Over 25 years, Cliff Michaels has provided a network of agents, lenders, and strategists for real estate investors, entrepreneurs, and entertainers. How did this journey begin…?

Cliff’s Hollywood Matrix (6 Keys)
By Cliff Michaels (Full Bio Here)

Agents, heroes, and villains — OH MY!

I grew up in L.A. with a passion for films, music, and novels. I tutored English when money was tight and spare time was a friend. I charged $20 to write essays for classmates and lyrics for musicians. Word got around and a few Hollywood producers (parents of friends) even paid me to edit screenplays. It was all very hush-hush.

I briefly attended USC in the mid-80’s and took my first cinema class. The professor caught me ghostwriting assignments for other students. Rather than kick me off campus, she made me attend Robert McKee’s Story Structure. It was a 3-day bootcamp dissecting the film Casablanca. I learned that successful writers tell stories that make us laugh, learn, love, scream, or escape. Branding experts use similar methods if they want us to share a product or experience with friends. I tucked away these nuggets in creative corners of my mind assuming they would come in handy one day.

My passion for writing took a detour when I dropped out of college to hunt bargain properties for real estate investors. My job as a property gopher paid peanuts, but I networked with entertainment executives, accountants, and celebrity. Many were award-winning writers and producers. Scripts, music, and real estate deals became a common vocabulary for all of us.

In 1986, I borrowed $5,000 from a mentor to buy my first condo and flipped it a few years later for a profit. I soon became a mortgage and real estate broker to help friends with their first-time purchases. Like most real estate junkies in the ’80s, we bit off more than we could chew and lost it all in the housing crash of ’89. The saving grace were lessons in finance, networking, negotiation, and project management. These essentials were my real-world MBA (a Masters in Basic Abilities).

Twenty years later, I wrote about those college days, mentors from Socrates to Spielberg, and my little entrepreneurial world. My first non-ghost experience was lightning in a bottle (#1 Amazon, #3 NY Times Bestseller: The 4 Essentials: A Misfit’s Journey to Mindset, Strategies, Values, and Purpose (initially titled The 4 Essentials of Entrepreneurial Thinking: What Successful People Didn’t Learn in School, 2012).

Over the years, I nurtured countless relationships with talent agents, accountants, and managers who appreciated my unique set of skills: candor, creativity, finance, credit, and a strategic ability to follow any plot line (be it real estate, film, life, or business planning).

LAUNCHING A LONG-TERM PLAY: In 1992, I started Cliff Michaels & Associates (age 25). It started as a boutique real estate and mortgage firm, but expanded to entertainment and venture consulting during the DotCom frenzy of the ’90s. Yeh, I did the DotCom thing too (see Diary of a Dotcom in The 4 Essentials)By 2000, my daily courtship with entertainers and entrepreneurs taught me 6 Keys to The Hollywood Matrix and Life — I share these lessons with friends, clients, and students wherever I go …

Key 1: Be Creative & Stay Busy

For artists and entrepreneurs, it’s critical to pitch and practice your craft every day. Show up first and go home last. Delegate & collaborate … then eliminate the junk! If you stay busy, you’ll not only survive but thrive in any industry.

Key #2: Learn & Build Teams

Choose teams and mentors who inspire your passion, purpose, and creativity. Study masters of history or take a masterclass from your favorite mentor online. Once you discover strengths and weaknesses, you’ll discover that writing a screenplay or launching a business is as much spark as strategy.

Key #3: Build Grit & Never Quit

Ideas are a dime a dozen and talent isn’t enough. Sylvester Stallone, JK Rowling, and Matt Damon were rejected long before Rocky (1976), Harry Potter (1997) and Good Will Hunting (1998) became blockbusters. The same is true of most artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs. The age-old lesson: Never stop punching until the final bell.

Key #4: Discover Digital Dynamics 

Social media, crowdfunding, and tech tools democratized Hollywood and Silicon Valley. At the same time, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube presented as much peril as opportunity for creatives and entrepreneurs. Although amateurs now have the simplest of bars to limbo (self-publishing and e-commerce), everyone needs to re-think their sales and marketing strategies. Bottom line? Creatives are #Trending #Digital! Don’t fight the tide, ride the wave.

Key #5: Differentiate or Die

More than ever, artists, storytellers, and entrepreneurs must “differentiate or die!” Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix have successfully challenged the likes of HBO and Showtime in the same way Apple challenged Microsoft to “Think Different!” In short, the ability to pivot and provide unique value always was (and remains) THE NEXT BIG THING!

Key 6: Have Fun, Give Back, Be True  

In The 4 Essentials, I wrote about dozens of mentors who taught me the values of integrity, humility, and gratitude. To that end, three keys will always serve you well:

  1. Have fun and find laughter in the work.
  2. Give back and be extraordinarily grateful.
  3. Be true to yourself, your peers, and clients.

If you believe in these principles, my team and I would love to help your mission.

Cliff Michaels
M: 310-488-6422 • E: cliff@cliffmichaels.com
CEO, Cliff Michaels & Associates , Inc.
Real Estate & Venture Finance • Consulting
Founder, Misfits & Maestro LLC
Entertainment • Education • Philanthropy

Mailing: PO 6156 Thousand Oaks, CA 91359