Last week was a very difficult week for me, as I had to visit an ailing friend in Los Angeles, someone I was quite sure I would never see again after I came home.
Being that this was a West Coast trip and I am in New York , I always try to fit in as much as I possible can, as it is difficult to jump on planes for twelve hours only to jump back again for another twelve hours a few days or weeks later to fit in whoever or whatever I missed. It also becomes quite expensive.
Not Just My Friend
The truth is, my ailing friend is not just a dear friend but is also my literary agent, and after having the same agent for eleven years, I knew that I was also in dire need of finding new representation while I was out there. My friend has been fighting a long battle with brain cancer quite heroically, having endured three brain surgeries, battled courageously through chemotherapy, radiation and rigorous physical therapy to try to teach himself to walk and talk again, and he had been successful in putting the cancer in remission each time, however the cancer always seemed to creep back the moment we thought it was gone for good.
Career-wise, I have put all of my projects on hold for the last few years since he has been sick as opposed to looking for new representation, as I had high hopes he would make a recovery and be back in the office wheeling and dealing before I knew it! Unfortunately, that will not come to pass… I also felt as if I would sound like I was giving up on him if I looked for new representation while he was sick… And I was not going to give up on him, as he has done too much for me and has meant too much to me.
On the other hand, now knowing that he was not coming back, it was a very tricky situation as there was quite a bit of a push and pull, as I was both heartbroken over watching my ailing friend wither away, while at the same time from a career standpoint, I knew how imperative it was to find new representation as he is the only agent I have ever known and, for any of you in the literary and film industry, you know that things have changed quite dramatically as of late. It is also an extremely ‘closed’ industry and my friend (agent) had the ticket to the open doors.
I struggled mightily with this feeling as I felt I was being very selfish by thinking about my own needs when I should be thinking about him 100%. At the same time, however, I have been writing, filming and directing for fifteen years so I have spent nearly a third of my life dedicated to this profession, having done most of it in the early mornings and late nights while running my own businesses in the fashion industry during the day. My point is, I have sacrificed my entire personal life to these endeavors (quite possibly the reason I am not married with kids as of yet!)
Confused, Frustrated and Depressed
So here I was, running around Los Angeles trying to both spend as much time possible with my agent, while at the same time, trying to find new representation to bring my literary career back to life. It just so happened a major highway was closed last week and it made it impossible to jump around from one place to the other (it is very hard to do that anyway in LA).
I came back to the hotel one night flustered and frustrated as I felt I tried to do so much that day when in reality, accomplished nothing at all. I remember parking on a side street trying to decide which way to turn. Go to my agent or find an agent? Fortunately, I believe I made the right choice to see my agent, however, when I was finished I actually had a chance to see a new, prospective agent but I was so depressed from seeing my friend lying there in hospice that I didn’t even go. So here I was back at the hotel.
I reached out to a friend back East. I texted him, “Hey.” This is my mayday code for, “Hey, I need some help,” as 99% of the time it is a “Hey, how are you?” which is a genuine code that I actually want to see how that person is. This time it was me who needed help.
My friend reached out and I told him about my frustration, confusion and depression. He gave me one piece of advice, which I will never forget. He told me, “You need to starve your ego, and feed your soul.” The funny thing is, just a few days before another friend gave me the same advice when I was flustered when I first got to LA and here I was hearing it again. He elaborated, “Spend time with your agent. Feed your soul.”
So that’s what I did for the rest of my trip. I fed my soul. The irony is, the moment I took my attention away from ‘the ego’ to try to get a new agent, funny thing would have it, when I went to see my agent, two producers I knew from when I first met my agent over a decade ago (and also happen to be big fans of my writing), joined me in my visit and the four of us (me, the two producers and my agent) had a great time laughing and smiling for hours, telling stories and reminiscing about the past. A few hours I will never forget.
… So I guess as karma would have it, that ‘representation’ I was chasing actually came to me in a beautiful way by the bedside of my ailing friend. What an incredible lesson.
First We Were Human…
We must remember that before being entrepreneurs, we are human beings. We can be human beings without being entrepreneurs, but we cannot be entrepreneurs without being human beings first, right?
Knowing this, we know what our first priority is, thus we need to think with our hearts first and our pockets a very distant second (if not third or fourth). We also must know our purpose for being entrepreneurs, as if we think it is money, we will never be happy. We must love what we do. As they say, if you we love our work, we are not working.
Send The Elevator Back Down
Most importantly, provided you have purpose and achieve success, it is your requirement to send the elevator back down to the aspiring entrepreneur who is ready to start on the path you have paved. That is your obligation, in case you didn’t know.
My question for you today is: What have you fed today? If it is your ego, It’s ok. It happens, I am the first to admit it. But what can you change today to feed your soul?