Production Studios, do the Math. Put your Crew First.

April 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Rachel's Thoughts

Dear people in charge of production studios,
You need to take care of your crew first.  I can’t believe it needs to be said.
If you have to choose between your crew or your client, you must choose your crew.
A healthy and content crew will take care of your client for you.  They will care.  They’ll have pride in their work and want people to be happy with it.  Like a child who respects their parent, they will want to do you proud.
A broken employee who feels that no one in charge cares about their well being will give up.  If they know the client is more important to you than them, they know that you will throw them under the bus the first time you have to decide who to keep on your good side.  That is a recipe for burning bridges.
A client will always want more for less. ALWAYS. A client without limits will never stop demanding more from your crew.  But that’s your fault.  You set the limits (or didn’t).
Choosing your client at the expense of your crew will break your crew.
If you believe people are tools to be used, broken and thrown away, then by all means, choose the client.  But do it knowing that is exactly what you’re choosing -to hurt and use up good people for an extra dollar or a little prestige.
Even if money is your bottom line, I suggest you do the math.
Take care of crew = client cared for by a happy crew. You end up with a client AND a loyal crew.
Take care of client at expense of crew = loss of a crew and hundreds of burned bridges and a business you can’t sustain with constant crew turnover and a client who keeps demanding more for less.
And even if all you care about is networking and impressive connections… you have no idea who the talented minds who work for you will go on to become.  In this industry your employee on one project may be your boss on the next.  …or your client.
Loving and caring for people, no matter what their status, isn’t just a pretty idea with distant, philosophical rewards. It actually has practical value.

I wish this didn’t need to be preached like some radical new idea.  But this is a serious problem for my industry (and any corporation, really) and it doesn’t need to be.  This just makes sense.
Clients need limits (duh), just like children with access to cookies need limits.
And nothing should be built on the backs of broken people.  THEY are your talent.  Without them your business would not exist.
Treat them as though you know it.  Be a good boss.  An infinite amount of office pizza parties cannot make up for choosing clients at the expense of your crew.
(Some things that contribute to “choosing a client over crew” include: unreasonable deadlines, unreasonable quotas, under staffing your crew, paying your crew too little, unlimited revisions for the client – essentially, all of the things that you want to offer to win a client, but that your crew will suffer for.)  When you write a contract for a job, always consider who will be staying evenings and weekends in order to fulfill the promises you’re making.
If you have a business with employees and your mantra is “the client is number 1”, then you’re on the wrong track. There’s no arguing it. You are either setting yourself up for eventual failure, or you’re consciously choosing to build your own personal success on the backs of broken spirits.  Which, to me, equals a much greater failure.  That’s my math.
If this is what you’ve been doing and you haven’t realized the direct and consistent consequences (the hard working people it’s hurting), then don’t fret.  I’m not calling you a villain of a boss.  Just start making it right.  Care for your crew in a real way – as if they’re real people with real problems.  Your brother, your mother, your child.  We can’t blame someone for something they didn’t know.  Just start now.
Sincerely,
Every employee.

50 % of the Human Population

December 19, 2015 by  
Filed under Rachel's Thoughts

I work in the commercial animation industry where, like the rest of TV and film, there is a major, inexcusable, and definitely not accidental gap when it comes to gender and creative leadership.  Even now in 2015, when official policies state otherwise.
As someone who directs and plans to direct more and bigger, I’m personally offended – like a punch to the gut – when I go from studio to studio and see 100% men doing what I was made to do.
It’s a clear message to me that says, “You’re not allowed”.

So, today, this is my letter to us, as 50% of the human population, but mostly, it’s a pep talk for myself:

Dear women in business,
Here is something I’ve been learning:

Now is the time.

Now it’s about time.
We need to show up at the door of the places we want to be and we need to stop asking permission to be there.
The men don’t ask permission.  They assume it’s their right to be where they want to be. Let’s adopt that sense of privilege.  There is no reason we shouldn’t.
I know for your whole career there has been some room you’ve been told you’re not allowed to enter.
You’re told this by having witnessed that no matter how qualified you are, only men get that job. Year after year, decade after decade.

I understand that after so long of being passed over, you eventually give up trying.  The fight can become so tiring that it stops being worth it.
I’m telling you now that the winds are changing.  The old boys are dying out and the “no girls allowed” clubs are no longer appropriate.
But official policies aren’t good enough anymore.  They’re completely empty without action.
We need to start be bosses – we need to assume we can.  And once we are bosses we need to hire each other as much as we hire men.
We can be our own worst enemies. And it’s not acceptable.
We will never make real, practical change unless we show up without apology, stop asking permission to be there, and work together as stepping stones for each other, toward real opportunities.
Most of us don’t show up for those opportunities, because we think we need to be the best before we even try.  After all, if you become the first female boss in what you do, you’ll bee seen as an ambassador for all women. If you stink, we all stink, right?
Well, look around!  There are all varieties of men who stink at their job and they don’t reflect on all mankind.  They only reflect on themselves.

Their bar isn’t set nearly as high as the one we set for ourselves.

Half of them BS their way into the job and then fumble their way through it until they get good.
So, just go!  Take one step forward with confidence.  Learn.  Compare merit to merit and that is all.
When anyone (men and women) tell you you’re being too bossy or too outspoken or forward, you make that your background music as you pass them by on your walk to success.

When they tell you you’re being paranoid, because this prejudice doesn’t exist, you pity them for the tiny bubble they live in and the small world view they have.

Now be good at what you do, represent yourself, and keep showing up at that door.
We are 50% of the human population and we are qualified.

photo by lightmonkey.ca