Hollywood Coaching • Career Coach Los Angeles, Life Coach, Executive Business Coach

The New Hollywood Leader

What Is Leadership Presence?

by David Brownstein

What Is Presence?

When we talk about presence, we're not talking about domination.

We're talking about the ability to be present in our self.

And to monitor and balance the needs and messages from our internal state with our external state AND our own business objective.

And only when we do that can we be aware of the other people's internal state and the other people's external state and business objectives.

Creating Safe Space

So leadership presence is really creating a safe space for others to speak the truth.

Safe, non-judgemental, and also, ultimately focused on a business objective.

So when we say Presence, we have to be able to be aware of whether WE are being present.

We have to first be present, and first be vulnerable and real, so that we can inspire others to do the same and to bring their presence.

Keep Reading…

My Mission, And I've Decided To Accept It

by David Brownstein

I wrote a really long great article this month on the plane to Sundance.

However, I’m just going to send you the last part of it because I know your attention span is challenged. (As are all of ours these days.)

I may post the rest later but for now… lets all just create community. Shall we?


On Community And Mission…

I had a gathering of a small number of friends, colleagues and clients recently.

Because I had the presence of mind to get help with the party food and preparations I was able to have the time to think, actually. And be relaxed in the hours before people arrived.

And I thought about saying a few words when people were gathered there, but I didn’t, because it didn’t seem necessary at the time, but because the thank you I got was that they had all shown up, in my life, as well as my practice.

What I Realized Was This

I actually had a mission for my business and my coaching practice that I’d never articulated.

Here It Is

My mission for Hollywood Coaching is to create a Hollywood that is Healthy, Rewarding, and Enlightening.

And I can only do that when people show up in my life who’re hungry for that as well. (And  I’m not just talking about coaching clients.)

Just Showing Up

When people with a positive outlook show up at a networking event or a gathering or a meeting it allows me to bring and share my positive outlook and thoughts.

Keep Reading…

Hollywood Future Strike Watch: Carol Lombardi of AMPTP

by David Brownstein

Interesting interview in the LA Times with Carol Lomdardi who is the new chief negotiator of the AMPTP (representing the major studios and networks.) She's already shifting the dynamic. That's good news.

Nick Counter was known as a pugnacious negotiator. Will you adopt a similar approach?

I'm a good listener at the bargaining table. I try to be. I'm still a representative of management. I represent major studios, each of whom has different businesses and in some cases different interests. All of that is the same as it was for Nick. The one area where we may really differ a lot is getting out in front of negotiations. Having regular communications with the guilds and unions, so that we can share perceptions or disagree about what the world looks like, is very important. I've already had discussions with representatives of the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild about doing that.

In fact, during the writers strike, it seemed that you were practically speaking different languages.

I think increased dialogue between the parties would have helped on some issues, particularly in new media, where the companies felt it was too early to negotiate a deal, and the Writers Guild felt they were going be left in the dust and have this whole market develop around them and not be part of it. It may not have prevented a strike, but having discussions about that at an earlier stage might have been very helpful. We really didn't have a functioning relationship.

And you have one now?

We're working on it. I've made efforts to reach out to the WGA leadership to change that dynamic.

Looking ahead to 2011, when contracts for actors, writers and directors all expire, conditions would seem ripe for another showdown between studios and talent.

I hope not. Everybody endured some battle scars from the last round. The economy in L.A. and elsewhere suffered tremendously as a result of the last strike. A lot of people lost their jobs. Nobody really wants to revisit those consequences, so I'm optimistic that people will say, "Let's find a way to get this done."

Read the full article HERE

Thanks to Jonathan Handel for pointing to the article

What's A Hollywood Professional To Do?

by David Brownstein

Here’s a question I received from a colleague recently

“Hi there. I’ve been an independent casting director for over 30 years, casting mostly studio feature films with a few indies and TV pilots thrown in.

“Independent,” meaning I don’t work for a studio and I’m freelance. Things have been going very well until the last couple of years when the “perfect storm” hit the business.

The Writer’s strike, the de-facto SAG strike, followed by the economy tanking last year. Studios have stockpiled projects and have almost stopped green-lighting films, or they are green-lighting fewer and fewer films.

The traditional resources to go to for financing for indies has also shifted greatly. People are scared. Seems like the business model for studio and indie film distribution, financing, etc. has completely changed…. but I’m not quite sure what it’s going to change into.

What do you think the adjustment (or fall-out!) will be in this end of the business?

How’s a girl supposed to make a living as a casting director with so few films being green-lit?!”

Here’s My Reply

Um. Well…

A lot of people ARE getting out of the business. And also based on the calls and emails I’m getting a lot of people are still deciding to get INTO the business now.

But everyone must reinvent themselves to some extent right now.

Keep Reading…

7 Things Jon Heder Needs To Know To Run His TV Show

by David Brownstein

Another Funny Man Steps Into the Big Leagues

I read in the NY Times about Jon Heder  (Napoleon Dynamite, etc.) getting a contract to develop 100 episodes of a TV series for Comedy Central. (Starting with 10 episodes, of course.)

I've never met him and don't know any of the parties involved, but what I do know is this:

He has no idea what he's in for.

How Do I Know?

In the NY Times article Jon said: "They kept asking me "Are you you ready for this?" I said, "I'm like, 'Should I be?' I haven't thought this through."

This heart-warming exchange demonstrates a common and dangerous dynamic in Hollywood.

First: A team of smart executives recognize a major talent and make a deal for the talent to take an ambitious and smart next step.

Then: While they actually do know the traps, obstacles and banana peels that will likely challenge this creative genius, they are unwilling or more likely unable to articulate, prepare or arm their bold adventurer for his or her journey.

Into The Woods

I'm not saying the creative genius isn't ready or shouldn't embark on this journey into the deep dark woods of TV production. And I'm not faulting the execs for their vision, their deal or their last minute warning/trepidation.

This dynamic is happening all over Hollywood whether it's Burbank, Studio City, Culver City, Television City or Manhattan Beach.

Keep Reading…

Hollywood Is Changing: Are You Part of the Change?

by David Brownstein

Are you living and working run by the fears and dysfunctional behavior that is both Hollywood cliché and at times Hollywood reality?


Are you living in, working in and creating an industry that tells great stories, inspires and entertains the world, AND supports a work environment that is humane and enjoyable?

Are you willing to walk away from jobs, people and projects that make your miserable? Are you willing to create a new way of working and leading creative companies that is profitable, powerful and sustainable?

You Are Not Alone

You are not alone in your desire to create such an industry.

You can be part of an authentic, healthy community of successful storytellers who enjoy the love, support and company of their friends and family while also making films, television, theater, music and any other medium currently known or unknown.

You don't have to suffer in silence.
You don't have to sell your self out.
You don't have to work till you drop.

Mary Oliver Said It

Mary Oliver said in her poem "Wild Geese"

"You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."

Keep Reading…

Hollywood: Officially Not Dead

by David Brownstein

It's Official

Hollywood, like the global economy is not dead.

Or as Mark Twain said "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

What Am I Basing This On?

A few things actually: and they're subtle.

  • The Actor's non-strike seems to be limping towards an "end."
  • Hollywood Network, Studio and Agency layoffs and mergers seem to be limping towards an "end."
  • TV Studios and Networks are going boldly forward in their business of selecting and selling new shows for the fall that they hope will create hits, advertisers and major franchises (if not reinvent comedy or drama and save the world from a 20 year curse of 24/7 Reality TV.)

The Leno Thing

One thing our industry does well is adjust to crisis quickly and adapt to new opportunities.

Take the Jay Leno 5 nights at 10:00 pm thing on NBC.  Lots of freak out and then, "OK whatever, how does the new reality effect me and my career?"

Again it's always, how do I respond? What projects, alliances or career moves make sense now?

Chess Anyone?

Keep Reading…

The Top Of The Ladder?

by David Brownstein

Lights, Camera, Action

There's an amazing all encompassing high that occurs when we're working on a show.

I think especially on that bizarre journey called production i.e. being on the set and shooting something, where we enter this altered state and it's all about getting the shot, making the day and wrapping early enough to get some sleep before the next crazy, exciting, stressful, magical day.

It can happen in a great development job, editing job, writing job or the launch of a company or a network or whatever.

but Then It’s Over and What Now?

Looking for that next job? That next creative inspiration?

Even for those of us who've been on a roll. Had a hit, or more.

A success whether commercial or critical or just a good gig where we couldn't wait to be back to work the next day, tired as we were.

We in the entertainment industry are always wondering "What's next?"

What's around the corner?

What's going to sell in the current market?

Have I made enough money to get out of the business? Have I made enough money to get INTO the business? Have I written a good enough project to sell? Have I written a good enough project to direct it? Have I made amassed enough power to make a project I really truly love?

Keep Reading…

WGA Strike: One Year Later

by David Brownstein

Just found this great summation and look back at the writer's strike from Cynthia Littleton at Variety.

I agree with what she says here.

Especially noting what she says at the end that after the strike the WGA and Studios said they'd continue a dialogue for the future, which will likely not occur until the next negotiations start for the 2011 contract.

Leadership Remix: Beyond The Composite Snooze

by David Brownstein

As a culture, and as a community, we are only recently beginning to understand, ask ourselves, and define, or actually redefine, leadership.

The word’s been around, and we hear it often. Yet the composite snooze we experience around the word is a result of its apparent emptiness. It
feels like tired corporate jargon because when the so-called leaders of business, industry or culture are asked about leadership they seem to have nothing to say that is inspiring, profound, or relevant.

Oh, It Was Nothing, Really

Maybe they’ll point to decisions they made, or anecdotes or experiences that may have inadvertently and unconsciously shaped them. Or missions, agendas or strategies that they seem to have led or overseen, and are thus receiving and happy to take ownership in, some bit of public, corporate, or artistic success.

Yet the essence of leadership remains a mystery, except, perhaps to the many coaches and leadership experts who go on and on about how important it is to do our best to articulate, describe, and teach what it is.

Keep Reading…

My Question For WGA President Patric Verrone (And His Answer)

by David Brownstein

I had the pleasure of doing a web-radio interview last week on one of my favorite topics: Hollywood Leadership and the Writer’s Guild Strike. Hosted by Coach Tom Floyd, guests were Patric Verrone, President of the WGA, Jonathan Handel, attorney at TroyGould, Coach (and friend) Sherry Ziff Lester and me.

The Leadership Learning?

Of course I’m always listening for the leadership opportunities and ways we can do things differently in Hollywood. In the beginning of our conversation Patric was explaining the events and months preceding the vote and decision to strike. Obviously lots of frustrating time passed that led to the lengthy strike.

But Here Was My Question To Him

Patric, obviously, it was a successful strike and you got great things. With what you learned by the end of the strike —if you could go back in time now—what might have worked differently in July that you discovered in January?

Well, I think the key thing was the involvement of the CEOs. When we were bargaining from July through October, we were bargaining with what Tom referred to as the AMPTP (The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers).

Keep Reading…

Creative Career Workshop - 1/26/08

by David Brownstein

The Strike Isn’t Changing Hollywood…

The deep changes we’re seeing and contemplating have been progressing for years in quiet, lava-like slow motion. These changes ARE being highlighted and accelerated by the strike.

The internet has existed for years. The studios have been owned by big corporations for years. People have come to Hollywood with talent, a dream and varying degrees of a business plan for years.

The WGA’s choice to strike, and the AMPTP’s choice not to negotiate have combined to create an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and stasis few of us have experienced in our professional lives. (Who knew the AMPTP would negotiate like suicide bombers?)

And yet the uncertainty was here all along. The shutdown of production, development and awards shows has simply unmasked the great uncertainties that have always been upon us.

The Big Questions

  • What am I doing in Hollywood?
  • What do I want out of my life?
  • What sacrifices (or choices) have I made in my life to have a career in Show Business?
  • Is my career going where I want it to go?

Keep Reading…

David Milch - The Idea of the Writer

by David Brownstein

This just in. David Milch, writer and creator of NYPD BLUE and my fave from last year, JOHN FROM CINCINATTI, did three days of talking about writers and writing back in December. I caught the 3rd day and left inspired. I think Milch has many great leadership qualities and I plan to write about what observed in him soon. (Actually I’ve already written it, but will post it soon.)

Anyhow. Here’s the link to watch these online. Warning. It’s not a very linear talk, but he accesses and shares his genius with generosity and love.

The Writer's Strike and Small Business…

by David Brownstein

I was interviewed yesterday for Fortune Small Business News, as seen on CNN.com.

Read It Now

The article says that “Writers’ strike cripples small businesses.”

Here’s the "good part." (where they finally talk to me.)


The strike has required businesses to come up with new survival strategies and creative solutions to the cash crunch, said Hollywood career coach David Brownstein. With their production projects on hold, many of his clients are taking the time off to brainstorm about new financing options and think about their career trajectories.

"They are now forced to look at where there are new business opportunities," Brownstein said.

Oprah Winfrey on Leadership

by David Brownstein

Hi there, Just saw this interview with Oprah in The Hollywood Reporter. I’ve excerpted the most interesting parts.

What intrigues me is that she outlines the changes that occur when creative people start a business, that becomes successful and impactful. We’re all challenged with learning new skills and habits as our organization grows. Read on for what Oprah learned from her 29 meals with Nelson Mandela.

PS: I’ll be curious to see what any of you think about this. Agree, Disagree? I’m not sure I agree with her final comments about doubt. What do you think?


Hollywood Reporter: As you grew up, did anyone mentor you, especially in the business arena?

Winfrey: I didn’t have a lot of mentors, you know? I happened into being a businesswoman. It has never been a goal of mine, and I wouldn’t necessarily even say it’s a strength of mine.

But you’ve been so successful in business.

I have to really work at it. I have to work at disciplining myself. The business of the business tires me out. What I would rather do is just stand out there, in front of the camera — or not in front of the camera, ‘cause it doesn’t matter to me if I’m talking to a flight attendant or an audience of 10 million people — about concepts, ideas, principles that cause people to have these "Aha!" moments. That is what I am. At heart, I am a teacher. But I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

Can you name any?

Keep Reading…

HRTS Network Chiefs Luncheon – The Lessons of Bad Leadership

by David Brownstein

Just returned from the Network Chiefs Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. On the panel was Stephen McPherson of ABC, Dawn Ostroff of CW, Kevin Reilly of Fox, Ben Silverman of NBC, and Nina Tassler of CBS.

This annual event brings together the top creative executives of each of the broadcast networks and is truly has the potential to hear smart, creative, opinionated leaders discussing what’s happening in Television at this particular moment.

Unfortunately, the moderator of this event was Barry Sonnenfeld, film director and exec producer of “Pushing Daisies.” Here are my brief comments on the event.

1) Barry Sonnenfeld: Worst moderator ever. Here he was sitting in front of 1000 people moderating a discussion with among most powerful TV execs in Hollywood and he could barely get out a question. He talked primarily about himself, was not very knowledgeable about the business, and worst of all, barely gave the panel a chance to talk. Except for the occasional wisecrack or quip.

A journalist at my table said, half joking: “I love Pushing Daisies but now I almost want the show to fail.” I know what she means.

Keep Reading…

LEADERSHIP SALON: An Open Discussion about Leadership.

by David Brownstein
  • Who are the most effective leaders in Hollywood Right now?
  • What leaders at which companies seem to be the most leadership challenged?
  • What do we mean by Leadership anyway?

The Hollywood Coaching Leadership Salon is a facilitated conversation among Entertainment industry professionals.

We’re dedicated to growing the mystical and misunderstood art of leadership in Hollywood to a fine, masterful art.

We’ll do this by beginning a conversation about Leadership that will challenge you to think, wonder, pontificate, act and become more aware of the concept, role and power of great leadership in Hollywood.

Keep Reading…

The Inner Game of Hollywood: How to Navigate Your Goals, Fears, Dreams, Strategies and Blackberry.

by David Brownstein

Ok. So first of all I don’t have a blackberry, yet, but many of my clients do. I see it sometimes propel them to new levels of distraction, hyperventilation, bad grammar and hastily typed shorter emails.

Which is fine, but I don’t have one and can’t say I recommend them, although I must confess that I’m tempted, and quite possibly by the time you read this I will have one. (Or maybe an iPhone.)

But here’s why. Multi-tasking is the enemy. I’ve come to truly believe this. It’s the enemy of depth, completion, focus and inner wisdom. It’s not just a multi-generational thing, or a male-female thing. It’s a cultural thing.

Wait, Where Was I?

Now, perhaps the concept of “multi-tasking” is relative. Of course it is. As I sit here writing, I’m listening to a mix of songs I created on my iTunes playlist from “Nightmares on Wax” (down tempo groove, with no vocals, although occasional vocal samples, which I’ll now terminate.)

Right I’m back. Where was I? Right. Distractions and stuff. Staying focused. Yeah, not multi-tasking, going deep, blackberry, good or bad, please discuss amongst yourselves.

So here’s the real thing. I read in a some metaphysical writing that it’s important to shut down the many distractions we have and voices talking to us, whether inside or outside our head, so that we can hear our own inner voice. This is important, the author states, because our inner voice waits till it’s quiet because the inner voice NEVER INTERRUPTS.

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If I Were Coaching Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Beyonce or Angelina Jolie . . .

by David Brownstein

I was recently interviewed by email by JAPANESE VOGUE MAGAZINE for an upcoming issue. Since we may never see the replies in English, and because she asked some fun questions, I’m going to post some of my replies.

“Q#1: If the celebrities below were your clients, what would you like to advise them? Please give three advices for them in short words.”

  • Lindsay Lohan
  • Britney Spears
  • Beyonce
  • Angelina Jolie

If I were asked to coach Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears, I would not give them advice, but would ask them these questions:

  • What do you really want to create or experience in this next stage of your life?
  • What dreams do you have that you haven’t had time to achieve?

Keep Reading…

"The Inner Game of Hollywood" Live in Studio City, CA.

by David Brownstein

I’ll be at “Jennifer’s Coffee Connection” in Studio City at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, Sept. 25th. Come on down and say hello.

My topic will be: “The Inner Game of Hollywood: How to Juggle Your Goals, Fears, Dreams, Strategies and Blackberry.”

Coincidentally, this is the name of my newly revised, remixed and re-edited book. Amazing!

“The Inner Game of Hollywood” is learning to navigate our careers and creations while balancing our elaborate strategies and plans with the non-linear, sometimes non-sensical logic of a cryptic Zen-master or a 5-year-old child.

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Eisner and Ovitz: The Worst Mistakes of their Careers.

by David Brownstein

Wow. I’ve been reading “Disneywar,” the fascinating account of Michael Eisner’s rise, reign and fall at The Walt Disney Company. Right now I’m at the part where Frank Wells has died in a helicopter crash, Jeffrey Katzenberg has left Disney and has started Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, and Mike Ovitz has signed on as something like President of Walt Disney.

However. On the night before Ovitz is to actually start his job, author James B. Stewart reports that both Eisner and Ovitz report to their respective wives that this will the “biggest mistake of their careers.”

It sounds so great on paper, but both men knew, at this point that it was a big mistake for all concerned, but neither was willing to stop the train wreck in progress.

How does this stuff happen?

Keep Reading…

Executive Coach, David Brownstein, is Developing Hollywood Leaders

by David Brownstein

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Los Angeles, California. October, 2006: “Hollywood is great at developing products, but not so great at developing leaders,” says David Brownstein, founder and president of Hollywood Coaching.

To this end, Brownstein announces Inside the Leadership Studio, his step-by-step coaching program, which develops essential leadership skills for executives, management teams and companies. To head writers, show runners and their teams, Brownstein brings the aptly named, War and Peace in the Writer’s Room. In the words of a recent client, “David is like a wrecking ball with heart; like having in one person, an Olympic trainer, a therapist, a dance partner, a guru and a member of the Spanish Inquisition.”

Designed specifically for the entertainment industry, Brownstein’s executive coaching and leadership development programs are changing the way writers, executives and producers define what it takes to be a leader in Hollywood.

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New York Times and Hollywood Coaching

by David Brownstein

Hey! Coaching for Hollywood has made the New York Times. The holy grail of press, respectability and uptown acceptance for a former NY-er like me.

(here it is)

While I’m excited to read about this great new trend called life coaching, I actually believe that coaching can have a huge impact on not just the lives of the rich and famous but more importantly on the lives of people who are impacted by the work that emanates from Hollywood.

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