Episode 278 — F*** 2020!
Episode 278 — F*** 2020!
2020 will go down in history as a big “What the Fuck?” Year! We’ve all experienced different things, but I don’t think many of us have had positive experiences. But to put things in perspective, we’re given an opportunity for a do-over. We’re all in this situation. When I realize that, it’s a bit more reassuring. How can we leverage things out? How can we turn this around?
Maybe we haven’t done as much, but there is always time to hit the reset button. This is so critical right now! There isn’t a better time to do something we’ve wanted to do — than right now! If we haven’t utilized 2020 yet, we can still start tomorrow. In times of turmoil, some people or businesses shut down while others blossom. For those of us who’ve had some success in 2020, set your goals even higher. For those of us who’ve had a shitty year, use this opportunity — to hit the reset button!
In this Podcast, Allan McKay reflects on the year 2020 — it’s unprecedented challenges and impressive victories — and gives advice on how to move forward in a positive, hopeful, productive way!
[01:22] Allan Summarizes the Year 2020
[04:53] Evening Out the Playing Field
[06:48] Building from the Ground Up
[11:21] Finding Reasons to Be Grateful
[18:22] You Can Always Start Tomorrow!
EPISODE 278 — F*** 2020
This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 278!
I want to do a bit of reflecting on this year. I hope, if anything, it puts things in perspective for you. I’m definitely throwing some F-bombs around, just a heads up!
Let’s dive in!
[01:22] 2020 will go down in history as a big “What the Fuck?” Year! We’ve all experienced different things, but I don’t think many of us have had positive experiences. Between the U.S. President being impeached and then planning a coup, Australia and California catching on fire, a world-wide pandemic, a stock market crash, a lot of amazing people passing (Kobe, Chadwick Boseman, Sean Connery, Van Halen); Hollywood shutting down. Even from the VFX perspective, there were many events we didn’t think we’d see in our lifetime: Pixar or ILM adapting to working from home, so that they could deliver these huge films. We had murder hornets, the Beirut explosion, tragic events! But we’ve also had some positive events: The first Black woman as the Vice President of the United States — which is so overdue! This is something to look forward to. It’s definitely been a year!
[02:25] I typically try to do a bit of a recap at the end of the year, to set us up for the next year. I know I’m not alone in stating that I’ve had a bit of a crappy year. And I know I’ve been beating myself up. I’ve gone stagnant; and in meetings with my team, I’ve had to reiterate things that were originally planned for this year. But to put things in perspective, we’re given an opportunity for a do-over. We’re all in this situation. When I realize that, it’s a bit more reassuring. I’ve had so many people email me to say, “I thought 2020 would be my year!” I thought it was a bit of a copout at first. If you’re saying that in March 2020, you’re giving up on the whole year. When we can look at it from the perspective that this year sucked for everyone, we can then choose what we could do differently for next year. How can we leverage things out? How can we turn this around?
[04:10] For me, it’s definitely been a mix. I’m selling courses but people are being more careful with their money; so sales are down. I didn’t freelance much this year because I decided to focus on the big picture instead. I did work on the new God of War, as well as Vin Diesel’s film Bloodshot. There are a few other productions I did.
EVENING OUT THE PLAYING FIELD
[04:53] The main thing I focused on was: When COVID hit, I realized a few things would happen. First, we would be all shifting to working from home. In a way, that’s a positive thing. If some are living in expensive cities and others in cheap ones, at this point we’re all online. Geographically, we can be anywhere which is really interesting. Because even though this is supposed to be temporary, it forces us to take on this [lifestyle] permanently. Now, it’s been proven that us can work anywhere. In addition to that, I don’t think things will be going back to how they were as much. There will be some return and readjustment, but moving forward a lot of us will be cautious.
[06:05] Knowing that everyone is working online, everyone is building that work-from-home model. That means that it’s an even playing field. All of a sudden, we can compete from the same level. But that also means that we’re competing with the entire world. Which means that we need to figure out a way to stand out which is a critical thing for all of us. How do we rise above the noise?
BUILDING FROM THE GROUND UP
[06:48] So that became a big focus for me. In April, I started working on a course on Building a Brand: Brand 10X. The more I researched, the more I realized that the word “brand” was pretty ambiguous. A lot of us have a different idea of branding. For some, branding means Facebook ads or logos. The more I thought about what I’d work on, the deeper I went to the core. It’s not about the logos and the colors. It’s about who we are — and who we want to be — and what we want. It’s also about what kind of work and clients we want to attract.
[07:44] It’s been exciting to work on a course that had the potential to change people’s lives. It isn’t surface level stuff. It’s about defining who we are and building out in layers things like:
- Our branding strategy: How we position yourselves, as individuals or a business.
- Building our following and a core audience: How to attract the right customers, clients.
- Gaining our authority.
[08:21] I feel that I’ve built a course that is unlike anything else out there. I’m going through this course right now with a small group of people. We handpicked these people because we wanted to have a set group to build this course around. It’s been a lot of fun! I’m enjoying seeing other people go through the course and digging in. Already, there’ve been some breakthroughs. I’m so proud of this! It’s also been a chance to wipe the slate clean. It’s also given me a chance to build this thing from the ground up with which I feel that this is where I want to take things.
[09:25] When I launched the Podcast, it was about putting the idea out there and getting success through focusing on our careers, our brand, our direction, our network and relationships. And for the longest time, I’ve been wanting to launch this course. Everyone wants me to teach VFX — and I could make so much more money doing that! But the frustrating part is when someone asks me to teach them how to do this, and in reality I know that achieving goals isn’t going to come from mashing the buttons but from the core foundations that this Podcast and the course talk about. For almost 7-9 years, I’ve been wanting to build a course on:
- How to level up;
- How to build your career;
- How to command your success as an artist.
[10:43] And I know the only way to do that is to help artists understand business and their own value and worth. This has been my chance to do that. And it’s been a big breakthrough for me: a chance to finally say, “It’s time to teach people how to build a personal brand and how to rise above the noise.” And I can look at 2020 year as the year I’ve finally done that.
FINDING REASONS TO BE GRATEFUL
[11:21] I’m proud of this Podcast.
- This year, we’ve had so many amazing studios on: Cinesite (www.allanmckay.com/228), Marz (www.allanmckay.com/234), Rise FX (www.allanmckay.com/259).
- We’ve had the Round Table with the VES (www.allanmckay.com/272), Epic Games and Megascans are coming up.
- We’ve had people from ILM: Rob Bredow (www.allanmckay.com/219) and Ben Snow (www.allanmckay.com/101).
- I’ve interviewed Christian Alzmann who designed Baby Yoda (www.allanmckay.com/240), Jordan Mechner who designed Prince of Persia (www.allanmckay.com/244).
- I’ve had a lot of amazing guests! We’ve done a lot and I’m so proud of the value in these interviews!
[12:33] I’m saying all this because it’s easier to beat ourselves up. When we start to look back and realize what we did manage to do, it’s something to acknowledge. I’m so proud of the value of my Podcast and the Brand 10X Course. Next year, I have so many more goals for the Podcast. I’m going to remaster the Episodes, put them on YouTube and Spotify.
[13:49] But it has been a very hard year. I’ve lost some really close friends out of nowhere and I know I’m not alone in that. Living in the U.S., it’s been really infuriating how the rest of the world has handled the pandemic and how naive we have been in this country. It’s made me question whether I want to be here or go somewhere with better leadership. This is a very political thing to get into. The U.S. has been my home since I’ve been 21 years old. But I’ve witnessed how political things got in 2020. When you have dozens of people getting sick or dying, you start to think about how this is impacting people. It makes you think about things twice.
[15:27] This isn’t the type of stuff that I talk about, usually. But I’m not alone in this. You’d hope that the world-wide pandemic would bring people together. 2020 was a chance to bring that commonality. It didn’t really turn out that way. That ties into a lot of depression. Ultimately, this is a chance for all of us to look back and see how quickly things can go wrong. It’s also a chance to evaluate whether we want to keep living where we are. I think many people used this time to turn things around. In moments like this, you could either shut down and give up or accept what happened and make the best of the situation:
- People focused on their health;
- People focused on new ideas;
- People are building their new businesses.
YOU CAN ALWAYS START TOMORROW!
[18:22] We all cope differently. Some people think they’re killing it because of how many shows they’ve binge watched on Netflix. While some of my friends have managed to change careers, or to learn a new skill that would help them build their future. I think that says a lot about us. Maybe we haven’t done as much, but there is always time to hit the reset button. This is so critical for us right now! There isn’t a better time to do something we’ve wanted to do — than right now! If we haven’t utilized 2020 yet, we can still start tomorrow.
[19:27] When we talk about New Year’s resolutions, we hit the reset button. I think it’s better to think about the new day, not the new year. Do we want to buckle down and leverage the time that’s left in our life? This year proved that to all of us. Tomorrow is a new day. Don’t wait another year! In times of turmoil, some people or businesses shut down while others blossom. I was reading a statistic about dating apps. Some had to pivot while others went under. Hearing the experiences of my friends with online hookups, the distance and having to get to know people first is exciting. People might have legitimate long term relationships, at the end of all this.
[21:49] I might be using the analogy of online dating but this is innovation and where a lot of us can look at the hardships and adapt. We don’t have to be the ones who shut down. I’ve talked about this mindset a lot on the Podcast. When we hit a wall, we don’t give up — we work around the wall. How can we make this year work for us? The U.S. Marines have a saying, “Embrace the suck!” We need to suck it up and embrace the challenges we’re facing. Because we’re always going to be facing things. We can look at all the setbacks and decide how we’re going to turn things around.
[23:55] That’s my challenge: To always look at tough times as an opportunity to adapt. One of the guests on my Podcast this year was Louis Castle, the Head of Amazon Games Studio (www.allanmckay.com/249). It was inspiring to hear about his advice! His dad would say, “I made the best decision with the information I had at the time.” Hindsight 2020, it’s easy to say, “I could’ve or should’ve done this or that!” But we could say that we kept moving forward. We could learn from the lessons, be it wins or failures.
[25:20] But the focus should be on what’s coming our way, not on what’s already passed. It’s important to look at this year. Yes, a lot of bad things happened. I once did a Podcast on being homeless and jobless at one point of my life (www.allanmckay.com/209) and how that time really shook me. When security disappears, we lose our foundation. For me, that experience affected me for months. It fucked me up so much that I refused to have that ever happen to me again. So that meant that on every job going forward, I made sure to check in with my bosses and that everything was going okay and that I was in control. I had to make sure I had security at all times. I wouldn’t allow for bad things to happen. I gained strength that prevented that low point from ever happening again.
[28:47] When 2020 began, I said we’d fall into two categories: Some would be the ones that gave up, others would use the time to rise to the occasion. We cannot take time for granted. If there are things we want to do — do them! The more we’re prepared, the more we’re setting ourselves up for success. For those of us who’ve had some success in 2020, set your goals even higher. For those of us who’ve had a shitty year, use this opportunity to hit the reset button. Like Louis’s father said, “You’ve made the best decision you could with the information you had at the time.” Now we know what we know, and we can make better decisions in the future. We have to go through bullshit occasionally to learn to appreciate what we have.
[30:14] This is real time! Always be moving forward! Let’s use this moment to figure out what’s missing in our life and what we need to do to move forward. If there are negative things in our life, look for a way out. Move toward what we want to do! Most of us don’t have a plan, we’re just floating. It’s got to stop! We need to be in control when we’re facing turbulence. Start to strategize and build a plan to prevent that from happening! I wish you well! Set yourself up for a better future! I hope to serve you better in 2021! Happy New Year!
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