My husband, Kyle, is a hockey agent. My little sister, Erica, is a movie/television casting director. Both of their jobs are about finding talented people and putting them in the right place(s) to maximize that talent. As everyone in the world has talent in some shape or form (not just related to acting or men’s hockey), I am going to share the one piece of advice that they both regularly give because it basically works across the board. And as my talent is stretching a story long beyond its necessity, I shall do that, as well.
Half of Kyle’s job is finding hockey players to represent in his agency. He does this by going to a billion hockey games a year. In the old days I would go with him and say, “I like that #21. He’s zippy.” To which Kyle would say, “He’s pretty good but isn’t watching the puck. I like #9 because he’s smart and makes plays happen.” And then I would say, “No, #9 takes too long to get off the ice on a shift change.” Then we would fast-forward ten years into the future and #9 would be playing for the Boston Bruins and #21 would be happily and zippily living his life not in the NHL.
The other half of Kyle’s job is taking those #9’s of the world and developing them into professional players. He does that through a billion phone calls a day to coaches, scouts, leagues, parents, and players. Agents are usually lawyers because of contract negotiations and the NHL CBA, so sometimes those calls are the stereotypical business transactions that we all know and love. Other times it’s the type of conversation you’d imagine you would have with a 17-year-old boy like this:
Player: Can you find out if I can get my girlfriend into the game?
Kyle: Sure. What’s her name?
Player: [pause] Taylor something?
Like Kyle, Erica spends half of her day on the phone with agents, producers, directors, and other casting directors working to match up the exact right actor to a role so that you and I, the viewers, will be transformed into the virtual world provided by them. If you’ve seen – I dunno, basically every story ever told about acting – you’ll know that actors will do whatever it takes to get those roles. This means sometimes my sister will have conversations like this:
Erica: I’d love to use so-and-so for a part. It says here that she lives full-time in North Carolina; is that correct?
Erica: Great, because they need her on set at 9am on Wednesday.
Agent: Actually, she’s only in North Carolina over the lunch hour every-other week. Can they postpone the shoot until next month?
The other half of Erica’s time is used for finding those actors. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that she does this by watching a LOT of content. Some of that content comes through casting sessions. I once got to sit with her while she reviewed a bunch of very, very good-looking (and completely identical) men for a boy toy-type character for the series lead. After about the twelfth super-hot guy did a bang-up job reading the three-sentence script, I said to her, “I don’t know how you’re going to pick the best one; I’d say hire them all and let them say one word each,” and she said, “The second actor is perfect for this role.” The producers cast him, and he must have been perfect for other roles, too, because I see him on TV every once in a while.
Anyways, one of the most common questions both Erica and Kyle hear on a regular basis is this: “How can I get noticed?” They both have the same answer: Go out and do good work and people will find you.
Their point is that you can’t make something happen for yourself if you’re not making things happen for yourself. Or, in other words, get somethin’ done.
In Minneapolis, there are a few teams that get a lot of scout and agent attention, but not every good player has the resources to join them. One of those players decided that he wouldn’t be held back by this fact, and (politely) called Kyle a bunch of times while we were on vacation (I was happy about this, as you can imagine) to ask if he would come watch his game when Kyle got home. Over the next couple of years this kid had setback after setback – the hockey program was cut at the first college he committed to, for example – but he always kept his great attitude and work ethic and used every opportunity on the ice to get somethin’ done. Now he’s the top scorer on his college team and on his way to a pro contract.
Here’s another one: Erica once saw a little hole-in-the-wall stage play in Los Angeles and liked one of the actors so much that two years later she recommended him to another casting director for a movie lead and now he’s such an actual, legit superstar that I don’t dare put any details or his name in this because I’m afraid his lawyers will get me.
I am sometimes asked for marketing advice by friends who are in the early stages of building a business. As both a marketing director and someone who loves telling people what to do, I will give them said advice. Roughly 80% of the time, my friends will say, “Oh, no, I can’t do that. I have this excuse and that excuse and this very good excuse and this REALLY good excuse.” To which I’ll say, “Get somethin’ done.”
If you’ve been feeling held back, use this last month of the year to go out and do good work for yourself. Baby steps are still steps, hole-in-the-wall theaters are still opportunities, and one setback does not equal failure. Then email me and tell me what you did; I look forward to sending you my favorite thumbs-up meme.
As I noted, it’s Kyle (and Erica)’s job to find people, which means that I have spent many date nights and vacations “just popping in for a period” of a hockey game to check out the players. The photo above is one of such pop-ins. (By the way, if you’re ever looking for a scout or an agent in a crowd, their unofficial uniform is usually a black wool coat.)
This week’s news has a daily story, 5,000 pounds of sneakers, and somethin’ for the singles ladies (and men). Read on.
Fargo’s Amanda Grant reads a children’s book online every day at 2pm. (Fargo Forum)
Concordia Lutheran Church in Jamestown handed out 742 Thanksgiving meals this year. (Jamestown Sun)
Minot’s Melissa Maasjo has been redistributing used clothing and household items to 20-30 families weekly. (Minot Daily News)
WalletHub has named Fargo and Bismarck on the top 100 “Best Cities in Which to be Single.” (KX Net)
White Shield’s Monte Yellow Bird Sr., a member of the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa nation, recently participated in the Dubai Art Expo with a piece “that spoke specifically to the spirit of peace and conversation shared by the native peoples of North America and the Arab World.” (Minot Daily News)
The Lake Region Figure Skating Club is holding a “no-purchase” fundraiser in order to collect 5,000 pounds of athletic shoes. (Devils Lake Journal)