What is Being an Actor Really Like?

Being an actor is a funny life.  We all think of actors as rich glamorous people that we see on TMZ or the cover of People.  The truth is all actors start out a little differently.  Some actors go to fabulous schools and get fantastic theater training and end up on a TV Drama.  Others move to LA to fail as background actors.

“Actors have dreams – dreams of money” – Unknown.

I won’t name names but working as a “background actor” aka “extra” has put me in the same room with some great A-list actors.  Access even TMZ can’t get.  Once I didn’t do my homework and told a Vegan A-list actress to get a cobb salad for lunch.  She still recommended that I come back.  When you work hard actors respect each other regardless of their race, religion or diet.  A lesson many people could use.

For them being an actor is very different than being an actor is for me.  Some hard truth?  There are over 70,000 Union actors just in Los Angeles.  Less than 4% make the required minimum each year to get union benefits.  I am one of the 96% that barely makes any notable income as an actor.  So why do they (we) do it?

The real truth is that being an actor is an addiction. Once you try it, you get the bug or you don’t.  When I took my wife to Central Casting to sign up as a background actor, we both got lucky and landed a non-union job together.  The pay was a whopping $80 for 8 hours.  Basically minimum wage.  For two people who make a lot more money you would think we would see the check and say “hell no”.

We didn’t.  Instead she was hooked.  The memories of being a kid on Romper Room, ABC Junior All Stars and some extra work hit me like a recovering addict stopping at the crack bar.  This time I was old enough to understand that I can keep coming back I could choose to stay addicted and my parents couldn’t stop me.

You just can’t walk away from being an actor if the bug bites you.  In my business, I am an actor.  I just didn’t realize it until my first day back at Paramount Studios after nearly 40 years away.  Every day I have to put on a show for my clients.  You are probably more of an actor than you think.  Some of my favorite clients are lawyers.  They are among the best actors I know.

Some of my actor friends are nearly homeless.  The addiction has a complete hold on them.  I am lucky that I have a good income that keeps a roof over my head while I continue to seek acting work.  Some of my actor friends tell me that being a background actor will prevent me from ever moving ahead.  I find this interesting since some of the biggest names started out at Central Casting as background actors.  More importantly I don’t care.  I just like the work and the challenge.  Acting is never the same thing twice.

I have no delusions of grandeur that I am the next John Wayne or Ronald Reagan, but I do enjoy acting work in all forms.  As a background actor, I am still on set.  I get to meet writers, directors and those actors who are living very well and enjoying the spotlight.  Being an actor is different for everyone, and for me it is about the constant challenge.  One day I have to drive a car around the block without blocking the camera, another day I have to get to the bar right when Mr. A-list orders a beer.  On the best days I am the cop, news reporter or doctor that delivers the good (or bad) news.

Some of the best “background work” has been standing in for the A-list actors.  One one movie, I was a stand in for an a-lister and was coached by his manager for 6 weeks straight.  You can’t buy that education.  I know because I tried to hire the manager afterwards and he wasn’t taking on new clients.

Scott and Kelly Bourquin On Set.

Being an actor has allowed me to go into places in Los Angeles that I would never have seen any other way.  It also let me do things I would have never done any other way.  I get to be the crying dad when my son is killed.  I get to be the total jackass to someone I find very nice.  I get to pop off to my “boss”.  Being an actor lets me be everything my parents told me not to be.  It lets me be the person the military washed out of my brain.

Clients wonder why I do it, when they are paying me good money to help them grow their business.  The reality is that I learn more working with Emmy award winning directors and actors than I ever learned in business school.  The videos I make for my clients shoot right to the top of the search engines.  People start calling my clients because of what I learn on set, not business school.

Isn’t that what being an actor is about?  Connecting to people is what actors must do to sell the story.  Connecting a story to people is what every business wants.

The typical actor job is waiter or waitress.  Why?  Simply put the skills are very similar.  A great waitperson can take the order of an entire table without taking notes.  Sounds like memorizing lines quickly doesn’t it?

Being an actor isn’t for everyone.  It takes time, work and sacrifice.  While my clients go home after hours, I go to acting class.  When they are home with their families, I am studying monologues.  When I go to work as a background actor, I take home less than I make in an hour at my business, and yet I still hope to get the call.

As a “principle” actor my “day rate” is still less than a third of what I make at my “day job” and yet, I go to audition after audition for free on my time hoping to land a job that pays less than I make at work.

Watching new background actors is an incredible lesson on success.  Put earbuds in, get paid for the day and ignore the director,  no job tomorrow.  Get to work 20 minutes early, pay attention and volunteer for everything and get called back.

Being an actor sounds like life doesn’t it?

Success On The Beach – Introduction

Success on the Beach was created after working with hundreds of different people just like you.

Everyone had a different idea of success

Everyone had a different place of success

The best thing that ever happened for my life and my business, was sitting down and defining what I called success.  I did that with the “White Board Method”.  Look for an episode about that soon.

The next step was to sit down with my family and let them know what I was going to do in order to achieve that success.

Clearly defining what it would take and what I would give up helps everyone support me in my journey

My beach is literally the beach. For me success meant the flexibility to live at the beach and surf at least 8 days a month.

For some people it might be skiing, or hiking, but inside all of us is our own version of success on the beach.

One caution here, success isn’t a single thing you can grab onto, it is a place for you to go.

An attorney once said to me “All I want is that one big case”

After he got it, and won it, what do you think happened?

He realized the case itself was only a rest stop on his journey to success.

Since then he has redefined his journey

In each episode I’ll cover one topic to help you define success or help you find your own beach,

Occasionally I’ll bring in another guest or talk about how to get your family and friends on board to support your journey.

Thank you for watching, and if there is something you want to talk please leave a comment.

You will be surprised how many other people want to know the answer too.

Don’t worry there is enough for everyone to find their own success on the beach.

Success On The Beach – Giving

This week I found a article in inc. magazine and tweeted it out. The premise was that money can buy happiness.

When I read the headline of the article, it reminded me of a comedian who said

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness is an idiot, I ain’t never seen anyone crying on a jet-ski!

If you read the article, you know the idea, but for everyone else, here are the

I don’t have enough time for all of this stuff highlights, and some ideas for you to leverage that information.

The authors contend that buying things gives us a short term pleasure but GIVING things gives us a longer term pleasure.

The premise is that when you have money to buy things and give them to other people, you are happier. Therefore the authors say that money can in fact buy happiness.

But do you need money to buy happiness? We all know the lack of money can cause a lot of stress, especially when it comes to small business owners and independent people like you.

A lack of money just means you can’t buy gifts, it doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts.

While you are starting your business, or expanding your horizons at your work acting like an independent contractor, money might feel tight, so how can you give so you can still make people happy.

In fact when you give someone more than they are paying for in your business, you might just be giving them the gift they needed. If you aren’t happier when you get paid for your work, and the people paying you aren’t happy, maybe it is time to find different work?

You can also volunteer, and I already hear you that you are already out of time, but I’m telling you, find a couple of hours a month to volunteer and it will pay dividends in your long term success.

So can money buy happiness? Maybe, can giving help you be happier probably.

Does being broke suck? absolutley!

Come back next time and spend a few minutes growing your life, your business and ultimately your happiness.

Does Your Business Story Have a Great Cover?

OPM The Restaurant without a cover.

They say “Don’t Judge a book by it’s cover”, and as an author I can tell you that 80% of the book buying public does.  The fact is the cover sells the book.  As a business builder and now consultant, I can tell you that businesses have the same problem.
The fact is that books and businesses have a lot in common.  The first thing a book buyer sees is the cover.  Normally that is true for a a business, and very muh so for restaurants.  Landry’s CEO Tillman Fretita has this figured out.  All of the Landry’s restaurants have a great cover.  You know a Rainforest Cafe when you see one, and I bet the first time you did you wanted to go in.
The food and staff can be ok if the cover story of your restaurant gets lots of people in the door.  If you have a great staff and world class food but no one comes in the only people who will care are the banks, investors and your landlord.
Disney has broken this code too.  In fact across the board successful retail businesses have learned that the cover is the invitation to read the story.  Apple’s simple clean lines and Apple logo aims squarely at Apple fans and whispers “welcome to the club”.  A cover doesn’t have to scream like the Rainforest Cafe, but it does have to invite you in to try the story inside.
That brings me to a restaurant in Huntington Beach California.  OPM.  For quite some time the building sat empty, and after a long buildout, the “Tap House” opened.  It closed so quickly that I didn’t even get to see it.   By all accounts, the restaurant should have been a success.  The few fans it had were shocked when it closed.
The problem at the Tap House is the same as the problem at OPM.  The book has no cover.  By the time you see the sign you are past the driveway and looking for the next watering hole.  Given the name of the Tap House, the cover could have been as simple as cutting 50 kegs in half and glueing them on the outside of the plain white stucco building with Liquid Nails.
Everyone would see 100 half kegs from the 405 and know exactly what to expect and where they would find a good relaxed place for a beer.  Instead you could only see the white box.
This past week I did stop into OPM  I had to plan ahead otherwise I would have missed it and ended up at Wahoo’s again.
OPM Huntington Beach
OPM A Story without a cover
Dressed like a local (shorts, surf related T-shirt and flip flops) I went in and expected something like what I was told the Tap House was.  Many smart restauranteurs, take over a good idea and fix the one item that killed the business.  Sometimes the issue that kills a business is the owner, sometimes its the staff and occasionally even the food.  In this case I was sure it was the lack of an attractive cover.  In my perfect world I get there before close and help the owner find the path to profitability.
OPM didn’t change the cover and Tap House wasn’t gone that long.  Since only the sign out front changed on the building, quite frankly I was looking for the old ale house interior of the Tap House.  Ideally, I could present my proposal to consult on the exterior design.  The white no window block of stucco remained unchanged.
When I approached the very narrow walkway that goes to the front door, it was blocked by the hostess who was chatting up a departing patron.  The hostess was a pretty typical twenty something hostess in a black dress with a nice smile.  I should have realized right there that ale houses don’t have a hostess in a black dress, but I was distracted thinking, this walkway has got to go.
When I entered I noticed a small bar to the left with only one person sitting there.  The hostess quickly ran in and greeted me as did a rather casually dressed man.  The two didn’t fit.  If the casually dressed man was the owner or manager, he needs to dress up or stay in the shadows.  He was confusing the story of OPM.  If you read my blog or books you know that having a consistent story is key to success in business.
Looking around the inside, the story was a mixture of Casablanca meets middle east nightclub meets upscale east coast dining.  Very different from the normally laid back lifestyle of Huntington Beach.  Huntington Beach is one of the most popular surfing and beach towns in the US.  With the headquarters of Huntington Beach’s first Billion Dollar company, BJ’s restaurants, just a few blocks over, OPM is a standout.  Only on the inside that is.

Inside OPM Restaurant
Inside OPM
In Huntington Beach most of the higher end (price wise) restaurants have a more casual tone than similar places in Newport Beach for instance.  OPM didn’t get the memo on the Huntington Beach dress code I guess.  More Vans and Volcom, less Tommy Bahama’s and Tory Birch.
Sitting at the bar, I was pleased to find a very nice Happy Hour menu with a $5 margarita and a couple of decent beers.  To my wife’s dismay I neglected to look at the wine menu, so look for an update next month after I take here there for her thoughts on the place.
Eventually one of the Tap House regulars grabbed the seat next to me and he filled me in on the Tap House.  He then gave me his thoughts on OPM.  At the end he really didn’t know what to think about the changes.
As a business consultant I have to admit I was stumped.  What cover do you put on an upscale blingy restaurant in a laid back surf town?  More importantly what cover do you put on it to get those laid back surfers in the door?  After all within a few blocks there is a Wahoo’s with a full bar, a BJ’s and a shopping center loaded with expensive places to get a good drink.
The rich in Huntington Beach are normally seen in flip flops and sweat shirts all over town.  The only giveaway they aren’t surf bums is that they get into a Rolls, Bentley, Ferrari or some other exotic when they are done shopping or dining.  OPM’s parking lot doesn’t look inviting to those cars.  No Valet, no extra wide door ding avoidance spots, just a plain parking lot in front of a pretty vanilla office center next door to the white stucco block that houses OPM.
As I sipped the $5 margarita served in a short glass, I thought to myself, small price, small drink.  Eventually I paid the tab and left, a little disappointed that I did’t have a plan for it’s cover nor did I have a plan to keep people coming back for more once they came in.
The staff was nice, the quality appeared to be there, I didn’t hear any music so I can’t comment on the true ambiance, but….
Getting in my car I  looked at the blank white palette that is the outside cover of OPM and wondered what I could do to keep this place alive.

8 Success Tips From Racing Cars

Last weekend I flew to Texas to drive with my team aka “Itchn to Win” in the 24 Hours of LeMons series.  The annual race is called the Gator-O-Rama.  In the Spring they call it “Yee Haw LeMons Texas”.

When you don’t really have cell service, and you live at the track for three days, you have a different perspective on things.  Success in a 24 hour race involving a crap can car has a lot of applications in life.

1. Have a Purpose – Every team arrives with dreams of winning. Never stop dreaming.

2. Be Flexible – Things change and you can’t control them.  When you get hit with a one hour penalty for passing under yellow 5 times, your purpose might be to finish. Remember things change because we are human.

3. Be More Flexible – When your transmission falls apart during testing on Friday, your new purpose might be to have a car in the race at all.  More than once teams worked all day and all night to get on the track for the last five laps on Sunday.  Remember things change that you can’t control.

4. Be Even More Flexible – An Airline computer problem might make your purpose just getting there at all. Remember things change that you can’t control.

5. Never Give Up – See #2-4  The lead car was way ahead after a rainstorm.  It was an Audi Quattro and could run circles around all the two wheel drive cars.  It died with just three hours to go.  First place for 22 hours, then out of the top ten in two.  The race was on in the last hour with only one lap separating numbers two through five.  Remember things change, and they aren’t always bad.

6. Take A Break – Cars Need Pit Stops, So do people and businesses.  In a 24 hour race you need to stop every one to three hours depending on fuel burn.

7. Change Drivers – See number 6.  Even when life is going perfectly, you need to let someone else have a turn.  Businesses have management shifts, relationships need control shifts.  Success doesn’t mean you are always in the drivers seat.  Sitting in the seat too long and you lose focus on why you are there.  You might become numb to your purpose.  Get out of the seat and see what the other people do.  Let them grow and help them when they need it.

8. Change Jobs – In this type of racing everyone pitches in everywhere.  One pit stop you fuel, the next you man the fire extinguisher, the next you drive, then you rest.  You might not be the best at every job, but at least take a turn to understand the job and appreciate the people who do it every day. George Kalogridis started at Disney resorts bussing tables.  Today he is the president of Walt Disney World Resorts.


Itchin To Win Pit Stop
Scott Gets In The RX-7

GatorORama 14 patch small

Who Do You Listen Too?

One thing there is not shortage of is advice.  Everywhere you go there are people who have ideas, opinions and you guessed it, advice.
So how do you know what advice is good?
For over a year I took business advice from a guy who had all of the “trappings of success”.  New car, wife didn’t work, she just spent all day in the gym, new house and all the toys.
24 months later he was out of business.  Fortunately I figured out his advice was just regurgitated nonsense from business magazine articles written by people who’ve never run a business.
The truth is you don’t until you follow someones advice and you figure out it is good or bunk.
I have a simple rule now that has worked quite well.  Be careful who You listen too.  If they aren’t at least three times more successful than I am in a given area,  I listen, file and move on.   Now if I can’t verify the measure of success I ignore it.
When I wanted advice on writing better books, I sought out Brian Tracy, a best selling author of books similar to mine.
When I wanted to learn how to make more money in Real Estate, I went to a guy making millions of dollars each year in Real Estate and Millions more as a speaker and teacher.  Most of those “gurus” make money selling information, not doing what they sell.
All of the easy guide books are the result of a process to get something done.  If I couldn’t make it work easy, I didn’t bother to write a book about it.
So, next time someone is offering you advice, make sure it actually worked for them.  It will save you a lot of time and money.

Are You TCB or Just Too Busy?

TCB, what is it? Well I’ll get to that.

If you are like most people you have an iPod or iPhone or Mp3 player that you listen to music with. If not you probably listen to music in the car.

Have you ever missed an offramp singing along to a song? Or has your mind drifted to another place from the song?  That happened to me today.  On my morning run to the lifeguard headquarters and back the Dire Straights song “Calling Elvis” came on.  For some reason my brain went straight to the museum across from Graceland and I was thinking about the tail on Elvis’ airplane.

The tail has a lightning bolt and the letters T,C and B. The letters stand for “taking care of business”.  The rest of my run, I wondered how many people would be taking care of business today, and how many would just be busy.  There is a difference you know.

There are dozens if not hundreds of books written on productivity. Some of my recent favorites include Gary Keller’s the one thing,  Donald, Trumps “Think Like a Champion“, Robert Coopers, “Get  Out of Your Own Way“, and Bill Taylor’s “Mavericks at Work”.

All of these books have a simple underlying theme with Gary Keller’s “The One Thing” is the only one that states it directly.  Even Stephen Covey’s landmark book about the “Seven Habits” only states it as one of the seven habits. Gary Keller claims that one habit is the one thing you must do to achieve success.

So what is it?

Elvis called it “taking care of business”. But what does that really mean and how do you go to work for you?

Ironically we see this in other people quite easily, and have a hard time looking in the mirror and seeing the same thing.

When they do it we call it wasting time. People who have long to do list and start checking the little boxes starting the easy ones first and then moving towards the harder ones and end up leaving them for another day are the ones who are “just busy.”

Don’t be just busy, Busy work is a killer of success just like perfection the enemy of greatness.

Taking care of business means doing the things that move you forward. Stephen Covey called it:”Putting first things first”, Gary Keller called it “The one thing”. Either way if you can accomplish one important thing every day that gives you towards your goals you will get there.

The most important thing is to be moving forward. Being busy is just moving.  Just moving doesn’t matter, It is like a dog spinning circles to figure out where they’re going to sleep.  You’ve seen this they don’t go anywhere.  Dogs don’t have goals.  You do.  Moving forward however keeps you moving towards the goal.

I can already hear you saying that is easier said than done. For most people that is true and with a little discipline anyone can do it.

My tool? A white board of course. Just to the left my desk. Is a pretty good-sized whiteboard filled with notes. Notes about possible books, Notes about projects around the house, Notes about potential blogs and the list reminding me of the critical elements of writing.

The leftmost column of my whiteboard is labeled one thing. There is a large space and each day only one task makes into that space. If it is not a test that can be accomplished in one day, That breakdown into a series of smaller tasks so that whatever is written in the box can be accomplished in one day.

Below that is the supporting tasks. Not many, maybe four or five. These are all things that will help me move forward, Or need to get done with work around the house. If I don’t accomplish them they don’t hold me back and it’ll keep me spinning in circles.

Once in a while is supporting that it becomes important enough that it becomes the one thing, But that is very rare. Most important is that no busywork gets on either list.

I like to think of the list like the answer residing in the envelope held up with a great Carnac. And the question is always the same. “What can I do to move a little closer to my goal today?”

If the item on the list doesn’t fit that question it gets erased with a simple swipe of the thumb.

So, are you taking care of business today?



Get this post in a podcast here.

Are You a Trailblazer? Do You Know One?

Are You a Trailblazer? And no not the basketball team, a real trailblazer.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend whom I haven’t seen in 30 years. Yup that is a little while, and we talked about the differences in our lives. The conversation started because of a remark an african-american friend made. He said we were both granted a pass to start life “on third base” because we were caucasian.

I don’t really understand the analogy, because being born on third base is no guarantee of making it home, and starting on home plate (and being an american) doesn’t mean you can’t make it to home plate, even if the white guy on third gets tagged out.  In fact the guy who made the comment is doing very well, and has been for a long time.

We started comparing our lives to each others and to the life of the guy who inspired the conversation.

My childhood friend is doing what he expected to be doing, basically working with 2.5 kids and surviving in the same area we grew up in. We live just 5 miles apart.  Out of the chute we both went into the military, he stayed in the 4 year minimum got married and got out.  He eventually divorced and re-married.  A pretty typical scenario.  Most of his life he didn’t make any waves.

I went a different direction.  I stayed single until I was in my late 20’s.  I almost made it to 30 as my Dad had suggested.  I also studied military life and learned the rules so I could bend them.  My friend had played by the rules, had one job and got out.  I got on the base marksmanship team because that was a way to leapfrog ahead quickly.  That was just the beginning.  Sadly I wasn’t smart enough to follow that pattern at every turn in my life.

These days I am still a little stunned at the life that I am blessed with.  I often wonder why others don’t do what I have done.  Or try to do what I am trying to do.  At the end of our conversation my friend made a very profound statement. He said “It doesn’t matter where you start, it only matters how you run the race. I settled for a spot very early and you kept running. I envy you for that.”

I don’t know if I kept running, but I do know that I never stopped moving. It wasn’t always moving forward though. For a while, I went in circles because my head was firmly placed where the sun don’t shine. I think I have done the “pop” maneuver and pulled it out. If I haven’t please sound off.

One thing I am pretty good at is seeing through the chaff and keeping a clear view of the target. I learned this at Ridgewood Military academy and fine tuned this skill at Army-Navy in Carlsbad and later in the Air Force. In life being able to quickly ignore the “chaff” and move to the target is a valuable skill.  To some my ability to cut through the story to the essence quickly makes me a bit annoying or “anti social”.  I am working on that, but I just don’t see the need to waste the time, I would rather go play.  I have always been like that.

As a kid the chores I hated where the ones that were time based like watering the grass.  15 minutes for each area and my dad would time it.  If I cut each area short by one minute, I figured I could go 5 minutes early to play.  I only took that shortcut once.

My friend also said something interesting.  He called me a “trailblazer”.  He had never seen me fail or give up on anything.  I have given up, and I have failed.  Some failures were massive and expensive lessons.  The conversation turned when he admitted that he wants to know how to latch on and catch back up or at least follow my trajectory.

The funny thing is that he might just be on to something. You don’t need to be a trailblazer to accelerate your life. The truth is I really am not. I do know how to find them so I can eliminate the time wasters and keep moving.

Early in my life I thought it was important to do it all myself. Now I know learning from the school of hard knocks sucks. You just need to know one trailblazer you can grab on too and follow. The truth is I didn’t do any of this on my own. As a kid, Forest Sherman and Grady Griswold took me under their wing, they were my early trailblazers. In the Air Force, Lester Esparza, Bob Silva and Emanual Jauquin kept me on the right track. They were my later trailblazers.

At Stanford, Apple and AirTouch other people taught me more about how to move forward quickly and overcome what looked like insurmountable obstacles.

While I lived in Texas I got ahead of myself  and tried to run a company all by myself.  I fell pretty much flat on my face. The school of hard knocks kicked my butt.

As I shared my biggest failure with my friend, he was confused.  How did I recover so quickly from that failure.  He said it would have devastated him.

For some reason people forget that we really do live in the land of opportunity.  You can fail, and recover.  That is the secret, you have to recover.  Some can work harder to recover faster, others can continue to fall until they hit bottom.

The best rewards in my life are watching people get a direction and start moving forward.  My nephew is not even 15 and is already a better musician than I could ever be.  He plays bass in a band and is an up and coming rockstar.  He has the potential to be amazing.  Getting an email from a client after a Yelp! inquiry that said “I responded but we are booked solid until September” brings a little more happiness to my world.

Am I a trailblazer?  I don’t know about that but I do know that I don’t take no for an answer, and most of the time I keep pushing even if it isn’t quite pushing forward.  Giving in leads to giving up and that leads no where.  I want to go somewhere even if I don’t know were “somewhere” is.   Don’t you?

Your possibilities are endless. The question is, will you be a trailblazer or hire one so you can make your possibilities into probabilities?


Scott Driving Rust Bucket One
Scott Driving Rust Bucket One