About 10 weeks ago, I called up an executive at one of our major television networks and asked if I could buy him a coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I know being able to do this is huge in itself, but he has been a mentor of mine for the past 5 years and we usually check in every 6 months to see how everything is going.
This time, however, my intentions were different. I rang him at a time when I was so flat, I was almost jealous of a piece of paper. I asked to meet and go over everything I had been doing for the past 6 months in order see where I was going wrong. Was I on the right path? Which stuff was pointless? What was I missing?
I arrived at headquarters, where I was told by security that my friend’s PA would be down to get me… but 10 minutes later he showed up in reception himself! I told him I thought his PA was coming down, to which he said: “Nope! We’re going to have a coffee and we’re going to have it right here in the company’s cafe where everyone can see you laughing at my jokes!”.
This sort of advertising in this particular building is, of course, a blessing in disguise and we sat for at least 48minutes – a lot longer than his trademark 8-minute meetings!
I began with an apology for overpromising and underdelivering on an online project I worked on last year. We were meant to deliver 8 – 10 episodes but due to travel restraints and working visas in Asia, we have currently only delivered three. #embarrassing #careerbreaking #paidforit
I then moved on to everything I have been working on since then. Digital marketing, brand awareness, business strategies, home decor sales, new product designs, radio announcing, voice lessons, pitching new shoes, buying and selling property – EVERYTHING.
I asked if I was wasting my savings by working on any of these strands. I asked if I was wasting my time being loyal to the network. I asked if I was stupid to think roles I’m trained for would ever come my way due to them often going to other contenders.
He was so honest and positive about all my questions that even then, I could feel I was starting to wake up. There were some yes’s, there were some no’s, but pretty much, in general, there was a lot of: “Get over yourself Simpson, just keep going”.
He reminded me that when it comes to pitching a show, most of the time most people get a ‘no’ as their answer. Yet I, to date, have had some fantastic yes’s and only recently has it been a long string of no’s!
He then told me the best thing to do (which I already do and must continue to do) is ‘fail fast’. This means: if you have a great idea, pitch it as an option – if it doesn’t work, move on and come up with the next great idea.
Naturally, this man knows me better than I know myself and asked what idea I had next. Of course, I had one up my sleeve. In fact, that evening, we were going to shoot a pilot and I just needed some advice on who to take it to. Then and there, my friend got his phone out and sent an email connecting me to the commissioner, stating in the header: “Erin has the next big thing” – he hadn’t even heard my pitch yet! – “Please meet with her and her producer NEXT WEEK to go over it”.
It was at that moment adrenaline (the key element my body thrives on that had been missing for weeks) rushed back into my body! I left that coffee catch up thanking my friend and feeling alive, motivated and if I’m honest – praying this idea was as good as I’d promised it would be.
That very weekend, the production company and I filmed a pilot off our own backs, edited it overnight and pitched it to the commissioner as best we knew how! Well, what do you know – they said YES! They said YES and that they bloody loved it and let’s work out how to make this all happen!
In that same week, two other pitches came through with a yes; a magazine said yes to me being their columnist and Stuff.co.nz said they wanted to work out ways we can make amazing videos for our online content.
I know this probably sounds arrogant, but that’s not my intention. I want to say: “Shit life is hard!”. The hustle is REAL and when you’re running your own business it’s up to you to motivate those around you, every day. But when you run out of motivation yourself, where do you get it back from? It took the man who technically pays my bills, to take time out and give a damn! I respect his friendship and our working relationship so much that I never went to him sooner as I simply thought I was being a hassle.
If you could take anything away from this please reach out to your mentors so much more – even just to buy them a coffee. They are leaders for a reason and they have these huge hearts of gold!
And yes, if you missed the big news – there is a new show! It’s coming in September, so excuse me if this blog is short as there’s quite a lot to get done before then!