Ten Factors That Will Lead to Success in Entertainment Careers

entertainment careers playing guitar

Success in entertainment careers can be found by following these ten pieces of advice

The question comes weekly, “I want to work in entertainment, but I don’t really know how, or what I want to do. Can you help?”

The person asking this question excites me.

They have a vision of what they want from life, but are unburdened by preconceived notions.  They are open and willing to tackle challenges with vigor and explore any and all opportunities as long as they get them started in their entertainment career, doing something they have a passion for.

On the other hand, this is a really hard question to answer. It’s as if someone is saying to you, “I want to start my life, how should I do it?”

The only way to answer this question is by going back to the foundational principles of success – which sounds very technical, but it’s a simple concept.

I interview many people in the entertainment and sports world, and I always ask them to look back at their career and tell me why they have been successful. I get the best, most insightful, answers from this question.

Over time, based on the hundreds of answers I’ve had from this inquiry, I’ve created my own master list of what I call, “The 10 foundational principles of success” (not exactly catchy – I’m no expert in branding).

Now just to be clear this list jumps past the obvious. It will not include a section on doing the right internships, volunteering or conducting informational interviews. We have a plethora of other articles covering that need and we’ll gladly link you to them.

The idea here is to jump one step ahead of that process and create a plan for success, not just survival. On with the show!

1: Have confidence and an unwavering faith in your talent and ability

This is where you rely on your training, your successes, your smarts and your tenacity. It is so easy to get down on yourself and start to doubt your ability, but it does you no good. Confidence picks you up when you make a mistake, forces you to push through confusion and drive toward a better result. Self-doubt leads to repeat errors and sulking – which are unattractive traits of an employee.

entertainment careers in music

Having confidence in your abilities and an unwavering dedication to your goals is a major step towards success

The most successful people know that they can achieve, even through down periods, and they do it.

2: Always ask questions and keep learning

This factor works in conjunction with #1 because I don’t want you to confuse confidence with being a know-it-all. People that grow in their career are always looking to learn more, because there is always something to learn.

Asking questions is not a sign of weakness, or an admission that someone else knows more than you, it is a powerful statement that shows your connection to doing things in the best possible manner.

There is something to be learned from everyone and every situation.

3: Have an expert level knowledge of your craft

Whether you aim to be a Producer, Account Executive or Production Assistant, your goal is to become the master of your domain. Understand the tools, the expectations and the larger picture of your tasks.

entertainment careers know your craft

Having an expert level of knowledge in your craft makes you an asset to your organization

The more tuned in you are to your current role, the better you are able to see how you function as part of the whole. And that is when the true value of an employee comes to fruition.

Also, the more in tune you are with your craft, the more of an asset you are to the rest of the staff when they ask questions of you. You aren’t the only one craving knowledge! When other people ask you questions knowing your craft with expert precision will show you as someone who can be relied upon.

4: Know as much as you can about everyone else’s job

This is especially important in entertainment jobs, where so often you are working as part of a crew creating content.  Once you have mastered your own craft, understanding the rest of the roles and responsibilities and how they fit into the entire project makes you more valuable.

This is not only valuable on the content production side, but on any side of the business. As an Account Executive, wouldn’t it be powerful to understand the pressures and expectations of your regional or national sales manager?

Not only does it prepare you for the next step in your career, but it allows you to solve problems for your superiors before they happen. And it’s not just for superiors, understanding the duties of the Account Coordinator can help you work better with them and be most efficient.

entertainment careers in television

5: Have the courage to stick it out

There isn’t a golden path to success in entertainment careers, most entry level jobs are not even close to the dream you had of rubbing elbows with Brad Pitt on set. You may start out as a Production Assistant picking up cigarette butts on set after a day of filming. Glamour!

Maintain a vision of your goal, write it down, plaster it on the walls of your apartment and remind yourself everyday why you are going through these early struggles.

Kimberly Trichel is the Executive Director of Charitable Giving for the Fiesta Bowl, an incredibly powerful and respected position. Her career began as a receptionist for a minor league hockey team. She never gave up on her dream of advancing in her sports career, she stuck it out despite days of wondering, will this ever work?

Now she looks back and says, thank goodness I pushed through.

6: Focus on what is possible rather than what is not

entertainment careers in television

As the winner of four Emmy awards, Claudinne Caro stayed focused on what what possible, not bogged down by self-doubt

We’ve all been surrounded by the extreme personalities alluded to here. There are people that blame others for everything, always focused on the negative and why everything is a bad idea – then there are others who whistle past the graveyard singing “Everything is Awesome!” because in their mind, nothing bad can happen to them.

Your chore: find the balance.

Being able to see why a task may be destined to fail can help you figure out alternative methods to accomplish a goal. That is much different than being a downer and only seeing failure, or being naïve and thinking everything will work just fine while ignoring the signs of failure around you.

I had a boss one time tell me his job required a bit of paranoia, because he had to foresee where things could go wrong and be willing to adapt before they failed. Now, that is the balance we should all strive for.

7: Protect yourself from people who don’t support your vision

Toxic people exist in your daily life. Maybe it’s a friend, a co-worker, a sibling or even a parent, that somehow always berates your vision for yourself.

Remember, they aren’t you.

Don’t let them impact your goals, don’t let them keep you from pushing through or being your true self. Sometimes parents unknowingly push their children towards an easy road, because they worry and want you to be happy. What they don’t realize is they are often extinguishing dreams.

I’m not telling you to divorce your parents or leave your friends, you just have to learn how to filter their voices, distance yourself from their reach, or tell them to stop.

Don’t let anyone kick you off the path of your dreams.

entertainment careers in radio

8: Listen to the people that know more than you

The best listeners find the most success.

Never stop attending conferences, listening to TED talks, reading blogs (hello!) and talking to thought leaders in your field.

This is how you improve.

 9: Have an Ego

Having some swag helps… having too much swag hurts.

Don’t confuse having an ego with self-importance or entitlement. Nothing is owed you and you are not more important than the person next to you, sorry you just aren’t. That said, having confidence and a bit of ego gives the people around you confidence and can result in more leadership opportunities.

Ego can mean speaking out when something needs doing or stepping up when a responsibility arises that you may not know how to do but are willing to try – it doesn’t mean standing on top of a table in the cafeteria screaming out you are king of the world.

10: Have a sense of humor

Learn to laugh at yourself and be willing to admit when you mess up. There is great power in vulnerability and at the end of the day we are all trying to have some fun and not take everything so seriously, right?

entertainment careers lets laugh

Be willing to laugh, even when things seem a bit overwhelming

When I look back at my career, this is the one I wish the most…I wish I would have laughed a little more often and not beaten myself up so much over every mistake. We all make them, and while I don’t suggest you laugh at your errors (bosses hate that) it’s beneficial to learn form the error, and move on.

Final Thought On Finding Success in Entertainment Careers

It’s near impossible how to tell any individual what they should pursue for an entertainment career, so instead I try to teach people how to find success.

If you are looking to find specific information about jobs we are launching a new weekly column called “Entertainment Careers in Focus” where we will take a deep dive into specific jobs and their responsibilities – maybe this will help you find your career match.

Once you figure out that, come back and read this article again so you can find true success!

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


  1. I’m a good singer, great story teller, like action, love change, can tell jokes and at times can’t stop. To top it all of can get alone with everyone. View life as a positive. Also heve ability to see more in people, by speaking to them or by looking at them even from a picture. Love to write and make up things. Can improvise from out of the blue. All I need is a subject.

  2. Antoinette Paul says:

    My father in hopes to cheer me on relayed this blog to me. I took notes while reading it and look forward to subsequent blogs. Currently, I am 34 with a B of A in Communications working as an assistant tennis coach for the Special Olympics. Not too successful, huh! Neverthless, I have my sights set on operating and owning my own men’s basketball team. I plan to volunteer as an assistant basketball coach this January. Then with hope work for the Summit Institute in the Dominican Republic teaching children the game of basketball. It’s just funny having to do some things and growing a likeing for those things to get where I want to be. Eventually, I hope to attend a Sports Industry Management Masters Program and take a job working for the NBA.

  3. I have been playing professionally for 45 years, besides my own bands compositions I have a huge selection of my own musical compositions that have never been shopped. The few times I did shop them I had good results.
    I am looking for a way into the Music Library for Movies / Tv / Internet / Jingles / or sell to another artist, without paying companies like “TAXI” or “Atrium” huge amounts of %.

    Do you have any information on how to contact Movie companies DIRECTLY with music?
    Thank You,

  4. Thank You! I needed this tips and encouragement in order to keep going and it has helped me to believe in more myself and my purpose in life!!!


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