Most of you know, I have been employed full-time in the entertainment industry since my senior year of college. I’ve worked with the likes of Harpo, ABC, and FOX and have taken away invaluable insight from each experience.
Freelancing is extremely common in the entertainment industry. Since television shows and movies run for finite periods of time, turnover is high. People are constantly hopping around from one project to the next.
Because of this, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and hire many different types of personalities and work ethics – some, stronger than others. Early on in my career, I was afforded sage advice, “anyone can be hired for any job once.”
Simply stated: Though someone might be willing to take a chance on you once, you may not be asked back – or kept on – if your workplace product is inconsistent with your initial presentation. Being hired isn’t what counts – job security and recommendations are born from the cultivating of a consistency strong workplace identity. Your professional reputation is KEY to a long, full career. Here are three essential qualities of a successful professional!
BE A KIND, TEAM PLAYER
Whatever you do, lead with kindness. Trust me – there are days when I would rather lead with a blowtorch and megaphone, but patience, graciousness, and positivity are essential. No one wants to work with someone who is blatantly difficult and pessimistic. Kindness does not imply weakness, as some might have you believe. You can absolutely assert yourself and your ideas while being kind. Don’t gossip. Don’t condescend. Seek out the best in people, and create symbiotic relationships.
In improv, there’s a phrase – “yes, and…!” It suggests that everyone has something to contribute. If you’re improvising a scene, and someone states, “It’s cold in this garage,” your response shouldn’t be, “we’re not in a garage, we’re in Hawaii.” At this point, you’ve completely shut down the other person’s contribution to the scene. A better response might be, “It is cold – let’s build a fire with Johnny’s old school projects!” You’re acknowledging that YES – we ARE in a freezing cold garage, AND let’s build a fire! Identifying the strengths in the contributions of others is a craft. While the ENTIRE idea might not be on point, surely there are elements you can use and build off of for success. Allow your kindness to beget kindness. Draw out the best in others for greater overall success.
BE AN ANTICIPATOR
Work hard is a given. Work VERY hard. Have a consistently strong work ethic – meet and exceed your deadlines, and do it thoroughly. But once you get your work done, stop and anticipate what else can be done. Anyone can complete a task, but not everyone possesses the foresight to analyze future ramifications of that task. For instance – I once worked as a production secretary. This position is exactly what it sounds like – lots of administrative paperwork. I was typically one of the first people to learn when a new script would be published. Once it was published, it was my responsibility to distribute. But as I developed a greater understanding of the implications of a new script, I started to see that a new script created ripple effects:
- When were those new pages scheduled to shoot? If they were scheduled for the next day, had we already printed out script pages for set? If so, we would need to throw out the old pages and distribute the new pages.
- Would it affect actor schedules? Were actors added or taken out of scenes?
- Would the call time for the next day be affected?
Understanding a chain of events in any given work situation is absolutely key. Completing the task at hand is the bare minimum – analyzing how that task might set off a chain reaction displays a deeper level of thought. As a manager, I want to employ individuals who constantly utilize critical thinking skills to put themselves – and me – ahead of the game. I’m most impressed with people who can anticipate the ramifications of a situation before I’ve thought of it. It shows that they are constantly assessing and evaluating their surroundings and is an impressive display of organization and commitment.
I want to work with someone who takes pride in their work and constantly strives to be the best version of themselves. This means asking thoughtful questions – both inside and outside of your department and at the right times. You should ask questions when:
- You truly don’t understand the directive
- You want to understand a concept on a deeper level
- You want to understand the related work of other departments
Be wary of asking questions just for the sake of asking questions – I would recommend saving the questions for something truly important. Again – good questions show a deeper thought process and a pride in ones work. I think to truly excel at any job, we should strive to understand it from all perspectives – this means understanding departments in which you don’t work, but with whom you might interact. When you understand how someone else’s job is done, you can better serve them, and vice-versa. This leads to greater efficiency on the whole.