[VIDEO 1 of 4] The Biggest Career Killer Mistake that Above the Line Creatives Make – Revealed
Be sure to grab a pen and a notepad, and prepare to learn exactly what steps you need to take next to catapult your career to the next level from Kaia Alexander. After watching, please leave a comment or question in the comments!
Hi I’m Kaia Alexander, and in this video for above-the-line creatives: writers, directors, producers- I’m going to share with you the biggest secret you need to know to really crush it in your career.
You may know me as the founder of the Entertainment Business School. I was a dev exec on the movies JUST FRIENDS, PEACEFUL WARRIOR, and THE GOOD NIGHT. These were films with wonderful actors like Ryan Reynolds, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Danny DeVito.
I also worked for and was mentored by comedian Garry Shandling. I’m also an award-winning Harper Collins novelist with my historical novel Written in the Ashes.
I share all that to say, the reason you can trust me is that I speak the languages of business and creativity fluently.
And most creatives don’t.
It’s literally the biggest mistake I see – and the entire reason I created the Entertainment Business School this year.
Really talented people make the mistake of thinking their talent is enough. That if they just get that big degree, or win that award, or get representation- their entire career is taken care of from that point forward…
…My inbox says otherwise. People confide in me. I get letters from mid-career writers who were staffed on big shows who have lost their managers and wonder if they’ll ever work again (just 3 this year!). I’ve seen directors working with A list movie stars ruin their careers because they don’t know the business side and they piss off their team.
You might be thinking, but that’s not me, Kaia. I’m going to crush it in my job, and I’ll just keep moving up.
But in this business, remember that around half the Writer’s Guild (WGA) members are unemployed at any given moment- and those are the PROS. So, how will you survive? Do you really know the business side well enough that you’re confident you’re not leaving money on the table? Are you capable of making sure you know how to interface with buyers, reps, other team members like other writers, producers and directors?
I hope in this video to really impress upon you the urgency of learning the business side as a creative, and the good news is, business is something you can learn.
I used to think business was my dad, yelling at someone on the phone behind his giant oak desk. In fact, I think I became a writer to escape that kind of torture. I was sensitive. I wanted to make the world a better place as a storyteller.
So think about your biggest career dream for a minute:
Take a moment and picture yourself inhabiting that world…..
See your dream.
Inside that reality, I imagine you feel fulfilled. You no longer have to worry about money. You’ve got support- from your team and also your staff. You have so much opportunity that you hardly know where to start you’re so happy.
You’re making an impact.
You have responsibility to those around you.
The world knows who you are- and you’re inspiring the next generation of creatives. People stop you on the street and say: Oh my God, you changed my life! I love your work.
Feel THAT. That HELL YES! of a feeling. That’s your dream calling YOU. That’s where you’re supposed to be.
Who are you in that vision?
I would bet anything that you are a LEADER.
You are a leader. You are a visionary. You are the person others turn to for advice and support and career guidance and opportunity and even their own paychecks. You are the LEADER. You MATTER to others.
Let’s talk about my friend Garry Shandling.
He took care of people- of everyone. He loved people. He constantly supported his friends and colleagues, read their work, called them when they were on the Tonight Show. He was there for people. And he employed people and made a lot of names. That’s leadership. That’s making a difference.
A lot of creatives think, the reason I’m a creative is so I don’t HAVE to know about business. I just let my reps do that. You might even feel like I did:
- I’m not good at math
- I don’t like spreadsheets
- I don’t want to make people feel bad
- And I don’t ever want to be yelled at!
But business is about so much more. It’s about leadership. Team building, it’s about making a positive impact on the world and doing it in such a way that you MAKE MONEY. And so does everyone around you.
If you don’t understand business, YOU’RE GOING TO BE BROKE. In fact, you’ll be broke to the direct proportion that you refuse to learn about business. That’s what I found out the hard way back in my 30’s. I refused to learn business because I was a creative snob- but really, I was scared of it. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had no idea it would stall my career. The reality for me was, learning business meant I was no longer leaving money on the table. I was suddenly making twice as much money, then 3xs as much. My novel got published and I knew how to market it. I was prepared. And everywhere I go, buyers love me, because I speak their language. I know how to make all of us prosper, and they TRUST ME for it.
I get it.
You might feel like you’re not ready yet, or this isn’t the right time. But there’s an old saying- repair your roof while the sun is shining. Meaning, learn the business side of the entertainment business so you are SAVVY. Pros are savvy. Get savvy early!
I created the Entertainment Business School because film schools teach students how to crush the creative side of their careers. And then they graduate and find out the jobs they want aren’t entry level positions. They discover that the competition is beyond fierce for a few seats at the table.
You need EVERY ADVANTAGE, and learning the business side is the biggest advantage you can give yourself, because that positioning is something the pros respect.
I talk to writers who want to be show-runners, but who also feel uncomfortable managing people, or dealing with budgets- and you’ve got to learn these things.
If you want a great big career- you want a NAME for yourself, you have to arm yourself with every possible available tool to make your career happen in a big way. It means opening yourself up to LEARN everything you can to be a PRO.
The first thing you need to do is make a DECISION. And it’s the most important decision of your life: that you’re not going to let anything stop you. You’re going to transform yourself in every way possible to step into your greatest dream and CLAIM IT FOR YOURSELF. You will grow to fit the magnificent vision you hold for your life.
You need confidence? Learn it.
You need financial savvy? Learn it.
You need to move to another city? Do it.
You need more connections? Reach out.
You need public speaking skills so you can nail your pitching? Take classes!
You’re going to need to quadruple your courage.
You’re going to need to quadruple your know-how.
The sad thing is I see really talented, well-meaning creatives have a screw up professionally early on, and then they don’t work for years, because they have to dig themselves out of a pit. And it was what they DIDN’T know about business, or even refused to learn, that meant they shot themselves in the foot.
You can’t be short sighted. You need to think STRATEGICALLY.
The great news is that what you need to know that’s between where you are now, and where you want to be is stuff you can LEARN.
Here are 3 things you can do right now to start thinking about the business side of your career, whether you’re just starting out, or pivoting into the entertainment business from another field, or even making a lateral move within the business:
- Understand what’s selling. My students hear me talk about “The Mandates”- which are the guidelines released by each network, cable outlet and streamer to say what they’re in the market to buy. Reps and agents have the mandates. You can also just subscribe to the trades: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Variety. You’ll see what the trends are, what’s selling, and that will help you position your projects with greater authority
- I highly recommend taking some kind of professional business training. It might be with me in the Entertainment Business School, or Professor Scott Galloway in Section 4, or an extension course with UCLA. Brush up on finance. Learn about budgets. In my school EBS, I share budgets from low to high with my students as a resource. Sometimes you can find info like that in university libraries with film schools. If you went to films school, reach out to professors and see what resources they may have available.
- Pick one book on a subject in business that you feel you really need to nail. In film, you might want to read Mike Medavoy’s book You’re Only As Good as Your Next One. Or read Simon Sinek’s book START WITH WHY. He also wrote a great one about LEADERSHIP called LEADERS EAT LAST. I especially love Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. These are some of my faves! And they’ll serve you well in your career.
Listen, learning from me doesn’t end here. I have another video in this series coming up for you in just a couple days. In VIDEO 2 you’re going to learn my GAME CHANGING SECRET to success in the entertainment business. It’s the core business skill I teach, and it’s the most imperative mindset you adopt. Without it, you’ll struggle to succeed. With it, your success will be inevitable. So stay tuned for that video! If you’re not yet subscribed to my email list, sign up at www.EntertainmentBusinessLeague.com so you don’t miss any of my end of year training!
I really care about my students. I know I don’t have time to serve everybody. So these videos are my way of making sure you succeed. The world NEEDS YOUR STORIES!
I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a comment below this video and share it with your friends and colleagues. Our next cohort Entertainment Business School is in January of 2022. Enrollment ENDS on December 22nd. And space is LIMITED. So if you want a seat at the table you need to apply right away at www.EntertainmentBusinessSchool.com
See you soon!
Always helpful and knowledgeable, Kaia! Much appreciated for us “newbies”
Thank you Kaia! This is amazing.
Thank you Kaia! I graduated from AFI’s graduate program in Producing and spent over 12 years making a living as a creative and production executive. If I had you as a resource it would have saved me years of trial and error! As a studio executive I saw so many talented people blow it and learn the hard way how the business really works. You can “crush-it” with your work, and stay stuck in a purgatory of near misses and unemployment. Nepotism works well in the entertainment industry because knowledge and contacts are passed down. The dream is so alluring and the making of film and TV can be so fulfilling and fun. Yet the path is fraught with randomness and factors of control. Knowing the business of “The Business” provides such an advantage! Your so right, business is about more than just “business”! Talent is NOT enough!
I’m a fantastic writer with great stories to tell. Knowing the inside game on elevating yourself is something every person should know. Thank you so much. This video was so amazing.