I Get Anxiety Over This Type of E-mail

There’s one type of email that I loathe above all others. Can you guess what it is? I bet it’s not what you’re thinking. I hate ’em. Seriously, I’d rather read hate mail. I’d rather read Tea Party literature hand-curated by Ted Cruz, or ad-copy from AT&T explaining how bundling my cable, phone and Internet could save me $300. The interesting part? About 75% of the time, what’s inside these emails… Is glowing. Overwhelming positive. Even raving.  Yet the anxiety still seizes me like talons around testicles the moment I see the number (1) in the sub-category I keep for these emails, like a raised
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What Makes Me Valuable

To others? If I did this task better, how will it affect my career five years from now? How will it make me more valuable five years from now? I think it’s important to step back and ask ourselves that on occasion. If I schedule all these lunches today, will it make more valuable to others? If I send out all these rejection letters? If I mail out all these check letters? If I connect every call that comes through? If I indiscriminately do drinks five nights a week? If I book this travel? If I move widget A into the
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First Impressions Stick

It’s human nature, I think, to believe your first impression. The one made the second someone walks through your door, and puts their hand into yours. Humans are predisposed to look for evidence that corroborates what we already believe, not find reasons why we may be wrong. So if you come into your first Hollywood production company as a intern, big-eyed and cash-money green, that’s how people will see you. For a long time. If you come into a studio as an assistant, they may never see you as executive material. Not that it doesn’t happen — of course it
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When It Was Time to Stop Working for My Father

Last week, I talked about how to recognize when it’s time to leave your organization. If they’re telling you: “Don’t try new things.” “Toe the line.” “Do what worked before.” Then it’s time to go. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Of course, quitting your job never is. This is the story of quitting my first job after college… working for my father. I worked for my father for about two years, starting in the winter of 2008. It was one of the best learning and life experiences I could ask for. In hindsight, we opened the first restaurant, Shogun
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If You’re Looking for Permission You’ve Come to the Wrong Place

One of my favorite interviews of all time (and thanks to the handcrafted Aux Hook-up in my car, I listen to many) is Bryan Elliot’s interview of Seth Godin, for the Icarus Deception. In the interview, Seth says — and I’m going to paraphrase here: “The excuse that, ‘My boss doesn’t give me permission’ is a bad one. Why should he? You’re not asking for permission, what you’re saying is, ‘Can I go do this thing, and if it works, I’m going to take all the credit, and if it doesn’t, you’ll take all the blame.’ Who would agree to
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Where’d Ming Go?

Hey dudes. I’m still very much here – but have been working on projects that pulled me away from posting on this blog. Will start posting again soon. (If you want to see one of the projects that’s absorbed a lot of my time the last few months, click here to read Fighting Broke, my blog on personal finance and career advice for Hollywood assistants.) Talk soon. Photo Credit: Mti Abhi
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Why We Love Distractions

There was a contract on my desk I could not get through. Every time I sat down, fourth (fifth… sixth…) cup of coffee in hand, armed with a pen and true grit, distractions plagued me from every direction. I felt like Macaulay Culkin in the movie MY GIRL, who gets attacked by the Avenging Bee Hive, stung a million times, and dies. Oh. Spoiler alert. I’d get through three sentences, then someone would ping me on instant messenger, asking if we were having a staff meeting. Or an assistant would make a scheduling snafu, and would urgently need to reschedule —
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The Difference in Small Fears vs Big Fears

I’ve been thinking a lot about small failures lately. In my experience, they’re more difficult to publicly face than large failures.   For example, in 2008, when my father opened the first Shogun, the idea that “this might might work” didn’t cross my mind too often. I felt like: “Of course this might not work!” It’s a big risk. The economy is depressed. One out of 4 restaurants fail in their first year. That number rises, to three in 5, over the next 3 years. We faced plenty of other obstacles: Was there a market for Japanese food in Delmar?
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What I’m Reading: Understanding Michael Ovitz

I think understanding context is crucial for education and self-development. An example: my current employer, Intellectual Property Group is a successor to the H.N. Swanson Literary Agency, one of the greatest Hollywood Lit Agencies of all time. Swanie represented some of the greatest literary heavyweights: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, etc. The foreword to his memoir, SPRINKLED WITH RUBY DUST, was written by client, the late great Elmore Leonard. The Importance Of Context In reading Swanie’s memoir and understanding the circumstances in which he built his agency, I understand the nature of my work and my environment
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How Do You Decide: Take a New Job or Stay at Your Old Job?

I got offered the opportunity to work for a show runner the other day. Was it the right decision? My friend asked me to call him. He said, “This position is about to open up. I can tee it up for you, but you have to tell me ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in four hours. You’re the first person I’m going to, but if you pass I need to get someone else in the room.” It’s a gun-to-the-head situation, but fair play. I thought it over, as I tried focusing on check letters and connecting calls and the minutia of the
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