The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 3 of 3)

A moment of clarity comes to Kevin and valuable lessons are learned

 (This is the third and final part of a story that tells the story of how I made a poor decision that left me unemployed for 11 months. For the first part read here. For the second part read here.)

Months had gone by and I still had no regular work. The bank account dwindling dangerously low. I was consumed with anxiety on a daily (if not hourly basis). Forward motion had come to a stop. I was doing anything, but addressing the issue, hoping beyond hope that some magical big break would come my way.

I would try to distract myself by taking the family out to eat or going to a movie, but would find my mind drifting during our outings.
We’re running out of money? What am I going to do? What kind of job can I get that will pay our expenses?

Then one day, while I was out, I had a very calm and gentle thought.

Kevin Gregg at The Golden Horseshoe Saloon at Disneyland

Kevin Gregg at The Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland

You need to go back to Disney
I was fortunate when I had left working for Disney. I had exited with grace and had not burned any bridges on my way out the door.
I started reaching out to a couple of friends who were co-workers and managers and asked if I might have a chance to return. They said it looked hopeful.
One afternoon I made a phone call to the head of casting at Disneyland. She was incredibly gracious and got me a part-time position in the park.
I was nervous coming back.
I had a lot of emotions returning to Disney. One was a feeling of failure.
I had left thinking that I was just moving on to bigger and better things. Now, I feared I would be met by fellow actors who would look at me disapprovingly and say sarcastically “Well, look who’s back!”
I did get some of that.
But mostly I was received with open arms by a lot of people at work. More than anything else, I felt some hope. I was given the chance to use my abilities and skills again.
I put my nose to the grindstone and took any work that came my way. Including those television extra jobs that I didn’t enjoy so much.
I was in a place where I couldn’t be picky about what I was doing. I was just grateful for anything that I could do.
Within a few months I started getting more work than I had ever had as an actor.
I was cast in more shows at the Park than before, and soon I was cast in more television commercial work than I had ever booked previously.
Something had broken through. Or what I should say, was that something had been broken… my pride.


The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 2 of 3)

(This is the second part of a story that tells the story of how I made a poor decision that left me unemployed for 11 months. For the first part read here)

After I had left my regular work at Disney in the fall of 2005, I thought things were going to go my way. We had some money saved up. I was sure that television commercial work would start pouring in.

I was so confident that I even turned down a seasonal opportunity from another theme park because I was going to leave that behind me.

My problem… I didn’t have a plan in place. I wasn’t in a regular acting class at the time or a regular group where I could exchange ideas about how to get consistent work.

I was just winging it.

Not having a plan in place was very detrimental. I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. Without a clear direction, I became easily distracted or overwhelmed by what needed to happen in order to book work.

Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of "24" (FOX) circa 2006

Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of “24” (FOX) circa 2006

I wasn’t handling it very well.

I felt guilty that I couldn’t seem to get things done so I started filling my days with anything and everything.  I started volunteering at the kids’ school, volunteering at church and just being involved in a myriad of different non-paying activities.

Volunteering is a good thing, but when you are not taking care of  basic income for the home it can cause its own problems. And it did. Before I knew it I found myself emotionally committed to things that had nothing to do with forward motion for my career. I was stretching myself too thin and getting exhausted. But at least I could claim that I was “busy.”

I also started numbing myself with food and booze. Not helpful. When you go to an audition for a television commercial, you don’t look too attractive when you’ve got a puffy face from booze and a poor diet.
I was fortunate enough to book odd jobs here and there. I did extra work for a few television shows but found the experience depressing and not very lucrative for a man trying to support a family of five.


The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 1)

A series of success early in my career made led to a poor decision

“Don’t compare your messy backstage with someone else’s front stage.”
I think sometimes we can look at successes that other people have and go “Wow, they have it really easy.”
No they don’t.
Everyone has their challenges along the way.
With that in mind I wanted to share a story about a rough patch that I went through back in 2005-2006.
Kevin in 2005 just before 11 months of unemployment

Kevin in 2005 just before 11 months of unemployment

It’s a story about pride, frustration, hopelessness, humility and ultimately just turning it all over to God.

I want to share this story because it shows how I made poor decisions in my career and life, but with God’s Help, Grace and Mercy, I was able to get me back on track.
Between 2002 to early 2005 I was having success working as a commercial actor. I’ll admit, it was nice. I wasn’t swimming in pools of money but I was starting to see results from working on television.
I had booked a series of national Dodge television commercials that had not only aired, but had been renewed, which meant I was receiving nice residual checks. My wife and I jokingly referred to this time period as being “thousandaires.”
There is something nice when you have money in your bank account don’t have to sweat it when the car suddenly needs repairs.
During this time period we were facing other challenges in our life. The most pressing issue was that our youngest son Duncan was diagnosed with autism. Receiving money during this time helped take some pressure off of us that we were feeling in the home.
But there was something else that was happening in my heart at the time.
I had developed a sense of self-entitlement.
“I’ve done all this hard work as an actor, some people didn’t think I would have success, and now I’m going through this hardship. I deserve this success!”
Maybe a nobel intent, but my mindset was not very charitable or humble mindset. It was more of a “I’ll show them” attitude. Pride was there.
Now that the work and the money was coming in I felt confident that it was always going to be like this. I had been working a number of years at Disney doing my shows and there were some behind the scene issues occurring that I let wound my ego. Instead of using these moments as a learning opportunity, I let my pride get the best of me.
I sat down with Kate,my wife, and told her that I felt that I was being led to leave my regular work at Disneyland. I was going to jump in head-first into being a full-time freelance actor.
Kate was hesitant of this decision. She asked if I would consider reducing my hours at Disneyland and still accept part-time work. I held my ground and said that I needed a clean break.
 To her credit, she supported my decision. She didn’t feel good about it but she trusted me. So I put in my notice at Disney, said my goodbyes, received my final check. We had a  farewell party at a friend’s house.
It looked like it was going to be a beautiful future filled with freedom and opportunity.
Little did I know at that moment that I should have heeded Kate’s reservations.
What was to come was going to be a very difficult 11 months for my family.
And I had no one else to blame except the guy that was looking back at me in the mirror everyday.
(To be continued…)

Is Netflix trying to hook you?

A vision of a "media pill" is not a good future

At a recent conference, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that entertainment is changing into something else. According to Hastings, movies and television are the changed versions of opera and literature. He envisions a future where media changes into a product that could be consumed, literally, as a pharmaceutical.

netflixpillA pill that someone would take in order to experience entertainment.

Yep, it’s true. You can see some of his comments here.

I say no.

When I hear a suggestion like that, I have a vision of people not engaging with one another, but instead isolating in a media hallucinogenic trip.

That is not the future. I believe that one of the purposes of art is to reflect the human experience and allow the opportunity for the Divine to speak to us. Art should point us towards working and growing together.

Even media that we might experience on our own (books, music, etc.) gives us the opportunity to talk to other people about our experiences.

Having a chemically altered experience that would manipulate our feelings and possibly drive us away from communicating with each other (“I can’t explain it, just take this and you’ll know what I mean”) is not an end we should be driving towards.

It doesn’t surprise me that this idea comes from the man who’s company gave birth to the concept of “binge watching”.

Be careful. Talk, engage, learn.


A Word of Encouragement

It starts in our homes. It starts in our churches. It starts in our communities.

It starts with talking with one another.

It starts with loving one another.

52647725 - religious christian woman looking trough the stained glass church window light.woman praying to god at st. alexander nevsky cathedral.finding serenity in religion,faith and hope concept.enlightenment

It starts with listening and discussing with one another.

It starts with action.

It starts with serving one another.

There is hope. There is a loving Creator who is calling you to His Purpose.

Heed His Voice. Help one another. That’s what He wants you to do.

You’ll get through this.

Pain is a part of the breaking down of those old parts of us, so we can make room for growth.

May God bless all of you today.


Inspiration to Get Through The Holiday Blues

The Breaking Out of Orbit Webinar returns to help move you forward

January used to be a very difficult time for me.

For years I would go through the holiday season starting with Halloween through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. It’s always a very busy time of the year in my industry.

It is a time that can be filled with joy, gratefulness and reflection. But for several years I would get through the season and be very depressed.

Part of it was realizing that I hadn’t accomplished the things that I wanted to do in the previous year. Part of it was feeling overwhelmed and being in the middle of winter and not having the inspiration to move forward. It was quite daunting. (more…)

How a 6 Minute Timer Helped Me Get Stuff Done

There have been many times in my past when I’ve let projects build up. Whether it’s housework or creative projects, at times, I’ve drifted away from showing up to do the work. When I finally decide that it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get back at it, I look at what needs to be done and I get overwhelmed. I think to myself “How am I ever going to do this?”

The work doesn’t go away, so I had to figure out a technique that would help me tackle it.

One article that appealed to me was about doing work in a 48 minutes segment and allowing 12 minutes of rest for each hour.

By The original uploader was Erato at Italian Wikinews - Transferred from it.wikinews to Commons by Fale using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

By The original uploader was Erato at Italian Wikinews – Transferred from it.wikinews to Commons by Fale using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Not bad, but even 48 minutes seemed too much for me. Then I started to break that 48 minutes down into chunks that I could work with.

I discovered that I could focus on anything for 6 minutes at a time. Once I did six minutes I’d check off a little box. Then I thought “Well, I can do another 6 minutes.” And I’d do it.

Before I knew it, I had hit 48 minutes and it was time for a 12 minute break and I had some work completed.

I’ve used different timers over the last year. Currently I’m working with the Pomodoro Time app which is based on the  Pomodoro Technique (pomodoro is Italian for “tomato”). This technique uses different time increments, but I can adjust it to my 6 minute segments.

I realize that I have tackled daunting tasks in the past, by just doing the work in little chunks.

A few years ago I was hired to be part of Castle Fantasy Fair at the Royal Theatre at Disneyland. A fun musical comedy style retelling of classic Disney stories like Beauty and the Beast and Tangled. I was grateful to be a part of this cast, but there was a challenge. I could do comedy, I could sing. However I’d never really done musical theatre dancing. I wasn’t sure how well I would do.

At the time, I paired up with a friend of mine who had also been hired, Mark McConville (from Superego), and together the two of us worked our tails off to get those routines down. I would film the other actors and choreographers performing the dances and I would go over and over and over it again. I would use my breaks. I would play the video in slow motion so I could build the routine into my body.

There were some days where I felt I would never get it. And then, slowly, it started working and I was put into regular rotation for the show.

I have such an appreciation for the celebrities that go on “Dancing with the Stars” who don’t know the first thing about dancing. I have gone through it myself.

But with continuous effort, focus, and just taking it a little bit at a time, that which looked unattainable and impossible was done.

I encourage you that if you are facing a task that looks to big, try the 6 minute technique. You’ll slowly start to make a dent in whatever it is that’s been looming over you.

I promise, you will make progress and you’ll feel better.

Do you use different techniques for tackling projects? If so feel free to share on my Facebook page.

Use Your Influence (No Matter How Old You Are Or Whatever The Circumstances)

A lesson from Akira Kurosawa's "Ikiru" (1952)

There is a concept that floats around a lot in the 21st century that, although it has good intentions, has been turned into something that I don’t think is very hopeful and encouraging for the human spirit.

The idea of “running out of time”, “being too old”, “being past your prime.”

It doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.

I understand the spirit in which these warnings may be given. Don’t squander your time or your resources.

Unfortunately, there is a negative effect that comes with this. People may feel that they have lost their opportunities in life, that the train has passed them by and all they can do at this point is throw in the towel.

I say: NO, NO, NO!!!!

You always have the ability to make an impact.

With this in mind, I remembered a great movie that example of using your influence and current skills, no matter what circumstance you may be dealing with…

“Ikiru” is a 1952 film by the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa who is know for “The Seven Samurai”, “Yojimbo”, “Rashomon” or “Ran” to name just a few. Though “Ikiru” may be overlooked, it has a powerful message that inspires one to move forward with our work and our influence, no matter how small it may be.


The film tells the story of a longtime Tokyo bureaucrat who has lived a life of routine and boredom.

His life is drastically changed when he discovers that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. At first there are waves of shock, fear, sadness and self-pity that overwhelm him. This transitions into an appreciation of life around him. But the last section of the film is that which truly inspired me.

This dying man has the realization that although his time is short he can try to make a difference in his own small way before he passes away. I would encourage you to watch the film if you get a chance. I won’t spoil the story for you, but his work makes an impact in the community and effects his younger co-workers to model his action.

“Ikiru” (which means “To Live”) reminds us that no matter how small our world is, or how restrictive our environment, there is something that we have control or influence over. We must find the strength, the support and hope to take action and make a difference.


Survive Without a Smartphone [Podcast]

In this episode of “The Discussion with Kevin Gregg”, Kevin recounts to Jeremy his experience of not using his smartphone for a few days while he was out of town earlier this year.

In this episode you will learn

  • how to set yourself for success while your smartphone is off
  • dealing with the withdrawals of not picking up the phone and unplugging from screen time
  • the benefits that come once you put the smartphone down


References in this episode:

Previous article How I Survived the Weekend Without My Smartphone

How to set yourself up for a successful night’s sleep

Deep Work by Cal Newport

The idea of subtracting yourself from social media

Creativity comes through restriction, limitation and simplification

Jeremey tells an awesome story of get down to bare bones of something with drumming with                     Peter Erskine

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.