Zac Miller – Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at.

Zac Miller
Dive into the world of media production with Zac Miller! In this episode of 10 Lessons Learned, Zac reveals what it takes to be an overnight success—spoiler: it’s a decade of hard work! Hosted by Siebe Van Der Zee.

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About Zac Miller

Zac Miller is a video producer who has nearly two decades of experience bringing films, television series, and podcasts to life. He leverages that experience to help media professionals and businesses of all sizes create and implement effective video strategies. Zac currently produces and co-stars in the hit video podcast, The Kim Gravel Show, which is a top show on QVC+. He is launching a new podcast this year about how to harness the power of video podcasting.
Zac began his career in 2005 working on indie films in Boston. He joined IATSE the following year as a grip and then moved to Los Angeles where he transitioned from lighting and tech into production. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the production manager on hit TV shows like Catfish (MTV) and Big Brother (CBS). During that time Zac worked on dozens of television series, feature films, commercials, music videos, and educational videos for clients like NBC Universal, Disney, HGTV, Lifetime, WGBH, Pepsi Co., Harvard Medical School, The National Science Foundation, and The US Department of Transportation.
In 2017 Zac left Big Brother to launch his own full-service video production and consulting company called Uncommon Image Studios where he produces and directs high-end videos for clients from national brands and fortune 500 companies to local businesses and nonprofits. Some of his notable clients include Ketel One Vodka, Westfield Malls, and Alcoa Corp.
Zac is passionate about education and taught video production from 2018 – 2022 at Clarkson University in New York. He has given invited talks at the University of Vermont, Cornell University Extension School, and St. Joseph’s University in Bangalore, India.
He is a member of the Producers Guild of America, and has won national awards for screenwriting, advertising, and directing, including the grand prize of a 2007 Jeep Compass SUV for producing and directing a 60 second Jeep commercial.

Zac was once karate chopped by Shaq on set.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: If you’re presenting anything – be entertaining. 10:34
Lesson 2: Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at. 14:30
Lesson 3: Give yourself permission to suck at first. 16:46
Lesson 4: Win the expectations game – Set expectations and then exceed them. 20:08
Lesson 5: Standing out is 99% about your attitude and reliability. 25:57
Lesson 6: Look at video as a creative solution for a business problem and be specific. 30:17
Lesson 7: Don’t race to the bottom and commoditize your creative work. 34:08
Lesson 8: Media is changing – “Is this real?” is the wrong question to ask – “who’s telling the story?” 38:42
Lesson 9: Rehearsals are an incredible tool. 45:30
Lesson 10: Overnight success takes a decade to accomplish, be prepared when it comes. 49:43
Lesson 11: Always allow yourself the option to edit something out that isn’t working. 53:39

Zac Miller – Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at

[00:00:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello and welcome to our program 10 Lessons Learned, where we talk to interesting people from all over the world about their interesting experiences and the lessons they have learned.
[00:00:19] Siebe Van Der Zee: My name is Siebe Van Der Zee and I’m your host. I’m based in Phoenix, Arizona, in the beautiful Grand Canyon state, where I’m also known as the Dutchman in the desert.
[00:00:29] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Zac Miller. Zac Miller is a video producer who has nearly two decades of experience bringing films, television series, and podcasts to life. He helps media professionals and businesses of all sizes create and implement Effective video strategies. Zac currently produces and co-stars in the hit video podcast, The Kim Gravel Show, which is a top show on QVC He is launching a new podcast this year about how to harness the power of video podcasting.
[00:01:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m interested. In 2017, Zac started his own company, Uncommon Image Studios. I like the title, where he produces and directs high end videos for clients from national brands. And Fortune 500 companies to local businesses and nonprofits. Some of his notable clients include Kettle One Vodka, Westfield Malls, and Alcoa.
[00:01:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: He has worked on dozens of television programs, films, commercials, corporate videos, and web content for clients like. CBS, ABC, 21st Century Fox, National Geographic, Diet Pepsi, HDTV, and MTV. He has won national awards for screenwriting, advertising, and directing, and he’s a member of the Producers Guild of America.
[00:01:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: He also taught video production, at Clarkson University in Northern New York, where he made quite an impact. You can learn a lot more about Zac Miller on our website, 10lessonslearned. com.
[00:01:57] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, Zac. Thank you for joining us. How are you doing?
[00:02:00] Zac Miller: I’m doing great, Siebe. Thanks for having me. This is such an honor to be on the show.
[00:02:05] Zac Miller: I, I’ve been watching so many of your, episodes and just eating it up. I love it. So many lessons, so much great, experience shared on this program. So, I’m honored to be here.
[00:02:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you for saying that. You are already our best guest ever, if you say it like that.
[00:02:23] Zac Miller: Alright, done.
[00:02:23] Zac Miller: Interview over. I’m out. I’ll see you later.
[00:02:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s it. That’s it. That’s all we need. Now, listen, I’m very interested about your background and of course, the things you have done, but where is your passion for film and video production? Where is it coming from? When did the start?
[00:02:39] Zac Miller: That’s a great question.
[00:02:40] Zac Miller: as a kid growing up, I was an only child and I just, I love movies, right? and would watch a ton of movies and frankly too much television, and wanted to be a movie director when I was a kid. that was my dream, and this was, a time when this idea of the auteur director was really hitting its stride.
[00:03:02] Zac Miller: And I wanted to be that, and I wanted to work in the industry. And I grew up outside Boston, in Massachusetts. Started working on movies when I was 17, and would skip days of high school, much to my parents chagrin, when they found out, to go work on movie sets, first as an intern and then, as a lighting technician and, production assistant and worked my way up from there and went to school in Los Angeles and the rest is history.
[00:03:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s true passion. the way you explain it, you went perhaps against what your parents wanted you to do and perhaps you should have done a little bit, but it was inside you. yeah,
[00:03:40] Zac Miller: it was, and it was hard work, but it was fun. and I think, my first day on set. They basically said, hey, we want you to help out the lighting technicians, right?
[00:03:53] Zac Miller: And I didn’t know anything, right? This was, I was a 17-year-old kid, I wasn’t getting paid, I was just there for whatever. It was a no budget feature film, I don’t even honestly know if this movie ever came out, and, you know, we were on this like fourth floor of this big industrial building, which is like the only place they could afford to build these sets.
[00:04:12] Zac Miller: And, the lighting, the gaffer, the headlighting guy would say, we need a stinger from the truck. And I would have no idea what a stinger was. it turns out it’s an extension cord, but I knew it was a wire of some kind. So, I’d run down to the truck, grab one of every wire and run up four flights of stairs, carrying like 40 pounds of cables.
[00:04:30] Zac Miller: and he’d be like this one. And that’s the work ethic that they saw. And then they were like, hey, this kid actually works hard. Let’s keep calling him back. And that’s when I learned that if I work really hard, people will notice.
[00:04:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s an interesting point. Interesting lesson right there.
[00:04:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like it. I read something about your background and I’m curious if you can shed a light on it because, apparently you were once karate chopped by Shaquille O’Neal, the world-famous basketball player. And I can, I say comedian. He has a great sense of humor while on the set. what was that all about?
[00:05:07] Zac Miller: Yeah, Shaq is great. and it’s hard to know on a podcast, but I’m about five foot seven, probably five foot eight. and I come up to about Shaq’s, belly button. and we, I was working for WGBH at the time doing educational video production. I was a producer, freelance producer working for them.
[00:05:28] Zac Miller: And we were actually doing this piece with Harvard medical school. And it turns out Shaq had sleep apnea and, he was, he had been diagnosed and we were working with his doctor on this project, and he was like, let’s bring Shaq in.so of course we were like, of course we should bring Shaq in. So, we shot for the day with Shaq and honestly, we were recording something else and I’m hanging out in the hallway and, Shaq and a couple other people were there, and Shaq has a big voice, right?
[00:05:54] Zac Miller: He’s a big guy.
[00:05:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely.
[00:05:55] Zac Miller: And so, they come over the walkie talkie and say, we’re hearing talking in the hallway. So, I told Shaq Hey man, you got to be quiet. And he jokingly just turned around and gave me a, that. And as a joke, because honestly, if you really tried, I’d be, I wouldn’t be here right now, Shaq Fu situation, but no, he was lovely to work with, and, despite being karate chopped by Shaq, I survived.
[00:06:18] Siebe Van Der Zee: if you talk to Shaq, tell him I would love to interview him for a podcast. Let’s see how that goes. But, yeah,
[00:06:24] Zac Miller: it turns out I would love to interview him for my podcast.
[00:06:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, exactly. We all do. We all do. we have a few other people on that list, but we’re going to talk about your 10 lessons you have learned in your life and in your career.
[00:06:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: I want to ask you another question before we get to that.
[00:06:38] Zac Miller: Sure.
[00:06:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: Can you think of perhaps a failure in life that you have experienced but that you have learned from.
[00:06:47] Zac Miller: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I think, and I was telling you before we started, I’m obsessed with this idea of a failure resume, right?
[00:06:54] Zac Miller: and many of us know this, you learn more from the failures than you do from the wins. And there is a failure. There’s a pretty big failure, actually. So, I, actually started a consumer, I worked at Clarkson University as a professor, and. It’s an engineering school, and shortly after I moved there and started working there, I had an idea for a consumer product, called Stable Lens, which is a camera support product, that allows you to swap lenses on your camera when you’re using a gimbal that has to be perfectly balanced, and it keeps the balance despite the lenses being different sizes.
[00:07:28] Zac Miller: so, it’s a time saving and creativity tool. invented that, they helped me build it, they helped me, bring it to market. I have a patent on that and brought it to market and had a really successful trade show in October of 2019.and this is a product that was going to be used by, by folks who were doing like on set work, really like single shooters.
[00:07:53] Zac Miller: So, imagine, videographers who are doing weddings and that kind of thing. And literally we shipped out our first shipment in March of 2020. And the world shut down.
[00:08:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I was going to say,
[00:08:03] Zac Miller: that was a huge learning experience because it just, it took all of the momentum out of the company.
[00:08:09] Zac Miller: the product, essentially, had, has gone nowhere since. and that was a really tough moment and tough lesson for me. really the lesson for me is I didn’t know what I was getting into. I didn’t really get that if I had one product, I was going to have to come up with the next product, and the next product, and the next product.
[00:08:28] Zac Miller: And that really, it’s, you can’t just do one thing. You have to know what’s following that thing up. And be okay with spending the next, whatever, decade of my life marketing this thing, right? And I realized in that experience, and having the brakes thrown so dramatically, that really, I wanted to do the creative work behind it, and I wasn’t so interested in marketing sales and physical products.
[00:08:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: This is, this is so interesting. Sorry to interrupt, but this is so interesting because your experience specifically with your company and obviously the timing, you had no control over COVID starting in 2020. but it is, I believe a lesson that we have learned from many of our guests that as we go through life, we have successes or we’re doing okay.
[00:09:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: And suddenly something changes that almost makes you have a next, a second career or a third career. And I really appreciate your sharing that with our audience because it’s very broad, as you understand, of course, you’re not the only person that has to deal with sudden changes. Over time, indeed, you learn from that and makes you mentally ready for the next unexpected change.
[00:09:45] Siebe Van Der Zee: it’s unexpected, so you cannot really wait for it.
[00:09:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: But I think many people all over the world go through those sudden changes. So
[00:09:53] Zac Miller: yeah.
[00:09:54] Zac Miller: Yeah.
[00:09:54] Zac Miller: And I look at that as
[00:09:55] Zac Miller: my business school in a lot of ways, right? I don’t think I would be as successful of a podcaster and creative person in this new, quote unquote, creative economy without having gone through that.
[00:10:07] Zac Miller: we take that with us, and we take those lessons with us and now I’m much more tactical and much smarter about, hey, what I’m starting, do I really want to be doing this thing or some flavor of this thing 10 years from now? Yeah. And if the answer is no, then I won’t do it.
[00:10:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah.
[00:10:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, I like it. It’s very helpful. Thank you. Let’s go take a look at your 10 lessons and without, actually let’s make the audience curious because your 10 lessons. There is a little added element to that.

[00:10:34] Lesson 1: If you’re presenting anything – be entertaining.

[00:10:34] we’ll talk about that later, but let’s start with lesson number one. If you’re presenting anything, be entertaining.
[00:10:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: what are your thoughts?
[00:10:42] Zac Miller: Yeah. And this comes from a background in my background in television and transitioning into teaching. performative, first of all, teaching is, of course, right? as a college, professor and instructor. you get up in front of a class and I have a three-hour lecture.
[00:11:02] Zac Miller: I’m not necessarily lecturing for three hours, but I’m holding attention for three hours. And how much labor goes into that. And I’ve realized as I look around that we are all presenting in our own way, constantly. Everything we’re doing is a performance and maybe the lesson should be, you know, embrace the fact that what you’re doing is a performance to the point where I even think of.
[00:11:28] Zac Miller: I was talking to, my partner about this yesterday and she works for, the government. And, I was like, you’re performing bureaucracy. Like in some of these meetings, like the fact that you’re able to use this, method to get around this, red tape and et cetera, et cetera.
[00:11:43] Zac Miller: this is also a performance. And when you are really good at this, people notice. And I think that embracing the fact that we’re sort of performing all the time, right? Whether we’re on Zoom meetings, whether we’re in front of a classroom full of people, whether we’re in a one-on-one situation, being able to hold attention and thinking about, how am I entertain, how am I actually being entertaining right now?
[00:12:08] Zac Miller: and I really, I learned this lesson also from being a podcaster and et cetera, et cetera, but I think that seeing the world as. Hey, we can actually have a, we can make this a little better. We can make this a little more fun. We can make this a little more interesting for ourselves, for the people we’re around, for the people we’re with.
[00:12:28] Zac Miller: I think there’s a lot of value in that. And that’s why that’s my first lesson. And I’m hoping that this also, it’s number one, because I’m also hoping that I’m setting the stage for this episode, being So entertaining for you, the audience.
[00:12:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: But I want to ask you a question because I understand what you’re saying and I was thinking, okay, in this lesson, the definition of entertaining, if you are in a meeting, in a situation that is, Serious, bad news.
[00:12:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. how would you translate the term entertaining in those situations? I can see there is a connection, but it’s different than having a party and making fun.
[00:13:05] Zac Miller: Yeah, I, and that’s a really good point. You can’t, you’re not going to, and honestly, I have been someone that’s been very comfortable behind the camera for most of my career.
[00:13:16] Zac Miller: This is not a comfortable place for me right now, and this is something I’m actually personally working on, which is getting myself out in front of the camera more often, and being that entertaining person, because normally I’m the one scowling behind the camera, right?
[00:13:31] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, you’re doing well. You’re doing well.
[00:13:32] Zac Miller: Yeah, and I would just, I think that if you’re in a situation where you’re, it’s very serious, or you’re delivering bad news, I think entertaining can also mean, emotionally engaging. So, are you engaging your audience at an emotional level? And whether that is, and again, audience means the people around you, right?
[00:13:51] Zac Miller: This isn’t, I’m not trying to this isn’t like in all the world’s a stage, although it is, is maybe part of the lesson. Who said that? Who said all the world’s a stage? Was that Shakespeare or something?
[00:14:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: let’s say, yes,
[00:14:03] Zac Miller: we’re going to say Shakespeare. but I would say that if you are able to connect with someone emotionally and really see what, help them get through it, but also Do it in a way where the folks around you, the folks you’re with, come out of it, and you’re, growing closer rather than growing further apart.
[00:14:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: You leave something with them as a presenter, you leave something with them. Yeah, I know.

[00:14:30] Lesson 2: Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at

[00:14:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: That makes sense. Let’s take a look at lesson number two. Yeah. I like it. Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at. Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at.
[00:14:39] Zac Miller: so, this comes from my producing background, and this is the lesson boils down to, I think about a lot of things in terms of as a producer, right?
[00:14:49] Zac Miller: And what that means is, if I’m working on a television show, and, a lot of times I’ll have the, or, whatever the project is, some creative project, there are folks out there, like I’m a pretty good camera guy, like I, I can shoot stuff, I can do it, there are folks that do that all day, every day, that’s all they do, they are just camera people, my, the person who edits my podcast, all he does, all day long, for different clients, is edit it.
[00:15:16] Zac Miller: And edit. So, I am really thoughtful about what am I actually really good at? what is the secret sauce that I bring to this that, that you can’t replace, that no one else can do. And then everything that doesn’t fall in that bucket, though, like I am the best in the world, like I can’t imagine someone doing this better than me in this context for this project and literally everything else I try to have someone else do, who is better than I am at it.
[00:15:43] Zac Miller: I like it. It makes sense. as human beings, most of us, we can do a lot of things. But if you think about where you have talent and especially, I think of people who are creative, you cannot educate yourself and become creative. That’s between your ears, right? It’s in your head. it’s, it, you cannot define it.
[00:16:01] Zac Miller: You have that talent. And, if you can recognize your own talents. With the passion that you have, that seems to be, of course, the right track to go on. And yeah, again, we need multiple skills. It’s not one thing what really drives you. I like that. It’s a good lesson to share.
[00:16:18] Zac Miller: And your weaknesses, right?
[00:16:19] Zac Miller: and really being honest with, hey, I’m, I just, I’m not interested. Like I’m not a numbers guy. And I can do that. But. Man am I glad I have an account.
[00:16:28] Zac Miller: I need more than 10 lessons to talk about my weaknesses. Yes.
[00:16:32] Zac Miller: Exactly. Yeah. And I think that’s totally okay. And as soon as I’m able, I, allow myself to let go of those things and just really try to focus on the things that bring the most value, to whatever I’m doing.

[00:16:46] Lesson 3: Give yourself permission to suck at first.

[00:16:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like it, and I’m looking at lesson number three already, Zac. Lesson number three, give yourself permission to suck at first. Combines with the other ones.
[00:16:56] Zac Miller: This is my biggest, yeah, and I think this actually goes back to my biggest sort of regret, which is not having started making my own stuff earlier in my career.
[00:17:10] Zac Miller: And I think about, hey, if I had started that YouTube channel, I You know, a decade ago or when I was in college, think about where it would be now, right? But I was so obsessed, and I think so much of us are so obsessed with, at least back in the day. Now I think people see YouTube a little differently.
[00:17:27] Zac Miller: But, back in the day, it was like, oh no, I work in the real TV, film industry. I’m not doing this I’m not some amateur on YouTube. and we were also, I don’t know, pearl clutching and trying to differentiate ourself from that because it just felt so, amateurish, but now that’s really where it’s at.
[00:17:46] Zac Miller: And I think that, the entire way that we’re telling stories as a society is changing, the entire way that, our entire sort of media field. And we can talk about the changes that I’m seeing, overall, in, in media. but I think that allowing yourself to spend the time just making the thing, And not being worried about how it’s perceived, and how many people are watching, how many likes you’re getting, what, just, this is more about a personal best, not about a, you’re the best in the world.
[00:18:21] Zac Miller: and I think that if you’re able to have that mindset, you can get so far. Because our, this is, this goes back to your skill level is not going to meet your taste at first, right? Like when you started podcasting, I’m sure You’re a much better interviewer now, years later than you were back then, but that didn’t stop you back then, right?
[00:18:43] Zac Miller: and that’s the only way you were able to get here now.
[00:18:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, absolutely.
[00:18:47] Zac Miller: Speaking for myself too, there’s so many things, these are like years long projects that it takes so much to get to the point where you’re like, okay, I’m actually pretty good at this. And it takes years.
[00:19:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, and I think that’s a, again, a wise statement.
[00:19:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: It takes years, it takes a long time, but if that desire exists in your mind and say, this is what I want to do, this is what I want to become, you keep going at it. and even, when you deal with failure and disappointments, always tough, but you see that light at the end of the tunnel and that’s what you want to reach.
[00:19:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: and so, I think it’s, it’s a lot of wisdom. Zac, and you describe it, give yourself permission to suck at.
[00:19:32] Zac Miller: That’s, I don’t know if I have as much wisdom as you do,
[00:19:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think you can, you can exceed what, what I have learned in life, but I really think it’s very helpful again, to share that information.
[00:19:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: When it comes to media, I know later on one of your lessons deals with that more specifically. so, we’ll come back to that because that’s a global issue as well. Media and the interpretation and, easy question. What is the truth? Yeah. We don’t know sometimes. And, but that’s a podcast for it’s on its own, perhaps.
[00:20:00] Zac Miller: On its own. Yeah. we could do, five, I could do an entire series on what is the truth.
[00:20:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely. Robert, take a note. Our producer. Yeah

[00:20:08] Lesson 4: Win the expectations game – Set expectations and then exceed them.

[00:20:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Let’s go to lesson number four, win the expectations game, set expectations, and then exceed them again. I like it.
[00:20:17] Zac Miller: Yeah. So let me, and I would actually love your opinion on this, Siebe. I feel and this is something, maybe this is the thing that I wish I knew when I was just starting out, which is that each of us has the ability and is constantly setting expectations in every interaction we have.
[00:20:38] Zac Miller: how we dress sets a certain expectations about how, expectation about how we’re going to be to, literally setting expectations in terms of, hey, I am a, video producer and I’m going to make a video for your company and here’s what you can expect, right? And I think the thing that folks do really badly is set expectations, for themselves, for the way other people, what does your boss expect from you this week or this day?
[00:21:06] Zac Miller: how are you orienting the people around you to understand what output, what work you’re actually going to ship? And I think if you get really good at, hey, this project is taking longer than I thought it was going to take. Here is what here’s what I can do at the end of the week and here’s why.
[00:21:26] Zac Miller: And let me talk about where, what I can do next week, right? And I think if you get really good at playing this expectations game, and winning the expectations game, then people will see you differently. People will see that you are reliable. And, I don’t know about you, but for me, reliability is like the number one thing.
[00:21:46] Zac Miller: I would so much rather have someone I’m working with be reliable and know, if I tell them to do something, they do that thing and they do it well. And if they’re not able to do that thing, that they come to me and, we have a discussion about it and figure out a way forward than anything else.
[00:22:04] Zac Miller: And I think that, expectations and reliability go hand in hand But I see so many people over promising and under delivering, especially in this online world, especially with all these, online guru people and, in this world of ours where we’re trying to grab attention as much as possible.
[00:22:21] Zac Miller: And I think that the long-term attention comes in winning this expectation game.
[00:22:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I don’t know if I have the skills and knowledge to answer your question as far as what I suggest, because that’s a tough one. But I do think, and I do agree with you, that integrity is the number one aspect.
[00:22:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: And especially, if there is a lack of integrity, if you become aware that someone, has some issues or has done something that you do not approve of, it’s very difficult to forget about that. that kind of, it’s like a broken cup. you can glue it together, but that crack is visible.
[00:23:00] Zac Miller: Yeah.
[00:23:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think also important, for many people, and that’s part of, up and coming professionals and people have gone through journeys that, you become aware of something, you put it in a broader perspective. I’m here at this stage compared to where I was, or things have suddenly changed, and I have to make adjustments. And I think, again, I’m not a professional psychologist here, but these things happen to all of us all over the world. Things change. And if you have unfortunately, perhaps, or fortunately experienced change, then you can learn from that. and take that with you and something else will happen. And okay, I have experienced financial crises around the world.
[00:23:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: if you lived in that era, you went through it. of course, here in the United States, 9 11 had a massive impact. There are other examples and COVID is another example worldwide. And there are again, many more examples of that, but we learned from it. And I think that’s, again, the concept of wisdom.
[00:24:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: You learn lessons and you share it as you’re doing with up-and-coming professionals at any age, we like to say, because old people like to learn. Believe me, I’m old. I like to learn.
[00:24:14] Zac Miller: and everyone should, right? Everyone should have that learning mindset. But even, and I know, and it occurs to me as you were saying this, I know this show has a very much an international audience, and I think, cross culturally too.
[00:24:26] Zac Miller: we go into new situations, and we have certain expectations that are then different. we think a meeting’s going to go a certain way, but we’re in, Asia or something, and it goes, the expectation for what a meeting is a little different, or whatever the case may be.
[00:24:42] Zac Miller: And I think that if you are able to be flexible, and you are able to adjust your own expectations of a situation, that’s just as powerful.
[00:24:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Yeah. and indeed it starts with, as I said, with awareness, you become aware that you don’t know everything and that you understand that in certain countries behavior may well be different without knowing exactly what that difference is, but it shows basic respect instead of going in, A new country and say, they should do the way we do our things in our country.
[00:25:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. That typically doesn’t work. So, I truly believe it’s awareness and you make adjustments and, negotiating in foreign countries or managing people in foreign countries. Ultimately, of course, problem solving in other countries, as we know, that’s the most complicated, but, yeah, great.
[00:25:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: You make me think and make me talk, but I’m going to ask you about your next lesson.
[00:25:34] Zac Miller: Well, that’s the point, right? You think outside the box, but yeah, I just think, I think of everything as what expectation am I setting with this person? And then how am I going to exceed that? And I, and it works.
[00:25:45] Zac Miller: It really does.

[00:25:47] Lesson 5: Standing out is 99% about your attitude and reliability.

[00:25:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number five, I think fits quite well with what you’re saying. Lesson number five, standing out is 99 percent about your attitude and reliability.
[00:25:56] Zac Miller: and this comes back to, again, working in, okay, I worked in television for, over a decade. And when you work in television, all of us are freelancers, for the most part.
[00:26:07] Zac Miller: I worked for some bigger companies, but it was always a contract by contract basis, right? and I worked my way up from production assistant to assistant production coordinator, to production coordinator, to production manager, And, once you get to, production manager is the highest below the line credit, right?
[00:26:25] Zac Miller: and if you’re, above the line, below the line in TV is above the line folks are the key creatives. So that’s actors, directors, producers, some of the key, department heads, production designer, that kind of thing, cinematographer. Below the line is everyone else, is the whole crew.
[00:26:40] Zac Miller: the production manager’s in charge of everyone else, basically. and I would work with a constant churn of, 20-year-olds, right? Just like churning in and coming onto set as production assistants. And I say 20, just starting out in their careers, right?
[00:26:58] Zac Miller: And I would say to, to a lot of them, we’d have, we’d be on a show and there’d be eight or 10 production assistants, right? on that show. And I would say, hey, look, I’m like, we’re all going to work together. We’re all going to grow together. But at the end of this show.
[00:27:15] Zac Miller: There’s probably, maybe one or two or maybe three of you that I’m going to bring on, bring with me to my next show, and it’s, it is 99 percent about your attitude, if I ask you to go and take out the trash, and you’re able to go and do it with a smile on your face, and you do it right away, and you’re not like, alright, yeah, I’ll go take out the trash, just, I don’t want to be the person who’s dealing with that, The trash has to get taken out, man.
[00:27:39] Zac Miller: I did it. I did it for years. you have to go do it now, right? And it’s the person that you want to work with that you’re going to work with more often, right? Especially in these freelance situations. And I think just being honest about that. And being like, hey, you know what? How can I be someone that everyone around me wants to work with again, because that is my livelihood.
[00:28:01] Zac Miller: That’s how I’m going to get my next job. And, I was really lucky, but also, like I said, hardworking. And I never had. I was never not booked. I basically worked for about a decade in the film industry as a freelancer and I can’t think of more than maybe a month I had between gigs because, I took it very seriously and I was very serious about, being the person on set who was always reliable and always had a good attitude, right?
[00:28:33] Zac Miller: And never, was, did whatever I was asked to do. within reason, with a smile on my face. And that makes such a difference.
[00:28:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: I had to think of, actually a specific management guru, Jack Welch, and he makes it very clear, when he, in his era, considered management people for management positions, he was looking for energy.
[00:28:59] Zac Miller: There was the first E that he said, energy. And when you describe a situation where there’s some trash that needs to be taken care of, you hope that the individual says, oh, let me take care of that. Or secondly, if you say, hey, can you take care of it? That they, of course, the, one of the other E’s and I don’t want to expand on it too far, but it’s energize, because it’s not only you have the energy, but you have to be able to get your team energized So I completely concur with what you’re saying and it’s extremely relevant, to apply that.

[00:29:34] Affiliate Break

[00:29:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I want to, take a little side note for a second. we are talking today with Zac Miller, a highly successful video producer with nearly two decades of experience producing films, television series, and podcasts, sharing his 10 lessons learned. I want to thank our affiliate partner, Audible.
[00:29:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: Audible is an amazing way to experience our program, 10 Lessons Learned, but also books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge all in one place. You can start your free 30-day trial by going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. Again, that is audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned all lowercase to get your free 30-day subscription.

[00:30:17] Lesson 6: Look at video as a creative solution for a business problem and be specific.

[00:30:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: All right, my friend, moving on. Lesson number six, look at video as a creative solution for a business problem and be specific. I’m curious, how does that work?
[00:30:29] Zac Miller: Okay. So, I deal a lot with, I’ve owned my own video production company now for about seven years. and A lot of clients will come to me and basically say, Hey Zac, I know we should be doing video.
[00:30:47] Zac Miller: I, I know that it’s a great marketing tool. I have no idea even where to start or what to do. Help me. And the first thing I say to someone like that, and again, this is getting a little specific to my background in specifically video production, but I think we can again, widen this out, to be a broader lesson, but.
[00:31:07] Zac Miller: I say to them, hey look, video, in this context is just a solution to a business problem. what is the business problem we’re solving for? Let’s be specific about what the problem is, and let’s figure out how video can potentially help you solve it. do you want, if you want more customers, right?
[00:31:25] Zac Miller: If you want more awareness versus you want more sales of a specific product versus you want to break into a new, have a new audience or you have a new, product that you’re trying to launch. Those are all very different videos, right?
[00:31:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: Oh yeah.
[00:31:40] Zac Miller: and it could like, all of those situations could be for the same literal thing, but the context around it is different.
[00:31:47] Zac Miller: a way to think about video is it is an emotion engine, right? At its core, if you’re doing it right, Video will create some kind of emotion, right? Whether you’re making a television show or a movie or a really compelling advertisement. you think about a company like Nike is so good at this.
[00:32:06] Zac Miller: Like they have these ads that just inspire you in 30 seconds and you’re like, oh my gosh, that runner, whatever it is. But taking that step back, it’s just a creative solution to a business problem. So, what’s the business problem? Let’s be really specific about that. And how can we solve that problem creatively?
[00:32:25] Zac Miller: What is like, what is the message that we’re trying to get through? Who is it for? and why is anyone going to care? Because to break through these days, like there is so many, I forget what the stat is, millions of hours of content uploaded to YouTube every day. millions of shows on Netflix and you’re, everyone’s competing for eyeballs, right?
[00:32:46] Zac Miller: This is the attention economy now, right? So, I think that if you can be really specific about who your thing is for, and then where those people are and what is the language they’re already speaking, right? Where, how are they interacting? what are they looking at? And then we can create a video that solves for that specific thing.
[00:33:12] Zac Miller: And so, video is a creative solution to a business problem. and not just video, like there are tons of obviously creative solutions for business problems. By creative solution, you’re literally creating. something. You’re creating some kind of art that is going to, work for your business.
[00:33:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: It seems endless, the audience. I can think of so many different categories. It could be generational. It could be professional. there are so many elements and, indeed the power. We all know this now that, I would say all over the world, when you see people in public, they’re all drawn to their cell phones and obviously, watching videos.
[00:33:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: I was on a long flight from Europe back to the United States and, everybody is entertained. and that’s just sitting in your seat to fly back to the United States. amazing to see that. But potential obviously, for people like you, because, we people, we need it, and you can produce it.

[00:34:08] Lesson 7: Don’t race to the bottom and commoditize your creative work.

[00:34:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: So, I like it. I want to move to lesson number seven. Don’t race to the bottom and commoditize your creative work. I have all kinds of thoughts, but, glad to leave it up to you.
[00:34:17] Zac Miller: I kind of want to hear your thoughts. this one is not that complicated. I think this is, a lesson that I learned the hard way as I was trying to figure out, let me put it this way when I started my business and, I started my business basically Partially because of work life balance, right?
[00:34:37] Zac Miller: I was the production manager on Big Brother, a big TV show on CBS, which probably the international audience knows because there’s some flavor of Big Brother, it seems like in every country.
[00:34:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah.
[00:34:47] Zac Miller: and the move in day for Big Brother was, so the first episode, the season premiere, was literally the same day that my first daughter was due.
[00:34:57] Zac Miller: And, as the production manager of that show, I don’t get to take that day off, right? Doesn’t really matter. if I don’t show up that day, I’m pretty much fired.
[00:35:05] Zac Miller: yeah, you can’t square that circle. and the year before, I think I had been there for something like 22 hours in a row on move in day.
[00:35:14] Zac Miller: and so, I got out of that, and when I started my own company, I very quickly realized that the business model of work for hire video was pretty broken, right? And I saw so many other companies, get really big, do a really good job, making videos for clients or, even TV shows or whatever, and then go bankrupt, right?
[00:35:34] Zac Miller: Because whatever, their biggest client leaves or, it’s you’re no longer the flavor of the week. What you’re doing just isn’t as interesting anymore. And people go somewhere else. And, there, there seems to be this, at the same time race to the bottom, right?
[00:35:49] Zac Miller: Everyone is trying to compete on the wrong terms. setting prices is like one of the hardest things you deal with as a freelancer. And just being like churning out the same, stuff over and over again and getting really into making a certain type of thing.
[00:36:06] Zac Miller: And I found that to be really tough. I found this idea of I’m commoditizing my work. I’m making a certain type of video for a certain type of client. And I’m making that over and over again and wash, rinse, repeat. And now people are, you’re, you really are racing to the bottom.
[00:36:21] Zac Miller: Like You’re not competing on anything that really differentiates you and makes you special. And I think that has been solved for me by finding podcasting, frankly. It has become a place where I have found, there is an infinite amount of creative energy I can put into my podcasts.
[00:36:42] Zac Miller: And, and it keeps going and, and I own it. And I think that’s the difference.
[00:36:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: so, Zac, if I understand it correctly, you’re saying indeed, don’t race to the bottom, but aim high,
[00:36:53] Zac Miller: So, don’t race to the bottom. Don’t race to the
[00:36:55] Zac Miller: bottom and don’t compete.
[00:36:56] Zac Miller: If you can get away with it, don’t compete on price. Just don’t. I just found out, okay, this is fascinating. This is just as an aside. we have a new booking team on the Kim Gravel show. who’s, who This is a team of, an agency that books celebrity guests for shows, like at the level of doing talk show, like big talk shows and TV shows and things like that.
[00:37:19] Zac Miller: And they were telling me that, For some of these, A list celebrities, when they go and do, a press junket and they’re, all day for whatever new Netflix show or whatever it is, I’m just using Netflix as a random example, they didn’t name any names, but they said their makeup, their hair and makeup team that they bring with them can get paid as much as 60, 000 a day.
[00:37:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: How much do you pay your team?
[00:37:46] Zac Miller: I do not pay my team 60, 000 a day. That blew me away. That’s, I think that’s the highest end, but. to me, that is the very definition of you’re putting yourself in a class of one, right? There’s maybe only, how many makeup artists could possibly charge that rate in the world?
[00:38:04] Zac Miller: Maybe three or four.
[00:38:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, I hear you. And again, it’s part of your industry, for obviously many people that have, a job, a regular job, a career, they don’t have to deal with those special issues as a makeup team. if you have a meeting with the boss tomorrow, you don’t need a makeup team to get ready for that.
[00:38:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: But I, I understand in your industry, you definitely need that. and that makes sense. I’m very curious about the next lesson because we touched on it a little bit.
[00:38:33] Zac Miller: Yeah, we can talk about this next one for about a hundred hours.
[00:38:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: I know it’s good stuff and it definitely keeps me thinking about it.

[00:38:42] Lesson 8: Media is changing – “Is this real?” is the wrong question to ask – “who’s telling the story?”

[00:38:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: But lesson number eight, media is changing. Is this real? Is the wrong question to ask? Who’s telling the story?
[00:38:50] Siebe Van Der Zee:
[00:38:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: This is loaded, right? This is.
[00:38:52] Zac Miller: loaded. and I honestly, there’s so many directions I could take it because I do think that this idea that media is changing and. Asking is this real really is the wrong question, right?
[00:39:04] Zac Miller: And we’re entering this sort of world of, generative AI, right? We’re already there, but we’re going to see more and more of this. And I see so many people saying okay, this generative AI stuff, this isn’t real. and therefore, it has, less meaning and less, it’s not as valid somehow as something that actually happened.
[00:39:23] Zac Miller: And that is true, like there is, people talk about, oh, we’re living in this post truth era. Like, I don’t, I don’t believe that, right? I believe there is, truth exists, right? We, this idea of post truth is, I think is disingenuous, and I think there are certain people pushing this idea for their own agendas.
[00:39:40] Zac Miller: But I also think that having worked in unscripted television, e. g. reality TV, for a long time, on a lot of different shows, I can tell you right now that it doesn’t matter what actually happened on set, If the producers want to portray a person in a certain way, that will happen. They can tell the story however they want, right?
[00:40:03] Zac Miller: I, I already have come from a background where, X thing can happen, and then we can edit that in such a way that it looks like, it happened in Y way, right? Whether or not, I’ve never been on a show where they fully, whole cloth made up something that didn’t have any thread of real of realness to it.
[00:40:25] Zac Miller: But they definitely can set up situations and then ask leading questions and then edit in such a way that they’re creating a reality, right? whether or not, and from things that actually were real and really happened, right? we’re already in this world of manufactured reality in the media that we’re consuming.
[00:40:45] Zac Miller: generative AI is just one more step in that, and I actually think it’s really good that we’re, that it’s so obvious on its face that, hey, this is ones and zeros, guys. this never actually happened. This image I’m looking at isn’t real. In fact, the image behind me that you’re seeing right now is a green screen, and B, an AI generated image, right?
[00:41:08] Zac Miller: That, this room does not exist in the real world, right? And it never has. It’s not a photo.
[00:41:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: But aren’t we dealing with new emerging technologies, and yes, AI has been around for a while and it’s becoming now, let’s say to the surface. More people are using it on a daily basis. I still think that the vast majority of global population, but pick a country, they have not been made aware, they could easily be fooled by information that they see or hear, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:41:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: And definitely I’m not the expert, but I hope there will be some. management of some of those technologies because it could be dangerous.
[00:41:53] Zac Miller: I agree. I completely agree. I think AI regulation and some regulation of this technology, especially in certain places in politics, in other places that could have very real world, very scary, frankly, consequences.
[00:42:07] Zac Miller: especially because what AI really is, it is an acceleration generator, right? It can accelerate an idea more quickly and at scale in a way that we’ve never seen before.
[00:42:20] Zac Miller:
[00:42:21] Zac Miller: But that’s, that gets to the second part of my lesson, right? Who’s telling the story? And I think that is really the question to ask.
[00:42:29] Zac Miller: Not whether or not this is real.
[00:42:31] Zac Miller: No, I agree. Because it’s being
[00:42:32] Zac Miller: presented as reality. So, whether or not it’s real, like this goes to let me put on my professor hat for a second. Viewers make meaning, okay? You can make a video, you can make a podcast, 10 people will watch, more than 10 people, but let’s say 10 people watch this podcast episode and they will all get something different out of it, right?
[00:42:55] Zac Miller: You ask them afterward, what did you take away from this? Nine times out of 10, they’ll all say something slightly different or very different, right? And so, we already have this idea of viewers making meaning, in other words, you don’t get to control what someone gets out of the thing that you’re making, and you have to give that up as a creative, right?
[00:43:14] Zac Miller: when you’re presenting something as reality, whether or not it is quote unquote reality, and the idea of reality has been already, I’m sceptical of anything that’s being presented as reality. even in documentary film, you have to think about what, what is the filmmaker coming from?
[00:43:29] Zac Miller: this goes back to, let’s take it back to this idea of, fake news, right? what, who is, who is even in the media, And again, I very much believe in the media and I believe that there are people doing incredible work, in trying to do very rigorous reporting on a lot of things.
[00:43:47] Zac Miller: And there are folks who are trying to, make it seem like you can’t trust anything. And that’s not the case here. I think it’s just about whose perspective are you seeing? Whose perspective are you understanding? If you can know that, then I think you can decode why you’re being presented with the information you’re being presented with.
[00:44:07] Zac Miller: So rather than ask, is it real? Ask, who is telling me the story and why? And I think you will come out with a more useful way of understanding that piece of content.
[00:44:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah,
[00:44:18] Siebe Van Der Zee: it makes a lot of sense, Zac. And, I have to think about growing up as a little kid in, in the Netherlands. my parents made me very much aware when I was very young, there are always at least two different sides to a story, and you hear a story.
[00:44:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Okay. It sounds right, factual, et cetera. But if you really, make sure you hear other sides to that story. You can put it in balance. And hey, in today’s world with so much information, of course, that’s part of the challenge. You need more than two sources, but it’s very important. And I think it’s very important for us as a human being to be aware that what we hear, what we see is not necessarily the truth or the only truth.
[00:45:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: And we also see over time that, we gain more knowledge, more information, and certain perspectives can change over time. Realistically, because we were not aware, we didn’t have the knowledge, now we do, etc. etc. So, it’s a very important lesson.
[00:45:18] Zac Miller: It is. And we’re bringing our own biases, we’re, it gets so deep.
[00:45:22] Zac Miller: We could talk about this for hours,
[00:45:24] Zac Miller: but I do think like just everyone could use a healthy dose of scepticism. let’s just go with that.

[00:45:30] Lesson 9: Rehearsals are an incredible tool.

[00:45:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: Agreed. All right. Lesson number nine rehearsals are an incredible tool. I would agree, but you don’t always have a chance to rehearse, right?
[00:45:40] Zac Miller: Yeah, you don’t, that’s true. But I do think that a lot of folks don’t take the opportunity to rehearse when they have it, right? And I saw this a lot with young people when I was teaching.
[00:45:57] Zac Miller: we would have presentations or something like that. and there’d be, the stakes would be relatively high and, they would present work and, under a little bit of scrutiny, it would come out like, Oh yes, this thing I’ve written, I’ve, and was going to say in front of the class, like I’ve never actually said it out loud before.
[00:46:17] Zac Miller: It’s hey, you know what? If you’re going to write something and say it out loud in front of other people, just read it out loud to yourself at least once, right? this is this idea of a table read, which is something that, that we do in, movies and television, which is, at a certain point, you just need to get everyone together in a room and read the script out loud.
[00:46:37] Zac Miller: Folks are going to say, stumble over certain things that could be beautifully written, but they’re just not written quite right for that person. They’re, and I think that we live in a culture that is, again, so go, and so values folks who are, have the confidence to just stand up and start talking.
[00:46:59] Zac Miller: And we aren’t necessarily paying enough attention to what we’re saying and, being thoughtful about, How we’re presenting and I think with a little bit more thought behind that and a little bit more rehearsal in our lives, and even rehearsing things that aren’t necessarily, we started with this idea of, we’re presenting almost constantly in our lives, right?
[00:47:23] Zac Miller: and I think there are ways to rehearse Things that you wouldn’t think to rehearse, but if you do it, if you’re thoughtful about how am I going to do this? And you think through the steps at least, you will find yourself enjoying the process of that a lot more.
[00:47:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Again, if you think about, people have an opportunity to train their brain and I use always as a simple example, the way you go through traffic, whether you talk to, someone in your vehicle, you’re listening to the radio.
[00:47:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: to a podcast of course, suddenly there’s a green light that turns yellow and then red. It’s not that you say, what’s happening there? you got to stop. And so, it’s a simple example, but hopefully we all apply it that if the light turns, then either you stop, or it turns green and then you go, which can be annoying if they don’t go.
[00:48:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: But it’s, an example of how we can train our brain in many situations. And, in that sense, I look at that as well. That’s a rehearsal. Yeah. and right. With traffic, hopefully you don’t have to remind yourself it’s automatic, but it is something that you have to learn and, apply.
[00:48:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: So, I think rehearsals are an incredible tool. I completely agree with what you’re saying.
[00:48:35] Zac Miller: Rehearsals and it goes into, your idea, this, what you just laid out made me think about also just this idea of creating processes for yourself. Yes. I have a certain process that I follow when I make a podcast or I’m a guest on a podcast.
[00:48:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yes, exactly.
[00:48:51] Zac Miller: Part of the reason why airline flying is so safe is because there are these very rigorous checklists that pilots and ground crews and everyone has to go through. And they have to physically check it off, put their, sign it, put their name on it. and that creates so, so little room for error, at least in certain parts of it, that, flying is one of the safest things you can possibly do.
[00:49:19] Zac Miller: There hasn’t been a major airline accident in the U. S. on a major carrier in years.
[00:49:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, I agree. It’s a good point. And, I say it because I was just on a long flight. I wish they would apply the same rules as they apply in safety when it comes to customer service, but that’s
[00:49:36] Zac Miller: I agree with that.
[00:49:37] Zac Miller: That’s It’s just a nightmare now. Flying is a nightmare now,
[00:49:41] Siebe Van Der Zee: but no, it’s all good.

[00:49:43] Lesson 10: Overnight success takes a decade to accomplish, be prepared when it comes.

[00:49:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: Let’s take a look at lesson number 10. I think we’re there, but maybe not. Anyway, lesson number 10. Overnight success takes a decade to accomplish. Be prepared when it comes.
[00:49:55] Zac Miller: Yeah. I have seen it over and over again now, from meeting folks who, were quote unquote overnight successes.
[00:50:05] Zac Miller: And these are people who were in the right place at the right time with the right set of experience with the right audience to when whatever that thing happened, whatever the situation happened that created, the confluence of events that led to this ability to have this, explosive moment in their careers or their art or their music or whatever it is, they were able to take, work it for themselves.
[00:50:32] Zac Miller: And all of them, without fail, were working on that thing for 8 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. no one, there is literally no such thing as overnight success. There’s no one that’s going from zero, I am just starting this thing right now, to 6 months later, oh my gosh, I am one of the top in this field, whatever it may be, or in this, wherever I am.
[00:51:00] Zac Miller: That doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen. people online are going to tell you it happens. People online are going to claim that they did that. They did not. And I think that our culture and our society, especially with young folks, again, we’re fed this diet of people online claiming that they have the answer for you because they’re trying to get attention.
[00:51:21] Zac Miller: They’re trying to get eyeballs in this new sort of attention economy, and one of the claims you see all the time is hey, look how successful I am, and either they’re fooling you or, Yeah, they’re super successful because they’re, have a rich family or whatever it is, right?
[00:51:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: I was going to say, how do you measure success?
[00:51:41] Zac Miller: How do you measure success, right? They’re going to want to measure success on their terms. And they’re going to show you a certain sliver, right? And this isn’t anything new, but I think it’s worth taking a step back and just thinking about for yourself.
[00:51:54] Zac Miller: Again, it goes back to this idea of what do I want to spend a decade working on, right? And that is really where I am in my journey, right? I’ve spent a couple decades making, TV, making, shows, for other folks, mostly, right? And now I’m transitioning to making this stuff for myself, having ownership over it, not being behind the camera, being in front of the camera.
[00:52:19] Zac Miller: And I think that I am okay with showing up online and being a little bit cringey right now. I have to be okay with that because I know that I’m not as good as I want to be at that necessarily in every case, but in order to get there, I need to get through this and I want to be in a position where however many years from now, someone will look at me and say wow, where did Zac come from?
[00:52:47] Zac Miller: He’s, suddenly everywhere, right?
[00:52:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: And Zac, it’s wisdom. a very wise person said rehearsals are an incredible tool. That was your lesson. Yeah. Lesson number nine. and so, it’s very consistent in what you’re saying, but I have another question. Okay. we are, approaching, with our podcast, 10 Lessons Learned, 150 episodes, and we continue, we keep going.
[00:53:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: We have a great team. We keep going. For. All I know, we’ve never had any guests that presented their 10 lists and they consisted of 11 lessons. Now we have the first one.
[00:53:29] Zac Miller:. I brought 11 lessons to 10 lessons learned and I’m proud of it. Damn it.
[00:53:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: definitely. It stands out overnight success. Here we go.

[00:53:39] Lesson 11: Always allow yourself the option to edit something out that isn’t working.

[00:53:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Your lesson number 11, which is part of 10 Lessons Learned, but obviously, you will explain it. Lesson 11, always allow yourself the option to edit something out that isn’t working.
[00:53:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: it brings a smile to my face, but please explain.
[00:53:57] Zac Miller: And the reason why this had to be the 11th lesson, by the way, is the idea here is that If I’m bringing 11 lessons and let’s say lesson number 6 was just a dud, like it just, whatever, it was a boring answer, like it happens, I get a, whatever, it happens.
[00:54:12] Zac Miller: That was to everybody. Alright, then you have the ability to cut that one out, use Lesson 11, and you still got 10 lessons, so you can fulfill the promise of the show. And I brought this 11th lesson for that reason, just so all of us can, take a step back and not take it so seriously. And just, again, allow yourself to just embrace the fact that not everything we do is going to be perfect.
[00:54:41] Zac Miller: That I’m going to come on the show and, maybe the producers are going to say, oh man, I wish that we had, these are, this is great. Zac was great, but yeah, lesson number five kind of drags. It’s boring. let’s cut it. And I actually think for me, I am always thinking about as a producer, how is this going to work in the edit?
[00:55:01] Zac Miller: What am I going to use? What am I not going to use? What structure do I have to put around this to make this most entertaining and get the point across in a way that will engage the audience, get the message across, that will ,honor the guest or whoever I’m speaking with in such a way that everyone will be proud of, right?
[00:55:19] Zac Miller: And I think that we call that shooting for the edit, right? and always thinking about that final product. and this idea can go into sort of anything you’re doing, but yeah, I think it just comes back to Don’t take yourself so seriously. give yourself the option to just cut out, like what’s not working in whatever I’m doing, figure out a way to get rid of it.
[00:55:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: it can apply in different ways. I think it’s, it stands out because again, it’s 11 lessons, and we’re asking for 10 lessons, but indeed, it makes it stand out, so I like it, and I appreciate it.
[00:55:56] Zac Miller: And the funny thing is, and I will say, before we started, you were like, should we, dot, do you, should we?
[00:56:02] Zac Miller: Not do one of these. So, we have 10 and I was like, no. We should have 11. I stood by this.
[00:56:07] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, absolutely. And I very much, I understand it better now. and I think it’s adding because, okay, we’re used to 10 lessons. That’s the name of our podcast. And guess what? Today we have 11 lessons.
[00:56:20] Zac Miller: It’s a bonus. Everyone, you got a bonus. If you listened to these lessons, you got a bonus. You’re welcome.

 
[00:56:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely. No, it’s, it’s very good. And, I want to make some, some closing remarks. And first of all, Zac, I want to thank you for joining us today and for sharing your lessons and wisdom with our global audience. it’s much appreciated. Truly is.
[00:56:40] Zac Miller: Of course. Such an honor to be here. Such an honor to do this. Thank you so much.
[00:56:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you. in closing, you have been listening to our international program, 10 Lessons Learned. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. And as always, we are supported by the Professional Development Forum.
[00:56:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Zac Miller, sharing his 10 Lessons Learned. Zac is a highly successful video and film producer who has nearly two decades of experience bringing films, television series, and podcasts to life. And to our audience, don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at podcast@10lessonslearned.com. That is podcast at number 10 1 0 lessonslearned. com. I hope you will subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser, lesson by lesson. Thank you and stay safe.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

Zac Miller

Zac Miller – Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at.

Dive into the world of media production with Zac Miller! In this episode of 10 Lessons Learned, Zac reveals what it takes to be an overnight success—spoiler: it’s a decade of hard work! Hosted by Siebe Van Der Zee.

About Zac Miller

Zac Miller is a video producer who has nearly two decades of experience bringing films, television series, and podcasts to life. He leverages that experience to help media professionals and businesses of all sizes create and implement effective video strategies. Zac currently produces and co-stars in the hit video podcast, The Kim Gravel Show, which is a top show on QVC+. He is launching a new podcast this year about how to harness the power of video podcasting.
Zac began his career in 2005 working on indie films in Boston. He joined IATSE the following year as a grip and then moved to Los Angeles where he transitioned from lighting and tech into production. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the production manager on hit TV shows like Catfish (MTV) and Big Brother (CBS). During that time Zac worked on dozens of television series, feature films, commercials, music videos, and educational videos for clients like NBC Universal, Disney, HGTV, Lifetime, WGBH, Pepsi Co., Harvard Medical School, The National Science Foundation, and The US Department of Transportation.
In 2017 Zac left Big Brother to launch his own full-service video production and consulting company called Uncommon Image Studios where he produces and directs high-end videos for clients from national brands and fortune 500 companies to local businesses and nonprofits. Some of his notable clients include Ketel One Vodka, Westfield Malls, and Alcoa Corp.
Zac is passionate about education and taught video production from 2018 – 2022 at Clarkson University in New York. He has given invited talks at the University of Vermont, Cornell University Extension School, and St. Joseph’s University in Bangalore, India.
He is a member of the Producers Guild of America, and has won national awards for screenwriting, advertising, and directing, including the grand prize of a 2007 Jeep Compass SUV for producing and directing a 60 second Jeep commercial.

Zac was once karate chopped by Shaq on set.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: If you’re presenting anything – be entertaining. 10:34
Lesson 2: Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at. 14:30
Lesson 3: Give yourself permission to suck at first. 16:46
Lesson 4: Win the expectations game – Set expectations and then exceed them. 20:08
Lesson 5: Standing out is 99% about your attitude and reliability. 25:57
Lesson 6: Look at video as a creative solution for a business problem and be specific. 30:17
Lesson 7: Don’t race to the bottom and commoditize your creative work. 34:08
Lesson 8: Media is changing – “Is this real?” is the wrong question to ask – “who’s telling the story?” 38:42
Lesson 9: Rehearsals are an incredible tool. 45:30
Lesson 10: Overnight success takes a decade to accomplish, be prepared when it comes. 49:43
Lesson 11: Always allow yourself the option to edit something out that isn’t working. 53:39

Zac Miller – Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at

[00:00:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello and welcome to our program 10 Lessons Learned, where we talk to interesting people from all over the world about their interesting experiences and the lessons they have learned.
[00:00:19] Siebe Van Der Zee: My name is Siebe Van Der Zee and I’m your host. I’m based in Phoenix, Arizona, in the beautiful Grand Canyon state, where I’m also known as the Dutchman in the desert.
[00:00:29] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Zac Miller. Zac Miller is a video producer who has nearly two decades of experience bringing films, television series, and podcasts to life. He helps media professionals and businesses of all sizes create and implement Effective video strategies. Zac currently produces and co-stars in the hit video podcast, The Kim Gravel Show, which is a top show on QVC He is launching a new podcast this year about how to harness the power of video podcasting.
[00:01:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m interested. In 2017, Zac started his own company, Uncommon Image Studios. I like the title, where he produces and directs high end videos for clients from national brands. And Fortune 500 companies to local businesses and nonprofits. Some of his notable clients include Kettle One Vodka, Westfield Malls, and Alcoa.
[00:01:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: He has worked on dozens of television programs, films, commercials, corporate videos, and web content for clients like. CBS, ABC, 21st Century Fox, National Geographic, Diet Pepsi, HDTV, and MTV. He has won national awards for screenwriting, advertising, and directing, and he’s a member of the Producers Guild of America.
[00:01:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: He also taught video production, at Clarkson University in Northern New York, where he made quite an impact. You can learn a lot more about Zac Miller on our website, 10lessonslearned. com.
[00:01:57] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, Zac. Thank you for joining us. How are you doing?
[00:02:00] Zac Miller: I’m doing great, Siebe. Thanks for having me. This is such an honor to be on the show.
[00:02:05] Zac Miller: I, I’ve been watching so many of your, episodes and just eating it up. I love it. So many lessons, so much great, experience shared on this program. So, I’m honored to be here.
[00:02:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you for saying that. You are already our best guest ever, if you say it like that.
[00:02:23] Zac Miller: Alright, done.
[00:02:23] Zac Miller: Interview over. I’m out. I’ll see you later.
[00:02:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s it. That’s it. That’s all we need. Now, listen, I’m very interested about your background and of course, the things you have done, but where is your passion for film and video production? Where is it coming from? When did the start?
[00:02:39] Zac Miller: That’s a great question.
[00:02:40] Zac Miller: as a kid growing up, I was an only child and I just, I love movies, right? and would watch a ton of movies and frankly too much television, and wanted to be a movie director when I was a kid. that was my dream, and this was, a time when this idea of the auteur director was really hitting its stride.
[00:03:02] Zac Miller: And I wanted to be that, and I wanted to work in the industry. And I grew up outside Boston, in Massachusetts. Started working on movies when I was 17, and would skip days of high school, much to my parents chagrin, when they found out, to go work on movie sets, first as an intern and then, as a lighting technician and, production assistant and worked my way up from there and went to school in Los Angeles and the rest is history.
[00:03:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s true passion. the way you explain it, you went perhaps against what your parents wanted you to do and perhaps you should have done a little bit, but it was inside you. yeah,
[00:03:40] Zac Miller: it was, and it was hard work, but it was fun. and I think, my first day on set. They basically said, hey, we want you to help out the lighting technicians, right?
[00:03:53] Zac Miller: And I didn’t know anything, right? This was, I was a 17-year-old kid, I wasn’t getting paid, I was just there for whatever. It was a no budget feature film, I don’t even honestly know if this movie ever came out, and, you know, we were on this like fourth floor of this big industrial building, which is like the only place they could afford to build these sets.
[00:04:12] Zac Miller: And, the lighting, the gaffer, the headlighting guy would say, we need a stinger from the truck. And I would have no idea what a stinger was. it turns out it’s an extension cord, but I knew it was a wire of some kind. So, I’d run down to the truck, grab one of every wire and run up four flights of stairs, carrying like 40 pounds of cables.
[00:04:30] Zac Miller: and he’d be like this one. And that’s the work ethic that they saw. And then they were like, hey, this kid actually works hard. Let’s keep calling him back. And that’s when I learned that if I work really hard, people will notice.
[00:04:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s an interesting point. Interesting lesson right there.
[00:04:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like it. I read something about your background and I’m curious if you can shed a light on it because, apparently you were once karate chopped by Shaquille O’Neal, the world-famous basketball player. And I can, I say comedian. He has a great sense of humor while on the set. what was that all about?
[00:05:07] Zac Miller: Yeah, Shaq is great. and it’s hard to know on a podcast, but I’m about five foot seven, probably five foot eight. and I come up to about Shaq’s, belly button. and we, I was working for WGBH at the time doing educational video production. I was a producer, freelance producer working for them.
[00:05:28] Zac Miller: And we were actually doing this piece with Harvard medical school. And it turns out Shaq had sleep apnea and, he was, he had been diagnosed and we were working with his doctor on this project, and he was like, let’s bring Shaq in.so of course we were like, of course we should bring Shaq in. So, we shot for the day with Shaq and honestly, we were recording something else and I’m hanging out in the hallway and, Shaq and a couple other people were there, and Shaq has a big voice, right?
[00:05:54] Zac Miller: He’s a big guy.
[00:05:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely.
[00:05:55] Zac Miller: And so, they come over the walkie talkie and say, we’re hearing talking in the hallway. So, I told Shaq Hey man, you got to be quiet. And he jokingly just turned around and gave me a, that. And as a joke, because honestly, if you really tried, I’d be, I wouldn’t be here right now, Shaq Fu situation, but no, he was lovely to work with, and, despite being karate chopped by Shaq, I survived.
[00:06:18] Siebe Van Der Zee: if you talk to Shaq, tell him I would love to interview him for a podcast. Let’s see how that goes. But, yeah,
[00:06:24] Zac Miller: it turns out I would love to interview him for my podcast.
[00:06:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, exactly. We all do. We all do. we have a few other people on that list, but we’re going to talk about your 10 lessons you have learned in your life and in your career.
[00:06:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: I want to ask you another question before we get to that.
[00:06:38] Zac Miller: Sure.
[00:06:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: Can you think of perhaps a failure in life that you have experienced but that you have learned from.
[00:06:47] Zac Miller: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I think, and I was telling you before we started, I’m obsessed with this idea of a failure resume, right?
[00:06:54] Zac Miller: and many of us know this, you learn more from the failures than you do from the wins. And there is a failure. There’s a pretty big failure, actually. So, I, actually started a consumer, I worked at Clarkson University as a professor, and. It’s an engineering school, and shortly after I moved there and started working there, I had an idea for a consumer product, called Stable Lens, which is a camera support product, that allows you to swap lenses on your camera when you’re using a gimbal that has to be perfectly balanced, and it keeps the balance despite the lenses being different sizes.
[00:07:28] Zac Miller: so, it’s a time saving and creativity tool. invented that, they helped me build it, they helped me, bring it to market. I have a patent on that and brought it to market and had a really successful trade show in October of 2019.and this is a product that was going to be used by, by folks who were doing like on set work, really like single shooters.
[00:07:53] Zac Miller: So, imagine, videographers who are doing weddings and that kind of thing. And literally we shipped out our first shipment in March of 2020. And the world shut down.
[00:08:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I was going to say,
[00:08:03] Zac Miller: that was a huge learning experience because it just, it took all of the momentum out of the company.
[00:08:09] Zac Miller: the product, essentially, had, has gone nowhere since. and that was a really tough moment and tough lesson for me. really the lesson for me is I didn’t know what I was getting into. I didn’t really get that if I had one product, I was going to have to come up with the next product, and the next product, and the next product.
[00:08:28] Zac Miller: And that really, it’s, you can’t just do one thing. You have to know what’s following that thing up. And be okay with spending the next, whatever, decade of my life marketing this thing, right? And I realized in that experience, and having the brakes thrown so dramatically, that really, I wanted to do the creative work behind it, and I wasn’t so interested in marketing sales and physical products.
[00:08:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: This is, this is so interesting. Sorry to interrupt, but this is so interesting because your experience specifically with your company and obviously the timing, you had no control over COVID starting in 2020. but it is, I believe a lesson that we have learned from many of our guests that as we go through life, we have successes or we’re doing okay.
[00:09:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: And suddenly something changes that almost makes you have a next, a second career or a third career. And I really appreciate your sharing that with our audience because it’s very broad, as you understand, of course, you’re not the only person that has to deal with sudden changes. Over time, indeed, you learn from that and makes you mentally ready for the next unexpected change.
[00:09:45] Siebe Van Der Zee: it’s unexpected, so you cannot really wait for it.
[00:09:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: But I think many people all over the world go through those sudden changes. So
[00:09:53] Zac Miller: yeah.
[00:09:54] Zac Miller: Yeah.
[00:09:54] Zac Miller: And I look at that as
[00:09:55] Zac Miller: my business school in a lot of ways, right? I don’t think I would be as successful of a podcaster and creative person in this new, quote unquote, creative economy without having gone through that.
[00:10:07] Zac Miller: we take that with us, and we take those lessons with us and now I’m much more tactical and much smarter about, hey, what I’m starting, do I really want to be doing this thing or some flavor of this thing 10 years from now? Yeah. And if the answer is no, then I won’t do it.
[00:10:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah.
[00:10:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, I like it. It’s very helpful. Thank you. Let’s go take a look at your 10 lessons and without, actually let’s make the audience curious because your 10 lessons. There is a little added element to that.

[00:10:34] Lesson 1: If you’re presenting anything – be entertaining.

[00:10:34] we’ll talk about that later, but let’s start with lesson number one. If you’re presenting anything, be entertaining.
[00:10:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: what are your thoughts?
[00:10:42] Zac Miller: Yeah. And this comes from a background in my background in television and transitioning into teaching. performative, first of all, teaching is, of course, right? as a college, professor and instructor. you get up in front of a class and I have a three-hour lecture.
[00:11:02] Zac Miller: I’m not necessarily lecturing for three hours, but I’m holding attention for three hours. And how much labor goes into that. And I’ve realized as I look around that we are all presenting in our own way, constantly. Everything we’re doing is a performance and maybe the lesson should be, you know, embrace the fact that what you’re doing is a performance to the point where I even think of.
[00:11:28] Zac Miller: I was talking to, my partner about this yesterday and she works for, the government. And, I was like, you’re performing bureaucracy. Like in some of these meetings, like the fact that you’re able to use this, method to get around this, red tape and et cetera, et cetera.
[00:11:43] Zac Miller: this is also a performance. And when you are really good at this, people notice. And I think that embracing the fact that we’re sort of performing all the time, right? Whether we’re on Zoom meetings, whether we’re in front of a classroom full of people, whether we’re in a one-on-one situation, being able to hold attention and thinking about, how am I entertain, how am I actually being entertaining right now?
[00:12:08] Zac Miller: and I really, I learned this lesson also from being a podcaster and et cetera, et cetera, but I think that seeing the world as. Hey, we can actually have a, we can make this a little better. We can make this a little more fun. We can make this a little more interesting for ourselves, for the people we’re around, for the people we’re with.
[00:12:28] Zac Miller: I think there’s a lot of value in that. And that’s why that’s my first lesson. And I’m hoping that this also, it’s number one, because I’m also hoping that I’m setting the stage for this episode, being So entertaining for you, the audience.
[00:12:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: But I want to ask you a question because I understand what you’re saying and I was thinking, okay, in this lesson, the definition of entertaining, if you are in a meeting, in a situation that is, Serious, bad news.
[00:12:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. how would you translate the term entertaining in those situations? I can see there is a connection, but it’s different than having a party and making fun.
[00:13:05] Zac Miller: Yeah, I, and that’s a really good point. You can’t, you’re not going to, and honestly, I have been someone that’s been very comfortable behind the camera for most of my career.
[00:13:16] Zac Miller: This is not a comfortable place for me right now, and this is something I’m actually personally working on, which is getting myself out in front of the camera more often, and being that entertaining person, because normally I’m the one scowling behind the camera, right?
[00:13:31] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, you’re doing well. You’re doing well.
[00:13:32] Zac Miller: Yeah, and I would just, I think that if you’re in a situation where you’re, it’s very serious, or you’re delivering bad news, I think entertaining can also mean, emotionally engaging. So, are you engaging your audience at an emotional level? And whether that is, and again, audience means the people around you, right?
[00:13:51] Zac Miller: This isn’t, I’m not trying to this isn’t like in all the world’s a stage, although it is, is maybe part of the lesson. Who said that? Who said all the world’s a stage? Was that Shakespeare or something?
[00:14:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: let’s say, yes,
[00:14:03] Zac Miller: we’re going to say Shakespeare. but I would say that if you are able to connect with someone emotionally and really see what, help them get through it, but also Do it in a way where the folks around you, the folks you’re with, come out of it, and you’re, growing closer rather than growing further apart.
[00:14:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: You leave something with them as a presenter, you leave something with them. Yeah, I know.

[00:14:30] Lesson 2: Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at

[00:14:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: That makes sense. Let’s take a look at lesson number two. Yeah. I like it. Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at. Be honest with yourself about what you’re good at.
[00:14:39] Zac Miller: so, this comes from my producing background, and this is the lesson boils down to, I think about a lot of things in terms of as a producer, right?
[00:14:49] Zac Miller: And what that means is, if I’m working on a television show, and, a lot of times I’ll have the, or, whatever the project is, some creative project, there are folks out there, like I’m a pretty good camera guy, like I, I can shoot stuff, I can do it, there are folks that do that all day, every day, that’s all they do, they are just camera people, my, the person who edits my podcast, all he does, all day long, for different clients, is edit it.
[00:15:16] Zac Miller: And edit. So, I am really thoughtful about what am I actually really good at? what is the secret sauce that I bring to this that, that you can’t replace, that no one else can do. And then everything that doesn’t fall in that bucket, though, like I am the best in the world, like I can’t imagine someone doing this better than me in this context for this project and literally everything else I try to have someone else do, who is better than I am at it.
[00:15:43] Zac Miller: I like it. It makes sense. as human beings, most of us, we can do a lot of things. But if you think about where you have talent and especially, I think of people who are creative, you cannot educate yourself and become creative. That’s between your ears, right? It’s in your head. it’s, it, you cannot define it.
[00:16:01] Zac Miller: You have that talent. And, if you can recognize your own talents. With the passion that you have, that seems to be, of course, the right track to go on. And yeah, again, we need multiple skills. It’s not one thing what really drives you. I like that. It’s a good lesson to share.
[00:16:18] Zac Miller: And your weaknesses, right?
[00:16:19] Zac Miller: and really being honest with, hey, I’m, I just, I’m not interested. Like I’m not a numbers guy. And I can do that. But. Man am I glad I have an account.
[00:16:28] Zac Miller: I need more than 10 lessons to talk about my weaknesses. Yes.
[00:16:32] Zac Miller: Exactly. Yeah. And I think that’s totally okay. And as soon as I’m able, I, allow myself to let go of those things and just really try to focus on the things that bring the most value, to whatever I’m doing.

[00:16:46] Lesson 3: Give yourself permission to suck at first.

[00:16:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like it, and I’m looking at lesson number three already, Zac. Lesson number three, give yourself permission to suck at first. Combines with the other ones.
[00:16:56] Zac Miller: This is my biggest, yeah, and I think this actually goes back to my biggest sort of regret, which is not having started making my own stuff earlier in my career.
[00:17:10] Zac Miller: And I think about, hey, if I had started that YouTube channel, I You know, a decade ago or when I was in college, think about where it would be now, right? But I was so obsessed, and I think so much of us are so obsessed with, at least back in the day. Now I think people see YouTube a little differently.
[00:17:27] Zac Miller: But, back in the day, it was like, oh no, I work in the real TV, film industry. I’m not doing this I’m not some amateur on YouTube. and we were also, I don’t know, pearl clutching and trying to differentiate ourself from that because it just felt so, amateurish, but now that’s really where it’s at.
[00:17:46] Zac Miller: And I think that, the entire way that we’re telling stories as a society is changing, the entire way that, our entire sort of media field. And we can talk about the changes that I’m seeing, overall, in, in media. but I think that allowing yourself to spend the time just making the thing, And not being worried about how it’s perceived, and how many people are watching, how many likes you’re getting, what, just, this is more about a personal best, not about a, you’re the best in the world.
[00:18:21] Zac Miller: and I think that if you’re able to have that mindset, you can get so far. Because our, this is, this goes back to your skill level is not going to meet your taste at first, right? Like when you started podcasting, I’m sure You’re a much better interviewer now, years later than you were back then, but that didn’t stop you back then, right?
[00:18:43] Zac Miller: and that’s the only way you were able to get here now.
[00:18:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, absolutely.
[00:18:47] Zac Miller: Speaking for myself too, there’s so many things, these are like years long projects that it takes so much to get to the point where you’re like, okay, I’m actually pretty good at this. And it takes years.
[00:19:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, and I think that’s a, again, a wise statement.
[00:19:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: It takes years, it takes a long time, but if that desire exists in your mind and say, this is what I want to do, this is what I want to become, you keep going at it. and even, when you deal with failure and disappointments, always tough, but you see that light at the end of the tunnel and that’s what you want to reach.
[00:19:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: and so, I think it’s, it’s a lot of wisdom. Zac, and you describe it, give yourself permission to suck at.
[00:19:32] Zac Miller: That’s, I don’t know if I have as much wisdom as you do,
[00:19:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think you can, you can exceed what, what I have learned in life, but I really think it’s very helpful again, to share that information.
[00:19:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: When it comes to media, I know later on one of your lessons deals with that more specifically. so, we’ll come back to that because that’s a global issue as well. Media and the interpretation and, easy question. What is the truth? Yeah. We don’t know sometimes. And, but that’s a podcast for it’s on its own, perhaps.
[00:20:00] Zac Miller: On its own. Yeah. we could do, five, I could do an entire series on what is the truth.
[00:20:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely. Robert, take a note. Our producer. Yeah

[00:20:08] Lesson 4: Win the expectations game – Set expectations and then exceed them.

[00:20:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Let’s go to lesson number four, win the expectations game, set expectations, and then exceed them again. I like it.
[00:20:17] Zac Miller: Yeah. So let me, and I would actually love your opinion on this, Siebe. I feel and this is something, maybe this is the thing that I wish I knew when I was just starting out, which is that each of us has the ability and is constantly setting expectations in every interaction we have.
[00:20:38] Zac Miller: how we dress sets a certain expectations about how, expectation about how we’re going to be to, literally setting expectations in terms of, hey, I am a, video producer and I’m going to make a video for your company and here’s what you can expect, right? And I think the thing that folks do really badly is set expectations, for themselves, for the way other people, what does your boss expect from you this week or this day?
[00:21:06] Zac Miller: how are you orienting the people around you to understand what output, what work you’re actually going to ship? And I think if you get really good at, hey, this project is taking longer than I thought it was going to take. Here is what here’s what I can do at the end of the week and here’s why.
[00:21:26] Zac Miller: And let me talk about where, what I can do next week, right? And I think if you get really good at playing this expectations game, and winning the expectations game, then people will see you differently. People will see that you are reliable. And, I don’t know about you, but for me, reliability is like the number one thing.
[00:21:46] Zac Miller: I would so much rather have someone I’m working with be reliable and know, if I tell them to do something, they do that thing and they do it well. And if they’re not able to do that thing, that they come to me and, we have a discussion about it and figure out a way forward than anything else.
[00:22:04] Zac Miller: And I think that, expectations and reliability go hand in hand But I see so many people over promising and under delivering, especially in this online world, especially with all these, online guru people and, in this world of ours where we’re trying to grab attention as much as possible.
[00:22:21] Zac Miller: And I think that the long-term attention comes in winning this expectation game.
[00:22:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I don’t know if I have the skills and knowledge to answer your question as far as what I suggest, because that’s a tough one. But I do think, and I do agree with you, that integrity is the number one aspect.
[00:22:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: And especially, if there is a lack of integrity, if you become aware that someone, has some issues or has done something that you do not approve of, it’s very difficult to forget about that. that kind of, it’s like a broken cup. you can glue it together, but that crack is visible.
[00:23:00] Zac Miller: Yeah.
[00:23:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think also important, for many people, and that’s part of, up and coming professionals and people have gone through journeys that, you become aware of something, you put it in a broader perspective. I’m here at this stage compared to where I was, or things have suddenly changed, and I have to make adjustments. And I think, again, I’m not a professional psychologist here, but these things happen to all of us all over the world. Things change. And if you have unfortunately, perhaps, or fortunately experienced change, then you can learn from that. and take that with you and something else will happen. And okay, I have experienced financial crises around the world.
[00:23:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: if you lived in that era, you went through it. of course, here in the United States, 9 11 had a massive impact. There are other examples and COVID is another example worldwide. And there are again, many more examples of that, but we learned from it. And I think that’s, again, the concept of wisdom.
[00:24:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: You learn lessons and you share it as you’re doing with up-and-coming professionals at any age, we like to say, because old people like to learn. Believe me, I’m old. I like to learn.
[00:24:14] Zac Miller: and everyone should, right? Everyone should have that learning mindset. But even, and I know, and it occurs to me as you were saying this, I know this show has a very much an international audience, and I think, cross culturally too.
[00:24:26] Zac Miller: we go into new situations, and we have certain expectations that are then different. we think a meeting’s going to go a certain way, but we’re in, Asia or something, and it goes, the expectation for what a meeting is a little different, or whatever the case may be.
[00:24:42] Zac Miller: And I think that if you are able to be flexible, and you are able to adjust your own expectations of a situation, that’s just as powerful.
[00:24:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Yeah. and indeed it starts with, as I said, with awareness, you become aware that you don’t know everything and that you understand that in certain countries behavior may well be different without knowing exactly what that difference is, but it shows basic respect instead of going in, A new country and say, they should do the way we do our things in our country.
[00:25:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. That typically doesn’t work. So, I truly believe it’s awareness and you make adjustments and, negotiating in foreign countries or managing people in foreign countries. Ultimately, of course, problem solving in other countries, as we know, that’s the most complicated, but, yeah, great.
[00:25:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: You make me think and make me talk, but I’m going to ask you about your next lesson.
[00:25:34] Zac Miller: Well, that’s the point, right? You think outside the box, but yeah, I just think, I think of everything as what expectation am I setting with this person? And then how am I going to exceed that? And I, and it works.
[00:25:45] Zac Miller: It really does.

[00:25:47] Lesson 5: Standing out is 99% about your attitude and reliability.

[00:25:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number five, I think fits quite well with what you’re saying. Lesson number five, standing out is 99 percent about your attitude and reliability.
[00:25:56] Zac Miller: and this comes back to, again, working in, okay, I worked in television for, over a decade. And when you work in television, all of us are freelancers, for the most part.
[00:26:07] Zac Miller: I worked for some bigger companies, but it was always a contract by contract basis, right? and I worked my way up from production assistant to assistant production coordinator, to production coordinator, to production manager, And, once you get to, production manager is the highest below the line credit, right?
[00:26:25] Zac Miller: and if you’re, above the line, below the line in TV is above the line folks are the key creatives. So that’s actors, directors, producers, some of the key, department heads, production designer, that kind of thing, cinematographer. Below the line is everyone else, is the whole crew.
[00:26:40] Zac Miller: the production manager’s in charge of everyone else, basically. and I would work with a constant churn of, 20-year-olds, right? Just like churning in and coming onto set as production assistants. And I say 20, just starting out in their careers, right?
[00:26:58] Zac Miller: And I would say to, to a lot of them, we’d have, we’d be on a show and there’d be eight or 10 production assistants, right? on that show. And I would say, hey, look, I’m like, we’re all going to work together. We’re all going to grow together. But at the end of this show.
[00:27:15] Zac Miller: There’s probably, maybe one or two or maybe three of you that I’m going to bring on, bring with me to my next show, and it’s, it is 99 percent about your attitude, if I ask you to go and take out the trash, and you’re able to go and do it with a smile on your face, and you do it right away, and you’re not like, alright, yeah, I’ll go take out the trash, just, I don’t want to be the person who’s dealing with that, The trash has to get taken out, man.
[00:27:39] Zac Miller: I did it. I did it for years. you have to go do it now, right? And it’s the person that you want to work with that you’re going to work with more often, right? Especially in these freelance situations. And I think just being honest about that. And being like, hey, you know what? How can I be someone that everyone around me wants to work with again, because that is my livelihood.
[00:28:01] Zac Miller: That’s how I’m going to get my next job. And, I was really lucky, but also, like I said, hardworking. And I never had. I was never not booked. I basically worked for about a decade in the film industry as a freelancer and I can’t think of more than maybe a month I had between gigs because, I took it very seriously and I was very serious about, being the person on set who was always reliable and always had a good attitude, right?
[00:28:33] Zac Miller: And never, was, did whatever I was asked to do. within reason, with a smile on my face. And that makes such a difference.
[00:28:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: I had to think of, actually a specific management guru, Jack Welch, and he makes it very clear, when he, in his era, considered management people for management positions, he was looking for energy.
[00:28:59] Zac Miller: There was the first E that he said, energy. And when you describe a situation where there’s some trash that needs to be taken care of, you hope that the individual says, oh, let me take care of that. Or secondly, if you say, hey, can you take care of it? That they, of course, the, one of the other E’s and I don’t want to expand on it too far, but it’s energize, because it’s not only you have the energy, but you have to be able to get your team energized So I completely concur with what you’re saying and it’s extremely relevant, to apply that.

[00:29:34] Affiliate Break

[00:29:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I want to, take a little side note for a second. we are talking today with Zac Miller, a highly successful video producer with nearly two decades of experience producing films, television series, and podcasts, sharing his 10 lessons learned. I want to thank our affiliate partner, Audible.
[00:29:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: Audible is an amazing way to experience our program, 10 Lessons Learned, but also books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge all in one place. You can start your free 30-day trial by going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. Again, that is audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned all lowercase to get your free 30-day subscription.

[00:30:17] Lesson 6: Look at video as a creative solution for a business problem and be specific.

[00:30:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: All right, my friend, moving on. Lesson number six, look at video as a creative solution for a business problem and be specific. I’m curious, how does that work?
[00:30:29] Zac Miller: Okay. So, I deal a lot with, I’ve owned my own video production company now for about seven years. and A lot of clients will come to me and basically say, Hey Zac, I know we should be doing video.
[00:30:47] Zac Miller: I, I know that it’s a great marketing tool. I have no idea even where to start or what to do. Help me. And the first thing I say to someone like that, and again, this is getting a little specific to my background in specifically video production, but I think we can again, widen this out, to be a broader lesson, but.
[00:31:07] Zac Miller: I say to them, hey look, video, in this context is just a solution to a business problem. what is the business problem we’re solving for? Let’s be specific about what the problem is, and let’s figure out how video can potentially help you solve it. do you want, if you want more customers, right?
[00:31:25] Zac Miller: If you want more awareness versus you want more sales of a specific product versus you want to break into a new, have a new audience or you have a new, product that you’re trying to launch. Those are all very different videos, right?
[00:31:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: Oh yeah.
[00:31:40] Zac Miller: and it could like, all of those situations could be for the same literal thing, but the context around it is different.
[00:31:47] Zac Miller: a way to think about video is it is an emotion engine, right? At its core, if you’re doing it right, Video will create some kind of emotion, right? Whether you’re making a television show or a movie or a really compelling advertisement. you think about a company like Nike is so good at this.
[00:32:06] Zac Miller: Like they have these ads that just inspire you in 30 seconds and you’re like, oh my gosh, that runner, whatever it is. But taking that step back, it’s just a creative solution to a business problem. So, what’s the business problem? Let’s be really specific about that. And how can we solve that problem creatively?
[00:32:25] Zac Miller: What is like, what is the message that we’re trying to get through? Who is it for? and why is anyone going to care? Because to break through these days, like there is so many, I forget what the stat is, millions of hours of content uploaded to YouTube every day. millions of shows on Netflix and you’re, everyone’s competing for eyeballs, right?
[00:32:46] Zac Miller: This is the attention economy now, right? So, I think that if you can be really specific about who your thing is for, and then where those people are and what is the language they’re already speaking, right? Where, how are they interacting? what are they looking at? And then we can create a video that solves for that specific thing.
[00:33:12] Zac Miller: And so, video is a creative solution to a business problem. and not just video, like there are tons of obviously creative solutions for business problems. By creative solution, you’re literally creating. something. You’re creating some kind of art that is going to, work for your business.
[00:33:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: It seems endless, the audience. I can think of so many different categories. It could be generational. It could be professional. there are so many elements and, indeed the power. We all know this now that, I would say all over the world, when you see people in public, they’re all drawn to their cell phones and obviously, watching videos.
[00:33:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: I was on a long flight from Europe back to the United States and, everybody is entertained. and that’s just sitting in your seat to fly back to the United States. amazing to see that. But potential obviously, for people like you, because, we people, we need it, and you can produce it.

[00:34:08] Lesson 7: Don’t race to the bottom and commoditize your creative work.

[00:34:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: So, I like it. I want to move to lesson number seven. Don’t race to the bottom and commoditize your creative work. I have all kinds of thoughts, but, glad to leave it up to you.
[00:34:17] Zac Miller: I kind of want to hear your thoughts. this one is not that complicated. I think this is, a lesson that I learned the hard way as I was trying to figure out, let me put it this way when I started my business and, I started my business basically Partially because of work life balance, right?
[00:34:37] Zac Miller: I was the production manager on Big Brother, a big TV show on CBS, which probably the international audience knows because there’s some flavor of Big Brother, it seems like in every country.
[00:34:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah.
[00:34:47] Zac Miller: and the move in day for Big Brother was, so the first episode, the season premiere, was literally the same day that my first daughter was due.
[00:34:57] Zac Miller: And, as the production manager of that show, I don’t get to take that day off, right? Doesn’t really matter. if I don’t show up that day, I’m pretty much fired.
[00:35:05] Zac Miller: yeah, you can’t square that circle. and the year before, I think I had been there for something like 22 hours in a row on move in day.
[00:35:14] Zac Miller: and so, I got out of that, and when I started my own company, I very quickly realized that the business model of work for hire video was pretty broken, right? And I saw so many other companies, get really big, do a really good job, making videos for clients or, even TV shows or whatever, and then go bankrupt, right?
[00:35:34] Zac Miller: Because whatever, their biggest client leaves or, it’s you’re no longer the flavor of the week. What you’re doing just isn’t as interesting anymore. And people go somewhere else. And, there, there seems to be this, at the same time race to the bottom, right?
[00:35:49] Zac Miller: Everyone is trying to compete on the wrong terms. setting prices is like one of the hardest things you deal with as a freelancer. And just being like churning out the same, stuff over and over again and getting really into making a certain type of thing.
[00:36:06] Zac Miller: And I found that to be really tough. I found this idea of I’m commoditizing my work. I’m making a certain type of video for a certain type of client. And I’m making that over and over again and wash, rinse, repeat. And now people are, you’re, you really are racing to the bottom.
[00:36:21] Zac Miller: Like You’re not competing on anything that really differentiates you and makes you special. And I think that has been solved for me by finding podcasting, frankly. It has become a place where I have found, there is an infinite amount of creative energy I can put into my podcasts.
[00:36:42] Zac Miller: And, and it keeps going and, and I own it. And I think that’s the difference.
[00:36:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: so, Zac, if I understand it correctly, you’re saying indeed, don’t race to the bottom, but aim high,
[00:36:53] Zac Miller: So, don’t race to the bottom. Don’t race to the
[00:36:55] Zac Miller: bottom and don’t compete.
[00:36:56] Zac Miller: If you can get away with it, don’t compete on price. Just don’t. I just found out, okay, this is fascinating. This is just as an aside. we have a new booking team on the Kim Gravel show. who’s, who This is a team of, an agency that books celebrity guests for shows, like at the level of doing talk show, like big talk shows and TV shows and things like that.
[00:37:19] Zac Miller: And they were telling me that, For some of these, A list celebrities, when they go and do, a press junket and they’re, all day for whatever new Netflix show or whatever it is, I’m just using Netflix as a random example, they didn’t name any names, but they said their makeup, their hair and makeup team that they bring with them can get paid as much as 60, 000 a day.
[00:37:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: How much do you pay your team?
[00:37:46] Zac Miller: I do not pay my team 60, 000 a day. That blew me away. That’s, I think that’s the highest end, but. to me, that is the very definition of you’re putting yourself in a class of one, right? There’s maybe only, how many makeup artists could possibly charge that rate in the world?
[00:38:04] Zac Miller: Maybe three or four.
[00:38:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, I hear you. And again, it’s part of your industry, for obviously many people that have, a job, a regular job, a career, they don’t have to deal with those special issues as a makeup team. if you have a meeting with the boss tomorrow, you don’t need a makeup team to get ready for that.
[00:38:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: But I, I understand in your industry, you definitely need that. and that makes sense. I’m very curious about the next lesson because we touched on it a little bit.
[00:38:33] Zac Miller: Yeah, we can talk about this next one for about a hundred hours.
[00:38:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: I know it’s good stuff and it definitely keeps me thinking about it.

[00:38:42] Lesson 8: Media is changing – “Is this real?” is the wrong question to ask – “who’s telling the story?”

[00:38:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: But lesson number eight, media is changing. Is this real? Is the wrong question to ask? Who’s telling the story?
[00:38:50] Siebe Van Der Zee:
[00:38:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: This is loaded, right? This is.
[00:38:52] Zac Miller: loaded. and I honestly, there’s so many directions I could take it because I do think that this idea that media is changing and. Asking is this real really is the wrong question, right?
[00:39:04] Zac Miller: And we’re entering this sort of world of, generative AI, right? We’re already there, but we’re going to see more and more of this. And I see so many people saying okay, this generative AI stuff, this isn’t real. and therefore, it has, less meaning and less, it’s not as valid somehow as something that actually happened.
[00:39:23] Zac Miller: And that is true, like there is, people talk about, oh, we’re living in this post truth era. Like, I don’t, I don’t believe that, right? I believe there is, truth exists, right? We, this idea of post truth is, I think is disingenuous, and I think there are certain people pushing this idea for their own agendas.
[00:39:40] Zac Miller: But I also think that having worked in unscripted television, e. g. reality TV, for a long time, on a lot of different shows, I can tell you right now that it doesn’t matter what actually happened on set, If the producers want to portray a person in a certain way, that will happen. They can tell the story however they want, right?
[00:40:03] Zac Miller: I, I already have come from a background where, X thing can happen, and then we can edit that in such a way that it looks like, it happened in Y way, right? Whether or not, I’ve never been on a show where they fully, whole cloth made up something that didn’t have any thread of real of realness to it.
[00:40:25] Zac Miller: But they definitely can set up situations and then ask leading questions and then edit in such a way that they’re creating a reality, right? whether or not, and from things that actually were real and really happened, right? we’re already in this world of manufactured reality in the media that we’re consuming.
[00:40:45] Zac Miller: generative AI is just one more step in that, and I actually think it’s really good that we’re, that it’s so obvious on its face that, hey, this is ones and zeros, guys. this never actually happened. This image I’m looking at isn’t real. In fact, the image behind me that you’re seeing right now is a green screen, and B, an AI generated image, right?
[00:41:08] Zac Miller: That, this room does not exist in the real world, right? And it never has. It’s not a photo.
[00:41:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: But aren’t we dealing with new emerging technologies, and yes, AI has been around for a while and it’s becoming now, let’s say to the surface. More people are using it on a daily basis. I still think that the vast majority of global population, but pick a country, they have not been made aware, they could easily be fooled by information that they see or hear, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:41:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: And definitely I’m not the expert, but I hope there will be some. management of some of those technologies because it could be dangerous.
[00:41:53] Zac Miller: I agree. I completely agree. I think AI regulation and some regulation of this technology, especially in certain places in politics, in other places that could have very real world, very scary, frankly, consequences.
[00:42:07] Zac Miller: especially because what AI really is, it is an acceleration generator, right? It can accelerate an idea more quickly and at scale in a way that we’ve never seen before.
[00:42:20] Zac Miller:
[00:42:21] Zac Miller: But that’s, that gets to the second part of my lesson, right? Who’s telling the story? And I think that is really the question to ask.
[00:42:29] Zac Miller: Not whether or not this is real.
[00:42:31] Zac Miller: No, I agree. Because it’s being
[00:42:32] Zac Miller: presented as reality. So, whether or not it’s real, like this goes to let me put on my professor hat for a second. Viewers make meaning, okay? You can make a video, you can make a podcast, 10 people will watch, more than 10 people, but let’s say 10 people watch this podcast episode and they will all get something different out of it, right?
[00:42:55] Zac Miller: You ask them afterward, what did you take away from this? Nine times out of 10, they’ll all say something slightly different or very different, right? And so, we already have this idea of viewers making meaning, in other words, you don’t get to control what someone gets out of the thing that you’re making, and you have to give that up as a creative, right?
[00:43:14] Zac Miller: when you’re presenting something as reality, whether or not it is quote unquote reality, and the idea of reality has been already, I’m sceptical of anything that’s being presented as reality. even in documentary film, you have to think about what, what is the filmmaker coming from?
[00:43:29] Zac Miller: this goes back to, let’s take it back to this idea of, fake news, right? what, who is, who is even in the media, And again, I very much believe in the media and I believe that there are people doing incredible work, in trying to do very rigorous reporting on a lot of things.
[00:43:47] Zac Miller: And there are folks who are trying to, make it seem like you can’t trust anything. And that’s not the case here. I think it’s just about whose perspective are you seeing? Whose perspective are you understanding? If you can know that, then I think you can decode why you’re being presented with the information you’re being presented with.
[00:44:07] Zac Miller: So rather than ask, is it real? Ask, who is telling me the story and why? And I think you will come out with a more useful way of understanding that piece of content.
[00:44:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah,
[00:44:18] Siebe Van Der Zee: it makes a lot of sense, Zac. And, I have to think about growing up as a little kid in, in the Netherlands. my parents made me very much aware when I was very young, there are always at least two different sides to a story, and you hear a story.
[00:44:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Okay. It sounds right, factual, et cetera. But if you really, make sure you hear other sides to that story. You can put it in balance. And hey, in today’s world with so much information, of course, that’s part of the challenge. You need more than two sources, but it’s very important. And I think it’s very important for us as a human being to be aware that what we hear, what we see is not necessarily the truth or the only truth.
[00:45:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: And we also see over time that, we gain more knowledge, more information, and certain perspectives can change over time. Realistically, because we were not aware, we didn’t have the knowledge, now we do, etc. etc. So, it’s a very important lesson.
[00:45:18] Zac Miller: It is. And we’re bringing our own biases, we’re, it gets so deep.
[00:45:22] Zac Miller: We could talk about this for hours,
[00:45:24] Zac Miller: but I do think like just everyone could use a healthy dose of scepticism. let’s just go with that.

[00:45:30] Lesson 9: Rehearsals are an incredible tool.

[00:45:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: Agreed. All right. Lesson number nine rehearsals are an incredible tool. I would agree, but you don’t always have a chance to rehearse, right?
[00:45:40] Zac Miller: Yeah, you don’t, that’s true. But I do think that a lot of folks don’t take the opportunity to rehearse when they have it, right? And I saw this a lot with young people when I was teaching.
[00:45:57] Zac Miller: we would have presentations or something like that. and there’d be, the stakes would be relatively high and, they would present work and, under a little bit of scrutiny, it would come out like, Oh yes, this thing I’ve written, I’ve, and was going to say in front of the class, like I’ve never actually said it out loud before.
[00:46:17] Zac Miller: It’s hey, you know what? If you’re going to write something and say it out loud in front of other people, just read it out loud to yourself at least once, right? this is this idea of a table read, which is something that, that we do in, movies and television, which is, at a certain point, you just need to get everyone together in a room and read the script out loud.
[00:46:37] Zac Miller: Folks are going to say, stumble over certain things that could be beautifully written, but they’re just not written quite right for that person. They’re, and I think that we live in a culture that is, again, so go, and so values folks who are, have the confidence to just stand up and start talking.
[00:46:59] Zac Miller: And we aren’t necessarily paying enough attention to what we’re saying and, being thoughtful about, How we’re presenting and I think with a little bit more thought behind that and a little bit more rehearsal in our lives, and even rehearsing things that aren’t necessarily, we started with this idea of, we’re presenting almost constantly in our lives, right?
[00:47:23] Zac Miller: and I think there are ways to rehearse Things that you wouldn’t think to rehearse, but if you do it, if you’re thoughtful about how am I going to do this? And you think through the steps at least, you will find yourself enjoying the process of that a lot more.
[00:47:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Again, if you think about, people have an opportunity to train their brain and I use always as a simple example, the way you go through traffic, whether you talk to, someone in your vehicle, you’re listening to the radio.
[00:47:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: to a podcast of course, suddenly there’s a green light that turns yellow and then red. It’s not that you say, what’s happening there? you got to stop. And so, it’s a simple example, but hopefully we all apply it that if the light turns, then either you stop, or it turns green and then you go, which can be annoying if they don’t go.
[00:48:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: But it’s, an example of how we can train our brain in many situations. And, in that sense, I look at that as well. That’s a rehearsal. Yeah. and right. With traffic, hopefully you don’t have to remind yourself it’s automatic, but it is something that you have to learn and, apply.
[00:48:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: So, I think rehearsals are an incredible tool. I completely agree with what you’re saying.
[00:48:35] Zac Miller: Rehearsals and it goes into, your idea, this, what you just laid out made me think about also just this idea of creating processes for yourself. Yes. I have a certain process that I follow when I make a podcast or I’m a guest on a podcast.
[00:48:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yes, exactly.
[00:48:51] Zac Miller: Part of the reason why airline flying is so safe is because there are these very rigorous checklists that pilots and ground crews and everyone has to go through. And they have to physically check it off, put their, sign it, put their name on it. and that creates so, so little room for error, at least in certain parts of it, that, flying is one of the safest things you can possibly do.
[00:49:19] Zac Miller: There hasn’t been a major airline accident in the U. S. on a major carrier in years.
[00:49:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, I agree. It’s a good point. And, I say it because I was just on a long flight. I wish they would apply the same rules as they apply in safety when it comes to customer service, but that’s
[00:49:36] Zac Miller: I agree with that.
[00:49:37] Zac Miller: That’s It’s just a nightmare now. Flying is a nightmare now,
[00:49:41] Siebe Van Der Zee: but no, it’s all good.

[00:49:43] Lesson 10: Overnight success takes a decade to accomplish, be prepared when it comes.

[00:49:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: Let’s take a look at lesson number 10. I think we’re there, but maybe not. Anyway, lesson number 10. Overnight success takes a decade to accomplish. Be prepared when it comes.
[00:49:55] Zac Miller: Yeah. I have seen it over and over again now, from meeting folks who, were quote unquote overnight successes.
[00:50:05] Zac Miller: And these are people who were in the right place at the right time with the right set of experience with the right audience to when whatever that thing happened, whatever the situation happened that created, the confluence of events that led to this ability to have this, explosive moment in their careers or their art or their music or whatever it is, they were able to take, work it for themselves.
[00:50:32] Zac Miller: And all of them, without fail, were working on that thing for 8 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. no one, there is literally no such thing as overnight success. There’s no one that’s going from zero, I am just starting this thing right now, to 6 months later, oh my gosh, I am one of the top in this field, whatever it may be, or in this, wherever I am.
[00:51:00] Zac Miller: That doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen. people online are going to tell you it happens. People online are going to claim that they did that. They did not. And I think that our culture and our society, especially with young folks, again, we’re fed this diet of people online claiming that they have the answer for you because they’re trying to get attention.
[00:51:21] Zac Miller: They’re trying to get eyeballs in this new sort of attention economy, and one of the claims you see all the time is hey, look how successful I am, and either they’re fooling you or, Yeah, they’re super successful because they’re, have a rich family or whatever it is, right?
[00:51:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: I was going to say, how do you measure success?
[00:51:41] Zac Miller: How do you measure success, right? They’re going to want to measure success on their terms. And they’re going to show you a certain sliver, right? And this isn’t anything new, but I think it’s worth taking a step back and just thinking about for yourself.
[00:51:54] Zac Miller: Again, it goes back to this idea of what do I want to spend a decade working on, right? And that is really where I am in my journey, right? I’ve spent a couple decades making, TV, making, shows, for other folks, mostly, right? And now I’m transitioning to making this stuff for myself, having ownership over it, not being behind the camera, being in front of the camera.
[00:52:19] Zac Miller: And I think that I am okay with showing up online and being a little bit cringey right now. I have to be okay with that because I know that I’m not as good as I want to be at that necessarily in every case, but in order to get there, I need to get through this and I want to be in a position where however many years from now, someone will look at me and say wow, where did Zac come from?
[00:52:47] Zac Miller: He’s, suddenly everywhere, right?
[00:52:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: And Zac, it’s wisdom. a very wise person said rehearsals are an incredible tool. That was your lesson. Yeah. Lesson number nine. and so, it’s very consistent in what you’re saying, but I have another question. Okay. we are, approaching, with our podcast, 10 Lessons Learned, 150 episodes, and we continue, we keep going.
[00:53:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: We have a great team. We keep going. For. All I know, we’ve never had any guests that presented their 10 lists and they consisted of 11 lessons. Now we have the first one.
[00:53:29] Zac Miller:. I brought 11 lessons to 10 lessons learned and I’m proud of it. Damn it.
[00:53:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: definitely. It stands out overnight success. Here we go.

[00:53:39] Lesson 11: Always allow yourself the option to edit something out that isn’t working.

[00:53:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Your lesson number 11, which is part of 10 Lessons Learned, but obviously, you will explain it. Lesson 11, always allow yourself the option to edit something out that isn’t working.
[00:53:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: it brings a smile to my face, but please explain.
[00:53:57] Zac Miller: And the reason why this had to be the 11th lesson, by the way, is the idea here is that If I’m bringing 11 lessons and let’s say lesson number 6 was just a dud, like it just, whatever, it was a boring answer, like it happens, I get a, whatever, it happens.
[00:54:12] Zac Miller: That was to everybody. Alright, then you have the ability to cut that one out, use Lesson 11, and you still got 10 lessons, so you can fulfill the promise of the show. And I brought this 11th lesson for that reason, just so all of us can, take a step back and not take it so seriously. And just, again, allow yourself to just embrace the fact that not everything we do is going to be perfect.
[00:54:41] Zac Miller: That I’m going to come on the show and, maybe the producers are going to say, oh man, I wish that we had, these are, this is great. Zac was great, but yeah, lesson number five kind of drags. It’s boring. let’s cut it. And I actually think for me, I am always thinking about as a producer, how is this going to work in the edit?
[00:55:01] Zac Miller: What am I going to use? What am I not going to use? What structure do I have to put around this to make this most entertaining and get the point across in a way that will engage the audience, get the message across, that will ,honor the guest or whoever I’m speaking with in such a way that everyone will be proud of, right?
[00:55:19] Zac Miller: And I think that we call that shooting for the edit, right? and always thinking about that final product. and this idea can go into sort of anything you’re doing, but yeah, I think it just comes back to Don’t take yourself so seriously. give yourself the option to just cut out, like what’s not working in whatever I’m doing, figure out a way to get rid of it.
[00:55:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: it can apply in different ways. I think it’s, it stands out because again, it’s 11 lessons, and we’re asking for 10 lessons, but indeed, it makes it stand out, so I like it, and I appreciate it.
[00:55:56] Zac Miller: And the funny thing is, and I will say, before we started, you were like, should we, dot, do you, should we?
[00:56:02] Zac Miller: Not do one of these. So, we have 10 and I was like, no. We should have 11. I stood by this.
[00:56:07] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, absolutely. And I very much, I understand it better now. and I think it’s adding because, okay, we’re used to 10 lessons. That’s the name of our podcast. And guess what? Today we have 11 lessons.
[00:56:20] Zac Miller: It’s a bonus. Everyone, you got a bonus. If you listened to these lessons, you got a bonus. You’re welcome.

 
[00:56:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely. No, it’s, it’s very good. And, I want to make some, some closing remarks. And first of all, Zac, I want to thank you for joining us today and for sharing your lessons and wisdom with our global audience. it’s much appreciated. Truly is.
[00:56:40] Zac Miller: Of course. Such an honor to be here. Such an honor to do this. Thank you so much.
[00:56:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you. in closing, you have been listening to our international program, 10 Lessons Learned. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. And as always, we are supported by the Professional Development Forum.
[00:56:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Zac Miller, sharing his 10 Lessons Learned. Zac is a highly successful video and film producer who has nearly two decades of experience bringing films, television series, and podcasts to life. And to our audience, don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at podcast@10lessonslearned.com. That is podcast at number 10 1 0 lessonslearned. com. I hope you will subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser, lesson by lesson. Thank you and stay safe.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

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