Keeping Your Sanity in Peaceful Working Order,
Both in Your Personal Life,
as well as Your Career...
From the Professor's New Book,
"God Didn't Create Alarm Clocks"
By Professor Pooch
© David J. Spangenberg
Don’t be Paranoid, but Do be Cautious
When Moving Ahead with Your Career...
Yeah, I know, it seems that all Creative People hate dealing with business & legal stuff including contracts. However, without some knowledge of the legal end, and the contracts that often accompany it, you won’t get very far. Look, there’s nothing to worry about. The trick is to get whatever legal stuff taken care of - get it over with, professionally – and then just deal with moving forward, safely! And, you’ll find that, many of the contracts You Should be Signing, may be with your Own Company – in effect signing with yourself! And, have no fear, like the rest of my Book, “God Didn’t Create Alarm Clocks”, is in easy-to-understand “People Talk.”
Once again, I need to state that the Arts is a business much like any other business, and if you are to get in, survive and succeed in it, you will have to understand this and treat it like one.
Regarding contracts, there are all kinds written for all kinds of reasons; long ones and short ones; good ones and bad ones; safe ones, and dangerous ones.
The list of all of the contracts you may have to deal with in your career may seem endless, but you must know what is good for you, what is bad, and what is just plain useless. All kinds of people will want you to sign pieces of paper if they believe that you, your projects, or products will be successful in the least, even if you are just starting up the ladder of success.
We all know that no one is perfect, but you are entitled to the best representation available, so look for the best-qualified person(s), not the most likable.
Caution: Too many people/companies will sign a person, product, or project to a contract, and then sit back and do nothing, or next to nothing, and simply wait for that person or product to become successful without ever actively helping.
Then, it's amazing how fast they appear, contract in hand, looking for the percentage they (according to their contracts) “earned”.
Simply put: Don’t Be Paranoid! But Do be Cautious!
You don't have to sign with the first person who shows up and shows interest in you. Don't “listen to the love story” and believe it, word for word. Instead, talk to others who are represented, or have been represented, by this person. What you are looking for is how they've been treated, the quality of representation, and their success or lack thereof.
If You have a Manager or Lawyer (whom You should have checked out previously in the same manner), have them “grill” the person who wants to represent you, and/or your products and/or projects, and check them out thoroughly. No reputable person will object to this. To the contrary, most reputable professionals are so proud of their knowledge and accomplishments that they welcome it.
Try never to settle for less than the best. If you must, then be aware of the person's shortcomings and compensate for them by finding someone(s) to handle those weaknesses.
Before you sign any contract keep in mind that lurking somewhere in it there may (will probably) be some clause or statement that will tie you and your money up for some period of time, thus affecting your future.
You must check every contract thoroughly. Now, there's no reason to be afraid of contracts, and you won't get very far without becoming involved with them. Just remember that the contract is just as important to You as to the person offering it, in that it (should) sets forth terms and conditions, and responsibilities on both sides, and money arrangements for both. A good contract is fair to both parties; so, while you're being cautious, don't try to squeeze the other person down to the most minimal benefits.
Take your time reading a contract. Never let anyone hurry you into signing or allow them to gloss over anything you don't thoroughly understand with “Oh, that's nothing, it's not important.” It may end up being very important later on, and if you don't understand thoroughly what you're signing, you're setting yourself up for some surprises you might not like. People who offer you contracts have their own best interests first in mind, no matter how ethical they might be. This is natural and logical. Likewise, you should be concerned with keeping Your best interests 1st in mind!
I do quite a lot of “Mediator” type work where I am basically the man in the middle of two opposing sides with the aim being to come to a peaceful settlement between reasonable people.
It’s really simple: Why can’t contracts be fair to both sides? My viewpoint is, “Look, let’s get this over with so we can put our minds on moving ahead!
Look, there’s always a way when you have two sides that want to get things done and move forward.
If you see something that bothers you in the contract, tell them! Wonder of all wonders, they may actually shock You by saying: “Oh, okay. How about…”
But if you don't ask for it, you may have no chance of getting it. And, if you want something changed after You sign the contract, it usually is too late. Or, if they do say, “okay” later on, there's a good chance that it will be followed with “but we want in return…” That’s a good reason to speak your mind and for the negotiators to try to creatively solve your contract problems - before you sign.
Did you notice that I just put the word “creative” in the same sentence with “contract”? Actually, the best negotiators are very creative people in their own right. A “compromise” is actually a creative way of solving a problem during negotiations. Keep in mind that a contract is simply whatever two or more people agree to, as long as what you agree to is legal.
Tell the person offering you a contract that you’d like to have your Lawyer go over it. If this person attempts to talk you out of it, especially if you are given the “Oh, that's nothing...” routine, you've just learned that the contract as written, as well as the person who offered it, is definitely not for you.
My favorite is, “Hey it’s only one page…” One page to me usually means some very important things have been left OUT of the contract!
Tell him/her you must be able to understand all the points, and your Lawyer must approve it before you sign. A bad or injurious contract is much worse than no contract, because you probably wasted a lot of time and effort, if not losing a lot of money that might have been rightfully yours.
Simply put: Never deal with people who refuse to at least listen to your concerns or refuse to negotiate with you!
One way to get a great start on the business end of your career and prevent a good deal of important issues and concerns in the future from appearing and negatively affecting you, is to get a few important things over and done with as soon as possible.
To the point: with all the time, energy, and effort you are putting into yourself, and your creations and/or projects, it is important that you put in place the right legal protections, so you get the credit and make the money that is due you.
Simply put, you will (should) be starting and/or running a small business. If at all possible, your Legal and Business affairs should be set up and in place, with contracts signed by you to your own company(s), before releasing any product, in any way, shape or format to the Public, or, most definitely, before you sign a contract with anyone.
That way, when your creations are ready to be put out there, You’ll be Ready to put them out there – because all of your registrations and protections are in place, so you can make money, safely…
1st, You should definitely be thinking about having a protective “LLC” (Limited Liability Company), or similar, in place. You can often do this yourself by going to your state website if you are in the USA, but to play it safe, speak to a lawyer.
In addition to acting as a “shield” to protect you, your earnings, and your property, an LLC also makes you appear, and actually be, more professional. This in turn will attract, rather than repel, “the right” people, such as investors, companies, and people whom you may wish to do business with. And, it will keep away the people looking for an easy mark, because they will see you have your stuff together, “so they must know what they’re doing.”
Simply put, having a formal business structure such as an LLC in place not only protects you, but says to the world, “I am serious about what I do and becoming a successful enterprise.” That is, you are an “Up-and-Running” business. You’re not treating it like “a Hobby.”
By the way, if you’re looking for Investment money, nowadays, you all-but-need to have an up-and-running business for any major person, company, executive or investor to be interested in you. It will show you are legally and professionally set up, and you are serious about making your work a full-time career.
Just as importantly:
- “Copyrights,” which are there to Protect All of Your Creations, except for What May Be Covered by …
- “Trademarks,” such as Names, Titles, and Short Phrases,
- “an Idea”: You cannot protect
Note: all 3 of the above are covered in more detail towards the end of this section.
Again, don’t be Paranoid, but Do be Cautious...
Please take your time and carefully read the rest of the section. It’s your career at stake…
Note: If You have any questions about, or need more personalized guidance with your career, I am here for You! Please Email: GDCAC@professorpooch.com
Gain highly valuable insight into yourself and others,
as well as the all-important career knowledge
to deal with any and everyone who will appear
in either your personal life or your career.
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