THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS  Why the person next to you can change your life

In The Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith, plays Chris Gardner, a father who desperately wants to create a better life for himself and his young son. When Chris sees a successful man get out of a fancy car, he straight out asks him what he does for a living, to afford that car. At that moment, he made the decision that he was going to be a successful banker.

Throughout the movie, Chris asks questions of people to help him get ahead. He is fearless in his pursuit of happiness.

How is your pursuit of happiness going? Are you as successful as you want to be in your field/classification? Have you sought out mentors to give you advice in your field?

Well here’s a fresh idea: look outside of your industry. How many times have I seen people in the entertainment industry be introduced to “non-pros” and instantly write them off? Too many!  People outside of our industry have no idea how our industry works, which is why they are so wonderful to brainstorm with.

Find a business owner, a car sales person, a contractor, an investment banker, a textbook sales agent, a school teacher, an advertising executive, and brainstorm!

Here are some tips for brainstorming:

1.   Overview: give the person with whom you’re brainstorming, a brief overview of the nature of your job, who hires you, how you generate work, and any other politics that may be necessary to mention.
NOTE: keep this conversation positive. This is not a time to complain about how everything’s changing and how frustrated you are, etc.

2.   Note taking: NO TALKING, NEGATING, or DEBATING. You listen as if every word out of their mouth is a million dollar idea. I know sometimes you may be thinking, “No, that wouldn’t work in my industry,” but keep your mouth shut and write everything down.

3.   Expanding questions: When someone gives you an idea that you are really connecting to, you can ask questions to help flesh out and expand the idea.
NOTE: these are not “Devil’s advocate” questions because you don’t think it will work.

4.   Sleep on it: Sometimes, some of the ideas that you are most resistant to at first, turn out to be the ideas that after a good night’s sleep, wake you up invigorated with possibility. An idea that I thought was completely wrong for me, turned out to be absolutely brilliant once I stopped fighting it because I wasn’t sure how to implement it. I woke up the next morning with a great idea about how to make it happen.

5.   Follow up: If you have any questions, call the person. If not, follow up to let them know when you’re implementing his or her idea. Why? Because if makes them feel great to know they helped. In fact, it will most likely make their day.

Be especially aware of the ideas you immediately feel resistance towards. These tend to be the juicy ones, which will move you forward, but the idea of implementing them intimidates you.

And Action!

1.   Make a list of people you know who are not in the industry. Check your Facebook & LinkedIn friends.

2.   Request a brainstorming session or just ask to meet for coffee and bring it up.

3.   Choose 1-3 strategies to take action on this month.

One of the greatest gifts that young children have is their naivety. They think of a question and that thought immediately comes out of their mouth. They don’t worry about being judged, that’s why they learn so much in those early years. Be a sponge. And like Chris, learn from everyone.