5 Ways To Avoid Having A Crappy Coffee Date With Me

Hey, there!

I love coffee dates.

I offer to have coffee dates with almost everyone I come in contact with.

Whether it’s someone wanting to learn how to get started in VO, someone who’s just arriving in LA to begin an acting career, or someone who want more information on Rehearsal, I’m all over coffee dates.

And as I’ve watch engaged, enthusiastic people make great use of their time with me, I’ve jotted down some of their best practices. I shared those with you in another article, which you can find here.

But, unfortunately, I’ve also watched actors squander their time with me, and I’ve noted those worst practices as well. Do any of these things, and you won’t get the best bang for your buck.

Here’s what you should never do on a coffee date.

1 You don’t take notes. Be warned. When we talk, I’m going to actually make recommendations as to how to solve your problem. I’m going to give you names of acting schools, the casting workshops I go to, the kind of home VO equipment you can get started with, the casting sites you need to have a presence on, even where to go online to find a great apartment. Trying to act like our waiter and not write anything down is just plain wasteful. Bring a notepad, or your favorite smart device. Take notes. You never know when they might come in handy.

2 You remind me you’ve got a fine arts degree. Very few people in the business will give a rat about your BFA or MFA. No, I’m serious. Getting those degrees are great, and fun, and challenging, and will give you tremendous depth to your art. But now, you’ve got a whole new set of courses to take at the UOR (University of Observable Realities) that has nothing to do with your mastery of Chekov, Wilde, commedia dell’arte or 17th century costuming. Enjoy the time you spent in school, treasure it, cherish it. Now, move on to spending time perfecting your command of your chosen business.

3 You denigrate the business we’re in. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I’m a theater actor – I would never do television or commercials,” or “Hollywood will suck you dry,” or “Networks/Studios are soulless,” or “There are no parts for actors like me.” Unfortunately, I’ve lost count. Part of me wants to scream at those people to leave LA and go do something that makes them happy. If you want to be an actor/VO talent/performer, learn to love (not just tolerate) the parts of the business that make you uneasy. Lean into the aspects of your career that are difficult, and learn to master them. I can help you.

4 You defend your current theories and practices. I sometimes wonder why people ask for my opinion, advice or to share my experiences, yet remained married to the way they do things now. If you are as successful as you want to be, please, don’t make the coffee date about how to make your career better, more profitable or more successful. Just brag about how great things are for you and let me eat my bagel. But, if you want help, please be open to that help, and don’t waste any time being defensive about what you’re currently doing. At the same time, know that if you’re doing things that work, I’ll recognize that, and happily approve your choices.

5 You never follow up. After spending all this time with me, picking my brain for all that I know, you leave me in suspense wondering whether or not I’ve been able to help you. I don’t like one-night stands. I think that networking means meeting people, helping them if you can, and helping more down the line. Meet me once, then ignore me, and I’ll think I’ve been used. And don’t think you’re infringing on my privacy to drop me a note from time to time to let me know how you are – I want to know. I really do.

In the comments below, fess up. What mistakes have you made when you finally get a chance to meet a potential mentor? How did you fix them?

Hope this helps.


6 Responses to 5 Ways To Avoid Having A Crappy Coffee Date With Me

  1. Kevin Scott Allen November 5, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Loved this one! I also teach on camera acting, and can identify with every one of your suggestions/pet peeves.

  2. Caryn West April 9, 2016 at 8:38 am #

    David, I have been one of the recipients of your great coffee dates and now I’m panicked thinking I might have taken notes on everything so I apologize if I did that!!
    I usually want to know more about voice ever work or your App because I want the best experience with Rehearsal 2 which I recommend to everyone .
    In fact, I will be using it to prep for my Monday audition for Last Days at Ballyhoo at the Bay theater in the Hamptons and I used it for a film audition yesterday .

    As someone who also is taken out for advice I think it’s makes our jobs as teachers very meaningful when people follow up and let us know how they’re doing and what’s been impactful.
    Oxox caryn

  3. David Ballard April 9, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    Thanks for the info David, much appreciated!

  4. Rachel Fulginiti April 9, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    This is great. I can’t tell you how many people never follow up with a simple THANK YOU after I meet with them or give them my time on the phone- or even email them information. On a personal level, it just feels really crappy. And on a professional level it’s a pretty big faux pas, and can just about guarantee that you’re not going to be successful. Sustainable businesses are built on relationships and a quick thank you goes a long way as a start. And as my yoga teacher puts it, “how you do anything is how you do everything”…
    Thanks, David, for putting this out there!

  5. Tracy Elman April 9, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    These are fabulous David. Thank you


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