Snippets From A Misfit’s Journey
By Cliff Michaels (Full Bio Here)

Agents, heroes, and villains — OH MY!

I grew up in Los Angeles with a passion for films, music, and novels. Writing and entertainment were my first passions so I even tutored English in high school when money was tight and spare time was a best friend. For $20, I’d help classmates write essays and drafted lyrics for songwriters. Word got around that I had a gift for gab and a few Hollywood producers even paid me to edit screenplays. It was all very hush-hush but that’s how I paid for food, gas, and rent in my senior year of high school and freshman year of college at USC.

I briefly attended USC in the mid-80’s where took a cinema class. The professor caught me ghostwriting for a fellow student and I thought for sure I would be tossed off campus. Instead, the instructor saw something good in my writing and encouraged me to attend Robert McKee’s Story Structure as an extra credit assignment / punishment. It was a 3-day course on the film Casablanca that every aspiring Hollywood writer-producer-actor-director raved about. So I went! The takeaway from Mckee’s immersion therapy for screenwriters was that successful stories must include conflicts, subplots, and bumps in the road. If written well, the best stories will make us laugh, learn, love, scream, or escape (the whole purpose we watch movies). These nuggets would soon serve my business career since most of my clients were creative artists and entrepreneurs (the greatest story tellers I know).

My passion for writing took a detour when I dropped out of college to earn a living. I started hunting bargain properties for real estate investors. The gig paid peanuts, but I learned to network with agents, accountants, lawyers, and award-winning entertainers. Hollywood vernacular and real estate deals soon became a common vocabulary (goals, budgets, deadlines, stories, drama, characters). It was all connected.

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, I bit off more than I could chew and lost it all in the housing crash of ’89. The saving grace were lessons in finance, networking, and negotiation. These essentials set the foundation for my real-world MBA (Masters in Basic Abilities). 20 years later, I wrote about those early days in a book titled: The 4 Essentials: A Misfit’s Journey to Mindset, Strategies, Values, and Purpose.

In The 4 Essentials, I share what worked, didn’t work, and lessons learned as a rebel student who fell ass backwards into entrepreneurshipBelow are my 5 favorite keys …

Key 1: Be Creative & Stay Busy

Pitch and practice your craft every day. Show up first and go home last. Delegate, collaborate, and eliminate the junk! If you stay busy, you can thrive in any business.

Key #2: Build Teams & Mentors

Choose teams and mentors who inspire your passion and purpose. Study history or take a masterclass from your favorite mentor online. Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to create a spark and strategy for desired results.

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 movie blockbusters. The same is true of artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs. 

Key #4: Differentiate or Die

More than ever, artists 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 5: Have Fun, Give Back, and 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 have always served me well:

  1. Have fun and find laughter in the work.
  2. Give back and be 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 & Ventures
Finance • Consulting • Forum Facilitation
Mailing: PO 6156 Thousand Oaks, CA 91359