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Be the Star of Your Own Business

By Aaron Benay

The great playwright and screenwriter David Mamet once said: “Life in the movie business is like the beginning of a new love affair: it’s full of surprises, and you’re constantly getting f*cked.”

After more than 10 years in the entertainment business, I understand why Mamet won a Pulitzer—because his observations are not only clever, but true. All independent business owners take their share of knocks. So it helps to have a thick skin. Here are some coping tactics I’ve developed in the trenches…

Everybody loves a winner. It’s tough to go out on pitches and sales calls when business is tough. Remember that your clients are potential buyers—not your therapist. Show no weakness. Successful people want to work with other successful people—or at least people who project “successful.”

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… My great-grandmother used to say this, and I thought it was corny. (Sorry Grandma Clara.) But there’s truth to this proverb in business. I once pitched a project 40 times without success and then sold it—to Leonardo DiCaprio. Every meeting is a fresh opportunity.

You control your reaction to adversity. When money is tight, it’s easy to succumb to panic/depression/your favorite vice. But you don’t have to. You can’t control the actions of others. However, you can control your own reaction to them—and work through the challenges.

Remember the important stuff. Work isn’t the be all and end all. When I get down, I seek out a hug from my three-year-old niece or revisit photos from a life-affirming vacation. Those are the moments that truly count. And that reminds me to be thankful for what I have.

Whether you work in Hollywood or not, as a business owner, the show must always go on!

Aaron Benay works as a screenwriting team in film and television with his brother Matthew. Together, they’ve written projects for major studios and networks including Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, HBO, Miramax, Universal, and Warner Bros. The Benay Bros. are currently working on the third installment of the blockbuster film franchise NATIONAL TREASURE.

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