Creative Leadership

Surviving Tough Times

I spoke to a group of Hollywood entertainment professionals recently, and I shared some tips for getting through tough financial times. Although it’s difficult, it’s incredibly important that whenever possible, we do our best not to let financial challenges distract us from our career or calling. My talk was geared toward entertainment and media people, but it would work for anyone in almost any situation. Let me know if these suggestions could help you and please share them with someone experiencing this type of financial or job crisis:

1) First, don’t overreact. Too many people panic during times like this, and make decisions they regret later. Don’t assume the worst, and don’t be afraid.  Should we plan?  Yes.  Is this serious?  Yes.  But it’s not time to freak out.

2)  Streamline your life. What are “convenience” areas?  Could you downsize your car?  Take in a roommate?  Cut back on any luxuries?  How about too many lattes?  One Starbucks trip a day is more than $100+ a month.  Don’t hack, but start looking at areas that don’t really reflect your mission, calling, or aren’t making a positive difference.

3) Don’t cut your lifelines. God is your source – not your bank account.  And your friends and relationships are what feed your spirit.  Research shows that it’s friendships that get people through difficult times.  So reconnect today.

4) Re-think your Focus. After a few years in the business, too many industry people forget their original goal.   That’s usually because they don’t keep their eyes on the target. Things change, but it never hurts to remember your priorities. Either you live your life by priorities or by pressures.  Never lose sight of that during challenging times. It will help keep you focused.  This might be God’s wake up call to remind you of your original vision and purpose. Take this time to re-think and re-evaluate.

5) Keep Growing. Are you engaging the current culture? I talk to some industry people who are trapped somewhere in the 70’s or 80’s.  Don’t chase trends, but study them to see where the culture is going. There’s an old advertising saying: “Once product sales are down, it’s too late to advertise.”  Telling your story should be an ongoing process – and you should always be looking for original and innovative ways to engage with other professionals. If you’re telling the same stories or pitching the same projects you did 2-3 years ago, then you’re behind the curve. Far too many filmmakers are answering questions nobody’s asking.  (Pastors, are you listening?)

6)  My friend and film producer Ralph Winter said something profound – “Success in Hollywood or the media is a marathon, not a sprint. Accurate expectations can make a significant difference in your potential for success.  Realize that “overnight” success stories often take 10-20 years to happen.  Plan for the long haul.  Otherwise, you’ll give up too soon, and never have the chance to reach your potential.

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