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#04 Jen Waldman — Discovering My WHY Changed Everything

My guest on this episode, Jen Waldman, is a theatre coach and Executive Director of her own acting studio in New York City, a speaker and official optimist with Simon Sinek's Start With Why team, and co-host of The Long and The Short Of It podcast.

Our mutual friend Peter describes Jen as a human stethoscope - suggesting that she's an expert at getting to the heart of a matter. As you'll hear in our conversation, she trained as an actor and made her Broadway debut in Maury Yeston's musical, Titanic. She was in the Broadway company of Wicked and toured the US as Nessarose.

Using her background in the arts, Jen also speaks to audiences in business, education and public service -encouraging creative thinking and imagination, so that people everywhere can cultivate new ideas and share them with the world.

I've been looking forward to sharing this conversation with you. In this episode we discuss how as artists we can claim more responsibility for the impact of our work, Jen offers her perspective on the state of the New York theatre industry, you can learn how to make yourself indispensable as an artist, how discovering her WHY changed everything for Jen, learn why it might be time to get new headshots and how to seek and filter feedback that you can use.

I hope you enjoy this conversation with the human stethoscope, Jen Waldman.

In this episode we discuss:

  • making the move from Southern California to New York to study theatre
  • “It’s really important to live in a place you love.”
  • exploring the connection between creativity and serendipity
  • the idea that creativity is the ability to find the link between two seemingly different things
  • Jen's work as a coach at the Jen Waldman Studio in NYC and the Reboot Program
  • claiming more responsibility for the impact of your work
  • the theatre industry in New York is pretty busted and broken
  • the myths that actors have been about what they are allowed to do or be
  • how to identify the myths, deconstruct them and then seek the actual truth
  • how to make yourself indispensable as an artist (even when you’re interpreting the work of others)
  • Linchpin, by Seth Godin is required reading in Jen’s program
  • Start With Why - Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action
  • Find Your Why - This book by Simon Sinek, David Mead and Peter Docker outlines how to conduct a WHY discovery process
  • how you can look at opportunities that present themselves through the filter of whether or not they reflect your why
  • the impact that discovering her why had for Jen
  • you don’t have to be feeling stuck to experience an “aha moment”
  • Simon helped Jen realise that her core skills weren’t industry-specific
  • how to think about who you do and don’t want to work with
  • “As an artist it’s really important to me to understand where the science ends and where the art begins.”
  • A Second Chance - a book by Cat Hoke about new starts, forgiveness, shame and the power of possibility
  • “I do believe that we tend to marry our dreams and then feel a sense of obligation to pursue them even when our circumstances or desires change.”
  • Let Us Not Confuse Waiting In Line With Productivity
  • “You are a self identified creative.” So who gets to decide your identity and character?
  • reclaim the time you might have spent waiting to be picked and invest it in innovating new ways to get your work seen by the people you want to see it
  • if you want something, you must immerse yourself in the world that surrounds the thing that you want
  • resumes are sunk costs on display. Can we put the resumes away and put the work first?
  • Sunk costs are a gift from your past self to your present self, that you can choose to either accept or reject.
  • Ignore Sunk Costs (blog post) by Seth Godin
  • why it may (or may not) be time to get new headshots. [Ps. Kurt Sneddon captures amazing headshots.]
  • Thanks for the Feedback - Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
  • how to offer yourself feedback - "generating an objective eye that allows you to witness your own storytelling and your own technique so that you can identify what could change, and then change it"
  • ask yourself Who is it for? What is it for? What change am I seeking to make? Sometimes the most powerful question you can answer is Who is it NOT for?
  • See and Be Seen
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