Suzanne Lyons discusses the importance of networking and offers great information on creating relationships within the Entertainment Industry.
by: Suzanne Lyons
Is life going to get in the way of your career commitments from time to time? Sure. Are you going to be thrown the odd curve? Of course. Is it going to throw you off course and affect your focus? Absolutely. The question is, for how long. I have been a career coach for over 25 years and have seen people get stopped and stuck for days, weeks, months, even years. How can we turn that into minutes and seconds?! How can you do it? Keep your eyes on the prize! When an ‘incident’ or ‘event’ happens that throws us off track, we react to our interpretation of the ‘incident’ and not the ‘incident’ itself. It’s fact versus fiction. We stay stuck in what we think it means.
Okay, so that director was mean to you during your audition or that executive hasn’t returned your call. You can spend weeks making it mean something or you can separate fact from fiction and move on. It’s that simple! I find one way that helps me get back on track more quickly is my Vision Board. In his book “The Success Principles,” Jack Canfield says that “if you have trouble seeing your goals, use pictures, images, and symbols you collect to keep your conscious and subconscious mind focused on your goals.”
We all want to dream big and create a life of abundance and magic. And why not? As Marianne Williamson said “Your playing small does not serve the World.” So create a Vision Board displaying all the images that represent your purpose, vision and goals. It is so much fun to do. Nothing will get you back on track more quickly than this great exercise. It will help you “keep your eyes on the prize.” Don’t forget to look at it every day!
by: Suzanne Lyons
Early on in my producing career here in Los Angeles I would be at a party or event and all too often people would approach me and say, “Suzanne, I hear you’re a film producer. I’m an actor, here’s my headshot.” Or, “Hi, my friend told me you’re a producer. I’m a director, here’s my reel.” Or, “Here’s my screenplay,” “Here’s my composer CD,” etc…
It drove me crazy! In every other business in the world we create relationships (or should!) first. Don’t just jump right into action, “Please read my script.” Create a relationship, talk about the possibility of working together, the opportunity and the benefits that could be provided and then, and only then, make a request (take the action.)
Like location is to a real estate agent, the same holds true in the entertainment industry. Instead of “location, location, location”….. it’s “networking, networking, networking.” You want to create authentic relationships with people. In a six week long workshop I led years ago the homework was to have a party each week and at the party (and during the entire six weeks) you were not allowed to talk about your career. So often when we’re meeting people for the first time or we’re in a group of people, we get nervous or scared and we feel comfortable only talking about our jobs and careers.
The idea of not being allowed to talk about your career for six weeks really helped people break that habit. It forced people to talk about something other than their career! So, if you loved hiking, you invited your friends to go hiking and you asked them to bring along the casting director friend of theirs, because you’d done your homework and you knew that she loved hiking as well. Or you knew that director you wanted to meet loved gourmet cooking as much as you did, so you asked a friend of yours who knew him to invite him to your gourmet cooking party. Your friends felt comfortable inviting their friends because they knew you weren’t going to talk about anything other than hiking or gourmet cooking.
During that workshop if someone asked you what you did, you told them. But the whole idea was to get people sharing about the things in life that they loved, the things they were excited and passionate about. Not just their career. It was a lot of fun and what surprised me more than anything was that during that six week seminar the participants got more jobs than in any of the Flash Forward Institute seminars combined! People got back in touch with who they were and all the other wonderful aspects of life that they loved.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in your career for a year or for twenty years… we all get stuck from time to time. Maybe it’s a rejection that cuts a little too deep, the fear of not knowing how to do something, the fear of failure, the fear of success, a conversation in our head that tells us we can’t, or that the time’s not right, or that we’re too old, or the economy is bad. Whatever it is for you, it feels real and true and most importantly, it stops you!
Let’s talk about goal setting. The best goals, intentions, timelines, strategic plans… they all go out the window when we’re stuck. What do we do? How do we handle it? How do we get back on track? And how do we get back on track quickly?
I had a friend who, during an audition, had a bad experience where the director was very rude to her. It was three months before she went on another audition. My film partner and I had a similar situation happen to us. We had successfully produced films in other countries and were planning to produce our first film here in the U.S. We did a fantastic business plan and movie poster, had a great investor’s package, had everything organized and were ready to go out to investors. That was December of 2004. All of a sudden it was March 1st 2005! I had gone unconscious about the project and didn’t even know that I was stuck. The fear of raising the money stopped me cold!
I think getting stuck from time to time is inevitable. The question is, how do we deal with it and how do we get back on track in record time. Here are a few ideas from some of my entertainment industry guests who joined me for my MTT video. They’ve experienced being stuck first hand and they have some valuable advice for us.
CREATE A VISUAL DISPLAY: CEO of Now Casting, Bob Steward, feels that having your goals clearly plotted and broken down into a timeline with milestones is key. “But most importantly,” he says, “have it clearly visible at all times. That way you’ll stay conscious and engaged in your career and you’ll notice if something is wrong. So you’ll find out ‘oh, my foot’s stuck’ as opposed to ‘holy cow, I’m knee deep in quicksand.’
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE: Actress Mary Stein says that for her the best and fastest way to get unstuck is a daily practice of staying in touch with her vision. “Stay focused on the big picture,” she says, “and keep your eye on the prize.”
FACT VERSUS FICTION: Director/Writer Mark Rosman suggests that we look at the facts. “When I notice that I’m stuck,” he says, “I look at what is the story that I’m telling myself and I write it down. For example, after a producer called and said he didn’t want to option my script, I thought, oh, I’m not talented enough… I can’t write dialogue, and a whole ton of crazy things went through my mind. I wrote the long list on a piece of paper and then I compared it to the facts. The fact was, that producer didn’t want my script… period! That was the fact. So instead of looking at my interpretations of what I made it all mean, I decided to just look at the facts. All the drama disappeared in an instant and I got back on the phone and started pitching again.
HAVE AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER: Comedy Central Executive Kris Emery suggests that we have a buddy that we stay in touch with on a regular basis. Kris and her accountability partner speak (or blog) daily or weekly supporting each other with their goals and all the ups and downs that go along with reaching them. And they’ve been doing this for over 20 years!
IT’S A GOOD THING! IT MEANS YOU’RE GETTING BIGGER:
So says TV and feature writer Alison Lea Bingeman. She believes that “if you’re stuck, that means that you are breaking through to some new ground… some new level. She says that “there’s something new that you’re learning and that you’re processing and that you’ll come out on the other side with a lot more knowledge and a lot more wisdom.”
As I’ve mentioned, we are all going to get stuck from time to time, whether from internal reasons or external sources. We’re human. It happens. The question is… for how long are you willing to stay stuck? Minutes, days, weeks, years? How about seconds? Wouldn’t that be a whole lot better? Let’s cut down, way down, on the time we spend being stopped and stuck. Start using these suggestions and get masterful at getting back on track immediately.
It’s Time to Put Your Butt on the Line
In my last article on ‘Goal Setting’ I stressed the importance of setting goals, creating a strategic plan for your career, and following a timeline with clear specific actions to ensure that your goals happen. It’s all great… in fact, it’s all fantastic if you’re the type of person who jumps out of bed in the morning eager to get started on the tasks for the day, loves a challenge and can’t wait for that first obstacle to get in your way, that rock to fall in your path. My guess is, that’s not the case for many (if any) of us.
by: Suzanne Lyons
I think the first thing to look at is, what are you TRULY COMMITTED TO ACCOMPLISHING? As Bob Proctor points out in his “Create Your Own Economy” program, get clear on your purpose. Let’s start with the BIG picture. I think why we lose focus and become uninspired is because we have forgotten why we’re doing what we’re doing. Getting in touch with the bigger picture can help get you back on track. In fact Proctor takes it a step further and suggests that when you define your purpose, “it will be the compass that keeps you on the path.” “Purpose,” he says “leads to your vision (what you do with your life)” and “you accomplish your vision by creating short term goals to keep you on course.” Sounds simple doesn’t it?
I believe what happens to most of us is that we get so caught up in the day-to-day action, we forget our purpose and vision. So spend a little time right now and take a serious look at what that is for you. Write it down and put it on the wall by your desk.
Above all, have fun. Don’t take actions until you’re having fun doing so. Remind yourself daily why you’re here. Remember we are in the entertainment industry. We’re here to provide entertainment! How cool is that. We get to bring joy, pleasure, escape and fun to people. What a great job! What an amazing ride!
This paper is the last of my three articles on this super important subject… How to get a mentor. In my first and second articles I looked at: Why should we have a mentor? What is a mentor? Who makes a good mentor? How do you approach mentors? What do you want from a mentor? And the importance of being prepared when you get on a phone or in a meeting with your mentor. This time, I will focus on mentor etiquette… the “Do’s and Don’ts” that go along with having a mentor.
Firstly, here are a few of the don’ts to keep in mind. Don’t put them on the spot by asking them to hire you, audition you, or read your screenplay. If they request it, that’s fine. But don’t put them on the spot by asking.
Don’t have them be the one who works to generate the conversation. It’s your job to be totally ready. And don’t ever use their name without permission. Just because they might mention a show you would be great for and they mention that they know someone associated with that show, if you decide to get in touch with that person, and you want to use your mentor’s name, it is imperative that you get their permission to do so. Remember, you are going to them for their wisdom, not their rolodex.
Here are a few items to remember as far as the do’s are concerned. Always be prepared, really prepared, with your list questions as well as information on them and their company. Make sure you’ve done your homework. Make good use of their time. Keep your word. Call when you said you’d call. Show up at the meeting on time. Really respect their time and acknowledge them and thank them for their time and wisdom.
Remember that it’s a business relationship. So respect the term of your arrangement. If you’ve agreed to have three meetings or phone calls over a month long period and you decide you want to continue the relationship then get permission to do so.
When I was shooting my YouTube series for my YouTube channel on this subject of getting a mentor, I interviewed film and video game producer, Ruby Lopez. Ruby has been a volunteer at Women in Film for many years and their mentor program is a year long, so they are very strict about mentor etiquette.
“Having a mentor is not a time for you to look for a job or be an intern” she says. “It’s more about gaining knowledge. Also, remember that their time is valuable so if you say you’re going to meet them at certain time, do that. If it’s a ten minute phone call or a half hour meeting, keep to your promise and don’t go overboard.” She tells us that “this is not about you pushing yourself on them. If the relationship is meant to evolve, it will. Sometimes all you need from a specific mentor is the knowledge they give so you know how to move forward in your career.”
Ruby feels that “it’s a perfect time to explore different people, different areas that you’re interested in and to find out where you’re missing your knowledge. So when you’re meeting with them, know what you want to talk to them about and what to address.”
One of the do’s that I really really want to spotlight is acknowledgment. It is so so so important that you acknowledge your mentor each and every time. As I’ve mentioned in my other MTT articles and videos, acknowledgement is sadly missing in our industry. When MTT’s acting coach, Diane Christensen, joined me for my YouTube series she shared about the importance of giving and receiving acknowledgement. “I know that having a mentor in Hollywood is special,” she says “since they are the busiest people of all and they are so busy that they don’t even know they need acknowledgement. So for them to receive it and have that gift given to them is so special and such a truly needed moment in their lives. What better reason to mentor than to receive that acknowledgment and to have people grateful for it.”
That’s brilliant advice from both Ruby and Diane. They are giving you gold here, so be sure to use it. And remember, we all should have mentors in our lives and careers. As I mentioned in my first article, everyone loves and wants to contribute and there are thousands of people in our industry who have many years of experience and would be honored to share their knowledge and expertise with you. So take the information in all three articles and of course watch my YouTube channel and the Master Talent Teachers video series on this subject, and go out and get yourself a mentor or two. I promise it will be well worth it.