If It Doesn’t Hurt You’re Not Doing It Right

personal stories, random thoughts, relationships

The other day, I went to a lawyer networking dinner in Pasadena with my girlfriend, Amy. She asked me to be her date: to rub elbows and drink blended margaritas with too much ice and not enough tequila.

She asked… expecting me to decline.

Because most of the time, that’s what I do.

Amy knows me better than I know myself.

She knows what it means when I get quiet… or talk too loudly… she knows EXACTLY what I’m thinking when someone starts talking about what “they deserve” (e.g, a good job, a good salary) after earning a piece of paper after four years of delaying the real world.

So she knows when she asks if I want to go do something (drink blended margaritas, go to the beach, eat froyo) I’ll act like I’m considering it… but what I’m really doing is opportunity cost calculus.

Here’s what that calculus looked like when she asked me to this dinner:

  • “Well, I’ll take an hour train ride into downtown Los Angeles where she’ll pick me up

  • Then it’ll be a half-hour drive to Pasadena

  • We’ll be meeting these people who aren’t in my industry, so it’s unlikely any long-term relationships will come out of it

  • (plus they’ll probably be way older than us)

  • We’ll eat food, make small talk, listen to some speeches for two hours

  • Then get in the car and drive 30 minutes back home

  • At which point it’s 9 p.m., and I know I can’t work after 8…”

“So going to this event = an opportunity cost of 4 hours of work.”

Then I think: “Well, shit, 4 hours is lot, to hang out with a bunch of people I’m never going to see again…”

This happens in the pause after Amy finishes her sentence.

She catches it (and I catch her catching it). It happens in a blink but it’s still noticeable, like flicking on-and-off a light switch.

Opportunity cost calculus is something I do several times a day. It is, without a doubt, the thing I hate the most about myself. [click to continue…]

Guest Post About Haters and Why I’m a Nerd

moving to los angeles, personal stories

I shared my story about dealing with Haters & Naysayers before moving out to Los Angeles on the I’m Moving to LA blog.

This is the first time I’m publicly sharing this story. It’s not for everyone (e.g., haters, trolls, concern trolls, people surrounded by neg self-talk) but here are 3 reasons you should click over to read this guest post:

  • I’m Moving to LA is a great resource run by Justin Resario if you’re planning on moving to Los Angeles.

  • The advice is specific to moving to LA, but can be applied anytime you’ve decided to make some changes in your life: you want to dress differently, eat better, start going to the gym, etc.

  • Packed in that short post are 6 years worth of life lessons… and it’ll only take you 6 minutes to read (that includes finishing this post). Six years worth of lessons for 6 minutes? It’s a bargain, I promise.

Writing the actual post took me about 5 to 6 hours… I even copy edited it so that Justin’s editor didn’t have too much heavy lifting (if you read Fighting Broke, you know copy editing isn’t a strong suit of mine — HT to Heather for catching my numerous typos :)

But learning and capturing those lessons took the better part of 6 years.

What exactly do I mean by that?

First, I must point out:

[click to continue…]

Lose Battles, Win Wars: Lessons from Game of Thrones, Nikki Durkin and Miley Cyrus

career, moving to los angeles, personal stories

I’ve been procrastinating by watching a lot of GAME OF THRONES on Youtube. Sometimes it helps to watch Joffrey die — repeatedly — to remind yourself everything’s going to be okay.

“So, fuck you to those people.”

Yes, an actual GRRM quote. Badass.

(Sidenote: Procrastination is underrated. It can be used as part of your productivity once you study your own cognitive dissonance. Cal Newport has also pointed out that procrastination is often a signal from your mind that it’s not fully committed to your process or your goal — for a reason.)

In my tear of GoT clips, I rewatched this video of Tywin Lannister talking about how Robb Stark never lost a battle.

robb stark never lost a battle

 Of course (spoiler alert)… we know how that ends…

red wedding

 It’s possible to win every battle, yet still lose the war.

This idea resonated with me, especially after reading Nikki Durkin’s fantastic article My Startup Failed, and this is What It Felt Like in the Medium. Nikki said:

 ”The startup press glorify hardship. They glorify the Airbnb’s who sold breakfast cereal to survive, and then turned their idea into a multi-billion dollar business. You rarely hear the raw stories of startups that persevered but ultimately failed — the emotional roller coaster of the founders, and why their startups didn’t work out.”

The same thing happens to Hollywood in the media… But what stuck with me is this line from Nikki:

“And yet I failed. I won many battles but I lost the war.” [click to continue…]

How to Survive 80 Hours a Week as a Hollywood Assistant – Part Two

career, personal stories, quitting, zen assistant
work hair

In the last post, I wrote about Bobby’s Shitty Assistant Job (SAJ), and what he could do to reduce the number of hours he worked.

Today, I’ll cover the second part of Bobby’s question: what if your boss is unable to lessen hours and you’re being paid less than minimum wage?

(Although Bobby doesn’t say it, I’m going to work off the assumption that either: there’s no room for growth at the company, or he doesn’t want to grow within the company.)

That, by definition, is a SAJ. And there’s something so debilitating about feeling stuck in an SAJ that it just saps all the energy out from you, and makes you start questioning your contributions to society:

  • Is this all I’m good for?
  • Am I stuck here forever?
  • What would my parents and friends think?
  • I thought I’d be a millionaire by now — how’d this happen?

These questions send us into a downward spiral of blame and shame. It can take years to realize you’re stuck in a “sick system” (which Todd A eloquently expands upon here), where the only solution is quitting.

I covered quitting thoroughly in Fighting Broke. Today I’ll drill deeper into exactly what to do before you quit an SAJ.

First, though, I want to highlight someone’s downward spiral of blame and shame: my own. [click to continue…]

How to Survive 80 Hours a Week as a Hollywood Assistant – Part One

career, zen assistant

Bobby writes:

What if you are working 80 hours a week as an assistant and you don’t have enough time to pursue you’re own creative endeavors? I’ve tried talking to my boss about less hours but he says he’s unable to lessen the hours. I get paid less than minimum wage and can barely afford rent let alone save money for the equipment I need to buy. Any advice?

Bobby’s question is written as one problem, which I will eloquently sum up as:

I have a Shitty Assistant Job (SAJ). What can I do about it?

Bobby’s question is written as one problem, but if we examine it, we see he’s actually conflating three separate problems. To find a solution, we need to untangle the problems. It’s like trying to fix an “unlikable character” in a script — you can’t just add a Save the Cat moment, you have to find the root of what makes him unlikable.

In this post, I’m going to break down the three problems I see Bobby’s having, and give tips on how to tackle the first problem. [click to continue…]