How do you measure success in your entertainment industry career?
I used to measure my achievement using a complicated inner formula that weighed 4 factors:
- the brand of the company I work for,
- the coolness of the project I worked on,
- the number of people my work impacted,
- and the fame of the celebrities I partied with
For the last few years, I adopted a better formula that only measures what really counts in my career. Here it is:
SUCCESS = MONEY
Am I making more money than last year? Then I’m more successful. Less money? Now I’m less successful.
Does my colleague make more money for doing what I do? Then he’s more successful, and I should learn from him. If I make more money, then I should school him so he can step up to my level. Chris Parnell couldn’t make it any clearer
Gone are the days where the stamps in my co-workers’ passports signaled to me how accomplished they are in their career.
Do It For The Love?
The simple rule “SUCCESS = MONEY” is obvious to corporate workers. However, for people in our creative business, it’s heresy. As kids we didn’t dream of using our talents to get rich. Actually, when our parents worried that we wouldn’t make a dime from pursuing a degree in our field, we agreed and dived in anyway.
We did it for the love. Creating is enough for us. The money is a secondary gift. “I can’t believe I get paid to do this this all day”, is the joke we use around our peers.
We shy away from the “money hungry” people in our circle. If you’re working for the cash, and not primarily for the art, then you’re fake and can’t be trusted.
Freeze right there. Actually, the opposite is true. When deciding who to work with or for, the person’s positive attitude about money is a great gauge of their integrity.
The Cure for Industry Fakeness
Leadership and personal development gurus all have one trick. And it’s a trick that works really well.
They teach you that success, happiness, influence, and fulfillment all start with you becoming congruent
– first with yourself, and then with the people you work with.
Congruence is a fancy way of saying, “Do what you say, and say what you mean”.
If you walk into Coldstone
wanting a vanilla ice cream cone with almond sprinkles, yet walk out with a chocolate cone with M&M sprinkles, you will be a grumpy something all day. And it’s the same story if you expect to buy a burger
at Coldstone. You will end up unhappy, and so will the ice cream serving staff.
Yes, it’s a silly analogy, but you may be breaking the congruence principle right now at work. The record label, movie studio, or television network you work at primarily exists to make money
. The music, movies, and shows that are created are the “how” of the business, not the “why”.
Your boss’ boss doesn’t care if you get to do something interesting all day, as long as you’re making the company money. If you’re not down with that, then it’s like ordering grilled meat from an ice cream shop. It’s not congruent, and it puts a Schleprock
cloud over the heads of everyone involved.
Are you even congruent within yourself? You want new experiences in and out of your city, you want to contribute to your family, and you want to support your favorite charity. Oh, and you want to stay fly. You understand that this all takes money, so why not go for it in your career, the one area of your life that has agreed to drop you coin in exchange for your talent?
Expect the vanilla ice cream, and order the vanilla ice cream.
The fake people in our business are the ones who are not congruent with money. They want to make money with you, but they feel like they need to buddy up to you first. They agree to help with something for free, then go crazy splitting nickels and dimes when the project surprisingly makes a profit.
They tend to be flaky and unprofessional. They are first to complain and back-stab.
They brag about not “doing things for the money”, but when the gigs are running low they do desperate things (I’ve lost count on how many people have
tumbled into the black hole
, and turned to real estate and web scams to make a buck).
Happiness Is Your Fault
Fake people won’t understand this, but ever since I found congruence with money’s role in my career I became a more focused, creative, and independent worker at every job I’ve been at.
I expect one thing from my relationship with the businesses I work for – let’s make lots and lots of money together!
I don’t ask my job to make me happy. That’s my responsibility. I don’t ask my job to give me a purpose. That’s on me, too.
I already have a mother, a fiance, and a minister. It wouldn’t be fair for me to expect my company to play any of those roles in my life.
What do you expect from your place of business? If it’s more than money, you’re in trouble. Don’t believe the hype when your CEO sends out memos saying you’re a part of the “ACME Media Group Family”. A real family doesn’t call for layoffs when the money doesn’t add up.
The only thing that should make you upset at work is not getting paid. Your happiness and your overall quality of life is in your hands.
The “Cut The Check” Movement
As an entertainment industry professional reading Career Green Light, I hope that you find exciting work, connect with fantastic people, but most of all, make more money.
That money thing makes too many talented people in our business squeamish. They think “friendship” with money will make them obnoxious. Not true.
I’m the coolest, most moral guy in any circle
, yet I feel comfortable going after the biggest payday in every situation I find myself in. I have negotiated my salary up in every job interview I sat in, and scored a 27% raise two months into my first job at a print magazine.
On the flip side, I’ve never worked for free as an intern. I published all of my free work on my own blog. Anything I get paid for at work, I won’t do for free for friends, unless there is a clear benefit for my career. I do believe in bartering for services and donating my talent to charities and family, but that’s where the free river ends.
My hope is that you will adopt this “cut the check” attitude and urge your colleagues to do the same. Advancing you career starts with how you measure success. If you don’t believe SUCCESS = MONEY, then you’ll find many businesses that will want to hire you – for free