It happens twice a week at Kate Mantilini’s restaurant on the edge of Beverly Hills between 9 and 10 AM. There, Madelyn Hammond, a Hollywood branding and marketing consultant, sits at her favorite table (not in a booth where people can overhear everything) and meets with Industry types recently laid off and helps them find their mojo again so they don’t have that stink of desperation. She calls herself “the patron saint of the recently whacked”. I call her Hollywood’s Job Whisperer. So far she’s met with about 40 former heads of studio divisions to screenwriters to assistants. She never advertises. She never takes a dime. It’s her way of giving back to the showbiz that she loves. “Some people feed the homeless. This is my way of being of service,” she recently told one of her coaching clients. On the surface, it may seem she’s saying all the usual stuff everybody knows. But it’s her signature Industry knowledge (she’s worked for 4 studios in various marketing and distribution capacities) that makes her advice unique to the entertainment biz.
She has found that most people when suddenly let go in Hollywood have issues of low self-esteem, anger, resentment. They fear being without an assistant, IT department, or creative services department. They don’t know whom to turn to. So she comes up with a battle plan. She insists they immediately make a business card and Facebook page (which she calls a virtual phonebook). “People have to know how to reach you. Your card is your new identity. It is the first step to making you whole again.” She advises clients to look again at their resumes. “Their resume has to tell you what they want, not just what they’ve done.” She says over and over she doesn’t help people find a job. Instead, she helps them get ready for a job. She uses the analogy of war. “It’s war out there getting a job. I’m getting you ready for battle so you don’t get killed. If you were going to war, you would have a bulletproof vest, helmut, flashlight, map, and walkie talkie. Well, your equipment now is a business card, killer resume, and bio, plus Facebook, Linked in, simple website, and, most of all, a great STORY.”
She’s constantly amazed that people suck at telling their own story. “They can’t look you in the eye. They’re freaked out. When it comes to the story, unless you can look me straight in the eye and clearly articulate in one sentence what you looking for, then you won’t get a job.” She’s tough and uncompromising and tells it like it is. “If you’re looking for a job, then be clear on the title. I don’t have time to create a job to fit your dream. You need to fit your skills into a box on my organizational chart.” She tells everybody they have to practice over and over what their story is before they venture out publicly in Hollywood. “You have 30 seconds at an Industry event to hook me in. Otherwise, I’m going to get another drink. It shouldn’t be just a chronology of every place you’ve ever worked. Think of your career like a movie. What makes you like a movie? You care about what happens to the characters. Well, make me care about you. Otherwise, I’m gonna go get more hors d’oeuvres.”
In case you were wondering, yes, Madelyn got whacked herself when she was laid off as Chief Marketing Officer at Variety even though she was one of the best execs at the trade paper. Her goal is to get the recently whacked ready to walk through that door again. She worked with one guy, did his resume and business plan, and he just began work at Disney. “Guess what? I couldn’t have done this without you.” One time she tried to coach an exec who just kept arguing with her. “This is not a debate,” she told him. “If you’re not going to listen to me, I’ll leave. You have to be open to new ideas.” It turned out to be the best post-career-shift meeting she’d ever had.