SPACE JAM How To Master the Entertainment Business
By Jessica Sitomer

In Space Jam, Michael Jordon agrees to help the Looney Tunes play a basketball game against a team of aliens in order to win their freedom. They chose Michael, because let’s face it, he’s the best of the best. And how did Michael get to be the best of the best? Practice, practice, practice. Now, here’s the critical point to the secret of mastering the entertainment business. WHAT did Michael practice? The fundamental drills of basketball, like shooting free throws, three-pointers, and lay-ups. Now you may or may not know what they are, it’s not important, and there are certainly quite a few more. But not many. And in that fact is the simplicity of your success in entertainment. All NBA basketball players do the same drills over and over. They don’t talk back to their coach and say they want something new to do when they (and by they I mean Shaq) haven’t mastered nailing a free-throw.

The entertainment industry is a business. Whether you signed up to be in a business or not, welcome to it. You just happen to have a creative job or specialized skill set, which in order to work at, you have to run a successful business. To do that, there are fundamental principles that must be practiced throughout your career. These are:

1.    Building and maintaining relationships. This includes obtaining mentors, consistently meeting new people, and maintaining relationships with the people you already know. It also includes networking either at events, on set, at the studio, at a party, and anywhere you can find likeminded people.

2.    Marketing. This includes promoting yourself, effective follow up, creating marketing campaigns for generating work as well as promoting work and projects, maintaining a presence in social media.

3.    Planning. This includes having 10 year, 5 year and 1 year projections, a yearly business plan, monthly action plans, weekly and daily tasks. It also includes goal setting and visualization. Did you know that many pro athletes not only physically practice, they also go through the drills in their mind and scientists have shown that the body physically reacts as if it were actually happening?

4.    Defining your brand. This includes deciding your brand and “living into it.” Michael Jordan wasn’t always “the best basketball player of all times” but he knew he wanted to be. Once he made that decision, every action he took got him closer to establishing that brand. He then took it further by joining Nike to create the brand “Air Jordon.”

5.    Mastering business “drills”. This includes interviewing skills, networking techniques, building successful mindsets, maintaining financial, creative, and emotional stability, learning how to use practical business tools and implementing effective strategies.

Like in the basketball drill example above, there are other basic fundamentals for building a successful entertainment industry business/career. If you’re unaware of them, you can do some further exploration.

Now, here’s where it gets great! Most people I work with want to be what I consider a “Fortune 500” company. In other words, they want to be A-list. For our purposes that means that you have your choice of jobs, you can demand a specific pay rate, and work with other A-list, likeminded people. Back to Michael Jordan. You’ve heard of him, and probably a handful of others. That means a handful of players stand out in an already extremely competitive professional sport. Think of the thousands of kids who dreamt of being pro ball players and never made it. So to be the best of the best, Michael not only practiced the foundational drills until his foundation was rock solid, he then said, “How can I take a fundamental ‘dunk’ and make it spectacular?” And that is your challenge for mastering the entertainment business; solidifying your foundation and then making your actions spectacular!      

And Action!

1. Review the 5 foundations in this article, and determine which areas you have not yet solidified.

2. Once you feel your foundation is solid, be “Like Mike” and dream up ways to make your business actions spectacular.

There’s a reason why kids aspired to be “Like Mike” and the beauty of his work ethic is that it transcends all businesses including ours.