Thursday, April 18, 2013

Time to get off the sofa....

Do you read biographies? If not, it is high time you do...or at least watch some on the Biography channel.

Watching or reading a Biography does not mean you wish to live your life vicariously through someone else who has "made it " big enough to warrant a biography. No, it is far more important than that. After wading through a few biographies you will find that there is a very strong theme that runs through most of them. It is that theme that we should be looking for, and seeking an understanding of that can be adapted to our own lives and our own success.

If you want to know how to become a rock star, read rock star biographies. A businessman? Read biographies. A great teacher...biographies. Every possible success can be found in Biographies.

And don't forget the old adage, do not reinvent the wheel. If you want to be successful, copy what successful people have done. I like biographies. But why do I find them so interesting?

Lets take a quick look at one person who has seen success....Danny DeVito.

Now Danny was the youngest of 3 children, having two sisters 16 years and 10 years older than him. (Maybe a change of life baby?) He was basically raised by his sisters, and went to work as a hair stylist in his sisters salon.

He was very good at it and was much in demand from the customers. His sister suggested he learn cosmetology and he decided that was a good idea, so looked for a make-up school. The only one was with an acting school and he had to qualify as an actor to do the classes in film makeup.

He liked acting so much that he went full time to acting school. He got a role in a small play where he met someone who would be significant in his career. That person was Michael Douglas, and they shared an apartment in New York until Michael Douglas got the gig with Streets of San Francisco. (Even though Douglas was in California he still sent his share of the rent back to DeVito who was still in New York.)

DeVito got his first break when he got a role in the Oscar winning move, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, with Jack Nicholson. Danny really expected that the amazing success and critical acclaim of this movie and his role would launch his career, but it was not to be. His career languished for many years, with the occasional bit parts and little else. His stature was an issue for him and he was even told that "nobody wants a 5"0" character actor".

At the age of 34 his career really started with a starring role in the TV show, Taxi. His stature and agressive New York style made him a very appealing character in a show with many stars. When Taxi finished its run after 4 or 5 years, DeVito was again unemployed with a career that appeared to be going nowhere.

But he refused to give up. He wanted to be more than just an actor. He also wanted to be a director and a producer. Michael Douglas was a significant part of the next step in his career. Wanting to produce a movie, Douglas got together with DeVito and did Romancing the Stone, such a huge hit that it was followed with Crown of the Nile. DeVito had really arrived now, and strung together a list of hits including his directorial debut in Throw Momma from the Train.

DeVito around this time was looking at Producing more movies and saw a film by a young relatively unknown director that he found so appealing that he paid the director $900k for the rights to produce the next movie that director was planning. The film that struck DeVito so much that he handed over $900k sight unseen for the next project, was Reservoir Dogs by the relatively unknown Quentin Tarrantino. His next movie, Pulp Fiction was a huge success, produced by DeVito's company.

OK. So, DeVito started as a hairdresser and become a multimillionaire film producer. Did he stop there? No.

He has now gone back to his roots and turned full circle to once again starring in a TV show, "It's always sunny in Philadelphia."

So what can we learn from this short biography of DeVito?

1. stature is more about who you are than how you look. At 5 foot tall DeVito lacks physical stature, but makes it up in ability, determinatioon, and creativity. Never think you can't do something because you are too tall, too short, to heavy, too light, too dark, too white, too bald etc etc. The only people who think that are those willing to live by other people's rules. Live by your own and you never know how you can change the world.

2. every person you meet is a possible ally for you. Never assume that the person you are talking too is not someone who can help you in the future. Treat everyone as if they are important to you, as a person first, and then that will usually come back to help you in the future. Treat someone like crap, and it will usually come back to bite you in the ass when you are not looking! DeVito struck a friendship with Douglas when both were struggling poverty stricken young actors. That friendship paid off big time.

3. from humble beginnings, great things can emerge. DeVito was a hair stylist. His sister gave him the confidence and encouragement to succeed. Just as auctioneers are fond of saying, it does not matter where you is where you finish that counts.

So get off that couch, stop finding excuses, and go be who you want to be.