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Episode 134 | THE BEST ADVICE

This episode is sponsored by Petra Kolb

He that won't be counseled can't be helped. Benjamin Franklin

Well, that’s filming complete on my short film The Traveller, and I can finally jump back in with another show. I only missed one during that period, I apologize for it, but all things considered, it could have been worse. The experience of making the short and the lessons learned will make a good future episode though so it’s swings and roundabouts.

I have been preparing a Demi Demi episode but I thought I’d leave it to next week for you. The Demi Demi shows require less thought from me but is still quite involved so I think I need another few days to get that one together. Today though I’m going to be giving you twenty pieces of advice from listeners and likely a few nonlisteners that have responded on social media to the question “What's the best advice you ever had?”. It’s a simple premise, but it’s one that’s valuable too.

Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it. Gordon R. Dickson

A friend of mine, a professional filmmaker, was asked to give his thoughts on a script that a fellow filmmaker was working on. He was told by that person that they wanted honest feedback, so he took it seriously, sat down for a session, and gave the feedback he thought the other guy would like to hear. That filmmaker never spoke to him again. They were offended by the notes and honest feedback, which wasn’t all negative I hasten to add, that they received.

I’ve had similar experiences. There was a time when it felt like every low-budget filmmaker or wannabe creative with a half-baked film idea wanted me to come on board and work with them as a producer on their short film, 9 times out of 10 with them in the leading role. I always say to these people that the best producer they could get for their project was themselves and that they should go away and work it up to a high level when they couldn’t make it any better without another’s input and then come back to me. I said to them that way you have the ownership of it too. It’s your film and no one will mess with it. With the prospect of having to do actual legwork on a film without someone else carrying them across the finish line, sometimes over the start line too if I’m entirely honest, most of these people never took it any further. Those that did, benefitted greatly from the experience.

There are 3 types of people out there.

  1. Those who never listen to any type of advice. These are the ones who do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

  2. Those who seem to think that the advice given makes sense, but do nothing about it. They’re usually very imaginative and make up all sorts of excuses for not following good advice.

  3. Those who examine and analyze the advice carefully, find out that it makes a whole lot of sense, and actually embrace it. They are a rare breed in danger of extinction.

I count myself as being one of these but I do sometimes still fall into category 2 when I am in the thick of it. Often, I’ll reject advice to only realiz later that my head wasn’t screwed on, and I’ll catch up and implement it at that later time instead.

John Steinbeck once said, “No one wants advice – only corroboration.” And with that in mind, let me ask you how often you really, honestly take someone else’s advice and go on to actually implement it. How often do you say to yourself, “Wow, that’s a great idea? That’s a much better way of doing things than the way I had been doing it (or was planning on doing). I’m going to implement this starting today.”

Don’t refer to myself as a productivity guru but I’m certainly a productivity fan and I implement strategies all the time, to greater and lesser effect. When I’m asked for advice I’ve noted that much of the time people go on to do exactly the opposite of what I tell them.

They’ll not implement a strategy, or they’ll find many reasons to do the exact opposite of what I say. Much of the time I note that people either do nothing or look for some quick fix thing that makes them feel better about themselves and what they are doing but that is all too often a waste of time and money. An example of this would be people enrolling in polished-looking classes rather than just following the simple advice that I offer.

As an Ethiopian proverb goes, “Give advice; if people don’t listen, let adversity teach them.”

In my experience, most people who ask for advice from others have already resolved to act as it pleases them. Not everyone is like that, but I think that this characterizes more or less the majority of people out there. Why?

There are at least three main reasons for this, not necessarily mutually exclusive.

  1. People perceive their reality differently from the way others see it.

  2. People are afraid of the unknown; they are afraid to step outside of their comfort zone.

  3. People do not accept the fact that they are responsible for their successes (or failures).

I am going into all this before I list the advice that has been offered as it’s important that your headspace is clear btw.

So with that primer here are a few pieces of advice from those that follow me here and on Twitter.



  1. @screenguy69 Barry Duffield can kick this off with Shut up and listen and this follows a stoic philosophy that states “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” This is attributed to the stoic philosopher Zeno of Citium - Active listening—as in focused listening and not just hearing—will always benefit you. Whether you’re hoping to persuade someone, be more likable, or win an argument, listening is the key. It provides you with vital information, it makes you seem trustworthy and respectful, and it can keep you out of trouble. When you do speak, only say things you know are worth saying. After all, Zeno also said: “Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.” Life is filled with questions, but if you learn to listen well, you can almost always hear the answers.

  2. Dublin-based @Ladybirdsoup makes the point that “It's really OK if your socks don't match” which to me means don’t sweat the little things. Do not give in to petty problems; don't worry about insignificant matters.

  3. NEWARK STUDIOS that’s @frankwhyte0612 on Twitter had this to say to any actors out there - If you want to make it in his business brand yourself, make your own movies and make yourself stand out because there are over 300,000 starving actors between New York and LA trying to make it - in order to beat that make your own films and get to the top faster – I agree that to stand out from the crowd you need to make your own content. It’s not going to be easy, but if you are serious then you can do it. If you leave it all to chance then it could be a long wait.

  4. Bristol-based filmmaker and educator @DavidNeal’s advice was this With regards to filmmaking: “There is nothing that you cannot learn.” And I’d add to that “Once you stop learning, you start dying”.

  5. And filmmaker Tom Keely @Kilgore777 on Twitter says this about filmmaking too “Don't wait for the "perfect" equipment to come along, start with whatever you have now and learn, even if it's just the phone you have in your pocket.” I did an episode on this called shoot with what you’ve got, but the analogy goes further than this. Starting with what you’ve got may be enough for now. In time the other things should come, but only if you really need them.

  6. Michael J Sanders @MrMJSanders on Twitter says “Plan as much as you can but be prepared to rip it up on the day and go with what works.” With a plan, you know at least what you are diverging from. If you are interested, my recent episode the devil’s in the detail goes into this topic in some depth.

  7. Eileen Bouchard on Facebook said “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” you have to be self-aware of how you speak. It's not just the words — it's how you say it and how those words make people feel. Listen for how the message is received when you speak and adjust as needed.

  8. Dina Gurney on Facebook and many others say “treat others as you would want to be treated” which is often worded as “Treat others as you would have them treat you”. @StanleyRoubaix on Twitter says something similar, but simpler. “Don’t be shit.” This is known in the productivity world as The Golden Rule. Various expressions of this rule can be found in the tenets of most religions and creeds through the ages. It can be considered an ethic of reciprocity in some religions, although different religions treat it differently.

  9. Aaron Carruthers who is @Aaronfilmwrit85 on Twitter came up with this old adage Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down – and I stand by that one The world is filled with people who will try to take you down, try to undermine or bully you. Try to dismiss you. Don’t let them get to you. Stay focused. Stay on target and you will leave them in your wake.

  10. My brother Robin @wsctb recommends the adage 1/3rd for taxes, 1/3rd for costs, 1/3rd for you. That one’s self-explanatory but you still need to action it to make it work for you. Duncan McGinnis @JDuncanMcGinnis on Twitter backed that one up with the simple adage to spend less than you make.

  11. Producer Janet Butler @JanetBu54757009 says “Always under-promise and over-achieve.” Basically, this is a customer service strategy where you give your clients more than you initially promised to delight them and make them feel valued and well served. I’m sure this has been around for a while but in 1987, business author and speaker Tom Peters brought the following concept to the expectation management definition with his theory of under-promising and over-delivering. The concept is simple: a good surprise is much better than a bad surprise.

  12. @ScriptsByT’s advice to everyone is Stay away from Social media – and I go with this up to a point. There’s so much manipulation and lies on social media that it’s really not a healthy place to be. Later this month I’m going to take another social media break and these are always extremely productive holidays. Social media has a place but please consider taking a break from it at least once or twice a year. A break of 4 weeks will be enough to get your life back on track.

And I’ll end with one from Agatha Christie - Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it.

In next week's show I’m going to be tackling three more motivational messages from Internet sensation Demi Demi, so if you enjoy those ones, as many of you seem to do, please join me for that.

If you are enjoying what you hear please show your support by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. These reviews really help the show and the more the merrier!

I’ll end today with some words from Benjamin Franklin who said Wise men don't need advice and fools won't take it.

Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’, and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!

  • The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu and the exec producer this season is Christopher McPhillips from Artos Digital

  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website

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Season 10 Executive Producer: Christopher McPhillips from Artos Digital

2-time winners of 'Social Media Agency of the Year' at the Prestige Awards; Artos Digital specializes in marketing communications, coaching, and personal branding. Owner Christopher McPhillips launched the business from his home in Bathgate and now works alongside his wife, Electra, for specialized event management and fundraising. Enjoying a broad portfolio of clients over the years, ranging from established enterprises to start-ups - a good fit for Artos Digital given their adaptable and agile approach. Christopher and Electra have combined their talents for three significant clients this past year: Reconnect, an SCIO who runs the Regal Theatre in Bathgate; Pro2 Wrestling in Ayr; and Puppet Animation Scotland in Edinburgh.

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A Himitsu Music: Adventures by A Himitsu

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