There’s a concept I’ve talked about *a lot* but never put into its own column (even though it’s a podcast episode, a pin, and a dang Googleable phrase). That’s “Lurk Then Lead.”

Here’s the idea behind that phrase: Get in early. Watch what’s happening. Make notes about how YOU want to do what you’re observing being done when it’s your turn to do the doing. Then get started. Use what you’ve learned to be addictive when others check you out. Add value to the experience they’re having. Lead the field.

Where I’m seeing creatives get serious with this concept lately — and quickly — is in the gadget-to-gadget live streaming revolution. Yes, this is that whole Meerkat, Periscope, You Now, Facebook Live, and Blab thing.

Before your eyes glaze over as I geek out about another “shiny new thing” you’ll need to install and use, let’s talk about how creatives are using *whatever* live streaming app to connect with a fanbase, create brand-confirming content, work out their muscles for both the craft and brandprov, and reduce perceived risk in the minds of the buyers.

Connecting with a fanbase: Okay, that’s simple. Even if it’s your mom or your best friend or your fellow actors from your improv troupe, it’s a starter-level fanbase and your work to WOW them is building a muscle that will serve you well. And those who were first to your party will always remember having been there as you learned how to connect with authenticity and genuine interest in THEIR participation in your career. Remember that! Every fan, every friend, every reviewer, everyone along your journey is a part of it and needs to feel as though their investment in you is appreciated.

Creating brand-confirming content: This is where I’m seeing some really amazing stuff happening. Actors are using these apps to self-tape monologues and scenes. Writers are creating pieces for actor friends to shoot. Hyphenates are even outlining loosely scripted but mostly improvised storylines to shoot from multiple self-run apps to later edit together, submit to festivals, and get on IMDb! Actors who also run creative businesses are using the apps to teach people how to make healthful smoothies, to distress cute T-shirts, to do gorgeous calligraphy, or to have proper form in a Pilates workout. All of this helps folks *get* you beyond your actor self and that’s awesome!

Working out your craft; working out your brandprov muscles: This goes without saying. Just by showing up regularly to a workout, your muscles get stronger. It doesn’t matter how crappy your form may be at first, you’re putting in some work, your form is improving with each rep, and you will get better. Imagine what happens when your agent calls with a Blab instead of an EcoCast! Don’t make *that* the first day you figure out what the heck a Blab is. Show up. Get in the space. Shoot monologues, shoot scenes, shoot your pitch, shoot your logline, shoot your junket footage, shoot your Inside the Actors Studio interview, shoot it all.

Reducing perceived risk in the mind of the buyers: Dude. There is something *so* fascinating about having eyeball-to-eyeball contact with someone who talks big pimp swagger in email blasts, blog posts, edited podcast episodes, and slickly produced vid packages. It’s AMAZING the “gurus” out there that are coming across as snake-oil salesmen now that I can have facetime with them over at Blab or watch how they engage with comments via Periscope. No, of course, not every person out there is GREAT at the “yes, and…” that has to come fast and with confidence in these spaces, but let’s go back to that whole “muscle-building” thing I mentioned.

Start building it up, because your ability to handle Q&A, to engage in brandprov, to help the buyers see you as low-risk will NEVER not be in use. Even when you are at the highest tier, you’re gonna have to wrangle a press line, you’re gonna have meetings at network, you’re gonna do the festival circuit and have mics thrust at you. Why not start appearing low-risk NOW? Show ’em that you can handle all of it.

Now, in case you’re an introvert, let me put you at ease. One of the most exciting things about these new apps is that you do not have to broadcast one second longer than you’re FEELING IT. You can be done. Out you go. The control over the broadcast is in your hands. You needn’t reply to a single comment you aren’t interested in covering, nor accept anyone into a group broadcast whose energy doesn’t complement yours. That’s more power than you’ll have when you’re promoting your new series for the network at upfronts for damn sure.

So, let’s start the lurking at the very least: Get the apps installed, watch some power broadcasters, really notice what they’re doing well and what you’d like to do differently. Watch those who have zero followers and those who have ten thousand. Take notes about what aligns with how YOU want to be seen once you’re taking center stage and then TAKE CENTER STAGE. You have every opportunity to lead this new space — and it’s probably an app that hasn’t even been developed yet that will really solidify the landscape. Facebook solidified Friendster’s and MySpace’s model; it didn’t create it. Vine and Periscope and Blab are vying for positioning that could be trumped by something that’s currently only scribbles on a developer’s whiteboard. Maybe even yours.

Want some resources? Join our Facebook group for geeking out about these apps, watch the Mike Figgis movie Time Code for a peek into the scripted implications of this technology, download my PDF tip sheet for power Periscoping, watch my tutorials at my Periscope playlist (yes, I made the mistake of branding it with the app’s name rather than the medium’s — you won’t do that because I’ve now taught you not to), and most importantly, just dive in and learn what leadership looks like as an early adopter. Then go out and show ’em how YOU do it.

By studying success and looking for patterns — not for ONE person to emulate — you stand a better chance of mapping out your own success. Act like you major in the architecture of success and learn where every piece fits (and why). Then build your own masterpiece. And broadcast it so I can celebrate you.


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/002013.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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