Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Balancing Vision with Action

Yesterday I was watching my 23 year old brother peruse the internet very intently. When I asked him what he was doing he replied that he was looking at beachfront properties to see how much it would cost  to buy a house on a beach.  Apparently this was research to see how much money he would need to make to afford it, therefore dictating what kind of job he should have. With my usual eye rolling and snarky responsiveness I asked him "Don't you think it would be more practical  to research a job that will afford you a place that is not on my couch?".  We both laughed. 

Even though my "responsible" side wanted to support a more grounded approach, I had to admire my brother.  I saw a lot of myself in him which I would describe to be the visionary.  I have often caught myself in a whirlwind of looking to the future, focusing on my big dreams and goals, but not thinking about the plan or the everyday steps it will take to get there. Even when I do think about and plan for it, its uncomfortable, irritating, and quite frankly I'm impatient to get to my desired end. Why does this happen? Because it's my personality and make-up.  It's the comfortable go-to and it is where my talents lie - seeing the result or desired end. On the other hand, my husband's go-to is to figure out the everyday responsibilities that allow us to function and sustain ourselves. He is what I would refer to as the linear thinker. He does the finances, the budgeting, needs to know the X, Y and Z's of everything before he agrees to move forward. It drives me bonkers sometimes, and is the base of most our disagreements. But it is his talent, his gift, and without it I'd probably either be homeless or in a psych ward. (Totally exaggerating, but not by much.)

So this got me thinking about this weeks topic as I have been observing my BoA LPs (the Body of Artists Leadership Participants) work out the challenges of putting themselves up to inspiring goals while adjusting their everyday responsibilities to work towards those goals. Those who naturally are visionary types often create amazing ideas of where they want to be but get stuck on the linear method in which to get there, while the linear thinkers can't commit to a vision unless they know the how's and what's of getting there. 

So how do you create life changing, groundbreaking goals while staying accountable to your everyday responsibilities? How do you build a portfolio when you have a full time job, kids, etc? How do you bridge the dichotomy of these two personality types to be able to take sustainable actionable steps? How do you take vision, to action, to results?

This is an acquired skill set, with a necessity for practice by all. This is a large part of what we focus on in our MUA Leadership Program, and it takes time to cultivate and master, but here are some takeaways I'll share that have supported me, my colleagues and mentees once we integrated them into our daily practice:

1. Be Prepared to Change.  You absolutely cannot set the track to move towards new goals by doing everything the way you have always done it. You will need to stretch into the uncharted territory of doing things differently. The way you manage your time, the way you communicate with others, the way you approach a task....all of it must change for you to grow. Whether you are a visionary who gets to try new ways of being grounded, or you are a linear thinker who gets to practice taking risks, change is inevitable. Once you surrender to this idea, you are half way there... or at least have a head start.

2. Know Your Gifts (and know where you are challenged.) There are 4 basic personality types - Visionaries and Linear Thinkers are just 2 of them - and different models have different names for each personality type. But regardless, each personality type has strengths and challenges: each one learns a certain way, each one executes action a certain way. Each one of these types of personalities feels successful when certain things occur and feels rejected or disappointed when certain things aren't present.  Know who you are so you can not only better understand yourself, but better understand and communicate with others in taking steps toward your goals.  Here are some fun, interesting and popular personality tests.  Find out what personality type you are!

Jung Typology Test
Myers-Briggs Test

3. Be Accepting of Your Gift.  I spent a lot of time judging myself because I could not strategically plan and accomplish things the way others did. I judged my success on my failure to operate in a fashion that didn't leap me to my desired results. What a WASTE OF TIME! (However, try not to judge yourself...for judging yourself. Ha!) You were born with a gift that you do well and is necessary in the world. Sure, we all sometimes wish we could have a little of the gifts our neighbors have - and we can certainly learn from one another - but acknowledge your strengths and let them shine...We cannot benefit from them if you do not.

4. Outsource the gifts that you do not have. Whether you are a business owner, a sole freelancer, or on a team, or even in your own family, don't let not having a particular gift keep you from taking great strides toward your goals. I personally love to keep Linear Thinkers around me when making informed decisions about my business; I just hired a COO (Chief Operating Officer) to support me in taking my ideas and giving them structure and actionable steps so they materialize with consistency and efficiency. Like my husband, this person has a puzzle piece shape that fits perfectly with mine: where I have gaps she fills them in and vice versa. Andi f you don't have the money to hire someone? Well we all have friends and colleagues that also need what you have, and in turn they have what you need. I'll give you a hint...when planning something if you are a visionary, this person drives you nuts because they need to know who, when, where, why, how much, and how long it will take before they can agree to anything.  If you are linear thinker, this person is always coming up with crazy ideas, fun out of the box ideas, with a lot of risk and drives YOU nuts because they don't care about the details unless it has to do with fun. You guys can become partners and support each other towards your goals but ONLY if you respect each others personalities and how you both operate.

5. Write that shit down! Make a plan. There are long term goals, and there are short term goals that lead up to them. First describe your ultimate vision. Then break down your steps. Become best friends with your calendar and schedule the steps. Work together with an accountability partner to aid you on the way.  But most importantly honor the VISION part of your goals as it will keep you engaged, give you direction, and remind you WHY you are doing it.......


....BUT! Also honor the individual steps it will take to get there.  

Whether you are a visionary or linear thinker, your journey is unique to only you.  There is no right or wrong way to do it, but there are ways that work for you, and ways that do not. Hopefully you have the awareness to know the difference, the commitment to find the support, and stamina to figure out the NEW ways of doing things so you can experience your achievements being actualized.  

  This insight means diddly with out action... so this week, ask yourself these questions:
  • What type of personality am I?
  • What are my strengths? 
  • What are my challenges?
  • Am I willing to change so I can have what I want?
  • Do I know someone who could support me in areas I am not strong in?
  • Do I have the courage and commitment to ask them to partner with me?
  • Do I have a VISION? Do I have a Plan?
  • What is my next step?

By the way... this is pretty much what we do in the MUA Leadership Program.  So if you are looking for this kind of support, please join our mailing list (fill out the form on the top right!) so you can learn more about it. Next application process starts in January!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Most Important Ingredient for Making Your Dish of Success Delicious

As you may remember, in the last article we discussed the five ingredients a makeup artist could embody to enrich their positioning the industry. If you missed it, check it out here.  Hopefully it opened up some awareness for you on how you present yourself to others, where you stand with your client relationships, how much attention you give to your education, and how creative you are allowing yourself to be while building your portfolio.....

However the most important ingredient sets the base for all the rest of the flavors.  Without it, the rest of the ingredients though spicy and sweet have no sustenance. It's like leaving crust out of pizza, or the macaroni out of macaroni and cheese (apparently the food choices are coming from one of those cravings I get as gluten challenged person).  Even if you could manage the other ingredients without this main ingredient, I find the others will not sustain or hold weight.  Its a simple one, yet you would be surprised how many of us in a given moment stop and realize we do not practice it…. This key ingredient is Gratitude.

So what is gratitude to you?

The official definition: Grat·i·tude - noun -the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. 

Before I set forth on writing about it, I knew it was a huge part of my success but I actually had to think, what is gratitude for me, and how does it play a role in my life’s prosperity?  I even researched it a little bit by reading other articles and watching some You Tube Videos…. and what became very clear to me is its a choice in how I feel, which dictates the way I behave, and it gets mirrored back to me in all I receive in my life. Gratitude is not just a thing that we should have as human beings so we can be happy; gratitude is a way of living that elevates every experience for you and everyone around you. It has been scientifically proven that if you can embody gratitude and share it, by default your level of happiness goes up exponentially.

Don't believe me? Check out this video " The Science of Happiness" to see what I mean:

So what the hell does this have anything to do with being a makeup artist? Let me illustrate by applying it to the other 4 ingredients from the past article:

Ingredient #1 was about presenting yourself confidently. If you lived in a conscious state of gratitude, being confident about what you have to offer would not only be way easier, but you would be perceived as someone who doesn't "need' something because you are grateful for what you have. Being grateful to have the opportunity to serve someone has your potential client trust you, rather than someone who is coming from a place of desperation. 

Ingredient #2 was about expanding your education. I find that when I live in gratitude, I am really present to all the knowledge there is available to me to learn and grow, even if I'm considered to be an "expert".  You can find more opportunities to take on a new skills and new ideas, because when you are grateful for the amazing creative career you have chosen, you are always on the search and in practice to take it to another level.  This comes off to others as being excited about your trade and humble.  Who doesn't  appreciate working with someone who is humble?

Creating your own projects (not waiting for them) was Ingredient #3. Expanding on #2, being grateful for the work you GET to do (versus HAVE TO do) creates the space for you to play.  Ever hear of the expression When you do what you love you never work a day in your life?  When you are grateful for the job you have and the work you do, you have more joy doing it, as do the people who get to work with you. Sure, there's a job to be done, but people remember the creativity, fun and excitement in putting it together, not how much money they made off the project. Unfortunately people also remember those who bitch, gripe, and seemingly are miserable about their job too.  
Finally, applying it to Ingredient #4, cultivating your relationships... well, the very definition of cultivating your relationships is having gratitude for everyone in your life.  Yes, I said everyone. There are great clients (relatives, friends, colleagues) which are easy to be grateful for, and there is the seemingly crappy client experience where it may not be so obvious as to why gratitude is important.  With both types of clients, gratitude sets the context for them to be received.  Imagine if every service you received you experience that you are welcomed with gratitude for you choosing their business.  It helps create connection and trust.  The clients who bring YOU work that you love, and pay you what you want to be paid, it is natural to feel grateful, but how often do you share that gratitude with them?  And with the clients that seem to be difficult or challenging, these are the clients that help to form you as an expert.  The best lessons we have that teach us what to do and what not to do, usually come from not so pleasant experiences.  Imagine instead of staying sour, bitter, and bitchy about that experience or that person, you thanked those people, and were grateful to them for making you smarter.  How much more peace could that give you?

  If you haven't figured out by now, gratitude is allowing yourself to experience love for the things in your life, whether its a positive experience, or a seeming negative experience.  But of course we are human, and in our dark moments to automatically turn to gratitude sounds unrealistic. But truth be told, with practice, if you consciously stop, look, and choose in a moment, you not only realize that choosing gratitude brings you peace, but when you share it, it elevates the energy and euphoria around you.  If that's the experience you are bringing to the table, people will want to be around you more and more...for work, at home, and among friends, by default bringing abundance in your life.

So how can you start practicing gratitude?  If you could make a list of the things you were grateful for, how would you start taking actionable steps to sharing that? Here is a great TED Talk by Jane Ransom who shares the Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock the Happiest Life. Use her tips to start not only being grateful, but living gratitude.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Interview with Chris Milone on How to Apply the Top 5 Ingredients

When thinking this week on who I would want to interview when considering someone who embodies and practices all the key ingredients to developing an enriched career in our industry, there were a few names that came to mind.  But there was only one person who I have seen do it not only in a short amount of time, but with such positive energetic commitment and grace.   
I met Chris Milone when he had just graduated from MUD, and he was on my team for my first full blown production of Cirque du Maquillage: Temptu’s 25th Anniversary Party in 2005.  He was super sweet, reserved, but ridiculously talented and authentic. Since then I have asked him to join me for countless projects like Marc Jacobs, Fashion Week, my Monster Mash Salon, and even took him with me to work with Gaga. He is someone I always can count on whether there is a big budget or small budget.  He is one of the most unassuming, humble makeup artists I know, and with the credentials he has built he has the right to brag loudly, but doesn’t. Chris has gone on tour with Madonna, done fashion week with Dick Paige, worked on popular TV shows such as The Americans , was head of department for movies starring Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgard...and that is just a few of the great accomplishments. I asked him to answer some of my questions because he does in fact do a lot of work to be where he is, while being married to a beautiful partner, owning a house, and having a blast.
Chris Milone
Make Up Artist
New York City

Age: 32
Current years working in the industry: 13+ Chris, you are one of the few artists I can count on to hire for ANY job.  You are proficient in beauty, airbrush, special fx, and body art.  How important do you think it is to be as well rounded as you in our industry? 

As someone who is so passionate about makeup, I wanted to learn all I could. I also have an art background so a lot of it came to me very easily. But I look at it this way: the more you know how to do, the more jobs you can do, and the more you get hired. Now does this scenario work for everyone? Absolutely not! If you are going to do it all you have to be GREAT at it all. That said you should learn as much as you can about all mediums, which can help in other aspects of your work: learning FX can help you see beauty makeup in a different way, learning body paint will introduce you to new products you can then work into a beauty or FX makeup. It goes on and on.

You are a graduate of a pretty expensive makeup school.  In your opinion how important is it to continue your education as a makeup artist? If someone couldn't afford a big makeup school what are other alternatives? Do you continue your education? 

Education is important BUT! You MUST research! Know who you are being taught by, are they/have they worked in the field which you want to work in? I have mixed feeling about makeup schools. I think for someone who knows nothing and needs to know the basics then I feel it is necessary. If you want to learn FX it is absolutely necessary to learn from someone else, you can learn on your own from books and videos, but as visual artists we need to see it done in person and how to remove it properly in person. If you already have a grasp of how to do makeup maybe makeup school isn’t for you, maybe a few seminars or workshops would be more beneficial. There is tons of education out there - some of it great, some not so great. The key: do your research. Know who you are learning from. And you should constantly educate yourself; technology is constantly changing as are the products we use on a daily basis, you must keep up to date on the latest techniques. The day you stop educating yourself should be the day you throw in the towel. I am always learning new things everyday.

How frequently do you test and is that something you consider important even after you have built a decent resume? 

You should never stop testing, just as you build a better resume and portfolio you can become more selective with your test shoots. And always “TEST UP”. Test with better people and teams every time. Make the test work for you; everyone should walk away from a test happy with something usable for their portfolio. If a test will not benefit you or the direction your port is going, just say no or ask for a rate.

Being someone who works in film AND fashion, how important a part do you think that research and knowing references plays when working as an artist? 

SUPER important. YOU MUST research and research some more. You can be on a job and they will throw references at you. Examples of some I have gotten: Jerri hall, Guy Bourdin, Carol lombard .. you need to be able to say "got it, that’s easy, done"…and emulate that look . We always look to the past for inspiration so research the past, people , artist, models, celebrities, photographers.

As I have mentioned before you are one of the most modest, and humble people I know.  It doesn’t matter what celebrity you work with, or what high profile job you do, you would never know because you are so giving in your craft, and open to share your knowledge with less experienced artists.  Not to mention working with you is like a breeze because of your flexible nature.  Yet you have stood your ground on many occasions to get where you are. What would you say to artists about the line between being humble and being assertive in this industry? How do you balance the two, and how important is it? 

Yes! I get that a lot. I haven’t really thought about it. Humility is always a great virtue, though I catch myself sometimes name dropping but very rare, and it’s usually provoked. I’d say you should be humble about your body of work - I hate talking about myself - but assertive about the conditions of your work. By that I mean your rates, the hours you work, the working conditions (when, where, what, why, who). Also know when to speak up on a job. When you know deep down what they are asking won’t work, say so, but know how to express your ideas calmly so they understand fully why it won’t work. We are the experts and they hired us for our expertise, show them you know what you are talking about. Again, this is where knowing your references comes into play. People always tell me I have such a calming demeanor on set, which I bet has gotten me hired more times than my actual work.

Why in your opinion is important to cultivate relationships in this industry, and what is your philosophy around that? Can you share a story? 

This is a competitive industry, so they say. I am not in the business of competing, I hope we all make it. You get the jobs the universe gives you, if I am up for a the same job as a friend I’d probably talk them up instead of me, HA. But the relationships you build as you grow should be lasting ones, that goes for photographers, stylists, hair stylists...a lot of work you get will be from referrals from your peers. Its a word of mouth industry. Sadly when you do bad word travels quickly so to quote mother RU “ Dont’ F*** it up !” . We all have to start somewhere, and the relationships you build when you are starting out will benefit you in your future. Patrick Demarchelier, wasn’t always Patrick Demarchelier. And who knows the photographer you worked with last week in 10 years maybe be the next big thing, so it is important to keep on the radars of the the good ones and the ones climbing the ladder just like you. I have countless stories I can share about opportunities I have been given from the relationships I have made. I got the call to tour with Madonna from a hairstylist I worked with in the past on music videos, who was referred to me by a photographer I worked with on numerous shoots, so you never know!!! Work hard and be nice to people and you will build lasting relationships that will refer you for work!

I know just like me, even though you have accomplished what you have, you are far from your “ceiling” of goals. What is next for you, personally or career-wise? 

There are a few things I have yet to check off my list, though when I look back I am in awe of what I have already accomplished, and am so grateful for. And all without an agent! I have yet to do Paris and Milan fashion weeks. An award would be awesome...Emmy, Oscar, we’ll see.

Is there anything else that you would like to add that you think would benefit any makeup artist in enriching their position in the industry? 

Keep it simple. It’s only makeup, it comes off, don’t stress too much about it. There will be pressure and stress, learn to turn that into creative energy. Do great work always, on the high profile jobs and on the jobs you don’t care about, every job leads to the next. Peace and love.

Chris applying final touches to my favorite Alexander Skarsgard on the the set of "What Maisie Knew".

Top Five Ingredients to Enriching Your Position the Industry

I have been on such a crazy journey of growth these past few months in expanding my brand to its next level, and it amazes me what shifts and changes have occurred to get me where I am.  I look back at the last few years even, and love observing the direction my mind has gone let alone may actual career. It has inspired me to hone in to what some of the key ingredients there are that I have, and other artists have taken on to not only distinguish them, but enrich their career.

I was once one of those people that thought "If I could only meet the right person who realizes my talent, and gives me an opportunity that will set me up for life". I would say I wish it were like that, but knowing what I know now, I am actually pretty happy and confident that what I am going to share with you today will have you be more in control of where you are, as oppose to wishing and hoping and leaving it up to fate.

Key Ingredient #1: Presenting Yourself Confidently
Self worth.  Most will read that phrase and automatically think...I got that. However when given the opportunity to speak or promote yourself, this all too familiar mind chatter talks over any rational thought or deep connected knowing about our actual self worth, and the opportunity passes us like a gust of wind.  It's in that moment that one might start "wishing" they have more confidence. This happens to us all. Yes, even us folk who have a reputable portfolio and a decent client list. But there is amazing news about how to get more of this confidence thing: Confidence is not the state having no fear. Confidence is being afraid, and doing it anyway.  Is that not great news?! Just remember, you are here to give a gift that solves someones problem. Promoting yourself confidently is just letting someone know you are capable of supporting them with their problem.  Knowing your skills  and expertise can help them achieve a desired goal.  If it were that simple, would being confident be that hard?

Key Ingredient #2: Consistently Expanding your Skills and Business Education
When I think about having a continuous outlet for education that supports my business and skill set, I think about the the body needing constant flow of blood to all areas to keep it not only functioning, but healing and growing.  Acupuncture (which I get treated with monthly), is a form of complementary and alternative medicine that stimulates specific pressure points with penetrative needles to bring blood and energy to that point, and also releases blood and energy to relieve pain, stress, and immobility.  I believe educating yourself on the constantly changing and developing techniques in our industry, as well as the best ways you can run you business is like getting acupuncture for your career. If you do the same things you have always done, your work gets static, dated, and honestly you are probably bored to tears and uninspired. No one wants to hire someone who is not excited about their work let alone unable to deliver the most up to date version of it. I myself this year alone took a photography class and two intensive business courses, and because of that I will bring such depth and fluidity to my business, bringing more to my clients and by default more income.

Key Ingredient #3: Do Not Wait for the Perfect Job, Create your Projects
I love when people look at my portfolio, see one of my high production body art shoots and say "I wish (or can't wait until) I can be hired and get paid lots of money to do work like that."  I love it because the irony of it is I probably dropped a couple hundred dollars of my own money to get that project done, and no one paid me a dime to do it.  We all know as makeup artists we need to test to build a portfolio.  But how often while testing do you really push your boundaries in creativity? How often do you create the projects you would like to eventually be sought out for and paid for?  Are you filling your portfolio with what is "supposed to" be in there?  People will hire you based on what it is obvious you are capable of in your portfolio.  Even if you took the purpose of "getting hired" out of the equation, would you be doing it because you love it?  Do you do what you do to make a living?  Or do you do what you love, regardless? Passion projects are important for the soul, and bring an uninhibited rush of creativity because technically, you don't need to answer to a client or a paycheck. That freedom of spirit creates another level of work.  Then by default, clients want a piece of that, and will pay you for your expertise, as well as your talent.  I will never stop testing because of that.

Key Ingredient #4: Cultivate Your Relationships 
As a New Yorker, I experience everything as fast paced.  People often make their most important decisions based on how fast it can be done. Time is money right?  Well no matter how many new apps, gadgets, social networking sites, or jumps in technology we create, none will rush cultivating your relationships.  Developing relationships and taking care of them is not just call sheets, and confirmations.  It starts with a special kind of listening.  Not listening to see what would be the rate you would charge for this concept, and not even listening to see if you can do what the clients wants.  The listening is to see how you can solve their problem, need, or desire.  You listen to see how you can serve. You serve in a way your client gets that they are not only being listened to but heard. You continue to keep your ego in check so the overall vision of the project gets accomplished. Then when the project is complete, you follow up and check in to make sure everything was satisfactory, thank them for working with you and leave the opportunity open to serve them again. I find that if you are truly serving them, even if you are not the one for the job or are booked, you can take it a step further and find someone who can, so you may still be able to solve their problem. Imagine if you did that with all of your relationships? If everyone you were in relationship with felt taken care of like that, or if you could count on someone taking care of you like that? You will always be on top of mind if you approach each relationship with intent to serve.

Key Ingredient #5: ???
The final key ingredient is so huge, and so important, I could write and entire blog post on it just by itself. So that is what I am going to the best for next time.  In the interim, insight without action is pretty pointless so in the upcoming weeks I challenge you to take each of these ingredients in one at a time. Ask yourself  some of the following questions:
  •  How can I present myself so that people get that I am confident I can be the one that solve their problem?
  • Where am I getting stale in my work and what educational opportunity can I embark on to inspire my growth?
  • How can I create a project that's product not only would inspire me, but allow me to think outside the box?
  • How would you like to be "taken care of" in a relationship? How could you with your next client take care of them before, during, and after the job...the way you would want to be taken care of?
See you in two weeks, and don't forget to read our interview with Chris Milone, an artist who definitely knows how to use all 5 ingredients.