A TV Producer’s 3 Questions for a Successful Life

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People often ask me, “Bill, what’s the secret to a successful life?”

Okay, that’s a lie. People almost never ask me that. But, given that I’m a multiple Emmy Award winning TV producer, they do occasionally ask me what the secret is to being a successful producer. And you know what? It turns out that the factors that made me a successful television producer are also the factors that can make you successful in life. Because, when you think about it, that’s what you are: the Producer of your own life.

So what, exactly, do you have to do to be successful as the Producer of your life?

In television, and in life, it comes down to three questions:

1. What’s the show? A Producer, first of all, has to define what it is that he or she is producing. Is it a half hour or an hour? A sitcom or a drama? What’s the tone, what’s the flavor? In other words, what will it look like when it’s finished? Likewise, you—as the Producer of your life—need to be crystal clear on your outcome. What, exactly, do you want your life to look like? What do you want to achieve? What do you want to be remembered for? Who do you want to be in the world? Think about it: How can you produce something if you don’t have a clear vision of what it is that you’re producing?

2. Who’s the cast? When the producers of Seinfeld decided to go ahead with the show, they needed to choose the four leads: Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer. Do you think they just drove down to the local Wal-Mart and picked the first four people who walked through the door? Of course not! Out of all the actors available in America, they carefully selected the four who would be most likely to successfully bring them to their vision. (Okay, Jerry Seinfeld was pretty much obligatory, since it was his show. But the other three were up for grabs. And besides, you get the point, so stop nitpicking.) In other words, they cast the show. That seems obvious, and yet most of us leave the “casting” of our lives entirely to chance. Our cast tends to be whomever happens to live next door to us, whomever happens to be the parents of our kids’ friends, whomever happens to sit in the next cubicle.

What if, instead, we took a good, hard look at the show that we want to produce, and then ask ourselves this question: “Who is it that I need in my life who would give me the best chance of achieving the vision of this show?”

In other words, what if we stopped leaving the casting of our life to chance?

3. Where’s the script? Knowing what the show is is crucial; having the right cast is critical. But without a script, it’s just a bunch of people standing around on a stage. The script is the blueprint, the road map. To put it in business terms, the script is the plan that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be, i.e., the successful realization of your show. And just as a TV script is broken down into acts, and the acts broken down into scenes, your overall game plan needs to be broken down into smaller, achievable chunks. Think of them as benchmarks along the way. In television, you finish one scene and then move on to the next; before you know it, you’ve completed the show. Same thing in life. If you’ve created a good script, all you have to do is finish one benchmark and then move on to the next, until you complete the show.

Oh, and by the way: for you purists who are thinking, “Wait a minute Bill—this is supposed to be a blog about business success,” just re-read the blog, substituting the word “business” for the word “life.”

Here’s to your success—in life and in business.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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