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

The New Hollywood Leader

Year End Retreats - Keynote Speeches

by David Brownstein

How will your company adapt to the New Challenges, New Issues, New Conflicts and Daily Clash of Ideas and Opportunities that are coming your way, like it or not?

As the fall season evolves and the end of the year is near many companies are planning their Year-End Retreats and Off-Sites.

I’m taking this opportunity to reach out and see if you or your company are ready to get your Leadership Team, Production Team or Creative Team to get in sync with clarity and focus.

I work closely with leadership teams and creative/business partners to develop a Custom Designed Retreat/Off-Site that will keep everyone engaged and involved, and leave them energized and refocused.

Here’s a taste of me in action when I gave a TEDx Talk on Leadership Lessons from Hollywood. In this 17-minute talk I talk about the unique challenges Hollywood’s creative leaders face and give powerful steps towards how to manage the unique challenges we face.

This is just one of the Keynotes I can deliver to your company that can lead into a powerful one day or multi-day off-site or retreat.

If you’re in the planning stages of a retreat this year let’s talk about Your Goals, Your Challenges and the Changes in Progress at Your Company. Together we’ll create the synergy, conversation and vision required to make powerful change for the year ahead. 


Hello Creative Leaders

by David Brownstein

How will your company adapt to the New Challenges, New Issues, New Conflicts and Daily Clash of Ideas and Opportunities that are coming your way, like it or not?

As the fall season evolves and the end of the year is near many companies are planning their Year-End Retreats and Off-Sites.

I’m taking this opportunity to reach out and see if you or your company are ready to get your Leadership Team, Production Team or Creative Team to get in sync with clarity and focus.

I work closely with leadership teams and creative/business partners to develop a Custom Designed Retreat/Off-Site that will keep everyone engaged and involved, and leave them energized and refocused.

Here’s a taste of me in action when I gave a TEDx Talk on Leadership Lessons from Hollywood. In this 17-minute talk I talk about the unique challenges Hollywood’s creative leaders face and give powerful steps towards how to manage the unique challenges we face.

This is just one of the Keynotes I can deliver to your company that can lead into a powerful one day or multi-day off-site or retreat.

If you’re in the planning stages of a retreat this year let’s talk about Your Goals, Your Challenges and the Changes in Progress at Your Company. Together we’ll create the synergy, conversation and vision required to make powerful change for the year ahead. 


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

Are You Doing More By Doing Less?

by David Brownstein

Radio Silence

I love doing my ezine and the schmoozes and feedback I get from many of you and the correspondence and community it builds.

And I also realized how much time and creative brain cells it takes (for me) and I wanted to experiment with a different choice.

Here's What I Learned

Almost anything I focus on starts to expand and take a lot of time. Since my time and brain cells are not unlimited it’s important to be brutal about how I spend them.

No matter how much time I think certain things “should” take they always take as much time as they’re going to take. Which is generally a lot more than I think/hope/want. (See “What’s Your Chinese Democracy?)”

Here's What I Gained

I got deeper into things that were bigger, scarier and had more potential reward.

I was tired of telling my own coach that I didn't have time to do some of the stuff that I thought was really important.

A Meditation On Procrastination

By giving myself enough time to actually get to the “really important stuff” I realized that once I faced these projects directly I could discover what was really going on.

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…

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.

Keep Reading…

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.

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…

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?

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.

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 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?

Keep Reading…

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.

Keep Reading…

Communication Breakdown and "The Break-Up"

by David Brownstein

Really enjoyed “The Break-Up” this weekend, and so did the Saturday Night Marina Del Rey crowd I saw it with. I was primed knowing that it was less of a “Wedding Crasher” and more of a Relationship Drama with some funny parts, but really enjoyed it, and here’s what’s “important” about this movie.

“The Break-Up” really shows how bad communications can destroy a relationship (or a business for that matter.) When Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn’s character’s “Break-Up” it was really just an argument that got out of hand and spun out of control. Neither one actually wanted to break up, but in the heat of the moment, one character says, essentially, “Fine, that’s it, we’re through” and then the other character says, essentially, “well if that’s how you feel about it, then fine!”

Keep Reading…

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

Keep Reading…

Accountability: Phase One (or Why Holding Someone Accountable Is More Than Just Blaming Them When They're Late)

by David Brownstein

Accountability is a tremendously important skill and process for getting things done. Without a deadline, or a budget, or some guidelines it’s ultimately impossible to stay in business. Yet what do we really know about how accountability works?

No matter what part of the business you’re in you’ll get a chance to both hold someone accountable and be held accountable yourself, so it’s important to understand both your responsibilities and your opportunities for making any delivery successful for all concerned.

And as the song goes, you can’t always get what you want. In fact one great truth of both life and creation is that things change and our happiness is in direct proportion to our ability to roll with the punches, the flow and the daily revisions. So managing accountability is really a skill for managing changes in the creative process. If we know to expect it, we can learn how to manage it, and if we learn to manage it, we can learn to enjoy it. (Well, sometimes.)

Keep Reading…

Want To Improve Your Leadership Skills In 5 Minutes?

by David Brownstein

Here’s something you can do everyday no matter where you work.

Close the door, hold your calls, unplug your phone, close your browser and email software and turn off any music that has words or commercial messages. For 5 MINUTES take yourself out of the raging river of information that’s flowing past your desk.

Great! That was the hardest part.

Now sit quietly and ask yourself one of the three following questions.

One: What Have I Done Well Today?

Yeah, I know. The day hasn’t gone quite like you planned. But give yourself some credit for one tough choice you made, one right decision, one place where you were true to yourself, your goals at your job or your place the world. Become aware of that one victory, no matter how large or small. Write it down.

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