So You Caught a Big Break. Now What?

professional growth Sep 25, 2022

If you know anything about me or our work, you can probably guess what I think about big breaks in show business: that they rarely happen overnight, from scoring a single role, or by randomly going viral. Instead, our philosophy at Artist’s Strategy emphasizes ongoing process, systems, and consistency as the most reliable drivers of lasting success—big break or not—in this ever-fickle industry.

That said, even compulsive planners like us know there’s often some magic and spontaneity to show business that can’t be distilled into a bottle and predicted by a proposed business plan or budgets alone. Call it luck, call it karma—call it the big break.

Although such breaks are exceedingly rare, the truth is we need to have some wild faith in the potential of our creative ventures to keep us going. If it weren’t for an inexplicable emotional drive—a feeling in our gut that convinces (or deludes) us that we will catapult to stardom—then we likely wouldn’t have the drive or discipline to pursue this type of career in the first place.

There is no doubt that some artists move from obscure to celebrated in a matter of weeks, but it’s not a future most of us will take up. And for those who do, it usually comes with more pain and disappointment than the glamor of overnight success initially promises.

You see, I’ve spent a lot of time—probably too much time—examining the careers of other creative people, especially those who’ve had their “15 minutes” and then “slowed down.” While I can’t speak to their specific personal journeys, it often appears that those rise-and-fall stars were simply unprepared for the overnight success that so suddenly rerouted their creative lives.

Once their big break came, did they have a team in place that could maximize their new business potential? Had they already introduced strong marketing tactics to their overall creative workflow? Did they already have self-produced projects in the hopper that could now move forward even more effectively? Did they have a strategy for using their new funds to pay down debt or grow overall wealth?


So instead of denying the possibility of becoming an overnight sensation, we’d like to reframe the issue: Few of us get a big break, but most of us will have the opportunity that sets us up for a big break. And with the right (wait for it) systems in place, that big break, if you’re lucky enough to catch it, will become a jumping off point for a reenergized career instead of a fleeting illusion that can whiplash you right back into obscurity.

Here are four ways to prepare for your big break opportunity and make sure it’s lasting rather than fleeting.

  • Relationships. At every level of this industry, relationships matter. The people you know not only open doors for you, but help shape your reputation. In other words, your ability to continue to grow professionally wholly depends on the ongoing maturation of the community you’ve grown and cultivated.   

  • Marketing. We all know the importance of marketing, especially at a developmental level. Are you prepared for your deluge of follower growth by making sure you have quality content? Do you know what publicist you’re going to use for that large screening you have coming up? Do you know your “story” as the press begins to take interest? If you catch your big break before you have good marketing, then you will lose control of your narrative. 

  • Boundaries. We teach a lot about boundaries here—having the discipline to carve out work time, study time, and free time. When a person becomes “famous” quickly, their already hectic schedules become nearly unrecognizable. Their attention—everyone’s most valuable commodity—is competed for by dozens of people. That’s why it’s important to have these boundaries in place before fame strikes.

  • Wealth management. A lot of these larger opportunities come with a bigger paycheck. But, as we know, this big job, just like the “little ones” that came before it, will inevitably come to an end. Are you already working with a financial planner to use this opportunity to grow your wealth in a long-term and sustainable way? Do you have a foundation in place to make sure your longer-term financial goals are actually feasible?

 At the end of the day, we would never deny the possibility of striking the jackpot in your career. But so much of this work is about preparing yourself for that opportunity, so that when it ultimately comes, you are equipped to build on it and treat it as a foundation for more growth rather than an end result.

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