It's not just about talent or luck.
Have you ever wondered why some entertainers are phenomenally successful, and others can never seem to catch a break? What if I told you that talent was only part of the equation? For most, what it comes down to is hard work, perseverance, and vision.
Working as an entertainment lawyer these past 20-something years, I've seen some clients make it big, and others, equally talented, flop just as dramatically, or worse yet, get discouraged and throw in the towel.
Ingredients of Success
Success in any endeavor is composed of a handful of key elements. They are:
- Performance, and;
The entertainment industry is just that, an industry. Like any industry, it is composed of companies and individuals who are in it as their business. It's called “Show Business” for a reason. They're here to make money. To make a profit. It's not all fun and games, partying and mingling with the beautiful people. It takes a lot of hard work by a lot of people to manage a successful career in this game.
So, you want to make it in Hollywood? Are you ready to do the hard work? Let's talk about those four elements:
Like anything in life, you need to prepare before you can possibly achieve great things. We all go to school to learn the fundamental life skills like reading, writing and arithmetic. That's preparation.
Formulating a vision is also an important part of preparation. Without a destination and a plan for arriving there, you're likely to waste considerable time and energy just to arrive “anywhere”. Proper preparation means sitting down and figuring out where you're headed, how you're getting there, and what you'll do when you arrive.
Learning the business of your industry is another important part of preparation. The most successful people in the entertainment industry (regardless of their actual trades) have worked hard to study, understand and develop intuition about the business. If you're going to succeed in the entertainment industry, you need to treat it like a business. Business people prepare. So should you.
Practice means keeping your tools sharp and ready for action. Businesses and business people practice. They do things over and over and over until they're nearly automatic. They develop systems and protocols.
If you're a writer, and you're not writing every single day, without fail, can you honestly say you're as ready as you can be for success?
If you're an actor and you're not taking classes, working at your craft, and pushing your limits, you're not doing the work.
If you're a producer and you're not talking with other producers, shadowing a mentor, studying the busienss, then you're not doing the work. If you're working the phones every day, dealing with rejection, frustration and headaches, THAT is doing the work. Are you doing everything you can to package your project, interest financiers, and secure distribution? If not, you're not showing up for practice.
Daily practice is the commitment you must make to achieving success. The old saying that “showing up is 90% of success” may just be true. Show up every day, do the work, and eventually, you'll succeed.
Performance means that when you DO get a job, set up a project, or whatever, you make the most of the situation. Pick a cliche'. You go the extra mile. You deliver 110%, etc. The point is, you get the job done, you do it well, and you build a reputation for being an achiever. Consistently performing to the best of your ability is key to career and business advancement. Phone things in, even just once in a while, and you're setting yourself up for mediocre performance over the long haul. No excuses. Go big, or go home.
Businesses that don't perform, consistently, don't last long.
The biggest mistake anyone in this industry makes is giving up. Calling it quits. If you're committed to your dream of achieving success in show business, there is no giving up. If you lose your passion for things, then fine, give up, go home, get a “real” job, and try to forget the dream. But as long as that dream lives inside you, you owe it to yourself, to the business, and to society to stay the course. No matter what.
Sadly, too many good, talented people give up just before their success arrives. Persistence, even in the face of overwhelming odds, seemingly insurmountable hurdles, and scorn from family, friends, and others, is a common trait among all of the most successful people in any field of endeavor.
Businesses chart a course, and then stick to it. But, smart, effective, and successful businesses are capable of mid-course corrections. They are capable of the “strategic pivot”.
The role of luck.
Luck is something you make, not something you just have or don't. If you Prepare, Practice, Perform and Persist, you will have made your luck. Good fortune will, eventually, find you. If you're there to be found.
So, here are a few things you can do to get started (or re-started) on the path to success in this crazy industry.
- Step back and look at your career as your BUSINESS
- Articulate (out loud, and on paper) your vision for your business' objectives, and goals.
- Craft a business plan for your business. WRITE IT DOWN. (get a book on how to write a business plan, or hire a consultant (Like me) to help you. But make sure it's your own.
- Identify the things you need to do each day to prepare, practice and perform, Break up your goals into the component steps, sub-steps, and individual tasks that need to be done to acheive them.
- Each day, set out to do one or two of the individual tasks for each goal.
- Track your progress, and take pride in each accomplishment.
- Work your plan, but every few weeks, step back and take a strategic look at your business, identify what's working, and what's not, reevaluate your goals, tasks, etc.,
- Finally, look for opportunities that you might not have seen before, and if it makes sense, pivot.
Pretty soon, you'll start seeing the kind of success you've dreamed of.