4 Huge Mistakes to Avoid When Defining Your Product

I see actors make a lot of mistakes that could totally be avoided.  When it comes to figuring out your fit in the vast marketplace of actors, where there’s a large supply and you’re not yet in demand, distinguishing yourself, i.e. defining your product, is ESSENTIAL.  Here are some mistakes to avoid:

1. Not Studying – There is a tendency for the human mind to exclude or minimize what it cannot understand, which ultimately weakens its powers and perceptions. The trade-off is a seeming sense of safety in what is known and familiar. However, the exquisiteness of life is going beyond what you already know into the wonders of what is yet to be created and revealed. You’re here to fulfill your potential, not just have potential, and realizing that education and study is what expands your opportunities that begin with your thought process IS the key.  Finding and figuring out what you’re uniquely selling could be done via an in person class, mentor/coach, book, video or online course and will assist you in climbing the ladder of success as well as give wings to the longings of your soul.

2. Staying Comfortable – Different ships, same boat.  What I mean by this is that many actors think being active in a routine that has them in class, getting a few auditions, and adding one IMDB credit a year, though they may be different classes, auditions and credits, keeps them in the game of show business.  Yes, I talk a lot about feeling good and being comfortable does feel good.  But if you want more for yourself and your career in the manifested aspects of “reality” which translates into a discernable expansion in your network, resources, bank account and experience of joy, then you’ll want to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.  Get out of your routine and include new things you haven’t tried before.  Fear of failure is what keeps you stuck.  F-A-I-L simply means First Attempt In Learning.  After you try something a few times and fall, you’ll realize that ACTing outside of your comfort zone is the fun and very point of it all.

3. Treating Showbusiness Like It’s Not Your Business –  Many actors love the creative aspect of the career they’ve chosen, have spent years learning their craft, then present themselves as ready and available for work.  The business aspect of showbusiness isn’t a primary concern and will work itself out because their talent will shine and be the thing that gets the work.  However what most actors haven’t realized yet is that show business is like every other business where the bottom line is the bottom line.  You have to get ready to be ready for the business of show too. You’re the CEO of your own company, a small business if you will, and treating your career without considering the product you’re selling and to whom, will have you be out of business before you start.  Starving artists stay starving because they don’t consider themselves business people.  If you want to make money acting, then think like a business person, not an artist.  Once you’re being paid to act, then you can bring forth that creative magic that only you can deliver.  The good news is that business and marketing is a learnable skill, just like the craft of acting.  It’s great to have some inherent abilities of course, but with a little bit of focus and practice, you can go from disaster to master in a short period of time.  Begin now.

4. Giving Your Power to Others –  “You are a luminary, a sage, a wise one, a high priestess/high-priest, a wizard, and a supreme manifestor.”  I draw one of Doreen Virtue’s Archangel Oracle cards every day and recently got this one saying Take Back Your Power.  I wanted to pass this message on to you because I believe as a creator, you have this power inside of you and need to be reminded…just as I did.  This is the biggest mistake that I see most actors make. It is their own willingness to be so powerless over their own careers…not a victim per se, but wanting someone, anyone, everyone, even me, to “do it for them”.  I recently got an email from a woman, who after one of my very descriptive and step-by-step, here’s what to do to get an agent posts, asked me to personally get her an agent or take me off of the mailing list, which of course she could also do herself!  It’s ALL up to you, and not realizing even when you do have a rep, that you are in charge of your own career and no one will ever focus on it or care about it (not even your mother) as much as you do, is a MISTAKE worth avoiding…and easy too!

By the way, your talent agent and/or manager will thank you and be more receptive and attentive to you if you are aware of exactly what you’re offering that’s different from everyone else.  What adjectives and language are you using in person or in writing? Being on the same page and working side by side in alignment is what that relationship is all about.

Have you made any of these mistakes?  Any others you’d like to share that we can avoid too?  I’d love your comments below!

What Makes You So Special?

What are you uniquely qualified to do as an actor that NO ONE else can do or be?  Have you ever thought of that?  What’s your brand, archetype, bread and butter niche range of characters that you’ll become known for and reliable and counted on to create time and time again?  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Having this down pat is not an option.  It’s what will inform and feed the actions you take in advancing your career. Your actions determine your results.  This is a big CLUE here so if you haven’t taken this important step, this is your reminder to do it now!

In my last post I began to offer some thoughts on figuring this out for yourself using the well-known (and well paid) actors on the series Friends as an example.  But words don’t teach.  Only experience teaches so…

Take on this inspired action if you want to start the process today.  Don’t just think about defining your product, take ACTion.  Start by watching the performance of another actor in the area of your focus.  Find someone you enjoy and see what qualities and characters they have built their career on.  What is their archetype and/or brand?

Make a date/time commitment with yourself to watch a film you’ve been wanting to see (if your focus is film), go to a live theater performance (if your focus is theater), purposefully watch commercials or listen to voiceovers on camera or on radio/podcasts (if your focus is commercials or voiceovers), etc. You get it, right?

I know you’d give almost anything to have the careers of the many actors that you respect and admire right? So check out their IMDB page or Google them.  Do your homework and you’ll see that that with little exception, they have a niche.  They’re the “bad guy” (Devil) or the “femme fatale” (Lover) or the “funny one” (Jester) in just about everything they do. Yeah, there are the exceptions like Meryl, Johnny, and RDJ but you’re probably not going to “buy” Steve Martin as a killer or Mark Walburg as a scientist.  How about Julia Louis Dreyfuss as a political leader? Only when it’s a comedy!  Get it?

So what is YOUR brand or niche?  I’d love to hear in the comments section below!

Represent Literally Means RE-Present

I have an important question for you.

What are you offering to your agent or a potential new agent to “sell” you with?

Take a look at the word represent. It literally means RE-present.  

Having a firm grasp on what you are presenting and what you are uniquely offering the show business marketplace is the surest way to quicken your climb on the ladder to the kinds of acting jobs you desire, gain visibility accompanied by acknowledgement, and attain the kind of financial stability and abundance that you seek.

When I ask this important question these days, most actors know they should have this answer at the ready, but many still haven’t done the work to figure it out or chosen a “defined” product for presentation.  Your talent is only one component of your offering. Other things to consider are your skill set, appearance, gender and age range but the most important thing to consider is your essence and archetype.

As a person you were born with innate qualities, tone of voice, and a vibrational essence that cannot be separated from the roles you will be acting in.  Your essence is felt in the audition room and will impact the performance you create in the show or on the set.

As an actor in a play, film, TV show, commercial or anything else you’ll be cast in, it has to be written first.  Writers create characters drawn from something called “archetypes”.  A few examples are: Leader, Caregiver, Sage, Adventurer, Innocent, Everywoman/man, Rebel, Hero, Lover, Devil, Jester, etc.  ALL story is comprised of these archetypes for the purpose of creating contrast.  If every character in a show was a Leader type, it would surely be boring…just as if every character in a show had a Jester type, it too wouldn’t have enough contrast to keep us interested.

Take the mega hit show Friends as an example.  If you take a look, each of these 6 characters are distinctly different archetypes.  They were not all Jesters. Even though the show was a comedy and all of the actors and storylines hilarious to watch, Matthew Perry as Chandler was the Jester.  Monica played by Courtney Cox was the Caregiver and her brother Ross, David Schwimmer, was a Leader type.  Throw in Joey (Matt LaBlanc) as the Innocent, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) as the Adventurer and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) as the Everywoman and you had the explosive mix of a group of people that the writers created wonderful stories around that lasted for 10 seasons and 236 episodes.  This show will most likely continue to be shown for decades more, bringing laughter to millions and millions of dollars more to the actors and other creatives responsible. This wouldn’t have been possible without the contrast of these archetypes.

As an actor, if your goal is to make money acting, it would also be wise to stay with a particular archetype.  Using David Schwimmer as an example, the majority of his roles since Friends have been Leader types, as in the role of Robert Kardashian in The People vs. OJ Simpson. Matt LaBlanc plays wide eyed, you could have fooled me (and often do) characters in the series’ Episodes and Man With a Plan. Jennifer Aniston has done countless movies playing that Everywoman/Gal next door type.  Of course these very famous actors have also played roles outside of these main archetypes but the majority of the projects they work in and the roles they play keeps us a loving audience because we can count on them based on what we liked in the past. And this keeps them in the category of continually working actor. Literally bankable!

You want this too?  Figure out your archetype.

Don’t make it too complicated…archetypes are meant to be broad and actors often imbue a combo of two.  Two at most, but not more than that.  Harrison Ford has always played Everyman/Heros and Julia Roberts Leader/Lovers.  This is just the start of a larger conversation of how you can create your niche (rhymes with rich!)

If you think of an archetype like a sign of the Zodiac you’ll understand that though you were born on a certain date and that makes you one of 12 possible signs, you have the qualities of all 12 within you.  I’m a Libra, known for our wide smiles, being lovers of peace, happy in nature and loyal to the core (amongst other traits) but you may recognize some of these qualities in yourself and might be a Pisces or Sagittarius. Get it?

The point is to determine what your predominant archetype is and once you figure out this essential and important information, combined with your own natural essence, you’ll be able to “brand” what you offer with your marketing materials.  Then your carefully crafted message of what you’re presenting (headshots, resume, website, social media, online submission profiles) along with what you say in person and in writing will get you in the right doors to show your talent.

Your talent agent, or potential new agent/manager, will then be able to RE-present you and zero in on connecting you with the kinds of opportunities that fulfill your wildest dreams.  Begin this important process of defining your product today!

Tap Into Your Inner Know-it-All

Want to quicken the abracadabra of your career?  The truth is, you already inherently know what to do.  Before I move on to my next set of posts with the content “to-dos” of your career, you’ve first got to realize that trusting your own intuition is key.  It won’t matter if I give you the Keys to the Kingdom if you don’t know how to unlock the door.

All the magic you need for a magical life is conjured by being and expressing who you truly are – with a sense that there is always more of you on your way from the eternal into time. You have unseen assistance and assistants who guide you.  They would say to stand center stage in your story, play an authentic role in every scenario, surround yourself with cast-mates in lead and supporting roles who help your presence to be magnified, use any antagonists as foils for defining and strengthening your character – and be aware of the cues that life is always providing you! (Your emotional guidance system).

Playing your true self and acknowledging your personal power and knowledge within, quickens a magical flow in not only your acting career but you own life story.  It also, by association, impacts positively the lives of everyone around you. For trueness in one inspires and begets trueness in others. You are here to follow a star in the sky of your own heart, to walk the path to which your inner light calls you and to offer the treasures of your uniqueness to the world. For this is how the Divine comes to Earth – not only through you, but as the uniqueness of you!

It’s time to tap in, turn on, and tune into the dreams you have for yourself and manifest them into glorious reality.  You DO already know how…by letting your internal guidance system be the GPS.  Though I’ll be offering many distinctions and many concrete ways in upcoming messages to hasten your journey by sharing my own experience and what I’ve learned, please always remember “words don’t teach”.  Only your own experience teaches.

By the way, most of what I’ve just written comes to me via my own Law of Attraction education via Abraham-Hicks.  It is this context that allows me to design the content of my extraordinary life.  And I’m so very pleased you are on this journey with me!

The #1 Way to ‘Let it Go’

OK, OK, I hear ya.  A few posts back I gave you the answer to how to stop struggling by creating inspiration.  The answer was this: the minute you’ve recognized the thought that is creating the struggle, just let it go.

I got a lot of emails asking me “How do you do that?”  By the way, I’d love it if you’d ask these wonderful questions in the comments section of the post so that I can answer here on the blog and everyone can access my answer instead of just one person, capisce?

So here it is:  The number one way to “let it go” is to GO GENERAL.  To stop the forward momentum of a negative recurring thought (you know the one(s) right? That one…that just came to mind!), once recognized, and that’s key, is to think a less specific thought.

Here’s an example.  One of my recurring thoughts that keeps me struggling is “it has to be perfect”.  When I write these posts, create courses, choose webinar discussion topics, or am about to give a talk or speech, I want it to be perfect.  This often stops me from getting it done.  Projects take longer than they need to and I’m never truly satisfied.  But I have identified this as a negative, recurring thought.  After I recognize this thought again (and again and again) I GO GENERAL.  I don’t think about how to stop this thought or even change this thought.  I GO GENERAL.

I look at my dogs and focus on how awesome they are.  I look out the window and see the blue sky and appreciate how lucky I am that it’s a pretty day.  I wash the dishes.  I call my mom.  I do something to take my focus to a general and non-specific place, especially around the “perfectionist” conversation.  I do something, anything, to slow or stop the forward momentum of that particular unworkable thought.  I GO GENERAL.

By simply engaging in the process repeatedly once the thought is recognized – again that’s the key – this practice is your beginning to stop struggling, by letting it go, therefore slowing that momentum, bringing in a clearing for inspired creativity.

Got it?  Broken down, I’m sure you’ll agree this is a LOT simpler than the persistent struggle and rat-on-a-wheel thinking that keeps most of our creative community in “starving artist” mode.

It’s starts with your thinking!  Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below.  I’d also love for you to share how you might GO GENERAL the next time you recognize a negative recurring thought.  Here’s to your inspired ACTion!

How to Go From Unmotivated to Motivated Quickly.

I’m glad you asked! The truth is, staying motivated is very difficult for most actors.  We deal with on-going rejection, slow results, stretches of time without paying work and more.  What’s the difference between the actors who are able to stay motivated and those who don’t?  It comes down to one primary factor…

It actually boils down to only three letters and one word: Why?

Many actors are unmotivated because they don’t have a why that resonates with them. They don’t have a REASON for being motivated. Yes, you’re talented and creative but so are many, many other people in the world who are not pursuing an acting career. When I ask many of my coaching clients the question why they want to be an actor for a living, they simply don’t have a good answer.  At least not “good enough” to keep them motivated when times are tough.

The Law of Momentum states that a body in motion will tend to remain in motion and a body at rest will tend to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

This means you’ve got to get yourself moving in the direction you want! And that’s why you’ve got to have your why. You need to have your reason for why you want to do what you’re doing.

This can relate to not only your acting career but also your health, relationships, changing cities, and changing jobs; it could be about anything, but the bottom line is you’ve got to have a clarified why.

Jim Rohn once said, “The bigger the why, the easier the how”, meaning that if we have a good enough reason or a good enough purpose for doing something, the how will come. You’ll get it done and it doesn’t have to make sense.

Scientists have done research on this because of the extreme creative ability that we have to motivate ourselves in times of need – meaning the why or the reason.

Miracles can happen when you have a big enough why. You’ve heard those stories about people who have lifted the weight of an entire car off of a loved one by themselves?  They were motivated!  That’s a HUGE why.  What’s yours?

Why is what you want important to you? Why is money important to you? Why is acting important to you? Why is making money acting important to you?  I mean, after all, you could have a great income producing job in another sector and act in community theater, right?

People ask me this question all the time. They say, “Lisa, you’ve shared a lot of your early struggles and searches for more fulfillment, even once or twice saying you wanted to quit Act Outside the Box. Why didn’t you give up?”

The answer is because I had a bigger why than any struggle or obstacle that I could entertain or have come over me. My why, although not overly enlightened, was very simple back in the day: I had something to prove to someone, though won’t say who.

I needed to prove that they were wrong when they told me I’d never amount to anything and that I’d be broke and begging them for help, support and/or money.  I was shamed by them and spoken to in ways that when I think about it today, still twist my gut in knots.  So my WHY was huge.  Success is the best revenge.  I’d never give up.

Again, it wasn’t very enlightened because that why came from fear, even though it was a great motivator! Once I started getting an education in the Law of Attraction and awareness of what truly matters most to me in life, my why turned into something different.

I wanted to be able to do what I wanted with my time, my energy and my life. I didn’t want to have to be beholden to anyone or anything and I just wanted to be free.  All I wanted was freedom to travel, create, contribute, be with family and friends on my schedule…so that became my new why.

Let me give you one more clue here about your why, because it’s one of the most important things you can ever do. First, your why should have two sides to it. First is you. What is this doing for you? Why for you? Second, your why has to be bigger than you.

It’s why for yourself and then why for something bigger than you, whether it’s your community, your family, your team, your country or a charity or a wellness situation.

If you have those two why’s, one for yourself and one to help others or the world, you’ll be motivated.

Without a why, you will be unmotivated. It’s as simple as that.

So I’ll ask you again: what is your why? Why do you do what you do? Why do you want to be successful? Why do you want a great relationship with your family, friends, or significant other? Why do you want freedom? Why do you act? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you!

Career Transformation in a Flash

People often ask me, “what is the most effective technique for transforming my career quickly?” OK the truth is, they don’t really ask this exact question but the bottom line is that what they mostly want to know is how to get what they want in this biz faster and easier.

Well I gotta say that after years and years of research, my best answer is to just be a little kinder. What? Huh? No seminar or course or pathway or step by step plan to follow? Bummer. Not really. It’s a lot easier than you think.

This is the paradox of the power of kindness. It doesn’t feel powerful at all. In fact, it almost feels too simple to be important. It’s actually the #1 thing that can transform your career and indeed your entire life. And in the business of show, I say it’s a secret weapon to get where you want in your career faster and with ease.

How can that be? Because simply put, kindness is the foundation of a good heart and with a good heart…a good life will follow. You are a giver of gifts in the form of your talent, but if your good heart isn’t in it, I fear you have a tough climb ahead.

Have you ever practiced random acts of kindness? It was a big thing awhile back and I started this practice when it was a trendy and loved it so much it’s now a part of my everyday existence. Try it!

Buy a movie ticket pass and give it to the girl that makes your coffee at Starbucks. Take out your neighbor lady’s trash. Take that flyer from the guy on the corner with a big smile and a thank you instead of charging by with your head down. Pick up the garbage someone just tossed at the can ahead of you and missed. Keep some quarters handy to put in people’s expiring parking meters. My personal favorite is to clean a public bathroom I’m using by picking up toilet paper and paper towels off the floor and putting them in the trash where they belong or mopping up water around the sink.

Practice kindness toward others, but don’t leave yourself out! Take a bubble bath. Buy yourself some fresh flowers. Get that doo dad or gadget that you’ve been wanting but denying yourself for whatever reason.

But how does simply being kind impact your career so that your transformation from talented unknown to rising star happens gracefully and easily? How can it not? This is a business built on relationships where it’s all about who you know and who knows you. Creatives want to work with people they not only know, but also like, trust and who are genuinely nice. It’s pretty simple really. Just be kind!

Attitude Check

You‘ll be faced with a thousand obstacles in this career, many over which you have absolutely no control. Didn’t get the agent you submitted to? Can’t seem to get a call back or haven’t gotten any auditions from your online submissions lately?  None of those are under your control.

Researching and attending an open call audition, submitting to 6 agents, doing your best work at the call back…those things are under your control.

But you have to know the difference…and when you figure that out you’ll be able to see there is always and really only one thing that you are in complete and absolute control of – your attitude.

Attitude is a choice. When you surrender control of your attitude to what seems to be a negative situation, you will react to that situation. More often than not, the reaction is an no so cool over-reaction. On the other hand, if you could keep your cool, you’d respond to the situation appropriately, creating a winning situation. What do I mean by this?

Attitude is such an important word and very few people truly understand it.

To be honest, it wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s when I finally understood its full impact. All through my teens and into my early adult life, I can’t tell you the number of times that I heard, “Lisa, if you’d just change your attitude, you would be a lot better off.” In retrospect I can easily see the cause of my problem. I didn’t know what attitude really was, let alone know how to change it! Looking back I’m fairly certain my search to find working solutions to my problems is what began my life-long obsession with learning.

Attitude is the composite of your thoughts, feelings and actions. Your conscious mind controls feeling and ultimately dictates whether your feelings will be positive or negative by your choice of thoughts, then your body displays those choices through action and behavior.

Thoughts = Feelings = Actions = Results

I’ve said it over and over and over in my seminars, workshops, coaching programs and will continue to in these posts.

I hope taking control of your attitude begins a magnificent journey in pursuit of you having everything you want.  But you’ll have to wisely choose your attitude to gain some altitude!

Now tell me some of your favorite stories where attitude has come into play with regard to your career.  Good and bad, there are lessons to be shared!

The Golden Rule of Your Career

Having confidence in yourself and that the path you’ve chosen is the Golden Rule in your career.  If you don’t have it, how can you expect your talent agent, a casting director or other industry players to have the confidence to hire and work with you?

We all have moments of doubt about whether we can truly achieve our dreams, hopes and goals, and that’s OK, but only for a moment! This can, and most likely does, happen in other areas besides your show biz career…your physical body and attractiveness to others, your ability to provide for your basic needs and for the needs of your family, and even simply having the confidence to speak the truth about a situation.

A lot of people might believe they are confident, depending on how they feel on any given day. But true confidence is not a fleeting thing that is here today and takes a holiday tomorrow. Confidence is all pervasive. It shows itself in every aspect of our lives: the way we view ourselves, perceive our world, approach crises, the way we treat others, our readiness to exercise compassion and forgiveness, and, most important, the way we treat ourselves.

True confidence is an incredible feeling because it has attributes embedded in it which are the hallmarks of the ability to reach your wildest dreams with speed, ease and power.

Want to build your confidence easily without struggle or effort? Practice confidence by giving and receiving acknowledgment. How to do that powerfully?  Take on this confidence affirming and fun exercise:

The next time you’re in public (at a class, audition, a store, walking down the street) and with someone who you don’t know, offer a genuine compliment.  “I love the color of your sweater.  You look great in it”.  Or, “great smile!” or “you have a great way of doing that”. Then just keep moving.  You’ll probably notice their attitude shift, sometimes “puffing up” with gratitude or even a stunned silence.  It doesn’t really matter which as you’re not doing it for the reaction, you’re doing it to offer your words and yourself authentically with confidence, expecting nothing in return.  Move on, feel good and let it go.

The other half of this exercise is to receive a compliment with confidence, offering nothing in return but a “thank you”.  The next time someone says “great scene work” or “I love the color of your sweater, you look great in it”.  Simply say “thank you” and move on, again, feeling confident and feeling good.  Why?  Too many people deflect compliments, making excuses like “oh, this old thing”? Or “it’s nothing”, or some other self-deprecating remark.  It actually steals the thunder of the person who offered the compliment. It undermines their confidence.

See both sides?  Practice this simple giving and receiving of compliments today, tomorrow and the rest of the week.  Without knowing how it works, by the end of the week your confidence will rise significantly.  Cool or cool?

I’d love to hear your comments here, especially after you’ve done this exercise!  Thanks for sharing your experience.  It’s truly inspiring!

The Answer is INSPIRATION

Just like the struggle I discussed giving up in my last post, I also gave up effort.  I used to think that consistent daily effort without all the negative mindset and emotions that struggle brings was all that it takes.  Since then I’ve added effort-less-ness into this delicious mix.

I had to realize over the years that my thinking about effort and struggle as a necessity was off base, not helpful to my goals, and filled with mistakes. So with no efforting and no more struggle, what’s the switch I flipped to move in the right direction with grace and ease?  Inspiration.

Inspiration is often looked at as observing something outside yourself that moves you. Actors and audiences alike are inspired when watching great performances, which stirs something deep inside and that excitement causes a response, an action, a desire to duplicate what you’ve seen or even create something different and unique.  However, I’ve come to realize after much examination and practice that true inspiration is created, organic, and comes from within.

So how do you create inspiration?

The first step is awareness. When you are aware of a negative recurring thought you’re having, take a moment to reflect how it’s holding you back today. This thought is most likely years old and has quite a hold on you, and being on the look out and on purpose about identifying these persistent negative thoughts is key.

Once you’ve realized you’re having this thought, just let it go. YES, you can let it go. It will most likely come up again later today, and tomorrow and later this week. When it does, let it go. It’s a process, never ending, but eventually it gets better and easier to identify and let go.  When you’ve got the grasp of this you will begin to replace the negative thought(s) with a blank slate with which inspiration and creativity are naturally occurring.

Many times we don’t even realize so many of the things that are holding us back. After years, or even decades, they become invisible to us. Today you have a decision, a choice.

You can stay with struggle and effort or move closer to inspired actions that bring you greater fulfillment, greater calm, and better results. Which will you choose? I think I know, but I’d love to hear!