Five Ways To Have A Crappy Coffee Date With Me

Hey, there!

I love coffee dates.

I offer to have coffee dates with almost everyone I come in contact with. Most are great. But the rare few can be crappy.

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Whether it’s someone wanting to learn how to get started in VO, someone who’s just arriving in LA to begin an acting career, or someone who want more information on Rehearsal, I’m all over coffee dates.

But, unfortunately, I’ve also watched actors squander their time with me, and I’ve noted those worst practices as well. Do any of these things, and you won’t get the best bang for your buck.

Here’s what you should never do on a coffee date.

[dropcap]1[/dropcap] You don’t take notes. Be warned. When we talk, I’m going to actually make recommendations as to how to solve your problem. I’m going to give you names of acting schools, the workshops I recommend, the kind of home VO equipment you can get started with, the casting sites you need to have a presence on, even where to go online to find a great apartment. Trying to act like our waiter and not write anything down is just plain wasteful. Bring a notepad, or your favorite smart device. Take notes. You never know when they might come in handy.

[dropcap]2[/dropcap] You remind me you’ve got a fine arts degree. Very few people in the business will give a rat about your BFA or MFA. No, I’m serious. Getting those degrees are great, and fun, and challenging, and will give you tremendous depth to your art, not to mention costing you a lot of money. But now, you’ve got a whole new set of courses to take at the UOR (University of Observable Realities) that has nothing to do with your mastery of Shakespeare, Chekov, Wilde, commedia dell’arte or 17th century costuming. Enjoy the time you spent in school, treasure it, cherish it. Now, move on to spending time perfecting the command of your chosen business, along with the environment and rules of your chosen production center location.

[dropcap]3[/dropcap] You denigrate the business we’re in. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I’m a theater actor – I would never do television or commercials,” or “Hollywood will suck you dry,” or “Networks/Studios are soulless,” or “There are no parts for actors like me.” Unfortunately, I’ve lost count. Part of me wants to scream at those people to leave LA and go do something that makes them happy. If you want to be an actor/VO talent/performer, learn to love (not just tolerate) the parts of the business that make you uneasy. Lean into the aspects of your career that are difficult, and learn to master them. I can help you.

[box type=info]Want to find out what TO do?[/box]

[dropcap]4[/dropcap] You defend your current theories and practices. I sometimes wonder why people ask for my opinion, advice or to share my experiences, yet remained married to the way they do things now. If you are as successful as you want to be, please, don’t make the coffee date about how to make your career better, more profitable or more successful. Just brag about how great things are for you and let me eat my bagel. But, if you want help, please be open to that help, and don’t waste any time being defensive about what you’re currently doing. At the same time, know that if you’re doing things that work, I’ll recognize that, and happily approve your choices.

[tweet_box]Don’t take notes, rely on your MFA, denigrate our profession, and two other ways to have a crappy coffee date with me: [/tweet_box]

[dropcap]5[/dropcap] You never follow up. After spending all this time with me, picking my brain for all that I know, you leave me in suspense wondering whether or not I’ve been able to help you. I don’t like one-night stands. I think that networking means meeting people, helping them if you can, and helping more down the line. Meet me once, then ignore me, and I’ll think I’ve been used. And don’t think you’re infringing on my privacy to drop me a note from time to time to let me know how you are – I want to know. I really do.

In the comments below, fess up. What mistakes have you made when you finally get a chance to meet a potential mentor? How did you fix them? What concerns you about taking advice from an industry veteran?

Hope this helps.


PS…as I’ve watch engaged, enthusiastic people make great use of their time with me, I’ve jotted down some of their best practices. I shared those with you in another article, which you can find here.

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hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and in today’s video I want to talk to
those of you who really enjoy the away
from language meaning you want to know
what problems to avoid when doing
something you know I said in an earlier
video there are two types of people
there are toward people and away from
people people that respond really well
to language that brings them towards
something that says okay here are the
best things to do the top five things to
do and then there are people who respond
to the away from language which is here
are the mistakes not to make here are
the things that will kill you and in
that video that I talked about it was
five ways of having an excellent coffee
date with me and I got some great
comments from people with some great
suggestions and I urge you to put some
comments and questions below this video
once you’ve watched it but in this one I
want to take the opposite AK and give
you five ways to have a crappy coffee
date with me these are the five things
that you probably want to avoid doing I
love coffee dates I love taking actors
who are new in town actors voice-over
talent performers in general who maybe
are stuck at a particular level if they
want to know about my experience and
they want to know what I think has
worked for me I’d love to share it with
them so what I do is I offer to take
them to lunch take the coffee I insist
on paying we talk about where they are
in their journey and we hopefully make
some breakthroughs who knows but there
are some things that I’ve seen people do
in these coffee dates that really kill
the buzz you know that really like make
it hard for them to take advantage of
what I have to offer and I’m not saying
you have to you know do everything that
I say you know take everything that I
say and anybody else says with a grain
of salt but don’t shoot yourself in the
foot by doing any of these five things
the first thing is you don’t take notes
that’s a great way to have a crappy
coffee day with me bring a notebook
bring something to write things down in
you know just something where if
something sparks you know you’re not
going to remember it especially when we
go to the kind of restaurants that we go
to where the food is fantastic you’re
going to remember that so make sure you
bring something to jot down
the answers to the questions that you
have another thing that kind of gets in
the way of things is when you remind me
that you have a fine arts degree like an
MFA or a BFA or you’re a doctorate or
whatever I I get that that’s a lot of
work and that that is a lot of of
studying and some great information but
I can tell you that nobody gives a rat
nobody sits there in a casting session
and says could you please tell me where
you got your degree from because that’s
gonna make a big difference it just does
it and it’s great that you have that
training but sometimes that can set you
up to say look I know what I’m doing
I paid a lot of money to get that
advanced degree so right don’t let that
get in the way don’t let that be the
thing that you use to defend what you’re
currently doing or what you don’t know
what to do yet okay so that’s number two
number three you denigrate the business
that you’ve chosen to be in like by
saying oh you know what I only I only do
Shakespeare yeah I only do it only do
stage work aye-aye-aye will deign to do
cable television high end cable
television HBO Showtime but yeah I don’t
want to do sitcoms kershel is what don’t
do that I mean we’re here to tell
stories everybody thinks that there are
some lofty things to do and some not so
lofty things to do and the truth is why
not just be somebody who tells great
stories whether you’re telling the story
in an IVR session of how somebody’s
overdrawn at the bank or an audiobook or
a commercial or an industrial film you
know be a great storyteller don’t
denigrate the business that we’re in
you’re gonna make money you’re gonna get
health you’re gonna learn things no
matter what you’re doing I guarantee you
if you play carrot number two in a
supermarket commercial you’re going to
learn things about the business you’re
going to learn things about acting I
know really from carrot number two yes
I’m telling you you’re gonna learn so
that’s three number four you insist on
defending what you’re currently doing
your current theories
practice you know if they’re working
great for you that’s fantastic and I’m
assuming that having a lunch with me or
a coffee with me won’t be all that
helpful but if it’s just what you’re
comfortable with if you’re just doing it
because you would rather be comfy then
move outside your comfort zone and maybe
advance to another level in your career
you know it’s a safe way to play it but
it isn’t going to be helpful it isn’t
going to be useful for you so try not to
defend what you’re currently doing
because my answer to you there is or my
question to you there is gonna be very
dr. Phil ish and that is so how’s that
working out for you you know why are you
asking me for help I want to help you I
absolutely do but set aside that and
just be open to what I have to say and
then finally number five you never
follow up it’s like I’ve met literally
hundreds of people and many of them have
stayed in touch followed up let me know
when they have successes when they have
challenges others have kind of like done
a drive-by and I’ve never heard from
them again now it’s possible that they
decided this wasn’t for them this wasn’t
a business for them it wasn’t a practice
for them but it’s also possible that
they don’t want to bother me they don’t
want to you know you’re you burp effect
you’re doing what you’re doing you’re
doing you’re pretty successful I don’t
want to like bother you bother me let me
know what’s going on with you let me
know what your successes have been like
what’s the accomplishments that you’ve
had get in touch stay in touch
I’d love that because that lets me know
that I’m on the right path I mean I base
what I tell people in my coffee dates on
what works for me and that’s all I say
is look this works this works for me
I’ve seen it work for other people I
think it’s the best practice see what
you think be open to it
right so now I want to know from you
what kind of really crappy coffee dates
you’ve had what kind of opportunities
for mentorship you had and it didn’t
turn out so well and was it you or was
it them or was it both of you what
challenges have you
faced you know what what would you never
do again
what would you love to see happen that
you hardly ever see happening put that
in the comments below if you have a
question about how to handle mentorship
and and how to be open to those kinds of
things that’s what coffee dates are all
about is mentoring people and so let me
know in the in the comments below let me
know what’s going on and of course you
can always subscribe to my channel just
click on my ugly mug over there my very
creepy evil evil villain ish mug or you
can see the latest video that I put out
on my youtube channel I’d love for you
to subscribe to the channel and you’ll
get them on a regular basis and in the
meantime I’m David H Lawrence the
seventeenth I thank you so much for
watching and I will see you tomorrow



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  1. Hi David.

    Just read your notes. Sorry for being MIA. Just been trying to take care of other life situations. I’m putting VO on the backburner for now, and am only currently giving my energy to auditions from my agent in that regard..

    Hope you have a great new year, and looking forward to reconnect in the future!

    -Arnold Tolentino

  2. I’ve not had coffee with you but when I’ve spoken to you at VO events you’ve always been a wealth of information and generous with your time. I couldn’t type fast enough to get your suggestions down so I used pen and paper!

  3. Hi David,
    Thanks again for great ideas and helps in the mentoring arena, both for mentors and mentees. I just started a MeetUp group for VO and have many folks that are wanting to get in the business and want help. This makes me very nervous, as I don’t feel that I have that much knowledge, but at least have lots of resources to send them. I do love to help people though. We’ll see how it goes! Maybe a future video could be on how to be a good mentor…

  4. My biggest mistake so far has not setting up a coffee date with you in the first place! I should have done it way back when I started as a pro. I now won’t hesitate to set up more coffee dates with my mentors!

  5. I truly love your 10 Professional Date Wise Tips!

    While I have always tried to practice most of those concepts myself, it was still good to be reminded how courteous, valuable and welcomed they really are, as well as admittedly add a “Whoops! I may have let that one slide or “Gotta pay better attention to that one!” Or even a “Should add that one!”

    And having been in similar situations where I have been sought out for advice, knowledge and conversation, I can so appreciate what you outlined so succinctly in such situations.

    Nice job and very well said!

    And ~ Thanx!

  6. Thanks again for these tips. I have never had a coffee date with you, but I appreciate your comment about follow through. So nice to know you really care about students’s success. Follow through is the hardest part for me, with you or agents, etc.. I always feel that I am being a needy pest by contacting except on a specific, current project.

  7. Everything David has written in this article is true, and I experienced first hand. Great sit down with a man with a lot of knowledge. I wish at the time I would have not been so shy and generated more questions but what he gave me I am keeping and using it. We all have a different story. And lastly, David wants you to succeed and don’t waste his time with a crappy coffee date. Be prepared and go expecting.

  8. Outstanding advice…as always. Next time we lunch (or coffee date) I will have pen in hand and notepaper at the ready. Every meeting with you is an education and a worthy degree!

  9. Hi David,

    Catching up on all of your videos now, thanks so much for doing this. This is a very informative video, and I appreciate it. I’d love to have coffee sometime!