Guide to Finding a Gig in LA

It is odd that you have this skill set that people in your native area don’t really have a use for, but the rest of the world does. As a native Northern Californian you would think from the outside that since I live in the same state it would be ok, but truthfully the entire culture is different from top to bottom. A round peg in a square hole. I was always out of place where I am from. Sure, I had family and friends. I trail of good jobs and solid network. However, none of them matched my vision. My goals were different. My skill-sets were different. My plans were different.

Then I took a trip to LA for a conference and I experienced the loud, traffic jammed, hustle, no sleep, will to be weird, laid back and trendy cultural landscape of Los Angeles. I could never go back to how things were before. My eyes were opened as a young person and professional. The crowd had the same mindset and goals. The lines blurred between friends and networking. Everything seemed like a mixer, but less cheesy and way more exciting. It good to be around the same people. This was home. I was an Angeleno all along.

Now the goal was to find a gig. I had plenty of work experience and the education to get me at least looked at. I wanted to be in either Entertainment, or the Agency side of advertising. Up north nothing like these pillars of American industry existed. It wasn’t even a thought for most of the people there. It was something they watched on TV, with little desire to participate in its creation. Which is what I always wanted. It is what my skill-set and interests demanded.

This is what I have figured out so far.

1. Be Genuine, People Can Smell A Fake

fakepeopleKnow who you are. Everyone here has come here to make it. Most people have heard some outlandish, or bragging rant that everyone in the room knows they are full of it. I have to say, after being here my BS indicator has become much more sophisticated. I get sometimes you hear, “You Gotta Fake It Til You Make It.” But there are repercussions for that, namely trust. When that’s lost your character, not just your reputation is at stake. Barbie isn’t real and Ken has no balls. Be careful when associating with them. Be even more aware so you don’t become them. 

2. One Third of LA’s Population Is Completely Full Of It

bsmeterRelating to the above post I think any typical resident knows it. My first go round in SoCal ended badly after believing someone was what they weren’t. Time and money lost on scale that almost didn’t allow me to recuperate. Pain is an equal opportunity teacher. If you aren’t long time friends – get it in writing.

3. It Really is About ‘Who You Know’ and That Isn’t Necessarily Bad

beachparty

For all you wallflowers out there let this headline terrify you. For me, this wasn’t a bad thing. It could be the best part. About a week ago I was at a beach party in Santa Monica. I was drinking a beer that was delivered to me on the beach by this start-up called Saucy, talking to people in a side of LA which you couldn’t get past gatekeepers unless you knew someone. They were great people. Doing things with their careers which I moved here for. I looked out at the ocean with the pier faded in the background, there were beautiful happy people everywhere, the weather was perfect and I had made some great new acquaintances. Life was good. Networking is serendipitous when you are being real and not trying to get something from everyone.

4. Treat It Like A Courtship Not A One Night Stand

courting

Be willing to put in work. In the beginning you are the new kid in town. Even with social media and the ability to look up your life at a moments notice, this is a huge opportunity both personally and professional to be that person you are with out any other preconceptions about you. For this reason also, take it slow when meeting new people. Don’t hussle them. It feels sleezy. You always want to work with person and not a sales person. Don’t rush it. Make it a process. Some of the connections I have made a conferences and events have become some of my closest friends. That is because I took a genuine approach to peoples needs and where my skill set fit in with their goals. LA has it all, you’ll find your crew.

5. Don’t Get Caught Up In The Scene

partyhard

Like I said, LA has it all. Every food type 24 hours, clubs, bars, beaches, and plenty of amazing people to meet that are here to make life awesome. I had alcohol delivered to me and my friends while in a chair on the beach…they didn’t offer that anywhere in Sacramento. For this reason you must exude self-restraint and keep your priorities in order. You came here to make those dreams happen right? How is that going to get done when you go out for the third night in a row? Not exactly the formula for peak performance. I always like to refer to Tim Ferris in this matter. A man with many circles and abilities his message from the 4-Hour series was clear.  Make a system that you can’t break to complete your goals.

6. This Is The Jungle…Things Will Eat You

preyvspreditor

Meet new people. Get to know them. Beware. This is one of the most competitive environments in the country. Keep your wits about you. People talk about things and make things up. There are hustlers. It is a rough town if you don’t watch yourself. By all means enjoy. Always remember there is always a possible predator…and it may eat you if you aren’t aware of what they look like. Sure, it’s tough now. You’re just starting out. Your goal is to become the lion. Because with a city as amazing as LA working to be king is worth the struggle. 

 

Branding Big Companies For The First Time

I have worked with smaller growing companies in the past. Their structure is flexible, their identity isn’t as established. It is in a way creatively limitless to the inexperienced. There are some cons with the little guys. You may have a grandiose idea that would do amazing things for them. After creating the story board, faux prints, data, a clean spreadsheet and a nice presentation – it is out of the budget, they have limited knowledge of business terms, or advanced techniques for brand awareness. Simply, they aren’t apart of that market which has a want, or need for that level of services. Then one day you get a chance to use those ideas in your head. Those notebooks can get used for the right company. The right brand. The right target audience. One of the big guys likes your style and wants to use your mind to help his company do better.

 

growing pains armLET THE GROWING PAINS HAPPEN GRATEFULLY. 

I am lucky enough to have a good rolodex of contacts in various industries and this one in particular (entertainment, professional sports and national NPOs) worked completely in my favor. I learned the ins-and-outs of how to take this campaign from a proposal – to presentation – to reality. It takes time to build report with any industry professional especially when there are other brands involved. Finding how one company’s artist works with a franchise’s image. What are the long term benefits from the partnership? Where will the income increase by implementing this strategy?

Creating everything from guerrilla video tactics, timed-PR releases, authentic presence on social media by find a campaign where users generate their own content – so much of it was excitingly overwhelming. It was all the things I had been working towards independently when I was sub-contracting. So much of it was trying to mimic tactics used by larger companies in an effort to replicate those kinds of results for start-ups and small to midsize companies I worked with. It was like there were no rules as long as the rules made you win. All the resources available to you.

I worked with a small team and together with our combined expertise we pull off something amazing. It was gratifying in a way I can’t fully describe when I was able to see the work myself and my colleagues did appear and be appreciated. I learned something. I was so used to working solo on helping companies make themselves better – I was able to be better because of a team that was just as motivated as me. With our range of experience of expertise, skills and contacts we did something none of us would’ve been able to do on our own. That is something I wish to do again. 

Instagram Video – If Your Company Isn’t Doing It, It Should Be.

Social media is radio. You get a blast out to the amount of audience (followers) you’ve currently generated initially and then if it is digital worthy than those users share it with their friends and so on and so forth. Nothing new.

What I love most about Instagram is that it is free broadcasting for video and print media. You can make a high quality commercial, artistic showcase, or use a beautiful image to tell a story. It is a wall of pictures and video. You could literally do anything you can think of with the number of editing apps and communities that support each other. It is a creative’s paradise and it will open up opportunities for brands who use them.

tumblr_mve3kz3WG21st5lhmo1_1280tumblr_mtawb6Bzzy1st5lhmo1_1280tumblr_mqq4ivpL641st5lhmo1_1280The “#” is more relevant to gaining loyal engaged audiences than Twitter – even though Twitter is important. Images and video always will give more credibility. Which is why you are finally starting to see big guys diving in bed with YouTube, Vine/Instagram and Snapchat.

The places generating the content are more effective (uncharted territory) than using the larger social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Which serve as the Trending Beacons. Not where they originate. If you want to control where the movements happen you have to start where the content is generated. Then it gets replicated. And hopefully goes viral.

15 seconds is more than enough time to entertain and engage your prospect consumer. Great content will yield a return on your investment and your time. Any business can compete in this model. If you make a great campaign people will follow you. You’ll find your audience and you’ll generate business from it. It is going to be exciting now that social media has found its television ad platform. Back to using strategic branding in images to explain your product, service, or idea to massive amounts of people. It’s only going to get more interesting from here.


Christopher is a producer, web &  graphic designer and brand manager who has had years of experience consulting and creating strategies for clients.

Find find @c_a_pick on Instagram to check out his videos, art, music and designs for clients.