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BOOKING EQUITY: Building with Pennies

Success is on ongoing, long-term thing. It’s not a result, it’s just a series of decisions that over the long-haul favour the result we’re aiming for. If you want it, it’s yours right now. Simple.

Those who really achieve have the discipline, commitment, and patience to build slowly, one small seemingly insignificant step at a time. Yes they may have a windfall from time to time but there will likely be unexpected setbacks too. Long term, the definer is the equity that has been systematically built up. The more they allow themselves to build up slowly, the less the day to day affects the outcome. It’s a positive spiral that exponentially feeds itself over time.

That’s where we need to be, but if we’re coming at it from the opposite end (as we’re pretty much taught and conditioned to do by society and the media) it can feel impossible to establish this outlook. By and large we’re focussed on how far away we are from our goal, which tends to fuel a sense of futility, and over-inflates our sense gain or loss in the now. Everything becomes impossible. We get stuck in the moment, anxious, fearfully over invested in immediate achievement. It can feel like a trap, or a whole that keeps getting deeper. It can feel like being urgently, deeply in debt with nowhere to turn.


Your life and career do not hinge on the book/no-book of any one audition, BUT the opportunity to build your BOOKING EQUITY exists every time you enter the room.

We need to foster a sense of possibility, patience, persistence, discipline, and we need to gift ourselves with a sense of reward for doing so. Create a positive spiral of slow, systematic building of Booking Equity.

Equity is a great way to look at it. It’s the value of our share of something. Think of each audition as an opportunity in which you have an equity stake. You do. An actor who has just come off a successful multi-episode guest arc on another show on the same network cast by the same producer and has 2 million twitter followers has a lot of equity in their next audition. Each of those factors carry weight in casting, that actor has built Booking Equity.

Booking Equity builds over time – those high level items are easy to identify, and easy to feel depressed about not having, but remember they were built from a lot of small wins. The key is to be able to ID where those tiny wins are, and commit to achieving them. One at a time.

In class, for years, I’ve used the analogy of saving $1,000 one penny at a time.

That’s hard to do. Mostly because it’s so easy to look at the penny that you save or find as virtually inconsequential. It’s hard not to think mainly about how far away from that $1,000 you are when you are picking up 1/100,000th of it. It’s easy to justify NOT picking it up. It doesn’t really make any significant difference to your goal. It’s easy to make that justification because it’s true. That justification voice (or as I call it, my Evil Genius) tells us there’s no point, we stagnate, fall further and further behind, and become understandably depressed. Everything becomes harder to do, and it’s easier to justify not doing it.

The key, as I tend to espouse given the chance, is to get in the habit of picking up those pennies, and then patting yourself on the back for doing so. The sense of personal achievement and satisfaction keeps us going. It frees us from the reward starvation that happens when we confuse achievement with success. Remember that success is not a thing. It’s the decisions. Make them, do them, and you are successful. Plain and bloody simple. The results will take care of themselves.

Take pride, reward, accomplishment in the discipline it requires NOT to buy in to the justification voice. Get the sleep, say no to the pizza, turn off the TV, read a play, go for a walk. Save the penny. BUILD THE EQUITY. It’s damn hard to commit to those small decisions. The game is rigged against us on many levels. That is precisely why we should be proud. Try it out, it’s a little addictive.

By the way, everyone who’s ever achieved something scraped and scrounged through failure to get there. It’s called growth. Here’s a great video on ‘The Difficult Years’ which addresses this exact subject through the years.

For me, ‘The Difficult Years’ are (were?? I think…) about surviving while the pennies add(ed) up. Growing equity. We make educated investments, we experience a return on the investment, and our equity position grows.

So, we gotta build equity by picking up the pennies. Great. Where and when will I find the most pennies?

Well, first off, they’re everywhere. They are precisely the simple decision that’s in front of you right now that leads you closer to your goal. (By the way, an important note, sometimes picking up the penny is actually NOT picking up the penny. Sometimes it’s time to indulge, relax, splurge. I’ve had a wonderful nutrition and fitness guru who’s coached me into losing 25 pounds so far this year, and every week I have a ‘eat whatever you want cheat day’). Next, the more you understand what’s happening in your industry right now, and what WILL be happening in your industry, the more you can prepare for the demand and opportunity of the moment.

In the next few weeks, we will be entering Harvest Season. This is the time of year when (hopefully, if we’ve been prepping optimally) we get to cash in some of the equity we’ve been building over the past year. TV Series are ramping up, casting is starting, and many actors are carrying career humbugs into the room.

That creates big opportunity for best prepared. It’s the first day of training camp, and the athletes who’ve stayed in shape in the off season have a shot of grabbing a starting position.

I’ve been pointing this opportunity out for years now, and it still holds true. There’s a refinement in the perspective though, which exposes an undeniable truth:

The pennies we pick up or fail to pick up at the start of Harvest Season – this year in and around mid July – figure to be the most rewarding or costly ones of the year.

Think about it. Let’s say (ahem, ‘hypothetically’) that there was a casting team or two in town that casts say oh I dunno, three CW shows. Each of those shows is going to shoot 22-26 episodes this season, so 66-72 episodes total. Each of those shows hire about nine actors per episode, so there’s about 600-700 potential roles coming up. Your auditions at the start of Harvest Season are about much more than the one role you’re reading for, they’re about the 700 or more other roles that team is casting for just that network.

If we go in sharp, focussed, fresh, interesting, and READY in those auditions, we have a world of opportunity in front of us. If we don’t, that equity goes to someone else.

Since we were kids, summer time is play time. School’s out for summer baby. Well, guess what, you’re an actor so those rules just don’t apply to you. It’s SHOWTIME. Your job is to be as ready and focussed as you can possibly be now, and especially into early-late July.

It’s time to shut out distractions, and make intelligent, Equity Building decisions. Let your non-actor friends enjoy their summer vacation time, and politely decline the focus fragmenting distractions of the season. Simplify, bear down, focus and prepare.

Be GAME READY for mid July.

There’s no guarantees obviously, but the return on the time and energy you invest over the next four to six weeks is the biggest equity builder of the year.

Make some positive decisions, will ya?

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