Follow by Email

What I learned in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Last weekend I attended the APCA Northeast Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I made a bunch of new friends and I’d like to introduce you to one of them.

I’d like you to meet Milton Hershey. He’s 28 years old. He loves candy and the process of candy-making. He has no high school education. He’s $150 in debt to his aunt and his father wants nothing to do with him. He’s broke. He has already started three businesses in his short life and failed each time. 

What’s a Hershey to do?

He decided to learn. He picked himself up. He apprenticed. He observed. He brushed himself off. He tried again.

Hershey started pouring himself into a company he started called the Lancaster Caramel Company. Within a few years he found success. By the age of 43 he sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for 1 million dollars (in 1900). The next company he started was the Hershey Chocolate Company, where he used all of his previous failings and successes to create the iconic Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar and the Hershey Kiss. 

Milton Hershey’s backstory is tremendously important because we tend to focus on the endpoint, the triumphant part of the story, the part where he owned a billion dollar chocolate company. But what about the path he took to get to success? We’d like to paint that path as a long straight line when it really is a long and winding zig-zagged path. 

Research. Create. Fail. Learn. Readjust. Repeat.
Research. Create. Fail. Learn. Readjust. Repeat.
Research. Create. Fail. Learn. Readjust. Repeat.
Research. Create. Fail. Learn. Readjust. Repeat.
Research. Create. Fail. Learn. Readjust. Succeed. 

Winning with Story: A How-to for Branding, Customer Service, and Interpersonal Relationships

I had this thought while reading a friend’s inspirational blog this week:

“Stories are the way we make sense of the divine in ourselves in a manner that makes sense to one another.”

My takeaway as it relates to writing in this space?
  • Find a way to give them your story before you give them your headshot.
  • Find a way to give them your story before you give them your sales pitch.
  • Find a way to give them your story before you get into bed with them.
  • Find a way to give them your story before you give them your resume.
  • Find a way to give them your story before you send out that Facebook blast.
Take the time to make the relationship. Your experience with your client, fan-base, significant other, or prospective boss will not only exist it will be richer, fuller, and last longer. Hell, you might even enjoy it.

*this post was originally written for my blog The Arts Entrepreneur (I borrowed it from myself ;) ) 

A Cure for Writer’s Block

Writers block—the bane of grant-writers, students of every age and size, speechwriters, authors, and playwrights everywhere. How do we get over it on with our lives?

Fear not...I have a few methods that will save the day.

Keep writing....even if it’s crap...even if it doesn’t make sense....even if you create a bunch of run-on sentences with mispeleled words ;)

Read other people’s work. You have to take a break eventually. Check out what other people are doing. Go see a movie or a play.

Mindset. No self-fulfilling prophesies about how you’ll never get over this or how you’re the worst writer in the world. This too shall pass...and it’ll pass quicker if you pull out the inefficient weeds of negativity inside your brain.

Carry something with you to take notes. An i-pad, smartphone, voice recorder, or small notepad will do. Brilliance doesn’t just come to you sitting in front of the keyboard. It comes in a board meeting, a power walk, or a trip to the coffee shop. 

Exercise regularly. Get the blood flowing. Get away from the computer for a little while. Go canoeing. Play some basketball. Bring your notepad just in case.

These are just a few. Other resources like a Thesaurus, Google, and a hot shower have also been known to do the trick. Now get out there and write something incredible (after you’ve written me to say hello). 

Secrets to Success: Passion and Perseverance

Over the past month or so I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a few denizens of the solo-play arena, those rare artists who get on stage and perform a singular or plethora of characters, a play, or a monologue—in the vein of John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and that socially awkward weirdo that shows up to open-mic night at your local coffee shop. 

Each artist I met with was at a different stage of their career but each wanted to know, “Josh, man, how are you doing it? How are you getting your show booked all over the place? What’s the secret?”

I’m going to defer to Steve Jobs in just a minute. But the secret to any delicious and prize-winning Success Sauce are two ingredients: Passion and Perseverance. 

Your sauce is going to look and taste different than mine. But if it’s going to win the blue ribbon at the fair, you must infuse your recipe with Passion and Perseverance.

Why? I’ll give you an example. I love what I do. I have a passion for it. Because I love it, I will persevere

Now, I can persevere for a short time without passion, but generally I will give up if I don’t love what I’m doing. That’s called being stubborn.

I can have passion for something but not persevere. But that’s called a hobby.

If you can find that magic combo of both passion and perseverance, you’ll find a way to make great art and then find a way for the world to experience it. 

But don’t take my word for it (Cue the Reading Rainbow music). Here’s a minute-long clip of Steve Jobs talking about passion and perseverance: CLICK HERE