Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Anonymous CEO

One thing I try to always remind myself is to keep a keen ear for great advice from non-industry sources.  Sure, there is a wealth of information to be soaked up around other working actors, casting directors, acting coaches, agents, etc.  It must also be said that there is a lot of bad information too, so buyers beware.  When I first moved to Los Angeles someone told me, "Carefully read parking signs and carefully evaluate advice.  You'll receive just as much bad advice as you'll receive parking tickets." 

I could finance a trip to Hawaii on the checks I've written to the California DMV.

Anyway, too many actors limit themselves to searching for answers and fresh ideas within the entertainment industry.  Truly genius business people allow themselves to be inspired from beyond their own market bubble to create innovative strategies to soar past the competition. 

A good friend of mine is a very successful investment banker... a far cry from a sound stage.  While discussing the upcoming Oscars last year, I couldn't recall all the films nominated for best picture as I hadn't paid particular attention.  He sharply pointed out that I was attempting to build a business and it was my job as CEO of my company to know the industry inside and out. 

He said, "You think I don't know who the top ten producers are in my field and what they made last year?"

Although I don't necessarily think knowing the Oscar noms is the single most effective use of brain space, my friend was right in concept.  I should know what shows are on TV and whether they are SAG or AFTRA and enough of the premise to know if they would likely need my type.  I should know who's casting them and when they're on hiatus.  I should know who casts primarily films, and of those, who casts lower budget films who would be more interested in fresh (i.e. less experienced) talent.  I should be working just as diligently as a young Bill Gates or Phil Knight to get my brand out there.  You and I wouldn't have an iPod, iPhone  iEverything if Steve Jobs hadn't hustled like a madman.

And that's just what I did.  Once I took responsibility as CEO of my little company, I started to research the industry and determined exactly where and how I fit in the picture.  By incorporating that knowledge into my strategies, I've achieved more in the last six months than I did in the first three years I spent in LA. 

Knowledge certainly is power.

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