The Difference Between Liking and Respecting

I consider very few people “worthless.” Almost everyone has a redeeming quality. Many less-sociable acquaintances are quick to judge others and shut the door. I don’t think that’s fair or reasonable. No, I’m not saying you need to be friends with everyone. Hell no. But don’t throw out fools just because you can’t appreciate foreign personalities.

I make a casual mental effort to divide people into two groups:

People I like.

People I respect.

The “likes” tend to carry genuine personalities I can connect with. These individuals become friends.  The “respects” have notable skills or chapters of knowledge I admire. These individuals find a place in the business rolodex.

Most people I meet fall into one category or another. I respect a large number of professionals, but never plan to break bread with them. They sit on my contacts list anyway.

The true keepers fall into both lists. These are the people with whom you build projects, share ideas, explore the world, socialize, dine and spend the rest of your life.

Woe to those who fall on neither list.


Film Friday: What Goes Around Comes Around

Lauren Gabel

With Peter Thiel’s ugly forecast for the fate of higher education and the exponential rise of student loan debt, there’s more cynicism now than ever before towards four-year universities. It is definitely difficult to rationalize the financials, especially in the face of six-figure private school tuition. People have asked me whether I felt my degree was “worth it.” My response? Absolutely.

Today’s guest post is by friend and fellow USC classmate Lauren Gabel. Lauren currently coordinates talent for Alloy Digital and authors a great blog, Destination Hollywood, about navigating your early years in Hollywood. She beautifully paints the primary reason I have been able to actually embrace my degree:

Enter Lauren Gabel:

When you are young and in school, you hear over and over again how important networking is in the entertainment business. But I don’t think that ever really sunk in until I graduated and entered the real world. Personally, I loved USC film school. I learned so much about filmmaking—the process, the business, production, etc. But I think the best thing about going to a school like USC is the contacts you graduate with. Sure, I’ve found the occasional job on Craigslist or Mandy or the USC Job Board, but all the really great positions I’ve landed have been thru a personal connection. I met so many wonderful people while at school and I guess I made a good impression on them as well because I am continually called up and offered various gigs and positions. I am currently gainfully employed with a job that I love, which is due in part to a very good friend and the owner of this blog (you’re the best, Craig!).

I have been very fortunate, and in return, I always make sure to pass along as many opportunities as I can. When I hear about a job thru a connection, I’ll pass it along to my USC friends and people I have worked with before and can vouch for. I have gotten so many kind responses from people thanking me profusely just for sending along a job posting that only took like 5 seconds out of my day. I love seeing my friends land great jobs and helping to further the Trojan network. Maybe someday that girl that I recommended for an assistant gig at Disney will be running the studio and offer me a great job! It’s a definite possibility. We might be the assistants of today…but we will be the filmmakers and studio execs of tomorrow. After all, what goes around comes around. Right?

Film Friday: The Key to Becoming a Successful Director

Writing a screenplay, filming shorts, building a reel, exhibiting talent and advertising yourself as a “director” are NOT enough. Film is a collaborative art and it takes a strong core team. The key to becoming a successful film director (or any key-level position) is to surround yourself with talented people who can only see you as a director.

True for any profession – surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams. Family and significant others are a good start, but you need professionals who can support you and your vision. Convince the industry you are best at doing one thing above all else.

I have mentioned this before, but it has to do with portrayal. If people see you as a good assistant, they will only see you as a good assistant. Best camera operator in town? Good luck getting calls for anything else. If your agent values you as a writer, hard chance earning a push toward the big chair. Show everyone you are a good director, and they will only see you as a good director.

Start on your level. It is far easier and more effective to prove it to peers who will recommend you than to a studio executive with your reel or a script. Your network is your net worth. A friend’s “I know this great director” is far more accelerating than “I know this talented guy who is working at an agency.” If your friends don’t title you a director, no one will.

Best to build your team on level, too. You need at bare minimum a producer, director of photography, production designer, sound designer and editor who can vouch for you. Part of your marketability as a director are the talented chaps you have in tow.

If you are not building relationships with collaborators, getting constant practice or stuck working a 60-hour week, I strongly encourage you to quit your mediocre day job and get busy because you are wasting time. Don’t tell people you are a director, be a director. The only person who will believe your lie is you, unless of course your lie comes true.

Share this with peers you believe in and encourage them with your vote of confidence. Success in collaboration is a two-way street.

Three Steps to Earning Trust

Step 1:  Invite Trust by listening. For someone to trust you, he or she must first be comfortable enough to share with you. You can make them feel comfortable by listening well, patiently and without judgement. Let them know you truly care.
Step 2:  Affirm Trust by making a promise. When you identify an actionable promise you can make (keeping a secret, reaching out, delivering results), acknowledge it with a nod, hug or “you can trust me.” Be sure it is a promise you can keep.
Step 3:  Validate Trust by keeping that promise. Without question, deliver on your word. The negative effect of breaking a promise can produce far more noticeable results than the positive effect of fulfilling one. You may never be praised for keeping a secret, but you can certainly cripple your reputation by sharing it. Remind the person that trust does not have to end here.

Repeat these steps enough and you can earn everyone’s trust effortlessly.

5 Fundamentals for the Effective Listener

    1. Always make eye contact. Know the other person’s eye color.
    2. Face the subject directly. Not at an angle, not side-by-side. Square your shoulders.
    3. Pay attention. Be present in the conversation. No cheating. Staring into space is not listening.
    4. Respond. Listening is not always silent. Repeat core thoughts, ask questions, laugh. It can save you from boredom.
    5. Lean forward. Into the conversation. But be careful not to invade personal space. Intimacy is key. Do not be afraid to connect.

    Listen to someone well and they will be more inclined to listen to you.

    3 Things You Must Remember About Every Person You Meet

    1. Name. First name is necessary. Last name helps when looking the person up afterward.
    2. Preoccupation. What he or she does with most of his or her time (usually a career).
    3. Situation. When and where you met.

    As long as you remember those three things, the rest should come back to you. Mention all three in your next exchange together and you can win the person’s respect.

    Remember someone and they will work harder to remember you. As I always say: it’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you.

    How to Keep Your Team Fresh

    Things get stale in the office. The same scenery, the same products, the same ideas, the same relationships. To keep your team in high spirits, mix it up.

    Vacation is not frequent enough. Ask employees to find a public venue to work one morning every week – coffee shops, co-working spaces, diners, etc. Encourage them to interact with other patrons and make new friends. Satellite conversations will spark new ideas that spread internally and inspire evolution. And as your employees build relationships in new environments, the team vicariously expands its network and potential resources. Win-win for everybody.

    Your Network is Your Net Worth

    They always say:  “It’s about who you know.” 

    They are mistaken.  I know Harrison Ford; that’s a pretty good person to know, eh?  I’ve met the man and had rather lovely conversation with him.  Would he recognize me if I met him again?  Probably not.  So what good is that – to know Harrison Ford?  It really doesn’t do you a damn bit of good to “know” someone unless the other person knows you back.

    So let us rephrase:  “It’s about who knows you.” 

    There, that’s better advice.

    The most successful and influential men and women became so because they had thorough relationships with a lot of people.  Networking is essential for most human beings to live successful lives (though, I suppose that could depend on how you define “success”).  Your connections can lend you a helping hand, expand your resources, and challenge you to grow as a person.  But the only way an average person will be willing to do anything for you is if he or she cares about you.  And for someone to care about you, he or she should know you well enough and you need to genuinely care about them back.

    You won’t take your bank account with you when you die, so what does your net worth really matter in the end?  I think the number of people who show up to your memorial service is a pretty strong indicator of your “value.”  At the end of the day, your network is your net worth.

    So hold off on the business cards and résumés – you’re wasting paper.  Your best résumé is your relationships.