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March 2017

April 2017

"Oh Mama! Please Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Writers and Directors!"

Like many, I had an average middle-class upbringing. My parent's professional lives and beliefs were submersed in academia. My father was a teacher, and my mother worked in a University. For a while it seemed as if our careers were all mapped out. Marks were all-important, as they would be a ticket to University and gainful employment. All four of us kids ended up in one of the professions - Business, Science, Medicine and Engineering.

Looking at our lives now it's easy to say we did well. But I wonder what would have happened had we chosen a different and perhaps more creative path? I had a talent and passion for languages, yet was told that job prospects would be better if I studied business. My brother had a passion for writing and acting, yet there was no way he would be allowed to follow that dream - at least until he finished the requisite degree.

Many families have the seemingly universal thought that a career in the Arts is just not "acceptable." We still see the scenes in movies and television where distraught parents utter the words..."Agh! He/she wants to be an actor!" Why is there still the stigma that a career in the Arts is an automatic ticket to a life of virtual poverty?

When I see what's happening in the world, I feel what's needed are more people who are able to inspire us through film, theatre and writing. We need more people like Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Capra and Jim Henson. Actors, directors, writers, playwrights - they all have a story to tell, and their words are of just as much value as those used in the more traditional and "noble" professions. They are valuable because they move people and, in some cases, are able to motivate people to change their lives in a positive way.

We need to motivate and inspire more young people to consider the Arts as a career. If we move to think outside the box, an artist doesn't even have to be an 'artist' in the traditional sense. A businessperson with a visionary idea can build a company with the same talent and passion as a painter who strives to communicate an idea through a paintbrush. A public speaker who is able to inspire an audience to action is a true artist.

It's time to place more value on people's ideas and abilities to inspire and motive others. If you have a passion early on in life, follow that dream - and don't let anyone tell you it's impossible.

What stories can you share on a similar subject? How many of you are sitting in jobs right now wondering what would have happened, had you followed your instincts and gone against the advice of others?


From Hollywood to Bay Street: Success is Defined By The Story You Tell

Hollywood1Recently I purchased a book called "The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters." The book is different from others in its genre as it doesn't just look at what highly successful people DO, it digs deeper and looks at how they THINK.

What's striking about the content in the book is its similarities to challenges found in the business world. Whether you're an aspiring screenwriter, entrepreneur or corporate CEO, your challenges are quite similar. At some point in your career, success will depend on how well you can sell your story to people prepared to buy it.

David Brown, a renowned Hollywood producer, once said that "Nothing counts as much as the story, because it is the story that will attract the director, the actors, the studio, the money. The story is the thing." It's the same in business. If you're the CEO of a public company, you better have a compelling and engaging story to attract shareholders and investors. Money begets money, and one way to get it is to have a good story. People tend to gather around a good idea, so make your story compelling and find an innovative way to help solve someone else's problem. Make yourself indispensible and they won't be able to get enough of you.

From the glitz and glam of Hollywood to the driven financial core of Bay Street, success is defined by the story you tell. You have to have something of importance to say, something that's different and cuts through the clutter. You have to tell your story in an engaging way, and develop nerves of steel and dogged determination to be sure your story is heard by the right people, at the right time. Your career will be full of rejection, but successful people are able to take that criticism and constructively use it to get their own story heard.

So take your talent, and hone it through intense dedication to your craft. Feed your passion, and develop the skills needed to effectively present and sell ideas to people who can benefit most from those ideas.

Don't give up. The world is waiting for a good story. Let yours be the one everyone starts talking about and your world will open up in ways you never dreamed possible.

What other similarities do you see between the challenges faced by people in creative industries - and those faced by people who work in the corporate world? Do you think all successful people share the same traits? If so, which ones?