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Ep106: On the Vital Importance of “Being Nice” | with Jesse Averna, ACE


Be nice.

Could it possibly be that simple?

Given everything happening in the world, all the hatred, all the cynicism, all the distrust around the globe in every corner of society…is it possible that the fastest path to success in any field is simply to “be nice?”

In Hollywood it seems like this is as far from the truth as humanly possible. We all know that “nice guys finish last.” It’s those with the guts to take what’s theirs and step all over people along the way that ultimately climb to the top. If you’re going to succeed in a world of “crabs in a bucket,” you’re on your own…right?

No matter how hard that poor crab wants to escape to a better life, the other crabs still stuck in the bucket refuse to let him free.

In my interview with multiple Emmy-winning editor Jesse Averna, ACE (recorded shortly before the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing riots), Jesse and I talk about the importance of treating every human being equally and providing value to others first as a way to climb to the top…while bringing others along with you.

Jesse and I believe that “a rising tide can lift all boats” and Hollywood does not have to be a zero-sum game whereby helping others means you’ve created more competition for yourself.

Jesse and I believe deep within our hearts that everyone’s voice needs to be heard equally, and the best idea is the one that wins – no matter if it comes from the CEO or the janitor.

Learn from Jesse how you too can cultivate compassion, empathy, and use positivity as the guiding force that leads to your success…and if you stick around you might also learn at least 50 amazing tips for working in animation post-production too (the only place where people in Hollywood are still working PERIOD).

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • What is the ‘origin story’ of the great Jesse Averna? How did you get started?
  • You received a lot of acclaim & recognition for your work on Sesame Street, how did that lead to your transition to animation?
  • What are your thoughts on how this pandemic situation could be a boon to animation?
  • What skills should people develop to get into animation?
  • How is the editing process different for animation vs. live action?
  • How long do animation projects run for vs. scripted television?
  • What are the upsides and downsides of working in animation?
  • If animated features can take 3 or 4 years to produce, how can you make objective creative decisions after being immersed in a project for so long?
  • What tips or advice can you give on getting hired in animation as an Editor?
  • Are there more opportunities for assistant editors to be involved in the creative process in animation? And is it more common for Editors to extend their Assistants mentorship opportunities?
  • Key Takeaway: Jesse & Zack brilliantly reframe the Editor & Assistant Editor relationship. They also offer advice on how to create space for mistakes to happen and be learned from without embarrassment.
  • If I were to ask some of your closest and colleagues in the industry about Jesse Averna. People who have seen you make your rise – What would they tell me about you that has been the KEY difference in the way that you manage people, manage relationships, and put yourself out there in the world?
  • Why do you think so many people think they need to step on others to climb the ladder of success in Hollywood?
  • For introverts, how can we relieve the anxiety around networking? For example, what mindset do you go into networking events with?
  • Do you think for someone who’s in live action that this is a good time to make the move to animation?
  • Key Takeaway: “It’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you WANT to climb, than to be halfway up the ladder you don’t want to climb. But be responsible to the people in your life who depend on you to provide.”
  • If I wanted to start from the bottom rung and break in on the ground floor in animation, what does that look like?
  • How can we know whether we actually ARE putting ourselves in the right place at the right time? How can I make sure the right opportunities don’t pass me by unnoticed?
  • What is the single most important step I can take to get into animation when my background is in scripted television?
  • How can I find recruiters for animation studios?
  • What is the most important message you want listeners to leave with?


Useful Resources Mentioned:

Post Chat Facebook Group

It Is Possible to Be Both Successful and Kind At the Same Time?

How to Build Your Network: Articles & Podcast Interviews

Ep11: Making It In Hollywood as a “Creative” (What They Don’t Teach You In Film School) | with Norman Hollyn

Ep99: How to Provide Value & Get Paid What You’re Worth | Community Q&A with Monica Daniel

Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is made possible for you by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone who stands at their workstation. The Topo is super comfortable, an awesome conversation starter, and it’s also scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. Click here to learn more and get your Topo Mat.

Guest Bio:

Jesse Averna photo for bio

Jesse Averna, ACE is a father, a husband, and a 5x Emmy winning Editor. His career has spanned TV and feature, live-action and animation. Jesse was a founder of the #PostChat community on Twitter and Facebook for Post Professionals. He has also taught various NLEs at NYC’s School of Visual Arts Continuing Education.

Jesse Averna on IMDB

Post Chat Facebook Group

Jesse Averna on Twitter

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

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Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, and the creator of the Optimize Yourself program. Zack helps ambitious creative professionals and entrepreneurs overcome procrastination, depression, and creative burnout so they can get sh*t done and achieve the most meaningful goals in their lives...without sacrificing their sanity in the process. If you’re interested in learning how to better manage your time, your energy, and develop ninja-like focus, download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”