Paying It Forward

Several days ago I mentioned an encounter with an actor who is consistently working in film and television in Los Angeles.  I found myself in the same elevator so the poor man had no choice but to endure my conversation.  At the time I didn’t realize who he was as I wasn’t the target demo for the shows he’s previously been on, I thought he was a sports anchor on a station I’d previously sold.  Anywho, he most graciously put up with my request to pick his brain and answered my questions for about an hour and a half.  The topics were all over the board from what he felt when a series was cancelled to are there any normal people in Hollywood and how do you tell if they like you for you and not for what you can do for them?  It was truly one of most seminal moments in my career to date.  The information he shared, the inside tips and the encouragement were early Christmas presents delivered at a time when I needed to receive them.  I had a smile on my face the remainder of the day that no lack of sleep from a red-eye flight could erase.

I don’t know if someone had done this for him early in his career or if he was just in a good mood and felt like talking.  I’m sure when he left to catch his plane back to LA he had no idea of the impact he’d left on me and of the ripple effect his words would produce.  I’m sure once he hit the terminal floor our encounter was forgotten as he moved into getting home mode. But I didn’t forget and I won’t forget.  I’ll think back to that conversation many times over the next weeks and months as I go forward.  And that’s the way it should be.  There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  I learned many lessons that early morning and am most grateful for the generosity and kindness shown to me by a fellow actor.  It was pretty amazing.

Golden Nuggets

A very valuable resource and mentor in my transition to my acting career has been Kristine Oller.  I’ve written about Kristine before and the guidance she’s given me has been so invaluable.  She’s the kind of advisor that doesn’t tell you what to do, she helps you lead yourself to what you want to accomplish and where you need to go.  Networking is a big part of her success formula and it’s an element that so many creatives overlook.  They think that if they do good work, the world will come knocking at their door.  Why wouldn’t it?

Well it’s not that easy.  I share Kristine’s fantasy that when I go to an event the cool group with all the mojo will take me under their wings, introduce me to the people that will catapult me to the stratosphere of my career and give me all their client contacts.  <SIGH>  It just doesn’t happen that way unfortunately.  It’s work to get to know people.  You have to put yourself out there.  Make connections with folks.  Having been in sales for so long I’m very comfortable at meeting people and making acquaintances.  And I’m great at selling someone else or their product.  But when it comes to selling myself, the wheels come off the bus.  I had the same problem when asking for a raise but that’s a topic for another day.  One of the things Kristine taught me was her Golden Nugget game.  She says that when you go to a party or an event, she tells herself there is someone there with a golden nugget of information for her and she has a golden nugget of information for someone else.  She doesn’t know who she’s giving it to or who she’s receiving it from or even what the information is but she just knows it’s her job at that moment to find the giver and the recipient.  This helps take the pressure off of that first face to face meeting and the awkwardness that ensues.

Keeping this thought in the back of my brain has really helped elevate my encounters with people.  Sometimes I give out more than one golden nugget and others I get far more than I give.  It really makes an evening enjoyable and takes the strain away from connecting with people.  I’m still hoping for that elusive E ticket to the top, but while I’m waiting, this makes the A, B, C and D tickets so much more fun!