Coming Close to Your Audience

Are you frustrated by your audience?

Do you wish you could just shake them and say,
HEY! I’m amazing!  Don’t you see me?

I mean, you are doing SO much work and putting out your
music
words
art

Aren’t they supposed to love and cherish you?

Do you wish they would just do what you WANT?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to just have a magic wand and they would come eagerly running and buy all your work?

You may be scratching your head and asking,
How do the most successful Artists do it?
How do they have raving fans?

Because I imagine, you would love the answer. You could stop exhausting yourself and actually build an audience you love as well that nurtures and promotes your work.

So, how do we go from wanting to control our audience, and feeling frustrated and overwhelmed to actually having them come running to US?

I have to admit something to you.

I have really struggled with wanting things to be different than they are.

For most of my 20 year career as a performer, I felt like I was waving my hand in the air and saying,
PICK ME, PICK ME!

Can you relate?

It felt like I was reaching out with my arms, seeking attention, my arms outstretched, all my energy going OUT.

And then when I would experience rejection, it felt so personal. 
Didn’t they see how badly I wanted this? 
Didn’t they know how much this meant to me?

I was so confused, and in this confusion my answer was just to try harder.  To want it even more…to SHOW them how hard I was working.

I thought if I just tried hard enough, I could control them.  I could WILL them to pick me. I would just place all my energy on being perfect and amazing, so I would stand out.

And I hit a ceiling.  This trying so hard only got me so far.  I thought the rejection would go away.  I thought I would finally book my first Broadway show.  And I didn’t.

I was devastated…..

Do you feel like you are doing this with your audience?
Do you feel like no matter how good you are, it doesn’t matter?

And this whole energy going out went on for years, and affected many other areas of my life where I struggled.

I would want people to be quiet on the train who were speaking loudly into their phones.
When I was dating, I would want the guy to specifically say what I wanted to hear.

And it even seeped into my meditation practice. In a quiet room, I would sit with my sangha in silence and meditate together.  Except sometimes people would fall asleep, or their legs hurt. It would drive me crazy to be sitting still and feeling my mind calm, to be completely distracted by the person in front of me fidgeting.

Oh man….even here I’m struggling.  I can’t seem to get away from this!

Until two weeks ago.

I did a weekend meditation retreat and it was the longest and most intensive retreat I’ve done.  My teachers had given a very specific instruction, which was when I felt myself wander, or difficult emotions arose to simply,
Move closer.

So, I settled in, and sure enough I had someone in front of me who was moving around.  I could feel that voice coming in, judging and saying,
Why are they doing that?
Don’t they know I need stillness?

And then I came close.  Literally….I shifted my energy on them and their actions, and came back to myself, sitting on the cushion.

And I felt something very different in my body, in fact I then had an awareness of how OUT of my body I had been in that moment and how QUICKLY I had gone there. My eyes had actually shifted up towards the person in front of me.

So, I came back to where I was, my actual experience, and lowered my eyes again.  Immediately the judging voice went away, and I felt a relaxation.

This happened again and again, and each time, I just brought myself back to me. 

Each time I would start to obsess on someone’s practice or actions, I would just come back to my breath, to my body in space sitting on the cushion.

And I began to remember and process all those moments as an Artist when I had NO awareness I was doing this,
When I would stay fixated on the choreographer who didn’t pick me
When I would stay fixated on the casting director who was looking at his phone instead of listening
When I would stare at the director during an audition, willing him to pick my headshot
When I would want the audience to cheer and they would barely clap

This was all actually OUT of my control.

And energetically, I was wasting my energy because what really ended up making the difference and caused me to have a total resurgence in my career was when I stayed IN my body and placed my attention more on my experience.

I had always heard my acting teachers say,
You can’t care about what they think…

And this always confused the HECK out of me!  But I DO care!  How am I supposed to audition or perform without my passion?

But, what I realize is they were actually pointing towards,
I can’t control my audience.

In fact, the largest lesson I learned in my divorce is, I can’t control another person.

That energy is wasted, which is why it exhausted me.

When we put all our energy on our audience, we are seeking validation, and validation is a one way trip to disappointment.  No everyone is going to like you or your work, and that’s OK.  This isn’t about pleasing everyone.

But most of all, when all of our energy is placed outside ourselves, we are lopsided.  We’ve all been in the presence of someone who is trying too hard, who just wants attention, and I imagine your reaction in that moment was to turn away.  It probably felt uncomfortable.

As Artists, we really need to learn how to receive, but in order to do that, we need to know how to BE in our bodies.  When you come closer, and stop obsessing about your audience, it means you are coming back home.

You are coming back to who you are as an Artist.  And you need to know who you are.  It may be the most important work you do.

Because when you can sit with who you are, with acceptance, then you will be relaxed.  When you are relaxed, then you feel safe to others.  And when you feel safe to others, they will come TO you.

Look at your marketing.
Look at how you are speaking and showing up to your audience.

Really assess where your energy is, and learn how to build lasting relationships that are healthy, not one-sided.
It begins with you.

Come close.

Photography by: Caitlin Cannon Photography

What’s in a Name?

Have you gone through name changes in your career?

Have you agonized on what to call yourself as an Artist,
your band
your show
your brand
your pen name?

We look at some of the most iconic artists who had those BIG names that just stand out, and wonder,
How did they do it?
Was it the NAME that brought them so much fame?

Madonna
Woody Allen
George Orwell
Lady Gaga

We get so much advice around our NAME, and sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to just ASK our audience…
does this matter?

Do you ever wonder if your own name is enough?
What’s in a Name anyway and how does that really play into growing your audience?

I’m asking because today is a big day…I’m actually at the Motor Vehicle office right now as you are reading this doing something I didn’t think I would EVER do again….and I wanted you to be one of the first to know.

I’m changing my name.

 

I remember when I got engaged the first time.  I was 21 and had stars in my eyes.  I was in my second to last year in college and preparing to move to the city and pursue my career full time as a professional performer.

I had grown up with Peterman as my last name, and had never really felt much connection to it.  Especially as an actress, I didn’t think it had that “ring” to it.

My soon to be married name?  That had flair!

Nikól Wolf.

It sounded exciting, a little dangerous, and edgy.  Nikól Peterman was going to become Nikól Wolf and I couldn’t wait to go into my first audition with this name.

I got new headshots, created my resume and moved to New York City, booking work so much I was turning it down.  This new name was GREAT!

 

Until it wasn’t….I started to really struggle with so many aspects of the industry.  The rejection was starting to wear on me, feeling like I had to have it all together all the time, constantly comparing myself to other dancers….and then even with my husband, who was also an actor.

He was a natural comedian, and even though I usually got cast as the funny character…I doubted myself.  My husband was the funny one, not me.  I had taken his name….this wasn’t mine.

I even created a personal email address that was “the other Wolf”…..I really wasn’t owning it.

I remember a teacher telling me,
when you walk in the room with your red hair and bright voice, people expect you to be funny!

I knew he was right….and it terrified me…because I didn’t think I was. I was starting to put up a mask, saying everything was ok, when it really wasn’t.  I started to panic.

And then the man who I changed my name for left me.

The name disgusted me….
It felt like something dirty I wanted desperately to wash off.  I had to wait for nine months before my name would officially change back to my maiden name, and in the meantime, I went by my middle name, changing my social media to:
Nikól Bardol

When the divorce was legal, I started the very long and arduous process of changing my name…it took YEARS.  For months, I would walk around with my divorce papers in my bag because everyone seemed to need to have them faxed, scanned, or look at to change my name.

With all the hassle, I swore I would never change it again.

And then something magical happened, I started to really get to know who Nikól Peterman was….who she had been, and who she wanted to be.

Out of the fog of extreme loss and pain, I started auditioning again, with headshots and a resume that had the name I had for the first 22 years of my life.

And I found out something radical….
She was funny
No, I mean she was REALLY funny!
And she was strong, quick, powerful.
She actually didn’t have to compare herself to anyone, because she was now clear what made her stand out.

And it had nothing to do with her name. It actually had to do with something far deeper….something that was constant no matter what name she had…..

I remember getting my new drivers license with Nikól Peterman on it, and being so taken by the wide smile of peace on my face.  I showed it to my therapist who asked to see my license picture that had been taken just months before my divorce.  She looked at the two pictures and said,
Wow, there’s a big difference.  The old picture you look so foggy. In this new one I can actually SEE you.

Oh.

Yes……in my new picture I was clear.  My eyes were bright staring straight into the lens with confidence.  Why?

Because I was no longer afraid to be seen….all of me.  I knew it didn’t matter what others thought…I knew who I was.

And it took re-connecting to my birth name to realize it never WAS the name.  I just needed to discover that I actually had all I needed within.

So, ironically, I was cast a TON with the new name.  I was cast as hilarious characters and stepped onto the stage OWNING my voice.  Broadway directors gave me free rein to PLAY, and I loved it.  There was no more mask.

In releasing the mask, I found peace in Peterman, and launched my company ZenRedNYC.

And then I met Chuck. And I fell in love.  Things were getting serious, and the question arose,
Will I change my name again?

I really took my time with this.  When we got engaged, I stared at the ring and opened the possibility.  I found myself remembering the headache of contacting endless platforms and providers to change my name…the pieces of mail that were STILL coming with Wolf on them and how I hated seeing that.

Maybe I would just stay with Peterman….

Then in June, I went on this epic trip to Alaska with my family to go bird watching, and started to have strong reactions to smells.  I spent a day in bed because I didn’t feel well, and my father looked at me and said,
I think you’re pregnant.

My hopes skyrocketed, and my fiance and I went to get a test….which was negative, and then I got my period. But something about feeling the possibility of life stirred something even deeper.

The next day, we were at the main gift market in Anchorage, and I looked straight at Chuck and said,
I want to take your name.

His face lit up like a Christmas tree.  He had never asked me to do this, but clearly, this was his vision. And I knew it was mine too.  My vision has always been a family name.

And now that I knew who I was, it didn’t really matter what my last name was.

On September 16th, I stood in front my closest family and friends and vowed to love Chuck every day, eyes open and awake…..much like that photo taken of me after my divorce.

In truth, this was the vow I made for my LIFE.

And that is what allowed me to finally be at ease in front of any audience of any size, and grow globally. That is what allowed me to connect to you.

 

So, what about you?
What does your name mean to you?
Have you made it more than a name?

Who are you REALLY as an Artist and are you claiming that and owning it?

 

As we approach the end of the year, take stock.
Change is constant.  What do you really need to grow your audience in 2019?

This is deeper than the “perfect” name, or a Facebook ad, or learning the latest algorithms.

Because at the end of the day, you are able to grow your audience when you are clear who YOU are.

So, I’m excited to announce and share with you this special moment.

 

Hello, my name is Nikól Rogers, and I’m so grateful to see you.
Truly SEE you.

Eyes open and awake.

 

 

 

Photography by: Dag Photography