Episode 218 — The 4-Minute Mile


Episode 218 — The 4-Minute Mile

Welcome to Episode 218! This is an essay that I wrote about a strong mindset that can help you with getting started and staying persistent with your career and your success. I am excited to get into this!

This Episode will be a bit shorter because I want to keep this condensed and laser focused. It’s around a reoccurring concept in my life which has been when people say to me, “I didn’t believe in myself, but if Allan can do it — so can I!” I’ve heard it so many times, since I was 21! I was trying to understand what that meant. It finally resonated with me a few years back. It has to do with the barriers that a lot of us have: “Other people have success but we can never manage it!”

I eventually want to talk about modeling: the process of mimicking someone’s success. But this Podcast (and essay) is the dumbed down version of that.

I’ve got a lot of great Episodes coming up:

  • Next Episode, I will be interviewing Rob Bredow, the Head of ILM. It’s rare to interview the person who runs ILM!
  • After that, I am interviewing Tony Giglio, the Director of feature film Doom: Annihilation, and the lead actor of that film Nina Bergman.
  • For the fans of design, I’m interviewing Michael Janda. I’m a massive fan of his work!

I’m so excited for this Episode!

Let’s dive in!


[00:49] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[13:25] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!


[04:40] Recently, I started going over my emails, DM’s and messages and paying attention specifically to where people got stuck. [04:51] One of the most critical places we get stuck happens before we even start. And it’s not because of resources or because we’re too busy, it’s because of how high we tell ourselves the mountain is and because we tell ourselves, “That’s impossible!”

[05:08] Luckily for me, I never had that problem. Instead I was naive enough to not even think about what was possible or impossible. I just simply knew what I wanted to do — and I went after it. But not all of us have that trait. Another trait that I had: I was good at looking at impossible goals and breaking them down into what was possible; turning — in my imagination — from reality to building a long roadmap.

[05:47] It wasn’t until I moved to LA and started working at a studio in the Valley on the third Blade movie that I came across a new mindset altogether. I was working with a really talented VFX artist and I would end up becoming friends with him. Over beers one night, he told me he owed a lot of his work to me. I had inspired him to not only get into the industry in the first place, but to push himself. He told me he was intimidated at first. The big breakthrough he had was thinking, “If Allan could do it — so can I!” I didn’t know how to take that, at first; but then, bit by bit, I met other people who said a similar thing. I started to realize how great of an affirmation that really is!

[06:54] A lot of us look at social media and see someone who has 50K or 500K followers and say, “I could never achieve that!” What we fail to realize is that they started out with zero followers, just like us. [07:13] The most successful artists started out as newbies and failed and sucked and struggled, just like us. We’re all cut from the same cloth and we all started at the same place! Some of us may have better genetics or know some people, but most of the time, that’s trivial. What that really is — is an excuse we want to put in front of us, to prevent us from even trying in the first place. If we can tell ourselves that others had some advantage — one that was detrimental to their success — it gives us an out.

[07:57] Here is the reality: Most of us fail before we even begin because we fool ourselves into believing the opposite of the truth. Before anyone had success, they were exactly where we are now. They just got started. It’s as simple as that. They — got started! More than likely, the ones that succeeded stuck it out. They didn’t give into the negative mindsets or their inner critic! The simple fact is this: If they can make it — so can you! They all got started at zero: zero experience, zero followers, no track record and a mountain of information and persistence to climb! When you’re able to break it into that: That anything is possible and that the people before us are proof of that, the more reassuring this should be for all of us.

[08:57] One of the stories I like to tell is the story of Roger Bannister, the runner that broke the 4-minute mile. Prior to the 1952 Olympics, we all believed that it was impossible to do. Yet, when he stepped onto the track that day and broke that amazing feat, it broke the World Record. But it also broke the concept of limitation in many people’s minds. Until then, no one was able to break through this barrier. This was the rule we set in our minds: This was impossible! So why did it take only two months after his victory for the next person to break that record? And the next, and the next? What was considered impossible had been broken several times in a matter of months. And since then, over 20,000 people — including high school students — have broken that record. It’s no longer a barrier for them because they know it’s already been done. Once the record has been broken, once other athletes believed it was possible, it allowed them to have the belief in themselves.

[10:28] This is the mindset we have to have: to believe in ourselves and our careers. Knowing the success that others have had should show us the path to achieve similar success as well. Why is it that instead, so many of us beat ourselves down and give up too soon, or convince ourselves we aren’t capable of success? I know plenty of people who are unsuccessful because of that! I know so many successful people who believe in themselves and use that as fuel to reach that success! And I know only a few people who are successful who tell themselves they aren’t good enough.

[11:05] We all get moments of doubt and fear. It’s natural! But we don’t live in that moment of, “I’m not good enough!” That alone should be the black-and-white evidence for success vs restraint. There is no benefit to doubting yourself, beating yourself down or thinking of yourself as unworthy. Those who don’t have those beliefs watch their careers skyrocket. As we’ve learned from Roger Bannister, anytime we witness someone do the impossible, it opens up our mind to the fact that that goal is achievable. And once we’ve seen someone else do it, we can’t tell ourselves again it’s impossible. All we have to tell ourselves, “If they can do it — so can I!”

[11:50] If you ever have doubt in yourself or you doubt if you’re equipped to achieve the success, I want you to look for others who are successful and look for the characteristics or beliefs they have. I want this to sink in: No one started as an expert! They just had persistence, and the fact that they got there, shows you what you to do to achieve the same. I’ve lost track of how many people over the course of my career have told me the same story, “If Allan can do it — so can I!” And now I get it! They were dumbing down whatever goal or aspiration they had to, “If someone else can do it, so can I!”

[12:34] Whatever is stopping you in your career, wherever you are, we all have our 4-minute miles. It’s just a matter of removing those disbeliefs and seeing that if others have had success — what’s stopping you?

I hope you enjoyed this Episode and got a lot from it. Please share this Episode with others.

There are loads of great Episodes coming up! In the mean time, shoot me an email: [email protected]. It gives a great insight for me, to understand which obstacles you’re running into.

Until next Episode —

Rock on!


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