Episode 254 — Start with Why


Episode 254 — Start with Why

This Podcast is in response to someone’s message, “How do I get things done? And how do I stay motivated?” You have to start thinking like a producer. You have to ask yourself the questions, “Where can my time go so I get more bang for my buck? Where can I make the most amount?” It’s about making decisions on where the core of your time goes and what’s your Return On Investment (ROI) is.

The more you question these things, the more creative you get. There are different ways you can leverage things to your advantage. You’ll start to look at your habits and realize where you’re leaking time — and coming up with solutions.

In this Podcast, Allan answers the crucial question of, “How do I stay motivated?” by tackling the bigger question of what your bigger purpose is — your WHY — and also gives a few hacks to get a lot more done in your day.


[02:58] What Inspired This Podcast
[03:36] Thinking Like a Producer
[07:36] What is Your ROI (Return on Investment)?
[11:17] Batching Your Tasks
[11:59] Defining Your Why
[16:26] Conclusion


Hi, everyone! This is Allan McKay.

Welcome to Episode 254! I wanted to do something special and talk about how I get everything done: My purpose and how I crush it every single day. This is in regards to someone’s question to me. I thought it would be fun to go deeper into this subject by talking about what your purpose is. A lot of us lose our drive over time, and they lose their motivation because of that. I wanted to make this applicable to you, in your career and your life.

Please take a moment to share this Episode with others. That being said:

Let’s dive in!


[00:57] 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!

[18:10] 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!


[02:58] So I got a message from someone asking, “How do you get so much done in a day? And how do you stay motivated?” It’s such an open ended questions, in a way, it’s hard to answer. But it’s very easy looking in to think someone is doing a lot (in contrast to yourself). I did get someone at Weta asking the same question (www.allanmckay.com/245). That person had a family and he was working on a lot of high-end movies and was feeling constantly burnt out. How could he get more done when he was burnt out at the end of the day?


[03:36] Sometimes it is a bit more of a shuffle to get more done with less time. And other times, it’s about thinking smart. There are times during my week when I feel like an employee: I’m rushing around trying to get things done for my team. I am more in a reactive mode. But there are mindsets that I have about prioritizing things or batching tasks together. And I do think it comes down to that.

[04:04] I definitely think as a producer and that’s a critical thing. I’ll put in my time but I’m always thinking, “Where could my time be used better?” I’ll give you an example: I’ve been working on my social media and trying to figure out how it works. There is also a lot of work that goes into this Podcast with which I am trying to help artists get to where they should be at. That’s the ultimate struggle for me: How do I get people to care about their careers and be strategic when they’re going after their goals? I really think that’s my life’s calling — to help creatives to embrace their arts as a business and go after their goals and get that success. A lot of us give up and get frustrated that we aren’t where we should be. Instead, we blame everyone else for our failures. If I put out of video, someone will skip over it because there are so many videos out there. If I post the message as an image, someone might actually stop and think for a moment. And then it will click for them. The next time they see a video, they might watch it — and suddenly they’re getting that success and growing.

[05:52] I see social media as a tool for anyone to have success, just by having access to more people. What I’ve been working on recently is a way to create tens of thousands of content pieces per month. It’s been an interesting journey. There is one thing I’ve been messing around with which is carousel images. I love this way of taking a simple slide and communicate a message in a simple, fun way but with a core essence. It’s something people can just flip through. When I discovered these — from Mike Janda (www.allanmckay.com/221), Chris Do (www.allanmckay.com/125), Ben Burns — I thought they were effective. But I see how long it takes me: It takes me about 1.5 hours per post. Although that doesn’t take much time, I’m also trying to create thousands of pieces of content. And this one thing takes so much time, to be a single Instagram post! So I don’t want to spend so much time when I have limited time. It’s not worth it to me! So I need to figure out a way to do it more effectively.


[07:36] This is the example that I can use: Where can my time go so I get more bang for my buck? Where can I make the most amount? My wife does vehicle wraps for celebrities for their luxury cars. It takes a lot of time. She loves doing 3D designs too, to show the clients the final product. I keep telling her not to do that because the rate that she’s being paid is the same. As soon as she introduces 3D, it will slow down the process. As soon as she does that, she’s halfing the rate she’s getting back. I’m always thinking about time versus investment. I’m always careful about my time and where my ROI (Return on Investment) is going, so I can make the right decisions.

  • Is there a better way to do it?
  • Can I automate something or write a tool?

That’s where my social media example comes in. I don’t want to be spending time on posts, I want to be building software. Again, it’s about making decisions on where the core of your time goes and what’s your ROI is — and is there a better way?

[09:07] The more you question these things, the more creative you get. There are different ways you can leverage things to your advantage. You’ll start to look at your habits and realize where you’re leaking time. If you’re going to the bank and paying your bills five times a week, what if you did all that in one sitting? There are little tweaks you could be doing. For me, it’s about putting out content. I’m always thinking about systems. Say with my Podcast and YouTube Channel, I’ve been very careful about giving those things finite time. I have a timer on my desk. I started doing that on the Superman job: We got this widget that looked like the clock from 24. At the end of each hour, it would play that theme from the show and I’d become aware that another hour has gone by. It stuck with me and it made me give time more relevance.


[11:17] I batch everything I do. For a couple of weeks, I’ll write down my ideas and scripts for Podcasts and YouTube videos. Then I record them all at once. Otherwise, if I were to do them sporadically, I would be exhausted and it would take the same amount of time to do one video as it takes me to do five! By batching things, it allows me to stay laser focused. I set up my equipment and get mentally ready for it — and I do it only once. This is how I stay focused.


[11:59] The other part of the question was about how I stay motivated. That’s a much harder to answer. I would say it’s more duty than anything else. I want to help others and I have that want. I want to help people take responsibility and go after what they want. And goals and focus are so critical to have! [12:34] As long as you have a WHY, you will keep pushing yourself. For me, it’s because I want to help others and it inspires me to get off my butt every day. If I cared about money, I would do things differently. It would be about making the quickest buck. Money is not the best motivator unless you’re running out of it (unless you have that greed). I think it’s important to identify your why that will keep you working those late nights and doing everything else that comes with it.

[13:21] There are short-term goals and long-terms goals. When I’m working late hours, it’s about pride. I want to be putting out the best I can do. This is going to be set in stone and it will be something I’m proud of! Anytime someone sees it, I cannot have regrets. Other times, it’s about making sure I help someone else. My focus is not on the money, but helping that person or that studio. I have taken pay cuts to help people. Recently, I’ve done that for a studio in Oregon. But there has to be a WHY. Otherwise, you won’t have that certainty and that drive. Sometimes, it’s for a short-term goal like a specific project. Other times, it’s a long-term goal like: Why do you get up every morning and go to work? If you have that someday goal, that’s WHY!

[15:45] If you aren’t paying attention, it’s very easy to get sidetracked and forget your WHY. That’s when you get lost. It’s important to check in with yourself: Is what you’re going now getting you closer to your someday goal? Or is it getting you further away from it? That’s why I talk about 90-Day Year (www.allanmckay.com/110) because it forces you to condense your goals. If you do that, you will see the failures really quickly.


[16:26] It’s always about the WHY. That’s why I get up every morning. That’s how I decide if something is worth it. Even with social media (which I used to call trivial), if it’s going to help someone to have an aha moment — then it’s worth it! I have a Podcast coming up with one of my students in which he points out every piece of my content / material that lead him from being unemployed to getting 3 pay raises in the last year while working on high-end Marvel films. He talks about the courses and the specific Podcast Episodes that helped him get there. Once he got the job, he continued to listen to the Podcast and kept getting more wins.

[17:38] That’s the WHY for me: hearing those results. That’s the success I want to see! It makes me happy to hear these stories and see those wins. If I can be a part of all that — it makes it all that much more worth it.

I hope you enjoyed this Episode. I’d love to hear what you think. Please feel free to email me at [email protected]. Also, please share this Podcast with others.

Next week, I’ll be talking about how to reach busy people and to get them to respond. I’l be back next week. Until then —

Rock on!

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