In the razzle dazzle of Hollywood it is hard to find anyone who stands out from the crowd. The fraternity of Actors, Producers, Directors and various other technical guru’s seem to live in a world of its own. We get an occasional glimpse inside and for many of us, it is often a little unsettling!
Yesterday I read an article that reinforced that. It was a story about a gentleman who went to some of the Oscar parties. He was distressed to see the rampant public display of sexual innuendoes.
The cruel and very public comments about various female stars who were “out of shape” and what that would mean in their imaginary bedroom were somewhat of a shock to the gentleman who wrote the article.
Frankly, I didn’t take any time to watch the Oscars or read too much about it. The glamour of Tinsel Town is probably wasted on me.
Several years ago my wife and I did flirt with the possibility of a family member being more involved in the acting scene. My youngest son, Leagh had an opportunity to be represented by one of Hollywood’s top managers. We met him in Vancouver after he had seen Leagh at an earlier audition. He was quite taken with what he had seen in my son, who at the time was probably around nine years old.
We met in the lobby of the Hyatt just off Burrard in Vancouver. What I witnessed was very impressive. At the time, he was managing several young actors who were starring in movies that were big hits at the box office. He explained to Leagh that he liked what he had seen and he would be very happy to represent Leagh on his roster at his Burbank offices. He promised he could make him very wealthy. He stated clearly that his actor’s were successful and he saw no reason why Leagh would not be able to achieve the same success. Jackie and I were sitting quietly on the sidelines, taking mental notes and not getting too excited. For a young nine year old, this was a pivotal meeting.
What we witnessed next left us with our mouths open! He then explained to Leagh for about half an hour, how acting was probably going to ruin his life. He indicated that he would probably never have a private life again. He talked about the fact that it was hard to stay off drugs as a young actor because the predators at the various gatherings in LA will find you and turn your life upside down. He asked Leagh several pointed questions about whether he could handle fame and fortune. Would he be comfortable getting into an airport with media looking to find him and crowds of screaming fans. Did he think he was strong enough to live that life and not have his life ruined!
Jackie and I were totally impressed. We expected the sales pitch, the “tinsel town talk”. What we got was a serious dose of reality.
At that time, it didn’t put Leagh off chasing his dreams, which was important. But gradually, ever so slowly, the goal of becoming a big child star started to wane.
It was a wonderful experience for him as a child and for Jackie and I. We felt very thankful to Jon Simmons for taking his time to look our son in the eye and without stealing his dream, simply lay down the truth for him. Thankfully, even at nine years old, Leagh was mature enough to absorb it and process it.
I had another surprise yesterday when I found a video posted about Matthew McConaughy’s acceptance speech. Take a look for yourself. It was a compelling thank you that laid out some basic principles that all of us can take a lesson from... well done Matthew McConaughy, congratulations on a wonderful speech.
What I love about McConaughey’s speech is so simple. He gives the thanks to someone other than himself, in this instance God. He publicly states his love and affection for his family and finally, he explains how he believes in himself so much that he is his own hero - somewhere in the future... love it!
This time last week the biggest search phrase on Google was “Powerball”.
I thought it was perhaps a new App for the iGalaxy or SamPhone, but apparently not. It is in fact a US based lottery not dissimilar to our Lotto 649.
It is the largest jackpot in US history. Quite a sum of money, yet in reality, the chances of that person actually having a life changing experience is slim to none.
It may be hard enough to buy the “winning” ticket if you understand that the odds are somewhat against you. But it turns out that the odds of even holding onto that money as a lottery winner, let alone growing a family fund with it, are also - slim to none.
An article in Money.co.uk profiles 10 winners of large sums who couldn’t handle the change in lifestyle with much grace at all! Here are a couple of examples:
In 1988 William “Bud” Post won $16.2MM. A sum which would be much larger in today's economy with inflation. His personal description of the experience was “a nightmare” and he wished it had never happened. His former girlfriend sued him claiming she was entitled to a vast amount of his new riches and his brother hired a hitman so that he could inherit the winnings. Ultimately, he made so many bad choices that within a year he was $1MM in debt and living on Social Security.
In 1993, Janite Lee won $18 Million. Apparently Janite was inclined to be generous, not a bad thing generally. However, in her case, it took 8 years before she filed for bankruptcy after giving more than enough away.
Another Powerball winner, Jack Whittaker, won $314.9 million. After multiple arrests, lawsuits, broken relationships and even death, his wife at the time said she wished she had tore the ticket up!
So why do we have a fascination with the overnight success that lotteries provide. Because we like dreaming. Dreams are certainly powerful. But they can help us rationalize away the fact that the opportunity to win is so small, it literally is like paying a fools tax to buy the ticket.
The question though, “what would you do with $435 Million” is an amazing one. Think of the answers you could give. Think more about how it completely magnifies your character!
Money is inherently inert. It cannot change us, it cannot do anything. It simply sits in a big pile in your bank account and does absolutely nothing until you tell it to. So does money change us, or are our characters magnified with the gift of such a large amount of cash?
The choices we make with that money are what can change us. But the sheer magnitude of suddenly having access to that amount of cash is overwhelming for many people. It is so big relative to where many of us exist that it provides an opportunity to think without boundaries. But are we ready for that?
If you were interviewed for the job as the CEO of a company that was worth $425 million, how would you fare? If you feel you are not prepared for that or that you perhaps could not succeed at the job interview, then be very careful! Maybe you don’t want to buy the ticket in the first place. If you choose to buy the ticket, remember that the Board of Directors of that $435 Million company goes through a very lengthy and costly process simply to identify the CEO who they trust with their asset. Perhaps that free advice that all your friends suddenly want to give you isn’t so good after all!
The problem lies in the “apprenticeship” we undertake to handle that money. What opportunity did any of these people have to learn how to responsibly manage that money? None is the likely answer and then every parasite with an ounce of free advice came crawling out of the woodwork as soon as the money landed.
It is easy to see how these mammoth amounts of money can be re-distributed in a hurry.
What is sure today though is that the dream of winning is as big as it ever was according to Google. But perhaps that dream is more motivational than the nightmare of having won! At least according to many previous winners.
To book Mark Jennings-Bates to speak at your next meeting, contact him at [email protected]
Have you ever been afraid to lose or fail at something?
In the end that fear may have prevented you from actually starting. For many people we inadvertently shelter our children from the potential of losing. For instance, we may say, “Don’t do that, you may get hurt,” referring to participation in a sports team. Wise advice? Maybe not.
I have experienced more than a few opportunities that I bowed away from because I felt I couldn’t do well. In reality I was preventing myself from learning how to succeed.
As a young parent with inquisitive children I recall talking to them about free-enterprise. Talking about the fact that a country that embraces free enterprise allows you not only to succeed, but also to fail. More protected states at the time did not embrace free enterprise and in fact, prevented you theoretically from failing as well as succeeding.
The same is true in sports as it is in business. We are living that example right now. The eternal debate that comes around every couple of years with the Olympics is whether we should put pressure on our athletes to succeed? Sure we should. We are investing money in their success both at the corporate level and at the government level. But rest assured the pressure we put on those athletes will never exceed the pressure they put on themselves to perform. There are a few occasions when I have sat on the hood of my car, choked, tears in my eyes wondering why I crashed or why I had the misfortune to break down in a race.
Part of their training during their first few Olympic experiences is to learn to embrace failure and analyze it. Losing is not a bad thing, what you do with the experience of losing determines your success or failure from there.
I read an intriguing article about former F1 driver Robert Kubica last week. Kubica has always had a passion for rally driving but this year he has committed to a world rally championship program. The press however, has been criticizing him for going off the road in almost every rally and not finishing. Their suggestion was to slow down. Not unlike the parent that suggests we don’t want to get hurt.
Kubica’s response was fascinating. “I am not supposed to slow down. I learn nothing from driving slowly. You cannot learn to drive fast by driving slowly.” He added that in order to drive quickly he must experience driving quickly and all the challenges that come with that. You see, tire technology today is designed to “turn on” at certain temperatures that come from driving with a certain amount of aggression. Kubica’s theory that he has to explore the fringes of his limits to get better is absolutely correct.
So it is with business, personal development, sports etc. To improve we need to leave that comfort zone behind and explore the fringes of our personal, athletic and business abilities.
We all have the freedom to fail but how many of us truly embrace that opportunity. Only a small handful in reality but that fringe is truly where I have experienced living if only for brief moments in time.
Every Olympic athlete striving to win a medal for themselves and Canada is living on that edge. Let's celebrate their accomplishments both wins and losses because they are well aware of the need to embrace the loss and learn from it. Go Canada Go!
I reflected on the statement as I looked at the teapot where I was about to jam two slices of bread in to a narrow, round, opening. Curious I thought. Why am I doing that I wondered? Then I peered in to the crumb covered abyss in the depths of my toaster to see two Tetley® tea bags resting on the bottom heading for their imminent fiery death.
Maybe busy people just get tired.
The second statement is probably more accurate in reality. Yes, sure, busy people do get things done, but there is a time when we all need to recharge our batteries.
I have a few friends who are discussing the merits of saying YES more. I have lived that life I think. I have lived it to the point where I am expert at toasting tea bags. Of course, it is always possible that it may also be the signs of early dementia.
Because I have said YES so much, I have very few regrets, in fact only one. Many years ago as a young sixteen-year-old athlete, I was offered a chance to train with the British Olympic Fencing Team. I turned it down in order to play Jazz Guitar in an amazing band in the UK. Now, the Olympics are on TV again and I always wonder how I might have done if I had followed that path.
I think our Olympic athletes and coaching staff may occasionally put their tea bags in toasters too. They have been busy preparing for the event of their lives. They said YES. However, their days are so well planned and they focus completely on what will help them progress that they are more productive in their lives than most. In fact, in my former home town of Canmore, the Olympic athletes would typically excel in their school work even though they were absent much of the time.
I think we can redefine the statement at the heading of this article though to, Productive People get things done. I have been busy, my whole life. I have worked on multiple projects, failed at many and succeeded at some. But I have also witnessed unproductive busy people.
In a world full of distractions, it is important to get a grip on what is Important to you and learn to say no to what is simply urgent. It may be urgent to check your Facebook profiles because there was a really cool conversation or post from some friends, but is it important? I had a friend several years ago who framed the discussion this way. “With every decision you make, ask yourself if it will matter five years from now? If the answer is YES, then it is probably an important decision, rather than an urgent decision."
Thinking about that question throughout your day will likely prevent you from setting fire to tea bags. In reality the most important decisions in our lives are the ones that “matter five years from now” - the rest simply make us busy and often prevent us from getting things done.
Read more The Accidental Journey articles
The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.
- Happiness is a state of mind Feb 7
- The tipping point Jan 31
- Getting healthy Jan 24
- When enterprise is no longer free Jan 17
- Marketing with a cause Jan 10
- A vanishing perspective Dec 6
- Stand out! Nov 29
- Getting our priorities straight! Nov 22
- How to win by coming second Nov 15
- Losers win big Nov 8
- Controlling the outcome of a meeting Nov 1
- Can't see the trees for the forest? Oct 25
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