zen assistant

Get to Do vs. Have to Do

A quick thought today:

I recently got a puppy. His name is Deefer.


Turns out puppies don’t come out of the box with operating instructions and batteries included. It requires a lot of work to figure them out. You also have to:

  • Walk ‘em
  • Snuggle with ‘em
  • And clean up its shit

I love him. Which doesn’t change the fact, however, that for the last 28 years my only agenda has been the climb. My sole focus for the past 4 years has been moving to LA, getting my first Hollywood job, and when I did that, surviving the 80-hour weeks.

Deefer quite frankly, doesn’t care.

When he wants to play, he plays.

When he wants to eat, he eats.

And when he needs to go bathroom, I better take him for a walk. [click to continue…]

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

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

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…]

Why You Shouldn’t Pay Your Dues

We’re all paying our dues.

Just read any “millennial struggle” article, about the challenges in breaking in, standing out, or moving up.

Like, this one in the NY Times:

This is especially true in more creative fields, whether it is filmmaking or publishing. “It’s fashion,” said Dawn Joyce, 24, when asked why she has gone through four internships since 2010. Those include unpaid stints at a major fashion magazine, where she mingled with Zooey Deschanel and Julianne Moore at photo shoots, and at a public relations firm, where she held front-row seats for late-arriving celebrities like Selena Gomez. “I consider myself to be pretty jaded already.”

“I have seen a lot of people beside me quit,” Ms. Joyce added. “It’s sort of like, ‘Let’s see who lasts the longest.’ ”

Yes, the industry is tough.

Yes, it’s easy to feel jaded.

Ms. Joyce sees internships as the endurance test to pay her dues.

Which is a mistake. She shouldn’t be paying her dues. 

I’ll explain what I mean, but first here’s what I don’t mean..

[click to continue…]