Cliff Michaels & Associates provides a network of agents, investors, and strategists for entrepreneurs & entertainers. Our story began with a twist of fate …

6 Keys to The Hollywood Matrix
By Cliff Michaels (Full Bio Here)

Agents and heroes and villains, OH MY!

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

I attended USC in the mid-80’s and took a cinema class. The professor caught me ghostwriting for students, but rather than kick me out, she made me attend Robert McKee’s Story Structure. It was a 3-day bootcamp dissecting the film Casablanca. We learned that successful writers usually tell stories that make us laugh, think, share, scream, escape, or empathize. Branding experts use similar methods, so I tucked away those nuggets in entrepreneurial corners of my mind.

Writing took a detour when I dropped out of college to hunt bargains for a group of Hollywood real estate investors. The gig barely covered rent, but I networked with agents, celebrities, and borrowed $5,000 from a mentor to buy my first condo. I flipped it for a profit two years later, then got my mortgage and real estate license to help friends invest as well.

Like most real estate junkies in the ’80s, I bit off more than I could chew and lost everything 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 all of it in The 4 Essentials: A Misfit’s Journey to Mindset, Strategies, Values, and Purpose.

In spite of setbacks, I developed strong relationships with agents and CPAs. By the time I was 21, I fell ass-backwards into hunting homes for celebrities who appreciates three disciplines I brought to the table: 1) remodeling homes, 2) fixing credit, and 3) an inside lane to the rapidly-changing mortgage world.

In 1992, I started Cliff Michaels & Associates (age 25). It was a boutique real estate and mortgage firm that expanded to entertainment and venture consulting during the DotCom frenzy. By 2000, it was a daily courtship of CPAs, bankers, lawyers, entertainers, and entrepreneurs. The experience taught me 6 Keys to The Hollywood Matrix (and Life) that I share with friends to this day…

Key 1: Be Creative & Stay Busy

For artists and entrepreneurs, it’s critical to write and re-write ideas. Pitch and practice your craft. Show up first and go home last. Delegate & collaborate the essentials, then eliminate the junk. If you stay busy, you’ll not only survive but thrive.

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. Once you discover strengths and weaknesses, you’ll soon 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 hard before Rocky (1976), Harry Potter (1997) and Good Will Hunting (1998) became blockbusters. The same is true of most successful artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs. The age-old lesson: Never stop punching until the final bell.

Key #4: Discover Digital Dynamics 

There’s no arguing that social media, crowdfunding, and simple tech tools democratized Hollywood and Silicon Valley. At the same time, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube presented as much peril as opportunity for creative artists and entrepreneurs alike. Although amateurs now have the simplest of bars to limbo (such as self-publishing and e-commerce, everyone needs to re-think their sales and marketing strategies. Disruption will occur faster than you can say “Jack-Be-Nimble!” Bottom line? Super 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 users to “Think Different!” In short, the ability to pivot and provide 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:
CEO, Cliff Michaels & Associates , Inc.
Finance • Writing • Consulting
Co-Chair, Michaels & Maestro LLC
Producers • Education • Philanthropy

Mailing: PO 6156 Thousand Oaks, CA 91359