Stop Trying to Impress the Wrong People


In my early years as a film producer, I paid a visit to a man who would eventually become my mentor in the film business. He had a huge reputation in the film industry and backed it up with his work. His reel included clips from many of the films I’d seen, some very recently, and network television shows including the top rated late night talk show.

I was blown away, impressed, and began to ask many questions about his work. This was where I wanted to be. After a bit, he seemed to grow tired of my questions. He told me to wait and disappeared for a moment. He returned and played me another clip of his work. I could not wait to see it, and suddenly, across the screen appeared an ad for toenail fungus treatment. Ew! What was this? He must have pulled up the wrong clip. He didn’t.

He told me to pay close attention. When he shot the big budget, high profile film and television gigs, there was less money, infinitely more pressure, and two dozen people on location or further up the production ladder, mostly pesky studio execs, looking over your shoulder. When he shot the toenail fungus commercial, he was paid his full rate, flown to Florida for a few days to shoot, and there was little pressure as he was allowed to do what he does so well.

He told me there was value in working on high profile projects in networking and resume building, but he also told me to stop worrying about impressing people, do what I loved, and get paid well for it.

Up until that moment, my goal had been to make music videos and very cool, hip commercial spots to fill a clip reel to be displayed proudly and be the envy of my peers. After that moment, I no longer felt the need to do that. From that moment forward, it became my goal to strike a balance of high profile work and work that paid my bills and allowed me to practice my craft. It’s taken so much pressure off my shoulders, allowed me to excel at everything I do, and it has made me happy.

Who are you trying to impress?