Do You Want to Be a Star?

Auditions for the Food Network brought up a slew of discussions on my side of the fence. People came out of the woodwork asking for tips, advice, insight, and "Hey, do you own a video camera?"

Let's just say...there was a flurry of activity going on last weekend.

I've been a little philosophical lately, and it seems this is a good time to address some of those thoughts.

Here's something I realized:

Not Everyone Wants to Be A Star.

I bought into the excitement...and called all my favorite chefs and culinary mentors. "Hey! Auditions are on Tuesday!!"

The responses ranged from: "Are you kidding?" to "Look, I've worked in TV before...and it's not pretty. I'd never want to do that."

Since I have a tendency to go big, and I'm often in the center of all that media hullabaloo...their response baffled me. After a few heart-to-heart discussions, I learned that for them, it had nothing to do with a lack of confidence...but a crystal clear certainty about what their dreams were. And frankly, their dreams never involved chasing after TV or paparazzi flashing spectacles.

Truth be known, my motives were even more selfish than that. Two friends that I respect and admire beyond belief...create some of the most amazing food. I'd kill to work in the kitchen along side them, learning every step of the way. And if their cooking demos were bundled into a DVD set? All the better.

But what I've come to realize, is the same lesson I learned working in politics: The most talented guy...doesn't necessarily want to be President of the United States...or the next Food Network star.

But what did want to be a star?

Here's what I know:

If you have a dream, and you really want it, step up and bring your A Game.

I've preached that same spiel to chefs, aspiring restaurant owners, politicians, non-profit folk, leaders of industry--you name it. Across the gamut of occupations, if you've got ambition and you really want your spot in the limelight, nothing short of your A Game will do.

Auditions for the Food Network illustrate this perfectly. Over half the people who show up...aren't prepared. No photo, no audition tape, and the application is not complete. No considerations have been made for hair, make up, or what looks good on camera. And the announcement specifically says, "Be clear about your culinary point of view." This is not the time to ramble on about how you like good food. It's important to be concise...and precise.

Initial eliminations are very easy. Those who want it, figured out how to prepare. No question about it.

This is not the time to lobby with excuses.

When the big boys roll into town, they're here, they're serious, and you clear your calendar for them.

That's obvious, right?

Lord help the people who took in the applications. I would have loved to buy them all a drink. I'm sure they've got some great stories to tell....

The truth is, no one cares if your car broke down, or if you couldn't find childcare, or if the dog ate your homework. Professionals figure it out...and they make it happen.

It's just that simple.

Case in point: A friend of mine went to audition. Not only did she have her demo tape, a headshot (you think they're going to remember you without one? HA!!!!), and her application was already filled out. She walked up to the table with a complete package...and they were shocked!

I bet that made a great impression.

And you know what?

She's got a callback later this week.

The truth is, once you get access to your dreams, it's hard as hell. The learning curve is steep, and there will be a lot of people counting on you.

But before all that happens, you need to get past another series of hurdles. If you want to get close enough to even see the reality of your dreams, the first step...

Bring your A Game.

And leave your excuses at home.