In this day and age, we have the ability to share our thoughts and creative endeavors with a vast number of people and receive their input almost instantly. It's one of the benefits of technology that links us together with whomever we choose, whenever we choose to do so. And while it's great to get a wide variety of responses to whatever you're putting out there within a short period of time, there often tends to be a lack of depth and serious thought behind this process. "Easy come, easy go," as they say.
It’s here. Summer, glorious summer. I think it must be ingrained in us from having summer vacation for at least the first 18 years of our lives, but we generally have a natural tendency to check-out during this time of year. Auto-pilot season, as it were. Now, I’m all for having an extended period of time where we relax a bit more and take up a leisurely pace of life. In fact, it’s probably essential for self-care. But, there’s a difference between relaxing and completely disengaging. If life is going spectacularly for you and you can afford to drop out of it all for months at a time, then by all means — you do you (honestly, who wouldn’t love that luxury??). For everyone else, summer should really be about balance. Chill out, but keep an eye on the horizon.
I want to discuss the difference between setting a goal for something you want vs. setting a goal based on something that you’ve already been working toward. You know, even once we settle on a goal, it’s quite common to question whether it’s the best goal to be focusing on right now, especially if we have other things happening in our lives and careers. I remember a very specific example of coaching someone through this in one of my previous Path classes — Chris, who was setting a goal for his acting career. Chris had booked a handful of national commercials and he came to the Path Course ready to focus on booking jobs in tv and film, as well as commercials. When creating his one year goal, he was questioning whether or not there should be a part of his goal focused on booking more commercials. After I coached him in class, it became clear to Chris that focusing on commercials did not belong in his goal for this upcoming year. How did he know that this part of his goal was not goal-worthy?
Not so long ago, a client of mine had seen a TED Talk by a writer and career coach named Emilie Wapnick and compelled me to check it out because it was so connected to what we do at Capes Coaching. Whenever I get this kind of recommendation, I always put it on my Action List, knowing that I'll eventually get to it...usually. But, then a curious thing happened — another client suggested the same thing. And then another client. And another. It was like one of those situations where friends of yours keep telling you that you HAVE to meet some other friend of theirs because everyone thinks that the two of you would really hit it off. So, of course, I watched Emilie's Wapnick's TED Talk...and I got what all the fuss was about.
While most people know Jesse Tyler Ferguson from his Emmy-nominated role on the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family, theater fans have been aware of his many talents and dynamic range long before his tv career took off. I worked with Jesse when he did the off Broadway musical Newyorkers at Manhattan Theatre Club, andour paths also criss-crossed a lot in the early days of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, before it went to Broadway and became the phenomenon that it was. So it was with great pleasure that I was able to connect with Jesse a few years back and interview him for our Artists In Action program (along with some other fantastic artists that you may recognize). Since Jesse is back on Broadway in Fully Committed — where he plays 40(!!) different characters over the course of the one-man-show’s 90 minutes — this seemed like the perfect time to share his interview with those who haven’t heard it.
Let’s get something clear, I spent the first 30 years of my life unable to tell you one simple fact about Women’s College Basketball, much less the UCONN Huskies. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know they existed. The most I knew about this particular world of sports was that it was on a random channel like ESPN2, 3 or 23, and if it was a rainy Saturday afternoon and I happened to be home, bored out of my mind and flipping channels because there was nothing else to watch, I might have noticed some girls on a court and thought, “That’s cool,” and then continued on until I stumbled upon the second half of a romantic comedy — like 50 First Dates or Sleepless in Seattle — that I would happily re-watch for the 68th time while intermittently dozing on the couch. You get my point. Although I’m sure it’s great for those who care about it, women’s basketball is just not my jam. Or, rather it WAS not my jam (grrrr...I hate that I’m even admitting it in writing).
Can art heal the world? It's a question that's been asked numerous times throughout modern history, particularly when society has faced large-scale tragedies and struggles. Whatever the answer, it's clear that art can act as a salve, a unifier, and a provocateur during tumultuous times. In an emotional sense, it's as powerful as any force on this planet, and one that is desperately needed in these modern times. With that in mind, two creative legends — Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock — recently responded to this question put to them by Nest HQ: Given the current state of the world, how can the next generation of artists respond? Their response, composed as an open letter, is insightful, gracious, and inspiring.
We all know the cliché: Hollywood is a soulless mecca of slick opportunists, corporate vampires, and vapid artists — a place where people speak a morally questionable language consisting of either half-truths or downright lies. And to the average American, this stereotype likely extends beyond the borders of Hollywood to any corner of the entertainment industry. As The X-Files bluntly put it: "Trust no one."
Every once in a while I stumble upon something that strikes a deeply resonant chord within me and my gut reaction is, "I can't wait to share this!" And this is exactly the reaction I had when I watched Shonda Rhimes' recent TED Talk, the gist of which is this: What happens when The Hum stops?
To get a good idea of what The Hum is, you should definitely watch the video, but in a nutshell, it's that feeling you get when everything feels right...when you're in sync with life... when you're in the zone. For Rhimes, it was that underlying sensation she felt when she was in the midst of the chaotic whirlwind that was her work — multiple shows in production, crews and executives in the hundreds relying on her, tens-of-millions of expectant audience members...you get the idea. It all made her feel alive. Her work was The Hum, and The Hum was her. Everything was perfect. Until The Hum stopped. She lost the love...the fun...the excitement. This is how she puts it: "What do you do when the thing you do, the work you love, starts to taste like dust?"
"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES."
It's time to introduce you to another Featured Artists in Action: actor Rachid Sabitri, who's been on quite a roll lately (you may have seen him recently on Homeland). Rachid is one of those clients who has remained fully committed to his goals the entire time we've worked together — from the time he took my class a few years ago, through the private coaching that we're doing now. When he came to coaching, we set up an accountability plan and he took it seriously, showing up for himself and his goals every single week of the year, regardless of what was going on. He's works as hard going after his goals as he does his craft, and this commitment has helped him reach the next level of his career. Let's listen to what he has to say about this experience...
I was in a coaching session the other day and something came up that, immediately afterward, I thought, "This is something I have to share." My client, a writer, was frustrated because he was showing up every day to commit to his writing, but he wasn't feeling it. Something was missing and he couldn't quite put his finger on it. This is actually something that I uncover all too often in coaching sessions — people doing the right things, making progress toward their goals (or not), but somehow feeling "off" about the entirety of it all. A lot of times, it turns out that they're lacking perhaps the most important part of the process, and that, my friends, is ENTHUSIASM.
Stephen Colbert officially took over CBS' The Late Show last night, and there was a lot riding on this transition. Stepping into those very big shoes previously filled by the legendary David Letterman — one of the most influential comedians and television personalities of the last thirty years — would be an absolutely frightening endeavor for anyone, no matter how talented. On top of that, Colbert has been very successful at playing Stephen Colbert the character for nearly a decade, and he has to prove to the world that Stephen Colbert the person is not a one-trick pony. It's enough to induce a serious case of stage fright.
My family and I moved last week, and let me tell you, I feel lucky to have made it out with my sanity in tact. Anyone who's ever gone through the moving process knows that I'm not being melodramatic here — at some point in the middle of the experience, when you're sitting amidst what feels like mountains of STUFF (boxes, furniture, decor, etc.), the idea of putting your life cohesively back together feels impossible. It can be so overwhelming that you just want to give up in the hopes that someone is going to come along and rescue you (i.e., do the work for you).
Over the last few years, Sasheer Zamata has been on fire! Not only has she garnered acclaim and fans for her improv, sketch, and stand-up work with UCB, CollegeHumor, and MTV, in 2014 she joined the rarified ranks of the Saturday Night Live cast.
In 2012, when she was on the brink of major success, Sasheer took the Path Course. I recently had the pleasure to ask her about that experience and what "path" her career has taken since then.