Introduction

I never thought I would write a motivational or self-help book in my life. Sure, maybe another screenplay, play, or teleplay. Or that great American novel or book of short stories, but a how-to book? Not my thing, style or goal.

For the past decade, I have spoken to hundreds of audiences worldwide at colleges and universities, film festivals, theaters and arts organizations, and acting and writing groups. Many of the questions from these audiences of aspiring, working and successful creative professionals were remarkably similar. Their occupations, goals or nationalities had little bearing. Once I graduate or when I have a lull in my career, what do I do? What do I do in my career to be proactive to get to the next level? How do I stop relying on people —whether they be agents, managers or various gatekeepers: producers, casting directors, etc.—to succeed in my creative career? How do I make things happen?

I searched in bookstores and on the web for books that cover the business side of the craft or simply creative career success. Nothing. Absolutely nada. I couldn’t believe it. There are literally thousands of books about various crafts: acting, writing, screenwriting, directing, art, music—you name it, but nothing about creative career success. Yet, I knew from my speeches and workshops that there was a gigantic demand for this type of a book. A demand that wasn’t being accommodated.

I also wanted to save creative professionals years. That’s right, years. Not to mention, pain. When you are talented and not doing enough creatively, it really hurts. Many creatives are simply stuck and their careers and lives suffer as a result. I want to liberate them from their “creative career prisons” and inspire them to try other strategies to accomplish or succeed. By remaining stuck or inactive, many moons can indeed go by. But if you go for it, things will happen!

I also want to incorporate my own rather unique perspective or vantage point. There are no career advisory books by anyone who has worked at a large agency like ICM or CAA. Most agents at major agencies reap the benefits of working as agents or managers for their entire lives and eventually retire. A very tiny number are foolish enough to do what I did and quit a six-figure job to start at square one as a creative professional. That is, a person making a good living on the business side jumping to the risky and unpredictable creative side. I couldn’t help it —I am creative and started getting jealous of my clients. What could I do? I wanted to be creative, damnit! I wanted to be part of the creative equation and not simply represent creative professionals.

So I began a long and continuing journey of almost two decades as an active writer, director and producer (and occasional actor) in film, TV, theater, and new media. Being on the front lines on the war of creative career success, if you will, as a present creative professional gives me a distinct advantage over those authors, so-called experts and university professors who may have given up long ago—if indeed they ever tried. My perspective is tried and true, extremely current and I’m still making things happen!

Both the agenting and filmmaking stages of my career have also allowed me to feed a thirst for knowledge I’ve had about creative career success for my entire life. How do creative people or artists succeed? What exactly separates them from the thousands or hundreds of thousands of other creative folks? Is it talent alone or are there other factors at play? What are those other factors? I have always been obsessed with the getting “the real scoop” about how celebrities and top-tier successful creative professionals actually succeed. I didn’t want to hear the slick PR and/or sugarcoated versions that present themselves in magazine and newspaper articles or on talk shows. I wanted to know the unadulterated truth!

From the beginning of my tenure as an entertainment agent at ICM or International Creative Management, I asked a lot of questions from the names or celebrity clients themselves. Not only those I represented, but also those represented by my fellow agents. As a filmmaker, it was the same story. I asked all my successful friends, peers and colleagues how they did it—yearning for “the real scoop” yet again. I heard a lot of the same commonalities or descriptions over and over again. Those habits, qualities, tools and practices—that the names and the world’s most successful actors, directors, writers, producers, artists musicians, singers, comedians, authors, journalists, photographers, designers and even business entrepreneurs—share. What they have in common in contrast to the majority of creative folks who fail to make a living in their chosen creative field. This, indeed, is the primary inspiration for this book.

After three decades of analysis of creative career success, I developed and created my own unique philosophy, strategy and even vocabulary to clearly convey these commonalities. I deliberately wrote specific, bite-sized and self-contained chapters in this book so you, my readers, can grasp, retain and use what you can to improve your careers and, in the process, perhaps, your lives. For me, there is no greater goal.

I also want to do my humble part in enabling the best and most talented to succeed, not necessarily the most connected or wealthiest (although I have nothing against either of these groups). It is my objective to empower those outside of the loop or clique, those who may not live in LA, NY or London, to achieve their creative goals and dreams. To get their work seen. No matter how gifted you may be, sometimes you may need a boost of knowledge and inspiration to attain that elusive next level of success. I dedicate this book to you!

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