I woke up this morning feeling blah… It just happens to be a Monday. When you basically are your own boss, and you do not have a traditional 9-5 work week, Monday Blues could happen any day of the week.
Last night, while filming a sketch comedy video for our Youtube channel, we rescued (admittedly I am a drama queen here and overstating/using the word) friends from car failure. When I finally got home – round trip via Hicksville, Long Island, Greenwich CT and back to West New York, NJ – I was restless. I could barely sleep. Woke up with a headache. Allergies flaring up and a hacking cough – mostly from smoking 1/2 a cigarette for a spoofy film noir comedy video (hopefully it is all worth it).
I was all set to go to gym but regrettably sent my wife ahead without me. I have to teach an IMPROV 4 TEENS workshop tomorrow, and the next two weeks are very busy in general. So today has become a ME day. Which is OK because the workshop will keep me away from Weight Watchers scale so I can recover if I watch the intake of points.
So while waiting for some laundry to process, I turned on a mini marathon of SHARK TANK. I watch the new episodes on ABC and syndication on CNBC. Three hours later I still have a slight pressure and minor head soreness, but I am feeling AMAZING about life and its potential.
I am so inspired some, and educated by others’ successes and failures.
The 18 year old high school graduate that has had a business making skin care products in the making since age 11 stands out. I think I have seen this episode at least three times. She is so professional. She is leagues ahead of her peers, and many 20-40 years older, because at age 11 she did not sit back and accept her problems (Eczema) she got to research and solved the problem for herself, which slowly became a product, which then became a business.
This story plays into the story I try to get my students to tell for themselves. You can be like every “kid” – go to school, hate school, do home work, play some video games…
OR Start something. How many of us hit mid life crisis before we say, its time we did something for ourselves? How many go through life and NEVER take a chance on themselves.
Sure, we see on Shark Tank every week someone that perhaps should have stayed the course. Not everyone is born to be a self starter. But even the worst SHARK TANK food leaves with amazing advice. The sooner you start something and put it out there for the world to see, the sooner you can learn from your mistakes and hopefully repeat some successes – again and again and again…
But I argue many of the “kids” that do not do well in school suffer from being bad conformists. And many of these students, given a chance, shine with something different.
My nine year old niece started a Youtube channel last month (CLICK HERE). At seven, this same niece, lived with me for a week and hung out at my summer camp for kids. With a broken arm, she learned Improv and Stand-Up Comedy. At that age I feel like I am doing more to guide the natural cuteness and creativity I find all children have. When we simply nourish it and encourage it, instead of stifle it like so many do (most I am sorry to say/ or at least fear).
The channel does not look like much, but she is nine. I already emailed her a few directorial notes AND took that opportunity to address the Cyber-Bully issue. So if nothing else, here is a kid creating something form scratch, all by herself, and getting valuable learning about life, presentation, story telling and so much more.
I know over time, my niece will only get better. And by doing a project like this, she will defeat the world that tries to turn her into a drone in the next 10 years. And possibly in that ten years, by the time most are just entering college, she will have something. Maybe she just has a portfolio. Maybe she has a monetized YouTube Channel that pays for college. Maybe that channel launches her into a career in TV, Journalism, Production…
With anything in life the sooner you start to create, the sooner you can fall on your face a few times and learn the hard way for your self. You cannot do this by conforming. You can only do this by breaking the mold. I wish this could become the norm.
I left college doing theater and music the way I was told. I went to audition, then I showed up at rehearsal, then I performed, then I got all weird when that production was over – AKA artistic POST MORTEM.
And then you go back to your restaurant, retail or temp job. Then you get back on line at the next auditions.
But I was 30 when my wife said to me, lets start a theater company. Twelve years later I am proudly without a survival job for ten years. And my current path allows me to be free for real auditions that have lead to TV gigs.
My message is quite simple. Don’t wait till your 30. Start in school.
If you are under 18 and living at home GOLD!
– You live rent free. You can reinvest EVERY penny into your dream. You don’t have kids, mortgage or job. If you took 1 hours away from videos games every day towards creating your own business, you could be in business by the time you graduate high school, like the young lady above.
Assuming you are a student, parent or teacher of the arts if you are reading this… the rest is geared for you…
– You don’t have to pay for theater and rehearsal space as an artist. You can start a club at school. I was paying $10-20/hour at studios OR rehearsing in my living room. AT 14 years old meeting at a friends house is great. At 30 it feels less than professional. PLUS I was paying theater rental at $50-100/hour to put on a show. In school, you can run rehearsals AND SHOWS in a classroom. Forget the school auditorium. TOO BIG.
– Technology is your biggest asset. Use it or others will. Every kid I know (including my Improv 4 Kid students as young as 6) have a cell phone or a tablet. And pretty much all of those have a camera with 1080 HD resolution – which means you can video yourself and put it on a wide screen TV without looking pixelated (unnaturally blown up to look blurry etc). They make tripod stands for the phone for $10. You can buy a lighting tree at home depot for $20. Now you will not be making the next Godfather with that BUT you could make a comedy short for youtube. You could probably make a horror film. Basic editing software is free.
– ANYONE CAN DO IT!!! That never means everyone will be successful. But lets make it clear, considering some of the “KIDS” that have made it big via Youtube and Vine. ANYONE CAN DO IT!!!! You just have to do it.
– WHAT IS SUCCESSFUL? Did you hear about the kids that turn a 6-second video vine account into a touring entity making thousands. How about the ones that made a movie and sold $10 million in downloads via I-tunes. If you are 12-14 you probably have. Our your kids have. These are like the stories that were used to sell me a 4250 binder of information on real estate investing in the late 1980s. Unrealistic. But what I realize now is that while not everyone ends up on top, using these tools at our disposal can get us ahead of the pack. I do not need to make $1 million every month off of my YOUTUBE videos. I would welcome that outcome. But the short term goals are to get folks to see our videos and then come to our shows or hire us to play their college or high school. And that is working. The lottery is a long shot but the slogan is so true – YOU HAVE TO BE IN IT TO WIN IT! But winning at starting your own business makes so much more sense than playing the lottery. You may never be a millionaire either way but you can build something. A lottery ticket is a most often a more fun way of throwing cash in a toilet. Investing in yourself always pays off if you persevere…
– You don’t have to be a kid to do what the kids are doing. SO I think I have already said it twice above in one way or another- THE SOONER YOU START THE SOONER YOU LEARN THE SOONER YOU CAN GROW AND SUCCEED. I am just now at age 42 where i feel like I really have built something. The past twelve years have been amazing. Every time I bike past the working slaves at the ferry to NYC I feel blessed in so many ways – not financially. But for the first time our company will make money. We have paid the bills and done great things. But now I can let others do the day to day shows and classes and focus on THE NEXT BIG THING. There are retirees making youtube videos. Many ore starting their own business. How many police officers retire form the force to open a business? Not always a bar! The sooner you start… THAT IS THE BIG POINT!!! SO GET OFF THE COUCH – unless SHARK TAN is on of course…. well I suppose you could DVR… sorry I digress…
Too many on SHARK TANK show up saying – I need your cash so I can hire someone to run this company, sell my product etc SHARK TANK investors are not interested in turning you into a SHARK that will sit back and collect money. They want to put their money where they KNOW you will be working hard to make their babies grow and prosper.
Eventually we all need help. Think you don’t and you are fool. Think you know everything and you learn nothing. Mentors, teachers, Angels, Investors, Partners… everyone’s path is different.
But when you live to create your own path, the rewards are far beyond dollars. Every stumble is a learning experience that will pay you back later. Every baby step forward is immense. And sometimes just maintaining status quo is rewarding. You have over come growing pains, you are stable and now are ready to explore new ways to grow.
My wife and I work 60-80 hours/week building our business. We do the jobs of sales force, producers, managers, performers, teachers and interns – labeling post cards, social media etc. If I had to go to an office to do the same job – well lets not think about that cause I hate tedious work. But as I label a post card I see the vision. Now I see a school I know because we have performed there at least a few times.
SO WHY AM I ADDICTED TO SHARK TANK?
It gives me hope every time a young dreamer gets to take a step forward because someone takes a chance. Seeing people succeed is so important in this age where cynicism and pessimism dominates. It is one way I CHANGE MY STORY to CHANGE MY LIFE.
It gives me validation every time I hear Mark Cuban talk about his Ketchup and Mustard Sandwiches years. Every time I hear Barbara Corcoran’s story of starting as an NYC Waitress before building Real Estate Empire. Mr Wonderful seems so wonderful until you are dead to him. Robert Herjavec’s goofy nice guy charm is so refreshing and his immigrant story is encouraging. Daymond John is a walking money maker. AND AS THE QUEEN OF QVC, Lori Greiner is incredibly motivating. Everyone of these sharks started as minnows with the rest of us…
I had a few of those years – for me it was 5 cans of beans/$1 in Washington Heights and renting a room with horrible roommates as a married man for nearly six years. (Much easier to deal with at 20 than 35 so PLEASE LISTEN when I tell you to start early!!! BOHEMIAN is cool at 20 – LAME at 30+… SAME is true with dollar store grocery shopping)
The pure genius of SHARK TANK – investing in products that start with international exposure via the TV show. I hate advertising, but love marketing. And that is invaluable to a company. Even companies that do not get an investment report huge leaps just for being on the show.
The education from others success and failures saves me a lot of headaches of my own. The bones heads and savvy alike give me valuable learning experience just by watching. I am constantly applying what I see and hear to our own business model – “HOW DO I STAND-UP?” With all my success, I am still far better on stage than in the office. The math easy but the accounting is tedious. It is no labor of love that I get up every day to do contracts, banking and payroll.
Speaking of my own headache – it is flaring up staring at the computer screen, so time to deal with myself for while. I will get back to performing and teaching tomorrow. Like I recently learned – BE THE HERO OF YOUR STORY but sometimes the hero has to rest.