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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.

donation

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 my website I sell my recommended agencies list 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

Your Success is in your Thinking

Positive-ThinkingWe live in a big universe full of possibilities, especially for creative people like you. If you stop to think about how vast this reality really is, you might go a little nuts … or maybe become fully enlightened, depending on the day of the week!

Figuring out how we rein all of this in to something tangible in our creative career can easily lead to complicated over thinking. I like to call this analysis paralysis. One of the only things you really need to know though, is that you’re not separate from anything or anyone out there.  Everything is connected, including you and me.

The Law of Attraction is real and I’m a big believer of it and if you’re reading this, I think you are too. It’s why you’re on my email list or website so I’m going to be talking a lot more about it from here on out.

It’s our thinking and subsequent actions that determine what comes into our lives, good and bad, and what sometimes seems bad at the start (I like to call this uncomfortable) could actually be good for us ultimately. This is growth and development, expansion and ACTing Outside the Box! (see how I did that, LOL?)

It’s all good, except for one little part: the condition that says “First I have to DO this or that.” That’s called waiting for life to occur. That’s called means-to-an-end thinking. “First I have to DO this, then I can have that.”
It really doesn’t work that way my friends. When you put conditions on what can come into your life and career, your mind will never let you feel like you’re doing enough. You don’t feel like you’re enough already, so that’s exactly what you’re going to get: not enough. Starving artist is based on this precept. NOT ENOUGH.

“When I’m better, then I can attract the right agent. The person I am right now is not enough.” Or “if I had done is Not Enoughthat way in the audition instead, I could have gotten the job.” Guess what, that’s a habitual mindset. That’s a mind pattern that will never leave you.

No matter where you go or who you’re with or how you do things, your mind will always tell you, “You’re not ready. You’re not enough. If I just have six more months of working on myself, my craft or when I get an audition with that casting director, then (fill in the blank here.)

“Can you imagine the kind of career I could have if I enroll in that MFA program?” “I’ll be unstoppable once I get an agent!” “Once I finish my summer program at this acting studio, then I’ll be ready to rock it.”

Here’s a fact: Life is now. Life is not, “When I’m perfect, that’s when I can have the right career.”

Stop waiting. Be open right now for the universe to unfold in front of you. Be open for the right situation to come your way. Just go with the flow.

Your success is in your thinking.

There’s a hidden payoff in sabotaging yourself like this: not succeeding at something. What a great excuse you’ve given yourself. What a great reason for not being able to have the career of your dreams.

In fact, it’s the GOLD medal of reasons, pun intended! It keeps you stuck even though that reason is painful because deep down inside you know you’re ready for the success you’re looking for.

Success is in your thinking.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t continue striving to be better because that’s the juice of life, right? But for goodness sake don’t beat yourself up for every little flaw, or even the big ones for that matter!

Let go of all that. You don’t need to completely structure every second of how this is going to work for you. Be open. Smile and relax. Chill out.

Lisa pointing and looking rightYou’re the right person, right now. You’re good enough as you are. Can you improve? Of course. We can always improve. Once you really get this, you’ll understand forward progress without making your happiness depend upon it. I love to learn and I love to teach because there’s always something more out there to add to your already AWESOMENESS!

The most important thing you can learn is that dwelling on the “if I” and “when I” and “it would be better if” or “if I had that, then I would” takes you out of the present moment.
Thinking about the perfect future is what stops you from having the perfect present. It’s the only thing that stops you.

To your success, Lisa (remember, it’s in your thinking!)

Becoming a Star Over 40? Possible? YES it is.

No one is born a star.  In our youth obsessed culture and marketplace, it’s nice to find out many of today’s iconic stars and household names got a late start. For some celebrities, it takes years of hard work, small roles, and persistence to make it in show business.  Read on and gain inspiration especially if you are also 40+.

Jane Lynch had many minor roles before hitting it big at 49.Janelynch

Jane Lynch, 53, had been in Hollywood for decades taking small roles on TV and in films like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Role Models,” but it wasn’t until a role on a Fox show that she hit the big time. In 2009, Lynch joined the cast of “Glee” as the gym teacher everyone loves to hate, Sue Sylvester. This role helped Lynch become famous while also winning her an Emmy at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmys. The next year, she went on to host the awards for her first time.

Samuel L. Jackson’s first big role was in “Pulp Fiction” at the age 45.

Samuel L. Jackson has starred in hit movies such as “A Time To Kill” and “Snakes on a Plane.” For most of his career, however, he played minor roles in films like “Coming to America” and “Do The Right Thing.” Then, in 1994, Jackson landed the part of Jules Winnfield in a small independent film titled, “Pulp Fiction” (a role which director Quentin Tarantino wrote specifically with Jackson in mind). Jackson’s role in the film became almost immediately iconic, which led to Jackson starring in other popular films like “The Avengers,” and the “Star Wars” prequels giving him one of the coolest careers in Hollywood.

kathryn-joosten-6Kathryn Joosten was a nurse and didn’t get her big break until she was 60.

Joosten was a mother and psychiatric nurse for years, but after hearing her mother confess on her deathbed that she “regretted not having pursued her dreams,” Joosten signed up for acting classes at age 42 in order to pursue her own. After more than a decade, she eventually landed the role of lovable secretary Mrs. Landingham on “The West Wing” at age 60. Joosten went on to win an Emmy for “Desperate Housewives” before her death in 2012. No regrets, to be sure.  I also LOVE the fact that Kathryn acknowledged participation in one-night seminars/cd workshops as part of the reason she got her “break” as an actor.

Regis Philbin wasn’t a household name until he was 57.

Regis Philbin started out as an NBC page and worked on “The Joey Bishop Show,” but he was never widely known. That changed in 1988 when the morning show Philbin was working on became the nationally syndicated “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.” After almost 20 years of working on TV, Philbin’s chemistry with Kathie Lee made the show a success and gave him national exposure. At 57, it was the first time the name Regis was in the nation’s vocabulary. He’s been a part of pop culture ever since, most notably for hosting the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”

Ken Jeong was known as Dr. Ken Jeong until he was 40.KenJong

The man who would go on to become Mr. Chow in the “The Hangover” series could have been known as Dr. Chow. Comedian Ken Jeong spent nearly 20 years trying to break into the business doing stand-up while also practicing medicine as a physician.

Lucille Ball starred in “I Love Lucy” at the age of 40.

Lucille Ball was a pioneer for both female leads and for comedy after creating one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, “I Love Lucy” in 1951. However, she didn’t become Lucy Ricardo until she was 40. Before “I Love Lucy,” Ball went from role to role in films. However, once television became a prominent medium she (along with her husband and co-star Desi Arnaz) tried to sell her vaudeville act to networks. That act became the prototype for “I Love Lucy.””I Love Lucy” was a huge success, and would go on to help create the modern sitcom (the show was one of the first sitcoms in history to use the three-camera filming format which is standard in sitcoms today) while also making Ball a star.

OK, these other “youngsters” were in their 30s but thought you’d like to know…

Gene Hackman’s legendary career began at age 37.

Before a role in 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” Hackman worked odd jobs like field radio operator in the Marine Corps. Once discharged in 1951, he moved to New York to follow a career in radio, but then won some roles on Broadway. After his big break, Hackman went on to win two Academy Awards.

Jon Hamm almost gave up acting at age 36.

Jon Hamm, 42, spent years starring in minor roles while trying to become an A-list actor. According to his longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt, he almost gave it all up. “He would just say, ‘I’m going to hang it up, it’s not going to work out,'” Westfeldt told The Huffington Post. However, Hamm landed the “Mad Men” role in 2007 even though he felt he was at “the bottom of the list” and created one of the most interesting characters in the history of television.

Harrison Ford was a full-time carpenter until 35.

For the first half of his life, Harrison Ford was a carpenter. It wasn’t until director George Lucas saw Ford doing some wood-working at a studio while having auditions for a space film he was shooting called “Star Wars” that things changed. According to Lucas, he knew Ford from working with him on a small role in his previous film, “American Graffiti” and asked Ford to read scenes in the role of Han Solo. The rest became history in a galaxy far, far away.

oscars_ang_lee Ang Lee was a stay-at-home dad before becoming a director at 38.

Before Ang Lee won awards for directing he could have won “World’s Greatest Dad” for his role as a stay-at-home dad. After graduating from NYU film school with a Master of Fine Arts in Film Production, Lee stayed home “cooking, picking up [the] kids from school, and doing housework” while his wife, a molecular biologist, went to work. Lee nearly became a computer engineer after years of not being able to get into movie-making. With support from his wife to keep at it, Lee directed his first movie “Pushing Hands” at 38.  This began an amazing career with Lee winning the Best Director Academy Award for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi.”

So dear actor, do you have what it takes not only talent-wise, but perseverance-wise to hang in there for however long it takes? I’d love to hear your comments if you’re in the 40+ category of actors still pursuing this career and waiting for YOUR big break!

Sections of this post were drawn from an article posted in Business Insider written by Frank Palotta

Tony Scott – Life and Death in Showbiz

I have had my own success as an actor and entrepreneur in the world of entertainment, but certainly not on the level of Tony Scott.  If I had the deals with TV networks and was a part of such iconic films as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop and the recent Unstoppable just to name a few, I’d be flying high…one would think based on all outward appearances Tony had it all and was enjoying it, right?  Most actors and others involved in our biz would kill for his position and lifestyle.

Tony Scott, died yesterday after jumping off a bridge in what authorities are calling an apparent suicide. He was 68. Wow, unbelievable.

Apparently being rich, famous and talented was not enough.  Apparently, the deep void he felt that had him jump from a bridge to end whatever suffering he felt, was much larger than his “success”. It’s important to say here that, in my humble opinion, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.  Where can one access the path to a happy, joyous and beautiful life/career experience then?  It ALL starts with they way you think and the resulting actions you take.

I once had an opportunity about 15 years ago to become Tony’s personal assistant.  I was at a crossroads in my career, before I bought Actors Connection, and was looking for something that would facilitate what I considered satisfaction and advancement in my life and career.  I didn’t get the job (obviously) and went on my merry way, carving out a path that has been an awesome roller coaster ride with twists, turns and learning opportunities.  But I always wondered what it would have been like to work for him.  How did he create such a vast empire, contributing his many skills and talents to millions?  I make it a point to model successful people and learn whatever I can from them.

His tragic and unexpected death (alleged as I write this, but investigators have found a suicide note) brings me back to what I call my mission these days in the area of providing information and services to actors.  I have this thirst and huge desire to make an impact on the acting community through my programs and coaching.  Why?

Through my own education and experience I ‘ve come to learn that pursuit of outward success (money, fame, fortune, recognition, an Oscar/Tony/Emmy – fill in the blank) is NOT what gets you anywhere unless the journey you are on ALSO includes the “thinking” that keeps your head and heart in alignment.  After all, what good is having all that stuff if you’re suffering along the way, and may be suffering even if you get everything you say you want.

It’s not a cliche, it’s very true indeed, that the journey is by far more satisfying than reaching the destination.  Once you get to where you’re going,  you’ll want to find the next place to go.  Once you get what you want, you’ll want something new.  It’s the design of human beings.

This year I began creating more programs around the “context” of having an acting career instead of just the content of what to do.  Think and Grow Rich Acting and my new APP program are just the beginning.  I feel a pull to bring more awareness and enlightenment to a community that suffers more rejection and scarcity than almost any other…and that can be tough.  Tony’s suicide brings a big lesson to those that will learn from it:  Acting and show business are PART of our lives, NOT our entire lives.

Personally, I feel  my ONLY JOB in life is to be happy, whatever that looks like.  I could honestly give up everything I’m doing right now and do something completely different…as long as I was happy doing it.  But don’t worry, I’m completely happy so I’m not goin’ anywhere!  So I offer this question to you… Are you happy?  If you are, then there’s your reason to keep doing what you’re doing.  If you’re not, then you may want to look at earning a living doing something you truly love.  Try something else.  What?  Anything…but find your passion and purpose, then go for it!

Weird I’m advising actors to possibly stop acting, right?  Probably not good for my business.  But truly, I want you to be happy FIRST and FOREMOST, whether you get that acting gig or not, have that agent or not, or become a rich and famous actor or not.

My vast sympathy and condolences go out to Tony’s wife and 12 year old twins, and to the audiences that will miss his great artistry.  Tony, I trust you are at peace now.

To YOUR success and happiness, however you may define it.  Lisa

Are You Committed? Hesitation is a Career Killer.

I first read this quote on “Commitment” when it was given to me in a seminar over 30 years ago!  It got my attention and has been something I live from every day…when I’m faced with even the smallest choice or decision.

In our acting community, I find indecision one of the reasons we don’t have what we say we want in our careers.  Why “choose” when it seems better to leave so many options open?

  • Indecision brings delays – and you want it FAST, don’t you?
  • Regrets usually come from what you DIDN’T do, not what you did do.
  • When you are busy deciding, someone else already did, and now has an opportunity that you do not.

Much of what is taught at Act Outside the Box is around taking action and choosing.  I see a lot of actors doing just the opposite, thinking that if they leave the doors open, someone will invite them through and show them the proper or best pathway.  It really just doesn’t work that way.

Read this quote by Goethe and see if it resonates with you like it did with me.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

I invite you to take action and make a commitment to yourself and your career RIGHT NOW in any area that you’ve been thinking…”hhhuuuumm, someday I’ll do that”.  Be BOLD (says GOLD!)

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

A very good place to start.  OK, so I have frequent flashbacks to a time when I was about 8 or 9 years old, riding along in the passenger side of the family car while my mom is driving.  It′s raining and I′m looking out the window with all of these wonderful thoughts, my head pressed against the window thinking to myself,  “I′m gonna be a famous writer one day and everyone will read my stuff and they′ll laugh and be inspired and really get to know me and I′ll make a difference in someone′s life”.  Then I never did it.  Hmmmmm.

Before I FINALLY got this website off the ground, my thought was that this could be a super forum to get OUT of my head and on to paper (so to speak) the many things I’ve learned from others, the things that I’ve discovered that work in my life, and most of all, to communicate to a community of souls who I’m so deeply inspired by, but at the same time deeply interested in helping because it’s needed.   So many actors are, forgive me, clueless as to how to get what they say they want and my new blogging platform-based website is going to be my conduit to communicate what it’s gonna take, at least in my opinion.

Though I′ve written some amazing papers/reports for school, my diary, letters to the editor, letters of complaint to the airlines, templates for my seminars on How to Get and Keep an Agent and others, “morning pages” ala Julia Cameron and her book The Artist’s Way, this is my first attempt at public outing of my inner thoughts.  I intend to now show the world, almost 40 years after my flashback scenario, what′s going on inside this crazy head (and heart) of mine.

I hope you’ll continue to check in from time to time, scan the different categories of subjects that will contain the musings of a person who absolutely loves her life, what she’s doing, and has had several…make that a lot of, hard knocks.  I haven’t gotten to where I am, and I’m not going to get to where I’m headed, without obstacles.  But I’ve come to find it’s not getting rid of obstacles that’s the point…it’s how you handle them that is the true measure of a person.   Lisa Gold

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