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Limits

Limits

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“The fears you don’t face, become your limits.”
– Robin Sharma

(via Risk Happy)

Design,Marketing

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September 20, 2017 at 04:05PM

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More Mighty

More Mighty

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Mighty

It works!

Now I grew up in the dark ages. When music ruled the world, our idea of tech was a component stereo and nobody I knew applied to business school.

So today I drove today to Culver City to the Mighty offices. Well, “office,” in a loft above another startup, in the Helms Bakery area. If you had told me back in the seventies that one day Culver City would be hip, I’d have laughed, after I went to see a movie in Westwood, after watching tumbleweeds roll down the Third Street Promenade. And those locations might mean nothing to you, but the truth is all the action is happening in the cities, which is why the younger generation is here. San Francisco, Brooklyn, Los Angeles?

Well, Mighty has a CTO up north, but the business is based down here. And you might say you can be anywhere these days, and I’d agree with you, but only halfway. The truth is life is about people, and despite video-conferencing and all the modern communications techniques, there’s nothing like up close and personal.

So Anthony Mendelson, the majordomo of Mighty, is 33, he got his MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, as did his compatriot, the other Anthony, Pu, and new hire Lachelle.

It’s always about your network. Just ask a musician. Know nobody and you’re nowhere.

So everybody had history. Anthony #1 worked at Google in ad tech. Where he met Rich. Lachelle worked at Unilever before business school. They all paid their dues. Which is quite a contrast to today’s music business where pre-teens without portfolio believe they should be household names overnight. And even if you break through, like Rebecca Black, with “Friday,” you’re usually thrown on the scrapheap shortly thereafter.

You see all the smart people are not in music. Where some baby boomer runs the label and you do the grunt work. Where there’s adherence to old paradigms, where radio rules. Just ask a label head, they pray at the altar of over-the-air, it’s insane.

So, where do the smart people go?

Tech.

And smart people are taking over the world. Doesn’t matter if Trump is President, if he’s elected by his lauded “uneducated,” you can’t mess with someone who’s gone to school and learned how to analyze, how to put the pieces together, which is the key these days, since you can look up all the facts online.

So, all the creativity is in tech. Which the musicians hate. As they replicate old, tired sounds and expect us to be interested.

So Anthony Mendelson had an idea. He got a team and raised some money and went on Kickstarter, where he asked for 300k and got nearly a million.

And that’s when the hard part started. Not only did they have to design and manufacture the product, they had to make a deal with Spotify!

That’s right, they broke the rules, something that’s anathema in today’s music business. They raised capital and sold the product on air.

They needed Spotify to say yes.

That took a long time. Negotiating.

And when the streaming giant put its thumb up, there were issues. Of compatibility between Spotify’s software and Mighty’s, which is why you cannot shuffle quite yet, although it’s coming along quickly.

As for voice control…

That’s in version 2, about a year off. Yup, the new product sells at the old price and the old product’s price is dropped, just like Apple.

Anyway, the clock is running. Kickstarter was back in 2/16. The product didn’t launch until 7/17, but the team said they’d give the cash back if they couldn’t launch.

Now you’d say iPods are history. You can use your Apple Watch. But a Mighty is much cheaper, at $85.99. And how did they come to that price? There’s a calculator you use. Why are these people so smart and everybody in the arts so dumb? It’d be one thing if the artists were just that, but scratch one and you’ll find they want to sell clothing, perfume, concentrate on everything but their own work, while the truth is these educated youngsters can run circles around them.

And the stunning thing is set-up was seamless. You download the app, go through the prompts, and voila!, it works, right out of the box. It’s glitchless, although the transfer of songs from Spotify is slow, and if you crank the music up to the max you’ll get some distortion, but…

We keep hearing about the downtrodden. People say they hate school. And I don’t want to sound like a Republican here, I believe in a safety net, maybe even a universal income, but if you want to have cash to buy these goodies, you’ve got to climb the ladder.

So, let that be a warning to you.

Now, back to the product.

You go through the prompts, and then you can synch playlists. You can’t shuffle the songs in those playlists, not yet, but you push a button and a voice comes on to tell you you’ve switched to the next playlist, its name is spoken.

And the rest is…intuitive. Forward and backward buttons, up and down volume buttons, and a pause/play button at the center.

And one other thing, it takes a while to power up. But for a 1.0 product, it’s pretty impressive.

But not as impressive as the team.

So, if you don’t want to carry your phone around. If you want to jog or ski or hike or… The Mighty is tiny and water resistant, and the next iteration will be waterproof, and on one hand you say the product is redundant, but the truth is your phone now costs a grand, is heavy and a specialized accessory…

Might be just the trick.

Check it out.

P.S. You don’t have to use Bluetooth headphones, although I can’t see why you wouldn’t. And the headphone jack is how you charge the Mighty, via a USB port.

P.S. Here’s the team:

The Mighty Team

P.P.S. And here’s the Crunchbase:

Crunchbase – Mighty Audio

That’s right, millennials are all about transparency, and when they take over the music business it will be to everybody’s advantage.

P.P.P.S. Next step is a series A, the initial round was from angel investors. That’s right, these people know how to do this, they learned this in school. And I’m not sure a school can teach you how to be an artist, I actually think schools can drum the inspiration out of you, but when it comes to business…

P.P.P.P.S. I just got this note from Anthony Mendelson:

“I’m glad that you’re up and running!

Re: audio quality, Mighty’s codec is similar to what you’d find in current iPhones. We allow users to adjust Spotify audio quality by navigating to the Connections tab (bottom left), clicking the Spotify logo at the top of the screen, then clicking Download Quality. High and Extreme sound better but reduce battery life. Users also want the ability to adjust EQ settings – we’re working on that right now.

Our next big software update will include shuffle mode and the ability for Mighty to wake itself up and update your playlists overnight, no manual effort required. Want to chat again before we make that release?

Thanks again for stopping by.”

Marketing

via Lefsetz Letter http://bit.ly/1UlTzoa

September 20, 2017 at 03:25PM

Broadchurch

Broadchurch

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Everyone just wants to talk television. Everywhere I go. They used to ask if you’d heard this or that, records and artists were top of mind, now we all just want to sit in front of the big screen.

And not go to the theatre.

I’d love to see Darren Aronofsky’s new pic. But if you think I’m gonna make an appointment you’re still watching Must See TV, now that Don Ohlmeyer is dead and Seinfeld is on Netflix. Things change. And whereas the sixties and seventies (maybe even the eighties!) were about music, the twenty first century is positively about television.

“The Sopranos” was the Beatles. And like that band, they can never get back together, because Tony/James Gandolfini, is dead. You think you want Led Zeppelin to get back together, but you really don’t. Oh, the kids will enjoy it, before they go back to their hip-hop, and the out of it oldsters who weren’t there the first time will go to crow and get a notch in their belt, but fans will be disappointed, because you can’t go back, you can never go back, you can’t marry your high school sweetheart after reconnecting on Facebook and you can’t run the mile like you used to and if you think you can, you’re delusional.

So we forage for things to watch.

Now I don’t sit in front of the screen much. Because we’re all time-challenged. The idea of flipping from channel to channel is anathema, and I don’t want to waste any precious moments, but if there’s something worth seeing…

It’s like going to the movies in the seventies.

Only in this case, the critics are irrelevant. Unless they’re aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes. How often have I opened the paper to find the latest Netflix show denigrated and then watched it and enjoyed it? But usually, it’s word of mouth.

You know the biggest word of mouth show?

“Black Mirror,” but I can’t say I loved the episode I watched. I’m planning to give it another try. When I finally finish “Breaking Bad,” now that I’ve caught up with “Broadchurch.”

That’s right, I didn’t catch “Breaking Bad” the first time through. Sling arrows all you want, but no one’s seen everything, even though there are many fewer shows than records.

But after “Broadchurch” I watched a Netflix show I highly recommend, this documentary “Heroin(e),” about the opioid crisis. Three women in West Virginia trying to make a difference. You’ll wonder about your life choice, chasing the buck, first and foremost it’s about meaning. And when you do your best to help other people, you’re fulfilled.

Now why is it that English shows are always better than American ones? With exceptions, of course, like the aforementioned “Sopranos.” Is it because everyone doesn’t have to be beautiful, because the productions are not over the top, because the stories are real?

All of that and more.

“Broadchurch” is a genre show. I.e. murder and trial. But it’s well-nuanced. And it’s ITV, not BBC, so there are fade-outs for commercials. But you watch it and you get hooked.

I want to be hooked. I want to go down the rabbit hole. I want to be taken away from this everyday life, the endless pings on my iPhone, I ironically want to live life by experiencing it through others.

Now my sister recommended this show. And when I started to mention it, after viewing a few episodes, I was stunned who had seen it. It’s like music in the sixties and early seventies, an alternative universe that gets little publicity, but drives the culture. Sure, you might see a review, but then it disappears.

And I prefer Netflix and Amazon. Because I don’t want to tune in every night to see Ken Burns’s documentary on Vietnam, I don’t want to even DVR it, I just want to dive in and go on a ride, episode after episode. Why has Hollywood got it so wrong? Dribbling out product. Refusing to make films day and date online. The record business learned, if you try and protect profits, play to the usual suspects, you’re dead. Labels played to Tower Records and then the chain went under. They played to radio and then Spotify broke records. No one I know goes to the movies, other than my mother and her aged cronies, who became addicted back in the thirties. You make your impact online, via streaming. And when your product finally comes to TV… HBO premiered “La La Land,” I’m not even gonna bother, that’s so last year.

Now the star of the second season of “Broadchurch” is Charlotte Rampling, yes the sexy ingenue I saw at a midnight screening of “The Night Porter” in Westwood. She’s on a comeback tear. And she’s had no plastic surgery.

And she’s more beautiful for it.

American actresses get nipped and tucked to appear young, to get gigs, and we can’t help but look at them and point out the deficiencies. Plastic surgery is a crapshoot, and the odds of winning are about those in Vegas, i.e. not good. But Rampling looks her age and has gravitas, she’s lived a life, she’s not chasing a dream, SHE’S LIVING THE DREAM!

Now on one hand I hate these whodunits. Because you’re hooked and there’s a twist.

But it’s life in the Dorset area that is so riveting. A small town in the U.K. where everybody knows each other and everybody is imperfect and the attorney wants a shag and the barristers, even women, wear wigs and…

Police don’t normally work to music. And the law is boring.

But life is fascinating.

Art, when done right, reflects life, it gives us insight into the human condition.

How can TV get it so right and music get it so wrong?

Marketing

via Lefsetz Letter http://bit.ly/1UlTzoa

September 20, 2017 at 03:25PM

Yoga Pants

Yoga Pants

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I get it.

I read about a year ago that yoga pants were eclipsing jeans, that’s what “Bloomberg Businessweek” said, and they rarely get it wrong.

This was confusing. Wasn’t Lululemon on the verge of bankruptcy, having made clothing that was too sheer, where you could see women’s derrieres?

Although I always found stretchy material to be somewhat see-through, undies visible, but I didn’t think too much about it. I mean the pants were on the market for months, it took that long for people to figure out there was a problem?

I’m a jeans and polo shirt kind of guy. That was a big breakthrough in high school, the ability to wear jeans to class. But back then we called them “dungarees.” And by time I was a senior you could learn sans socks. But jeans were our uniform. I preferred Lee, never Wrangler, sometimes Levi’s.

And then the designer jean tsunami hit and lifted all boats. I bought pairs of Chemin de Fers, never Sasson, but definitely Guess. Jeans were forever…

Until yoga pants.

Now let me tell you, we men have no problem with yoga pants. Once we figured out what they were. The way they hugged your curves. But I don’t pay attention to fashion, I read about yoga pants before I could pick them out in the wild. And then I had Felice point them out to me, nice, but I didn’t care.

Until we went to Lululemon.

They opened a store in Vail, right across the street from the condo. Felice wanted to visit, I tagged along. I didn’t even KNOW they made men’s stuff, but waiting while Felice shopped I tried stuff on.

And decided to buy a pair of shorts.

It was a whim, something you do on vacation. I could wear them in Vail, nobody would notice, there’d be no cred at risk.

But now I wear them all the time.

That was my first pair, which the cleaning lady burned with an iron. Melted, that is. And she was apologetic, but there was no point in excoriating her, I’d just buy another pair.

But you couldn’t get them.

I thought this was a fashion issue, whatever you like they stop manufacturing, but they were out of stock!

Now the model I wear is just above the knee. But they didn’t even have the short-shorts available. That’s right, this year in Vail the store was wiped clean. But the clerk was a maven, he was going to open a store in Oklahoma in days. He checked inventory. They had one color in Santa Monica, a few online. And I meant to buy them immediately…

But I didn’t.

And Santa Monica was wiped out and they had one color available online so I clicked.

And now I can’t take them off. BECAUSE THEY’RE SO COMFORTABLE!

I know, I know, you’re supposed to look good, that’s what it’s all about, especially in Los Angeles. But first and foremost you’ve got to FEEL good, at least I do.

The material is soft and stretchy, it doesn’t irritate my skin. Since I’ve gotten my new pair I’ve worn them every day, for weeks. (Of course I wash them, don’t even think otherwise.) And I regret when I have to wear long pants, and am thinking that maybe I should buy some long pant Lululemons (no, the men’s are not hip-hugging).

So either you’re in the know or you’re not. Either you get what I’m talking about or you don’t.

Once upon a time you had to dress in black, that was the rock and roll ethos. Before rock died and everybody listened to different music and didn’t care about what you were wearing. The older you get you realize no one is really paying attention to you, unless you’re famous, and I’m not, and if you are they love you until they hate you and then you’re nobody and irrelevant once again.

So I guess you’d call this a sales pitch.

But it’s really a testimonial.

Lululemon is not cheap.

But like divorce, IT’S WORTH IT!

The Works Short – WARPSTREAM 11″

Marketing

via Lefsetz Letter http://bit.ly/1UlTzoa

September 20, 2017 at 03:25PM

An Update from Mars: “CocoVaa” Dispute Resolved

An Update from Mars: “CocoVaa” Dispute Resolved

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Earlier this year, I posted about a dispute between candy company Mars Inc. and a small business based in Wisconsin, selling handmade fine chocolates under the mark CocoVaa.

In March, Mars Inc. filed a federal trademark infringement complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia, asserting that its registered CocoaVia® mark (Reg. No. 4179465), for a dietary supplement powder, was being infringed by the use of the mark CocoVaa for handmade fine chocolates. Mars Inc. sued both the company CocoVaa LCC, based in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as the company’s owner, Syovata Edari.

According to Mars Inc.’s website, the CocoaVia® supplement has naturally occurring “cocoa flavanols” that promote “healthy blood flow from head to toe,” which is important for  “cardiovascular health.” The supplement is available in either capsule form, or in flavored powdered stick packs that can be mixed into drinks, such as milk or smoothies.

Ms. Edari launched a strong public stand against Mars Inc., calling this a case of “trademark bullying” in interviews in local and national media outlets. Ms. Edari noted that her fine chocolates are “distinctly different” than Mars Inc.’s dietary supplement powders, that they have different packaging, and that they appear in “different consumer spheres,” such that consumers would be unlikely to think there’s a connection between the two brands.

In June, Ms. Edari received some good news when Mars Inc.’s complaint was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction,  because Ms. Edari and her company do not sell any products in Virginia (where the lawsuit was filed), nor do they have sufficient contacts there related to this dispute.

However, Ms. Edari wasn’t done with this battle just yet.  She anticipated that Mars Inc. may file another trademark infringement complaint in Wisconsin, where her business, CocoVaa LLC, is based.  Therefore, Ms. Edari made a preemptive strike, by filing her own complaint in federal court in Wisconsin, and seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement. Just a couple weeks ago, the parties reached a settlement and filed a one-sentence stipulation for dismissal, without any information as to the terms of settlement. However, Ms. Edari stated in a recent interview that her business will continue to operate under the “CocoVaa” name, which is a big win.

Notably, in recent media coverage, both parties refused to comment about details of the settlement, which suggests a confidentiality clause. Just guessing, but based on Ms. Edari’s previous outspoken media campaign and interviews above the dispute, as discussed in my previous post, perhaps the confidentiality clause was required by Mars, Inc., which is more common when settlement terms are favorable to the opposing party.

Thus it appears that Ms. Edari’s declaratory judgment action had a successful outcome, and that this was a favorable settlement for Ms. Edari and her business. As they say, sometimes the best defense is a good offense. What do you think?

 

The post An Update from Mars: “CocoVaa” Dispute Resolved appeared first on DuetsBlog.

Marketing

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September 20, 2017 at 01:08PM

Small is the new black: Nordstrom ‘micro-concept’ edition

Small is the new black: Nordstrom ‘micro-concept’ edition

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Last week Nordstrom announced it will open its first “Nordstrom Local” in West Hollywood, California. The new venture is noteworthy on several dimensions. First, at 3,000 square feet, the pilot concept is dramatically smaller than a typical Nordstrom full-line department store. Second, it won’t stock any of the items that Nordy’s is best known for, such as shoes, clothing, cosmetics and accessories. Third, the focus will be on services: tailoring, manicures, style advice and cocktails.

Nordstrom joins a growing number of brands shrinking their footprints and once online only brands delving into the physical realm with small box stores. Of course, the reasons for the big guys going small and the little online brands getting into brick and mortar vary. The downsizing of traditional formats is often driven by a typically vain attempt to optimize productivity. With more business being done online the thought is that less square footage is needed to take care of the customer. The problem is that shrinking to prosperity rarely works.

Another big driver of smaller formats being promulgated by major retailers is the desire to get closer to the customer. Smaller versions of traditional format stores like Target’s urban concept allow the company to open many new more convenient locations at acceptable economics.

Most interesting–and probably the leading indicator of what’s to come–are the new brick-and-mortar “micro-concepts” that are designed from a customer point of view and rooted in the understanding of the interplay of online and offline. In announcing the Nordstrom Local test Nordstrom’s co-president Eric Nordstrom says it best: “There aren’t store customers or online customers—there are just customers who are more empowered than ever to shop on their terms.” What Nordstrom has understood for a long time–and what helps explain much of their success during the past decade–is that physical stores drive online and online drives stores. Ultimately, the retail brands that win create a highly remarkable and relevant experience that meets the customer where they are.

Digitally native brands that move into physical retail apply this thinking as well. While brands such as Bonobos, Warby Parker and many others initially believed they could build successful enterprises without pesky brick-and-mortar locations, they’ve come to realize that not only do many customers prefer to shop in actual stores, but also that physical locations bring many important economic advantages. The beauty of these brands starting with a blank sheet of paper when it comes to designing stores is that they can pick the best locations and create a highly experiential and remarkable shopping experience that leverages the best of online and offline into a more relevant and harmonious whole.

Clearly, the jury is still out on most of what’s in market today. Whether the movement of pure-play brands into physical retail will pan out remains to be seen as virtually all of these brands are hemorrhaging cash and reports of high sales productivity out of a few choice locations do not necessarily indicate profitable scalability. Nascent micro-concepts like Bodega are far from proven winners. And with Nordstrom Local it will clearly take some time to know whether it turns out to be a noble experiment or something that can be rolled out to a substantial number of locations.

While we are early in the move to micro-concepts I expect to see three things happen over the next year or two. First, is a dramatic uptick in new concept testing from both start-ups and traditional players. Small enables greater customer reach. Small makes more interesting site locations possible. Small lowers breakeven sales volumes. Small blends the best of online and offline. Second, will be the dramatic expansion of a few powerful formats where dozens, if not hundreds, of locations can be opened. Lastly, we are also likely to see some big flame-outs, particularly among the online only players that never had a viable business model in the first place.

Regardless of how this all ultimately plays out, from where I sit, Nordstrom is to be applauded for their willingness to take risks and to experiment. Many more retailers would be wise to follow their example.

Nordstrom Local Storefront

A version of this story appeared at Forbes, where I am a retail contributor. You can check out more of my posts and follow me here

For information on speaking gigs please go here.

Marketing

via Steve Dennis http://bit.ly/1Uf0dwo

September 20, 2017 at 11:02AM

The Showrunner Podcasting Course Is Open (For a Limited Time)

The Showrunner Podcasting Course Is Open (For a Limited Time)

http://bit.ly/2xQTipy

The Showrunner Podcasting Course and Community Is Open (For a Limited Time)

Yes, the course is open (temporarily).

Yes, I want you to join our community.

Yes, podcasting is an excellent marketing channel.

But first, we need to answer the question burning inside your brain …

Who is The Showrunner Podcasting Course for?

Now, I’m going to be one of those guys and answer your question with a question of my own — well, three.

And if you can answer “Hell Yes!” to these three simple questions, then this course is for you:

  1. Do you have a desire to connect with an audience about a topic that is important to you?
  2. Will the content you share educate, entertain, or inspire the people in your audience?
  3. Can you commit to creating content consistently and reliably so that your audience has a chance to grow?

Simple questions, yes. Easy to answer? Probably not.

Let’s take a deeper look.

Do you have a desire to connect with an audience about a topic that is important to you?

Perhaps you don’t feel like an expert. Or maybe you feel that you lack the qualifications to start a podcast on your desired topic.

When you’re a podcaster, there is something more valuable than expertise — it’s fascination. Every time.

Being fascinated with your topic will align you and your brand with authority, and in turn position you as an expert resource.

To be enthralled with your subject, guests, and audience — that is your job as a podcast host. It’s where the real fun as a showrunner begins.

I’m not saying experts can’t start podcasts, not at all.

What I am saying is, your obsession with college basketball or your fascination with playing the drums, has a more significant impact than any preceding expertise.

In podcasting, your passion is a powerful tool.

Will the content you share educate, entertain, or inspire the people in your audience?

As creators, every piece of content we create needs to accomplish one of three things for our audience; it needs to educate, entertain, or inspire.

If we miss the mark and fail to achieve one of those elements, we will have failed our audience. When we fail our audience, they go somewhere else.

Our job as showrunners is to always create content with an end goal in mind — the place we want our listener to be after listening.

Before you sit down to record a second of audio, you need to know if you are aiming to educate, entertain, or inspire your listener. Each episode must accomplish at least one of those outcomes to satisfy our listeners’ needs.

Always remember who you are podcasting for and what it is they need.

Can you commit to creating content consistently and reliably so that your audience has a chance to grow?

At its core, building an audience is building a relationship with many people at once. Relationships take commitment.

Podcasting is no different — it takes a commitment from us as showrunners.

We hope and dream about an audience who finds, listens, and subscribes to our show. In other words, commits to us. Before any of that can happen, we need to commit to producing our shows.

Consistency is key to our development and growth as showrunners, and you need to show up, but more importantly, you need to show up reliably over time.

Your loyal podcast audience is waiting

Are you ready to become their showrunner?

If the answer is “yes,” then join The Showrunner Podcasting Course today.

When you join, you get all of this:

  • Every current and future lesson in each of the 10 modules
  • Every BONUS interview we ever add to the course
  • Every private webinar and Q&A we ever do for the course
  • Access to the private Showrunner community
  • Access to the incomparable Copyblogger support team to help you anytime you have a question

Plus, you get 30 days to try it out.

If at any point during those first 30 days you decide that the course is not for you, no matter how many lessons you’ve gone through, you can get your money back.

So there is no risk — just plenty of positive pushes in the direction of the podcast that will take your digital marketing to the next level.

We’re only accepting new students until next Wednesday, September 27, 2017, so if you’re interested, click the link below to get in today.

Sign up for The Showrunner Podcasting Course.

Marketing

via Copyblogger http://bit.ly/1U7kQt8

September 20, 2017 at 09:05AM

Macro Resistance and Micro Resistance

Macro Resistance and Micro Resistance

http://bit.ly/2xmjo2b

 

I was having dinner a few nights ago with a young screenwriter and a big-time Hollywood literary agent. The writer was joking that her career had stalled on the “C” list.

A moment from "THEM," 1956. Maybe mutated ants would be better than spiders.

A moment from “THEM,” 1954. Maybe mutated ants would be better than spiders.

“If I had you for a year,” the agent said, “I’d get you high on the ‘A’ list.”

The agent was serious, and a serious discussion followed. Most of the talk centered on the politics of career advancement. When I got home, though, I found my thoughts migrating to the craft aspects.

How would a true, knowledgeable mentor elevate a talented writer’s career? How would he advance it one level or two levels higher? What aspects of craft would he accentuate? What changes would he insist upon?

Step One, I think, would be to really hold the writer’s feet to the fire.

The mentor would make the writer truly accountable to her own talent.

  1. Conception of project.

The young writer comes in with an idea for a movie or a book.

Is the idea good enough?

Is it big enough?

Is it truly original?

Will it attract “A”-level talent? Director? Actors?

The agent/mentor would insist that the writer consider alternatives and variations on the idea. Is Version One the absolute best way to do this? “Okay, the story is about giant spiders invading from Mars. Would crustaceans be better? How about if they came from Venus?”

  1. Execution of story.

In my own days as a screenwriter, my agents (and they were all good) would, with only minor tweaks, pretty much accept the draft I gave them. That was the version they took out and tried to sell.

Looking back, they should have pushed me harder.

I have another friend, a literary agent who runs her own boutique agency, a really good one. She does exactly that with her clients. She sends them back to the drawing board over and over.

Our theoretical mentor should be just as hard on his young, talented writer.

“You’ve told the story as an action adventure from the female scientist’s point of view. Is this the best way? What alternatives have you considered? Why did you reject those?”

  1. Maximization of character drama.

“Have we plumbed the detective’s dilemma deeply enough? He’s in love with the lady scientist but he’s conflicted because he has a pet tarantula at home and he finds himself relating sympathetically to the spiders. How can we deepen this issue and make it play most dramatically in the climax?”

Why, in today’s post, am I asking these questions?

Because they apply 100% to our ongoing (sorry, I can’t stop) series, “Reports from the Trenches.”

In other words, they’re the same questions you and I have to ask ourselves when the first draft of our novel or screenplay goes south.

We need to be our own mentors, our own agents, our own editors.

We have to hold our own feet to the fire.

Have we settled (we must ask ourselves) for the First Level version of our story, of our execution, of our characters? Did we grab the first idea and run with it?

Our mentor/agent/editor would force us to be accountable. He or she would demand that we push on to Level Two and Level Three and beyond.

Which brings me to subject of Resistance.

If I were writing The War of Art again today, I’d add a section on the subject of Micro Resistance.

Macro Resistance is the global kind. It’s the self-sabotage that stops us from doing our work, period.

But many of us have beaten that monster. We can sit down. We can bang out the pages.

But Micro Resistance is sabotaging those pages.

Micro Resistance strikes inside the book or screenplay. We’re working, but we’re not working deeply enough. We’re settling. We’re not pushing the action, we’re not considering enough alternatives, we’re not demanding that scenes and sequences and dramatic relationships extract the last bit of juice from their potential.

Micro Resistance is what’s been kicking my butt on this re-do I’m working on.

Why have I not pushed deeply enough?

Because it’s hard work.

It’s painful.

It’s risky.

I’ve avoided the effort out of fear of failure.

I’ve accepted stuff that a more mentally-tough writer would have rejected.

Resistance, you and I must never forget, is constant and unrelenting.

It fights us in every phrase and every sentence.

It always wants us to settle for the easy, the shallow, the first level.

Do you have that agent, that mentor, that editor who will force you to be true to your talent?

If you do, you’re incredibly lucky.

But you and I need to cultivate that mentor inside our own heads.

We’re the writers. Accountability for our work lies with us.

We have to be that agent/mentor/editor ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 20, 2017 at 05:03AM