WHAT’S THAT RINGING IN MY EARS?
By Miata Edoga and Bryan Scott Bellomo
Miata Edoga is the President & Founder and Bryan Scott Bellomo the Head Coach at Abundance Bound, the premiere financial education company for actors, artists and creative professionals. In the past six years, they have graduated more than 1,000 students from their wealth building seminars. Their mission is to empower and unite a Movement of Artists – all financially secure and confident – pursuing their passions free from the humbling weight of poverty consciousness. They vow to approach each student with empathy, humor and respect and to be artful, willful and truthful in delivering this message. For more information on Abundance Bound, visit www.AbundanceBound.com.
(The following is an excerpt taken from Bryan’s subconscious…)
Even before the phone sounds I’m dreading it. In my dream I dream that I wake up in a gorgeous penthouse surrounded by empty bottles of Cristal, a tiger’s loose in one room, a baby in another, and my roommate is – for some unknown reason – wearing a diaper.
The night was rough, but worth it. Life’s a party, cash is king, I’m a rock star, and all is sweet.
RINNNNNNG. The phone. Dammit.
“Hmmmph. Huh, hello?”
“Gooooood morning, Bryan. This is Miata with your 2010 wakeup call.”
I look around my room. No Cristal, animals or diapers. No Vegas. But there is plenty of Culver City, however. Oh yes, there’s more than enough Culver City to go around.
“Hmmmmph. What? It’s kind of early. Did I set you, Miata?”
“Yes. Yes you did.”
“Oh. Well, then, thanks.”
I yawn and roll over. Miata continues, “My pleasure, Bryan. Happiest of New Years to you and yours. May this be your most prosperous and producti–”
I drop the phone, hit snooze, and pray for new surroundings. Sorry Miata, I’ve earned it. 2009 was a bitch. I sleep. And work to recall that lucrative, funny dream, the one about the naked Asian guy in the trunk and my friend who lost his tooth….
WE’RE ARTISTS. We dream vividly, act passionately and throw ourselves headlong into our desires with full commitment. And we do it today, in the present. We live for the audition, the project, the opportunity. It’s an often reckless and cliffhanging existence and we know it’s the only sane way to be.
Yet we have a tendency to race through life without necessarily setting our course. Months fly by when we’re engaged in activity. Plans aren’t really plans at all, but lights on a pinball machine that activate when we crash into them. We are prone to circumstantial living: what’s in front of us is what gains our attention.
And so, there are aspects of our lives that fall by the wayside. Often we delay the gratification that “normal” people experience – homeownership, marriage, children, retirement plans – and sacrifice such stability for the pleasure of continued pursuit of our calling. If our greatest reward is gained by committing attention to an artistic life, then, in contrast, our greatest loss is felt by neglecting to consider how our money management affects the sustainability of that choice.
We often fear that if we focus on the financial side of life it will consume us, taking time and energy from our art. And yet consider honestly the challenges that may be distractions right now: being broke, struggling with debt, or knowing that you are not earning enough. The real dangers and pitfalls to ignoring your finances are self-evident: you are carrying these pressures with you daily, resulting in a direct and negative impact on you as an actor. It’s time to consider a way to reframe the conversation.
So here it is, unpopular and necessary: an artistic and financial wakeup call.
(More from Bryan’s mental tape. Hours later…)
OKAY, I’M AWAKE NOW. Bleary-eyed, and rising. The morning comes so quickly. “Slow down, I’m up, I’m up!” I swing out of bed to begin another long trek up Mount Glory, the Hollywood behemoth.
Ugh. Hard work. Again. Why did I ever commit to accomplishing anything?
I stub my toe on the phone, now dead on the cold floor. Ow. Wait. My feet…are cold…on the floor. Floor. Cold feet. It’s not the end of December, is it? No, no it can’t be. Isn’t it March?
I check the wall calendar. This is serious. Was all of 2009 some weird bender?
All right, think, B. I mean, certainly you must have done things. I remember…running a business. Yeah. Class. Filming. Right. Auditioning like madfire. Creating projects.
I certainly remember spending, umm, a lot. Yes, I do remember spending. Oh right, I’m broke. Thankya very much. Yep, broke and starving, some badge of honor. Mr. Starving Artist. And now I remember: I hate that label. And I recall credit cards. I did use too many of those this year. ATM fees. Those, too. Hey, I remember the economy depleting my 401k! Definitely remember that. Tell me again why I spend so much time at a “job” job?
Sheesh, B, no wonder you hit snooze this year. Nah, that has nothing to do with 2009, it was like that financially in ’08, remember? And definitely 2007. Oh man, do you remember ’07? F’in’ hilarious. Yeah, even 06.
And 2005. ’04, too.
Ummm, why am I thinking about money? I don’t want to think about money. Not before coffee. I’m still acknowledging the defeat of running past another year, and now I have to think about my crap bank account? Pretty soon you’ll be salting my wounds by bringing up taxes. Must you? Stop the money thoughts, man. Universe, hey, Universe, yeah, all of you, I command you to provide me alternative thoughts. Manifest me a different mental picture!
Ugh. Double ugh.
This is awful. I should call Miata. Be productive. Make a start. Damn, I can’t get this money stuff out of my head. Subconscious, you officially suck. I’ve decided that I’m ignoring you beginning in 2010. I guess I have to, since apparently 2009 is in the can…
ON THE OUTSIDE working actors are highly efficient, charged, successful people. We read blogs, we take notes, we make plans. We study and network. We keep up appearances. We do things right.
Inside, we question: Am I a fraud? Do others know that I am a fraud? Why do years go by and, even when progress is made, I seem to be trapped in similar patterns? And the most elusive question of all: Why, if I’m a functioning and successful adult and am pretty okay and pretty smart, does money just continue to be an issue? Why is it a never-ending struggle that I just don’t want to acknowledge?
(The following is an excerpt taken from Miata’s subconscious…)
RINNNNNNG. RINNNNNNG. I jaunt over to the phone.
“Mornin’ Miata. It’s Bryan, with your 2010 wakeup call.”
“Umm, thanks B. I’ve been up for a bit already. Remember I called you?”
There’s a bit of silence on the other end of the line. “Bryan?”
“Yep, heard you. I just, well, I forgot how early you rise.”
“Thanks for calling, though, it’s good to hear from you! Happy New Year! Hey, now that I’ve got you, were you able to finish that Excel spreadshe–”
There’s a click and somehow we are disconnected. Poor guy, always in bad cell phone range. I write a reminder to tell him about my new iPhone, which never gives me that problem…
WHAT WILL DIFFERENTIATE YOUR SUCCESS in 2010 from previous years? You know your limitations best. Mentally, physically, professionally: What holds you back?
· Are you unorganized?
· Do you require an accountability system to follow through?
· Do you use lack of money or resources as an excuse to not take steps to begin?
· Is your emotional relationship with your money so uncomfortable that you avoid it altogether?
Anxiety is prevalent in our industry. There are lots of expectations that can render one powerless. In a new year, those expectations can come crashing at us with force. And everything costs, often with money and soul. We need to move, and move quickly. Change. Up the ante. Red-ribbon resolve. And make progress today so we can book, book, book.
How can we do this with a money weight chained to our necks, keeping us anchored to our past choices?
The good news: you can only walk from where you’re standing. And where you are today, personally, professionally and yes, monetarily, is the residual effect of every thought and action you have taken up to now. If you want different results, you simply have to shift your thoughts and actions today. The trajectory of this year will be dramatically different with even minor adjustments to your financial relationship.
2010 comes with a new canvas. All you have to do is make it a priority to show up with your paints.
(Miata’s transcript, again…)
ALL RIGHT, IT’S FUN TIME. Down to business. With Adam taking the kids for a few hours I have time and space to set my intentions for 2010. Gosh, remember all those years where I would make giant resolutions…outlandish dreams…big visions…with no real plans as to how I intended to make them happen? How frustrating to watch the time slip away without really moving forward. Well gal, that was another life altogether.
I make a note to add husband, goal-setting, and patience to the gratitude list for today!
First intention: I have to be on GLEE. It’s non-negotiable. I know, I know, I can’t sing or dance, nor can I play high school age. But doggdarnit if Gabrielle Carteris was 42 and pregnant at the Peach Pit there is always hope for me! I’ll add UDK to my short target list of Casting Director offices and return to vocal and dance lessons pronto. Making a note here to confirm their cost so I can plan for how to earn that extra income and stay off the credit cards. Aaaaand done.
That brings up the next point: How much money do I want to earn this year? I’m going to sit and break down that figure by month, then weekly, then daily. It will give me a better idea whether I can actually meet this goal, or whether it’s an arbitrary figure that is just wishing. I’m so glad I learned that by setting incremental financial goals that were attainable, then reaching them over and over, I would gain the assurance to take on and meet larger challenges.
The “old” me would make big claims about how much I wanted to make without that number being connected to reality in any way. I was really just pressing my luck by pulling the handle on a slot machine. “I will book seven guest stars and 10 under-fives, No whammies, no whammies – Stop!” It was such a defeat to lose time and time again. I remember that I even stopped setting goals for a while because of the disappointment that followed.
No more. What is in your control is how you plan and how you follow through. Now that’s avoiding the negative self-talk, Miata!
I know I’d like to see at least 25% growth this year in Abundance Bound (check out www.abundancebound.com for more details) (Why does that pitch always appear in my thoughts?). Bryan revenue modeled the numbers the other day and determined that we’d need 40 speaking engagements at the university level to make that happen. He made me a fancy chart to prove just how impossible it is. Thank goodness for his skeptical charm (that’s also going on the gratitude list).
Oh numbers, you can sometimes make my head hurt, but I love you. I like the way you look in a line. And you add up, too! Strange and wonderful! Art and money are such good playmates. Am I a nerd? I must be a nerd. Like Gabrielle Carteris. An artsy, singing, dancing, nerd. Oh, another reason why I am perfect for GLEE! Dear Synchronicity, how you are all around us when we’re looking for you!
Let me make a note to encourage Bryan that this is really doable, since our booking rate is 20%. It would take roughly 200 contacts, and I can make 10 connections and follow-ups a week until June. Then begin the process over if we don’t reach our targets. Or we could divide and conquer, taking five schools each. Now that’s practical and accomplish-able. And it lets Bryan afford that new iPhone…oh, he’ll be so happy…
I guess I can say it: I’m in love with 2010 already! Miata, you are the best. Yes, you are.
ALL RIGHT, LET’S START WORKING. In order to make progress on your finances in 2010 you need some sincere planning and preparation. Keep the wild visions for your art. Instead focus on what you can actually achieve with your money this coming year. By setting targets that are incremental and doable you will be more motivated to hit them and capitalize on that successful momentum. Now we’re going to map how to get there and we’ll use reality as our terrain. This means getting real about today’s picture, because you simply cannot meet your goals or gauge your progress until you have a clearly defined FINANCIAL STARTING POINT to anchor your direction.
There are two layers to creating that clear picture of your starting point:
The first is the determination of your NET WORTH. To arrive at this figure simply:
· Add up the current dollar value of your Assets (“what you own,” such as a car, home, investments, savings and cash accounts, jewelry, etc.), then
· Subtract your Liabilities (“what you owe,” such as the car loan or mortgage remainder, students loans, credit card debt, etc.).
The next layer, factoring your AVERAGE MONTHLY PROFIT & LOSS, will require more time and effort, but is a critical element in understanding your financial baseline.
In basic terms, your P&L equals your Income minus Expenses, or the precise amount you earn each month — from acting work, residuals, “job” jobs and/or side businesses — minus what you spend. As an actor, how do you pinpoint your P&L when income arrives from a variety of sources at random intervals and one month may differ wildly from another? The solution is to average our earnings and spending habits over a six month period. This will capture such variations and reflect all those “special, unforeseen” costs, like union dues, headshot reprints, or car maintenance, that don’t surface every month. Your Average P&L, then, most accurately predicts your money lifestyle in all months.
1. Gather. Begin by gathering your receipts and bank, credit card and income statements for the past 6 months.
2. Categorize. Rather than totaling all of your expenses without discrimination, arrange expenses first by Personal vs. Business and then by unique categories. Avoid the common trap of lumping similar groups together. Your “Food” category, for example, might be separated into Groceries, Dining Out, Starbucks, Baby Food, etc. Simply labeling everything “Food” won’t provide an honest assessment of where your money is truly being spent.
3. Average your Income. Total your income over a six month period and then divide by 6 to determine your average monthly income.
4. Average your Expenses. Next, total each individual expense category one month at a time and divide by 6. (If you spent 100, 150, 125, 150, 175 and 125 respectively on Groceries, your average monthly cost for Groceries would be 137.50.)
5. Confirm your Profit & Loss. Now subtract the total of your average expenses from your average income to figure out your P&L. If this number is positive, you’re earning more than you’re spending; if it’s negative, you’re “in the red.”
Your success depends on the clarity of your P&L and Net Worth numbers. These answers will prove very insightful as a representation of your financial behaviors.
It is quite possible that you will discover you’re overspending by hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In fact, it is the fear of this very discovery that keeps many of us from beginning this work in the first place. But it is important to understand that you will feel a level of fear and uncertainty only for as long as you continue to avoid an honest and accurate look at your current financial picture.
Regardless of what you find out – celebrate your new-found knowledge – for without it there can be no change. Knowledge empowers you to take whatever action is needed to move forward. You now have an exact Cashflow Gap: the additional amount you must earn each month to meet your lifestyle choices.
Armed with the relevant numbers, the fun work can begin: finding a way to earn what you truly need. In our next article, we’ll take you through the process of REVENUE MODELING – determining in advance exactly how you’ll bring in your needed monthly cashflow.
Until then, it’s 2010.
Rise and shine.
Part 2 of A Financial & Artistic Wakeup Call will post this Thursday. In the meantime, be sure to visit Abundance Bound to learn more about their upcoming seminars and workshops.