In the world of entrepreneurship, your business pitch takes on the role of a stage, with your clients as the captivated audience. Our host Kofi Nartey discusses the awe-inspiring connection between acting and entrepreneurship in this episode, unveiling the top 10 success strategies he acquired throughout his acting career. Explore the importance of knowing your lines, dressing the part, and more parallels between business and acting. Every strategy is valuable, from knowing the intricacies of characters to recognizing the important role your clients play as the focal point of your business story. And the grand revelation? The realization that every audition, every client meeting, every interaction in the business world, is an invitation for you to be the right fit. Tune in now and unlock the doors to your aspirations!
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10 Success Strategies From 10 Years Of Acting
We are going to have some fun in this episode. This is going to take me on a little bit of a journey through my past acting days. It’s going to bring you with me and bring us right back to how we can use some of the strategies that I’ve learned from acting for success in life and business. It was a fun ride. Sometimes, people ask me if I miss football. I don’t really miss football because I know if I ran to the mailbox, I’d pull a hamstring. With acting? There are days that I think, “I wish I could do the acting thing again.” Who knows? I might revisit it in the future, at least do some voiceover work or something fun.
We’re going to go quickly because I want to get through all of these tips that I’ve been able to apply from my acting days to my business life and my entrepreneurial life. I thought it’d be important to give you a little bit of background on my acting journey, how I got into it, what I did while I was acting, and then my transition out of acting.
It started back after football. I played football at Berkeley and then went to the Raiders. I got hurt with the Raiders and then decided, “What am I going to do next?” I had always had a little bit of an interest in acting. I did school plays. I did the talent show at Carnegie Middle School. I was Arsenio Hall, running the talent show. It’s taking me back. I always had a little bit of an interest there, so I thought, “This might be something I can revisit.”
It started with a little bit of the modeling side and commercial work. I’m going to give you guys the full story here. There was a guy taking photos of a model in our stadium up at Cal where I played football. I was back there visiting. I said, “Do you need another model?” I was joking. He turns to me and says, “I do.” He had this strong Italian accent. We made this deal. This is one of the lessons that I learned from my acting and modeling days. He said, “Why don’t we trade? I’ll give you some photos that you can use for acting and your sports stuff. We’ll then take the photos that we use on our side and be able to use those for our commercial purposes.” I said, “Done. I’ll get some free photos. This will be great.”
I did a lot of sports photography with them that day. I did some things running through the stadium and running on the field. I got some amazing pictures that would help me jumpstart my acting and modeling. Fast forward a year later before I even got fully into it, I walk into a foot action and there’s a 5-foot tall poster of me running through my stadium. Lo and behold, they had these posters in every foot action around the country and I didn’t get a dime from it. You live, you learn, and you keep moving.
I came back to LA. My football career was done at that point. I hadn’t given up on it yet, but it was done at that point. I wouldn’t revisit it after the injuries. I was working a couple of different jobs and started doing some extra work. I had a good friend of mine, Mazio Royster. 3rd and 1 was his company. He did a lot of sports commercial casting and sports movie casting. A lot of us former athletes locked in with Mazio to do some extra work. It paid pretty well. It was pretty easy. You show up and do your sport or dress up to do your sport or different sports. I then realized, “I want a bigger role in these commercials. I want to speak. I want to do the main character thing.” I started doing some improv classes.
If you’re reading, you’ll know that I made the decision to pour more into it but knew that I needed to get better at it. I signed up for some scene study classes. One of my first early on-scene study classes was with a woman named Cyb Barnstable. I remember her because one of my classmates there was Kellan Lutz from Twilight fame. Me and Kellan hit it off. He was new to acting then. I was new to acting then. These were two young guys or two alpha males that hit it off. We are still friends to this day.
I had a lot of fun learning the craft. I got into casting director workshops here in LA. There’s a guy named Gary Dubin. He used to put on these casting director workshops. They were great because we would do scene studies but we would do them in front of casting directors. It was a chance to learn from each other. They were also built-in auditions because you’re getting in front of people who are casting shows to give you real feedback.
I was able to get a commercial agent. I was with a firm called KSA at the time. Now, they’re KMR. They changed ownership. I was with Coast to Coast for my commercial acting. I was able to book my first few jobs early on. It was way back in the early 2000s. My very first acting job was on Young and The Restless. I played a police officer on three episodes of Young and The Restless. Fast forward, I was able to do TV shows like Numbers and Psych with my good buddy Dulé Hill. I can’t even remember all the shows that I was in, but we had a lot of fun. I was in True Blood and Modern Family.
I was a working actor here in LA. Not everybody gets a chance to say that. I made a living during those acting days. I went on and did a couple of major motion pictures. I was in a film called Kick-Ass with Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Matthew Vaughn was the director who was married to Claudia Schiffer. We filmed that in London at Pinewood Studios where they filmed Star Wars. I had a lot of fun.
I finished up with a movie, the Fast & Furious. I was in one of the Fast & Furious movies with my good friends to this day, Laz Alonso, John Ortiz, Vin Diesel, and the late Paul Walker where I got a chance to not only film here in LA but spend some time with him in Mexico. This was Fast & Furious 4 where we filmed in Mexico. We’re driving through the tunnels in Mexico with Braga. I was one of Braga’s henchmen. We had some great times getting to hang out. We had drinks, tacos, and tequila. I had lots of fun hanging out with those guys in Mexico.
With every part of the experience, I did learn something new. There were takeaways at every aspect of the way and even at the beginning of my transition. At a certain point, I had gotten married. I met my wife. We had a baby on the way. While acting was great, it was also taking me to all these different places around the world. It was cool to film Fast & Furious. The parts of it where we filmed in Mexico were cool to do. Kick-Ass, we filmed that movie in London. Even Psych was filmed in Vancouver, Canada. My wife came to see me up there and hung out with me out there at Sutton Place, the hotel where all the actors stayed up there.
I knew I needed something that was going to keep me home because I wanted to be home. I wanted to be there for my family. I needed to find a career where I could apply some of my gifts, talents, and desires. Real estate was one of those vehicles. I liked people. I liked the properties. I liked negotiating. I liked the business strategy. I liked creating marketing campaigns. I knew that this was something that would allow me to do that and also stay home in the process. I phased out the acting career. I still did a few little jobs here and there as I was transitioning into real estate, but at a certain point, real estate took over full-time.
#1: Know Your Lines And Be Prepared For The Audition
Without further ado, I want to jump right into ten specific things that I learned from acting that apply to business and sales that you can take and apply to your entrepreneurial pursuits. Number ten might be my favorite, so hang in there with me. I’m going to go Fast & Furious, no pun intended. Number one, know your lines and be prepared for the audition. You have to be ready for the opportunity. When we get to number ten, it will help with this. We’ll get there pretty quickly.
You have to know your scripts. Whatever your industry is, you have to know your objection handlers. You have to know your pitches. You have to know your contracts. You have to be able to anticipate objections. When you go in for auditions and acting, they expect you to know the words. When you’re auditioning for pitching your services, pitching your business, or pitching your company, you have to know your value proposition. You have to know the words that you’re going to deliver at that moment. You have to anticipate the kind of questions that people are going to come up with and throw back at you. You have to be ready for that, too.
#2: Dress The Part
Number two, dress the part. Wardrobe is huge in acting. Awards are given for wardrobe. I remember even in Kick-Ass, I had a $7,000 lace front dreadlock wig. Do you want to see what a $7,000 lace front wig looks like? Go to YouTube or google Rasul Kick-Ass. That was my character. Not only will you see the wig, but you’ll get to see me die on camera. Wardrobe communicates something. It communicates something about you, what you wear, how you show up, and your professionalism. Are you buttoned up? Are you casual? Are you relaxed? You have to pay attention to how you show up, how you present, and what you wear.
In business, there are a lot of times people say, “Do I need to wear a suit and tie every time for luxury real estate or if I’m presenting?” Not necessarily, but my rule in business is to stay one step ahead. One step ahead is one step ahead of the client’s style. Sometimes, we work with athletes. They’re going to show up in jeans and a t-shirt. I’ll show up in jeans and a button-down shirt, maybe untucked. I’m not going to show up in a suit and tie for someone who’s in jeans and a t-shirt because there is a disconnect there. It’s not relatable. You don’t want to be too far out from where your client is.
If my client is in dress slacks and a dress shirt, I might be in dress slacks, a dress shirt, and a suit jacket. A lot of times, even for first impressions, I always like to show up in a jacket. Even if I have on my jeans and my casual tennis shoes or my nice tennis shoes, I’ll be in my button-down shirt and jacket. I’ll show up in that and then I can take it off in a more relaxed moment when we’re sitting down to talk about the balance of the business. You have to show up to be ready. Show up one step ahead.
#3: Act The Part
Number three, act the part. How I behave as Kofi the business professional is different than how I behave as Kofi the soccer dad, Kofi the real estate guy, or Kofi the husband. Each aspect of my life requires a different version of myself that either already exists or that I’ve created. When you’re showing up for business, you have to act the part of the person that they’re looking to hire or the person they’re looking to work with.
Confidence is key. That comes from being prepared. They want to hire success. They want to hire confidence. They are subscribing to what you’re presenting. You have to know your lines. You have to be prepared. You have to look the part. You take a look at the top professionals in your industry and you can often model their success actions. Take note that I said actions and not outcomes. When you’re modeling others who’ve done it before you, model their actions and don’t jump to the outcomes.
Too many people want to jump to the outcome, but it’s the actions that lead to the outcome. Sticking your tongue out doesn’t make you Michael Jordan. Let’s be real. Taking his work ethic will make you a better basketball player. Act the part. If you need models, find people who are doing it. Look at what they’re doing to be successful and model that as well.
#4: Show Up To Be Immortalized
Number four starts with a quick story. I mentioned that one of the movies that I worked on was Fast & Furious. When we filmed in LA, everybody went home at the end of the day. When we filmed in Mexico, there were a few of the actors who were there. It was me, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Laz Alonso, and John Ortiz. We had a lot of local extras. When we stopped at the end of the day, we all hung out together because we knew each other. We were the only ones there in town. We spent a month in Magdalena, Mexico, this small town of Mexico. We had a chance to get to know each other. I got really comfortable.
Van Diesel was already a superstar and still is. He had two trailers in Magdalena, Mexico. One was for wardrobe. Another one had a full gym in it that he let me work out in. We’d show up to set. Everybody shows up. You have to be there on time for wardrobe and makeup. You have to be ready and get there on time. Vin Diesel was 30 to 40 minutes late every single time. He’s a superstar star so everybody’s going to wait for him.
I asked him one day when we were hanging out afterward. I said, “How come you’re late every day?” Those of you guys out there who know me know that I would ask that kind of question. I’m a little bit more direct. I like interesting questions and uncomfortable so we can learn something about each other. I asked him and he said, “I know that I’m showing up to be immortalized. I’m showing up to be immortalized when they roll that camera. It’s forever. The re-runs, TV shows, and all that is forever. I want to make sure that I have everything together. I want to be prepared. I want to dress how I want to be dressed. I want my lines to be perfect so I can show up and be immortalized.” That stuck with me for life.
Number four is to show up to be immortalized. Remember, you’re going to be remembered based on how you show up. You’re going to be remembered based on how you present. Even if you’re not showing up to be recorded or filmed, they’re taking mental notes. Make sure you show up prepared. Take that extra time to get ready. Take the extra time to run your numbers, know your numbers, know the contracts, and know your scripts. Sit in your car for a few extra minutes before you get out and go into that meeting to make sure that you’re going to be present and that you’re going to be ready because you are showing up to be immortalized. We have Vin Diesel to thank for that one.
#5: You Can’t Do It Alone
Number five, you can’t do it alone. I remember my acting days. I never made it big. I wasn’t a huge household name or anything but I got to work a lot and meet a lot of amazing people. You pull up and park your car and you’re walking through a whole production village. It takes a village, a video village wardrobe, makeup, lighting, sound, grips, and gaffers. Not to mention the writers, producers, directors, script supervisors, and so many more people who go into making a production a success. You can’t produce award-winning TV, films, shows, or even a basic commercial without a team. You can’t do it alone.
I remember I did a commercial with this guy named Joe Pytka. Joe Pytka is a famous director. He was notorious for riding a bike on set and stopping and yelling at everybody whenever he was upset about things. There were 1000 different people for these commercials we were shooting. There are the scriptwriters, supervisors, and all of these different people. I know for myself personally, I felt a sense of responsibility to do my best for all of the people that made that scene possible. They’re doing all of that, so when they say action and the camera rolls, I can deliver my lines the right way. I’m well-lit. I sound good. The lines are right.
I transfer over to business. Whatever your business is, you’re typically working as a team. You’re not working in isolation even if you have vendors that you work with or part of your supply chain. In real estate, I have agents that work with me and support me. I support them. We work collectively together. We have escrow officers, title officers, and transaction coordinators. I’ve got my chief of staff.Whatever your business is, you're typically working as a team, you're not working in isolation. Click To Tweet
There are all of these different people who make what we do possible and make it easier to do it better. Even finding the right support from the right team can make a difference. It’s even part of the reason that I partnered with Real, the brokers that BLOBL RED has partnered with. It’s because the resources, team, collaboration, and authentic giving and collaboration were something that resonated with me.
I do a co-list coaching program for agents who want to coalesce their first or next luxury opportunity because it’s hard to do it alone. I remember trying to figure out luxury on my own. It was hard. Finding someone I could trust to do it with is even harder. I wanted to be that for other agents. It has been fun to be able to collaborate and work as a team. Who you have in your corner matters.
#6: Know Your Character
Number six, know your character. Know your character or who you are. In acting, you have to know the backstory of the character that you’re playing. What makes them tick? How do they operate? What was their upbringing? Sometimes, you get certain parts of the story that they tell you and you make up the rest. Those little things will give you character nuances that will make the character special, unique, and even believable.
Everybody has nuances. Everybody has little things that make them tick, little isms that they do, and gestures. They speak with their hands or they don’t have much expression. Whatever that is, you have to know what kind of character you are. As it relates to business, what are the strongest character traits that you can amplify, demonstrate, be, and bring to the forefront for your business character? Remember, acting the part of your business character is going to resonate with your clients.
What are the marketable adjectives that best describe you that you can lean into? What’s your best form of communication? You have to know. Are you great with sitting and talking with people and building rapport? Are you great with emails? You’re better written than you are in person. You don’t love having long conversations, but you love the analytics. You love writing very detailed reports. Whatever it is, you have to identify it and then lead with those best traits.Whatever your best trait is, you have to identify it and then lead with that. Click To Tweet
#7: Know The Characters Around You
Number seven, know the characters around you. Starting with knowing yourself, you also have to know the characters around you. I remember reading scripts in acting. I would read the scripts to understand the other characters that I was in a scene with. It is about understanding those other characters. You have to know who you’re dealing with even in business.
In business, in real-time, you can listen. You don’t have a script to read, but you have to listen. The best way to listen is by asking a lot of questions to get them to do a lot of talking so you can hear what’s important to them. This will help you understand who you’re dealing with, what makes them tick, and most importantly, what problem you can solve for them.
We often use a DISC profile. If you’re not familiar with it, you can Google it. We’ll talk about that another time. We don’t have our clients take DISC profiles but we know that most people fall into one of those categories of personalities, the D, I, S, or C. It gives us some idea of how they tick and what’s important to them. I know myself. I’m a high D followed by a high I. In my personal life, I lead with my high D. I’m like, “Get it done now. What’s the answer? Let’s move. Let’s go. Let’s do it.” In business, I have to lead with what I call my lowercase D and more of my I so it’s not overbearing for people.
I’ll give you guys a pro tip. Here’s a pro tip even from my acting days. I remember in acting when you read the script. Seeing how other characters react to your character helps you understand more about yourself and more about your character. I’m going to say that again. Reading about how other characters react to your character helps you understand more about your character and that character’s traits. When your character walks into the room, do the people in the room smile? Are they afraid? Are they hiding in fear? That tells you what kind of character you are coming into that room. How do your clients react to you?
A great exercise for this for your brand, in general, is to ask your clients words that come to mind when they think of you and when they think of your company. I did a whole talk on branding. This is one of the key questions to unlocking your brand. Ask your clients what words come to mind. They’ll tell you. It’s good to know how they think of you, how they react to you, and how they respond to you. They may even surprise you with certain words.
I did this a couple of years ago. One of the words that came up that I never thought about was protected. Several of my clients said, “We feel protected in working with you.” I was like, “That’s a hell of a word.” We use it a lot. Our clients feel protected. They’re right. My goal is to protect them through the process, the contracts, and the negotiations. My goal is to protect their best interests and desires and deliver them on the outcome that they want. Do that exercise. That’s a pro tip. This is a bonus for you guys right there.
#8: Be Creative And Adlib
Number eight, be creative and adlib. This I learned after booking several jobs during my acting career. What I came to learn is you audition and you deliver the lines that they give you. You got to get the lines right. Know your scripts. Once you book a job and you’re on set, there are tons of adlibbing. They try it several different ways. They even expect you to try it in different ways. It’s even appreciated. I’m sure even if you’ve never acted a day in your life, you’ve seen outtakes, especially from comedic movies where some of it is ad-libbed. A lot of it is ad-libbed. You get to see these long outtakes of people carrying on in character that make for some of the best movie moments.
As it relates to business, you have to know your scripts and the core aspects of your business before you can adlib. Once you know that, be creative. Take moments to be creative in how you are conversing with your client and how you are relaying information. We know in real estate, because we’re dealing with so many negotiations, even negotiations with our own clients, that we have to have 5 ways to say every 1 thing. One way may not be convincing enough. We might have to follow it up with a different example, a story, and statistics. All of these things are ways of being creative.
Remember, you have to know the boundaries of the lines before you can color outside of them. It’s the boundaries of the box. You talk about thinking outside of the box. You have to know the box before you can think outside of the box. Know your basic scripts, basic contracts, and sales proposition, and then you can get creative.As an actor, you have to know the boundaries of the lines before you can color outside of them. Click To Tweet
I’ll give you guys one more pro tip on this one. Your voice is an extremely powerful tool. This is another thing that I learned in acting in some of those scene study classes where you do monologues or scenes with other people. You can take people on a journey with your voice. You get animated if you’re excited about something. You slow down and pause if you want to make a point.
When you’re conveying information to your clients, use your voice to take them on the journey that you want to take them on. It also implies that you’re listening. When you pause and slow down, it’s a little bit more thoughtful. It pulls them in. It doesn’t even really matter what you’re saying, but it can be more thoughtful and feel more thoughtful if you’re reiterating what their goals are or reiterating what you heard them say. Their needs are the problem that you’re going to solve for them. Slow down. Take a beat. Use your voice as a tool. That’s a pro tip. That was a bonus one.
#9: Remember Who The Star Is
Number nine, remember who the star is. In acting, there’s almost always a star or a hero. The story revolves around them. Even if another character has more lines, he or she is still there to tell the star’s story. Listening even requires acting ability. Some of the best scenes are communicated in silence through facial expressions. That supports the overall story of the hero or the star.
How does this relate to business? Your client is the star even if you have a product or service. Hear this. You have a product or service. The product as well as your service is playing the role of supporting actor to your client as the star. The star is on that hero’s journey. The star is the person whose problem is being solved. Your product, service, abilities, skills, and resources are all supporting actors to your client as the star.
We have to talk about this a lot as it relates to sales professionals because we have to remind agents, “You are not the star.” I want you to remember this. You might be the hero because we’re often heroes, but you’re not the star. I’m going to say that again. I like how that sounded. You may be the hero, but you’re not the star. Quote that. Text that. Share that on social media. We do show up as heroes for our clients, but we have to remember being the hero doesn’t make us a star. We’re the hero to our client star.
#10: The People You’re Auditioning For Want You To Be The Right Fit
Number ten might be one of the most important takeaways for you guys. Remember number one and what I talked about, being ready for the audition. There were so many auditions that I didn’t get. You go into it. You’re nervous. You’re worried about it. I remember after booking a certain number of jobs that it was a numbers game.
I also realized something that was a game-changer for me going into auditioning that allowed me to reframe the way that I auditioned and also took the pressure off of me. That was realizing that the people you’re auditioning for want you to be the right fit. That’s number ten. You’re not walking into a room that you’ve been invited into to be rejected.
Many times, so often, as sales professionals and real estate professionals, we go into listing presentations or buyer consultations, or we go to meet a new client. We are nervous and scared because we’re presenting our services. We think we’re presenting in a hostile environment. If they’ve invited you into your home, their goal is to find someone who can solve the problem that they have. That’s selling their property, moving on in life, or moving to the next chapter. They want you to be the right fit.
When I auditioned for casting directors, producers, and writers, the next person who walked into the room, they wanted them to be the best person for the role so their job is done. They found the best person for the role. They’re not auditioning people for fun and to hang out in the evenings, the weekends, or whatever it is. They are trying to find the right person for the script that they’ve written.
When your client invites you in, know that they want you to be the right person. They have a problem that needs to be solved and a role that needs to be filled. They want to efficiently identify the right person to fill it. This removes so much doubt and pressure on us as sales professionals who are constantly presenting, constantly pitching, and constantly auditioning for our next opportunity in business.
Even when they seem resistant. When you walk into a room and their arms are crossed and they seem resistant, the truth is this is often their performance of discernment. They can’t make it too easy for you. They have to do a little bit of putting up their own resistance, like, “You got to work for this,” but know that you have been invited in again because they want to find that right person.
Let’s do a quick recap. 1) Know your lines and be ready. 2) Dress the part. 3) Act the part. 4) Show up to be immortalized. Vin Diesel. 5) Know that you can’t do it alone. 6) Know your character. 7) Know the characters around you. 8) Be creative and adlib. 9) Remember who the star is. 10) They want you to be the right fit.
These tools have been a game-changer for my business. I hope that these tools are helpful for you and your business. I hope they help you take your business to the next level. Thank you guys for joining. Share this one. Tag me on social media. Hit me up, text me, or DM me if you found this helpful. Share it with somebody else. Please, stay focused on your Full Mogul journeys. On with your days.