Film Courage: Gary, I sense from you such an open, abundance mindset. Did you always think like this? Have you always felt like things were unlimited? That there was no…a lot of us just think in terms of a box (myself included). And I don’t see that from you. I sense that you see endless possibilities and there’s never a black-and-white answer, there’s a lot of grey.
Gary W. Goldstein: My world is entirely grey, there is no black-and-white. And it is about endless possibility. It’s what you make of it. And I came to Hollywood wide-eyed, with rose-colored glasses and by the way, I am still wearing rose-colored glasses. I will be the eternal optimist until the day I leave this life because it’s a better choice for me.
But when someone says no…the thing about moving to Los Angeles to try and get in the film business, they spent years getting “No.” A lot of “no’s,” hundreds of “no’s,” thousands of “no’s.” And a very rare instance, I might get a “yes.” But the “no’s” still outweighed it.
It’s interesting, there was a book by Jeff Olson called The Slight Edge and in that book he talks about social science studies have proven that a child by the age of 5 has heard the word “no” 40,000 times. And that same child has heard the word “yes” 8,000 times. 40,000 “no’s” – 8,000 times of “yes.” 5 times the gravity holding that child down as the buoyant “yes” uplifting this child’s mindset and sense of possibility. That’s a formative time. So they enter the first grade with that energy. Quite a deficit there. Imagine the possibility if that were reversed, how would that kid enter into his social environments?
But be that as it may, I see the world as endless possibility. When someone says “no” to me, I’ve hear it so many times that I’ve gone deaf. I am literally deaf to the word. So to me, when you say “no” to me, I’m smiling and I’m excited. Why, because it’s the same as “yes.” I choose it to be the same as “yes.” Why? I know that “no” is not “yes.” But what I do know is that the greater currency, whatever you are going to say yes to, it would have been nice, it would have made me happy. But the real win is my relationship to you, with you. So if I can take that no and honor by saying fantastic. First of all, I’ve taken all, you know people don’t like to say no. It makes them feel terrible and they feel guilty and this and that. But if I take that away right off the table by going “Oh, my God! Great.” and surprise them, well new rules, right?
So I can say to them “that’s fabulous.” You have no idea the value you would bring to my life that you would honor me if you would be my 3.7 minute mentor right now. My 5 minute mentor. If you can share with me why this is a “no” to you, I would be eternally grateful.
Now you’ve opened the door to them telling you the truth. They are not going to say “no.” You’ve flattered them, you’ve honored them, you’ve made them smile, hopefully made them laugh and you’re being honest and they know that. We know when someone is being honest with us. And now out comes the thing called empathy and that thing called caring, so they’ll tell you. And A) you will learn something important and B) That ineffable thing happens. We as two people have just bonded in an entirely higher context. I’ve left the room with “no” and a friend. A “no” and a closer relationship and a new mentor.
You do that a hundred times over the course of a couple of years, success is inevitable because people who care about you, who are more successful will ensure that. That’s the way it works.
Film Courage: Have you had a “no” come back to you a year or two or three later (whatever) and say “You know what? Gary, remember we talked…” There was no negativity, you kept it upbeat and it turned out there was something else they thought of you for?
Gary W. Goldstein: How you approach people determines how they feel about you, not just in the moment but ongoing. I have had a lot of people over time come back with opportunity in a different form, a different time, a different place, a different topic, a different project if you will. And invite me into a conversation that was largely the result of earlier interactions and those interactions left them with a positive feeling. I didn’t make them feel bad, quite the opposite. And that’s what success looks like to me. Success looks like a string of pearls, human relationships that were dealt with well in the moment because now people are talking about me behind my back, but in a good way or thinking about me perhaps in a better way and then remembering me because of it.
And I think we all do that. We like to do business with people that we like, that we respect, that we trust, that we know how they’re going to behave.
If I deliver bad news to you and come back in a positive way to me, I know that you’re the writer I want in a writer room at 3:00 a.m. in the morning when things are really tough and getting ugly and I can count on you to still be a human being. That does matter. You will always get hired over the slightly more talented writer if I don’t trust that to be true about them, but I do trust that to be true about you. That’s how we’re wired.