Category Archives: doing new things

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

Serve The Mission

Startup Post Art

Rene and I have a mantra for this year: Only Do What Serves The Mission.

Pretty simple, really, when you boil it down. We have come up with a series of goals that we want to achieve. These goals combined are The Mission and all the things we do, public and private, need to help advance The Mission.

This mind set has kept us very focused, which hasn’t always been the easiest thing for us the last few years. Personally speaking I’ve been professionally scattered since 2006. At the time I was a year into my producing career and wasn’t really pursuing acting. There were some major changes in my personal life and these things converged into a reactive state of mind instead of me being proactive. To that end I followed the money, since I needed it, but it was money without passion or drive so it wasn’t satisfying and really only paid enough for it to barely be enough. Some good things came out of that time, mostly friendships and a few projects here and there, but a majority of that time was spent with the career equivalent of a headache. Who wants that?

The worst thing is, I know what it’s like to do things the other way. For most of my career I was a “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!” kind of guy. My head was down and I charged forward. I knew what I wanted and didn’t let anything get in the way.  I quit jobs, didn’t worry about advancement, didn’t let anything get in the way of the bigger goal – The Mission – and I had a lot of success doing that.

But then the fear came.

It’s really easy to keep doing what you know you should when you are experiencing more success than failure. But eventually that scale is going to tip and that’s when you start second guessing yourself. Am I doing this right? What if people don’t like it? Where’s my next paycheck coming from? A whole bunch of questions that spawn from fear. Don’t get me wrong, fear can be valuable. It can be a motivator, keep you out of hazardous situations, and heighten your awareness, but if you let it control you then you’ve lost track – you’re not serving The Mission.

In order to serve The Mission you must identify what The Mission is. Companies do this with Mission Statements. I have a mission in the acting class I teach for the actors in it (come on in to learn about that).  You can have a Mission too as long as you have specific goals. My friend, Jeff Garvin, has a FANTASTIC video about this process. See it below:

6 Secrets of Creative Goal Setting

Check out the rest of the blog too. And, if you get a chance, tell him that 7k needs to do a reunion tour.

Once you have your goals you need to make sure that your whole team is on the same page. This is really important. Nothing can derail a plan like conflicting ideas on where you’re going. I’ve watched this, more than anything else, destroy so many strong projects. And it isn’t always obvious that you aren’t on the same page until it’s too late. It takes some very honest introspection to see if things are all going the same direction or if you’re just hoping that they are. But when you are on the same page it hits you in the face, metaphorically, to remind you that it’s happening. Rene and I have repeatedly remarked to each other how relieving it is to be on the same page together. It’s made things so easy. Even hard decisions seem to just naturally fall into the right answer. That’s a very freeing advantage.

Asking the question, “does this serve The Mission” also gives you the greatest power in all business – the ability to say, “no.” If used right, “no” is the the single most powerful word in any language. It is a definitive negative and doesn’t allow for any mis-reading. It might be ignored, but your intention is never in question. Knowing what to say no to is a skill that can be learned and should be practiced.

What we’re doing isn’t new and it isn’t a secret, lots of very successful people do this all the time. What we have done is identified the process in a way that works well for us – and so far it’s working beyond expectations.

Do you have a Mission? Is there anything you’d add to the process? Let me know in the comments.

See you soon.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 7k, Andelon, behind the scenes, career, doing new things, how-to, productivity, Uncategorized, working for a living

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

Ray Bradbury: 52 Stories in 52 Weeks – My Project for 2014

Picture found at QuotePictures.com

For 2014 I’m going to attempt to do the Ray Bradbury 52 short stories in 52 weeks writing hygiene exercise. It’s an idea that he brought up in a lecture, I’ve included a link below:

I started the video at the 2 minute 40 second mark, but if you have about an hour to watch the whole video it is worth it.

I’ve had a few ideas buzzing around in my head and they just haven’t found a way to get out. I think that the structure and discipline that this exercise will require will be a good way to at least get these things down on paper.

I don’t know if I’ll post them. I may decide that on a case by case basis, but I’m excited enough that I wanted to talk about it here.

Sometimes being creative takes a back seat to the things that we do to survive. If we’re very lucky, sometimes what we like to do creatively will end up earning us a living but more often than that we end up using our creative skills to help bring someone else’s creative vision to life. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact  in many cases that’s how we get good at what we do, but eventually there comes a time when you have something that you want to make from your mind and then it’s up to you to find a way to get that idea out into the world. Given that I do not have hundreds of millions of dollars on hand and that I could use a lot of writing practice I have selected this exercise.

Apparently I’m not alone either, doing a simple Google search shows that there are Facebook pages and websites dedicated to the Ray Bradbury 52 Stories in 52 Weeks Challenge! I will probably not join up with any of these groups, but it was neat to see this idea has taken off.

I’ll be starting in January, although I have started keeping track of writing prompts so I have some ideas to pull from.

What do you think? Is this kind of challenge for you? Let me know in the comments.

See you next time!

P.S. If you want to get any of Ray Bradbury’s excellent books why not try Amazon? And if you want those books quicker, and access to the movies and TV shows available with Amazon Prime check out the free trial link below.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 52 stories in 52 weeks, creativity, doing new things, new projects, projects, Ray Bradbury, storytelling, writing

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

What?!?! Is that a new URL?!?!?

Yes!

And no.

I’ve owned CurtisAndersen.com for quite a while, but it has gone through some… developmental problems.  Some of you may remember the last debacle before I just pointed to the MySpace page – but now that MySpace is horribly irrelevant and I actually do like it when people read my blog I’m pointing the URL to my blog!

Now I should probably mention that I intend this to be a temporary fix.  I’m meeting with the web team soon to pop-up the Cheerleaders Must Die page and we have already been talking about how to manifest the new CurtisAndersen.com page.  We have a solution but I’m not a code guy so it may take a while even then, though, the primary focus will be the blog so why not start now?

In other news there’s a new “Story Time with Ray”:

Have some neat things in the pipe.  I’ll mention them when they actually become something.

See you tomorrow!

Leave a Comment

Filed under acting, doing new things, new media, new projects, Story Time with Ray, web site, Wiggy VonSchtick, wiggy webs

Project 365 9-22-2010 Catching Up

Wow!  Apparently I’m really bad at maintaining a blog while I’m moving, rehearsing a new play, looking for film funding, shopping reality programing, teaching, getting a corporation back on it’s feet and planning a wedding.  I apologize for my dereliction of blog duties and for the passive aggressive way that I just talked about how busy Rene & I have been.

As you have seen from the pictures that I did remember to take over the last few weeks we’ve been up to a lot!  I still want to revisit my day at the L.A. Time Festival of Food & Wine – I emcee’d right next to the stage that I shot two of three seasons of Sabrina the Teenage Witch on – but I’ve finnally caught up so I want to talk about today and what it makes me think of: sleep, Taco Bell and how fast time has been moving.

Sleep, due to the lack of it.  there’s just too much to do.

Taco Bell because for some reason I’ve had a craving for it the last couple days and I finally gave into to it today.  We’ll see how my colon fares tomorrow.

Time flying because it just is!  I started working at 8am today and it was 5pm before I knew it!  There is still so much to do.  I have three emails to write that I’ve been meaning to get out since Monday – guess that’s what Thursday is for.

Rene and I are in a new play this fall called “Zombie Love”.  It opens soon and Rene and I will be getting even less sleep as we do rehearsals.  Here’s a picture of the script:

Now I’m going to bed.  Hopefully I’ll get my desktop fixed soon.

See you tomorrow!

Leave a Comment

Filed under business, doing new things, making movies, moving, new play, project 365 2010, rene

Project 365 7-24-2010 Show Time!

There were all kinds of shows happening today: Rene was doing a show at a casino somewhere out in BFE, I had a Shmimprov show and 7k was playing at The Back Alley Bar in Fullerton.

Honestly I was planning on just recounting the day/night, but I feel like that’s been happening in this blog way too much.  Part of the reason that I do this in the first place is to make sure that I write every day but I don’t want to just be writing about the day, I doubt that it’s interesting reading.  So I’m going to make an effort to be more open and actually WRITE in this blog, even if it means that some of the days pop up late.

Today’s picture is perfect for what I’m talking about:

Originally I was using it because I felt that my hair looked “cartoony” but in the picture it doesn’t strike the same effect.  It is ridiculously close-up, though, so every skin imperfection and detail is visible – heaven forbid you actually click on it and make it full size.

Here’s to a new direction!

See you tomorrow!

Leave a Comment

Filed under doing new things, musings, project 365 2010, rant

Project 365 1-10-2010 The Taco Guadalajara

I had expected to talk about my drive and listening to podcasts today.  There wasn’t much else going on.  After yesterday’s “pink eye” fiasco, a fiasco I’m happy to say I’m mostly past, there wasn’t much else that I expected to be able to do, but because I’m no longer contagious and my eye looks back to normal we were able to go to our friend Mark’s birthday at Casa Gamino in Westminster.

It is always nice to see Mark, Karen and their baby Henry.  They are artists and have fabulous friends who are also artists.  There is a level of conversation that you can only reach by speaking with artists.  They have a unique outlook and it tints their point of view and makes for great conversation.  But even they aren’t what this blog is about.

I ordered a taco.

It was no ordinary taco.

It was The Taco Guadalajara.

Colon be damned!

Yes, it looks like it has a face.
Yes, I ate it!
…Well, half of it.  This thing is huge!  The rest is in the fridge.

See you tomorrow… maybe.

1 Comment

Filed under doing new things, project 365 2010

Project 365 1-9-2010 The Dreaded Pink Eye

I woke up this morning with crust in my eye.  Crust in your eye is gross. 

For the last few days it’s been very dry here in my neck of the words.  My nose has been stuffed and my eyes have been dry.  Normally I take care of this by drinking outrageous amounts of water, but I haven’t been as diligent as usual.  In an effort to discourage this dry feeling I stopped taking the Claritin I usually take for my allergies.  I’ve been sneezing a bit more, but that’s a small price to pay to keep from being dried out.  Yesterday my eyes were REALLY dry.  I did the best I could to drink a lot of water, but it didn’t work – I just didn’t have access to a lot of water where I was at.  “Besides,” I thought to myself, “I’ll be home soon and Rene has eye drops that could lubricate a steam engine.”  I headed back home, blinking a lot to try and keep my eyes moist.  Once through the door I immediately doused my eyes, first with saline tears then with astringent anti-allergy drops.  Finally my eyes felt normal again!  It felt a bit like there was an eyelash in my right one, but that didn’t surprise me – they’d spent the whole day dry!  Just to be sure I had Rene look and see if she could see anything.  She didn’t see any foreign objects, but immediately quizzed me with a series of questions related to the level of irritation associated with my eye.

See Rene has had pink eye before.  Her nieces have had it.  She’s seen pink eye.  She knows pink eye.  She hates pink eye.  Her questions did not match my symptoms and with the exception of some swelling around my eyes, swelling that is completely in line with my allergies, I showed no signs.

Then I woke up this morning.  As I rolled over from my stomach I asked Rene how my eye looked.  I could feel that there was crust in the corner, but my eye was far from sealed shut. 

She made a face and a noise, “Ewwwwwwwwww.”

That didn’t sound good.

I sat up, used a Kleenex to wipe the crust away taking note of it’s color and texture (light yellow, almost clear and thin and crumbly) and then figured I had pink eye.  Rene was pretty sure I had pink eye.  My eye’s were definitely pink.  The picture above was taken right after I wiped my eye.  It’s pretty much looked the same the rest of the day.

Being an actor/producer is great.  The job is creative, you can set your own hours and it presents opportunities to do really fabulous things while getting paid for it(when you get paid for it) .  The only problem is, it’s a tough gig to maintain.  The acting unions offer insurance coverage, but there is an ever rising minimum base earning that you must make on top of a quarterly payment of between $100 or $200 depending on your plan.  If you can’t maintain either of these you can’t participate in the plan.  Personal insurance for me costs around $140/month for a decent plan.  I don’t really have the spare income to spend on that.  I don’t get sick very often and I don’t do anything that puts me in real or present danger.  Most of the time I’m very healthy and when I do get sick it usually only takes some NyQuil and a couple days before I’m back up to snuff.  On the rare occasion that NyQuil won’t do it I am in a bit of bind.

Enter CVS Minute Clinics.

I found out about these from Rene and on the internet today.  In select CVS Pharmacies are small clinics staffed with RN’s and physician assistants who can diagnose and treat basic ailments, including pink eye!  I visited a branch close to my parent’s house, only had to wait about 30 minutes (there were four people ahead of me) and got out with a diagnosis and my meds for $99.  That’s pretty good.

The Minute Clinics aren’t a fix all, they’re mostly for preventative medicine and small, easily treated things – see the web site for full details – but for the easy stuff, the stuff you can usually diagnose at home, it’s a great solution.  Although I don’t have insurance they accept all major forms of it and, as I found out today, my family doctor is the medical supervisor of the clinic I attended!  Kind of like going to the urgent care in his building, but it didn’t cost me $300.  I went form being really worried this morning to only mildly inconvenienced and coming home with about $40 of other stuff that I picked up in the CVS as I waited for my prescription.  Not much else happened today – I ended up having to wash a bunch of stuff and disinfecting everything else – but it’s a Saturday and sometimes that’s what you do on a Saturday.

Oh, and since I’ve never had pink eye before it counts as something new for “Doing New Things in January.”  Yay for maintaining a theme.

See you tomorrow!  A little less pink.

5 Comments

Filed under doing new things, medical, project 365 2010, social commentary