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…

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

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…

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.

Who's On Your Transition Team?

by David Brownstein

November 4th was the day of voting, counting and analyzing the data, but the change has been occurring gradually for years.

Election day was a snapshot/freeze frame of a living breathing transformation in progress. 

Our world has been changing, our demographics have been changing, the economy has been changing and our careers and industries have been changing. 

And it's on certain days and at certain times that we stop and register a choice, count the votes, articulate what's changed.

Internal/External Shifts

The political landscape has changed. The world's economic fortunes are shifting. 

One of the many things that I believe Barack Obama's leadership will bring to Washington and the world is a new understanding of the nature of teamwork and collaboration in getting things done and making changes in our world and projects.

  • How will we help improve our global economy and our personal economy?

  • How will we change our actions and attitudes towards global warming and our reliance on oil?
  • How will we reinvent our careers and professional lives when the skills and jobs and money streams that once made us a good living are changing, shifting or outright disappearing?

The Big Change

The big answer, and the big shift, is that we'll be challenged to do it collectively: in teams, in partnership and in collaboration.

We're being challenged to solve problems that we've never faced before which will require answers and approaches to problem solving that we've never used before.

But now, working together with other people, brainstorming solutions, listening and being inspired by other ways of looking at and approaching problems are likely to be the best and perhaps only way out.

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What Are Your Company's Leadership Values?

by David Brownstein

What are the essential skills, qualities and awareness’ that you wish you could magically clone and implant into your company’s future leaders?

The qualities are often silently embedded into the vision of a companies founders, their successful CEO, creative directors or leaders.

Know Your Team

Lacking the tools, time or sometimes simply the inclination to develop the next generation of a companies leaders often causes creative companies to rely on corporate leadership “instruments” and “assessments” that are expensive, time consuming, boring and ultimately ineffective for creative companies, departments or teams.

Creative companies are led, managed and inspired differently. Its employees are not motivated exclusively by money. For employees of creative
companies, what matters is their ability to do good work, collaboratively with other creative people, in an environment where creativity is
understood and respected.

Know How To Manage Deadline

Even the most ethereal of creative artists understand and respect deadlines. But when they are working in an environment of seemingly arbitrary
milestones, inane redundancies, and management inefficiencies, creative employees will flounder, lose interest and before long move to a company where they feel better appreciated and understood.

Know Creative Process

Yet the challenge of the modern entertainment company is how to manage creative talent in a way that allows them to do their best work and to have an entire team’s efforts focused into a symphonic crescendo of original creation, finely focused by a creative leader, into a successful
product that will be funneled into the market place at the right time in the right way.

Developing leadership talent for creative companies must start with an appreciation of the creative process.

Also essential are having both a clear vision of what the product will be, and the ability to articulate it, even though it will probably

Know Your Business

You must know your core creative and business values before you enter “The den of constant creation and change” or you will be lost forever, and worst of all, dismissed as simply a random, clueless “suit.”

The best creative leaders know what matters and what doesn’t. Know which battles to fight and which to give in on. And even know when to
give in when they’re right and the team is wrong (but may need to learn it for themselves.)

Feedback, Please?

The best creative leaders know how to give supportive feedback when the process is veering off course. Sometimes they can tell right away and sometimes it’s impossible to tell until later. But knowing when, and how, to pull the plug on a creative exploration is the master’s stroke.

Know Your Self

Finding the right balance of compassion, sensitivity and certainty requires a leader to be grounded in an understanding of their own strengths, their own vulnerabilities, and their own aesthetic, business and market grounded ness.

Confident and knowledgeable enough about the creative process at hand, knowing the language and customs of the creative working, and when to
listen to, and fight for their own intuitions are seldom discussed, rarely well articulated awareness’s that the great creative leaders have.

They are respected, appreciated and loved. Their creative teams will work their hardest to make them happy if they trust that their work will be appreciated and their process understood.

Know Leadership

Some of these qualities come naturally to some. Some come through training in creative disciplines, some through apprenticing a great creative leaders.

But the essential skills of creative, collaborative leadership can be learned, experienced and transmitted.

Whenever you’re ready.

Leadership Definitions: The Journey Begins

by David Brownstein

This is a work in progress. I’m still synthesizing and simplifying many of my notes and writing about leadership over the past few years. My apologies in advance for any potential redundancies.

Hope you like it, here it goes:

Definition/Riff #1:

Leadership is the art of facilitating collaborative creation toward a powerful goal.

Leaders guide and empower a team of willing participants towards a visualized, articulated, actualized and constantly evolving end.

Leaders bring forth a deeply accessed vision, nurture their teams by facilitating inspiration and collaboration and manage results through
supportive accountability.

Leadership can be practiced and applied by anyone at any level of a team or organization.

Leadership growth involves an ongoing process of developing the skills and awareness’ for inspiring, nurturing and managing collaborative work in progress.

Keep Reading…

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.

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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).

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Coaching And Therapy

by David Brownstein

At the ICF conference in November, I had a great conversation the Dr. Carol Kaufman, a therapist, coach and Ass’t Professor at Harvard about a whole bunch of stuff, but I was moved by this articulate statement about the differences between coaching and therapy.

“The role of therapy is decreasing depression, the role of coaching is increasing well being.

Therapy follows the trail of tears with the goal of healing.

Coaching follows the trail of dreams with the goal of optimal living.

In Coaching, healing is a side effect. in therapy that’s your goal.”

Very poetic, clear and honoring of the tools and intentions of both paradigms.

What do you think?

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.

A New Word for Leadership?

by David Brownstein

I think we need a new word for leadership.

Except for coaches, "regular people" are both sick of the word and clueless about it. I keep hearing people say the word leadership is “overused,” “tired” and “jargon.” Maybe they’re sick of it because we coaches (being both leadership students and aficionados) haven’t articulated it yet, or made it actually interesting or profound or clear.

And there are so many “powerful icon’s of business” who’re clueless (IMHO) about the forward thinking views of leadership who, because they’re rich and powerful, are constantly asked about leadership, and write books about their “leadership” are giving the “new leadership” modalities a bad name.

These new modalities tend to include coaching skills and coaching approaches. Things like, oh. . . listening, collaborating, having a vision, working to accentuate people’s strengths, being clear about accountability, etc.

Maybe a new word IS needed. Maybe I’ll call my book “A New Word for Leadership.”

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.

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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.

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"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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Master How To Win Over The Most Intimidating VIP

by David Brownstein

(I was interviewed recently for this article below. Only one major factual error but basically this is what i said. See below for my comments/correction.)

BY MOREY STETTNER INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY Sometimes it’s hard enough to convince your best friend. Yet winning over a haughty VIP can prove far tougher. While some bigwigs are perfectly polite, others can bully and bluster their way through a meeting. They may skip the niceties and strike a stern, disapproving attitude from the moment you enter the room. “They’re thinking, ‘Now amaze me and make it quick,’ “ said David Brownstein, president of Hollywood Coaching in Los Angeles.

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The Three Mistakes Leaders Make

by David Brownstein

If you’re a leader, in any industry, the chances are your effectiveness could be improved by bringing awareness to these three essential areas.

How are you doing in these areas? Here are the three mistakes most leaders make in leading a team.

One: Not Clarifying Expectations, Assumptions/Vision and How to Win/Succeed.

  • What’s the big picture vision? Why does it matter? How will group success be measured? How will individual success be measured? What obstacles can we expect? How will we handle unexpected obstacles? How will we work together? How will we work individually? How will we communicate changes in the plan? What if the vision/end goal changes? What will happen if someone screws up? Can I have a life outside of work?

Two: Not Establishing Trust and Open Communication.

  • Are you really open to the input of others? Do you want a team or a group of soldiers? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Are you able to listen at multiple levels at once? Can you handle the truth? Can you hear other people’s ideas and suggestions without feeling obligated to execute them? Do you know how to get the best from each member of your team? Are you willing to take chances to inspire magic?

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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?

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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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War and Peace in the Writer's Room

by David Brownstein

I’m finally announcing my new program for Television Head Writers, Show Runners and Executive Producers called “War and Peace in the Writer’s Room.” It’s designed for teams of creative people to sharpen their leadership skills and get their team in sync.

It’s not for everyone, but I look forward to hearing your thoughts and welcome your support in getting this program to the hard working folks who’ll benefit from this. Thanks!


Head Writers
Show Runners
Executive Producers
Network Executives

  • What is the COST of a dysfunctional writer’s room?
  • What could your team create if you dramatically improved your own LEADERSHIP skills?
  • Wouldn’t it be cool to spend LESS TIME AT THE OFFICE and more time with your family?

Transform your team, your career and your life with:

War and Peace in the Writer’s Room

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The Journey of Leadership and Creation

by David Brownstein

Whether we are writing a script, starting or transforming a company, or leading a cast and crew of thousands the creation of something new always requires an element of leadership.

The best leaders can stand in the middle of what may appear to others as a huge mass of confusion and creation and answer the question “Now what?”

And the degree to which a leader is willing to accept and acknowledge that their journey and development as a leader is critical to the success of the “project” is the degree to which the maximum change and efficiency can occur.

Here are the steps any creator or leader must take to bring something from an idea into reality. The more we can be conscious of the process and the steps the better we’ll be able to navigate the storms and obstacles that may appear on our journey.

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