“Some legends are told. Some turn to dust or to gold, but you will remember me for centuries…”
If I got hit by a car today, this is what would play at my funeral: Centuries by Fallout Boy.
Before he was Shark Tank’s Daymond John, I had a brief conversation with him and he advised me to pick a theme song for my career and more importantly, for life itself.
Over the years, I’ve gone through many of them and I have come to think of this as one of the most important things an actor can do to get their head “in the game” so to speak.
There is real scientific data that shows just how powerful music is to our psyche. Music can immediately put you into a completely different frame of mind and trigger a different set of emotions than what you are currently experiencing.
It’s one of the reasons that a music score can make or break a film.
What Daymond taught me went even further. It was about breathing life into your career through the music by using it as your theme song and treating it as your guiding light.
For example, when I first came into the industry, I never wanted to be a passive observer or a part timer. I went all in.
I wanted to leave a permanent mark on the industry. So, every move I make these days, is shaped by wanting you to “remember me for centuries.”
This is a much more powerful mindset than simply wanting to get another gig and booking the next job that comes my way, just because it’s there.
This same theme is what has driven me to pursue different avenues and create different projects, such as Boost My Star which has helped catapult actors to career heights they never dreamed of before.
To really put this into practice, you must anchor the goal to the music. So, sit down for five or ten minutes, after you have selected your new theme song. Build a mental image of having achieved everything that song represents.
That could be a star on the walk of fame and a handful of Oscars. It could be a full calendar and never having to work a day job again. Whatever it represents build that mental picture and imagine what it will feel when you have actually achieved the goal.
Then, put your new theme song on and replay the mental images. See everything happening through your eyes. Picture yourself looking out at the audience as you deliver the acceptance speech, instead of the other way around.
Match the lyrics and the beat of the music to your mental images. When the music hits a crescendo, so should your mental images.
When you do this, it triggers the Reticular Activating System and your mind will start looking for ways to achieve the things you imagined.
There is a much longer and sometimes mystical explanation attached to this process, but for now let’s keep things practical rather than esoteric.
You will know the Reticular Activating System is working when you feel an intuitive nudge and follow it to greener pastures.
This is one of the reasons that taking on side projects like music or writing can do wonders for your career. Think of Matt Damon and Good Will Hunting. Mindy Kaling and The Office. She never set out to be an actor. She was a stand up comic and then dabbled in writing a pilot that later became The Office, a show that partially defined a generation.
When you are living your theme and making strides towards a purposeful goal, the road may twist and turn but you will always make progress.
A lot of actors do this as a distraction from careers that are stalled and adding another distraction doesn’t usually yield a better result. However, if you use a side project as a way to still get to your final destination, you will find yourself making gigantic leaps forward.
As important as the theme song was, something else I learned from Daymond John that day was perhaps just as powerful.
It is amazing to be around someone like him because the knowledge and wisdom is seemingly endless. I didn’t know who he was or what he had accomplished when I met him. He just had such presence and energy that I had to get 2 minutes with him and find out why.
The last thing he said before we shook hands and parted ways, was a head-slapper.
He said, “if you are looking around a room and see that you are the most talented or most accomplished actor there, it’s time to upgrade the room.”
That is about surrounding yourself with people that have accomplished way more than you have accomplished. It’s about playing a bigger game and rising to the challenge.
Study the crowd at your next audition and notice who you recognize. If you don’t recognize a single face, then you want to get into a room with actors that are recognizable.
See, a stagnant career doesn’t become that way over night. It becomes that way after failing to take the next step.
Often the next step, isn’t a step at all. Rather, it’s a giant leap forward. It’s jumping and growing wings on the way down.
Study the people you look up to and you will notice that a big part of their success came from operating at a level they were not yet “ready” for.
Mila Kunis could have stepped back and created an excuse for why she wasn’t ready for That 70s show.
Steven Spielberg could have stayed in his intern’s cubicle rather than walking around the lot. James Cameron could have put Avatar on the back burner because he didn’t know anything about the technology necessary to make the film.
Instead, they all rose to the challenge and pushed their career forward one giant step at a time.
The root of everything in this business is simply getting in the room to begin with. Whether you are not getting to go on enough auditions, or if you need to upgrade your room, here’s a quick way to do that.
Don’t wait for opportunity to knock. Create opportunity instead.
So what will you do now Grasshopper? Do you have a theme song in mind? Do you feel that your current peer group is where you should be or do you feel the need to upgrade and play on a bigger stage?
Let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email. I read every one that comes through because my ultimate goal is to…
See you at the top,