Unknown Speaker 0:00
Today's guest is a longtime college friend of mine, Vinny POTUS Devo whose career started really when we were still going to school together Wagner College as a casting director for MTV, and actually worked on a lot of reality TV shows, which has brought him now to his own production company, where he mentors and helps other content creators, creatives, people who want to build a personal brand as artists as personalities. And he helps coach them helps them maximise their reach, and build a lot of content. So I think he's perfect. For those of you that follow me here. He has a lot of wisdom and a lot of advice from that side of the commercial industry of what's successful in the TV and reality TV world. Plus, he has all that theatre background. And he's really, really fun. So I think you're gonna enjoy this interview with any pilots Devo.
Unknown Speaker 1:09
Hi, Vinny, welcome to the podcast. I'm so glad you're here. Yes, I would not be anyplace else other than right here. Right now. I'm so excited for what we're about to do. Just I am okay. We know we've known each other for 20 something years.
Unknown Speaker 1:25
Seriously, not even kidding.
Unknown Speaker 1:28
Because we both went to the same college, Wagner College. But the thing that I remember most good and you could graduate a little bit ahead of me. But the thing I remember was, I would never have gone to see a live taping of TRL if it weren't for you. Ah, you were the you were the reason I got to go into the MCP studio. You were the reason I got to work at MTV studios, because they're all of a sudden, as a 20 year old, I was given this opportunity to find audience members and talented singers and dancers for say about karaoke and fun shows like TRL. And all I needed to do was go to my friends on Wagner College campus, and I literally would be nowhere in TV at all. If it wasn't for that talented group of people that you know, we surrounded ourselves with at school I O 's and the proximity to Time Square, I just I owe so much to Wagner College. And what we did with that, you know, that's why I said earlier, I'm so excited for what we're about to do. Because we 20 years we've, we've known each other when we connect, something happens, nothing happens out of it. Change happens out of it. I love that part about this. Yeah. And we'll kind of get to this, but I think that it's really no coincidence that you and I are both serving our communities the way that we do. Not having known each other as long as we have but I want to know a little bit more at the time you were a theatre major at Wagner. When did you go okay, I'm going to go into casting I'm going to I'm going to shift into this more of a less theatrical more pop culture TV kind of world. I love that question because you were there for it. It was October 1998. And I decided I was going to be in casting so I took out an ad in Backstage magazine. I said Vinnie polysteel Casting searching for headshots for actors looking to be cast in all all types of opportunities. Please send them in one campus Road, Wagner College. Staten Island. Yeah, I got so much trouble for starting a business on campus and then flooding. Like it was like, it was like a Santa Claus. You know, Macy's moment for me. I was like, all these are Furby they'll have made the money. But it was October 1998.
Unknown Speaker 3:42
You know, I said earlier, you know, we surrounded ourselves with so much talent that's literally been like,
Unknown Speaker 3:49
my consistent in life. I've always whatever I do, I seek to surround myself with talent, I am better with the, you know, the better the more I surround myself with super talented people, I find myself being better. So I realised that I think again, in Wagner College, you know, I was an arts admin major.
Unknown Speaker 4:08
We I was in the shows, but also I was like the computer club president and the RA for my floor and this senior class, you know, student government president and like I was, you know, active on campus and Wagner College. Let us do that. Let me be creative. I was actually known as like the tech wasn't the kind of known I think, I wish I hope I'm known as like the tech guy amongst the theatre majors. Like if you needed a doctor or a paper, because you couldn't wink wink get it in on time. I knew how to take a computer error.
Unknown Speaker 4:45
But there was that hustle and again without without being surrounded by I mean super talented, even down to the very last show. I cast on MTV in 2007. As I was leaving, which I helped cast, which was the search the search for
Unknown Speaker 5:00
Oh, Legally Blonde. Oh, yeah. And my Wagner connections came into play yet again. Yeah, especially with the Chico which is so cool. It's just, I'm so proud to come from a lineage of talented people that, you know, studied in the same hall. I know those halls so. And I think it's very giving a very invested in very giving mentors teachers, yes, but mentor, they really took on mentor roles because of the size of class and, and the closeness that we, you know, we had with projects and stuff. So I loved that development piece. I loved I love the X be going to Wagner for me was, first off the people that I met there are still in my life to this day, much more than any other experience I had in my life. And then, but I loved the proximity to the city, because it gave us accessibility to some of the best training and experiences and but it was far enough away that you could still come back to campus and like focus, you know, and you weren't so distracted by by New York City. But how did the MTV job come about? And, you know, what were your sort of intentions in taking that that path when you decided to start doing casting at MTV? Yeah, one of the things I learned at Wagner was the casting process. I got cut. I'm not the best. I don't think I am the best singer I don't think I am the best dancer. I'm, I'm like the kind of actor that's just myself and everything I do. So if that's acceptable, then that's the kind of actor I am. And I have tremendous respect for people who really take the craft on. That being said, you know, I wasn't good at auditions, and I would get cut. But what I did well, in auditions, especially in an academic situation, was asked for a second chance. And that was something that most people probably still don't do. And I would say all of them, the biggest learning moments, about being an actor of being a performer about being received, about putting myself out there and being received being understanding how my energy is coming across understanding how, how my passion might come across as as as power and that may work or not work for me, you know, depending on the situation.
Unknown Speaker 7:18
And I was fascinated by when I when I realised how to do how to be a better auditioner because it didn't necessarily I don't think make me a better performer. But I love the idea of, of how to make that initial connection. And I realised that there were some fundamental things that I did that I knew I could teach people. Eye contact, this the small talk, you know, I knew that the small talk how to be good. As I'm walking to centre stage to sing my song, I know that that's small, I got to make them laugh. I gotta let them know what my energy is about. Because if they think I'm just like amazing Broadway Beltre, they're going to be very disappointed. But if there comes this funny guy, who can hold his own and hit six foot three, and I, people think I'm like this small, you know, whatever, whatever the energy is, that's picking I learned. I learned to use that. And also, I mentioned earlier, the technology piece. I learned how to put things on data on disk before, you know, when we were still shooting things on film. And we probably had camcorders with mini VHS tapes, and school. I was the person in school who's already digitising footage. So to answer your question about MTV, there were a couple of short gigs that I took here and there, you know, along along the way, but there was one major day that I was actually at school, it was November. I know, I think David corps Koski came with me. And in fact, I'm pretty sure it was me and David, we saw that MTV was shooting in Time Square, we said, Let's go to Time Square, let's stand out and say hi, and see what it's all about. So we went to Time Square, and based on this casting call that told us to do to do so. And I went to the casting director, and I said, Look, I have lots of friends back at Lackawanna College who would love to do this sort of thing. And he goes well, we're doing a very Buster Christmas special. And it's a y2k Blink 182 Christmas, you know, it was like back in that that day, and I was like, Oh my gosh, I know people who would love to do this stuff. And, and, and our friends and waggy alumni are in bedded in like the opening of VMAs for the first 10 years of my career and anything that needed theatrical talent I was able to call on so say a karaoke was a fun show to let people sing live. So there was your real voice on camera that I could give you tape for that you could then take and maybe give to a casting director or use as part of your reel. So I was able to help prioritise the casting process for some people to give them those opportunities and
Unknown Speaker 9:50
just just when you give talent, a tool, podcasting, especially being one of them, now that you own your IP, you know, you've been an amazing project Production Engineering.
Unknown Speaker 10:00
projects that are written by other people. They're produced by other people. So congratulations to you. I mean, you, you're a pioneer to you, you have branding down. And you know, we've been having this branding conversation for over decades. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But I think that it's something that doesn't come naturally to a lot of people. So having people like you, guide people, and I feel like I've just always been curious, even if I didn't know what I was doing. I was just curious. But some people just don't have that natural curiosity. And so when their talents or they're being recognised for their talent, or they get, or what's happens a lot now with social media, and in reality TV is people end up finding themselves in situations where like, well, I didn't know I was going to become, I was going to get 20,000 followers overnight. And I don't know what to do with that. So helping people I think is really beautiful. Watching, you helped so many people at this point,
Unknown Speaker 10:57
has been really beautiful to watch. And I just think it I think people I think it's much needed. We know we're watching actually on Netflix. I don't know if you've watched it yet the season two of cheer. Yes. Yeah. Okay. And then and they just two after Jerry is what I've watched so far. Okay, so like the one leading up to Jerry, and they're talking about how quickly their lives were changing and how quickly they were just getting bombarded. And God if they had just had someone like you to help, you know, it's just kind of amazing to,
Unknown Speaker 11:28
to watch that spiral, out of control. And I feel like that that happens probably more often than we know about.
Unknown Speaker 11:36
Nowadays, because of tick tock and social media and stuff, don't you think? Yeah, I'm getting goosebumps as you say that, um, I had the same exact I was that person for the Laguna Beach cast that was then the hills cast, and then the city. So when the good when Laguna Season One aired the kids, Lauren Conrad and Kristen and Steven and Dieter, like they had no clue what they were in for in terms of the amount of and that was, before. I was, that was before Facebook, I was also the guy that told him not to be on MySpace. Because if if people found out they were on MySpace, and would know what happened before the TV show, and that might hurt, you know, the success of the TV show was my mentality back then.
Unknown Speaker 12:18
And I left in oh seven, which is just when social the iPhone came out in July of Oh, seven, Facebook went public to non students in oh seven. So there's a lot of things that happened.
Unknown Speaker 12:30
But yeah, the you know, we we're not, we're not prepared, we're not prepared to for output, let alone input. To be honest, as creatives many of us focus on the output without being aware of the input. And the input tends to be, you know, if it happens, as a result of success, it could be a trigger, or something that makes you sort of fear being successful, because you don't have a great experience doing that. And what I what I learned to do early in my career was find, find success points, find find ways to be successful early in your career, I think that's important, because Because timing, too many people quit is the number one reason why I've seen failure, it's just, you know, either time, run out resources, you know, run out, but that's, that's the biggest piece of it. So if you're going to be in this, if you're going to be in this industry, just be prepared to do it for a long time. And I want to chat about some sustainable ways, ways to feed the beast, you know? Yeah, I did, too. Because I think that, you know, that's one of the things you mentioned, before we even started recording was sustainable creativity, because I think, no matter what industry nowadays, so many people are able to be multi hyphenated multi passionate, creative. So you know, you may be pursuing an acting career, you may also be a social media star, you may also be running a side business, you know,
Unknown Speaker 13:53
people and that's a lot of what I see happening now, especially post pandemic is people really trying to create multiple streams of income. But in order to do that, you've got to put yourself out there, you got to put your brand out there, you got to put your marketing out there and you can really get burned out when it especially because so many people are trying to do too many things at once, right? They're trying to like dominate every single platform, instead of you know, just really focusing on being an expert in one or two, you know, so how do you when you talk to, I have so just really love to hear what what is it? Let's start with this. What is your definition of a creative because that's something that I run into a lot of people, people get a little torn when my artists and my Creator and my creative
Unknown Speaker 14:40
and my influencer like what's for you like when you talk about helping creatives? How do you define that? Yeah, that's so interesting, right? Because we could use creatives as as a noun and people who we identify as we could talk about, you know, being creative. And for some reason, you know, being creative
Unknown Speaker 15:00
And being an artist is sort of been lumped into a certain category. Academically, I would say maybe it's maybe it starts maybe it starts there. So going back to our, you know, our school roots, I do think if I look at academically how some subjects are separated, the arts tends to be a standalone where math and sciences, even English sometimes gets lumped in with math and science as opposed to English and arts. So that's some depending on I think, maybe where you went to school in the states that might even you know, be different I bet it is.
Unknown Speaker 15:30
So that's first and foremost issue. Language, we don't understand what the word creative means we the word talent has changed. In the last 10 years, you know, talent traditionally, was reserved for creatives as a way to make Example of Awesome creators who, you know, exemplified their talents and could be talent, and the Human Resources HR world, I think, has not to say hijacked or taken over that world, but have aptly so, you know, relinquished the exclusivity to creatives in regards to talent, and programmers and off camera, you know, talent. And, in fact, talent brand refers now to the reputation of the total body of employees that work at a company, as opposed to like, oh, especially for he's an actor, he is a talent brand. He also has a coaching brand, he also has, you know, which is the way we use so, language is all over the place. So I understand the confusion. That being said, I do think there's, I don't want to say shame, maybe they're ashamed. And being creative. You know, why? Because Because, because being financially successful and big, because being successful in business means earning dollars, and that's measurable, less money out more money in, it's very clear, creative, is the exact opposite. The more I use, the more I have, not the more use, the less I have, you know, the the I want to use all my budget, I want to change the industry, I want to offer new opportunities, give new voices, I want to hire as many people as possible. Those are my creative goals. So so now we're being tasked with measuring our creative success with our financial and business success. And I think that that's where as quote unquote, creators, people who identify as making content or media and wanting to be paid from those actions, I think that that's where it's challenging.
Unknown Speaker 17:26
Because people are thinking of the business part of being creative in a very linear way, and very transactional way, the way that we know how to sell products and the way that we know, they are, I should say they I don't mean to see a winner, they but I'll be on the creative, the way that business people know how to sell products and business people know how to sell services, we are just learning now, how to sell our creativity, mostly because of intellectual property. Right. So in the states, if I have a TV show idea, and I've had many of them, I sell them to the TV network, the network, and hires me to do the show. And that's actually in, in other territories in the world, that's not the case. So Big Brother. So there's a lot of formats that go out of America first, so that the producers can retain the intellectual property rights. And then they take those formats. Top Model As another example of chopped is another example where they take those rights. And actually, I think chopped is owned by NBC. But top model is another great example of a show that is independently owned and then franchised out by territories, it's the business of media, you know, and that's why fundamentally artists, contracts aren't working. That's why Taylor Swift, in Kesha and some of these artists are making the news because these contracts are, are not ultimately as beneficial for quote unquote, traditional talent as they could, should and will in the future be. And that's what blockchain is. That's what web 3.0 is, that's when we talk about not getting paid from the gig, you know, you make a certain amount of money by being on a Broadway show, but you make more money and advertising a product because you're on that Broadway show. And you sort of you know, build your your value ladder out, as opposed to up. And I think that the confusion, yeah, it is confusing for a lot of people because I think that it really is a personal choice, right? How you want to define yourself how you want to how you how you want, I mean, if you want to move laterally, vertically, horizontally, you have, if you don't want to move, you know, if you just stand on a corner on an intersection of opportunity and success, where you know, there's a timeline to the year that's always gonna come back to your there's a timeline and social causes that are always gonna come back to you. There's so many ways to show up in your strength that that you just need to put format and infrastructure to you know, I'm not saying everyone has to be on camera there, you know, just because you have a video and it can point at you doesn't mean it needs to so there's plenty of other ways that you know, we can play around with these
Unknown Speaker 20:00
tools that are giving us and I think also, that's why I'm very excited about LinkedIn audio events that just recently launched and I'm having a blast creating rooms in LinkedIn, because these are people I really value I worked with for 1015 years. And now Now we're able to communicate with a new tool, which is cool, as opposed to just, you know, the video, the LinkedIn live, or just, you know, sort of the interaction and captions and, and threads. So it's, it's fun to be able to play with those tools. I love that. Okay, yeah, finding, and jumping on new tools is super important. So if you're not on LinkedIn, and you haven't followed me, go check him out. So talk about sustainable creativity. What does that mean? How do we avoid burning out when we are defining ourselves as a creative? Who wants to show up consistently? What are your suggestions? And, you know, how do you help people through that? Yes, this is a brilliant question. So much so that I asked Mandy Moore the very same question, and she said the input dictates the output. And I loved that I love the idea of needing to read and needing to ingest and needing to consume and needing to participate, and not just the timely timeliness of what's happening, but in the relevance of what's happening, to be able to create so so when I talk about sustainable creativity, I talk about creating an ecosystem where, where there's no burnout, or where burnout can be addressed, if that's if that's your cycle. And regardless of what level you're operating at, you know, also, I really never look for peak performance, because that, to me, sounds like burnout. And who wants it? To be honest, as who wants to peak?
Unknown Speaker 21:42
Eight, no one wants to be like, Oh, I peak yesterday. So I mean, so.
Unknown Speaker 21:47
So, again, it's just down to the words that we use to, you know, surround the way we approach creating, even for me, it's turning on a camera and when before I set my lights up and before set my shot up and I light a candle because that's like for me, the first thing that I know is going to have the probably the biggest effect is is the my environment. And now I can start now that I've got my vibe right? Now I can start creating because I'm what the second I put lights on, that's energy out. The second the camera on that's energy out, especially if I'm looking at my own reflection, you know, during the recording, which I pretty much trained myself not to Oh, it was hard at first but so much more rewarding when I can give up what you know what I think the perfect angle is and I don't get lost in my thoughts. And that was that was a big problem for me, was being so consumed with my surrounding being so obsessed with being perfectly creative. That I would forget where I was talking about also, I didn't even realise I was using like a seven, I was using a camera that's in my iMac instead of buying a 1080 camera, 60 frames per second 20 bucks off of Amazon, which makes me look as good as the celebrities that I'm interviewing. And by the way, I was doing that to myself, like I gave myself the low. The low phi. Ah, I'm not.
Unknown Speaker 23:09
We have that control. You know, that's cool as creators. That's, by the way you've worked on projects, you'd never been able to say like, Um, can you shoot me with a different lens? Please? No, no, I mean, a certain level, you get to say that I've never been there yet. I've never gotten there. But
Unknown Speaker 23:28
Mariah Carey level, you know, that's Oprah level. That's where you Oh, yeah, we need that soft focus spotlight, Mariah Carey on the sofa with no 1080 HD for me.
Unknown Speaker 23:40
So how, what you're talking about infrastructure, the input versus the output. So when I hear you say that, the first thing that kind of comes into my mind is how a lot of people aren't really sure what that input is for themselves right there. There we can it's very easy these days, this happened. This comes up a lot where people are consuming so much that they get caught in the trap of despair, of compare and despair. Because they're looking at what everyone else is doing. And they're they're either comparing their beginning to someone else's middle, or, and so they're thinking, Oh, I could never, I could never achieve that quality or that level. So what's the point? So then they fall into this sort of, you know paralysing over analysis, you know, what do they call that paralysis? And now analysis paralysis?
Unknown Speaker 24:35
How, what is the infrastructure for someone who's maybe starting out that you think needs to be in place so that you're taking care of that input, and sustainably building a pattern or a habit around the output? As a great question, be accountable for the amount of time that you're focused on the input. So here's a really simple way to do that.
Unknown Speaker 25:01
When you search for something on Amazon who gets paid Amazon, right? When we search for something on Google who gets paid Google, right. In fact, Google gets paid so much, that they feel bad that they got to go and give us Gmail for free. And Google and G Suite and Google, you know, that's how they pay it. That is how they pay us back for us working for free for them. So when you're searching on Instagram, who's getting paid? On Instagram, let's see who's getting paid on Facebook. So why would you go to work and not put it on your schedule? Like why would you do something during the day a meeting? Why would you have an intentional conversation about something creative and not create the intentional space for it. So one of the recommendations, I would say is create time to scroll, and then create time to consume and also create time for output. And even if time for output comes and you feel creatively overwhelmed, and still are not clear about like the next steps, the only thing I ask is that you don't consume, that you stay and that heartspace that you've allotted for yourself and maybe make it five minutes at first. And then 10 It's it's literally like going to the gym, I say this because I've had a horrible relationship with going to the gym, loving it and hating it. And I know that you know, it's not, it's not fun at first until a couple of months in and then it's not the results that even get me excited, then the eye energy thing does happen. You know, the positivity does happen, the opportunities do happen when you start taking action, and, and that that's the fun part that you get to fill into but create the space so that you can be meaningful about it. So just be aware when you're not creating versus consuming and then try to if possible, limit the amount of consumption you have, or one of the things I do is I find myself like I tend to like like these creators who are doing like save this real, here's 10. They're like, it's almost hyper consumption like I'm unfollowing people who are getting me 10 posts in one, not just one post in 10 carousel slides. So I've been mindful of that lately. I actually started following people who do that, because I realised it allows me to scroll less than I get more information. And if I scroll as much, there's no way I can retain that information. And I also save a tonne. So I use the native Instagram tools a lot. I have categories, for saved for all types of posts, I even use the flag features, this is my favourite thing to do on Instagram because we create all this action and activity.
Unknown Speaker 27:40
And then there's opportunity or an inbox and we miss out on it because there's just so much other loud activity happening, that I started flagging people that I potentially could work for. And flagging to me I thought was like a bad thing. In your inbox. If you go into your your inbox in Instagram use swipe left, you can flag it for me, I thought almost as like a bad thing. But here it allows me to, you know, it reminds me that the people I'm open to doing business with are reaching out to me, and I hope no one ever gets access. To me, that's like a secret black box version of like booze. You know what I mean? Like, who Who do I really want to do and I invite a lot of people into my close friends. And I post frequently in my close friends, which is a great way to get us following each other. This way, I can make sure that people who matter to me in my life or based on who can impact my life can see the work that I'm doing to impact others. And that's been my, my cycle of energy that I've seen, you know, the greatest return on So, but having an infrastructure, you know, is important. And it all starts from just being accountable in time. Because when you know what you want to do in a year, you can break it down by a month and then break it down by week or if you know what you want to do in a quarter, you can break it down by three months and and I work with creatives to help them you know, the metric of time is funny with people some of it's an emotion, some you know, some people want to move when they can some people want to move when they have X amount of dollars, you know, in the banks, you know, so it's, and then all is right. I'm not down to change anyone's way of understanding time. But just that, that that's the single biggest challenge you have more so than finances and resources because you know, we have creativity now we have NFT we can make something and it's worth 10s of 1000s of dollars now like that's like that's the world we live in with. So I like that part a lot. I love that. By the way side note, I just started a course on NFT learning about NF T's and something tells me you probably already own a few. I haven't bought any yet. You haven't yet. But I regret not being in the first wave. But I know it's a little it's a little bro code and I'm waiting for it to get bra code and then maybe I'll get invested in it to be really honest. So that's good. I love that I'd never heard my beeps
Unknown Speaker 30:00
Shout out to Judy Fox, the awesome LinkedIn guru Judy Fox who dropped that.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai