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.

 

The Golden Rule of Marketing

I receive several newsletters from entrepreneurs and/or artists in LA. They come in several different forms, and some are better than others. I may not read them all, but I tend to open them all because they are my colleagues. But what actually entices me to read them? Content.

The Internet, at the beginning of this 21st century, is essentially the “Wild West” with no law enforcement and it’s free to anyone willing to travel it! How awesome is that? This has, however, created a sea of “experts” in social media, but who has the best advice? The one that applies to you. But how can you be effective unless you know who/what you ARE!

"Who . . . are . . . YOU?

“Who . . . are . . . YOU?

Better than giving you a list of “10 Dos and Don’ts” (the most common device used in e-marketing), I’m going to cut to the Golden Rule of Self-Marketing: Share who you ARE.  This is too often confused with sharing what you do. While I don’t pay much attention to where my musician friends are gigging this month, I do care how much they love what they’re doing, and this sets the tone of their entire newsletter. I don’t practice yoga, but I read my friend’s yoga news, because she shares her world travels and spiritual experiences.

So if you’re sending out newsletters as a form of self-marketing, always ask, “What can I share about myself, and how does this help others?” I think actors make the most mistakes, when they just send a list of recent bookings. Ask yourself, how does this help others? Instead, share an on-set story, or something you learned along the way.  It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters who you are.

Is Holistic Marketing Effective?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard this term before – holistic marketing –  but it fits for me. When I work with actors on their marketing I find that they have a very limited view of it. Most likely, they’ve attended a seminar or webinar bombarding them with lists of things that they MUST DO NOW! Perhaps they’ve listened to a panel of “experts” who more than likely competed with their fellow panelists over who had the best answers. Holistic Marketing is exactly what it sounds like – considering the entire artist. I believe that the best answer always lies within each person. No expert can tell you what is best for you. My job is to shine a light on the artist’s own inner wisdom. I never tell anyone what they must do.

Considering the entire artist involves three areas for me: ACTION, SUPPORT AND PRODUCT.  As I mentioned in my recent interview (start 44:56), actors can go anywhere for postcards and mailing services, but they’re not going to get one-on-one guidance providing them with the next best actions. A printer will hand you your postcard order and wish you good luck. They won’t advise you on address lists and schedules. They can’t tell you which photo or message best communicates your essence. Younger actors tend to lioverwhelm-stacksmit themselves to on-line marketing, while older actors stick to snail mail. And neither group makes strong efforts towards in-person meetings. When an actor is left alone to make marketing decisions, the overwhelm often leads to no decision.

It doesn’t make sense that once we finish our courses or get our theater degrees, we’re pushed out the door with a “good luck”. As a matter of fact, it’s borderline cruel. Even if we’ve had early successes, there comes a time where we need to re-energize our marketing plan. And I’ve found a way to do it.  I’ve come up with a quick, painless easy program that is completely holistic and covers all three areas of action, support and product. The four week SMART Action Path Program meets on Mondays over the phone with a small group of like minded folks, provides next best actions for the week, and propels you toward your ultimate goal (whatever that may be) with a concrete marketing piece. I am so proud of of this program, and would like you to consider gifting it to yourself before the holidays derail your best laid plans.

So . . . what do YOU do?

I went solo to the theater last week. Going solo is easy at a movie theater, but not for L.A. stage productions where everyone is checking each other out in the bright lights of the lobby, trying to figure out how they might know you, or looking for someone semi-famous to show up. theatre_audience I took my seat next to a young man and his wife. We were introduced by a third party who immediately walked away. (Probably to see if anyone “important” had shown up.) I was curious, and asked questions like “How do you know so-and-so?” and “What kinds of projects did you two work on?” I really didn’t know too much about his end of the business, so I couldn’t contribute much more than questions, and inevitably the conversation began to wind down. Then – with one of the most obligatory tones I had ever heard – he said, “So what do you do?” I hate this question in general, but his blatant I’m-just-asking-to-be-polite tone made me hate it even more. I suddenly beganmouth blathering about my business to which he reacted with the “eye glaze”. I tried to save the conversation by adding something more familiar, like ” . . . and I’m an actor.” That was his cue to ask me what time it was, because he “needed to check on something”. He left me alone with his wife who, thankfully, was much more pleasant.

It drives me nuts when I forget to do what I encourage my clients to do: Share your enthusiasm with others. It’s the one, immediate thing you can do to market yourself that requires no money or materials.  If I had chosen not to let this guy’s tone affect my energy, I could have shared my love of working on actors’ self-promo and how rewarding it is to see them light up with inspiration. Instead, I came off apologetic (the ultimate sin!) and reduced my business to nothing more than “marketing”. As an actor, I could have mentioned I was there to support a fellow actress while exploring new plays – instead I proclaimed my profession with about as much enthusiasm as if I were announcing my credit card debt.

I know better, right? And so do you. Have you ever found yourself talking about a project apologetically? If you know that there’s just got to be a bFind-Your-Voice-298x300etter way to marketing, then come join me in November’s SMART Action Path Program. It’s four weeks to finding your marketing voice that will catapult you into the New Year with fresh marketing materials. You will discover what holistic marketing is, just how enjoyable self-promo can be! Sign up by October 30th, because it starts Monday, November 3, 2014.

Does Your Resume Prove Your Worth?

I think it was in college when I fully embraced the busy lifestyle. I went to a theater conservatory, held a full-time schedule, had nightly rehearsals, and hostessed on the weekends. I loved it – the ever changing rotation of shows, schedules, and jobs fueled me. I continued this pattern after college as I pounded the pavement creating a career in Chicago theater. Exercise_cartoonExplaining my artist’s path was exhausting, so it was easier to prove myself with projects. I kept doing and doing and doing, and saw my results as markers of my worth in the entertainment field. I was so focused on results that I never stopped long enough to see why I was doing what I was doing.

I believe, the 17th century philosopher, Blaise Paskal, said it best: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Today, when I sit in silence (a practice, practice, practice), I am able to sense what is important and what is not. I am able to sense that my True Self can never be validated by results and outside recognition. That while advertisements insist that “more is better”, I understand that the differences I make in the world – no matter how small – are enough. I understand all of this, because silence reminds me of why I do what I do. So when I first speak with a potential client, I simply listen. Inevitably, they call me to find out how they can solve a problem. The truth is, even if I tell them the “how”, they will never follow through until they know the “why”. So I ask,  “Why do you want to do XYZ?” – and this is where the silence begins.comfortable+silence

They say (“they”?) that our minds have on average sixty thousand thoughts a day. There’s nothing wrong with thought. I love thought (I love algebra for cryin’ out loud). Goals, dreams and problem solving tend to emerge from thought. But I believe that vision, self-compassion, and solutions are born in silence.

Did a Life-Changing Event Influence Your Career?

In 1997, I biked the Twin Cities => Chicago AIDS Ride 2. It was a personal achievement that taught me life lessons, and ultimately fueled my move to Hollywood. I can’t possibly contain the entire experience within the confines of a short blog, so here is a[n edited] copy of the thank you letter I gave to my donors (bad grammar and all) that expressed my transformation:

AIDsRide2_crop

Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo, WI

” . . . I’ve procrastinated this Thank You letter because I couldn’t figure out how to express it. I think the overwhelming feeling is incredulity. I still can’t believe that I did it.  . . . . What you don’t know, and I didn’t know until now, is what an incredibly immense impact this ride has had on me. I will never look at a blade of grass, a butterfly, the sky, a lemonade stand – anything the same way again. You all contributed to something more . . .  Again, it’s incredible to me that I was able to . . . ride my bike (halfway) across the country  . . . . The funny thing is, if I really knew what I was getting myself into, I never would’ve done it. Really.

I’m so glad I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Once I was in it, failure was not an option. It’s the thing worth having that puts us through the most. I wanted to cry so badly on that fourth day. Every time I had just worked my ass of . . . getting up one hill, there was another, and another, and another. I wanted to stop, to cry, to yell, to just stop mid-peddle and collapse, but there’s that thing within us that pushes and convinces, and in the middle of it all, just carries us through.  . . . Looking at the next hill from atop the one I just climbed, I saw it huge and impossible, and I planned to not do it, to rest, to walk my bike up.HILL I had this thought process every time, and every time I pushed on through. I went beyond believing until I actually knew that every hill was not as big as it looked. I broke through an illusion.

So when it’s all over and I’ve traveled 470 miles, put my body through hell, put my mind and soul through cleansing, my best friends are waiting for me at the finish line, the country’s been made aware of the dying, and I’m tan and muscular and exhausted and lonely, I cry. I just cry and cry and cry and can’t believe it. It was the most difficult thing I’ve every done in my life and I will never do it again. But then again, every hill looks harder than it really is . . . Thank you for contributing to this life-changing event. I am forever grateful,

Sincerely, Doreen”

I Work So Hard . . . and yet, Something is Missing.

Throughout my business, I’ve had the privilege to speak with many artists about their career needs. The conversation almost always comes down to this: Something is missing.  When asked what it is they really want, an actor will usually say, “I want to be a working actor,” but when we go through the reality of what that looks like, they realize that getting a paycheck for “any gig” is not what they’re looking for either. Time and time and again we assume that all of our problems will be solved if we could only get work. And that’s usually not the case.

I forget who said this, but it’s wise and it’s true: “We are not hungry for what we’re not getting. We’re hungry for want we’re not giving.”

I named my company The Recognized Actor, because I believe that every person’s deepest desire is to be seen. Some of us confuse this with fame, but it’s really recognition. It’s recognition for what we contribute to our tribes.hamster wheel

If we look outside of ourselves for it, we are seduced into traps of following rules, people-pleasing, or working “hard”. I’ve learned, however, that outside recognition – because of its transitory nature – is never satisfying. The only satisfying recognition comes from within. Self-acceptance. When we accept who we are (an ever-evolving process) our real values rise to the surface, and we discover that most old beliefs actually belong to someone else. When we accept where we are, we let go of comparisons and the need to live someone else’s life. When we recognize our real values, we become mindful of our habits, and begin to make right choices. We are exemplary in the smallest of tasks. We experience joy in conscious living. And finally, we realize that all of our desires already exist inside of us, and that the only thing – the only thing – keeping us from them is resistance.

This is why I created Action Groups – a safe place for artists to meet, redefine their goals, and get support in taking that next step. Facilitating these groups has opened me up to greater compassion, acknowledgement and leadership in my everyday life. If you can’t join one of mine, I urge you to find a group that values you and helps you find that “missing piece” of being recognized for what you contribute to the world.

 

ACTORS – Get Instant Results Now!

Every day, I see promises of instant results. Actors are targeted more than we care to admit. We so desperately want a change in our careers that we actually believe the promises are true. Worse, we believe that instant results are better than long-term results. Be_an_ArtistMost people would rather pop a pill to cure their aches and pains instead of investing in regular body movement like Tai Chi or morning walks. The red flag for these promises is usually a number in the ad like, “Top 6 Foods for Weight Loss!” “Top 3 Ways to Triple Your Income!” We see the number 10 (or less) and suddenly intense hope fills our being, and hope springs eternal.

My recent booking slump has really me gotten down. I resisted seeking help, because  like most actors, I told myself that I couldn’t afford it. I kept hoping that something would turn around. Finally, I realized that I couldn’t afford not to seek help. After investing in private coaching, I felt confident and energized. I breezed into my auditions knowing that things were changing for me. I planned my month in advance as if I booked everything. Then . . .  crickets. No bookings and only one callback. I can’t understand this. I mean, when I first came to town, opportunities just flowed to me. Bookings came immediately and often – all with no agent and no coach.  Then yesterday, while I was doing the dishes, it occurred to me that I was looking for instant results.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that good things can happen right away. (In fact, they have.) I also believe that hope is necessary. It is, after all, the only thing that fuels our pursuit of happiness. What is wrong, I believe, is getting caught in the trap that the artist’s journey is linear – believing that if I do A, B, & C, then D will automatically happen. What is wrong is sitting in the disappointment of non-instant results.Cellar Door copy I believe in the coach, the support group, the “Top 10 Tips”, but I also know that these artists’ survival tools are meant to used over and over and over. When I do the daily work, expect nothing, and hope for everything, the world of all possibilities opens up to me.

How Violent Are You Willing to Go?

I watched Sons of Anarchy for the first time last night (I know, I know), and hung in there for about 45 minutes. I like gritty shows (my favorite is The Walking Dead), but something about this particular episode bothered me. The plot seemed to take a back seat to the violence, and the violence seemed to focus on torturechild with gunI get The Walking Dead  –  it’s fantasy, zombies, etc., but with all of the real violence covered in our national news: beheadings, school shootings, police shootings, domestic violence, etc. is it redundant to put it in our entertainment? Am I a hypocrite to say this if I love Breaking Bad? I don’t know. Breaking Bad never put storyline in the back seat.

Just this week, I saw a minimum of three casting notices for small independent films all looking for “badass military” types with martial arts experience. All the plot lines centered around lone heroes who violently took the law into their own hands. The meager female roles simply required youth and beauty. With the recent exposure of football pro, Rice, punching his fiance (now wife) unconscious, rap and footballI became extra sensitive when I watched a brand new rap video depicting gorgeous women as bored, horny, desperate things whose only purpose was to either please the men or annoy them.

Too often, I hear actors make fun of a project they weren’t too proud of and say “Hey it paid the bills!” All my life, I’ve heard that same justification for anything that wasn’t illegal. The American Way is to make cash above all else. But what is our obligation as artists? Are we held to a higher standard? I’m not saying turn down a series regular gig on SOA, or only do projects that are family friendly, but where do we draw the line? Everyone’s “line” is different, but if we know our personal boundaries, then the “almighty gig” won’t create them for us. My mind is spinning with this.

Are We In A Relationship?

I got a thank you card today. Well, it wasn’t really a card, so to speak. It was an e-card with a pre-formatted “Thank You”, and they had typed in a quick message. At first I was glad to know that they had received the birthday gift I dropped off, but then I stood back and observed how removed our personal contact has become. I used to think that emails were impersonal, but now I appreciate them more (personal emails that is). I understand that we are all busy, and that a “thank you” is still a “thank you”, but I also know the remarkable difference a personalized letter makes.

Industry professionals get bombarded with Tweets, Facebook plugs, and emails, but how many of them get personal letters from us? Or even postcards with handwritten messages? Yes, we actors must cover a lot of ground, and send announcements to a lot of casting directors, agents, etc. in the most economical way, but we also must pepper in the personal, the sincere, the detailed communication that creates real contact. It’s what makes human relationships  . . . human. I’m challenging myself to do this every day. You can join me if you like. I’d love the company.