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Backstage Experts

What Actors Can Learn From Door-to-Door Salesmen

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What Actors Can Learn From Door-to-Door Salesmen

One summer, during my college years, I was a door-to-door book salesman. I truly hated it—I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone! However, one thing has stuck in my mind from the days I spent in training for that job. Our trainer used to always say: “Every ‘no’ gets you closer to a ‘yes.’ ” The trainer acknowledged that we would have many doors slammed in our faces, and we would probably be intimidated, fearful, and discouraged. He said, though, that you could keep your spirits up and keep going if you just remembered the odds: Most people would not buy the product, but some would. That meant that you would mostly hear “no” and occasionally hear a “yes.” Every time someone said “no” you were to thank them, for they brought you one “no” closer to that “yes” you were definitely going to hear!

This is a great life lesson, for you as an actor and as a person for anything you set out to do in life. When you interview a representative, and they are not interested in working with you; when you keep auditioning and still do not get cast; when you invite industry people to your show and no one comes—these are all versions of hearing “no.” If you are persistent, if you keep at it, and if you make sure you are good at what you do, sooner or later you will get that “yes.” You will get the job, get that representative, etc. When you do something, don’t get discouraged each time you hit a roadblock, or hear someone say “no.” Keep at it, and all those no’s will lead you closer to getting a “yes”! 

Robert Curtiss, a former psychotherapist, works at Essay Management with personal manager John Essay, whom he helped to create TheActorsGuideToEverything.com.

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