Episode 160 — The First Step to Your Dream Job


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Episode 160 — The First Step to Your Dream Job

Hey, everyone!

This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 160! This is going to be a bit of different Episode. One of the key things I’ve gotten hundreds of emails about are from people who are not in a creative industry — but who want to pursue their dream of being an artist: Having their creative outlet not just be a hobby but their career! 

For a lot of us, it seems like such a huge risk later in our career. I know I’ve touched on this a few Episodes back: www.allanmckay.com/158/ when I talked about Changing Your Career after 30. And I’ve had a lot of people reach out! I’m thinking about one person who works as a lumberjack but wants to be an artist. I’ve just talked to a student of mine who less than 12 months ago was doing the same thing: He was working as a lumberjack in Russia and felt like giving up. He was getting a few people calling him back. This is a guy who’s done everything right: He was in my Mentorship, doing great work on a small computer. He had so much talent! It was crushing for me — let alone him — that he was thinking of giving up. A few months ago, he got taken on by Scanline VFX and everything turned around! I’m not sure what he is working on, but Scanline is in the top 10 studios in the world! These amazing stories that I’ve been hearing from my students are close to my heart. For me, that’s the pay-off.

It’s also frustrating to see people not getting through because of their mindset. Right now, I’m working on my next Live Action Series. This is the biggest Course I’ve ever built. To keep my sanity, however, I’ve been paying attention to the bigger picture. Anyone can learn skills. Talent you can acquire, I believe, as long as you put in your 10,000 hours. You can get there! But as I’ve said from day one, you can be the biggest artist in the world — but how are you going to get work if no one knows about you?!

I’m here to eliminate the mindset that this is an unstable industry and you have to be a starving artist. This mindset is such bullshit! You just have to put in the work and focus on your career. Put in the work into your brand. I was talking to James Bennett, the CEO of Zerply which is a massive recruiting platform. I was sharing my frustration about that kind of mindset and he wrote, “I’m constantly on people treating themselves as a brand. They are the product!” It is so true!

You have to lean into your insecurities and get new skills:

  • Learn to negotiate.
  • Learn how to be a brand.

I’ve recently spoken to a director who is working a lot. But he told me he wasn’t very good with people. It’s so fascinating to see people at the top of their game and still be insecure. That’s a major pain point about it! So what are you doing about it? I hear so many artists acknowledge that they lack confidence.

Let’s just get into it!



I. [09:56] What I’ve been working towards a new Course. I keep putting out advanced Courses, but what can you do with that if you aren’t getting job? So this Course is exactly on that: How to create your creative breakthrough! So it’s not for everyone, but for people who are in the beginning of their careers.

Everything is strategy. It’s all a business. You’re trying to sell you, not just letting “your work speak for itself”. I wanted to make a Course and lean into these massive pain points we all have (myself included). Witnessing the successes of my students has inspired me. I just had a call with a student of mine — who has read and done everything I ever published! — and got a job a large studio in LA. Getting that text from him, telling me that he is moving to LA — I loved that!

So seeing them do the work from my material inspired me to do the Course. Applying yourself is the critical part.

  • How do you know where to begin?
  • How to overcome your obstacles?
  • How to approach big studios?

[14:42] I wanted to take the last 20-something years of my career, 10-15 years helping other people with their careers, 8 years of speaking on this subject — and put all that into this Course. What I’m excited about is that I’m putting something really different from an advanced visual effects Course I’ve been doing.

As we get into this Episode, I wanted to set the mindset: A lot of us are still stuck at the beginning, which is convincing ourselves that our goal is attainable. But knowing that you have this passion — is your fire. 

If you have a feeling that something is missing and you want to fill that hole — this is the content for you. Changing the mindset — is step one in the right direction! And this is for all of us. Over the upcoming weeks, I will be diving into more content the skills that most people don’t think can be taught.

But you have to live and breathe what you want to do. You have to pay your dues now. The hard work is what’s going to solidify a path for you. 

II. [19:25] If this is a subject that resonates with you, sign up for more free content on my site: www.allanmckay.com/inside/. A lot of people who get my emails, videos and e-books tell me that they now feel they aren’t alone. Rest assured, this is one of many Episodes leaning into this subject. I’m really excited to see what successes you can have before the end of the year.

III. [20:35] I will also have an Episode with Brandon Voss on negotiating. Brandon’s father Chris Voss was the top FBI negotiator in life and death situations, as well as the bestselling author of Never Split the Difference. We get into one of the biggest pain points for so many of us: Negotiating!

IV. [20:52] I will be interviewing Cinefex Magazine, for two Episodes, in which we will dive into 40 years of film history. 



[22:31] One of the things we all struggle with — is our calling in life. I’m not going to get deep and philosophical right now. A lot of us do this: We say, “I want to do this — but that isn’t attainable!” That’s Catch 22: If we do put it out there, we immediately beat that dream down. I love that Steve Jobs quote:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

[23:32] The people who aren’t able to limit themselves and “be realistic” — are able to go after what they really want. So many of us are told art isn’t a realistic career. We’re afraid to say what we actually want:

  • “I want to work in television”,
  • “I want to make the games I’m playing”.

We start to put the fears into our minds, we don’t even make them measurable. That’s how your subconscious puts you into the safe space.


Step One: Change Your Mindset!

[25:19] When I think of a goal that may seem unattainable, I follow up with two things:

  • What if?


  • What’s the worst that could happen?

The worst that could happen isn’t even real. We just have the reflex that makes us go back right to what we’ve been doing. If we actually say what the worst thing that would happen is — we sound ridiculous. It’s more ridiculous than the dream goal.

[26:25] I’ve once asked my friend what his goal for the year would be. He said he wanted to get 3 more clients. I asked him why it couldn’t be 12 more clients. Thinking big forces us to be more ambitious. It forces you to start thinking in a different way, the “changing the world” kind of thinking. 

[27:42] Just by saying what you want to do out loud — you’re already going to get ahead. “I want to work in Hollywood.” What would that look like? And that’s the next question:

  • What would that look like?

What would happen if the fear factors weren’t there? That’s when you start to look at things with a clear vision. Thinking big is a start! Even if you were aren’t able to quit your day job yet, you can start thinking about: “What if your dream job weren’t a hobby?” If you’re in the wrong city or in a situation where you cannot quit your job yet, can you still tinker around with this idea of working in Hollywood?

[29:44] It doesn’t mean that you can’t start doing things on the side, or start your own Instagram page. I look at some of the guys who had 1,200 followers on Instagram. But then just after one post, they got 60,000 in weeks! You never know. Instagram followers isn’t a metrics for measuring success. But there is nothing that’s stopping you from going down that path. You will need experience anyway. What if you don’t work on a side? Why not moonlight as an artist? That commitment already puts you in the game. If you set a goal that allow you to do it, what else do you think is impossible?


Set a Timeline on It!

[32:06] I look at my fiance Christina McKay. She wanted to start an Etsy store two years ago and she set a goal to sell a painting in 3 months. By putting a time constraint makes you feel like you have a goal. If you aren’t getting results after the deadline, then you can reevaluate and change the tactic. Of course, Christina got hundreds of sales (https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChristinaMcKayArt?ref=condensed_trust_header_title_reviews). As a matter of fact, I’m asking her to close down the store because she has too many orders. That’s a really great problem to have!

[34:10] So set a timeline and try it out. If it isn’t working, see if you can tweak something.  Talent is the easy thing. You can put in the 10,000 hours. You can build talent. The harder part is putting in the time. It’s also important to measure your goals. If it isn’t working, you can adjust. 

[35:00] Whatever this goals is, what would that look like? It’s the most critical factor. You have to build that word map. Step two is total immersion. You have to be in it — to win it. You have to be obsessed with what you do. If you aren’t obsessed, it’s a lot harder to put in the time. You don’t just turn it on. Just look at athletes: Their job is their lifestyle. But the mindset is what’s going to make it stick!


Get Your Foot in the Door!

[42:46] I do think that when you’re starting out, it’s about getting your foot in the door. I’ve always talked about being a generalist in the beginning. At least, you’re going to be in that circle. You can create opportunities on the side, however, I recommend trying out other things. If you go into something, it’s important to figure out what you enjoy. Say yes to everything in the beginning. You may be obsessed about design right now, but you may be naturally good at something else. You can learn to love something. Don’t lock out the idea that things might change. You are a creative and once you’re exposed to other opportunities, you might start liking another thing. If you’re open to the idea, there will be other opportunities along the way. Don’t ever make things so black and white. You have to keep an open mind and say yes to everything!

[43:36] I’ve changed careers so many times! I’ve tried everything. I even tried producing, and although it wasn’t my favorite, it changed me as an artist. Get in there and get immersed! Test the waters! You have to look at what the real drive is, but that doesn’t happen until you start trying things. In this industry, it’s really easy to move around. That’s what I love about it!

[46:10] But it all comes down to that question: WHAT IF? 

Once you start, you’re in the race. It’s a lot easier to move forward at that point.


I hope this Episode resonated with you. Mindset is everything! I didn’t tell you a step-by-step recipe here, but I am pointing out the right mindset. If you don’t have the mindset, you will have to face all these bullshit excuses.

  • Over the next few Episodes, I will be making all this material — including announcing this new Course!
  • The next Episode will be on having a hustler’s mindset. Every person who’s had major success — whom I’ve ever interviewed — said that they had to get out of the comfort zone. Think about that!
  • There will be Episodes on negotiating, how to treat ourselves as a business, etc. I hope this helps you set measurable goals for the end of the year.

Sign up for my email list, to get the free content: www.allanmckay.com/inside/.

Until next week —

Rock on!


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