Recent experiences have inspired me to jot down some thoughts on work, success, and life in the arts. Theatre in particular, of course.
Step One-And-Only For Success
Do what you say you are going to do.
Do it when you said you said you are going to do it.
Other thoughts follow...random musings as is my habit!
- Be aware of how TPTB like to communicate. Even if you text, others may make phone calls. Adapt.
- Be nice to those who do the hiring.
- When contacting others, always leave your name and phone number clearly. Always.
- Respond in a timely manner. Always. Time is money.
- The after party is still your job. Find a way to be yourself, be authentic, and participate.
- Learn to chit-chat. Mingling is hard for 90% of the world. It is a skill. Develop it. You can be yourself and work a room.
- Listen to others. 20-somethings love to pull the conversation back to themselves to prove they too are interesting. Resist.
- Give/send handwritten, paper thank you cards. Especially to those who sign the checks. But to everyone on opening night. 3 lines minimum. Legible. Thank you_____. Your ____made me look great. Etc. If it was a tough show, “What a wild ride! Thanks for______”
- Never do hard drugs. Pot and liquor only, and then ONLY after you have completed Step-One-and-Only.
- Learn how to be unemployed in your art without becoming a drug addict. Have hobbies.
- If you begin to achieve some success, be able to talk about something other than your work. Advocate for a charity. Climb mountains. Write a book. Do something.
- It’s not your fault if someone is an asshole but also give them one more chance (unless it is unforgivable like smacking a kid or killing a kitten). Everyone has a bad day and this is an intense business.
- Most criticism isn’t personal. It feels like it is, but it usually isn’t. And not all of it is right. In your heart, you will know the difference.
- Find a way to make peace with the hunt. People who seem to survive over the long stretch have talent, tenacity, willing to work hard, and be suited for the lifestyle. The hunt for work is not personal.
- Know your room. A fundraiser serves a different function from an after-show party from an opening night, and onwards. Understand your role. Be gracious.
- Have your personal “elevator speech.” A 30 second thumbnail summary of you. So when people say, “Tell me about yourself” you have a backstory ready to go so they can get a handle on you, and also have material for future conversation.
- If you have a meeting over a meal, match what the person in power orders. Don’t drink if they aren’t.
- You will fuck up sometimes. It’s okay. Just keep showing up. The sins of commission are much more forgivable than the sins of omission.
- If you are late, apologize. It is okay to lie about the reason…traffic, whatever. People don’t care. Just don’t make it a practice.
- No one wants to hear your health problems except if they are going to impact your work. We all have ‘em. Don’t care.
- Save 10% of what you make. Always. If you make $300 doing a show, put $30 in savings and don’t touch it.
- Produce something so you understand the business of the business better.
- Be nice but defend yourself if needed. And you are just as smart as anyone else in the room…but you can also learn from everyone else in the room. Even if it is how not to behave.
- You will make friends. Some will just be show friends. Some will be life friends. Some will be respected colleagues. Recognize the difference and be kind to all. You can be warm, friendly and comfortable without being best friends.
- The biz will always be there if you have to leave for awhile. If you need to care for a parent, take a “serious” job, raise some kids, don’t panic. There is re-entry at any time.
- This is a people business. 100%.
- It’s all about the process. The work. Enjoy it. It goes really fast.