Stephanie Palmer Taxy
Stephanie Palmer Taxy helps small business owners find more clients. She is the author of the book Good in a Room: How To Sell Yourself And Your Ideas And Win Over Any Audience. She has been featured by NBC's Today Show, CBS, FOX, NPR, Inc. Magazine, Forbes Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times.
Previously, Stephanie was the Director of Creative Affairs for MGM where she supervised the acquisition and development of twenty feature films. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and son.
“Part cheerleader, part mentor, part hard-nosed consultant, Palmer extracts important words and phrases from her clients like gold from ore.”
Good in a Room: Origin Story
Here's when things got really tough....
I had just finished working as an intern on the movie Titanic.
You'd think it would be easy to get the next job.
Not so much.
I interviewed to be manager/producer Jimmy Miller’s second assistant.
I interviewed to be Nicholas Cage’s third assistant.
Never heard back.
The interviews were terrifying.
“Do you know how to roll calls?” (I didn’t.)
“Can you take dictation?” (I couldn’t.)
I was so lonely.
Just before giving up, I reached out to a friend of mine from college who hired the temps for Jerry Bruckheimer Films.
She said I could pretend to be a temp and not get paid so long as we acted like we didn’t know each other. That way, if I screwed up she wouldn’t be punished for hiring a friend.
But that wasn't the hard part.
The hard part was the loneliness.
It seemed like no one else was having as much trouble as I was.
There was no map, no support group, and a line of people waiting to take my place.
My first day on the job I was told: "Assistants are like Kleenex. You just pluck one out, throw it away, and there's a fresh one waiting in the box.”
Fortunately, my desk sat right outside the main conference shared by United Artists (indie films) and MGM (big budget films), and I could hear all of the pitch meetings.
I got to watch the most successful people in the business pitch their ideas, convince stars to attach themselves to a project, get an agent on board with a script, or convince Jerry to give the greenlight.
I saw over and over how quickly executives, producers, and agents decide, “You’re a rookie.” “This person doesn’t get it.” “Next.”
I copied the pitching and meeting techniques that worked. Soon, agents would take my calls. Producers would meet with me.
Before long I got promoted to be MGM's Director of Creative Affairs, part of the executive team that would invest $100M-$200M annually to finance the production and marketing of 10-15 films.
I took more than three thousand pitch meetings (really), purchased 20+ projects, hired 100+ writers, and The Hollywood Reporter named me to their exclusive list, “Top 35 Executives Under 35."
Unfortunately, it seemed like the more successful I became, the less I enjoyed the work I was doing, and the 80+ hours a week, and being on-call 24/7.
It was like I was driving, knowing I was going the wrong way, but I was getting all green lights and so I couldn’t stop.
Then, I had been working on a proposal for three months. It was one of my best pieces of work. When I showed it to my boss he said, “This is terrific," and almost before I was out the door he changed the author name from mine to his and sent it to the CEO (he cc'd me on the email).
That was my "catalyst moment."
Then, one of the more senior executives on my team called me to ask for my notes on a script... from the hospital maternity ward... twenty minutes after she had given birth.
That was my "turning point."
Soon, I left MGM to start Good in a Room. I wanted to have some control over my life and my business, and I wanted to be on the other side of the table, helping writers and directors to sell screenplays, set up TV shows, and find financing (which I did).
I also worked with clients from outside Hollywood: coaches and consultants, lawyers and therapists, aerospace engineers, fashion designers, IT and cybersecurity experts….
...who had much more solvable problems.
Selling a movie to a studio is like making the NFL. It can be done but it's incredibly hard, even if you're a creative genius, and there's a lot of luck involved.
If you're in a non-Hollywood industry, you're good at what you do, and you're willing to learn a simple method to market and sell your services, finding more clients is a reasonable expectation.
Hollywood is a crazy business, but if you take the crazy out of it, when a writer sells their services to a studio or network, they are selling big ticket items (scripts go from $100K to $5M) and expensive services ($5K - $100K per week).
In my experience, the strategies writers use to sell their services in Hollywood work even better for service providers in other industries.
Sunyu Von Conrady
"I used Good in a Room for pitching brand-new online advertising trading models at Google. Now I am the go-to person for online video auction, and I have to hide because I am getting more projects than I can handle."
CEO, Glenair Inc.
"Stephanie delivers clear, useful advice on how to successfully move the good idea in your head into the other heads in the room. It is hard to think of a more valuable skill.”
Screenwriter, House of Payne, The Quad
"Applying Stephanie's techniques helped me acquire a Hollywood literary agent."
Screenwriter and best-selling author of Save The Cat!
“Stephanie Palmer helps writers to be good in a room — and she is the best there is. Success stories abound with this fun and enthusiastic method to pitch and win.”
"Stephanie connected the dots for me in a big way. She truly reveals the hidden code of what works and what doesn't when pitching yourself. I began to see where I had been right and where I had been really wrong when interviewing and pitching over the past 20 years. Since implementing her ideas, meetings have become effortless. I have literally booked every gig I have interviewed for, including one of the best projects of my career, and I have people offering me more work than I can handle."
“Stephanie Palmer shares her experience listening to thousands of pitches. Much of her direction about how to pitch well is counterintuitive, but it's dead-on accurate.”