Time Away blog post

On a trip to Los Angeles, I came across the car wash where I had a conversation with a famous stranger that changed my life forever.

(Here’s the story as I told John Lee Dumas on this Entrepreneur on Fire episode – his tenth most downloaded episode ever :-)…

Let me tell you something. 

Anybody out there who has tried to make it in Hollywood, when you’re out there broke, man, you just feel like such an outcast. There’s money all around you. Nobody talks to you in Los Angeles. Nobody really talks to each other that much, but if you’re broke, they can sniff it on you.

You don’t have a chance. Don’t bother anybody.

One day I’m out there and I’m miserable. I don’t even know what I want any more out of life. I backed off of stand-up. I got close enough to writing on a sitcom that I realized that world seems phony. I don’t think I would dig that. 

I am sitting at a car wash on Ventura Boulevard in North Hollywood, California. I’m waiting for my car to come out and I’m broke, miserable, and confused.

A woman sits down next to me on the bench. She says, “What a beautiful day. Isn’t this a great day? I just left Chicago, and it is cold and miserable there.”

I thought, Is she talking to me? She’s speaking to me.

I said, “Yeah, wow, great. Yeah, it is a beautiful day. I’m from Chicago. What were you doing there?” 

“I was actually on the Oprah Show.” She was an eccentric-looking older woman, and I thought maybe she was a medium or something. I don’t know.

“What were you doing on Oprah?” 

“She was doing a show called ‘Where are They Now?’ and I played a character on a show called Bewitched. I was Mrs. Kravitz.” 

This was a very famous sitcom when I was growing up. I knew who she was. We start talking. 

She says, “What are you doing out here?” I told her the whole miserable story. 

She listens. Her first reaction is to do the Hollywood thing and she says, “You know what, I am going to give you my agent’s card. If you want to call him, tell him we met and that I think he should talk to you but I don’t know if that’s really what you should do.

“I am going to instead give you a piece of advice that my husband used to give to people all the time. He used to say, “Sometimes in life, to discover what you do want, you have to start with what you don’t want.”

Man, it was so simple but I never thought of it that way before. 

Immediately when she said those words, I knew what I didn’t want was to be in LA broke and miserable with no direction in my life. I packed everything back into my trunk and I just left. It was the first time in my life I ever loaded up my car and moved without knowing where I was going. 

There are two kinds of freedom… freedom towards something, and freedom away from something.

If you feel trapped, be sure to look in both directions before deciding your next move. 

You can do it. 

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