How many of y'all can cook a better burger than McDonald's?
This question is how American businessman Robert T. Kiyosaki used to start the classes he taught. In his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, he states that almost every student would raise their hand in response.
"So", he'd continue, "if most of you can cook a better hamburger, how come McDonald's makes more money than you?" This time, he'd usually be met with silence.
Kiyosaki's answer is simple: McDonald's has outstanding systems which deliver and sell their average product. Love Mickey D's or hate them — their success is hard to dispute.
Reflecting on this, we were struck by how applicable this distinction is to us actor folk. We've known countless individuals capable of taking your breath away the moment they step in front of a camera or onto a stage. Yet, they haven't been able to attain even a fraction of their personal definition of success.
Kiyosaki's illustration points to the reason. These prodigious souls are essentially the world's best burgers. But, delectable as they are, they fail to "deliver" or "sell" due to a lack of effective systems supporting them.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: talent alone is no longer enough. Today's actors need world-class strategies to match their world-class abilities.
Where's your head at?
(Yes, that's a reference to Basement Jaxx. And yes, we're aware that's our billionth subheading stolen from pop culture ✌🏼)
Of course, some attention needs to be paid to the hamburger. Having our patty, bun, and salad together is simply the price of admission. But after a point, painstakingly scrutinising each ingredient provides diminishing returns.
So, how do we know if we have too much of a Hamburger Focus?
We're stronger, skill-wise, than our peers, but they're always booking more work.
We spend hours on hours on hours in acting class. Yet — if we're honest — we'd be lucky to spend a tenth of that time on marketing.
We agonise over "perfecting" every. single. self-tape, sacrificing time and energy that would be considered absurd in any other context.
Do any of these sound familiar?
If so, all good, it's pretty straightforward to do a Goldilocks and get the balance juuust right.
We highly doubt anyone reading this blog would have too little of a Hamburger Focus, but our discussions on Training Menus (here and here) may offer some guidance if we really feel we've let our hamburger game slip.
From hamburgers to systems
For those of us who've recognised our disproportionate hamburger obsession, here are some ways we can start to channel our ninja-like attention to detail to construct effective systems.
Sole goal clarity. This is exactly as it says on the tin. We talk about this waaay too much (see previous posts here and here) because it seems we humans need a shed tonne of convincing that this is true. It is. Success is made possible when we set a singular goal, smash the singular goal, and repeat as desired.
Define our zone of genius. "Wait. Are we talking about being TYPECAST?!" Kind of. We prefer to refer to it as our "zone of genius", 'coz actors don't seem to be mega fans of ye olde t-word. We get it. What's often overlooked, however, is that when we're building momentum, being typecast means we're being CAST. Which is sorta the whole point. Once we've dazzled casting directors and producers with our zone of genius, they'll trust us enough to start throwing some crazy transformational shiz our way. Get crystal clear on the roles and stories we could slay in our sleep.
Master marketing. Yet another cringe-inducing word to us actor folk. We have posts here, here, and here that offer various cringe-free (or, at least, cringe-reducing) strategies to deploy. This will all be ten trillion times easier if we embrace and lean into our zone of genius (as above).
Build the dream team. This doesn't have to be a trio of high-powered US reps. Mentors, teachers, and peers can play critical roles until we want/need CAA or WME on board. And — # realtalk — mentors, teachers, and peers will be just as vital when we reach the dizzying heights of the A-list. Let's get our social circle on lock today.
Get money smart. A German study conducted between 2000 and 2008 found that one-third of all business failures were due to insufficient financial knowledge. This isn't to say we need to go out and get a degree in economic theory — just having the basics down will stand us in good stead. Check out our top five reading recommendations here.
To paraphrase and adapt a quote from Cincinnati-based art consultants, ADC, not all entrepreneurs are actors, but all actors are entrepreneurs.
Now let's go get some of that McDonald's level success.
Though maybe without the creepy clown.
. . .
Thoughts / feedback / challenges? We'd genuinely love to hear.
While we can't always reply to every message, we honestly do read each one.