Category Archives: commentary

The Creative Storm: Prioritizing the Mess In a Creative Brain

Since Rene and I have moved to Portland we have been so excited to follow all the creative endeavors we felt we could not pursue while living in California. And we have been! The things that have been made public, like the current projects on the YouTube channel, are the easiest things to make and get out but only scratch the surface of what we’re hoping to do.

There are lists.

Normally I like lists. They help me keep track of things. You can check stuff off of a list. But when your list gets too long it gets hard to keep up with everything, so you have to prioritize. This is where I break. I’ve been accused of having a “yes” disease where I will say yes to doing things because they sound fun and exciting. I can’t deny that. I’m an enthusiastic person. If I am pitched an idea and I like it then I will want to do it and really commit to it. This can lead to a lack of focus and overcommitment and I’m feeling that right now.

The reason I write about this stuff is to help other creatives and people who are starting out by talking about how I solve problems common to creative people, but this is a tough one for me. So rather than being able to rely on my multiple decades of experience to help figure this out, you’ll actually be on the journey with me as I go – warts and all.

When problem solving the first thing to do, and one of the most important steps, is to figure out what the problem is. Fortunately for us I have already spend time figuring this out:

Lack of Focus.

That’s pretty broad. That’s not going to help. As with acting and performing, specifics are key; so what am I not focused on?

I am not focused on what creative endeavors I want to pursue.

Better. Probably not specific enough, but it’s better. So next step, if I am not focused on the endeavors I want to pursue then the next logical question is what are the those endeavors?

I want to make a living as just an actor again.

Woof! OK, tall order. This is not the easiest time to want to do that and now that we live outside of a major market, like L.A. or NYC, it’s even tougher. Also, this requires a few different steps to do efficiently and effectively:

  • Getting a local agent in the PNW.
  • Probably time for new headshots.
  • Regularly check the breakdowns and submit myself (currently happening)

So, that being said, even though there is some progress on that front I will need to drop this goal down the priority scale…

OK, wait a minute! Why is this – the giant overall goal – getting dropped down the priority scale?!?!?!?

Good question, here’s the answer: Paying Bills

I hate this answer. I hate it sooooooo much. If I didn’t have to pay bills I’d have so much money (#sarcasm). But rent, electricity, food, internet, etc. all of it requires paying someone and it is impossible to stay focused on your craft and your goals if you are constantly worried about whether or not things are going to be ok at the end of the month.

Thus thusly and therefore, since I cannot rely on acting money to cover said bills at this time, since I am in progress on that goal in a way continues to move it forward even if it is at a slower pace than I would like, I can move it down a few positions and still feel confident that I am not abandoning the goal. #justification (This can be debated in the comments.)

OK, so what’s next…?

I want to generate more content for the YouTube Channel.

OK, again not quite specific enough. I am generating content for the channel. We do LIVE Discussions every week (#shamelessplug) so I need to drill down deeper.

I want to do more sketches and scripted videos for the YouTube channel.

There we go, that’s something that can be a goal! When I look at the channel analytics the things that do best are things that are funny and either scripted or follow a narrative of some kind. Even though I’d love to be a creative person’s guru (I want to share knowledge!) or be able to do “talking-head” pundit style stuff (they are soooo much easier to make) that is not what people come to the channel for they want me discussing Pokemon Battles, Rene singing about the fall, and our niece using Bloody Mary to murder her brother. I want to provide more of these things, but they have been a little tougher to get done. So what do I need to do to make this happen? I need:

  • Ideas – We have a bunch of these, a bunch! So what I really need to do is focus on which ones to do first. (Check)
  • Time – This is the resource that is completely under my control and I don’t know that I’m parsing out very well. If I really want to do it I can make the time. I find time to do other things and so I know I can do it – I just need to really hanker down and commit. (Check)
  • Money – For some of the ideas I need to get stuff:
    • Music Rights
    • Props
    • Specific Equipment
    • Crew

Money is rough to discuss because that needs to be prioritized too. Let’s not forget the “Need to Pay Bills” part – so that’s in first position priority-wise. And that takes up most of the funds. Rent, food, car (payment & insurance), health insurance, Frankie (food & meds),… It all adds up, there ain’t much left after that. So when it comes to making these things that do cost we need to find a way to pay for them. YouTube Adpocolypse  really affected small channels like ours so we can’t rely on that. Rene and I have started a Patreon account but I understand that in order to grow that we need to have more of the content people really like to watch (see links above). So, if one of the big things holding me back from creating is funding for these projects then I need to raise those funds.

So, in order to do more sketches and scripted content for YouTube I need to raise funds.

There we go, that’s now in a top priority slot.

I’m not going to write about next steps on this in here (I gotta’ keep some mystery about things) but this does help point me in a direction. If you’d like to help get things moving a bit faster don’t hesitate to sign up on our Patreaon #shamelessplug. Or click on the ads, that always helps too!

Is there something you’re working on? Things that you need to prioritize? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Leave a Comment

Filed under actor 101, actor stuff, business, career, commentary, Curtis Andersen, day in the life, Hollywood, in real life, Operation: Television's Curtis Andersen

This, this, all the this!

If you are a creative, this video will sounds very familiar – but it’s a universal message. Lord knows I’ve been down this road a few times. Determination, persistence and touch of naivete is usually enough to win the day – it’s just the “day” in question usually lasts for years.

Leave a Comment

Filed under actor 101, actor stuff, art, artist, behind the scenes, commentary, doing new things, education, fail, failure, filmmaking, friends, fund raising, general, getting fit, getting started, happiness, how-to, inspiration, jobs, learning experience, making movies, productivity, projects, REVOLUTION, social commentary, video, videos, YouTube

Is TBS Speeding Up Seinfeld?

seinfeld logo

TBS logo

I was cruising around Reddit the other day, just burning some screen time, when I stumbled on this little tidbit:

TBS Speeds up Seinfeld Reddit

 

According to this post TBS airs reruns of Seinfeld faster than the shows were originally broadcast to gain extra ad-time to sell. This notion isn’t new, radio stations have been speeding up songs for years to help cut run times, but I haven’t ever heard of it for television. If it’s true (and in the link it does say that it was reported by CBS news on 2/20/2015) then I’m not surprised. The changing ecosystem for television has seen a drop in ad revenue as audiences have found new ways to consume the shows that they like. Since they can’t charge the same for the current air time they have it makes sense to try and create more of that air time.

The way networks used to do this is by cutting actual run time – the shows would actually have additional cuts made to remove a minute or so that could then be sold for commercials. This used to bother me a lot, especially when I was a kid. I’d specifically remember something in an episode and then in syndication it wouldn’t be there. When I finally did find out that the shows were getting trimmed it was relieving, but also still sucked because the shows was shorter.

An example of this is an episode of Diff’rent Strokes called “A Haunting We Will Go.” It was the Ghostbusters episode where Arnold and Sam think the house down the street is haunted. It looked like this:

At the end of the episode they find out that the ghost is fake and that the man who supposedly died in the house was an inventor who faked his death. More HERE including the whole episode. In the episode, when the ghostly things would begin, the doors to the parlor would slam shut. Once everything has been resolved at the end they all go for ice cream and walk out with the parlor doors doing one final “slam!” When I was a kid I was convinced that this meant that the house really was haunted and that the door was open for more spooky business. Problem was, when I watched the reruns that last slam was always cut out. I started to think that it was cut because it was too scary and then that I was imagining it completely. Many years later I got confirmation that I had remembered it correctly when I finally saw the complete episode again.

If TBS is only speeding up the episodes then it might not be that bad. You’ll see in the video below it’s hardly noticeable. But if they’re speeding up and trimming…? Well let’s hope there’s still enough episode to watch.

What do you think about this? Fair game in a declining market? Total greed from corporate overlords? Let me know in the comments.

See you next time.

Leave a Comment

March 2, 2015 · 8:00 am

Come Watch Andelon Productions Discussions: Creativity on the Daily

Startup Post Art

We’re starting a new program series later this month. Round table discussions about using creativity and performance skills in other businesses and daily life. I’ll be inviting friends of mine that work in a variety of industries to participate and we’ll be taking questions from you, the audience, as well. Afterward the video will be available on my YouTube channel so you can watch it whenever you want. Not subscribed to my channel yet? Click below:

Curtis Andersen’s YouTube Channel

The first discussion will be on

Thursday February 19th at 8:30pm Pacific Time LIVE!

It will cover Creativity in your Daily Life and will feature my oldest friends from high school and college who have gone off to the four winds when it comes to careers:

  • Scott Sanford – IT specialist for the financial industry.
  • Dean Ethington – Graphic Designer and web developer for Oakley.
  • Dan Zarzana – Manager at an entertainment payroll company.
  • Jeff Garvin – Author and musician.

All of them have very different perspectives on how they use the creative sides of their brains and I’m looking forward to a lively conversation.

We’ll be doing these roundtables once a month in the 3rd week of the month so stay tuned for more!

See you next time!

Leave a Comment

Filed under 7k, Andelon, books, business, class, commentary, consulting, education, internet, learning experience, productivity, REVOLUTION, technology, Uncategorized, video, YouTube

Net Neutrality – The Fight is Getting Bigger

Photo: Act.Watchdog.Net

Photo: Act.Watchdog.Net

On February 5, 2015 the new rules proposal for broadband will be circulated for review. Later this month, February 26th, the FCC will vote on these regulations. They are reported to go the direction that Net Neutrality activists have hoped, and that’s a good thing, but the new Republican congress who benefits from an average of $350 million dollars a year in campaign contributions from the communications industry is attempting to derail all the progress that has been made. As described in the article linked to above, opponents to the idea of true Net Neutrality (personified by Sen. John Thune R-SD and Rep. Fred Upton R- Michigan) oppose the idea of reclassification and are proposing a separate bill that neuters the authority of the FCC thereby opening a backdoor to the kinds of actions that Net Neutrality activists were hoping to see squashed, like internet fast lanes.

In case you need a reminder of why reclassification is essential and why communication companies cannot be trusted to “self regulate” just check out this article which shows what happened when Netflix was forced to negotiate with Comcast.

On top of the big internet providers attempting to charge content providers, other businesses have been getting crafty as well.  A large penalty was just levied on Marriott Hotels because they were blocking private wi-fi hotspots, the kind offered by carriers like Verizon and Sprint, and forcing people to purchase the wi-fi through the hotel. Although they were caught and fined, this is likely just the first of many such attempts as large companies try to find a way to grab market share on internet service as it becomes part of people’s daily lives more and more.

Even though true Net Neutrality is so close, the fight is still on and it is important not to stop making our desire for an open and free internet known.  If you enjoy things like Netflix, Facebook, YouTube and even online dating then this effects you and your life.

You can follow THIS LINK to learn how to have your voice heard. Contact your representatives and let them know that you like your internet just fine and want it to stay free and open.

Keep up the fight!

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under activism, Andelon, business, career, commentary, computers, goverment, internet, net neutrality, new media, politics, the future, Uncategorized

Am I a Startup? Part 2: The “Don’ts”

Startup Post Art

In part 1 we covered what a startup is and the four best practices to help get that startup moving, with definitions tweaked to work for the entertainment industry (although those tweaks may work for other industries as well). Having an idea of what to do is important and positive and helps get all the work off on the right foot. That being said, it is nice to also know what pitfalls to avoid so you can do your best not to fail on accident. Just like articles on what to do to help your startup succeed there are as many, if not more, articles about what makes a startup fail.

Thinking about it, that makes sense since, by definition, a startup has no guarantee of success so many of them (most of them even) fail. Entertainment careers are no different. In this life you hear “no” a lot more than “yes.” You can have a series go to pilot and then not get picked up. You can be edited out of a commercial after you’ve already shot it. For resilience we all say that it’s, “just part of the biz” but, part of the biz or not, that much rejection can be draining. So the following are four mistakes that can kill your startup inspired by and paraphrased from this article: The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups. Why are there not 18? Because not all of the mistakes really apply to my topic. Sure, I could shoehorn in a few descriptions and get all symbolic with the language, but that isn’t the goal. The goal is to have strong points that are easy to identify and avoid to keep things moving in a positive career direction. But if you want to read all 18, and I suggest you do, go to the link.

Before we get started with the actual four mistakes, I’d like to point out a overarching general mistake that the author Paul Graham points out that also makes very good sense in an entertainment career:

“In a sense there’s just one mistake that kills startups: not making something users want. If you make something users want, you’ll probably be fine, whatever else you do or don’t do. And if you don’t make something users want, then you’re dead, whatever else you do or don’t do. So really this is a list of (sic) things that cause startups not to make something users want. Nearly all failure funnels through that.”

In his explanation let’s trade out the word “user” for “audience.” Entertainment exists to be experienced by people, there isn’t any way around that. As a general rule of thumb: make and do the things you believe in and have passion for. Those are the things that have the best chance of taking off and if they don’t you can at least feel good about the attempt.

Now on to the mistakes:

  1. Bad Location. The internet and prosumer equipment have really allowed people to make high quality content just about anywhere, but if you want to work on the bigger shows and films (hell even the big online stuff) you need to be in one of the major entertainment hubs: Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta or New Orleans. Although theres also North Carolina, Chicago, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and the occasional shoot in Hawaii. And Canada. Puerto Rico is offering some really nice tax incentives so some productions are moving over there… All kidding aside, even with this expansive list there are still very few cities that can actually handle and support a large amount of filming. If you are ok just shooting with your friends and putting it up online then more power to you. Hollywood is decentralizing and I predict that we’re going to see more migration away from Southern California over the next five to ten years, but there will still be industry hubs where the camera crews live and where you can find a guy who can record decent sound. You want those people so you should be where they are.
  2. Derivative Ideas. Don’t just copy. I know Hollywood does it all the time, but those are the things people make fun of Hollywood for doing. I’m not saying that you can’t have your own spin on an existing idea, but don’t just straight up copy. Here’s an example: Zombies have been the dominate movie monster for over a decade now. There has been zombie everything, but the ones I remember: The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, and Shaun of the Dead all had unique takes on the genre. You don’t need to be the first person with an idea, but you do need to have a way to make it your own.
  3. Choosing the wrong platform. This literally came up in conversation today and it seems like something that I talk about with people all the time. There is both a literal and a figurative meaning to “platform.” The literal has to do with distribution of content that you and your team may be creating. When you decide how to get it out to the audience you either need to build to the distribution you have access to or hustle to get the distribution you feel the content requires. For example: I spoke to a buddy just today about their new project that, in my opinion (which happened to be an opinion he shared), needs to be a web release. It is built in tight little vignettes that are great for online audiences and the pieces all combine together into one big narrative that he could release as a stand-alone product and/or send to film festivals. But there is talk about converting it to feature length and trying to get the funding to do a movie version. In my head, at this time with the options available to them, online seems like the no brainer. Doing this project as a television show wouldn’t work, the premise wouldn’t last beyond a season. Doing it as a movie might work, but it would require a heavy rewrite and a massive investment. Right now they have a completed product ready to launch and it would be a shame not to release it. The figurative meaning of “platform” is for the actor. We can trade out “platform” for “type.” One of the biggest complaints that I hear from my casting director friends is that people submit for things that they have no chance of getting. As an responsible auditioning actor you need to be honest with yourself about your type. If you happen to be a strawberry blond skinny guy who does prat falls and makes faces you should not submit yourself for roles where they usually cast Ian Somerhalder. I promise you, Ian Somerhalder is going to get that part. Overall I think the lesson here is to play to your strengths. Swinging for the fences is great and all,  but you still need to be smart about it.
  4. Not wanting to get your hands dirty. This is probably the biggest crime in all of the entertainment business, especially for people new to it. As great as this job is, there is nothing easy about it. If it were easy everyone would do it because it’s awesome. A lot more people could do it, but most are not willing to put in the amount of work that it takes to do it right. Hell, even thirty years later I’m still finding ways that I’m deficient in my efforts. It’s an ever changing business that requires constant effort. If you’re not up for that find something else to do with your time.

Did I miss anything? Are there any best practices that I could have added to part 1? Let me know in the comments.

See you next time.

Leave a Comment

Filed under acting, artist, business, commentary, evil plan, failure, getting started, Hollywood, how-to, insight, jobs, learning experience, making movies, productivity, TV, work

Op Ed: The Future of Entertainment

Image from MediaBistro.com

Image from MediaBistro.com

The entertainment industry is changing faster now than it ever has before. The last decade has seen an exponential change in how audiences consume content, where content is created, how content can be monetized, and what that means for the people who create all of this content. I see this from the perspective of the “working class” trenches: no development fund, need to maintain employment, still keeping up a hustle. For people like me (and there are a LOT of us) we have seen this change in a very real way for a long time and, as much as I hate to admit it, haven’t been as proactive as we probably should have been to be on the front of that wave.

Instead the younger set, those without the idea of “this is how things work” found their place. YouTubers are doing very well for themselves and Hollywood is taking notice, ready to monetize on their popularity. Fan films get national attention and have their own festival circuit. The biggest name in horror for the last seven years has been Paranormal Activity – a series that started with a movie made for about $11,000 in a dude’s house with After Effects.

For those with vision and a camera the future is open and ready…

…that being said, the old model is far from dead.

A lot of talk happened the Monday after the Golden Globes when Netflix and Amazon both walked away with coveted trophies about how the nature of television is changing and that the very business is already inexorably changed. And it is, but not completely. Not yet.

Here are two articles that, for me, were kind of the yin and yang of the future of the business, at least for the next few years especially in the context of wide public distribution, like television.

A Few Caveats About The New World Of Television from Monkey See from NPR

The Golden Globes Tell Us Everything About the Entertainment Industry in 2015 from IndieWire

I’m a “new model” guy who’s ready for the wild west, but it’s hard to pass up the money that can come with “old model” companies.

What do you think? Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Filed under actor stuff, Andelon, business, career, commentary, filmmaking, independent film, insight, internet, making movies, money, news, NPR, pop culture, producing, technology, television, the future, TV, working for a living, YouTube

Good News for Net Neutrality?

Photo: Act.Watchdog.Net

Photo: Act.Watchdog.Net

Things are looking good for Net Neutrality.

In a one-on-one conversation with Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President Gary Shapiro on January 7th, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (sometimes referred to as a dingo) has implied that rules governing broadband communications will be based on Title II of the Communications Act – which is what most Net Neutrality activists and I have been hoping for.

HERE’S A LINK TO THE ARTICLE AT ARS TECHNICA

But for the TL;DR crowd here are some sound bytes:

“…it became obvious that commercially reasonable could be interpreted as what is reasonable for the ISPs, not what is reasonable for consumers or innovators,” Wheeler said. “And that’s the wrong question and the wrong answer because the issue here is how do we make sure that consumers and innovators have open access to networks. That led us to a more robust investigation of the well established concept of just and reasonable, which is a Title II concept. And as I said, Title II has always been something that was on the table. So last summer we began investigating various approaches using title II as a way to get to just and reasonable because it has the best protections.”

”What’s interesting also is that other ISPs, smaller ISPs, like the rural carriers, competitive ISPs, have all come in and said, ‘we like Title II, we hope you’ll do Title II,'” Wheeler added.

“It just so happens that 20 years ago I was the guy that negotiated on behalf of the wireless industry to establish Section 332,” Wheeler said. “Section 332 says that wireless should be regulated under Title II as a common carrier, except that the FCC is instructed to forbear from onerous provisions and inappropriate provisions of Title II, except for section 201 and 202, which is just and reasonable, and Section 208, which is consumer protection,” he added.

Shapiro summed up, saying, “what I heard you say is, without totally confirming it, is you’re going down the Title II path, [and] that the wireless model is a good model, and the wireless model said forbear by law except for a couple of sections.” Wheeler did not dispute that assessment.

Fingers crossed!

Leave a Comment

Filed under activism, Andelon, business, commentary, geek, internet, net neutrality, news, politics, re-post, technology, the future

First of the Year Dash!

Insanity-Wolf-Happy-New-Year

JANUARY FIRST!

NEW DIET!

NEW WORKOUT!

NEW LIFE PLAN!

THIS IS GOING TO BE THE YEAR THAT I DO IT BECAUSE IT’S JANUARY FIRST AND NOTHING CAN STOP ME!!!!!!!

I would be lying if I didn’t cop to having these feelings. Every January is the beginning of a new year, it feels like the slate gets wiped clean, and since most people have time off it is really easy to start new things or try to make new habits. This leads to gym memberships, hobbies, playing musical instruments, writing, the list goes on and on. Just last week I posted a half assed resolution post about getting re-focused (which I’m totally sticking to, by the way).

But here’s the problem, by March a lot of resolutions and plans all fall apart, or at least show signs of cracking. After I wrote that post about focus I started thinking about what that was going to mean for the rest of the year. 2015 is kinda’ spoken for as of now. Fun Size Horror 2015 is going into early prep, there are shows to do, and I’m mapping out my teaching/speaking schedule. That doesn’t even include any acting opportunities that may pop up. If I’m 100% honest with myself, that means that I have very little that I can safely commit to and the new year is just starting. First World problems for sure, but I’m the kind of guy who is going to be upset about having to say “no” even when it’s the responsible thing to do. So I had to take a pretty hard look at myself and what I know I want to accomplish this year and examine why my best intentions in previous years always seemed to drift into trouble.

I am not going to speak on how this affects people in a general sense, I don’t have the qualifications for that, so everything that I talk about in this post refers to me personally. Looking at my past, you don’t even have to go that far back to see good ideas and habits get dropped – perfect example: 52 in 52. Not managing to stick with this actually upset me quite a bit. It’s an idea that I was/am really excited about. I was pleased with how things were going, but a story a week ended up just being too much. To be fair, the things I gave it up for; Fun Size Horror and all the shooting we were doing; were absolutely worth it, but it still stings.

I won’t lie, my gym membership has been pretty useless for a while now too. I just don’t make the time for it. I should (who shouldn’t?) especially since I spend so many hours in a chair, but my discipline is bad when it comes to the gym. And eating better. I still eat like I’m in college. Rene has made some noble in-roads and had some effect, but I still love me some cheeseburgers.

So how does it come to this? What gets in my way to keep me from achieving the desired goals? Goals that pretty easy to achieve in a practical aspect when it comes down to it:

  • Rene is willing and able to prepare better food for me.
  • I have the gym membership – it’s even close by.
  • The work that I do to earn money is both varied and flexible so I can make the time to do the things I want to do.
  • I have an amazing network of friends and collaborators who are willing to help me achieve what I want.

These are not small resources. But then I take an honest look at what gets in the way:

  • Feeling like there is a lack of time.
  • Getting distracted by the “shiny things.”
  • Trepidation at trying something I have no experience with.
  • Lack of funds.

Most of these I can get past. Lack of time usually translates into lack of rest. Instead of doing the things I’d like to do when I’ve completed what I have to do I fall down an internet rabbit hole of YouTube videos and random Wikipedia research because my brain is tired. A quick nap is usually the best fix for this or turning in early if I can manage it. Distractions are tougher, but that’s what this year is about fixing. For example, I should have completed this post hours ago, but I got distracted by an episode of “This Week Tonight” and ended up marathoning about ten episodes. Avoiding distractions is going to take a little practice. Trepidation of trying something I have no experience with, more commonly known as “fear of the unknown” or “resistance” by Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art (which I highly recommend for everyone and have a link for at the bottom of this post) is something that I prefer to face head-on. I find that once you realize that everyone has to do something a first time it’s actually just a matter of girding yourself up and charging forward. The War of Art suggests a lot of great ways to achieve this. I can’t recommend it enough.

Lack of funds – this is the big one. Money is such a sensitive thing. There’s a certain amount of investment that you need to make into anything you do, that’s just an economic reality, but I hate parting with any funds unless I can “see” the return or a way to recoup. This only makes me pinch pennies more when  those envisioned returns don’t show up. If I had unlimited funds (c’mon lottery!) or a benefactor (c’mon mysterious uncle who won the lottery!) I would probably feel differently about this but, put on news announcer voice in these trying economic times, it’s a tough thing for me to get past.

Putting all of these things down on “paper” makes them feel manageable. Putting them out in public makes me want to take ownership of them. Knowing that this makes me vulnerable to scrutiny makes me want to be responsible. Sometimes it takes the possibility of looking like an idiot to motivate you.

…Of course you can always end up looking like an idiot anyway, but if I let that stop me I wouldn’t have had a career.

How are you doing this far into the new year? Let’s talk in the comments.

See you next time.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Andelon, art, artist, business, challenge, commentary, Curtis Andersen, doing new things, evil plan, general, in real life, insight, inspiration, learning experience, making movies, marketing, money, musings

Chicago & Creativity

Over the weekend Rene and I had the pleasure of visiting Chicago. I delivered the Think Fast seminar at the National Auctioneer’s Association Conference. We had a fantastic time in Chicago, we loved so many things about it, enough for it to be a completely different post later. Today I want to talk about the conference.

The point of the conference is continued education for the benefit auctioneers who attend. They get a chance to brush up on skills and learn new techniques. I was invited to help share improvisation techniques to aid in crowd control and auction flow. We did a series of games designed to keep them from second guessing themselves and to engage the creative centers of their brains. 
These are very personable people with gregarious personalities. They have a performer’s mentality and a salesmen’s drive. They write their own scripts, interact with people constantly and do the job of being both a host and performer.  These are creative people, but many of them had forgotten that. 
When I was first approached about speaking at the conference one of the specifics that was mentioned was to help come up with snappy patter and one-liners. That’s a tough thing to do for other people in a general way. When writing comedy it’s best to write to your subject. General jokes create general results. Specific jokes create specific results, better results. The fact of the matter is that they really didn’t need my help coming up with clever or snappy patter. Every one of the people at that conference has all the ability they need, they just needed the confidence to trust themselves. 
And that’s really the point of it all. So many people forget in the course of what they’re doing that part of why they are doing whatever it is they are doing, they are doing it because they had an idea about it. Something triggered their creativity and got them to where they are at. 
Now I know what some of the more cynical of you are thinking, “What about people in menial jobs? What kind of creativity got them there?” And, ok, I’ll give you that the job itself may not be the end goal, but they got that job for a reason. They needed to pay for something and that job is going to help do that. Everybody has their reasons. And sometimes the motivation can lead down some convoluted paths that distract you from the ultimate goal. All the more reason to get refocused! 
During the exercises you could see the spark light up as they remembered that they already knew how to do this stuff. They brought their own talents out and they got excited! It was really neat to see. Tools are great but seeing people use them, effectively, is always better. 
I think that we can all forget sometimes how to use our talents, at least to their full extent. It’s easy to get caught up using them in certain ways, simple ways. Sometimes you don’t get challenged, worse we don’t always challenge ourselves. Talents are different than skills. Skills are learned, require practice and can fade from lack of use. Talents are innate. The stick around whether we want them or not. Skills can enhance a talent, but skills can never replace a talent. 
I have heard it said, and it makes a nice poetic notion, that when you teach you learn as much as you pass on. I definitely learned some things during the conference. While talking to them I was reminded that I haven’t really been utilizing my talents as much either. It was motivating. I saw what it was like for them to be making a living doing what they love. That was inspiring. And I was pointed to a Facebook group all about grilling and barbecuing. It looks delicious!
So I put it to you, use your talents. They don’t need to make you famous, but they can make a difference, even if that difference is just making you a little bit happier. 
But that’s just me, what do you think? Let’s talk in he comments. 
See you next time!

Leave a Comment

Filed under career, Chicago, commentary, consulting, creativity, doing new things, education, getting started, happiness, inspiration