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!)

5 Tips to Rock your Holiday Networking

Snowman-Happy-Holiday-CardThe holidays can be awkward, or you can make them into a huge opportunity by using this time as a platform to network. Most actors take a break or think of this time of year as slow. I say NOW is the time to ramp it up!

The holidays are here now and seem to come earlier every year! For some the dread is starting to set in. And no, I’m not talking about the awkward family gatherings with your fruitcake-wielding in-laws or being relegated to the kids table for a meal you’ve waited a year for.

For many of us, the real terror surrounds holiday networking. So if you’re currently stressing over whether you’re going to look like an idiot wearing a Santa hat or whether it’s appropriate to talk about your acting career at all, you’re not alone.

Oy, all these winter events you have to go to! There are soooo many parties and other opportunities to gather at this particular time of year, so when to go and when not to? Many of us would rather pretend to be sick and stay home drinking eggnog in a darkened room. But in actuality, this is the perfect time to get ahead. All these holiday parties are the prime time to make fresh connections and start the New Year off on the right foot.

Ken Rutkowski, host and president of the Business Rockstars radio show, is a networking veteran who has earned himself the reputation of “the super-connector.” I love finding great info and sharing it with you so please take Ken’s words to heart as if they were my own…because I’m in 100% alignment. Here are his top five tips to network yourself through the holidays.

1. Don’t look at it as “networking” 

View events, social and business as relationship building opportunities and don’t ever ask for money, a job, an audition or anything else for that matter. This is time to create and build rapport ONLY.

2. Pick the right events and be realistic

If the event is only for union members and you’re not one, then don’t go. If the event is at an agent’s office that you are not a client of, then don’t go. Seriously…find the FIT first. If you have a sinking feeling in your gut about attending, then the event is probably not right for you. Go to parties and events where you are certain you will be a part of the right crowd and go with the intention of meeting great people just like you!

3. Dress appropriately 

This is a big one. I can’t tell you how many actor events where I’ve seen pictures on line and say to myself, “Wow, don’t they have a mirror in their house?” At the same time, holiday flair is always a winner. Really know the crowd you’re going to be hanging out with. In general, don’t wear a suit and tie if the event is more casual and vice versa. But jeans with rips in them that look like they need a good wash is a no-no no matter how casual the event is.

4. Bring a wingman or wingwoman.

Two heads are better than one when it comes to meeting people. You’ll be able to cover more ground and have a fallback person to rendezvous with if you need a break. But don’t get stuck…meaning you have to go out on your own to meet new people. If you only end up talking to the person you came with you’ve missed the purpose entirely.

5. Make it about others

Ken became known as a “super-connector” because he was always introducing people to other people. People appreciate it when you do the networking for them. They come to know you as someone who is connected, and gets things done. Take on this role if you have met folks at your event who you think should also meet each other. You’ll be much more remembered by both of those people, especially if they hit it off.

These same tips can also be applied to family gatherings as well with a little tweaking. Not really excited to hang out with your spouses’ Aunt Millie twice removed? Try asking her questions that illicit stories that you could then use in your acting or writing class. You might even be surprised when Millie shares about her nephew the TV Exec who works at CBS…really? Really! Ask questions. That’s the key!

The holidays are an awkward time for almost everyone. Remember, we’re in this together. Stick to these five rules and get ahead this season!

25 Questions. Your Answers May Be A Surprise.

qaWould you like to know a little more about who you are and what you truly believe? Well here’s a simple test that only
takes about 2 minutes. Just answer yes or no to each of the 25 “Do You Believe” questions. Your answers may surprise you!

1.      Do you believe that attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference?
2.      Do you believe that we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take?
3.      Do you believe that our aspirations are our possibilities?
4.      Do you believe that Companies Don’t Succeed…People Do?
5.      Do you believe that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give?
6.      Do you believe that those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves?
7.      Do you believe that many times… less can be more?
8.      Do you believe that in the middle of every difficulty comes opportunity?
9.      Do you believe that you’re always one choice away from changing your life?
10.     Do you believe that when you’ve done your best you can wait for the results in peace?
11.     Do you believe that sometimes in the winds of change we can find our true direction?
12.     Do you believe that laughter is sunshine in any life?
13.     Do you believe that the most important things in life aren’t things?
14.     Do you believe that a leader’s job is to look into the future and see things not as they are, but… as they can be?
15.     Do you believe if you throw your heart over the fence, the rest will follow?
16.     Do you believe that customer service is not a department… it’s an attitude?
17.     Do you believe that the price of leadership is responsibility?
18.     Do you believe if you change your thoughts you can change the world?
19.     Do you believe you can burn brightly without burning out?
20.    Do you believe that the greatest principal in the world is… the things that get rewarded and appreciated get done?
21.     Do you believe that after the verb to love… to help is the most beautiful verb in the world?
22.     Do you believe that whether you think you can, or you can’t… you’re right?
23.     Do you believe that gratitude can change your life?
24.     Do you believe that its not the things you get but the hearts you touch that will determine your success in life?
25.     Do you believe that if you teach your child the Golden Rule, you will have left an estate of incalculable value?

Your answers to these questions will help you determine what you truly believe. For me the answer to each of these questions is… YES. I believe it! My mission is to inspire people who share these beliefs, particularly creative artists.

As the Founder of Act Outside the Box, I’ve created over twenty-five seminars/products/courses illustrating these beliefs. The content is about what you need to know about your acting career – the logistics.  The context is what you believe and how to persevere in a very lop-sided business arena.

This Q&A test was derived from my friends at SimpleTruths.com – repurposed for our community.  Please feel free to share YOUR beliefs in the comment box below!

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

10 Habits to Turn your Dreams into your Reality

whatwerepeatedlydo-@allielefevere

Over my 35 year professional career as an actor and my last 15 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.

How-to-form-good-habits1

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.GClogo

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)

5 Things Confident Actors Do Differently

ConfidentwomanWe all know those kinds of actors — the ones who stride with an air of certainty into a room. They’re not always the most attractive, or smartest. They’re not arrogant. They’re the ones who make you want to be around them.

Growing up, I seemed to make people run the other direction. My loudness, attention-seeking, and social awkwardness kept me questioning myself. In my teens and early adulthood I also suffered bouts of depression, gained a ton of weight, and became so fiercely independent I didn’t have a lot of friends.  I threw all of my focus toward acting where I could “make up” who I wanted to be that I was not in real life.

Why can’t I be thinner? More popular? Smarter? I continually asked. If I was, I’d surely be a star! Then I changed the questions: What creates this aura, this vibe of confidence? What do these other great actors do that I don’t?

Soon enough, I received an answer and I felt my vibe shift. My new found confidence shifted my world — my career, my relationships, and my health.

After many years of study, discussion, and practice, I realized these five things are what confident actors, heck confident people, do differently than those who lack confidence. Remember, CONFIDENCE is 50% of this business.  These are my must-do’s for confidence:

1. They live their purpose.

Your purpose is to be authentically you. No more, no less. When you applaud your fears, neuroses, and quirks, suddenly these qualities become your assets.  Use them in your craft and in your regular world.

Insecure about your looks? So are thousands of other actors — embrace your height, weight, wrinkles, and all other aspects of your body and teach others to embrace theirs! Think you’re not as smart as the next guy? Fuggedaboutit and do what makes you feel like a genius! When you’re living your truth, you’re unstoppable.

2. They practice their unique ___ (Fill in: calming, uplifting, etc.) ritual.

This is a BIG one that I make a priority when working with my coaching clients. Some of the greatest thinkers, artists and performers of our time have a pre-performance ritual that gets them revved for show time. While a unique ritual is about doing, it’s also about feeling. A ritual creates the feeling you desire before you actually get to the doing.

For example, if I want to have rockin’ confidence before a date, I’ll strut around my house in high heels. If I want to feel calm, I’ll focus on my exhale breaths. I have a big sign over my desk that says “Breathe”. I also have a morning practice that sets the tone for my day. We all have rituals that calm our nerves, get us in the game, or prepare our mindset for focused ACTion. Know yourself and what you need to get in the zone.

3. They spend (and love) time alone.

A dip in confidence can come when plans aren’t made or fall through and you’re left with time alone. How empowering is it when this time comes as a gift?!

There’s nothing that revives my confidence more than time alone. Wait, let me clarify: time alone that I occupy with self-love. If I spend my alone time wallowing in misery, I perpetuate my insecurities. When I shower myself with love, in the form of a bubble bath, rest, or yoga, I realign with my core values.  Even zoning out in front of the TV with a good movie and a glass of wine is one of my favorite past times.

Know what you need to make this precious time with yourself the best time. There is nothing more fabulous than someone who not only “tolerates” but absolutely  ADORES their own company.A conceptual look at confidence, poise, assurance, cool.

4. They take nothing (or very little) personally.

Do you know any confident actor who takes everything personally? No, no you don’t! Those with true confidence know that any perceived ego blow is more a reflection of the speaker than of them.

When you’re able to hear criticism and not take it personally, your reactions change. You’re able to feel compassion and love for all, regardless of how they treated you. Life isn’t as much of a drama. It stays on the stage where it belongs. Confidence emerges naturally with life-love.

5. They ask empowering questions.

We’re constantly making evaluations for what things mean and what we should do.  These associations are initiated by questions. The more empowering questions we ask ourselves, the more confident we will be.

If you ask dis-empowering questions like, “Why does this always happen to me?” or “Why don’t I get any call backs” your mind will come up with an answer. Instead, ask questions like, “What am I happy about that I did in the room? What could I be proud about if I wanted to?” Or if there is a problem, ask, “What is great about this problem? How does it serve me? What can I feel grateful for?” Then you can shift into the confidence required to solve it.  When empowering questions become second nature, you have no choice but to find confidence-inducing answers.

Modeling confident actors and others is the surest and fastest way to become one yourself!  In fact I modeled this entire post after one created by Saren Stiegel of MindBodyGreen, who originally wrote about confidence in women.

 

20 Signs You’re Succeeding At Your Career (Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like It)

yourock  We’ve all had days, weeks, months and — for some — even years of dark times, stagnation and even depression over the state of our career. Whether we fall into ruts of self-sabotage, loneliness, insecurity, or waning belief in our future, leading a happy, joyful life as an actor can sometimes feel like a fairytale.

I often tell my ‘business of show’ students and coaching clients they’re doing soooo much better than they give themselves credit for. I can see it even if they can’t. It’s the old “can’t see the forest for the trees” analogy.

Most of us are so busy trying to dodge the bullets, grasping for any signs of progress, and looking for those outward results, that we forget to stop and appreciate the little victories along the way to our goals and dreams.

Consider for a moment that you’re already doing a tremendous job. Living a life as an actor isn’t an easy thing to do, but it can be most enjoyable when we start to see the good instead of focusing on the bad.

You are actually living your career dreams already by recognizing these 20 signs:

1. Your relationships are less dramatic than they use to be. The drama is now mostly on the stage/set where it ought to be.

2. You may not have as much money as you want but you know and believe more is on the way. However, you’re not waiting to live a rich and abundant life NOW.

3. You’re no longer afraid to ask for help and support, thinking it is a sign of weakness. Instead you realize the juice of this business and you’re open to allowing someone to be a contribution on your journey.

4. Where you live feels like home. This means your actual living home and in your skin.

5. You’ve raised your standards. The bar is presently high and you’re setting it higher as you move forward.

6. You let go of things that don’t make you feel good. This could extend to people, experiences, and negative thinkthumbs-uping. Feeling good is your top priority.

7. You have moments where you appreciate who you see in the mirror. Hey, it may not be all the time but when you recognize those moments, you grin from ear to ear with a pleasant knowingness.

8. You’re working on limiting your inner critic and consciously disavowing outer critics who are not out to serve your best interests. Bad reviews have nothing to do with you. Opinions are like…(you know what goes here!)

9. You’ve learned that setbacks and failure are part of career growth as well as self-growth. Fail your way to success. Correct and continue. There is no such thing as perfect.

10. You have a support system that includes people who would do anything for you. And that’s not by chance.

11. You hear “I love it”, “great job”, “wonderful effort” and “I love you” often, from family, friends, partners, and industry professionals.

12. You’ve acceptesuccess-girl in grassd what you can’t change, but are changing what you can’t accept. This tricky balancing act has become the norm.

13. You don’t complain as much, but instead focus on solutions. You recognize that you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it and search for a different approach. You’ve also limited the complaints you’re willing to listen to. (Take note if you work background…a breeding ground for complaints.)

14. You don’t blame your parents, and accept them for who they are. OK, though I’m not a therapist, this is the big one!

15. You’ve stopped caring about what others think of you. Ahem, I meant THIS is the big one. By not care, I mean you understand that what other’s think about you is none of your business. (For “how to” do that, check out an excellent book written by Terry Cole Whittaker that I highly recommend)

16. You can celebrate other actor’s successes and really be happy for them.

17. You have a true passion that you are pursuing. It’s not the fame, money or your ego that is driving you. You feel this passion more often than not.

18. You’re able to accept compliments without deflecting. When acknowledged for your acting prowess, singing skill, or for the way you’ve inspired someone through your artistic expression, you simply smile and say “thank you”.

19. You feel connected to your work both on and off the stage. Every part of your career, not just the actual craft of acting, is part of your passion.No fail

20. You have many goals that have come true. Finishing that acting program, having fresh new headshots to distribute and making that notoriously scowling casting director smile during your audition are things you had on your “to do” list and they got DONE! Up next, getting an agent, a co-star role on a series, a big check…You don’t discount the previously met goals as insufficient to the ones not yet realized.

Look to this list in times of doubt and when you’re just not feelin’ it. Sometimes a few reminders of just how absolutely awesome your career IS going can make a huge difference.

Tweaked and significantly added to by Lisa Gold. Original base content from Shannon Kaiser of www.the-open-mind.com  

Your “Never Ending” To Do List

To_Do_List_Comic “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they are great and noble.”   Helen Keller

I love this quote and I love who it came from.  One of my FAVORITE things to do is cross things off my to do list.  But I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world who sometimes can get completely STOPPED because of the feeling of overwhelm.

I’ve noticed a recurring theme with many of my coaching clients, that though progress is being made, it’s often overwhelming taking on new things and deciding what to do with what seems an expanding “to do” list.  Where to start, what to leave out, what’s a priority…how to fit it all in?

I’ve got a really cool strategy for you that will make a HUGE difference, especially if you are one of the folks that have not been able to keep up with the “building” over time of performing multiple tasks.  This strategy will bring you focus and clarity on WHAT TO DO, and more importantly WHAT NOT TO DO.
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Make a “to do” list.  EVERYTHING you have to do both personal and professional.  Things like: Make an appointment for the dentist; clean the bathroom; call 3 photographers, make appointments, choose one; wash the dog/car/clothes; write 5 postcards, travel to Australia, buy a Birthday card for Tom.  Call Joan about dinner on Tuesday.  Go on Actors Access and submit for some great auditions.  Pay bills.  Sign up for The Golden Circle (ha!, had to slip that one in!)

EVERYTHING goes on the list.  This will probably take at least 15 to 30 minutes or longer.  Then when you’ve emptied your BRAIN of all that you have to do, more things will come up if you stay in silence and let them come.  Then write those things down too!

Next, divide this one huge list into 3 smaller lists:  The things you are NEVER doing (at least right now), the things you are NOT doing (at least right now…this time frame being NOT within the next 4 to 6 weeks) and the things you are doing NOW.

The NEVER doing now list contains items that if they never, ever got done, will not affect your life and goals in an adverse way…yet you may someday still want to do them.  For example, travel to Australia or re-paint the bathroom.

The NOT doing now list contains things that are definitely needed and wanted to accomplish, but again, won’t adversely affect you life or goals if they don’t happen outside of 4-6 weeks from now.

That leaves the “to do” list…things that if not attended to within the next month to 6 weeks, WILL adversely affect your life and goals.  These items should then be scheduled…actually pick a time and date and put them into your calendar.

So the things you’re doing NOW get put IN TO YOUR SCHEDULE, to be moved around if need be due to auditions, other opportunities, etc. but then get RESCHEDULED, got it?
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Once they are in your calendar/schedule you will have a clearer picture of accomplishing the things that are directly related to what you say you want.  For some this will be a huge accomplishment and breakthrough, for others, a review.  Either way, DO IT PLEASE!

“What you resist persists” – Anonymous

By the way, if you don’t use a calendar or schedule of some kind to keep track…GET ONE.  Honestly, you’re life will become much more manageable when you keep track of your appointments (especially the ones you make with yourself!)  Get started TODAY.  It’s not too late, in fact, we have an opportunity to start newly EVERY DAY!!!

Enjoy marking those things off the list!  Ahhhhh, feels GOOD!

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, and having it all  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.

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.

5. Thou Shalt Set Financial Goals

As I spoke about in my last post on the 5 Traits You Need to Succeed in This Economy, 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 you 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.donation

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.

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 for $2.99 and donate it to one of my favorite charities, The Best Friends Animal Society.  They also have the largest “no kill” animal sanctuary in North America 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’ve taken ACTion and that’s a good thing!

 

 

 

The 5 Traits You Need To Succeed Financially as an Actor

Hard_WorkAre you still (or constantly) struggling to stay afloat? Could you use all the help you can get to build your financial foundation?  Are you practicing a starving artist mentality or an abundant artist mentality?  Read these integral traits you must have to be successful within your actor economy.  You may not possess all of the above traits just yet, but knowing them can help you make changes so that you nourish the ones that you have and go after the ones you’re missing.

1. Hard AND  Smart (not VS)

Creating financial abundance and staying out of debt rarely comes about without a lot of hard work.

Many actors might hope that winning the lottery will solve all their financial problems and/or winning the “big break” lottery of being a poor unknown actor one day and the next day starring in a TV series (MYTH).

The true path to financial freedom is to work hard to earn money, while constantly and consistently educating yourself to continue to have more value in the industry which will increase your salary.  This is a gradual process that you can easily accomplish with the right knowledge and tools.  Being smart AND working hard is what will get you off that “rat on a wheel” cycle of making money and then being broke (again, always…)

2. Goal-Oriented

I’ve said it so many times and I’ll say it again until you hear it to the bottom of your soul – most actors don’t plan to fail in this Goal Settingbiz…most actors fail to plan!  The importance of setting and working toward goals is obvious. If you don’t know where you are going, it’s difficult to get there.

This is just as important when it comes to your financial goals. If you have money goals and are motivated to reach the goals that you have set for yourself, it will naturally translate to your wallet in immense and immediate ways.

Those actors who lack financial goals and just declare “I just want to work; it doesn’t matter how much I get paid as long as I get paid” don’t have a road map to take them to the financial destination they want.

3. Risk-Taking

To build not only a solid financial foundation, but real wealth, one needs to be willing to take risks. This doesn’t mean un-calculated, uneducated risks. It means weighing all the options and taking risks when appropriate.

Everyone knows the stock market has risks involved, but over the long term, history shows that it provides good returns on money that is invested wisely. People who invest in the stock market do their homework and have educated themselves on the risk…or they have trust in someone else who has that education.

For an actor, knowing what to invest your money in, i.e. classes, coaches, marketing materials, etc. reduces your risk if you’ve done your research and gotten educated on the value provided. Those actors who fear risk altogether end up never investing in themselves in ways that could impact their career and would ultimately save them money in the long run.

curious+cat4. Curiosity

Being curious helps you learn, study and improve yourself.  My least favorite 3 words I hear actors utter are “I know that.”  There’s ALWAYS something to learn if you stay curious.

The curiosity of wanting to know more, to take the time to study and then take what is learned and put into practice is an important process that is driven by curiosity.  This leads to untold treasures and abundance, not only with physical dollars, but contacts, information, experiences and more.

5. Creativity

The work we do as actors providing our joyful self-expression, art and talent and our earnings don’t always match.

Unexpected obstacles and set-backs can mess with your financial plans. The film you got cast in lost its funding and won’t be completed or released (or pay you!); that “manager” collected the money for your work and went out of business; the class you paid high dollar for and expected brilliant teaching wasn’t all that. When this happens, changes are needed to deal with the new circumstances.

Creativity is essential to accomplish this.  I love this part of the energetic around money and finances because creativity allows you to make something good out of something bad or even when you don’t have the money to spend on what you’d like to invest in. It means juggling money to stay out of debt rather than simply paying with a credit card. It means bartering your value and skill set offering something for something.  It means figuring out a way by shifting from thinking “I can’t afford that” to “how can I afford that?”

Being creative plays a large part in keeping your finances and personal economy in order!  Seeing your ability to create in ways outside of actual acting will keep you interested and inspired around what you might have considered mundane or unimportant.  This stuff is just as, if not more important than the latest acting technique you learned.

STOP being a starving artist by adopting several, if not all of these 5 traits today!