“Living your dream, begins with discovering where your passion and talent can take you.” – Michael Fomkin July 4th 2013
Imagine waking up one day arriving at work and discovered you were being sued for a 100,000,000.00 million dollars, that’s right a hundred million. Every day in business you should expect 20 problems 18 little ones and two big ones so when the problem walks in your door you can say have a seat I have been expecting you. My name is Michael Fomkin and the above statement is actually something that happened to me. I actually countered sued and won. (More on that adventure later) This website is a dedicated to those individuals that never give up the fight when they know they are right and for those individuals who need the inspiration to win no matter the odds. I believe ordinary people can create extraordinary results and even skeptics can become believers. So sit back and enjoy my life, I can guarantee you it is amazing and so can yours be also.
“When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films” – Quentin Tarantino
In order to achieve greatness and success in business a person needs to have two list one of his accomplishments in life at that point and another a list of what he would like to accomplish. I think before you can really understand who Michael Fomkin is lets see a little of what I have done. Your list can start with as many ideas as you have from the smallest accomplishment to the biggest, the first step is actually making your list. People say to me all the time you are the luckiest guy in the world. Luck would never have happened if I did not try, you can not win the lottery sitting at home, you have to go out and buy a ticket. Life is about the memories you create and the life you lead, here are some moments and memories I am really proud of because of the simple reason I tried.
- Wrote and Directed a Documentary called Behind The Ropes – The Greatest Fraternity Ever about the lives and brotherhood of Pro Wrestling.
- Started a entertainment company currently with five locations and over 100 employees with only $1600.00 dollars from my home and nothing more than a idea to connect people who needed mentors with actual people in the entertainment industry that mattered.
- Invested and backed the 2013 Tony award winning play on Broadway Vanja Sonja Masha and Spike.
- Attended the Tony’s and closed my eyes when they were announcing the best play. Was an amazing feeling I will never forget opening my eyes and seeing my show lighting up the stage.
- Opened my own restaurant when I was twenty one. Was a failing business I took a chance on and five years later sold it for a boatload of profit when I sold it we were the most successful restaurant in the state.
- Had espresso and smoked a cigarette on a street corner with Bobby Faunaro from the Sopranos a really good friend of mine and a wonderful actor.
- Produced and managed a radio show on CBS radio in NYC called The “It Factor hosted by my partner Alycia kaback
- Had the opportunity to be on stage after the show with the cast and crew from Andrew Lloyd Webber The Phantom of the Opera in NYC.
- Sat down and wrote poetry and got to rap with Grandmaster Caz.
- Invested in 5 time Tony Award winning play Peter and the Star Catcher
- Went drinking and stayed up all night many of a time with my good and dearest friends WWe hall of famer Greg the hammer Valentine and Brutas the Barber Beefcake
- Was the only person to interview the wrestling sensation the Boogeyman without makeup.
- Represented for speaking engagements and modeling and acting some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment and business from the Brandon Steiner to Riddick Bowe to Knicks sensation Chris Copeland.
- Had the privilege of attending the 50th anniversary of Senator John Glenn’s historic moment of being the first american in space.
- Had dinner with neil armstrong and had my hand and arm almost shaken off when I met Buzz Aldrin
- Had the honor and privilege in seeing people I have helped through my connections and advice go on and have the most amazing careers in music, modeling and acting from walking the runways of Paris, New York, Tokyo and Milan to starring in television shows and blockbuster movies.
- Have faced some and stood my ground against cyber terrorists and internet bullies, taken them head on and instead of fearing them have laughed at them and taken every criticism and turned it into a new opportunity to take that negative energy and fuel a positive outlook.
Was it always this easy to be so positive you ask…no of course not. It takes a learned appreciation to stay focused and organized. I like to say to some of the talent I represent and manage when I first meet them.
“Looks is what got you in the door today, it is going to be your professionalism, dedication and your passion that will be the keys to your success.”
Sometimes the greatest of ideas begin with just simple idea and just changing perspective, great photographers do it all the time. They see a place, a person or even a item and by shooting from a different angle or a different perspective, they take something we may have seen everyday and never noticed and now all of a sudden they have an award winning photo. That is called seeing life outside of the box.
After years of hearing the term networking, and even saying the word a few thousand times myself, I have really come to hate it. It just sounds so cold, sterile — it was not how I envisioned our events to be referred to as a “networking event”. When I first began working on the VIP Talent Connect summits I had been thinking a lot about what I really wanted as an end result for the talent by meeting someone at the summit. And you know what — it’s was not to network with them.
It’s to connect with them! VIP Talent Connect!
To really understand why someone does what they do — what their true purpose is. To see if their purpose and mission is synergistic with theirs and if it is how they can serve each other, thereby serving both of their prospective communities better.
“Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.” – Wendell Johnson
Recently I was at a private screening for a new short film directed by Michael Urie from Ugly Betty and currently starring in the most amazing show in New York City, called Buyer and Seller. I was chatting casually with my friend, mentor, colleague and producer and also Tony Award winner Pat Addiss, when all of a sudden a woman who I had met a couple months prior at another function just sits at the table, she is a struggling actress who honestly is extremely beautiful and just interrupts our conversation and says, and I quote, “Mr Fomkin, you are certainly a hard person get a hold of, I emailed you last week and I have not heard back from you.”
Do you really think this kind of behavior is conducive to me wanting to work with you?
That was my first thought. But what I said was “Yes Liz, I received the email on Thursday — I left for this event on Friday. I was planning on returning your email later in the week.”
And this is a wonderful example of why most people do not end up with success from “networking events”. They simply have not mastered the event etiquette, they have not connected with the person that can give them the advice and help they need most.
People assume that their highest priority is the highest priority of the person they are trying to do business with. By adopting this attitude, the only thing you will walk away with is a lot of useless business cards.Instead put yourself out there with a mission-centric philosophy. When you are able to connect with a person if its one person such as a major casting director or a powerful agent and you can relate to them and they can relate to you as well also. Guess what, people will flock to you, it really is that simple just change perspective.
Some of the best advice I have learned is simply surround yourself with successful people, let go of the negative and only see the positive. You need a good support system of advice in this business or really any to succeed and that was and is our goal with our events to connect people who want success with those that can guide them down that path. Its like a roadmap to your dreams. In order to this here is some advice I can offer you today to help get you started.
- Cultivate your relationships: You need to project an excellent image of warmth, approachability, understanding, knowledge, empathy, and an ability to engage with anyone. Be genuine. You should take an interest in everyone you meet, remember their name, and listen acutely to them to understand their needs and how you could assist each other. Building of trust is a vital component of relationship building. Be relaxed and stay interesting.
- Understand that “small talk” is the road to “big time”: Being able to talk to anyone about anything is a valuable skill in its own right and essential for connecting. Being able to initiate a conversation means you are more likely to come into contact with people who may well turn out to be invaluable contacts. Small talk can be difficult at times but by having a few key phrases up your sleeve such as “Where are you from?” “How did you get started?” And, in my industry or really any “You have such great energy, what is your secret?” will serve as strong starters. Remember everyone favorite topic is themselves, and you should want to learn as much about the people that are following your path in life if they are one step ahead of you or a thousand miles.
- Develop active listening skills: Connecting is not about selling your talent, it is about listening to the other person and showing them you are truly interested in them. Allow others to open up and talk freely. Give your undivided attention even if it is only for a few moments. Take an interest in what’s said and acknowledge this by nodding or agreeing. Use positive body language such as facing them with lots of eye contact. This means you are not reading a text message or looking over the other person’s shoulder to see who else is around.
- Be a Giver: When you focus on helping others, the “receiving” will follow. It will come in unexpected ways. Remember that no one likes a person with a “taker” mentality. When you are generous, people will notice and respect you. And, people generally do business with people that they respect, trust, and like. Do simple things, I tell all my talent attending a VIP event, it is a long day and if you see an industry person busy meeting someone and notice they have no water, you know what bring them glass of water, a simple act as caring can go long way. Even after the event, follow-up send thank you emails, and if invited or hear about something a speaker is doing like a new show, or project go to it or at least offer a testimonial on their site or business. All of these acts allow you to focus on “others” while building equity amongst your peers.
- Don’t be a Rain Cloud: Put on a happy face at the door and smile. This is your time to glisten and shine. People will look forward to seeing you and meeting you if you are energetic, positive, and outgoing. Again, people enjoy doing business with people that they like. Be a person that others will like. Remind yourself of everything you are grateful for just before entering the event. Do not inconvenience people with your problems. Everyone has enough of their own, instead strive to make him or her forget their troubles while in your presence.
- Don’t Oversell Yourself: Connecting is about building relationships with people who will be happy to tell others about who you are and what you do. Word of mouth and social proof are more valuable than you telling someone how great you are. At every opportunity, teach others about what you do and who you are, as a person. Provide valuable, useful information. Always present a clear emphasis on your mission and goals.
- Follow up with originality: Many people think that the same old email follow up is okay. Well it’s not. After the event, send a handwritten thank you card, or what you took away from meeting them, inspiration, advice, knowledge. Mention something from your discussion in the communication. If you have truly made the connection, your follow up becomes easy and effortless.
This is what the spirit of VIP Talent Connect to connect not to network. When I first started the company, I had been taken advantage of, had my life shattered and was to the point of suicide. Talk about a tough way to start a business.