when I was 16, I auditioned for and got my very first paying acting/singing job in a show called Hooray for Hollywood at a NC based theme park – Carowinds.  So where’s the rejection you ask? Everything that happened directly after that. And I am thankful!

After school and then some college I began going on hundreds of auditions. Yes, HUNDREDS. I auditioned for everything, appropriate or not for my type or level of skill, and because of that, of course, didn’t get MOST of the things I auditioned for. Big theater companies rejected me, little jingle companies rejected me because I couldn’t read music well enough, print agents said I was too “big” (I’ve lost over a hundred pounds since then but that’s another story!) and forget TV. Most of the auditions I did get for TV were basically open calls or generals (which they don’t even do anymore) before they also rejected me.

It was mainly because I had very little experience. The economy was recovering then too – the recession of the 80’s, the gas crisis, hey, everything old is new again, right? And I kept thinking my career would be different if someone would just give me a break. How can I get the experience if someone doesn’t give me a break?

The reason this period of time was so useful is that it helped me develop a really thick skin. I came to realize that casting directors weren’t really rejecting me as a person or on my potential (heck I was and still am an AWESOME singer) – they were rejecting my resume; my product. As it became depersonalized, it became easier. I eventually landed a gig with a big band, then my first musical, and shortly after that a gig as an “in house” jingle singer in Houston, TX. From there I did more musicals, cruise ships as a headliner, print work, soaps, commercials, some indie film and 35 years later I look back and see that I have a very nice history doing what I love and getting paid. But it took TIME and lots of rejection.

One of the great things about auditioning over and over again is that your “payoff” of getting the gig is almost always a function of a series of “best of all attempts”, not the average. Now that my focus has turned to helping other actors gain representation, I  get rejected by many more people several times at a day.  And that’s OK because I always remember that at the end of a long string of “nos” there is bound to be a yes!

Reaching this level of appreciation takes time AND getting rejected a lot!  So if you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, get your butt out there!   Never give up and keep on keepin’ on! 

I’d love some stories of rejection.  Yes, it may be painful or it could be cathartic.  This includes auditions, agent interviews or even at networking events.  Maybe social media comes in to play?  Please share!

10 Habits to Turn your Dreams into your Reality

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Over my 40 year professional career as an actor and my last 20+ years as a coach/mentor/business owner of two companies that serve actors, I’ve had the privilege and the heartbreak of watching others go after their dreams. One set of actors seem to just know what to do or are constantly educating themselves to figure it out, while the other set seems to struggle, question, stay stuck and wonder “why not me”?

I honestly think it comes down to one, and only one distinction in a human being – their habits. For a habit is a thing you do over and over again without thinking. This automaticity can make or break your career, life and ultimately your happiness day to day.

The good news is you can always create new, productive and supportive habits. Here are some habits of actors who are turning their dreams into realities:

1. They see challenges as opportunities

Most actors interpret fears as obstacles and tend to run away from them. People who live their purpose successfully have developed the capacity to see fear as a sign of what they really need to go for, and put all their courage and energy into it. To ACT Outside the Box, if you will!

2. They see their career and also their life as a game.

Having this vision opens up space for playfulness and creativity instead of limitation. It also cultivates those qualities of resilience, problem solving and confidence that helps actors take risks not only on the stage but in their business to get to the next big place.

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3. Living the life they want is the only option.

They’re so committed to making their dreams a reality that they banish any possibility of quitting whatsoever from their mind. They don’t think things like, “If it doesn’t work in 3 years, I’ll just go become a CPA.” Of course, I’m a great believer in having multiple steams of residual income from many sources, but that’s not quitting, that’s being a smart actorpreneur.

4. They always speak their truth.

They are able to speak it everywhere in their lives because they make a conscious effort to connect to their truest desires, their inner voice, and their spirituality without fear of judgment. This is HUGE in an industry where we are constantly judged. This connection to self is often fostered through meditation, journaling, being mentored and being surrounded by like minded-people. Just ask any successful actor you know and they’ll tell you they have a foundation of practices around their spirit and guidance from sources greater than themselves.

5. They aren’t just dreamers: they ACT on their desires.

There’s that word again. ACT is for action, not acting. Starting to get it? Instead of getting stuck in their hopes, wishes and dreams, they snap right into action, no matter what it takes. Whether it’s turning down a job that a gut check tells them to, getting out of a situation that holds them back, investing in themselves financially when called to, or moving to a new location across the country for other opportunities, they have the courage to do it. They do this by listening to, and then acting on, their intuition.

6. They expect and know that they deserve the best.

Actors who expect that what they want is going to happen as if it were an inner-knowing is THE SECRET. You’ve heard of that, right? They expect and feel they deserve to earn well, do what they love, serve others using their gifts. THE SECRET is that they still expect the best even when they don’t have all the answers as to how it’s going to happen.

change7. They have no fear or guilt when asking for what they want.

Because they’re so connected to their passions, they aren’t afraid to ask for what they want. In fact, they understand that their success depends on others, so asking for what they want is part of the deal. They set their boundaries and express their needs without fear, guilt or shame. Best of all, this is a trait that earns them respect from others.

8. They create their own rules.

They create their own rules instead of fitting into path set for them before. As in “they say you can’t do this and you have to do that to make it in this biz”. They make decisions from a place of what they want to have instead of what they think they can have or limiters heard from others. This gives them the freedom to design their destiny.

9. They’ve learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

One of their favorite places to be is wherever they are uncomfortable. They don’t get stuck in having all the answers, making things perfect or trying to gain comfort by controlling everything. Instead, they’re aware that they’re not going to see the next step until they make the decision to move forward despite the discomfort.

10. They have teachers, mentors and role models.The Gold Standard: Mentoring and Support Membership

Having teachers increases their awareness. They clearly understand that each time they’re getting ready to pursue their dreams all their limitations are going to come up to the surface so that they can let go of them. Having role models and mentors helps them quickly identify where they’re stuck so that they can immediately change their results.

If it’s time to follow your dreams in an entirely new way, I recommend adopting some of these habits. If you’re looking for someone’s assistance, you’re here!

(Inspiration for much of this post comes from an article I read on broccolicity.com)

In Defense of Your Agent

Conventional wisdom suggests that you need an agent and/or manager to make your acting dreams come true. They sign you, introduce you to casting directors who introduce you to the decision-makers and the result is champagne and red carpets. Well, conventional wisdom is all kinds of wrong. Agents are human beings with human limitations who require some understanding. Whether you’re looking for an agent and manger, or looking to better manage the ones you have, here are five things to know about your representative:

1. Your agent (and from here on we also mean manger) is in business. So, you’re an artist who’s in it for the art. Fine. But Bill Shakespeare and every other artist before and since has had to balance art with finance. Each informs the other and each is necessary. Your agent is no different. Vilifying her because she’s trying to make money and put her kids through private school gets you nowhere. It doesn’t make you more of an artist or get you closer to working with great artists. You need to accept the fact that your agent is trying to make money. And if you’re not a commodity she can sell, it’s not personal; It’s business. Your job is to make yourself easy to sell; to be the actor who has the undeniable force of a flourishing artist. Once that happens you will become that “got-to-have” commodity.

2. Your agent is not here to save you. Actors can suffer from Knight-In-Shining-Armor Syndrome. The notion is it that it’s the agent’s job to dust you off, polish you to a brilliant shine, and escort you to the promise land. The belieA Knight In Shining Armorf is that the agent does all the work. Inherent in this thinking is that there’s someone or something outside of yourself that has the power to make all your dreams come true with little effort or output from you, and once you find that person, you’ll be rich and famous. This is insanity. These days getting an agent doesn’t mean you’ll ever have an audition and it certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t have to do most of the work in the relationship. Spending one minute of your time waiting for your agent to call is time wasted. You have to be in classes, write/shoot/produce/direct your own material, put up a play and put yourself out there. These days you have to work harder than your agent. Training in class consistently, creating your own material constantly, and doing whatever you can to engage with other artists constantly is essential to your craft and your career. You have to give your agent the tools to sell you. Relying upon anyone other than yourself is career suicide. Giving up your artistic and professional responsibility to an agent is a grave error that too many actors make. Do the work and make your agent catch up with you.

3. Your ageAri-Gold-ari-gold-1848533-300-400nt is cheating on you and that’s OK. Yes, your agent has other clients. Deal with it. Your agent would go hungry if he only had you as a client. He has to widen the swath in order to give himself the best shot at making a living. Moreover, part of the charm for him is that he has a dynamic group of unique actors with unique needs and talents who allow him to explore different parts of the industry. So when your phone call isn’t returned right away, know that there are 20 other actors who are also demanding feedback. Checking your phone every 10 minutes is like waiting for the guy you went on a date with last week to call. It never pans out. Rather than stew about it, talk yourself into a paranoid delusion and wallow in the slimy ooze of desperation, go write a scene and shoot it. Go to class. Address your artistry.

4. Your agent doesn’t speak your language. Chances are your agent isn’t in a weekly acting class. No, she spends her evenings trolling the computer till midnight, hounding casting directors, trying to get you in the room. While many agents have great instincts about actors, they may not speak a language that suggests that they understand your process. So, don’t expect them to. When they offer a note about performance that might seem insensitive, don’t take it personally. Translate it into language that helps you grow as an artist. And if it’s not helpful, chalk it up to a subjective opinion. Also keep in mind that agents spend 10 hours a day on the phone trying to turn a “no” into a “yes”. They’re doing and saying anything they can to get you in the room. When you call to talk to them in the middle of all that, don’t expect them be able to pull down the walls and relate to you like the vulnerable artist that you are.

5. Your agent has feelings too. Remember how crushed you were when you tested for that pilot, were the Network’s first choice, but lost the part to that name actor at the last minute? So crushed. Well your agent was crushed, too. And that was the fourth time that same thing happened to one of his clients that pilot season. He talked each of his other clients off the ledge, just like he did for you, while at the same time closing deals for his clients who did book pilots, and selling his development level clients to Studios who were inundated with pitches. He’s holding it together, but he’s ready to crack. Cut him some slack and know that he’s probably doing his best.

Your agent is a person. She has emotional and financial needs that inform how she conducts herself. She believes in you but she’s not responsible for your happiness or your success. Her greatest thrill is when you book a job. Her greatest disappointment is when you don’t. But believing that she lives to make your dreams come true shirks your responsibility to work tirelessly on your craft and, what’s worse, gives up your power. Choose to believe that it’s all got to come from you – the work, the marketing, the mindset. It’s when you stop chasing your agent (any agent) and take control of your work and your career, that the agent starts chasing you.

***OK, so I WISH had written this post myself, but I did not…although everything here is EXACTLY what I would say to you if I had.  Acknowledgement goes out to a West Coast actor, coach and business consultant Steve Braun and I repeat it here for you because its important that you GET this!  Check out Steve’s site and subscribe to his blog and also give me your thoughts and comments about “art vs. business” and agents and how you operate around them.  Would love to hear from you!  Lisa

Prescription for Inspiration

Are you feeling fortunate? As creative and performing artists, the phrase “fame and fortune” is used a lot. We all know that the fame is about acknowledgment. But what about the fortune part? Is it really only about money? I don’t think so. Fortune and being fortunate, expresses itself in our daily lives in so many different ways.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more fortunate than the million or so people who won’t survive the week. If you have never experienced the danger of war, the loneliness of prison, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are more fortunate than 20 million people around the world. If you attend a religious meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more fortunate than almost three billion people in the world.

If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If your parents are still married and alive, you are very, very rare, especially in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are fortunate because the majority of people can, but most do not. If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder, you are fortunate because you really know what compassion is.

If you can read this message, you are more fortunate than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.

You are so fortunate in ways you never even realize and NONE of it has to do with getting an agent, an acting gig, or the like.

Take a look at just how fortunate you are right now.  Write a list of at least 10 “fortunes” you have. Write the list on a piece of paper small enough to carry with you in your wallet or purse at ALL TIMES. When you find yourself feeling down about missing that audition or having any other “poor me” thoughts, just take out that piece of paper and remind yourself of your riches!

Check out this quote from one of my favorite gurus –

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Oprah Winfrey

How to Not Stay Broke All the Time (Part 2)

In the continuation of my last post on The 10 Commandments of Personal Finance for Actors, here again is the vital yet not discussed very much subject of money in our business. Every actor wants money, but you’re not in it for the money.  Hummm. The pure love of art and the craft of acting is the very reason most actors are starving artists forever…never attaining many of their dreams.

With a little bit of focus and some attention paid, (double meaning there…PAID, get it?) you’ll start to see some shifts that will make way for a financial breakthrough as well as make it easier for you to create art.  Here are the last 5 of the 10 Commandments:

5. Thou Shalt Set Financial Goals

In order to reach your financial goals, you need to know what those goals are. Nobody can determine these goals except for you. You need to take the time to figure out exactly what your financial goals are so that you can take the needed steps to reach them.

One of the first steps I recommend is to find out current actor pay rates.  I find that when I work with my coaching clients and we begin setting financial goals, they’ll come up with an arbitrary number they’d love to make in a year.  Often that goal is sooooo unrealistically reachable simply because they don’t know what stuff actually pays.  I won’t go into all of that here, but knowledge is power and starting with achievable goals and attaining them creates enthusiasm and momentum to reach higher.

If you don’t know specifically what your financial goals are for this year, next year and 10 years from now, take the steps needed to create them.  Choose target dates and a plan for reaching those goals by that time.  Review your plan every quarter.  Progress makes perfect!

4. Thou Shalt Educate Yourself and Be Responsible for Your Decisions

I know you want to really make a great living as an actor and when you do, while it may be more convenient to hand over all your money matters to somebody else, please promise me, you will not do this. Part of being financially responsible is having the final say in all decisions about your money. That does not mean that you can’t seek out advice and get opinions on your finances, but in the end your money is your responsibility, and you are the only one who is going to truly look after your own interests.

Many years ago I got hooked on learning about investing my money without a financial planner.  I took my savings and IRA money and put it into self-directed investments.  In order to not screw it all up and lose everything I took classes with Tyrone Jackson, an actor and voiceover artist, who taught himself everything he needed to know to invest wisely and win in the stock market. He created a class for actors and artists and shared that knowledge. Now he has widened his horizons and teaches his methods to any and all who want to learn.  It’s because of this financial education that I’m confident about my future retirement and prospects for having all the money I’ll need when I’m older.

3. Thou Shalt Save and Invest

As in the two previous commandments. Take the money that you pay yourself first and either save or invest it to make it grow and work for you in the future.

If you are carrying credit card debt, invest your money by paying it down/off first.  But also make sure to take full advantage of the saving and investing opportunities that are available to you now that you may not be.  If your flexible day joy company matches contributions to a 401k, contribute up to the match maximizing the potential savings.  No matter what your work status, opening a Roth IRA and making regular contributions, no matter how small, will create the habit of saving. Having an emergency fund is also essential.  And no, heading out of town for a last minute weekend adventure is not an emergency!

2. Thou Shalt Protect Your Finances

This is more than making sure your purse is closed or your wallet is in the front pocket when walking through Times Square.  At some point in your career, you will need to take the necessary steps to make sure that your money and investments are protected in case of a disaster.  This mostly means insurance and there are several different kinds.

Take the time to make sure that all your assets are properly insured, and re-evaluate this every few years or whenever a major life change occurs, such as buying a house or apartment, getting married or having children. Be sure to compare insurance rates on a regular basis, since this is a competitive business.

I know that some of this seems far down the road for some of you, however looking forward to what’s to come and what’s needed in order to maintain and protect what you’ve worked so hard to create is essential.

1. Thou Shalt Donate to Worthy Causes and Those Less Fortunate

This is my absolute, #1 favorite commandment. No matter how desperate your finances may appear, if you are reading this article there are a lot of people that are far worse off than you are in the world. It’s important to nurture a sense of giving and to be thankful for the small things that you do have. That means donating to worthy causes on a regular basis.

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Helping the homeless, donating to the Cancer Society of America, animal causes, etc. are all needing funds to make an impact. Find the causes that you believe in, and give to them generously. Don’t assume that money is the only way that you can give. Volunteering time and skills are also appreciated by most charitable organizations.

On Amazon I sell my 8 Steps to Reps pocket guide for $2.99 and donate all of the proceeds to one of my favorite charities, The Best Friends Animal Society.  They also have the largest “no kill” animal sanctuary in North America located in Kanab, UT and I’ve volunteered there as well.  What an amazing experience I’ll never forget and can’t wait to repeat!

So that’s it.  The Ten Commandments of Personal Finance for Actors.  Even if you just start with implementing 3 of them, that means you’re taking ACTion and that’s a good thing!

I always love to hear your opinions on my posts but here I’d also love to hear which one (or three!) commandments you’re committing to taking on.  It’s time to have an adult life folks…actors are fun loving creators and that childlike quality is what keeps our creativity alive.  However, the business of show requires you to get your financial act together so come on, tell me what you’re gonna do!

How to Not Stay Broke All the Time

the-ten-commandmentsThe real title of this message is:  The 10 Commandments of Personal Finance for Actors.  But that’s not very sexy.  Money in our business tends to be a taboo subject and even though every actor wants it, many work for free for the love of the art.  People in our business tend to be broke – a lot, so here’s my take on CHANGING that for yourself forever!

It starts before you have a ton of it.  Practice these commandments NOW and when you work for it and make more money acting, you’ll have the habits and discipline to make it work for you.  It’s simple, but not easy, only because you may not be in the habit of abundant thinking and ACTion.  Stay the course and you’ll begin to notice the magic happen…

10. Thou Shalt Take ACTion

Reading about how to improve your personal finances is a start, but it has absolutely no meaning if you don’t take the action of putting what you learn into motion. Before you can get anywhere with your personal finances, you need to begin — right now. If you are reading this, you already know that you should be taking steps to get your personal finances in order.

Print out these commandments and place the page where you will see it every day, so that you are reminded that money is important and a priority in your life!  Commit to taking some kind of action each and every day to try to improve your situation.

9. Thou Shalt Pay Off All Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is, in most cases, the #1 enemy to your personal finances. It can have a huge negative effect on your future as well as feel like a burden presently if your credit card bills are not under control.  Managing debt is possible even when your income is sporadic.  If at all possible pay, your credit card bills every single month to not carry a balance.  Waiting for that big future payday to take care of a big debt it is folly.

Pay off balances with the highest interest rate first.  As you eliminate the debt from the higher balance cards, put them away in a drawer and don’t use them anymore.  Continue the process with the card with the next highest rate, etc. until your debt is paid off.  Easier said than done, I know, but focusing on eliminating debt will improve your personal finance position immensely.

8. Thou Shalt Understand the Difference Between Wants and Needslatte-art-171_p25488P6

To keep your finances in perspective, you need to understand the difference between wants and needs. There is nothing inherently wrong with small luxuries, a latte here and there or an evening out with friends.  You deserve to be able to enjoy many of the nonessential things you have. But it is important to realize that wants are not needs. If you master this skill, your finances will be in much better shape.

Take some time to critically look at your true needs vs. your wants.  If you truly need that latte, I get it, but if you’re struggling to pay your rent every month and your true desire is to enter your short film in a festival with a $75 entry fee and you can’t because of your latte needs, well, this is where you’ll need to change something up.  The distinction between wants and needs will truly shift your “starving artist” conversation for good.

7. Thou Shalt Live on Less Than You Earn

When I first heard this commandment I was like “whaaaaaat? Nobody actually does that, right?”  Well truth be told, abundantly thinking and financially secure people do.  There are no two ways around this one. If you want to keep your personal finances in order, you need to live on less money than you make. That means buying stuff for your biz that you need like Actors Access, dues and membership fees and yes, those lattes, all have to cost less than you currently make.

Hate the word budget?  So do I so I have taken on a wonderful money management system I learned from T. Harv Eker of Peak Potentials, LLC that I teach in one of my seminars. It makes commandment #7 easy peasy.  It’s either that or figuring out a way to increase your income from “side jobs” so that you can spend more, but still less than you earn in total.  Either of these is perfectly fine.

The easiest way to live on less is to make a list of where your money is going each month, then look for replacements.  For example, shopping for a new cable company or switching phone plans will leave you with the same services for less. The same concept works for products.  If you purchase a couple of soft drinks each day, instead of can by can, buy a 2 liter bottle.  What the above examples have in common is that you are still getting the same items or services that you are getting today, but at a better price. This frees up money, allowing you to live the same lifestyle you have been enjoying for less.

money-stack-psd605386. Thou Shalt Pay Yourself First

I know you’ve heard this one before and have thought it was a great idea yet the majority of actors I know leave it for last.  Because of this there’s no such thing as a savings account and the paycheck to sporadic paycheck lifestyle of the starving artist perpetuates.

Before you pay any of your other bills, you should pay yourself a minimum of 10% of all money that comes your way. Money earned from a straight job, acting income, residuals, birthday money from Grandma – all of it! This money is taken off the top, FIRST and put into an account that is not part of your immediate spending.  This is your financial future!

Go to your bank and set it up so that your paycheck is automatically deposited if you have a regular job, if possible. Then set it up so that an automatic payment is immediately taken from your paycheck into a specified account that is not used for your monthly expenses.  This could be a savings account or an IRA or if you like to have your money make money while you’re sleeping, put it into the stock market after you’ve gotten an education in investing there.

If the first 5 commandments make cents to you, ahem, sense to you, then stay tuned for the next post with the TOP 5 commandments.  I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts on money.  “Money doesn’t grow on trees”; “It takes money to make money”; “Money is the root of all evil”; “A penny saved is a penny earned”.  What thoughts about money have shaped your life?  Please share in the comments section below.

3 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Dreams

It’s nice to have dreams, essential in fact, but at the end of the day they are never going to come true unless you ACT on them! (See how I did that, LOL!)

These 3 tips will help you clarify your dreams and work toward them in the most efficient way. I HIGHLY recommend the following:

1. Write Them Down: A dream written down and attached to a date becomes a goal. It sounds over-simplistic, yet that simple act is the difference between a dreamer and a doer. The statistics are staggering. People who set written goals are much more successful than those that don’t. Putting your goals where you can see them is really important.  My CEO grads can attest to this one.

2. Dream BIG Dreams: It’s funny, but the amazing thing to me is the fact that it is easier to accomplish a BIG dream than a small one. Big dreams are exciting and keep us motivated. They get us up in the morning and keep us motivated through the day. They attract other people to get involved. Little dreams are easily forgotten and often abandoned.  Like one of my great mentors, Les Brown is quoted as saying “Shoot for the moon, cause even if you miss you’ll fall among the stars.”

3. Focus on One Dream at a Time. An old Chinese proverb states that “A man who chases two rabbits, catches none.” Focus is critical to achieving our goals. Steve Jobs commented that the single thing that made Apple successful was the thousand projects they didn’t do. Focusing on one important goal at a time will help you stay on track.

I’ve been talking a lot about dreams lately…the kind we have when we are awake, but this exercise has a lot of effect on the dreams you have when you’re sleeping too and I consider this internal programming, if you will.  When you wake up in the morning going after your DAY dreams feels exciting and inspiring.

So that’s it…simple yes, easy no.  It takes practice so get to it!  Let me hear right now in the comments section what your BIG dream is.

What NOT To Do – 8 Ways to Screw Up Your Marketing

marketingCloudYou work hard at your craft, to build a reputation and contact list, generate positive reviews and word of mouth.  You’re working on your visibility and getting known for what you do. But are you undermining your own efforts?  Consider these common pitfalls of actor marketing:

1.  Your marketing is all about you.

It should focus on your talent and what you bring to the party, right? Well, no, not exactly.  It should primarily focus on what your talent and “actor services” do for the project or people who are hiring you.  The former is about “me and what I want and need” and the latter is “here’s how I can best serve the story that is being told.”  Take yourself out of your marketing and put your contacts (the people you are marketing to) at the heart of it.  In other words make THEM the “leading man/woman” in the story of your career.

2.  You market to yourself.

You can really mess things up of you make assumptions about your contacts based on the preferences and behaviors of you or your friends.  Your marketing could end up possibly offending and deterring your intended audience – out of touch with their true wants, needs and likes.  On that note…

3.  You don’t know your audience.

If you aren’t your target market, well, who is?  Invest the time and money to identify not just who your niche market is but how they behave. How do they prefer to be contacted?  Email, snail mail, social?  Where do they look for talent – what sites, networking places and showcases do they use/attend?  What influences their decision making process.  Who influences their choices?  Have a clear and full picture of the person you are trying to reach before you reach out.

4.  Your marketing is based on what you’ve heard, not learned.

Marketing in our business is like parenting:  Everyone has an opinion and believes they know how to do it effectively (especially those who don’t have children).  Even if you admit to being clueless, you are often influenced by others who also have no clue or are a know-it-all.  The best way to counter-act both is to have information (data) that backs up your plan.  Stay away from marketing classes and services that guarantee you results with no effort on your part and gain knowledge from your own research, participation and learning about your desired contacts.  Knowing who and how to reach your target market is best achieved by having insight into their mindset, not by choosing funky fonts or colored paper for your correspondence.  Which is why you have a problem if…

5.  You don’t have data.

I just said this above but it bears repeating.  Research, not opinion or gut instinct, should be the foundation of your marketing program.  That doesn’t mean art and creativity (which abounds) have no role in your plan.  Instead, think of data as giving you the necessary clarity you need to create new opportunities.  That’s a truly inspiring place to begin and will create a foundation for marketing your talent that’s fun.  Remember you’re ABCD’s – Always Be Collecting Data.

6.  You rely on example instead of analogy.

Creating your “big break” opportunity will be completely different from anyone else’s.  What has worked for one actor will not necessarily work for you. Even if you studied their story and duplicated their marketing, your path (by Universal Law) has to be different. However you don’t have to re-invent the wheel either.  Remember, the folks in our biz really don’t love “original” (unproven and risky) but they love “unique” (familiar, with a twist).  By the way I’m talking about your marketing, not your acting.  Therefore I suggest you look outside of the way most actors market themselves and to other people and organizations outside of our biz for ideas.  Be innovative.  Take something that worked “over there” and start using it “over here”. (For example, the inspiration for this post came from Entrepreneur magazine)

7.  You aren’t sharing yourself or your experiences.

In our socially connected world, between all of the technology that has forever changed the way we relate in our industry and get work, many actors are not leveraging the newest methods of marketing available.  The traditional (old fashioned) way of creating visibility and getting hired are still around, but have significantly narrowed the opportunities, while the amount of actors seeking work has increased 10-fold during the same period.  Your marketing has to include social media and enabling connections outside of the “norm”.  Are you encouraging and supporting interaction by rethinking the way you reach people?  How about building relationships before industry professionals have identified you as a possible candidate for a project?  You must have an on-line and social strategy in place so you can frequently engage folks in the industry outside of always “trying to get a job”.  Building rapport is the key to future success.  Which leads me to…

Quiet on set8.  You’re too quiet.

If someone reaches out to you on social media, do you respond, or is the message met with silence? Too busy/picky/don’t know what to say? Actors, casting directors, agents, producers, directors, et al are people first and these days most expect real-time (or near it) responses. This is a fast business with tons of options at all time and if an answer doesn’t come quickly, the likelihood of any R.O.I. (return on investment) is greatly reduced.  And after 24 hours, forget it.  If you’re not facile with social then get started because it is replacing almost every traditional method of making contact out there.

I’d love to hear about some of the ways you’ve screwed up.  Then let me know how you learned from your mistake and what the “correction” was.  SHARING your pitfalls (heck I’ve had so many you’d go blind reading about them) is the surest way to inspire others and gift them your wisdom so they can learn from your mistakes.  Please post comments in an effort to “pay it forward” to our fellow actors in the community!

To Your Success, Lisa

A Faster Way to Realize Your Dreams

Here’s a little “to do” that if you actually DO it, will help you get what you want much faster!  But of course, you have to know what it is you want for this to work.  I have found in my coaching sessions that not distinguishing what EXACTLY my client wants is the biggest obstacle to a successful acting career that dreams are made of.  “I just want to make my living as an actor” is not a goal…at least one that can have a strategic plan with actions that will bring you that manifestation.  

So what do YOU want?

WRITE down your big dream, short term desire (a 90 day goal) and a supportive belief.  What do I mean by that?  Here’s an example:

Big Dream:  I have just been nominated for my first Oscar and am about to appear on a hit late night talk show.  

Short Term Desire:  I have just been cast in my first leading role for PAY in an independent film.

Supportive Belief:  Because of my strong acting skills and fabulous network, I believe my determination and natural likability will make it easy for me to get cast in the kind of projects that I want to act in.

Give yourself the gift of this 15 minute exercise and I can absolutely guarantee a HUGE difference will be seen in 90 days. Why, because what you FOCUS on expands.  Attention to your dreams and goals (a dream with a deadline) is what speeds up any process!

Why 90 days?  Because some scientist or genius figured out that anything done for this amount of time eventually becomes habitual.  And creating the habit of focusing on exactly what you want will have it come to you faster.

For more assistance I’ve put together the 90 Kick Butt Kick Start Program workbook for you if you’re feeling like this would be helpful to you. Give it a try!

Also, I’d love to hear about some of your big dreams and short term desires in the comments below!

14 Ways to Get INSANELY Motivated!

No matter the season, the weather, or even what the day of the week it is, we can always use a little motivation to lift our spirits.  I thought it appropriate to give some ways that I guarantee will make you immediately feel more successful (what ever that means to you!) for today and beyond.

Here are 14 quick strategies to get and keep yourself insanely motivated:

1. Condition your mind. Train yourself to think positive thoughts while avoiding negative thoughts.

2. Condition your body. It takes physical energy to take action.  Get your food and exercise plan in place and follow it just like your business plan.  I just started back at the gym again, yay!

3. Avoid negative people. They drain your energy and waste your time, so hanging with them is like shooting yourself in the foot…or worse. Learn and practice the word NO!

4. Seek out the similarly motivated. This is why the Act Outside the Box community exists.  The positive energy of like-minded, pro-active actors will rub off on you and you can model their success strategies.

5. Have big goals–but remain flexible. No actor biz plan should be cast in concrete, lest it become more important than achieving the goal.  Know that every plan will alter.

6. Act with a higher purpose.  I love this one.  Any activity or action that doesn’t serve your higher goal is wasted effort–and should be avoided at all costs.  Really “check in” with your gut…it never lies.

7. Take responsibility for your own results. If you blame (or credit) luck, fate or divine intervention, you’ll always have an excuse.

8. Stretch past your limits on a daily basis. Walking the old, familiar paths is how you grow old. Stretching makes you grow and evolve.  I do something called “never dones”.  Basically I take on, at least once a week, something I’ve never done before.  It’s VERY exciting.

9. Don’t wait for perfection; do it now! Perfectionists are the losers in the game of life.  I know this because I’m a recovering perfectionist!  Strive for excellence instead.

10. Celebrate your failures. Your most important lessons in life will come from what you don’t achieve. Take time to understand where you fell short, then correct and continue.

11. Don’t make success your highest priority…make it happiness. Success is a feeling, not a thing or a circumstance.  It is a place to come from, not to get to.  Laugh and enjoy every moment of the inspired actions you’re taking toward your goals.  If you can achieve that during the process, you ARE successful.

12. Avoid weak goals.  Goals are the soul of achievement, so never begin them with “I’ll try …”  Always start with “I will” or “I can.”  Big dreams with short term attainable goals are the way to go.  Remember, if you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll still fall amongst the stars! (quote by Les Brown)

13. Treat inaction as the only real failure.  If you don’t take action, you fail by default and can’t even learn from the experience.  ACT Outside the Box.

14. Think before you speak.  This should actually have been #1…but it’s a GREAT thing to leave you with.  Keep silent rather than express something that doesn’t serve your purpose.

The above is based on a conversation with Omar Periu, one of the world’s best (and best known) motivational speakers.

And what is one of YOUR ways to get and stay motivated?  Please share with your fellow acting community by commenting.  Thanks!