Snippets From A Misfit’s Journey
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 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 show me the exit door, she saw something in my work and suggested I attend Robert McKee’s Story Structure — a 3-day bootcamp on the film Casablanca. The big takeaway lesson: successful writers tell stories that make us laugh, learn, love, scream, or escape. Creative artists and entrepreneurs do the same thing. These little nuggets served my career in years to come.

A 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 got to network with agents, accountants, and award-winning entertainers. Scripts, music, and real estate deals became a common vocabulary.

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