10 pieces of advice from a random guy who moved to Los Angeles

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2012, I had a handful of contacts I knew before I moved. I fit what I could in my car, and I hit the road. The next 3 years was a wild ride, and my successes were a direct result, I believe, of 10 strategies: Persistence, Patience, Dreaming Big, Intuition, Finding a Mentor, Going Against the Grain, Honest Evaluations, Taking the Leap, Finding Community, and Asking for Help. I want to look at each one individually for a moment:

  1. Persistence:  Giving up was always an option, though it was not a fruitful option.  When it came down to it, I had to make my goals work.  This meant hitting the pavement looking for work, striving to move forward financially, spirituality, physically, and emotionally.  When I began therapy in Los Angeles (something I had done previously in life and felt was needed), persistence into the abyss of what was going on deep inside my mind was crucial to breakthroughs of understanding myself and my position in this world.  Sometimes persisting to go deeper is the most difficult journey of all, but it is the most worthwhile venture.
  2. Patience:  I cannot change my life in a single day.  Especially in my first two months of living in Los Angeles, there was only so much I could do a day.  That first job did not come right away, but in accordance with Persistence, I endured.  Patience was an equal practice to Persistence.  I had to be at peace with the fact that I knew I was doing what I could to establish myself, but that my life would not miraculously change overnight.  The universe seldom works like this.  Instead I had to be comfortable in the journey of taking one step at a time towards my goals.
  3. Dreaming Big:  This goal was personified for myself as simply moving to Los Angeles in the first place.  However, in retrospect of my entire journey in Los Angeles, I could have afforded to dream bigger.  I limited my actions because I did not dream big enough.  This isn’t to say my journey was a waste of time, or that I failed.  This is more of a lesson I learned from my experience and I apply more in my life today:  I have a strong vision for my future, and using the other tools listed, I am working my way towards that vision.
  4. Intuition:  Not every choice I make in life may seem rational to the outside observer.  Yet every intuitive decision has led to powerfully positive additions to my life, even if I could not see it in the moment.  Sometimes the best choice isn’t the one that looks the best on paper.  However, I do still strongly believe in considering all consequences from my actions, and I understand that if I take a certain action, I have to be prepared to handle the consequences.
  5. Finding a Mentor:  I found many mentors in Los Angeles.  Theatre makers are the most obvious, but also bosses I had who taught me how to lead and deal with people, or sponsors in recovery who taught me useful ways of living my life.  I cannot stress the importance of finding someone who seems to have the life you want for yourself, and asking them how they go there, what they might suggest for you to do to arrive at similar results, and what lessons they’ve learned from their experience that they can pass onto you.  Mentors absolutely changed my life immensely.
  6. Going Against the Grain:  This follows with intuition, persistence, and patience all rolled into one.  Sometimes you have to stand firm that you are going to do things a little different.  In fact, success is dependent upon it.  In life, there exists games.  If you want certain results in life, you have to play the game.  But, to be the best player possible, sometimes you have to search for the strategy that will put you above other players.  Some of these may result in a path which deviates from the norm, and that’s okay.  Mathematician Dr. John F. Nash made breakthroughs in mathematics because he refused to learn what others had done before him while answering a problem.  He did not want their attempts to impact the way he approached a problem.  In this way, he was able to solve several solutions and revolutionize economics through his Nash equilibrium dissertation for his PhD in his early 20s.
  7. Honest Evaluations:  You can’t go anywhere without knowing where you truly are in this moment.  Therapy and sobriety have taught me that I can’t afford to not know where I’m at and how I’m doing.   I have to do this with honesty, humility, and also with a certain joy of seeing where I am at so that I can improve.  Part of this requires embracing that I am not a perfect human being, mistakes are made on a daily basis, and it is never too late to repair the past for a better tomorrow.  But I need the willingness to look at myself through an honest lens.  And being able to share this evaluation with others is paramount in my growth.
  8. Taking the Leap:  My credentials when I moved to Los Angeles was pretty small.  I hadn’t much left the state except for a 10 month excursion to study physical theatre in Northern California from 2009-2010.  Other than that, I did not have incredibly impressive credits on my resume, I didn’t go to a top notch school that inspires awe, and as I stated earlier I didn’t know anyone of any particular interest to most people.  However, I took the leap, and in doing so, I found myself working with amazing artists, I worked at prominent drug and alcohol treatment center, and I rubbed elbows with a number of celebrities of varying levels of success.  I walked away from the experience far richer.  But I wouldn’t have had that experience if I didn’t take the leap.  Sure, it may be scary, but I have never yet in my life failed from taking a leap in such a way that my life was completely and utterly ruined.  In fact, my definition of success these days is, if I spent the whole day sober, and I was able to contribute something of value to the world that day, and minimize my ability to be a jerk, it was a pretty good day.  I could probably afford to take more leaps in life.
  9. Finding Community:  This was my number one goal when I moved to Los Angeles.  I told everyone I met that my main concern was to find my family in a city which I had none.  And I found family in spades.  Whether it was Russian-American steam punk clowns, grand guignolers, or sober friends who knew everything about me, my heart still aches because I miss these folks nearly every day.  Part of taking the leap is easy when you have a large group of people willing to catch you if you fall.  These are the people who will be there for you when you’ve lost your vision, when your patience is running thin, and when you aren’t sure what to do next.  They’ll offer advice, or they’ll let you cry, or we will all have a good laugh at how ridiculous or frustrating it all is.  But without these, the next point becomes far more difficult.
  10. Ask for Help:  Seriously.  Ask for it.  And the larger your network, the more likely it is you will receive it.  I have seen over and over again people who only ask a handful of people for help all the time, and sure it can wear thin.  This is why the previous point is so important.  But you won’t receive help if you don’t ask for it.  I promise it will be worth it.  If they can’t help you, they might be able to send you in the direction of someone who can.

There are probably more lessons I learned from Los Angeles.  But they’re really just deviations of the above.  Things like networking, doing the hustle, these all stems from the above 10 points.  Good networking is about finding community, finding mentors, and asking for help.  Hustling is all about patience, persistence, intuition, going against the grain, and so forth.  So take these 10 points, and may they serve you well.