Tag Archive | Business

The Law of Attraction: Sorting Facts from Fiction

In my last post I explained how in 2014 I was duped into joining whole cloth the Law of Attraction Movement.  It came to me at a time of fear of the future (especially concerning my financial health) when I felt most lost and vulnerable.  The person who insisted I watch “The Secret” claims to be an actual demon in human form.  This alone should have told me to run, not walk away, especially given my spirituality and past experiences with malicious spirits (aka “demons”).  Instead, the person’s glamour and misdirection of my own instincts (which were just starting to call me home to Wales) deceived me into trying to win his love and approval by making myself into the person he wanted.  The law of attraction movement was at the heart of that.

Background with a Planet, Moon and Star

Law of Attraction teachers like Abraham Hicks focus on emotion as the way to attain what you want in life.

The reason why the Law of Attraction Movement is so popular is because so much of it is based on solid psychology, social psychology, and sociology.  Most of it is actually good advice.  The problem is the 20-30% of it that is NOT solid and leads people into the wrong direction, often for the financial gain of the movement’s “teachers.”  It is for that reason that the Law of Attraction Movement (not the core idea itself) is a scam that predates on people’s worries about the future, the instinct to grow and improve oneself, and in the primal instinct to believe in something or someone greater and more powerful than oneself.

So what is the solid stuff worth listening to?  What parts of the advice given actually works?  Let’s take a look in detail:

  • Your assessment of a situation matters.  That is to say that how you look at something in your life or a potential future event is absolutely critical to your success or failure.  If you see a task as impossible then it will be simply because no one looks for solutions to problems that cannot be solved.  By contrast if you see a situation as easily dealt with then you will quickly find the actions that make this the case.  Your assessment forms a self-fulfilling prophesy.  You fail when you see no way to succeed and you succeed when you believe you can.

Law of Attraction teachers talk about situation assessment in terms of emotions.  It’s all about FEELINGS.  Your feelings need to be the barometer of everything because feelings work on a deeper level of the mind than your thoughts do.

The problem here:  all emotions are based on your thoughts and attitudes, not the other way around as the LoA teachers would have you think.  That is to say that if you want to change how you feel about something you need to change your mind about it.  Thoughts are the controlling factor here, at least once the ego/conscious self forms at around the age of six years old.  For example if you think all Muslims are terrorists then your feelings about Muslims will probably be categorically of a suspicious, fearful, or perhaps even hateful nature.  These feelings will then in turn alter how to behave when it comes to meeting someone or hearing about someone who is Muslim.

The Law of Attraction movement focuses on FEELINGS.  In particular, Abraham Hicks teaches that if you have any sort of "negative" feelings then you will only attract negative things to your life.

The Law of Attraction movement focuses on FEELINGS. In particular, Abraham Hicks teaches that if you have any sort of “negative” feelings then you will only attract negative things to your life.

Law of Attraction teachers tend to skip the attitude part of this when they focus on feelings.  In doing so, they take away your best and most effective tool for changing your life.  This is also why education is so vital to changing our lives.  Education empowers us with knowledge which then shapes our emotions and behaviours.

  • Barriers to success are in your mind.  When we assess situations we are quick to find the reasons why something cannot be done or is otherwise difficult/impossible to achieve.  This in turn blocks us from figuring out how to do something and achieve our goals.

Most Law of Attraction teachers focus on emotions.  The barriers to your manifesting the life you want are not in your thoughts but in the emotions you feel.  It says that “good” emotions attract good things and bad emotions attract bad things.  That in turn makes us judge ourselves quite harshly because no one can be euphoric or feel good all the time about absolutely everything — and if you do, there’s probably something unhealthy at work there!

In truth, the barriers we put between ourselves and our goals tend to be psychological and mental, not emotional.  We say, “I cannot ____ because _____.”  That because can be anything, but usually a situation or a feeling about a situation.  The feeling is not the problem because the feeling changes the moment we change our minds about something.  And genuinely there are some emotions we really do need.  We need to be angry when someone rapes someone.  We need to feel sad when someone we love dies.  We need to feel outrage at an injustice.  These feelings motivate us to make changes and set new goals.

For example, I feel disappointed and upset at the results of the 2015 Parliamentary Election in the United Kingdom; I adore Ed Miliband and really wanted him to become prime minister.  Negative emotion.  Except that in those feelings I have a determination to fight harder, to get more involved in politics, and to actually stand for MP once I become legally eligible to do so.  Negative feelings about David Cameron staying in office has made me decide to chart a new career path!

And that is the value of negative emotions, the very emotions that Law of Attraction teachers tell you will only bring more negative experiences into your life.

  • Focus on what you want to achieve, not how or when you achieve. There is always more than one way to achieve a goal.  A former friend of mine put this as the number fourteen.  How many ways can you reach the number fourteen in arithmetic?  If you see just seven plus seven then you are missing the other fifty plus ways to reach that number.  That is what we tend to do though.  We think that each goal or challenge can only be accomplished ONE WAY.  What is worse:  we tend to set specific time perimeters for achieving this.

Here the Law of Attraction teachers are dead on right.  Too often we do say “this is the way to get what I want” or “I have to have x goal by y date.  Reality is that the universe has its own way and own timing.  Everything happens the way it does in the timing it does because that is the best and easiest way for it to happen.  The key here is to keep your mind and heart open so you can take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.

  • You reap what you sow.  This is the actual law of attraction.  It is the principle that like attracts like that is well documented in social psychology.  Contrary to the popular cliche, opposites repel, not attract. At its core it says, correctly, that your attitudes, emotions, and behaviour have consequences which are similar to whatever the original attitude, emotion, and/or behaviour was.  If you smile, people will smile back at you.  If you yell at someone, that person is likely to yell back at you.  If you hurt someone, you will be hurt back.  If you show interest in someone else’s accomplishments, they will be or at least much more likely to be interested in yours.

The law of attraction itself is not the problem with the law of attraction movement.  The law is solid social psychology explaining the nature of the consequences for our behaviour. The problem with the law of attraction movement is its focus on just the feeling side of this instead of the action side.  If I feel good about something, something good is automatically going to come out of it.

Feelings are great.  But it’s not feelings in isolation that makes things happen.  It’s action.  In the law of attraction movement feelings are put above everything else.  But if you never act on your feelings, you stay where you are.  Things do not change.  Those in the movement with things to sell will say the problem is that your feelings were not lined up correctly — and we can fix that when you buy this item or experience.  Read that SCAM.

Though Law of Attraction teachers do tell you that action is important, this part of the equation is downplayed and rarely discussed in favour of emotions and how to fix your emotions.

There is a solution

But the real key to success in life is taking ACTION.  Not just any action though — it’s easy to get on the hamster wheel and tire yourself out — the hamster wheel is usually what makes us vulnerable to the scam in the first place.  Instead it is INSPIRED ACTION that makes everything happen.  That is to say ACTION WITH CLEAR DIRECTION. It’s relaxing about the how and when in a situation, quieting your mind, and letting your mind solve the problem.  Do not force it.  Do not struggle.  Your mind is expert at solving puzzles; that’s what the human brain does best.  Relax, let the answers come to you, and then act on the answers.  That is what inspired action is.  That is what brings you true success in life.

And best of all, you don’t need to buy a book, a seminar, a cruise, or anything else.  The answers actually lie within your own mind, your own heart, and within your own existing abilities.

Does being a sinner make you above the law? Issues raised by the Josh Duggar defence.

19 kidsIn May 2015 a tabloid reported that twelve years ago Josh Duggar of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” reality show molested five girls twelve years ago.  When his parents found out, they refused to report the crimes to the police, even though Josh molested his own sisters.

This is, rightfully, creating a scandal and cries for TLC to cancel the programme — which as of this date they refuse to do, even with corporate sponsors pulling out.

The Duggars and their allies have a defence they use time and time again:  Josh is a sinner who needs forgiveness and is entitled to forgiveness.

If a Christian (which I am no longer) admits to sinning that this is, in essence, a free pass with the law. Josh Duggar’s family doesn’t believe that Josh should be punished because he admitted it was a sin to molest his sisters (never mind their mental/spiritual wounds here; HE is the victim). Another Quiverfull leader named Rick Boyer is repeating the same idea in a story published this morning: that since being human makes you a sinner that any efforts to prosecute these crimes is a conspiracy by pagans and “guillible christians” to destroy more godly people.

So the problem isn’t the crimes these people commit — it’s the rest of us who say that when you commit a crime THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES UNDER THE LAW.

Of course one might say that there is a fundamental belief that secular law and secular government is itself evil — the devil is in charge.

So I must ask: what are they really going for? Should we simply eliminate all secular institutions and put religious institutions in charge of our lives?

How is that any different than what people are facing in Iraq or Syria where religious extremists have replaced the law? Where heinous torture, sexual violence, and murder happen daily? Where the only religious expression or lifestyle allowed is their radical one — and if you disagree or just deviate from their harsh rules, you can expect to lose your life or worse?

Liberty only exists through secular government, through the rule of laws. Religions must not be allowed to hold the powers of life or death over anyone.

And remember if you are fine with one religious group ruling the people by their sense of what is moral or right you damn yourself to be on the receiving end of another group you disagree with. Would you want to live that way?

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/05/quiverfull-author-delivers-melodramatic-defense-of-duggars-against-pagans-and-gullible-christians/

Marketing’s Big Lie: Instant Results

SherlockMost writers want to do just one thing:  write our books.  Few of us come from marketing backgrounds.  Still fewer of us think of ourselves as entrepreneurs and business owners.  In the old ages of traditional publishing, authors rarely had to be any of those things.  We slaved away trying to get a publisher to notice our work and/or securing a literary agent who would pimp our work for us — for a fee — while we went off and kept writing.

Self-publishing and the digital age has changed that for both self-published and traditional publishers.  Just as cigarette machines have gone by the wayside and Sherlock Holmes uses nicotine patches instead of smoking his pipe in response to smoking regulations in London, the days of in-house marketing and advertising for books by publishers are gone.  Today authors must do most of the work themselves.

There are no shortage of marketing firms to delegate to, of course, but as I found out across the winter of 2014 when I hired 180Fusion, marketing firms too often care about getting the business — any way they can.

new-york-times-best-selling-author3

What this means is that marketing firms promise the sun and moon to you — if you hire them.  180Fusion promised to put me on the New York Times bestseller list within 30 days, using my natural optimism to augment their pitch.  I, like most people, want to believe that people are telling me the truth.  I have faith that everything works out.  I have faith in the quality of my work.  I know these books are well-written and reflect a lifetime of scholarship and dedication to my craft.

180Fusion took that and used that very positive quality against me with their pitch about what they can do with advertising on facebook.

Facebook advertising can and does work for some people.  The essence of their work is to study the numbers to make facebook ads profitable, making adjustments until the ads result in sales.  As Jonathan Gebauer points out, this actually is sound — but with one catch that was omitted from the pitch until I was ready to close my account:  it takes time, often months and years for it to work.

This is not something that can be achieved in the 30 days promised to me back in December 2013 when I signed up.  In fact it was only when I made a fuss about not getting results that I was told, quite condescendingly, that what they promised was actually not at all possible.  Then they said I needed to give it more time.  Just give it more time.

This was the truth in the lie.  It takes time.  Except they never told me this upfront, before I signed up.  They told me when I was ready to cancel, when they knew my patience was at an end.

permission to walk awayNow normally I am a very patient person.  If this service had cost me $10 a month, odds are very good I would have stuck it out.  Except it costs a minimum of $300 a month — when my budget was $10 a month!  This was known from the onset.  So they promised me the sun and moon and instant results.  It didn’t matter that their service was many times more than my budget!  Because I would re-coup what I spent with them very quickly.

It was a lie and they knew it!  It was predatory, disrespectful, and sadly not atypical of far too many marketing firms.

Instead, their focus was on getting me to sign up; it didn’t matter that to pay for their service I would have to plop down hundreds to thousands of dollars on a high rate credit card; as long as they were getting paid, they really did not care about me or my books.

Most people have a word for that and it is not nice at all!

gbp-50-british-pounds-2

So what can we learn from this?  

Number one:  NO MARKETING STRATEGY GIVES INSTANT RESULTS.  As Jonathan Gebaur puts it, “Marketing never comes with a red button. 90% of the time marketing means: Work… Frustration… Small Improvements. Working out the little details. Improving little things to improve our results just a little bit. Good results take a lot of sweat and tears.”

Number two:  no matter what a pitch says, do not spend what you do not have in cash right now.  Set your budget honestly and hold to it.  If a company tells you that your budget doesn’t matter and you must spend more than that with them, they do not care about you; they care about getting your money.

Number three:  choose carefully.  Know that whatever do in terms of marketing and advertising will take several months to get results from.  Don’t just throw money at things hoping they will work; approach this with a plan and a clear set of perimeters and goals.  Pick one primary approach (like guest posting) and focus on that.  Don’t try to make everything happen all at once from everywhere.  Chaos works against you and ultimately robs you of your ability to focus, concentrate, and respond to your business and reader’s needs.

Marketing firms are out there to help you and should be used by independent authors.  But as with so many things, the rule “buyer beware” applies.  Ask questions, probe firms for answers, and if you see even a whiff of a hard sell or pressured pitch, run do not walk away.  Any business who cannot respect your budget and your goals is not really interested in working for you; rather they just want your money.

Reblog: 5 New Years Resolutions for Authors

Here is another gem from Book Marketing Tools.  I do not agree with everything in this blog post, especially this idea that you can and should try to do all/most of this EVERYDAY.  I find focus is very important to my writing and my productivity; do things ONE at a time or you will burn out trying to be everything at once.

 

Here is that post in full:

5 New Years Resolutions for Authors

Happy New Year!

A new year causes us to look back at the previous year and see all that we have (and have not) done.

A new year also allows us to look ahead to the coming year with renewed optimism and excitement for what is to come.

A new year wouldn’t be complete without some resolutions. Some people want to lose weight. Others want to be more productive. Some want to start a new business and others want to take their business to the next level!

As a self-published author, there are some things that you can do to improve your business, further your brand, and hopefully make more money by selling more books. Before we dive into our list of 5 great resolutions for authors, let’s look at what makes a good resolution.

What Makes A Good New Year’s Resolution

Lisa Lahey, a Harvard professor, says, “People in the New Year’s resolution approach are just going directly at trying to change their behaviors. For the majority of people… it is just not going to work because it is not fundamentally a behavior problem: It is a mindset problem.”

The key is to not focus on changing behaviors. Many behaviors are ingrained in us and usually have a deeper root cause that, if not addressed directly, will cause our surface behavior change to be short-lived. You may succeed in the short-term, but you will usually fail in the long-term if you are trying to just change behaviors.

So how can you make resolutions that you can stick to? The key is to focus on what Lahey calls “technical goals”, those that require learning a new skill or implementing a new behavior. Instead of making a goal to “lose more weight”, you can focus on a technical goal such as “walk 1 mile, 4 times per week”. Such a goal is related to “lose more weight”, but this type of goal can be measured, tracked, and is something you are in control of. If you resolve to lose more weight but your body doesn’t cooperate, then you can become discouraged. By creating goals that you are in control of, you can control whether they are accomplished or not.

How does this relate to authors?

All authors wants to sell more books (of course), so that usually becomes the focus of their goals and resolutions. The problem is, you are not directly in control of whether or not you sell more books (unless you are buying them all yourself, which defeats the purpose.) You CAN control the steps you take to help you to sell more books and those are the types of goals that a self-published author should focus on.

What Can You Do To Sell More Books This New Year?

Here are the 5 New Year’s resolutions for authors:

  1. Spend 30 Minutes A Day On Marketing – Marketing is important but it is often neglected. Either authors don’t like the idea of marketing, they don’t know what to do, or they would just rather be writing. Whatever the case is, marketing is often neglected and if you aren’t marketing, you probably aren’t selling as many books as you could be. Marketing is simply telling other people about your product. Resolve to spend just 30 minutes a day finding and adding readers on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook. Work on reaching out to blogs that have a similar subject matter as your book, finding reviewers, or setting up passive marketing mechanisms like calls to action in the back of your book. There are plenty of things to do, so if you can devote just 30 minutes a day to marketing, you will definitely be able to sell more books in this new year!
  2. Write More Books – While I don’t believe in the philosophy of simply writing more books as your only form of marketing, I do think that the more books you have, the more opportunities you have to gain readers and sell more books. Focus on publishing as many books as you can this year (even if it is just 1 or 2), because different books will grab people’s attention in different ways, but once they see and like your writing style, they will want to read more books from you so it pays off to have more books to sell to them!
  3. Set Up Your Mailing List and Send People To It – If you do not have a mailing list set up, read here to learn why you should set up a mailing list. If you already have a mailing list, or after you set one up, work on leading people to the mailing list. Create an enticing offering, whether it is a piece of art, a novelette, or something appealing to get them to sign up to your mailing list. Talk about your mailing list and the exclusive content they can get by joining the list on Twitter, Facebook, on your blog, etc. This is the single most important marketing mechanism you can have in place, so put your focus on growing your list this new year.
  4. Find 2-3 Blogs A Week That You Can Promote Your Book On – Finding blogs that deal with a similar subject matter as your books is one of the most effective ways to market your book. Does your main character love her cat? Find cat-lover blogs and tell them about your book, possibly even offering a free copy to the blog owner. They get a free book, something to write about that their readers will love, and you get a way to promote your book that isn’t saturated with other books and that can drive some solid sales to your book! It is a win-win strategy for all involved: you, the blog owner, and the blog readers! Seek out and find 2-3 such blogs each week and reach out to them (this can be done during your 30 minutes of marketing a day!) Expose your book to new readers at each blog who would love to know about your books!
  5. Connect With 3-4 Other Authors You Can Cross Promote With – The idea of “self-publishing” creates a feeling of having to go at it alone (the word “self” doesn’t help), but you do not need to go on this journey alone! Find 3-4 other similar authors early in the year and reach out to them to see if you can work together with them to promote each others’ books. You can run discount promos together, you can tweet about and share each others books, and you could even make boxed sets featuring 1-2 of each authors books. Many more promotional opportunities are available when you work together with other authors. You can share your audience, your reach, and get more exposure all from working together! Work together with other authors to help boost sales for each of you this year!

Charging Ahead in the New Year

There is always some type of marketing you can be doing, but there are never enough hours in the day to write more, market more, and do all of the publisher duties such as editing, formatting, etc. But, you can make small, measurable goals or resolutions to improve your marketing this year by resolving to do a few (or all) of the resolutions above! These steps will help you to accomplish the ultimate goal to sell more books and get more readers!

Here’s to a happy and prosperous year!

– The Book Marketing Tools Team

Repost: 5 Simple Ways to Say No

Women/ValidationA few days ago I received this fantastic article in my email about how to say “no” to people.  As women, most of us are trained to NOT say “no” no matter how badly we need to say it.  We are told we are selfish, arrogant, and so forth.  But “no” is the most important word any woman can say.

 

Here is Dharma Rose’s Advice on the matter:

“Do you find it hard to say “no”?

If so, you’re not alone.

Many people find themselves saying “yes” to things they don’t really want to agree to out of fear they’ll appear selfish or rude… or in an effort to avoid conflict or hurting another person’s feelings.

Saying “no” isn’t always easy, but it IS vital to your own self care.

You see, healthy people have healthy boundaries, and part of being healthy is occasionally saying no to requests, situations or people that you can’t or don’t want to accommodate.

Here are 5 simple ways that you can say no with ease, power and grace:

Tactic #1: The Full Plate

If you’re way too busy to accommodate the person’s request, let them know you’re slammed and that you simply have no time to fit what they’re asking you to do into your schedule.

“I’m sorry, I’d love to help you, but my schedule is crazy today/this week/this month and there’s no way I can fit this in.”

Tactic #2: The Think-About-It

If you’re not sure if you can fit the person’s request in, or if you’re dealing with someone who is super pushy, consider buying yourself a little time to think about what they’re asking of you and to get back to them on your own terms.

“Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.”

Tactic #3: The Boomerang

Are you super busy? Or in the middle of something else? You can ask the person to come back to you later on when you have more time to listen to and consider their request.

“I’m in the middle of juggling a few things right now. Can you please ask me again in a couple of hours/days/weeks? I’ll have a bit more headspace then to consider what you’re asking.”

Tactic #4: The Counter Offer

If you can’t or don’t want to agree to the person’s request for whatever reason, but you’d still really like to help them out, consider making a counter offer for a lesser commitment that works better for you.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help you move on Saturday. But I CAN come by for a few hours to help you pack on Friday evening. Does that work?”

Tactic #5: The Firm No

The simplest way to say no is to simply… say no! You can be direct and let the person know that what they’re asking of you just doesn’t work for you, and you’ll be surprised how often people will respect a firm, direct no.

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t.”

As you practice declining requests that don’t align with your schedule, values or needs, you’ll find that saying no becomes easier and easier…

And that you’ll have more time for yourself, the commitments you already have and the things that are most important to you.

Rock your day!

Dharma Rose
Abundant Entrepreneur

Reblog: The Reality of an Unreal Career — part two

On 6th October, I reblogged a fascinating article, “The Reality of an Unreal Career — part one.”  Yesterday part two posted.  Here is that post in full:

 

——————————————–

Today we continue with Part 2 of The Reality of an Unreal Career from Stage 32 member Beau Janzen.

Part 1 brought us stories of animated vegetables and an 8-ft tall phallus shaped green screen monster.

Today, we’ll learn how a gopher can become a dinosaur.  Ah, the movie business.

However, though Beau has made a career as a visual effects artist and animator, his advice certainly translates across all disciplines.  For example:  “You can’t drive yourself forward in the industry with the fuel of your own ego reveling in the cool projects you’re working on.”

Yep, this is highly recommended reading for all.

Enjoy!

RB

One lesson I learned very early on:

You can’t drive yourself forward in the industry with the fuel of your own ego reveling in the cool projects you’re working on. 

Many projects you take on may seem silly or downright horrible, but they still demand your disciplined work.  I come in to the studio and squeeze my brain over a shot not for the prestige of the project, but for the pride of making great imagery.

Over the years, my technical skills broadened and I learned the nuances of how to sail through the maelstroms of production.  One lesson I learned which saved me repeatedly was:

You can never over-prepare

For one film, I served on-set as visual effects supervisor for the finale sequence that required a host of complex effects.  The visual effects director for the show was an amazing treasure trove of experience, and between the two of us, we were able to glean every possible measurement and reference from the set that we could.  For the next five months, I built up the sequence into something I was pretty proud of.  I was able to add in all sorts of details that the audience doesn’t see but “feels” to help sell the shot.  Just before I added in some finishing touches, we sent a near-completed version of the sequence to editorial so they could cut together a test version of the film.  After the initial audience test screening, we had a phone call which went something like this:

The Studio: “We’re really happy with the look of the sequence, but we have some bad news.  We changed the edit of the film around a bit, so now the ending doesn’t make any sense.  The audience was very confused.”
Us: “Yeah, we understand.”
The Studio: “So, that means we’re cutting that ending.  And, we’re going to need a new one.”
Us: “Oh… So what’s the new ending?”
The Studio: “We don’t exactly know. But it has to look really cool.  And we go to final print of the film in two weeks.”

I’d like to say that I was able to come in like Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction to clean up the crisis with confident, unwavering authority, but in the trenches of VFX work, we’re pretty much devoid of all glamour. However, due to the exhaustive over-planning I had done on set, years of MacGyver art experience, and a rugged coffee machine, I was able to design and crank out a new ending.  The original ending was at least able to live on as a DVD “bonus extra”.

In my career, I’ve stayed in small to medium-sized studios.   At the large studios, the skill sets of the artists are more focused. They hire an army of people who are specialists in one facet of production like digital modeling or animation who do just that one skill.  Smaller studios need staff that can adapt to changing needs and hire “generalists” such as me who are able to take on whatever comes their way.  While this has probably kept many A-list films off my resume, I enjoy the challenge of working across the spectrum of digital production and doing very different work from one month to the next.

The visual effects industry is definitely unique in entertainment not only from a creative and technical perspective, but in terms of the business model as well. Beyond that, I think it’s often misunderstood by people on the outside.  We seem to need green in order to insert magical things, and any behind the scenes footage shows fat computers and strange people jumping around in body stockings covered in ping pong balls.  I’ll shed some light on a few facets of our industry that might be surprising:

In a pinch, we recycle as much work as we can

This conversation has happened more times than I can remember:

The Studio: “Can you all help us out?! We have some shots that need to be created now, and we’re running out of time!”
Us: “I’m sorry, but we’re booked up with other shows.  We can’t devote any resources to this job.”
The Studio: “Here’s a big bag full of money!”
Us: “Why, certainly we can do it!”

The problem is that we’d still have no people or machines we could afford to put on the show.  We’d then resort to recycling.  They need a rampaging dinosaur? How about we take that gopher we made last month, stretch out the legs and take off the hair.  With the right lighting and fast motion, you have a dinosaur.  It doesn’t have to go on our demo reel, and the check from the studio will still clear.

I rarely criticize horrible VFX shots I see

I will absolutely call out shots in films and television that look terrible, but at the same time, I don’t know the circumstances of the production.  I’ve had too many crunched deadlines, last minute changes, and factors beyond my control that have resulted in my shots looking less than ideal, that I don’t presume the artists were incompetent. I just think to myself,  “that there but for the grace of god go I.”

We do hide stuff in our shots

No, we don’t hide lewd sex images, but if a shot needs to have a digital car added, why not make the license plate your child’s initials and birthday? Personal tags and inside jokes are everywhere.  One colleague once added himself in as a bloody murder victim in a film which was more than I’d really want to do.

You can’t wear Wolverine claws while operating a mouse

For the X-Men films, we received the metal claws Wolverine sports in the films as reference (you can never have too much reference). Sadly, you can’t wear them while effectively operating a mouse.

Since my initial departure from education when I went into the film industry, I have been able to take a few detours back.  When I can afford the time, I continue to work on my own educational short films and continue to enter them in festivals.  For the most part, they have been very successful, although the film which I am the most proud of did lose out at one festival to an amateur video on preventing gum disease.  I also took a year-long job at a university in Berlin, Germany as a guest researcher with the Sonderforschungsbereich.  I eagerly accepted the job, even before I had any idea what Sonderforschungsbereich was.  I was pleased to find out that it didn’t consist of cleaning toilets, but did involve creating a math video on research topics in discrete geometry.  Later, when my kids were young, I took a job teaching math and visual effects which allowed me to be away from my family for only three days a week.

Reason for Math : Gauss’s Addition from Beau Janzen on Vimeo.
All in all, I’d have to say that I feel successful with where I am in my career.  First and foremost, I’ve been able to pay the bills while pursuing a creative endeavor which I know in many ways is a privilege. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some great films with some great people, which has in turn given me more opportunities.  I do love the act of constructing imagery and still get a buzz of adrenalin when I’m able to make a technical challenge fall into place and create something beautiful.  While I haven’t yet been able to redirect my work entirely back into education, it’s still something I’m pursuing.

In hindsight, I think orchestrating a career is similar to orchestrating a shot.  There are a host of technical limitations and challenges that can prevent you from reaching your goal. But in the end, that’s what creativity is all about.  Creativity isn’t some loose mental activity that takes place in an unobstructed vacuum; it’s about defining your own unique goal and dexterously making it work in the face of the impossible.


If you missed Part 1 of The Reality of an Unreal Career, click here.

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Reblog: 9 Things Successful People Won’t Do

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140818190427-50578967-9-things-successful-people-won-t-do

Some great advice for becoming more successful!  Here is Mr. Bradbury’s article in full:

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My last post, How Successful People Stay Calm, really struck a nerve (it’s already approaching 1.5 million reads here on LinkedIn). The trick is that managing your emotions is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). So, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in order to keep themselves calm, content, and in control. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isn’t careful.

While the list that follows isn’t exhaustive, it presents nine key things that you can avoid in order to increase your emotional intelligence and performance.

They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from them.

While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

They Won’t Forget

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Emotionally intelligent people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

They Won’t Die in the Fight

Emotionally intelligent people know how important it is to live to fight another day. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

They Won’t Prioritize Perfection

Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.

They Won’t Live in the Past

Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

They Won’t Dwell on Problems

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.

They Won’t Hang Around Negative People

Complainers are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. You can avoid getting drawn in only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix a problem. The complainer will then either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

They Won’t Hold Grudges

The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event involved sends your body into fight-or-flight mode. When a threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when a threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Learning to let go of a grudge will not only make you feel better now but can also improve your health.

They Won’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To

Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for most people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.