The Year In Review

50 Things I Learned in 2012 – somewhat in order.

  1. The Achilles’ tendon of 40-something year old men are very likely to snap during pick-up basketball games.
  2. Traveling on crutches alone via airplane is ill advised.
  3. However, if you do travel on crutches alone via airplane, you’ll find that there are a lot of people offering to help you, and many of them will be outside your normal circle of interaction, which will both humble you and open your eyes in much needed ways.
  4. Everyone on crutches will stop and say hi to someone else on crutches.
  5. New York is not a crutches friendly town in general.
  6. There is TV talent and Online Video talent and they are usually not the same people.
  7. This is because Online Video is a new medium and what works elsewhere doesn’t necessarily translate.
  8. If you spend the $$$ on a location, then you should shoot that location in all its glory — otherwise, save your money.
  9. Reading off a TelePrompTer is a very particular talent that not everyone possesses.
  10. When the camera turns on, most people turn off. Children, babies, dogs and cats will pretty much do whatever they want to on camera. If you get a good take, them you’ve done a good days work.
  11. Write action very specifically in your scripts.
  12. Unless you plant to wing it, then make sure you are working with people who can wing it well.
  13. Editing is a precise (and tedious) craft, and a good editor covers a multitude of sins.
  14. You will always need a pick-up day (a day to shoot things you either missed or didn’t know you’d need), but don’t sweat it. Build it into the process.
  15. There is nothing better for your film than a good crew – assuming you already have a good script.
  16. A director’s primary job–and any leader really–is to ensure that everyone is making the same movie.
  17. There is no such thing as over-communicating. The best selling book of all time (the Bible) is very repetitive.
  18. Most of your work life will be spent solving problems – this becomes truer the farther your progress in your career and the problems just get more complex.
  19. So, learn to love solving problems – step one is having the right attitude toward it.
  20. If you expect them and also expect that your team can solve any of them that arise, then you’ll find it (more often than not) to be true.
  21. Money won’t solve all problems, but it will be a key part of solving many of them.
  22. The rest will need creativity. There’s nothing like constraints–lack of time or money–to spark creative solutions to problems.
  23. Problem-solving is like the ‘word problems’ from math and science, except in the work world, you first have to figure out and get everyone to agree to the problem you are trying to solve.
  24. There is no writing, there is only rewriting.
  25. Rewriting is hard work, and very necessary. Learn to love rewriting.
  26. According to some research I heard about, being slightly irritated puts your brain in the right frame for good editing and critical thought. So, don’t keep yourself from being annoyed by another rewrite, it’s probably getting you in the right frame of mind.
  27. A good editor is a writer’s secret weapon. If you find one, then do not let them go.
  28. There’s enough space in the world for two books about the same topic. This might seem like a no-brainier until you find out someone already wrote the book you are working on. Then it becomes an issue to wrestle through.
  29. A great book is more than a work of art. It is a miracle. Meaning that it is beyond your ability to produce. Other factors outside of your control must bring their influences to bear on the work.
  30. So, don’t worry about it, and just create.
  31. Doing the work is the hardest part. Everything that comes before is merely preparation, everything that comes after is out of your control. So, just do the work.
  32. You know when it is right. Don’t stop until you reach that point. Even if it takes 200 times. Do it until you know it is right.
  33. It matters to get things right.
  34. A name is one of the most important parts of a new company. Getting the name right is worth all of the time, effort and money you invest in it.
  35. A good name sets you on a trajectory and will either tether you to the earth or help you escape orbit. Get a good name.
  36. Good creative partners make everything they touch better and the best ones make you perform better as well.
  37. It is easy to be critical at a distance. It is much harder standing in the room, face-to-face. Be in the room as much as you can. You’ll be more empathetic.
  38. In execution, the details are everything. Ride herd over those details as much as possible because the next folks down the line (more than likely) won’t care as much as you do. Stay involved until it’s done/live/printed/distributed.
  39. If someone offers you their cats to be in your video, don’t assume they will like the crew.
  40. If you believe in it, think it is the right thing to do and that it ought to exist in the world, then you will probably have to fight for it. Expect this and do it. Otherwise it won’t exist.
  41. Bringing something new into the world takes an incredible effort. But fight graciously.
  42. Steal Like An Artist. Thank you Austin Kleon for writing an amazing book with this title. (Buy it)
  43. Seriously, creativity is mostly theft. Steal well. As in steal from the best. Your filter will be the new thing you add.
  44. Pre-production (or prepping for anything) is way more important than you ever think it is, it is the easiest part to short-change or outright ignore, but you’ll never regret one minute spent preparing.
  45. Being well prepared frees up your brain to be alert to little spontaneous moments on the day that will be the real magic.
  46. Ask your team to do the impossible and they will surprise you & they will appreciate you believing in them.
  47. If you are leading a team you will need a right hand and a left hand person who can keep you on track and the project going forward. Trust them and listen to them.
  48. Take risks that scare you – not ones that might hurt you or others – but ones that make you quake in your shoes. You won’t grow without it.
  49. There are some things you will commit to do because it is the right thing to do, but you shouldn’t always try and anticipate what the impact on you will be because if you do, you’ll talk yourself out of it. Better just to say ‘yes’ and let the chips fall where they may.
  50. Life pulses. We need to surge ahead and then take regular pauses before the next surge. It’s like our heart beat. It can race for a while, but most of the time it needs to operate nearer our resting heart rate. I have a rate at which I operate best and my life needs to run at that pulse.

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