Monday, August 24, 2009

Trust, But Verify

Ronald Reagan's presidency began while I was at the University of Colorado. I majored in Economics, and I never thought his "Reaganomics" plan would work, even though I was able to triple my salary while he was President. One take away from the Reagan years for me was his famous quote "Trust, But Verify". I value that quote and heed the advice in both my personal and professional relationships.

That advice has really come in handy as I navigate the waters of the entertainment industry. Relationships are a two-way street. Maybe, I'm an idealist, but deep down I believe each person ultimately wants to have a win-win relationship with whomever they are in that relationship with. As long as we understand the purpose for the relationship, and we strive for win-win, we will be successful. If we get in our head and the ego starts controlling things, we lose the objectivity and "I" becomes more important than "them" and things go awry. If you keep the course, stay present and maintain focus on the goal, things can be beautiful. Of course, not all relationships are meant to be, but putting these things in place will give you a fighting chance.

There are many relationships in the entertainment industry. One relationship I am questioning these days is that of the professional actor and student filmmaker. As a professional actor, I enjoy appearing in student films because I see many advantages - I am acting in a fun (life's too short to do things that you don't love and aren't fun) project, meeting new people (perhaps a future Steven Spielberg or Nora Ephron in the making is directing), obtaining additional footage for my reel, the film might get noticed while on the festival circuit, and I'm working (albeit usually not paid but I'm doing what I love and I'm having fun).

Lately, there are a few film schools in town whose student filmmakers are getting bad reputations as being very disrespectful to the actors they book to work on their projects - they aren't caring for their resources. Case in point, this weekend, I was to do a student film with one of these schools. Initially, I took an objective approach. The student filmmaker contacted me to be one of the leads. After learning about the project, I was excited to film it. However, after all the miscues on the student director's part, way too many to list here, I decided enough was enough and I did not do the project. This film project provided a whole new meaning to "Murphy's Law". The moral of the story: film students - please learn to take care of the actors and treat us with respect. That means have a plan, communicate and deliver on all of your promises.

My takeaway? I'm going to continue to do student films, but I am going to be much more picky than I have been - trust, but verify.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life In The Comfort Zone

Have the good economic years caused us to be complacent and we now complain about the economy in the lean years because we now have to work harder? There is a book called "Danger In The Comfort Zone". It is about how workers believe they are entitled to work and getting rewarded without earning it. I bought the book sometime in the 90's but it is as much applicable today, maybe more, as it was back then. I spent years developing and extending brands and now I am very interested in personal brands - in fact, I have written articles lately about the concept. Today, businesses and individuals have to strive to build their brand each and everyday by proving they are trustworthy, credible and can add value. Then, you will stand out and be noticed. They really have to, like I still say, "underpromise and overdeliver". Have you noticed that during our latest recession, customer service has become worse and companies, in general, have become disrespectful of customers? Nonverbal communication can be more powerful than verbal communication. Nonresponsiveness can be interpreted as no interest in having you as a repeat customer or a customer at all. Doesn't the recession make it harder for companies to make and/or keep sales? Then why drive away potential sales??

Marketing Profs in one of their newsletters today entitled "Stop Blaming the Recession" suggests that people should stop blaming the recession and look in the mirror. They say "the simple act of blurting out "recession" seems to cover a number of professional failures that might just be our own fault." They cite some examples of succeeding in the current economy and stop making excuses are:

-Learn something new. Go beyond your comfort zone so you stand out.

-Work harder. Don't take anything for granted; promptly follow up on every lead and return every call, even if you're not sure it will deliver results. Surround yourself with colleagues who share your particular determination and commitment.

-Take risks.

I'll add a fourth one - Put yourself out there - Be visible - Help someone in the process.

Monday, August 17, 2009

RIP John Hughes

We lost Director John Hughes on August 6, 2009. He was an AMAZING filmmaker. He directed Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Pretty In Pink, among others. He really got that teens and young adults have some complex issues that they are dealing with. I loved his exploration of relationships. IMDb says he started the Brat Pack movement. My favorite character has to be Jon Cryer as the Duckman in Pretty in Pink. Goodbye John, we'll miss you!

Live Long and Prosper

Everyday I look at my strategic plan for my acting career. It's a binder not only filled with things to keep my acting craft and acting business going forward, but it helps me keep my spirituality on track. And of course I also put nuggets of information I find that I want to keep close to me.

Today, I decided to revise my mantra, which I seem to do on a regular basis these days. While searching on Google, I found an interesting article about abundance and prosperity. You can find that article here.

The main points as I see them are:

1. Prosperity is a mental and spiritual endeavor before it is a physical one.
2. There are six "stairway to the stars" steps:

a. Determine what your relationship with money is. What is money to you? What do you think and feel about rich people? Are you jealous of what others have? Answer these questions to be able to move to the next step.

b. Clean your mental and physical house. You must make room for the new. Mentally review what you have written above and become aware of the persons, places and situations that you need to forgive. You must let go of anger, resentment, hurt, doubt, self-criticism and so on. Parents, society, buddies, social groups all attempt to keep a status quo. Forgiveness is the Golden Key to PROSPERITY. You must realize are in charge of your destiny, noone else is. You make it happen. It takes bravery to let go of old friends and family who are impeding your growth. It is much more comfortable to stay where you are and to blame the economy than to become assertive in your own behalf. You have to let go to move forward. Are you ready to let go? Remember you will be forgiving your self as well as others. Take a moment close your eyes, take a deep breath and every one that comes to mind that you need to forgive in relation to your prosperity forgive them now. Imagine them clearly and say out loud, "I forgive you (insert their name)." Be sure to include yourself either first or last. Forgiveness only has to be done once, however you must mean it. Don't be a packrat. Get rid of stuff you don't need. You must make room - it is a law of the Universe.

c. Know what you want. Imagine you already have it - visualize it, feel it, hear it, taste it, smell it, know it!! The more energy you give to this, the quicker you will manifest this new reality that you have claimed. Act as if - borrowing an actor's credo.

d. Give thanks in ADVANCE for what you have received. You have the desire; the belief and now the expectancy will bring the abundance into your life. Say many times a day, "thank you for _____."

e. Be grateful for everything that happens to you every moment. Begin your day by reciting your list of things you are grateful for and end each day reciting your gratitude. For example, try this prayer at the end of each day: "Dear God, thank you for this day. I have done the best I know how and if I have forgotten something please take care of it for me. I need my rest so that I can awaken and do my best again tomorrow."

f. Develop a way to keep the flow of abundance going in your life. I practice reciting my mantra, journaling, practicing gratitude and being present every day.

What rituals do you practice to keep your flow of abundance going? Let me know.

Happy Monday.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Can You See Me Now?

My new bff is Argentum Photo Lab. Thanks to my pal Deb and the great recommendations from other actors, I decided to try them. My regular headshot reproductions place was acquired by another company, so I had to find a new one. On important stuff, like headshots, car repair, etc., I always seek recommendations. Oh. My. God. The photos are beautiful. They pop even more than they did before. They are so much more natural-looking. The two key ingredients casting directors look for in headshots are those that look natural and pop. Photos are definitely so much better than lithos. I'm so glad to have found my new headshot reproductions place!

Ya Gotta Have Heart

I am excited to share with you an organization called Hollywood Heart. I found out about this group through the Entertainment Industry Foundation because I wanted to volunteer with an arts-related organization. I have volunteered with Hollywood Heart for a couple of years in multiple capacities. I have been a volunteer for years - giving back to the community is something very near and dear to my heart - for a wide variety of wonderful charitable organizations. Hollywood Heart is amazing - to see a child's eyes light up is such a humbling and rewarding experience.

2009 marks the 15th year that Hollywood Heart has run Camp Pacific Heartland in partnership with One Heartland, a camp for kids ages 7-15 who are infected/impacted by HIV/AIDS and the 2nd year Hollywood Heart has run Camp Hollywood Heart, an arts camp for teens ages 15-20 who are impacted by HIV/AIDS. You can read all about these camps here.

Having heart in Hollywood goes beyond charities. A friend of mine wrote a fantastic article for the Huffington Post where he discusses the fact that if you are in the entertainment industry, you want to be in the industry and you are willing to work to get into and stay in the industry, you will survive.

Our industry is just like any other industry - we have business cycles, we have to re-invent ourselves to stay competitive and it's all about the money. The economy is going through another business cycle low, we will bounce back. So, have heart and today, try feeling more by being present to you and your environment - things will be put in perspective for you - you are a great human being on a great planet - go ahead and seize the day!