Prioritizing Freedom in Your Career

Prioritizing Freedom in Your Career

Happy 4th of July! I hope you are having a fun day filled with family, friends, and fireworks. As we celebrate the birthday of our wonderful country, freedom is on my mind. We are so lucky here in the United States that we live our lives in freedom. Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press are all integral parts of our lives as creatives.

What Does Freedom Mean in Your Career?

How does freedom figure in your idea of success? When we understand our priorities, our decisions become more focused and more productive to get us to our goals more quickly.

There are three areas of your life that intersect when we talk about success: fame, fortune, and freedom.

There is no right or wrong answer. Each of us must decide which of the three is the most important to us. Once we have a focus, fame, fortune, or freedom becomes our north star by which we make all our career and life decisions.

These three things intersect and overlap. Fame brings fortune, and fortune brings freedom. Dig deep within yourself to figure out which of the three is your most important value. The answer is different for everyone.

Fame

​Andy Warhol​ said everyone is famous for 15 minutes. With social media and the Internet, fame can come quickly. You can go from a nobody to an Internet famous video star in a few minutes. If fame is your guiding value, you will make decisions differently than other people. Fame doesn’t just mean going viral. It can mean winning an Academy Award. Hitting the bestseller list. Being interviewed by the New York Times or a guesting as a pundit on Fox News.

Fortune

It is human nature to want money. While money can’t buy happiness, it makes life much easier. And there is nothing wrong with making money your priority. Wanting to be financially successful differs from being greedy. If your definition of success is making money, you are going to make decisions differently than someone whose leading value is fame. For example, producing a viral video doesn’t always make you money. But there are ways to make money from videos whether or not they are viral.

In American culture, we have lots of judgment around wealth. But we all need money in our current system and there is nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life.

Freedom

People who value freedom above everything else build a life where they have choices and feel in charge of their destiny. Freedom people usually want to be their own boss, set their own schedule, and travel. Freedom leading people are usually not nine to fivers and they’re bigger risk takers. They also make compromises in their life, giving up some things like the security of a corporate job for the freedom of being able to go where they want and do what they want.

How Will You Structure Your Life?

I can’t believe we are halfway through the year. When you are planning out the rest of your year, think about these three values and which is most important to you. Then make your plans accordingly. The direction your life takes with this new perspective might surprise you.

Fame, fortune, and freedom are all fabulous. Go for it!


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Using Good News to Reconnect

Using Good News to Reconnect

Do you have good news to share? Have you just completed a project? Do you have a book or movie coming out? Instead of just posting on social media, reach out individually to people you haven’t spoken to in a while. Good news is a great excuse to get back in touch with your network. It’s a powerful way to make a request because it seems like you’re not asking; you’re sharing. Never let an opportunity to connect go to waste.

Your Network is Your Contact List

The first step in this process is making a list of people you want to share your good news with. Is there anything you’d like to ask them? Do you want to be on their podcast? Set up a pitch meeting? Or just have lunch to reconnect? Have a clear goal in mind. To get an extensive list, go through your contacts. Don’t rely on your memory. Three things will surprise you:

1. How many people you know who could be helpful.

2. How many people who you have been meaning to call.

3. How many people you don’t talk to any more.

People you Know who Could be Helpful

Your network is bigger than you think! Don’t just think about the people that you know. Think about the people that they know. Think about where your contacts work and where they used to work.

Put down everyone that you think can remotely help you with your goal. When you have gone through all of your contacts, divide your list into two categories. Your A list are the people that you know well, that would be happy to help, and it’s not scary to talk to them. The B list is the people that you know, but it’s uncomfortable to reach out to them, even with good news. Dividing your list this way makes it easier to reach out. You can tell yourself you don’t have to work on your B list at all or set a small goal like talking to five people.

People Who You Have Lost Touch With

As you work through your contacts, you will find people who you are close to that you haven’t talked to in a while. Don’t put them on a list for later. Call, text, or email them immediately. Make a plan to see each other and catch up. Reconnect and recharge your relationship. Everyone is so busy. They will be thrilled to hear from you.

Delete Old Contacts

As you are going through your list, delete all the people you don’t talk to. They may be irrelevant, like an old landlord. Retired from the industry. Or a slice of painful paste like an old boyfriend. Most importantly, delete people who do not wish you well. Don’t hold on to that to that terrible ex-boss. It doesn’t matter how important he is; he will never help you. Let go of frenemies who gossip and don’t celebrate your success. This clean up extends to social media. Unfriend and unfollow anyone who doesn’t contribute positively to your life.

LinkedIn is Your Friend

As you go through your contacts, use LinkedIn to find out if the information you have for them is still correct and what people are doing. It gives you more things to talk about over e-mail and in person.

After I finished my contacts organization and purge, I felt energized. What did you discover going through your contacts?


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Social Media – Posting with Purpose: Why I’m Still Here but Not Everywhere

Social Media – Posting with Purpose: Why I’m Still Here but Not Everywhere

Currently, I am taking a break from social media. I am still posting, but I’m not scrolling. If you comment on a post, I probably won’t see it. The best way to reach me is to reply to this newsletter. I read and respond to every e-mail.

Why I Still Post

While I don’t like consuming social media, I enjoy making content. Social media posts are another way for me to write, teach, and create things that don’t fit in the newsletter.

This was in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. Upstart Crow is a hilarious British comedy series on Britbox about Shakespeare writing his plays.

You Must Be on Social Media

We are told that you must be on social media to make a living as a creative. We need to connect with our audience and build our fan base. While it is true that you need to grow your audience, you can do that in a myriad of ways that may or may not include social media. What works for one person may not work for you. ​Thomas Umstattd Jr.​, host of the Novel Marketing Podcast, teaches that you don’t have to be on social media at all as an author. Also, you don’t have to be everywhere. Pick what social media platform you vibe with. There are all kinds of cool platforms, from ​Discord ​to ​Bandcamp​. Find where your people are, and you will feel at home.

There are different philosophies about which platforms to use and how often to post. Again, I suggest you find the platforms and the rhythm that work for you. Trying to harness the mysterious algorithm that can change on a whim is not a good use of your time when you could be writing. For me I post when I have something to say. I try to post at least once a week, but sometimes there are longer gaps.

Ironically, I just signed up for ​Goodreads​. A platform for book lovers sounded intriguing. Give ​me​ a shout if you are on there.

What is your favorite social media platform? What do you like about it? Comment below and let me know, along with your handle.


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A Day Job Can Make You More Creative

A Day Job Can Make You More Creative

For most of us, one of our big goals is to make enough money at our creative work to support ourselves full time. This emphasis on being a full-time artist can work to our disadvantage. While plenty of people make a good living writing, acting, and painting, many people do not. If you have a day job or a side hustle to support yourself while you create, you are not a failure!

Day jobs put food on your table and pay the rent so that you can create. In fact, there are some personality types that can only excel at their art when they feel financially stable. Sometimes having a day job is not only the right move: it’s the smart move.

I know an actress who writes, produces and stars in her own films. She is very busy and works a lot. She recently confessed on social media that she still waits tables. Being a waitress doesn’t make her a failure as an actor. It gives her the freedom to make and star in her own projects.

I have another friend who is a successful fine artist. She regularly has shows at art galleries and her pieces always sell. She has chosen to have a day job so that she can have health insurance and save for retirement.

Even bestselling authors have day jobs. One of my favorite writers, ​Lauren Willig​, was a graduate student in history, then a law student, and then a lawyer at a huge New York law firm four years before she decided to write full time. That was after she had traditionally published a series of 10 bestselling books.

If you’re at the place in your career but you’re having to juggle a day job and your creativity, I urge you to embrace the challenge of time and energy management. Sometimes the limits a day job puts on our creative hours make us more productive. I’ve heard from a lot of authors that they found finding time to write harder once they were home full time.

Be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t compare yourself to other people. You don’t know what they did to get where they are. You don’t know what they’re doing now. They may have a day job or even two.


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Riding the Creative Rollercoaster: Strategies for Thriving Amidst Change

Riding the Creative Rollercoaster: Strategies for Thriving Amidst Change

Everyone knows that the one constant in life is change, but that doesn’t make change any easier. The last few years in the creative industries have been a rollercoaster of change. Not fun.

In the entertainment industry, the writers were fighting with the agents and managers. Then we had COVID shut down. Then there were the writers and actors strikes. And now as the industry tries to figure out the economics of streaming, people have been laid off, projects cancelled, and completed movies shelved.

The publishing industry is going through its own growing pains with Amazon changing keywords and Kindle Unlimited payouts. People’s income has gone down overnight.

Life as a creative always ebbs and flows. And there is a lot we can’t control. When times are tough, the only thing you can do is focus on what you can control – yourself.

Here are some things you can do.

Keep Creating

As a writer, keep writing. The more you write, the more IP you have. The more IP you have, the more you have to sell and the more opportunities you get.

The more you write, the more your writing improves. Double down on your craft. Read a book. Take a class. Form a writers group.

As an executive, keep creating by partnering with writers and directors whose work you love. Look for and develop projects. This creative work will bring opportunities, growing your network. A new project gives you a reason to reach out to people. And it will keep your story brain humming.

Build Your Network

As always, who you know plays an important part in your career growth. Nurture your existing relationships by seeing people in person. It’s time to book breakfast, lunch, drinks, and dinner! ​Meet new people at networking events​. You probably have a favorite event where you know everyone. Join new groups to expand your network. Or start your own.

If you are in Los Angeles, Dave Cain and Nick Harron have restarted my networking mixer for kids entertainment, Ready Set Go. I will host (mostly) from Texas. If you would like to get on the list for invitations, click ​here​.

Explore New Revenue Streams

With uncertainty in the air, now is the perfect time to think outside of the box of ways you can expand your income. Start with your projects. As a creator, are there ways you can expand and repurpose your ideas? Maybe your favorite TV series project could become a tabletop game or a comic book.

As an executive, can you use your expertise in a new way to earn some extra money? One way to use your experience is to share what you know. Teach a class (either in person or online.) Or write a how to book.

Practice Resilience

While growing our careers, we have to learn how to be our own cheerleaders. Persevering is hard even for the most upbeat person. The only way through the hard times is forward.

A reminder: We know how to be resilient. You have endured many things in the past, from career upsets to family tragedies, and you are still here.

Even if you’re feeling unable to handle your latest challenge, you have handled other challenges before. You’ve got this. Keep creating; keep telling stories. Who knows what wonderful experience is waiting for you in the next bend in your road.

When you get bad news, go to the zoo.

Author Kevin Tumlinson talks about how ​he chooses joy over despair​.


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How to Have a Poker Face

How to Have a Poker Face

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how our weaknesses are also our greatest strengths, if you flip your perception around. I’ve always thought that it’s a giant weakness that I do not have a poker face. I’m learning how to play mahjong and I can’t keep from smiling when I draw that perfect tile.

One look at me in a discussion and you know what I’m thinking. When I’m working with clients, I always have to tell them this is my thinking face while I’m working out a story problem on the fly so that they don’t interpret it as dislike.

I just decided that my lack of a poker face is a superpower. In an age where everyone puts their fake face forward on Instagram and over Zoom, being authentic builds trust. With me, you know what you’re getting. My enthusiasm is unmistakable.

Like all strengths and weaknesses, I have to learn to work it to the best advantage. It is not strategic to let everyone know what you are thinking and feeling all the time. (Especially in a corporate environment.) If you’re an open book like me, here are three ways to guard your reactions.

1. Smile while you are listening and talking. Smiling conveys intentional listening. It is hard to roll your eyes or snort in disgust when you’re smiling.

2. Take notes. If you are writing or typing, you are looking down, making your expression harder to read.

3. If you are on video and the meeting is challenging, turn off your camera. Then you can roll your eyes all you want.

What weakness can you turn into a strength at work? And if you have more hints about how not to have a poker face, I would love to hear them.


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