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Episode 83:
Mike O’Connell
Notes: Released Jan 19, 2015
Mike O'Connell stops by to talk Wolf Wizardry, finding music and comedy, his love of the absurd and what it was like to pursue multiple creative passions.

Goals Versus Actions

Sun Jan 25, 2015

Just wanted to check in with everybody and share my 2015 goals. Sorry they’re late. I was working on that pilot and everything got pushed a few weeks.

 

To be honest, I don’t even like saying the word goal. That might seem like sacrilege if you listen to my podcast because it sounds like that’s all I talk about but if you listen close – it’s not. What I talk about is hustling (taking action.)

 

My old instinct is to jot down my goals for 2015, which is what I did, but they are just an entry point to a much larger plan of action. What I really do is list the actions I will take in 2015 but let me show you how I get there.

 

First, I list the goals:

 

Write my memoir.

 

Write a feature film.

 

Write and perform a new forty five minutes of stand up.

 

Sell my memoir.

 

Sell the feature film.

 

Lose 25 pounds.

 

Now, I could blindly leave my list of goals at that which is what I used to do many years ago. Then I would wake up everyday and cross my fingers they somehow come true. I might even take some actions (which I thought of as secondary to the passion I had for the goals) but as soon as life got busy, I put the goals on the back burner to focus on whatever life was throwing at me.

 

So how do I increase my odds of achieving my goals?

 

I flip everything and instead of committing my time to the goal, I commit my time to an action. That means there is no trying or wanting or wishing. If I am doing it then I am doing it.

 

This works for a couple of reasons.

 

1) Taking the action will always bring me closer to the goal.

 

2) By taking and completing the action, I get to taste a minor victory. I need that. I need a little taste of success because if I experience no joy unless I get to the finish line, I’ll wind up quitting. How do I know? Because I’m 40 and stopped lying to myself about what works and what doesn’t.

 

So I commit to the action, knowing that is the only way to increase my odds of success. It increases them to almost near certainty.

 

Let me use dieting as an easy example. I’ve tried diets my whole life. They do not work. Ever. They are a temporary fix to a life long living problem.

 

If I go on a diet and work out like a lunatic until I lose 25 pounds, that’s great. I’ve done that repeatedly over the last 20 years. I always wind up putting the weight back on. Why? Didn’t I reach my goal? I did. But because my goal was the goal and not the action, my weight went back up and I’m back at square one.

 

Now let me flip it.

 

What if I committed to a healthy way of living? And my actions were:

 

– Don’t eat like a fucking lunatic. Get out and move my fat ass for 30 minutes.

 

Or more specifically –

 

No sodas. No unnecessary bread, pasta or pizza. Cut the sugars out and start walking for 30 minutes 3 days a week.

 

Week 2 walk a little, job a little.

 

Week 3 jog for 30 minutes until I get to a place where I am aware and in control of what I’m shoveling into my cake hole and am doing cardio for 30 minutes a day for at least 3 days a week. Once I have 3 days down, kick it up to 4 and bring in an actual workout, using weights and resistance training.

 

What can I expect in the beginning? Full on fucking rebellion from every part of my body including my brain. I will want to quit. To push it off tomorrow. To eat late night sugary snacks. Even if I do, stick to the action. I have to allow myself to make mistakes. I will be uncomfortable. I will be sore. But after two weeks, I will feel great.

 

I have to get okay with being uncomfortable.

 

Now let me rewrite my goals for 2015 and change everything into actions. (I am writing and talking to myself below.)

 

– Write ten pages of my memoir every day Monday through Friday until the first draft of the manuscript is due.

 

Email the draft out to 3 people you know and trust for stringent notes. While you are waiting on the notes…

 

Outline the movie as well as fold in the notes for the memoir.

 

Write the feature film every day, Monday through Friday, ten pages a day. Once a rough draft emerges, rewrite that until you feel like you can send it out to trusted peers for notes. Understand this screenplay has an amazing chance of being horrible. You have only written a few. The medium has always confused and intimidated you. Allow moments for the fear. Allow the moments of self-doubt. Then get back to work.

 

– While waiting for notes on the screenplay, send the memoir to your agent to get feedback and strategy for bringing it to publishers.

 

– Reread the memoir and pull out a bullet point list of potential material for the new 45 minutes of stand up.

 

– During the month of April and May, perform the new material at open mics or showcase shows no less than twice a week.

 

– get the notes on the screenplay from trusted peers and fold them into the new draft. Send that in to agent and see if it there is a chance of sending it out for sale. If not, enjoy the experience of completing a task that intimidated you.

 

Starting 1/27 – no desserts. No sugary breakfasts. No sodas. No gratuitous bread. Monday, Wed and Friday – Jog 2 miles in the morning. Walk 30 minutes at night.

 

Starting February 3rd – hit 4 days a week at Barry’s Boot Camp.

 

Starting March 3rd – complete a whole month academy at Barry’s.

 

Notice I threw out the actual weight loss number. It would be nice to hit it, but I would rather get to a place where achieving my goals every day is more important than some over all goal.

 

If I do these things every day then my actions become habits then that becomes my character and at the end of the day, I would rather be a man of character than a man of goals. I have a long way to go before that’s the case but I’m ready to put in the work to get there – one day at a time.

 

Happy New Year,

 

Mick

 

 


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Some #TMBS fan fiction from Scotland!

Thu Dec 25, 2014

So I got an email from a loyal listener in Scotland who wrote a little story that I want to share with everybody. I have cut and copied it directly from his email. I hope you find it as entertaining and funny as I did. Merry Christmas! Here is his piece….

The intense squeeling sound of the alarm clock smashes my ears at an unsociable hour on a brutally cold morning in Lochgoilhead.  Lochgoilhead, population 500 on the West coast of Scotland.

 

I throw the covers off of me and jump out of the bed, I get acclimated to my frost laden surroundings and wonder will this shit ever end, I dream about one day, one day, being in the sun, letting it soak my bones.  For now though I need to get to work. I head through to the kitchen and think about getting some breakfast.  I peek outside my house, a blanket of vertical rain pours down blocking my view, my view of what? Breakfast is done and I step out the front door, I step out and just as my foot touches the outside world the rain stops, as if someone flipped the switch, the morning sun jostles for a position amongst the clouds, they seem to move without holding a grudge.  The scotch mist sits low and the mountains that surround the valley reflect onto the mirror like loch.  I hear the sound of bagpipes, Hamish in the next glen must be at it early this morning.  I listen before taking another step and make out a bagpipe rendition of Ice Cube’s Today Was A Good Day. I can’t do anything else but laugh to myself and head to my truck.

 

I’m driving out a small 6 mile, single track road to get to civilization and come upon a damsel in distress.  Flat tyre, no phone signal, she’s lucky that I’m passing, not only have I been told that I’m dashingly handsome but I can change a tyre like a mother fucker.

 

I get the tyre changed and she notices that I’m wearing a Mick Betancourt Show T-shirt, she gives me a wink but I need to tell her to calm down, I’m married.  It all turns out well and she buttons her shirt back up before she takes it too far to not to be taken seriously, she needs some work done, she recognizes me and asks if I’m that guy, I say what guy, she says the carpenter to ……… I cut her off and say, the carpenter to the rich and famous? Yes that’s me.  She goes weak at the knees and can’t believe she’s been struck with the T-shirt and now the carpenter title, I steady her and we talk about the work.  I have to follow her to her father’s house.

 

I walk in the door, she called ahead and mentioned the T-shirt I was wearing.  Turns out he was a famous Hollywood writer and had been exiled to Scotland after one too many bad stories.  He hears the name of Mick Betancourt and it brings back memories of his life in tinsel town, he realizes where he is and it puts his in a deep deep depression.  He obviously knows my prowess and is on edge, lets his ego take over and comes across as a tough guy.  He offers his hand for a handshake and I respond, he squeezes just too tight.  What she didn’t mention that I was the carpenter to the rich and famous, I have strong hands, it comes with the territory, his loss, I squeeze back just a bit stronger and from then on he knew not to fuck around anymore.  We sit down, he goes through the work he is looking to be done, we agree a price, all is set.  He asks about the T-shirt, I tell him all he needs to do is to leave a 5 star review then Mick will send one out, he asks if that all there is to it, I say yes but you really should listen to the show too, he says hes too busy to be listening to some radio show, I tell him it’s a podcast and not radio show, he apologises for his snappy attitude, obviously the blood rushed to his head and he forgot about the handshake just 10 minutes ago, I forgive and leave the house.

 

I head to one job I have going, it is fitting out a house with crazy ridiculous finish carpentry for a Prince of the Austrian Royal Family.  Prince Ralphe Schmidtstein.  He asks why I’m late and I fill him in.  He understands and comments on the T-shirt, he likes it and says that I must be a very strong and noble man, we high five and I get on with the work.  He makes me lunch and tells me about his father, General. Schmidtstein.  His father has spent his life finding all the families artwork that Hitler stole during the war.  He has one or two pieces to reclaim and he will be at rest, he can then work on his  one and only passion, a passion that has been pushed to the side because he wasn’t letting that bastard Hitler get one over on him.

 

While I craft my beautiful work I meet the father, an old tough son of a bitch, he has a gallery in Vienna where he keeps the families artwork.  He needs some work done and asks if I can go, right now, this minute.  Not one to turn down a paycheck I say cool lets do it, he lets his son know and we head to the private jet.  I load on my tools and we jump in.

 

We are somewhere over Northern Italy when this old tough son of a bitch turns to me and asks if I’d do him a favour.  I say with all due respect that it depends what it is and I let him know that I’m not a guy that one wants to fuck around with.  He understood and told me that he got word this morning that his team on the ground claimed back the penultimate piece of artwork, the team on the ground, albeit strong, tough, navy seal like in their approach to every task handed to them, they just have something missing and asks if I would help him get the last piece of the artwork, the very last piece and he can work on his real passion. Me and the old tough son of a bitch Gen. Schmidstein on the rampage for the very last piece and the family artwork will be reclaimed for future generations to see.  Before I do any carpentry work we get suited up for the raid, I check the abseil kit is good to go and we set off.

 

We are told that the piece is being kept in a small bakery, not just any bakery but the famous Binder family bakery.  This makes things worse because Schmidstein was in bakery school with young Herr Binder, Schmidstein was a far better baker but Binder had the personality, his cakes were shit but he got by with his charm.  Just before their final exam Schmidstein had to leave to square up Hitler and get the families artwork back, this saddened the General but the bakery would have to wait.  While Schmidstein was conquering Europe, Herr Binder finished school and set up his very own bakery, the only bakery in the town, he became an overnight success.  Schmidtein was annoyed because the local villagers didn’t know a good cake, they had settled for less.  That didn’t matter, Binder was king of the bakers and Schmidstein was trapsing all over Europe looking for his art.

 

We were on the roof of the bakery in the middle of the night, I remove the glass dome and dropped down my ropes.  I clipped on and the General lowered me down, I’m half way down and I feel the rope tugging, the general drops me, I’m inches from the floor and he gets a hold, I jolt to a stop, my face 2 inches from the hard concrete floor.  I unclip, look around for the piece, I see a safe and know that it must be in there.  From my kit I pull out my stethoscope and crack the safe, spin around the wheel handle and open the heavy door.  There it is, the last piece of their families art collection.  I take it out the frame, roll it up and put it in my bag.  I take off my TMBS T-shirt, put it in the frame for Herr Binder and head back to the ropes.  I clip myself on and climb up, when I get to the top the General notices that I have a bare, solid concrete like Scottish chest, I tell him that I left a memento for this bastard.  He turns and tears up, I ask if he is ok and he tells me that leaving the T-shirt was the single most brave act he has ever saw anyone do.  We did it, the last piece, we made history that night.

 

The next day I am at the gallery finishing up some beautiful work and I ask the General what his plans are just now.  He tells me that he will open his own bakery, a bakery with a café for his village, he goes into the menu and the seating plan and the colour scheme, on and on and on.

He tells me that he has a website already set up and for the past 30 years he has been thinking of a name and he has stuck on this one name, he doesn’t know where to get it.  I go to my bag and pull out an envelope, I hand it to him, I took it from the safe for him when we took back the painting.  It’s $1million in cash.  He is very grateful and says that it will go a long way in getting his bakery set up.  I ask what is his speciality and what will be the main thing he’d like to be known for.  He tells me its pancakes.  I ask what’s the website address you’re wanting to buy, he says www.morepancakes.com!

 

Mick Betancourt, he’s got $1million cash and wants more pancakes BOOOOOOSSSHHHHHHH!!!!

**** That was written by Neil McKinlay out of Lochgoilhead, Scotland. Here is a link to his family owned business – www.calebandtaylor.co.uk ****

I hope everybody is having a great Holiday Season! Here is to an amazing 2015!!!!


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GO AFTER IT

Fri Dec 05, 2014

This has been an incredible year and there’s still a month left. Episode 76 of #TMBS dropped Monday. I was fortunate enough to work on both Chicago Fire and Chicago PD as a Consulting Producer. My comedy album Mick Betancourt Live at Blackout Diaries dropped a few months back and I just recently sold a one-hour drama to FOX based on the Boom Comic,  The Rinse.

TheRinse_01_CVR_A

This is the third network sale I’ve had since 2006 and for which I am extremely grateful. Why am I writing this? Two reasons.

One: I want to publicly thank all the people who have been kind and supportive with their time and knowledge.

Second: I want to share with anybody who is interested, the actual work I’m putting in to make these things happen.

When I moved to LA I didn’t know anybody and more importantly knew nothing of how the actual business of making television or movies worked.

I will start with how The Rinse came together and write about the comedy album and upcoming book in future posts.

For the past five years, I couldn’t develop. What does that mean? It means I was locked into exclusive contracts with shows which didn’t allow me to go out and pitch original ideas. This was bittersweet because any time I get a job writing I always feel like I hit the lottery, always so grateful and excited to be a part of a new or existing show, becoming a part of their team and seeing what I can contribute.

But there is always a voice in my head saying: “Come up with some ideas on your own and pitch them (or) “what if you could develop some already existing piece of content into a TV show?”

I couldn’t shake the voice so I decided I would roll the dice and invest in myself.

Instead of staffing up on a show full time and locking myself into one of those exclusive contracts, Chicago Fire and PD was kind enough to offer me a Consulting Producer position so I could go out and pitch my own shows.

Here’s how it went down.

I came up with 5 original pitches. They ranged from gritty cop shows to a fantasy space version of Game of Thrones. I went out and pitched those ideas and nobody wanted them. That’s when the voice in my head said “You are the dumbest, worst writer ever. Why didn’t you take the steady gig like I told you.” And I said “What! You were the one who told me to roll the dice and invest in myself.”

“I never said that” replied the voice.

Once again, I was reminded when to listen and when to not.

Even though there were people who did not like my ideas, they liked my previous writing and my ability to produce. They set up meetings with people that they were in the IP (Intellectual Property) business with. They had optioned stories, comic books and video games. I was to meet these people, hear the stories they had and see if I had a “take” on them, if I could find a way to tell these stories week in and week out as a television show. When I met Ross Ritchie and Stephen Christy at Boom and they showed me The Rinse, I knew it was something special.

We talked about it for an hour then I went home and read it. I called them the second I was done and told them if they wanted to work together I was down!

What next?

We had to bring our take on the material into the studio to see if we were all on the same page. They liked my take on it and we decided we were going to “take it out.” Showbiz talk for go pitch it to buyers i.e. The Networks.

A pitch is a sales document. It is not your philosophy on the television business, the world at large or how you think writing should be. It is a sales document to sell the show you created. If it’s anything else, you will get anything else but a sale.

A pitch should be around 15 minutes. Any longer and people’s eyes start glazing over. 15 minutes is about 8-9 pages of written material.

I practice pitched to Boom. Got notes. Then we went into the studio. Practice pitched there. Got notes. Then got ready to go into the network.

You must believe!

I was not concerned with selling it. I wanted to for sure, but that is not where all my energy went. As a matter of fact, that is a black hole of energy and the real thief of any confidence.

I took the notes from really smart people. I did all the work that I could do. The last thing is to be of service to the project. Make it sing. Make it pop. Have fun. I tell stories for a living. It should be fun. If it’s not, I AM THE ONE WHO IS DOING SOMETHING WRONG and must figure out what actions to take to fix it.

So I practiced the pitch on my own. Recorded it. Listened to it on walks to prepare going into the network and pitching it live.

The day of the pitch.

We went to the network lot. It was the Boom folks and the folks from the studio. We went into a conference room and in walked the folks from the network.

The voice in your head will tell you that they have heard hundreds of pitches this year. All the hard work you did was for nothing. You will fail. They don’t want to hear this. It is, after all, nothing but a cruel joke to bring you this far so that you will land flat on your face….

Or…

Smile and let’s do this!

I jumped in and started talking. 15 minutes went by. I felt good about how it went. The folks at the network seemed to like it. It would be great to work with them. They are both super smart, have a great sense of story and really want to get adventurous in the way they tell stories. All things I want to do as well. We shake hands and say we’ll talk soon. It was 5pm.

Nothing that night.

The next morning I headed in to my office on the Universal lot for Chicago PD. The phone rang at 10am. It was the people from Boom and the studio.

They bought it. They want to do the show.

I always tear up when I hear those words. Haven’t heard them a ton but every time I do it is magical. It is a gift.

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. It happened. It took me over a decade of hustling, learning and grinding to turn a real corner but it was worth it.

That is what the podcast is about. Going after it. That is what the book is going to be about. Going after it.

There is something inside you, in your heart, that is demanding your attention. Listen to it, move toward it, let it grow louder and see what it has to say.

It may take awhile to realize. It may take a lot of work. It may break your heart REPEATEDLY.

But it is worth it.

Stay on your grind!

Mick


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Two podcasts to check out!

Mon Oct 20, 2014

No #TMBS this week so I wanted to offer some links to some podcasts you may not have heard about yet but should check out. Here they are –

Hilliard Guess’s Screenwriter Rant Room. Great real talk about writing. Here is the link – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/screenwriters-rant-room-2

Kevin Hates Hip Hop – a great look into the world of hip hop from the creative and business side. Here is the link – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/kevin-hates-hiphop-3

Two great guys. Two great podcasts. Give them a listen. You’ll be glad you did.

Ian Bagg is on an all new episode of #TMBS next week. It is really funny and well worth the wait! Mick


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So proud of the #TMBS guests!

Thu Oct 09, 2014

What an amazing year it’s been for the podcast! So many of the guests have had such incredible things happen that I wanted to take a moment and give them the props they deserve for all their hard work and hustle!

Jack McGee is starring on the new CBS show The McCarthys. You can hear his episode here – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mick-betancourt/the-mick-betancourt-show/e/episode-3-jack-mcgee-25247323

Joe Schilling is fighting Melvin Manhoef in Bellator 131. Check his episode out here – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mick-betancourt/the-mick-betancourt-show/e/episode-55-joe-schilling-34442354 or buy tickets to the fight here –  http://www.bellator.com/fight-card/bellator-131

Nikki Toscano went through a tough divorce only to rise up and shoot her own pilot, as well as sell two more shows to networks! Listen to her episode here - http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mick-betancourt/the-mick-betancourt-show/e/episode-22-nikki-toscano-30023183

Nick Santora went on to create the new hit CBS show Scorpion. Listen to his episode here – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mick-betancourt/the-mick-betancourt-show/e/episode-33-nick-santora-31659244

Tony Cavalero just got cast as the lead in Nickelodeon’s TV version of School of Rock. Here his awesome episode here – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mick-betancourt/the-mick-betancourt-show/e/episode-34-tony-cavalero-31842970

David Rodriguez just added network TV shows to his director resume. Listen to his amazing story here – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mick-betancourt/the-mick-betancourt-show/e/episode-34-tony-cavalero-31842970

Jeffrey Leiber is the new showrunner of the CSI: Cyber – his awesome take on being a writer can be heard here – http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mick-betancourt/the-mick-betancourt-show/e/episode-14-jeffrey-lieber-28639090

This is actually a snapshot of the people who came on and have hustled and hustled to make their dreams come true, some for the first time and others creating and realizing even bigger dreams. I am so happy to call these people friends. I hope you can get some inspiration and motivation out of their stories. That is the whole point of this podcast! Hope you are doing awesome, Mick

 

 

 


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