I talk to a lot of young actors and artists who are starting out, and try to give them advice. As I get older, I start to find this a bit funny; why do they listen to me? Isn’t this a world that is designed for them to operate in? What happened to out with the old, in with the new?
What possible help can a guy who built a career on cassette tapes, xerox copies and direct mail give to millennials in this digital age?
Apparently, in the case of some millennials, quite a bit!
Hustle is something that always wins. Whether one is passing out flyers in subway stations, (as I used to do long ago) or learning about a certain writer/producer by scrutinizing their Twitter feed today, hustle gets results.
It doesn’t matter how gray your hair is (and I have noticed the trend of some young people coloring their hair gray. Cheaters.) What matters is, are your goals important enough to you to get you into action and out of lethargy, procrastination and just plain laziness.
Yes, I said “lazy”. Is that a dirty word?
It’s easier today for young people to be lazy than ever before, I think, or to descend into some kind of trance via social media, video games or “medical” marijuana. (Where’s my medical scotch?)
When they do break free of their trance, often it isn’t pretty.
Unless they develop self-discipline, people don’t really get super motivated and busy with their dreams until they are actively threatened. Then, in a burst of rebellion they can discover enormous reserves of enthusiasm and energy that help them dig their way out of trouble, and sometimes into a better condition.
And at that exact moment, as they marvel at how much energy and drive they suddenly and magically possess, embarrassment hits them: why didn’t they ever use these reserves before?
Why does the roof have to be practically falling in on our heads before we decide to get up from watching reruns of Matlock?
For whatever reasons of character or desperation, I’ve always hustled the next gig as an actor, and thrown myself as a matter of policy into demanding creative situations, rather than just sit around and wait.
As many on my mailing list will attest, I promote unsparingly and continuously, so that everyone I have ever met will have some idea of what I’m up to.
(At this point, I have to give a special shout out to one of my longest mailing list addressees, a man who hired me on my very first professional acting job for BMW Motorcycles, Gerry Bill. He’s been receiving my mailings, in paper, VHS tape and digital form since 1986, and he just wrote to me the other day about my Father’s Day blog. Love you, Gerry!)
A survey I fill out from time to time has a question about whether young people today have more advantages than earlier generations. I used to answer that question in the negative, but no longer. Because of the Internet, the opportunities for young people are much greater than when I was growing up… especially IF they hustle.
But that goes for old folks, too. As entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk points out, people are living a lot longer these days, and staying in the workforce, (by choice or necessity) a lot longer too.
If you are in your fifties, like me, once upon a time you thought being 50 meant feeling like the passenger on an airplane does when the captain comes on the PA to announce “Folks, we’ve started our DEscent into LAX…aaaaaaand looks like we’ll be on the ground in about… 20 minutes…” as if the trip was drawing to an end.
Turns out, with modern medicine and healthier practices, we might be circling that runway for QUITE a while.
For a 50-something, that could very easily mean another 40-something years of… something.
What’s it gonna be?
Personally, I don’t want 40 years of worry, uncertainty, sickness, grief, poverty or even boredom.
What am I gonna do about it?
Why not start now? The sooner you start, the better you get at it.
Can I get an “Amen?”