Social Media – What’s Really Going On?

When confidence is crushed by comparisons, social media has raised the bar on “keeping up with the Joneses”. What’s an actor to do?

The other day, I saw a celebrity’s IG post get over 500, 000 likes. Not 500K followers – 500K likes.

Actors fret over numbers – how many followers/likes do I have? – because they think it’s the be all end all. They think it’s important to casting. So now there’s a rat race to increase these numbers. I’m gonna say something controversial here…I think it’s bullsh&t. I think that for 80% of us, these numbers are unnecessary. I know that some CDs say social media is important, but I know others say it isn’t. I know some actors have been asked for their account handles at auditions, but I know I never have. What’s really going on here? Let’s break it down.

The way I see it, social media is important only when you’re on either end of the spectrum. On the low end: independent projects may choose to rely on “high followers” to help promote/fund their films – essentially using these actors as producers, without the producer credit. On the high end of the spectrum, a big budget TV series may – when narrowing down a series lead – choose the actor whose on-line visibility relates closest to their show.

My page expresses me as an actor

If you notice, I just outlined two different types of social media categories: numbers and presence. The numbers thing is just that – numbers. Companies who specialize in increasing numbers “like” my posts all the time, hoping that I will buy their service. I’ve been liked by strangers with over 20K followers, but I see nothing of substance when I click on their IG page. So not only do I know they paid for it, I also know they’re using me to employ a tactic designed to further increase their numbers.

What must be observed here is the difference between numbers and numbers with meaningful content.

Celebrities and people with great content build their following organically. Here’s how we, too, can create meaningful content  – find our POV. Humans are attracted to distinct, interesting points of view. This speaks to a person’s essence. A few weeks ago, I showed how self-improvement/self-growth is nothing more than the emergence of who you really are. So don’t just post a picture of your food, tell us how you see it. Share with us who you really are. Otherwise it’s just a another lunch pic.

I use my actor’s “pitch” in my bio

So when a producer asks for your social media handles, they’re researching you. They want to see a real person, they want to see who you are. (They also want to see that you’re not an idiot.) I am on FB and IG every single day. Several times. I continue to stumble, but my desire is specific: to maintain authenticity while expressing my POV.

I’m Not Disciplined. Or am I?

As I write this, I am between my fifth and sixth day of doing the Master Cleanse. For those

Ingredients for the Master Cleanse

unfamiliar, it is a fasting ritual that cleans the colon and other major organs over the course of several days. Each morning begins with a saltwater flush (good times!) and every evening ends with a cup of herbal laxative tea. Nothing – absolutely nothing – is eaten the entire time. A homemade organic lemonade with maple syrup and cayenne pepper gives the body all the nutrients it needs. Sound crazy?

Call me crazy. I don’t write this to demonstrate how “disciplined” I am, nor to convince anybody to follow suit. I’m simply using this as an example of how others may see discipline. Throughout my life, friends have commented on how disciplined I am, but I’ve seen myself as quite the opposite. Until I discovered what discipline really means.
The root of the word is disciple. And what is a disciple? Someone who simply follows what he loves. Well now, that makes sense! Every “admirable” act of discipline I’ve ever executed – riding my bike over 500 miles in the AidsRide2, sticking with acting for over 30 years, doing the Master Cleanse – has always been about following what I love. Well, maybe the Master Cleanse in and of itself isn’t what I love (can I have some papas y cerveza, please?), but rather it is a means to what I love. I love renewing my digestive system, feeling energetic, light, and sharp. I love the vision of myself never having to be on medication. As author Michael Neill, puts it “Discipline is remembering what you want”.

 

And that’s it. What is it that you want? Really, really want?
Remember it, and discipline becomes a labor of love.

“You Make Me Want to be a Better Man”

Ah, that iconic quote from “As Good As it Gets”. Every woman’s heart melted when Melvin Udall said it. How beautiful it is to see a good woman transform a jerk. Or did she?

Everywhere you look, there’s some class, workshop, book, webinar, out there designed to improve us. Udall didn’t need his waitress to transform him, right? I mean, we already do things we think will improve us: work out, meditate, read inspirational books, choose the soft drink over the cocktail, etc. Whatever it is, we do it so we can be “better”. Or do we?

Look, the truth is, nothing can improve us. I’m serious. What these things actually do is bring forth, little by little, our coolest self. We develop good habits and “walk through fire”, because we have a burning (pun intended) desire to be authentic. If instead we take on an end goal of becoming “better”, then these habits become obligations or feats of discipline. Have you ever “fallen off the wagon” by behaving badly, and felt awful because you knew you could do better? That feeling is evidence of living inauthentically.

So what did change Melvin’s life? Melvin. He witnessed someone living so authentically he couldn’t stand not living that way too. He witnessed it and (internally) screamed, “I want that!”

Now…who is your coolest self?  That answer is different for everyone. Our only job is to consistently do things that scare, excite, and connect us – not so we can become “better” people, but to reveal who we truly are. We call it self-improvement, but it’s real name is Self Emergence, and its a lifelong process.

For realz.

What’s the Big Deal about Pilot Season?

There’s this buzz that happens every January in the industry. Pilot Season. This time of year, I see a sh%t ton of ads telling (selling) actors to “be prepared for pilot season” with
  • New Headshots!
  • Acting Classes!
  • Image Makeovers!
  • New Representation! etc. etc. etc.
Something’s not right here, I think. By the time January comes around it’s too late to have this stuff ready for pilot season.  I mean, doesn’t the word “prepare” automatically imply prior to?

Many actors hold a misconception that pilot season is only for those who have top representation or who are series regular material. (Whatever that means.) There’s this idea that booking a pilot is better than any other acting job. People move cross country every winter, spending a year’s savings on a three month gamble.

It’s time to demystify pilot season. Companies use the tantalizing prospect of booking a pilot as bait to sell their product. Look, either you need new headshots, classes, an agent or not. Ask yourself, What do I need to support my career right now?

Almost two years ago, Dorothy, a SAG eligible actor, decided it was time to join the union. She decided it was her time to do TV and film, and joining SAG-AFTRA was what she needed.The moment she made that decision – and I mean within a month – she got her first TV audition. Her musical comedy experience was an easy transfer to sitcoms. Offices began to call her in repeatedly, and six months later she booked a pilot.
About a year ago this time of year,Joy walked her headshot into a casting office, because she knew she was perfect for a new show. Today she’s filming that show as the series lead! The series, however, never had a pilot. The network simply greenlit the entire season – a perfect example of how pilots are not the be all end all.
(Both Dorothy and Joy had participated in Action Group, and used Marketing Tools to support their careers.)

Booking a pilot as a co-star or guest star can be just like any other acting gig. Yes, it’s fun to be on the ground floor of something new – something that could be the nation’s next big hit – but at the end of the day, it’s just solid work. So if your goal is to book solid work, then forget about the term, “pilot season”, collect what you need, and do what you need to do – now. If you can’t figure out what that is, then ask yourself, What do I really want? Your answer will guide yo

Preparing vs Going “All In”

When I first moved to Los Angeles from Chicago, I had no plan, no agent, nor any connections. Within the year, I booked three major network co-stars and a national commercial. I tend to “jump off the edge” so to speak, exhilarated to see what happens next. Hence my love for improv.

There’s a difference between investing in preparation/education and going all in. For instance, back in 2003, I delivered a Carmen Miranda impersonation

for my theatre company’s fundraiser, and it brought down the house. I had the movements, the music, the voice and the outfit – none of which I had the month prior. A veteran company member stared at me backstage and softly said, “I bet you put 110% into everything you do.”

Make no mistake – this had nothing to do with working hard. It may look like I work hard, but at it’s core, it’s always been about me going all in. There’s nothing more fulfilling that going fully in. Even at junior high dances, my sisters and I were the only kids who actually dressed up – making it a real event – and danced every dance.

My career coach has a saying: “Part-time actors produce part-time results.” In 2015, I was years into a dry spell that left me financially dependent on my boyfriend, and sadly, the relationship was no longer working. Not knowing where I was going to live or how I was going to support myself, I ended the relationship. I hired a coach. I fully committed to my career, and showed up to the world in a way I hadn’t before. In eighteen months, I added five more network credits, two national commercials, and signed with a better agent.

If we circle around in our heads, trying to figure out the “how to’s” of this and that, we create obstacles that weren’t even there before. Nowadays, everyone is trying to sell us the “Top 10 Secrets of How To – (fill in the blank)”. We know people who collect these “secrets”, who have a personal library filled with “how to” instruction manuals, but it doesn’t bring them any closer to their goal. The truth? Solutions appear when we go all in.

When I returned to college (for the second time), I didn’t know how to pay for it, how to fit in with classmates 20 years my junior, nor how to use my new degree. I threw myself completely into academia, loving every minute of it. During my second year, I (coincidentally?) booked several commercials which paid for my fees, new computers, and design software.
The Greek Theatre
Who could have predicted that I would give the graduation speech as class valedictorian, and that my graphic design degree would lead me to start my own business? I went all in, and the world laid itself at my feet.

MARKETING – What’s the Point?

This marketing thing can (suck) be overwhelming. There’s so much to consider: what to say, who to send it to, is this the right photo? Five years ago, I  made a video called “Why Actors Want to Send out Postcards”.

In it, I talk about outside reasons/ business reasons why to send postcards, and it still holds up.

What I want to talk about now is the point of the connection. Whaaaat?

With every marketing piece, drop off, or phone call there is a point of connection. That moment when you’re talking to another human being  – in person, on the phone or via mail. This can be the biggest block for most of us. Too often we put the kibosh on taking action because we are so in our head about how the other person is going to perceive our outreach. The easiest way to solve that problem is to see the purpose of your action.

Sherlock used her Halloween card as an ice-breaker for her drop-offs.

“Following Doreen ‘s advice to meet CD’s in person was rewarding.

As it was before the Thanksgiving Holiday it gave me the idea to go in, drop off a little nosh and say Thank you. I had a purpose. NOT to ask to get cast or to be called in, but the sole purpose of thanking them (regardless of how long ago they called me in or if at all) I just wanted to thank them. I even got weepy with one as it hit me that I have a pension and it started with this one CD with whom I booked the biggest job of my life. It was an “us” moment. We did it together. I actually had fun because I like to thank and acknowledge those with whom I had/have/or wish to have a working relationship. I wouldn’t have done this on my own without Doreen’s support.”  ~ Sherlock Ganz, Actor

Be clear. Have a purpose. Dropping off to casting directors because they’re on your list is not good enough. Mailing a warm letter to a show creator because you truly appreciate their work is exactly enough. You get the idea.

So focus on the point of connection. Visualize that moment when someone reads your card, answers your call, or sees you in front of them. What is the real message you want to give? Now plan the perfect action that will create that!

Tune in to FACEBOOK LIVE every Tuesday 12pm PST!  You can participate in the discussion and ask questions on this or any other topic! So don’t wait until the last minute. Get on my Facebook page, “Like it”, and set your calendar alert!

Recognition on Mother’s Day

As I scrolled through the Mother’s Day Facebook posts, I began to see many people who acknowledged their unconventional relationships with their mothers: strained, estranged, abusive, or simply non-existent either by death or choice. This made me think of how many of us don’t get the support and nurturing we need, even when Mom is doing the best she can. It made me remember that as long as we continue look outside of ourselves for recognition, we will never be satisfied.

Being an entrepreneur takes tons of work, energy, time, and money with no guaranteed results. Sometimes it seems fruitless, definitely thankless. I mean who is gonna thank us? Who is gonna give us a promotion or a plaque for a job well done at our company? Promotions and awards exist to encourage loyalty and future productivity from worthy employees. Well aren’t we worthy employees? Don’t we deserve a promotion? A frickin’ plaque on the wall?

How we see ourselves is a choice.

In truth, we are the CEO, manager, and the most important employee of our “company”. If we don’t recognize all the work we do, we’re gonna get discouraged and slack off. Here are two examples of how I gave myself recognition this year.

1.) A while ago, I dipped my toe into social media as an actor even though I have no celebrity status. I did something small by simply taking audition selfies and describing them to the world. My goal was to share a variety of photos that reflected each specific role I auditioned for. While most of my peers fear the backlash of “on-line bragging”, I was surprised to see how much people liked it. My business coach reflected back to me how thoughtful and effective this kind of share was. She pointed out how my Instagram wall was a pastiche of characters that spoke to my commitment as an actor – not a list of random audition brags. Yeah, I work my ass off every single time, and I deserve to be recognized for it. This was my “plaque on the wall”.

2.) I had been working with a small, barely effective talent agency for two years, because at the time I signed with them I felt it was the best I could do theatrically. As I began to book jobs, I felt a subservient gratefulness to them since I was in fact getting out more than I had been in the last several years. Again, my business coach pointed to my successes and reminded me that I needed to find an agent who could up my game. I was scared and insecure – I needed a “mama” to push me out of the nest, so to speak. (My mom loves me, but this is not her department.) After composing an exquisite cover letter and sending out several submissions, I signed with an agency who has “upped my game” dramatically in just a matter of weeks. It was, and is, up to me to give myself that “promotion” in my company.

I’m an actor, yes, but I named my marketing company The Recognized Actor, because I believe that every person’s deepest desire is to be seen. Some confuse this with a desire for fame, but the real need is recognition for what we contribute to our tribes. If we look outside of ourselves for it, we are seduced into traps of following rules, people-pleasing, or working “hard”. Outside recognition, because of its transitory nature, is never satisfying. The only satisfying recognition comes from within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 15th is About Me, Not the IRS.

Tax season is about more than just my finances. It’s a time to dig out all the stuff I did last year. When I’m gathering all my data, I find stuff I forgot about…and some stuff I’d like to forget about. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Tax Day is in the Springtime. I see it as a kind of Spring Cleaning when I can see what I want to keep in my life and what to throw out. If not for taxes, I’m sure I wouldn’t do it at all.

The value of life reflection is underrated if not completely dismissed. I learn from my mistakes (OK, maybe not always the first time around), and I learn from my successes. Especially now that I’m in a career “drought” it’s good to be reminded that last year was pretty darn good. When we review, we remember the crappy things that we survived, and we remember the wonderful things that came to fruition.  Reviewing my life patterns gives me perspective on the Big Picture.

I’m a big fan of looking at the Big Picture. It provides clarity when I can otherwise get caught up in the daily noise of survival. I see why I’m willing to undertake some projects and  why it would be wise to eliminate others – not easy for A-Types. It’s kind of like purging the closet. I can identify patterns that will either help me move forward or continually keep me stuck. Try this: open your calendar and review everything you did last week. What patterns do you see? Look around your home and do the same thing. What patterns do you see? Your refrigerator. See a pattern? Your car. See a pattern there? What one thing can you do today to improve your life flow?

The best person to tell us about our lives is us. The trick is listening to that person…that wise, wise person. So when you dread pulling out all your paperwork to do your taxes, look at it as an opportunity to make new decisions about the rest of your year.

 

 

Daylight Savings…or Losings?

As a Chicago kid, I loved it when Daylight Savings rolled around. While the adults grumbled about “losing” an hour, I got excited about the prospect of warmer weather and the school year coming to an end! So now I consistently ask myself: When I “lose” something, what do I gain? Here are some “losses” that actually merit gains:

SOCIAL MEDIA. I tracked how often I picked up my phone in a four hour span, and it was embarrassing. The biggest trap was picking it up for “business”, but immediately getting pulled into irrelevancy, and then forgetting why I got on in the first place! When I chose to spend less time on social media, I gained opportunities for real connections: writing a letter, making a phone call, meeting for coffee. Connecting to just one person in any of these forms made more of an impact than any “like” or “post” ever could.

MONEY. I would probably shock most people with how much money I do not spend. This is not always a virtue. I got to the point where I couldn’t see the difference between spending and investing, so I spent nothing – and earned nothing. Then I had a change of heart. Last year I invested in a career coach and made a 500% ROI (Return On Investment). Then when I hired an office assistant, my stress level went down and my productivity went up! Money is energy. Investing in yourself is not an indulgence, it is a necessity.

TELEVISION. Years ago, a good friend referred to TV as the “opiate of the masses”, but I justified it as a business need. With today’s technology, we can either use it to watch as much as possible or watch what is important. I’ve auditioned for and been on more television shows this past year than is usual for me, but ironically I’ve been without a TV! February 1st marked my year anniversary of being TV-free. I can now look back and see how I had used it not as a form of entertainment, but as a form of distraction – distraction from my own goals and desires! Paying more attention to my thoughts and emotions, provided the necessary space for working creatively and participating in healthy relationships.

“Springing Ahead”, always coincides with that time of year for planting seeds. Once I have a clear idea of my desired future, I begin to organize the steps of how to make it happen. Living life without clarity (of goals) confuses decision making on a daily basis. When I “lose” a little bit of time to prioritize my life, I gain the freedom to move full steam ahead!

 

 

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Yeah, yeah Valentine’s Day, blah, blah, blah…..

So what do romantic relationships have to do with marketing yourself? Well if you’ve ever been on a dating site you know exactly what! If you’ve been out of the on-line dating scene, let me share some striking similarities….

THE PROFILE PHOTO – Going through potential dates’ photos is both exhausting and hilarious, because you see snapshots under the “WTH-were-they-thinking?” category: Women showing how hot they are with “slut” photos, and men showing their “adventuresome” side with long distance shots of them skiing, hang gliding, zip lining, etc, but you can’t see their faces? This is what happens when we get trapped into contorting ourselves into images of what we think they want.

 

 

 

 

THE PERSONAL BIOS – After awhile, you skim through the first paragraph because so many use the generic description, like “I love to laugh”, “I’m comfortable with a night on the town or relaxing on the couch binge watching”, etc. Too many people write the obvious, but don’t take the time to express sincere individuality.

THE ON-LINE EXCHANGE – “Hey”, “What’s up?”, “Hi”. I kid you not, people actually think communication begins this way. Of course, there’s the complete opposite approach where they write a tome and expect it to be personal? The problem here is overthinking. When we don’t write enough, we’re actually censoring ourselves based on the fear of saying the “wrong” thing. When we write too much, we assume that they won’t understand us, so we over explain.

Success lies in having a picture, a bio, and a pitch that truly expresses who we are. What most people don’t understand is that we can never do this alone. As I’m writing this, someone else is looking over my words, giving me honest feedback, because I know that two minds are better than one. My two cents? Team up with somebody, whether it’s for your professional profile or your online dating profile. We all need support from those who can see us as we are, not as we should be.