March | 2013 | Topher Harless
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Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Art of Procrastination – Just Do Something

In the fourth grade, we had to make something called an Alabama notebook.  This was pretty in-depth for a fourth grade project.  It had to be a binder outlining in detail the entire history of Alabama.  Not only that, but you had to know every aspect of the state including the state song, the state bird, and the state flower.  Yes, there was a state flower.


The redneck state flower/weed.

This project was due around March in the second semester of school, so I had months to make this.  Did I take months to make it?  No.  Did I remember it a week before?  Absolutely.

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One Habit at a Time – Making Self-Discipline Stick

I tend to talk a lot about self-discipline. Why?  Because I believe that self-discipline is the key to success.  I think that once you know yourself and take control of your life, you can do anything.  Until then, you’re waiting on life to lead you into the right places and you’ll end up wondering how you got to those places.  You got there because you had no plan.

However, the problem with articles about self-discipline and ways to succeed is there is too much information too fast.  It’s easy to get excited about something that you’ve read and then to completely forget about it in a week.  The reason that happens is because we, or at least I, try to do too much at once.

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Marathon Training

About a year ago I started training to run a marathon.  Why?  Mainly, because I’ve always wanted to.  Not only would the training make me healthier, but only 0.5% of the US population has ever run a full marathon.  I wanted to be one of the few people who could pull it off.  I wanted to be one of the .5% that could make something that difficult possible.

In the end, however, I failed.  When my friend and I started training, I knew nothing about running.  I just knew that you should go.  So, I bought a good pair of shoes and started running.  The problem is, I didn’t do enough research.  I got to a place where I was running 8 to 10 miles every Saturday.  I felt great about it.  What I didn’t know is that I have weak knees and I needed to have special knee support wraps and better cushions in my shoes.

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Make People Like You

Six Ways to Make People Like You

Dale Carnegie

Rule 1:  Become genuinely interested in other people.
Rule 2:  Smile.
Rule 3:  Remember that a person’s name is to him or her is the sweetest and most important sound…

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Have a Personality

When I worked in casting I met great people.  I also met not great people.  Not to say they weren’t nice or that they weren’t good people.  They just weren’t great.

Some people would walk into the room and immediately not only shake my hand, but also drum up a conversation with me.  From the second they walked in the door the oozed of kindness and friendliness.  I actually believed that they wanted to be my friend, me, the lowly casting associate.  Other people only said hi and sat down and re-read their lines.  They didn’t speak to me unless they were asking me to get them something.  Not bad people at all.  They were just busy.

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Due Dates

I’m not great at getting things done.  When I was in college, if a paper was due on the 22nd of April, I didn’t even remember that I had to write that paper until the 21st.  I would get a text from a friend asking what book I cited for the paper and I would say something jokey like, “Get your own books!”  Then I’d freak out and write the whole paper in one night.


Why does this keep happening to me?!? Oh wait, it’s because I’m a moron.


At least that’s what I did when I first started out.  After a while I bought a day timer/ planner.  This saved my soul.  Then I started giving myself due dates that were months previous to when the project was due.  That would give me plenty of time to actually read through my paper and check for mistakes.

What a concept.

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How to Eat an Elephant

When I was in the 4th grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Dyson.  No she didn’t make vacuum cleaners.  But she did make me crazy.  She used to say one phrase over and over. I’d go to her desk with a math problem and she’d inevitability ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” and I’d have to answer, “One bite at a time” before she’d break it down into tiny pieces and walk me though the first step. It was a cadence that we had to say all the time.  I used to hate that.  Can’t you just help me without making me repeat your stupid sayings?

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My Three Jobs

When starting out I think every artist should have three jobs.  Sounds stressful right?  Well it is, but it’s a worthwhile process.

Here are the three jobs I’m talking about:

  1. Your full time job.  This is a job you don’t necessarily want, but it pays well. This is a job that you have to force yourself to enjoy.  This is the job that bank rolls your dreams.
  2. Your skill set job.  This is where you start your own business.  This is something that you’re good at and you enjoy.  It’s a job about creating something.  Photographs, making crafts, any hobby that you like doing.  This is not necessarily your dream job, but it’s a flexible job that pays well and you like doing it.
  3. Your dream job.  You don’t get paid for this.  In fact, you often have to pay for it.  You have to make it happen.  This is a job that you would do for free and you likely already are.

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Prioritizing Life

I’ve never been good at remembering things.   I tend to let things go easily.  Mostly, this is the worst when I’m texting.  I have this terrible tendency to be busy, see a text from someone and think to myself. “I’ll respond the second I’m not busy.”  Then I forget forever and people end up thinking that I’m a jerk.


Why doesn’t he answer my texts?!? Does he hate me???


Upon noticing that this is a common thread in my life, I decided to do something about it.  I started writing things down when I needed to remember them.  Not texts of course, I still clearly forgot those, but other tasks and things that I remember are important.  This is an example how my list started:

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21 Reasons You Don’t Need to Get a Job if You’re an Actor

21 Reasons you shouldn’t get a job if you’re an actor

  1. You love the taste of Ramen.
  2. You think welfare was made specifically to support actors.
  3. You use food stamps to buy protein bars.
  4. You think dental care is way overrated.
  5. Instead of going to bars, you’ve gotten really good at making your own moonshine.
  6. You can go to the bank and get all the free suckers you want.
  7. You only keep friends that wear your exact size in order to get their hand-me-downs.
  8. You think hot water is a luxury for lawyers and senators.
  9. Your parents send you gift packages with food that you can stretch out for a month.
  10. You love going “out to lunch” (AKA getting free samples from Costco).
  11. You find that living out of your car eliminates the need for roommates.
  12. You’re a professional at going to buffets and lining your packets with used zip lock bags.
  13. You’re version of steak is a “good can of tuna.” You know, the one with the white meat?
  14. You think having a bed is a sign of weakness.  The floor makes your back straighter.
  15. You know your neighbor’s password for everything is “Password.”  Free Wifi!
  16. You don’t need running water because you’ve mastered the art of cleaning your body with a wet wipe in a restroom.
  17. Due to the hipster movement, your glasses from the 5th grade are now stylish enough to wear again. No need in buying new ones that actually help you see.
  18. Your idea of a good first date is taking a girl to the Wal-Mart Aquarium (AKA the pet section to look at the fish).
  19. You call the hole in your ceiling from that falling tree your “sun roof.”
  20. You’ve named all your pet cock roaches.
  21. You enjoy checking your own prostate, medicating yourself with home remedies you find online, and finding medical students on Craigslist who need “practice” when your appendix explodes.

How to Make Job Connections When You’re an Introvert

As much as I say that I’m an extrovert, I have introverted tendencies.  A lot actually.  If I had a choice between going out after a long day of work to hang out with friends, or just sitting at home in front of a TV with some snacks, I’ll  always chose the snacks.  Why?  Because I love salty snacks and stories. It’s nice to get carried away in someone else’s problems for once.

The problem with my introversion is that I don’t make connections while sitting on my couch.  My TV isn’t going to get me a job contrary to those online college commercials.


You can be successful enough to sit on a couch just like this woman after you get your degree at


If I want to succeed in life, I need other people.  Plain and simple. Though, how do you go out if you don’t want to?  Should I just force myself?

Nah, just make it simple on yourself.  Start small.  What do you like doing?  What are your hobbies?  If you go online, you can find a multitude of groups to join.  If you like watching football, why not play football? There are several flag football leagues in LA.  If you like reading, why not find a book club?

The point is, you don’t have to be going to creepy industry parties at 2am where someone is doing drugs in the corner to make connections.   Most of the connections that you’ll need to find a job are going to randomly show up, like at your son’s soccer matches.  When I worked for Alexander Payne he told me that he found a girl for a role he was looking for because he heard some woman complaining about a neighbor.  How random is that?

Life doesn’t need to be as hard or as complicated as you’ve made it in your mind.  You can make connections easily by doing what you love.  You can’t make connections by never leaving the house.
That and you’ll be super lonely.  Trust me.  Lonely people eat a lot of cheese puffs.

photo credit: <a href=””>mskathryn</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>