Expanding Growth
Getting In
Talents & Skills

Some people train daily for hours in a gym, some study a single subject for years, many spend a life time honing their skills to a fine edge. All preparing in anticipation of an opportunity that hopefully will just show up at their front door.

Then there are others who just walk onto the playing field or into a gig with no prior preparation and assume they are talented enough to figure it out “on the job”.

Which is the better path?


  • Training and studying are critical, to a point.
  • Life or job experiences are absolutely necessary, to a point.

Combined they can almost guarantee success!

In sports…you can be a highly tuned physically fit specimen or the queen of a training facility but when that game clock starts and things are not going your team’s way, you need to be able to instinctively throw your internal switch and step up beyond your training. This instinct is usually derived from “real world” experiences. Learning how to keep your focus when things go sideways.

In Live Music or Theater Performance… Practicing five hours a day, running scales on your instrument until your fingers swell or being able to site read Frank Zappa’s black page at a glance is powerful.  But when you walk out onto that stage and need to preform like a person possessed, that will only happen with “real world” experiences.

Even on the tech side … Studying algebra, trigonometry, geometry, chemistry, and physics are key.  Understanding the derivation of a high-level coding language or the tensile strength of steel under extreme weather is important.  But if you’re the Engineer In Charge (EIC) on a broadcast show and the Switcher locks up or you’re the tech manager on a stadium tour when half the lighting grid fails, pulling out a text book is not going to help. Only “real world” experiences will help you find an immediate workaround or fix.

So, if you’ve never experienced life in the “real world” those hours of training and study will have been a waste of time. Being the smartest person in the room but having never applied that knowledge in the real, isn’t benefiting you or anyone else.

Then again if you were in any of those circumstances and you hadn’t dedicated yourself to your studies and training, you would still come up short.

Throughout my career I have been asked hundreds of times, “Is school critical to succeed in the entertainment production industry?”. My answer has always been the same. It’s important but it’s only half of the equation.

When new candidates present their resumes and school transcripts to me, I can honestly tell you grades are not my first evaluation point. I look at the courses they’ve taken and then dig right into questions about what “real world” experiences they’ve had relating to those courses.

I don’t really care about the gigs’ profile, high school TV, college theater, or Madison Square Garden. 

I am more concerned about:

  • How they approached the project?
  • Were there issues that they personally had to overcome?
  • What they learned from the experiences?
  • Did they apply any of what they had learned in the classroom to solving those issues in the “real world”?

Accumulating a ton of knowledge or skills but having never applied it in the real world is cheating yourself. You will be limiting your ability to advance your value. Taking those abilities into the real world and learning to blend them with others to collectively achieve a goal, is the real test of your acquired knowledge.

Unlike the planned routine of training or studying, in the real world developing new talents or valued skills comes in all shapes and sizes. One day it might be watching someone methodically work their way through correcting a technical failure or watching another person crash and burn frantically trying to adjust a collapsing game plan.

In either case you should have learned something, not everyone, regardless of their training, reacts the same when the “the live bullets start flying” (I actually hate wartime references to none life treating circumstances but sometimes it is the only effective way to dramatize the point).

Some of us are built to function at our best under extreme pressure. We have learned to slow our reality down and think calmly through the panic. In that moment you are not thinking about theory, you are working on muscle memory. Doing what your training and experience has taught you.

But if you didn’t have both the life experiences and the mental resources from your training and studies, your “muscle memory” would be nothing more than a limp pile of human cells. (How’s that for a visual? hahaha)

Not built to function under pressure? No worries, not everyone is supposed to be an “adrenaline junkie” or “gamers” (a term used to describe athletes who perform their best under extreme game conditions) and that’s a good thing. Imagine how nuts it would be if something went wrong and everyone started trying to solve the problem.

I can tell you first hand… IT’S A MESS!! And the problem usually never gets solved.

Each team, group, band, company, etc. only need a few “gamers”. The other members are equally, if not more important. The “gamer” needs people who can supply them with backfill information as they work their way through the problem.  You need to be at the ready to supply or find the critical information the gamer is asking for and anticipate what they will need.

Imagine an operating room. An inexperienced surgeon might not able to react instantly to an unexpected crisis.  Many times, it’s his experienced nurses that are anticipating what the surgeon is going to need once he gets a handle on the situation.

You need to identify your basic core abilities then develop and expand those talents.  You need to find gigs that will challenge and therefor enhance those abilities. The more experience you gain, the more choices you will have in deciding how you fit into a team and what part you can play to be of value. 

Once you begin collaborating with others it will become evident how the world perceives the value of your training and studies and how well you can fill their needs.

Collaboration will demonstrate how different personalities and various levels of skills and experiences combine to be a winning team, band, production group, tech company, etc.  

You will see that planned strategies are always fluid and you will need to learn how to adjust and react on the fly.

In summary training and studying are important. But until you combine those with real world experiences you will never reach your full potential.  

Fast track your entertainment production career