Summer is officially here which means the first season of the Optimize Yourself Podcast has come to a close (don’t worry…I’ll be back right after Labor Day). I cannot express enough how grateful I am to all of my listeners who inspire me to keep this program alive every single day. Please feel free to continue reaching out and sharing your stories (and your challenges) with me. I read every single message I receive.
It is my belief that it’s no longer necessary to sacrifice your health (and your sanity) in pursuit of your creative career or your business, and in season 2 I promise to continue writing about and sharing every tip I find that can to help design the optimized version of you…one small action step at a time.
Since beginning this podcast and blog over 4 years ago I’ve learned a lot about many different topics, but it’s taken me a long time to really find a groove and write on a regular basis. My goal at the beginning of 2018 was to write an in-depth article every two weeks about a topic that I’m both passionate about personally and also could help you improve your life in some small way. Despite my calendar fighting back every single week, I met my goal of releasing new content every two weeks (systems, baby!!!). While choosing my favorites was kind of like choosing my favorite child…
Below are my five favorite articles from Season 1 (with a couple bonus articles I wrote for other publications).
1. Dear Hollywood…We Create Entertainment For a Living. We’re Not Curing Cancer.
In the wake of the potential IATSE strike and the ongoing negotiations between the motion picture producers (AMPTP) and the many guilds including editors like myself, I felt it necessary to point out what’s truly at stake when talking about the hours we work in Hollywood. Much to my surprise (and shock), this article went viral and was shared over 3000 times within 24 hours and read by over 5000 people. For anyone who’s tired of being treated like they are disposable and that their quality of life is secondary to getting the job done, I suggest reading this article for a little perspective.
2. The Four Types of Creative Jobs (and the Secret to Knowing Which Is the Perfect Fit For You)
Without question this was the most popular article of the year with thousands of readers! Thinking about the different types of creative jobs was simply a brainstorm I had one morning driving to work, and once the seed was planted it grew like crazy until I spent a solid 2 weeks breaking down the benefits and drawbacks of each type of creative job I could come up with. And then it all came together when I realized the special sauce was having the right attitude.
3. The Socially Awkward Introvert’s Guide to Networking With Industry ‘Experts’
Coming in at a very close second after a tight race with my ‘Creative Jobs’ article is my deep dive into turning networking into a skill, even if you’re a socially awkward introvert (like me). This post was inspired by a section I wrote in my Ultimate Guide to Making It In Hollywood, but I then expanded upon several of the concepts because I know how difficult it can be trying to build a network of contacts when you HATE networking. I know we’d all much rather sit in our dark rooms and make cool shit, but this guide will hopefully get you out of your cave and into the real world so you can start meeting the right people who will help you land your dream job.
4. Tired of Life Kicking Your Ass? Learn to Fight Back Like a True ‘Cobra Kai’
I’m going to admit I was a bit bummed this post didn’t get as many readers as I would have hoped, but I’m still including it in my top 5 because whether or not you’re a huge Karate Kid fanboy like me, the brilliant new YouTube series Cobra Kai offers up some brilliant life lessons that anyone can incorporate into their lives. If you’ve dealt with mistreatment or abuse as an adult in a toxic work environment with toxic people (or outright bullies), this post is a must-read.
5. Dear Zack: “I’m having trouble finding work and want to make sure I’m doing everything I can…”
This post was an experiment based on an email I received from a reader seeking advice about her career. I’m approached on a daily basis by people who send their life stories and their greatest struggles, and I found I spend an exorbitant amount of time responding to everyone. Then I realized there could be tremendous benefit to making those responses public. Needless to say, the experiment worked and I’ll be doing more ‘Dear Zack’ articles in the future. Click here to submit your own question for a future article.
I didn’t include these articles in my ‘Top 5’ for the year because they are technically guest posts for other sites, but they were tremendously popular and I want to make sure you didn’t miss them.
6. “Empire” Editor Has 7 Steps to Network Successfully In Hollywood (For Frame.io)
This article was written by Robert Hardy of Filmmaker Freedom, and it was based on a recorded conversation we had about my best advice to build a network in Hollywood. This was my inspiration to later write The Socially Awkward Introvert’s Guide to Networking because I received so much feedback about how networking is such a lacking skill for so many creative professionals. Thanks again Robert for the awesome article!
7. How I Burned Out As a ‘Burnout Coach’ (And Then Bounced Back) (For Growth Lab)
This article is a very personal piece that I wrote about my most recent experience with burnout, depression, and a raging case of imposter syndrome back in 2017 after launching a very successful 5 Day Challenge (with over 1110 participants on six continents). Whether you are building a business or just burned out by creative work, this article is an ugly, no holds barred look at the darker side of success that few are willing to talk about.