My brilliant idea to move to Los Angeles was followed by the same course of action that follows all brilliant ideas: a Google search.
To see who came before me, to learn from my predecessors, and to steal from their ideas so I wouldn’t have to put in the hard work of thinking for myself.
What I found was this barrage of overly cautious Debbie downers warning me that Californian unemployment had never been higher, California wages never lower, and I should save at least $10k – $20k.
Oh, and to “wait until the economy improved” before moving.
It’s paralyzing when Google spouts this kind of search result, all these known external factors I (and no one) have control over, not to mention the dozen unknown factors lying in the wings, ready to strike when least expected. (Looking back, this naivete probably worked in my favor: understanding the mechanics of how the entertainment industry would only exasperate my unease.)
My turning point came when I read this line, written by Seth Godin:
“At 22-years-old, they decided to risk everything (which amounted to nothing) and left.”
No, not everyone’s 22-years-old, and feels like they have their whole life lying before them. I certainly did not, when I first read this line in Boot Strapper’s Manifesto, but it makes you ask yourself, “what am I really giving up? What’s the worst that could really go wrong?”
If I fight broke and lose, how can I recover? How long would that take?
When I thought about the problem this way, I realized I needed to stop thinking about all the things I couldn’t control, and focus my attention on what I could control:
I can’t control unemployment, hiring freezes, or what other people think.
But I could adjust my mentality towards work. I could be willing to take any job, any time, to make money. I could work for free, and work in a manner that couldn’t be ignored. Until then, I could always wait tables, or tend bar, to hold me over until that happened (or they paid me to go away.)
I can’t control wages. I can’t wag my finger at the economy, and demand it improve.
I could, however, improve my cash flow, aka cut every extraneous expenditure till tides turned. If this means taking on a roommate, so be it. If it meant eating a lot of pasta, I’d stock up at Trader Joe’s. Or if I had to forgo paying for Internet, I’d steal Wifi from Starbucks.
What we’re really talking about here is comfort zone.
How far out of yours are you willing to come, what are you willing to sacrifice, and for how long?
My friend Jeff moved to Los Angeles with only the promise of an unpaid internship at a production and management company. No source of income, no car, no connections. He took the bus to work, four days a week. He lived in what basically consisted of a converted hotel room, without a kitchen, for his first seven months. But he stuck it out, and today he’s the Lit Coordinator with the same management company.
Jeff is only a single example, one lonely data point in a field of thousands who flock to Los Angeles. It’s easier to come up with the dozens of examples of people who moved out here for a few months, and couldn’t get the cash in < cash out situation balanced, and left. Moving to Los Angeles, and then making it in Los Angeles costs money, afterall, but everyday people get started out here without much of it.