By Robert Pagliarini, Tribune Media Services
So you want to be an author, an actor or maybe even a rock star? It doesn't much matter what you want to do, just that you do it. Whatever your art, your only goal should be to create.
But don't you need a casting director to give you a part? Don't you need a publisher to give you a book deal? Don't you need a record label to sign you? No, no and no. If you're an artist, don't put your success, your passion and your life in somebody else's hands.
Don't be an aspiring author, an aspiring actor or an aspiring musician. The difference between an aspiring artist and an artist comes down to one thing ... an artist creates. An aspiring artist wants to create. They talk about creating. They dream about creating. They tell others they will create someday. They wait for someone else to give them approval before they create. They wait until their name is called.
I get emotional about this because I have a lot of friends who are amazing at what they do, but they don't get it. They wait around for someone to give them the nod of approval. "If I could just get that part," I hear them say. "I nailed that showcase but never heard back from anyone." My motto is: "If you can't join 'em, beat 'em."
History is full of examples of artists who decided to take matters in their own hands. Examples include Colbie Caillat, an unknown and unsigned singer-songwriter who had success on MySpace and has since had hit songs and won two Grammy awards, as well as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who wrote and starred in "Good Will Hunting." Where would these artists and thousands of others be if they didn't take their life into their own hands and create?
Here's a more recent example -- Ambrose. Ambrose is my favorite new rock band. Several months ago, I heard them on Sirius Radio and immediately loved their sound, which doesn't happen often. When I got home, I went to Amazon.com and tried to order their CD, but couldn't find it. I did a quick search and discovered they didn't have a traditional CD -- they only sold their album on iTunes, so I quickly downloaded it. Their whole album is amazing. I'm becoming a huge fan. I go to their Web site, which is actually just a MySpace page. I watch a great video and then check out their tour dates and notice they are playing a bunch of venues in Los Angeles such as the Viper Room, the Roxy, etc. Now these are cool venues, but small. I started to think Ambrose wasn't as big as I thought they were. It turns out, I was right.
I e-mailed them, and the lead singer, Zak Ambrose, e-mailed right back. They are unsigned, which means they don't have a record label. I also discovered that Zak is not only the lead singer, but also the band's publicist, manager, Web designer, promoter and just about everything else. I told him I wanted to interview him about how he is able to pull it all off.
Zak Ambrose gets it. We talked for several hours. He is a hard worker, passionate about his craft, and is doing everything he can to make it (based on his talent, I'd be shocked if he didn't). He hasn't waited to get signed. He's gone out there and made an album. He sells it on iTunes. He books concerts. He sells merchandise. He interacts with fans via social networks. He does all of this even though nobody has told him he can. He didn't stay in his garage waiting for somebody to tell him he was a musician. He knows he's a musician, and what do musicians do? They make music.
The most successful artists are going to be those who create. Not the ones who wait around for approval.
So what's the takeaway? Don't wait for permission. Don't make excuses. Get out there and create something -- anything. Stop aspiring and start creating.
Robert Pagliarini is a CBS MoneyWatch columnist and the author of "The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose" and the national best-seller "The Six Day Financial Makeover." Visit YourOther8Hours.com.
This column was printed in the July 4, 2020 - July 17, 2010 edition