Artists In Action

Where the Path May Lead: A Second Season of Acclaimed Comedy Central Hit, Broad City

Where the Path May Lead: A Second Season of Acclaimed Comedy Central Hit, Broad City

In Season 1, they brought us bug bombs, adult babies, and degenerate subway behavior. Season 2 begins today, and we can’t wait to see what wonderfully weird antics writers Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have thought up this time. Following Their Path to Laudable Success

The NY Times calls Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” “an absurdist, slapstick look at two women scraping by in New York.” We’re inclined to agree with that assessment, but why are we talking about it here, on the Capes Coaching blog?

We couldn’t be more delighted to share that Ilana and Abbi, who write and star in “Broad City,” are both alumni of our flagship service: The Path Course!



I want to share something that I find absolutely inspiring. It’s a TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on nurturing creativity. I know that it’s been around for a couple of years, so some of you may already be familiar with it. But, I think that the message she delivers about the creative expectations that artists place upon themselves (and that the world places upon them) is worth repeated viewings. In fact, I think it should be requiredviewing for anyone pursuing a career in the arts.

Back in the game

Back in the game

Let’s be honest, the word “seminar” doesn’t usually get people excited…which is pretty understandable. But, if you’ve ever been to a Capes Coaching seminar, you know that we do our best to make them fun and inspiring. After all, we know that (especially in places like New York and L.A.) time is a precious commodity — we want to make it worth the investment. So, what excites ME about our seminars? Well, outside of being able to share what we do, I love meeting artists from every walk of life, each with their own unique story, some of who end up inspiring me. Even better is when I see a familiar face in the crowd — someone who came to a previous seminar and has a story about how their life has been affected by what they learned.

Bad guys beware!

Bad guys beware!

I hope everyone had a fun Halloween and didn’t suffer too badly from sugar hangover! More importantly, I hope you were able to take a moment and unmask some of those inner critics lurking around. I know that this is often easier said than done. I got a lot of emails from people who felt a sense of relief that they finally had a language to use when dealing with this issue, but were also looking for some extra tools to help them identify when their inner critics were trying to butt in. Well, as promised in the last post, I’ve got just the thing: Inner Critic Profiles. The idea behind inner critic profiles is to get a deep understanding of who your inner critics are, what kind of agendas they have, and how they operate. By getting to know your inner critics inside/out, you’ll be better able to identify when they’re around, which will ultimately help you to make sure that they don’t take control of your career.

The Master of Disguise

The Master of Disguise

Halloween is here (though you’d have thought it was closer to Christmas with all the snow we got on the east coast this weekend!), and that means it’s time to get out the wigs, the masks, the Capes (ha!), and the plastic teeth. That’s right, time to put on those costumes, pretend you’re someone else for the night, and…bob for apples? Do people still do that? Anyway, the great thing about Halloween is that the scares are all in fun – we know the people behind the masks and can take comfort in the fact that the overzealous zombie that’s been making a nuisance of itself all night long will once again become our best friend tomorrow morning.

A Win/Win for everyone!

A Win/Win for everyone!

I’m out in Los Angeles again this week, and one thing I’m hearing from a lot of people here is that they find networking intimidating. This isn’t anything new — I’ve been hearing the same thing from my clients in New York for years. One of the main reasons that people seem to get intimidated by the process is that they feel like they have nothing to offer in a networking relationship, especially when they’re dealing with people in the industry who have a lot of influence or power. Well, fear not: I have just the thing to help with this.

Betsy's Birthday Balance Blog (say that 10x really fast!)

Betsy's Birthday Balance Blog (say that 10x really fast!)

Okay, so one of my favorite TV shows of all time is The West Wing. I’m obsessed. The day my husband and I watched the final episode of the series we were ready to re-watch the entire series again, I kid you not. So, it’s no surprise that when I came across this quote in a Sunday Times Op-Ed about the Autumnal Equinox — “A myth in many cultures holds that some mystical force lets us stand eggs on their ends, but only for a few hours immediately before or after the exact time of the equinox” — I recalled the West Wing episode, “Evidence of Things Not Seen, ” where CJ (played by the amazing Allison Janney) puts this very theory to test.

Danger: Multi-Goal Syndrome!

MULTI-GOAL SYNDROMEnoun An Affliction commonly found amongst actors, artists, and creative professionals. Symptoms include frustration, burnout, and applying to law school. May be contagious.

Forrest GumpLet's talk Multi-Goal Syndrome. I know, it sounds like some kind of chronic disease and, in a way, it is, because it can certainly be fatal to your career. Multi-Goal Syndrome refers to having a ton of different interests and goals without having a tangible, organized plan for how to achieve any of them. This is such a common issue, especially in the arts, where creativity tends to outpace practicality, and people aspire to become multi-hyphenates.

I think it’s great to have different interests and skills, and it’s important to have a sense of ambition, a desire to conquer the world. But the reality is this: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything at once. What ends up happening is that you spread yourself too thin across so many different areas, and you never see enough real progress towards any of your goals. It’s a quick trip to frustration.

How do you know if you have Multi-Goal Syndrome? The most obvious symptom is feeling stuck, because you have a lot of goals that all feel equally important, and you can’t decide where to focus your attention. The solution to this issue is that you have to force yourself to prioritize, which can feel like an impossibility, I know. But you could narrow it down if you had to, and — trust me — if you want to make some progress, you have to.

I’m not saying that you have to take fifteen different focuses and choose only one. I’m talking about getting it down to five or, better yet, three. Remember, the purpose of goal setting is to help you focus, not overwhelm you, so you want to give yourself the time and space to explore one goal at a time. The thought of doing this, however, can trigger another symptom of Multi-Goal Syndrome: the fear of commitment. This is something that rears its head in the coaching room on a constant basis, a fear that, by committing to only one goal, all of your other goals will vanish forever. There’s a false sense of limiting yourself and your potential when, in reality, you’re actually giving yourself the freedom to realize your potential rather than being buried under the weight of too many options. When you’re throwing yourself in every possible direction, just hoping that something — anything — will work out, everything becomes more difficult. Networking is hard, marketing is hard, balancing your life and career is hard. The entire business becomes hard, because you don’t know what to do with your time and energy in order to make even the slightest amount of progress.

If all of this sounds good to you in theory, but the thought of focusing on one goal still makes your stomach clench, then think about it this way: you will be setting hundreds, maybe even thousands, of goals throughout your life. When you focus on one, it won’t be the end-all-be-all goal in your life. But you have to start somewhere in order to get to the rest of those goals.

So, what’s the most important goal to you right now? One thing I’ve learned over the years from growing my own business is that we accomplish ten times as much when we focus on one goal at a time, rather than trying to cover too many bases at once. By prioritizing our goals, we ground ourselves, making it less of a possibility that we’ll lose sight of what we’re working towards and, of course, creating a greater likelihood of success.

If you suffer from Multi-Goal Syndrome, I challenge you to focus your attention on one goal over the course of this next week. No matter how impossible it seems, just give it your best shot — I think you'll be pleasantly surprised do discover what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it!

And now for something completely different: authentic networking

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been hearing a lot of frustration from artists when it comes to networking and that this was due to confusion, intimidation, and feelings of inauthenticity when practicing it. Now, networking is such a huge topic that I actually devote two separate lessons to it in Artists In Action, so there's no way for me to cover it all in this blog. But, I do want to make it a little easier for you. I'd like to introduce you to two principals of authentic networking, both of which I've seen have a major impact on the way that my coaching clients network. The first principle is based on the idea of FARMING, NOT HUNTING.*

American Gothic

Most people actually think of networking as hunting – they have to find a target, hone in on it, and get their kill. “Must get agent now or will die!” This mentality has an air of desperation to it that’s frankly unattractive, uncomfortable for everyone involved, and feels forced and inauthentic. Instead, what if you thought about networking as farming? Your first response may be: Huh?? But take a moment and let that sink in.

When we approach networking from the farming perspective, it becomes all about planting seeds to grow relationships as opposed to sharpening your killer instinct. Farming your network means cultivating relationships with care and patience over time, which takes the pressure off of needing to instantly capture your target in order to see immediate results. Think about it — the relationships you have in your life were likely gained over a course of time rather than being instantaneous. So why should your business relationships be any different?

This principle reminds me of a class field trip we took to a fruit farm when I was a kid. The highlight of the trip was when we all went berry picking at the end, and we got to take home all of the berries we collected. I remember the farmers instructing us to ignore any berries that were eaten by bugs or had already fallen to the ground and were spoiled. We only wanted the good berries, and the thing about those good berries is that they were only ready to be picked when they were ready. They couldn’t be rushed or slowed down.

Let’s also consider that the farmers had planted those berries months or, in some cases, years before I ever went berry picking. So we can assume that when you’re farming, your crop is still growing while you’re doing other things. You obviously have to keep tending to it, but if you planted your seeds successfully, your crop will grow while you’re working elsewhere. But, if you’re hunting, you’re not seeing any results unless you are literally hunting. You can only hunt to be successful at hunting. If you were going in for a meeting with an agent and approached the meeting from a farming perspective instead of a hunting perspective, can you see how your expectations for that meeting would shift? Might you be able to relax a little more and focus on cultivating a relationship with that agent, realizing that the meeting itself is not the end of the road?

The great thing about farming when it comes to networking is that the approach should already feel natural to you. After all, it’s exactly how you interact with people every day of your life. Whether you realize it or not, you’re planting seeds on a regular basis, and you never know when the seeds of those relationships will bare fruit.

This next principle is a tough one for many artists -- the principle of ASKING FOR HELP.

Help WantedYou have to be more than willing to accept generosity, and oftentimes, you need to go out and ask for it. Until you become as willing to ask for help as you are to give it, you’re only working half the equation. In a perfect world, we’d all be able to achieve success without having to ask for help, but I guarantee that if you ask anyone that you consider to be successful how they got there, they would tell you it wasn’t on their own. At some point on their path to success, they had the courage to ask for help.

This is something you need to get comfortable with. I know too many artists who are afraid to reach out for help, because they’re afraid of being annoying or needy, but it doesn’t have to come down to that. Asking for help doesn’t mean giving up your dignity as long as you’re tactful in your request. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me, “Betsy, once I actually asked for it, it wasn’t that big a deal. I got it!”

The reality is that, in this industry, your relationships can have a major impact on your career and it's a solid bet that over the course of time you'll be asking for -- and giving -- help more times that you can count. It's part and parcel, so the best thing you can do is get comfortable with this practice and not be self-conscious about it. In all the years that I've been coaching, I've heard hundreds of stories where the simple yet courageous act of asking for help became the catalyst for artists reaching their goals.

These are only two of the ten principals of authentic networking that I teach in Artists In Action, but just implementing "Farming, Not Hunting" and "Asking For Help" into your networking process can have a major impact on the way that you network. The more you use them, the more natural they'll become to you, and the more authentic you'll feel when you network.

*credit to Larry Sharpe of Neo-Sage


Hey everyone! Welcome to the official Capes Coaching blog! For those of you who don't know me, I'm Betsy Capes, the founder and president of Capes Coaching, a career coaching company for actors, artists, and creative professionals of every kind. If you'd like the whole scoop on me, you can read the long version of my bio here; for everyone else, I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version.

Betsy CapesI began my career in the entertainment industry over a decade ago in the casting department at Manhattan Theatre Club, in addition to directing theatre in New York City. During that time, I also began coaching actors on the side, figuring that my "other side of the table" knowledge could benefit actors in their auditions. What I began to see on a consistent basis was that the majority of actors I was coaching were focusing 100% of their energy on their craft, leaving the business side of their career virtually neglected. This made for a lot of talented artists feeling lost, overwhelmed, and frustrated, all because they had never taken the time to hone their business skills. Feeling compelled to support these artists and change the perception that success is based solely on talent, I focused my attention on career coaching -- essentially, everything BUT the craft. That's how Capes Coaching was born.

In the seven years since, I've coached over 2,500 artists from every corner of every medium. Through one-on-one coaching, master classes on every essential topic from marketing and networking, to time management and life/career balance, and the Path Class (our very successful class focusing on goal setting and planning), I've refined my techniques and tools to meet the needs and address the patterns that consistently come up in the coaching room. And in that time, here's what I've learned: I absolutely LOVE what I do...and I can do more.

Sunset over New York City 1932

At the risk of stating the obvious, New York is a big city. Huge. But, it ain't the center of the universe (contrary to popular belief). I began to realize that there were thousands (possibly millions) of artists out there who were missing out on everything we were doing at Capes Coaching simply because they didn't live in New York. So, we decided to take everything that we knew, put it all into one complete package, and bring the classroom and coaching experience to everyone, everywhere. That's how Artists In Action was born, and I can't tell you how excited we are about it!

From the very beginning, we've known that each artist has unique needs and faces challenges specific to them and their situation -- there's no one-size-fits-all solution, no magic pill. So we've created a program that will give you the tools and a process for figuring out who you are, what you want, and how to get it. Rather than giving you a so-called "formula for success", Artists In Action helps you create a career plan that's tailor-made for you, by you. It's a radically different way of approaching your career from the inside out.

Which brings us to this blog.

We're going national (even global) for the first time and we know that a lot of you don't know who we are. So, this is our way of introducing ourselves, sharing our experience and knowledge, and letting you get to know us. I'm going to be touching upon everything in the Artists In Action program -- goals, time management, marketing, networking, inner balance, and more -- and I'm also going to bring real stories from the coaching room and from my own personal industry experiences. While we undoubtedly want to spread the word about a product that we wholeheartedly believe in, this is more about supporting the artistic community and helping to shape a new kind of informed and educated artist. We're going to be giving away a lot of great curriculum and tools here.

On the flip side, this isn't a one-way street -- we want to get to know you, also. We want you to share your experiences and stories with us in the hopes that, together, we can build a community that engages with and supports one another. Believe me, I've learned just as much from the artists I've coached as they have from me, and I look forward to continuing that experience with all of you. So, go ahead and introduce yourself in the comments, and come back soon, because we've got a lot of to talk about!