Wish you could script your life like a movie? Well, my friend Kristina Paider tells us how in her book “The Hollywood Approach: Script Your Life Like a Hit Movie and Live Your Wildest Dreams.”
Kristina Paider – known as “KP” – is a world-class marketer and storyteller. Her track record includes overseeing the marketing and research for a $15 billion global hotel advisory company and prior to that, two hotel tech companies, all while moonlighting as a screenwriter. Her action-thriller script is on the way, too. She travels by motorcycle, jumps into waterfalls, and is a guest chocolate chef.
In this fun and personal chat, you’ll hear how KP got over her own panic attacks and heartbreaks, and through the art of the story found new ways to make powerful choices about her own story, which she’s now sharing with us. One of my faves is to embrace your flawsomeness —watch for more!
Get Clear With The Hollywood Approach: Meet Kristina Paider
(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links, which means if you buy here, Amazon puts a few cents in my account return. But please buy the book wherever you prefer.)
Here’s a transcript of our chat
It’s slightly edited for readability, but since we humans speak differently than we write, I’ll ask you to forgive errors of grammar or repetition.
If you ever thought that life was like a movie, then you really need to meet Kristina Paider. Kristina is the author of The Hollywood Approach to help you live your wildest dreams, and then script your life like a hit movie. So Kristina, welcome to Red Cape Revolution.
Thank you so much Darcy. It’s great to be here.
Kristina and I had a chance to meet through our mutual publisher and actually share an editor. Kristina, tell us a little bit about your your background, because you’ve had a lot of corporate jobs, but also worked in Hollywood, hence The Hollywood Approach. Tell us about that.
Sure. I began my career as a journalist, actually, and quickly discovered that I was not the greatest at telling a story in 30 seconds or a minute in TV news. And so I transitioned to advertising and then marketing, and that was my corporate career. But I found my real passion, I think, my real love at 27 at the behest (I don’t know where that word came from, I never used that word) at the behest of my recruiter.
She sent me to take a screenwriting class, she’s like, you’ve got to write movies. And so that’s how that started 23 years ago, and it became like a platform and a foundation that informed all the rest of the things I did. So it influenced marketing and influenced how I lived my life. My professor always said, Kristina, to write you have to live.
So all of a sudden, my my decisions and actions, I became so much more conscious of what I was doing in my late 20s. And I went on to, you know, to bigger and better corporate marketing jobs, and then eventually left that world in Chicago moved to LA to focus more on screenwriting, to do more consulting and I became a story analyst in Hollywood, which is great fun, and over the years, have analyzed 10s, of 1000s of scenes to just see whether the scene was legitimately getting a character from point A to point B.
That naturally bled into my life and continued to inform my life and life decisions. Is this decision moving the character forward and toward their goal? Or is it something that’s going to inhibit them? And of course, in Hollywood, we keep the drama in the screenplay, hopefully. And in real life, we just try to do all the plus, all the things in the plus column.
So you, as you’re learning this craft, and working on all the stories, when did it hit you that that was also how real life kind of works? I mean, maybe without it all being done in 90 minutes or two hours, but where did, where did that where did it just strike you to say this could actually apply to my real life and could apply to other people’s real lives too?
I think right away, because I think I was engineering backwards and forwards. In the beginning, I was writing an autobiographical movie script, which many people do. And it sort of became a therapy session for life. And it was sort of long and drawn out and didn’t really have a goal the character didn’t have. So I learned a lot about both life and writing for marketing and for film, you know, that the character really has to be set on their goal, or that is not a feature film, like there is no story if the character is unclear on her goal.
And that really kicked into high gear my second year, like a year into screenwriting, when I had a devastating breakup, a devastating breakup, and I was just, it was one of those and I never had one of these before, but it was it was the one that where you wake up and you’re crying every morning and you can’t control it, it’s coming out of you like like a sneeze or something is like, like a physiological eruption every morning for an hour. I mean, it was that was almost movie worthy in and of itself, like in a telenovela sort of way.
But after about a month of that, I was like, I am miserable. And I’m going to my screenwriting class and my professor is still saying to write, you have to live. And so this is confluence of all these things. I had a bunch of miles and I’m like, I gotta get out of here. Like, I’m like, I need to change a venue, so I decided to go to, on a trip to Europe and where it ended in Capri Italy. And, and I met a person of interest, shall we say.
I came back home, like a day, the next day or something, and, and I thought, I came back home and I was like, I do not want to be here. I am not, I am not, I am no longer waking up crying my eyes out every morning. But I still do not want to be here. And so four days later, and I had friends that were making fun of me. And they’re like, well, the next time you do something like that you better invited us. And so I showed up at lunch the next day, and I’m like, put your money where your mouth is I’m getting back on the plane on Thursday, who’s in?
I returned to the scene of the crime in Capri and just cliff diving doing all this crazy stuff. But the point of all of that was just, what a great choice! What an epic choice. And everyone I worked with in the hotel industry, then everybody’s like, what are you doing? What happened? Like, who is this person and tell us all about, you know, they were just so enamored. It was such a better story to be living than this heartbreak. And I think that, I mean, that was just it, it was just a better story.
And that is not in the book, — I was like, wow, what a great choice that was. That that was around the time that “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” came out. And I can’t remember I’d have to look up and see, if Stella went first to Jamaica or I went first to Capri. I don’t remember. And I don’t remember when I saw it in relation to this story. But the point is making conscious choices and taking conscious action toward what we’re doing with our lives.
Right? You know, one of the things that I write and talk a lot about, and is that, you know, you only control three things, everything you think, everything you say, and everything you do, or at least you can make a choice about those things. You know, and I love what you’re saying around, if the story that you’re living isn’t working for you, how do you make a different choice? You know, how do you, how do you just have a different intention?
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be jumping on a plane to Capri, or jumping off a cliff or something, but making making a little choice to move you in the right direction. And you also said something to I thought was interesting. It’s like the character has to have an objective. I know sometimes that you work with people who say I don’t know what I want, and that comes up in my work, too. sometimes. It’s like I could do anything I want if I only knew what it was, but I don’t know what it is, so I won’t do anything. So tell me, where do you start in that kind of situation? And where does The Hollywood Approach start to be able to take somebody, to get into action, to be able to make start making some choices?
I have a saying that I use all the time, which is in writing and in this personal development work, which is we go with what we know. Very simple.We go with what we know. So, okay, what do we know we want? We know something and so sometimes that’s a great dialogue and sort of challenging question. It’s like, okay, I don’t know what I want. Well, you must know something about what you want, like what do you you know, we can start with likes, dislikes. You can start with what you don’t want. You can start with where you’re at.
In my 20s in my career, okay, I’m a manager, but I want to see how high I can go and it’s okay, but it’s not great. Well, what makes it, just okay? And what would make it great? It’s kind of peeling away one step at a time. I think a lot of times we want to think that there’s a magic bullet, or there’s like one big thing. What I’ve learned through this work, and certainly screenwriting informs that, is that there are, there can be hundreds of little nuances to things.
And so one of the secrets is, is paying attention to those nuances. Instead of looking for the big car explosion or the big, you know, leaping off of a tall building, you know, this big, big thing. It’s like, yes, there might be that big thing at some point. But if that’s not where you’re starting, we’re starting and we’re not sure what’s happening, the place to start is with the smaller nuances and pulling them out. And then of course, we put that into a SMART goal format. That’s the start.
Starting with what you know. One of the things you talk about and I think we’re, you know, we’re sort of sisters of the soul on this, is around strengths and superpowers, those positive aspects of who we are and getting to know those, you also add something to your character, to you know the person going through The Hollywood Approach that I think is so fun. I want you to tell more about it. It’s called Flawesomeness. Tell me tell me about Flawesomeness.
Yes. Flawesomeness is the highly scientific equation of our flaws, plus our awesomeness. And one of the things I talk about in story, whether it’s business marketing, or our own personal story is we, we are dimensional, we are three dimensional. It’s very old school to try to tell a business story or a personal story, the old school way where everything is, I, you know, oh, I had this breakup, but then they just bought a ticket to Capri and I went there. And then I stayed there. And then I was happy again, you know, that is very…..
Magic wand. Right?
Right, magic wand. And so when we look, we dig a little deeper. It’s important to understand our flaws and all the character flaws. And so I use a lot of movie examples. In the book, I use Erin Brockovich, I use Jason Bourne. I use Akeelah Anderson to sort of help open the doorway and help us be comfortable acknowledging our own flaws.
So if you look at mine, in that scenario, I was maybe procrastinating or waiting for an answer to show up. Just waiting for the misery the complete misery to stop. And I maybe waited longer. I don’t know, like, I don’t like to “should” people. I like to really encourage people to observe, and not judge flaws. Because flaws can also change from scenario, from story to story and situation to situation. But just observe, because that’s information. And from information comes our innovation to make different choices.
So maybe we could say, okay, I wallowed a bit long, or I didn’t think quickly enough, what is my goal? Or I wasn’t asking the right question. And maybe I could have asked a better question sooner, which would be how can I heal from this? You know, this devastation faster, for example, just you know, just kind of throwing out examples that people can probably relate to. I mean, they’re all relative, right? Anyway. So that is, you know, is Flawesomenessand it’s important to understand our own flaws.
When we are in a major story, and we’re trying to make a major transformation, we have more information, both from our past and from our current situation, as it relates to our goal. If I have a tendency to be indecisive, or to need somebody outside the jar to read the label, and help me ask a better question, I can get that person on the scene in the story faster in the next story. So that’s where flaws come to help us prepare for, I like to say fast forwarding success. But it’s not always about moving fast or you know, being faster to the punch here but but it is relieving suffering or moving forward and you know, just suffering less than what we could. What if what if I could have made that decision a week earlier? Would that have helped me? Maybe, maybe not: again observing, not judging.
I love that observing, not judging and you know, it also I think, the embracing the idea of Flawesomeness as opposed to thinking, well, that’s where I always screw up, or that’s the mistake that I made, you know, I think of that as mining your mistakes, you know, but the the judge in US becomes so strong that saying, Hey, this is what I know about myself that you know, that is Flawesomeness and but but it was interesting that you said about then anticipating it and preparing it saying what, what other characters then do I need to be in the, in the show, right?
One of the things you talked about in the book and I love this, that you shared a lot of your own journey as well as sharing examples from you know, your clients and examples of movies that we’ve we’ve all seen or if we haven’t, it’s time to go back and see him again. But you know, you talk about some of your own hurdles. You look good on paper, you have this nice glamorous career, but it hasn’t been always easy for you and I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about, other than just, you know, the heartbreak and going to Capri? You had some other hurdles you talked about in the book that also help helped inform where you’re, where you are now and where you’re going.
One big story that I follow through the book is my experience, getting, out of the blue, panic attacks in the water. They started after I led a rescue of two boys in a riptide in Mexico. And they got over a 10 year period, they got increasingly worse to the point that in the beginning, in the very beginning, I noticed it slightly after the rescue happened after that first trip to Capri, then I went back and I lived in Rome for a while, took some of my friends to that same place in Capri and we were, cliff diving. And that’s when I noticed it the first time.
I was like, at the beginning, I was jumping off cliffs and doing my crazy stuff that I always did. I’m a, I’m a lifelong water lover since I was a baby and I was a water skier and a certified diver and all that, you know, all these different things. And so it’s important to understand that context. So to go from the crazy stunts that I would just have a blast doing and be second nature to me to over a 10 year period, to I couldn’t put my foot in a pool without feeling like I was going to be suffocated to my own death, was very dramatic.
When I had, I had this fateful panic attack one day, and there was no clear path forward. That is really the crux of why I wrote this book for other people. When they hit that moment of, I have no idea what to freakin do next, like there is no clear answer. There’s no googling, like, Hey, you know, what kind of elderberry herb should I take to come this showdown or whatever. Right? And I would have taken it, just so everybody knows I’m not making fun of the herbs.
At the time, I was a story analyst, I was literally I was reading scripts, scripts, and scripts and scripts every week in my office, in Hollywood on Avenue of the Stars. So the crossover was very apparent to me at that time, I was like, I have to do something. And I didn’t know what to do. And I was seeking and opening myself up, I did the whole thing where I’m like, okay, all gods from all religions and guides, and anybody listening, anyone who can hear me like I’m looking for what to do. And it, I know it sounds ridiculous, and maybe it is, and sometimes those are the best ways forward, right?
I read about this place in the Dominican Republic called 27 Waterfalls, and it’s where you hike up for two hours, and the only way back down besides helicopter rescue is to jump into those waterfalls. And by the way, there wasn’t a phone that gets reception there. So you kind of only have one way back down. So I but I read it. And I felt in my you know, in my gut that that was the thing for me. And maybe that’s maybe there’s some kind of analogy there with my one way, international tickets to exotic islands, that could totally be something I’m not sure. But, but I came and did that I came and did that like, within I think, a couple of months, or within a month maybe. And that’s what that is what I did.
But along the way I was doing a lot of other work, I was really clear, because that’s a very dramatic thing to do even for, even for a Hollywood person. It’s a very dramatic thing to do. But I, I you know, sort of checked in with myself several times. And like is this the thing? I felt that it was a form of exposure therapy that compared to the other things I was doing, which felt like Chinese water torture and what I was trying to do for myself by to get comfortable again, would work. I was very clear that it wasn’t only for me, but it but the day that I led the rescue of the two kids. No one else was willing to go in the water. And I thought I don’t know how I could survive another incident like that if I didn’t do everything humanly possible to get better to treat myself or to get better. Whatever! Whatever you want to call it. I don’t think I could be a witness and not not an active participant. It’s just not how I was raised with water safety.
It was very, very clear and also, swimming was one of my favorite and I think that was the urgency for me, was my favorite thing to do with my niece and nephew and they were going through a bit of a rough patch with their parent’s divorce. And so we have a trip coming up and plan to be with them. But it really scared me, the idea of me not being able to swim with them, or not being able to keep them safe in the water really freaked me out. It was really in congruent with my identity. So those things led to this dramatic and drastic decision. And I think they’re also what fueled me when I got to the seventh waterfall. Really every part, every, every cell in my body was screaming like, this is not right,
7 out of 27. So yeah……
Yeah, it was the big one. It was like the Big Kahuna, the big 30 foot jump. But so those are the sorts of things that went into it. And I and as you know, and I know you’re working inform us too, there’s so much of our actions and decisions are predicated on our subconscious mind. And what I learned later, I mean, I didn’t really know all of the the neuro research that was really just coming out as this was developing for me, but how important story is and how, like our subconscious mind is 1000 times faster than our conscious mind. So it works way, way faster. And our subconscious mind makes like 95% of our decisions. So not to get into all these statistics and numbers and stuff. But those are pretty major, major numbers. Like it’s telling us that our subconscious is running the show. And that’s the level that story works on.
So for example, if we see How Stella Got Her Groove Back, going back to a little bit lighter thing, you know, a lighter topic. Okay, she’s having fun, she’s buying her tickets to an exotic island and things are working out, okay, like somehow like that, that influences our subconscious mind and our beliefs. And depending on how much we you know, focus on that and influence, we allow that to influence us and so forth. So I was concentrating a lot on my niece and nephew. I couldn’t, get the riptide rescue out of my mind. I mean, I wasn’t really think meditating on that, or anything like that. But it was just something that never left me. It was a “what if” that never, that never ever left me. Never just, never left my soul.
So I think what happened on this journey, when I went to do the jumps is that I had the benefit of having, I have for lack of a better term or a term we haven’t made up yet, but nurturing my subconscious with the with these success stories, with who I saw myself to be, with who I believed myself to be, being really connected to my why for not only my own family, but for future strangers that, you know, that might need help, and for my future own self.
One of the things that I think, I’ve learned, or maybe it was reinforced, like, especially in this past, you know, we’ll call it a year, it’s been more than a year, we’re recording this sort of bit, the middle of 2021. And, you know, we’re not out of the COVID woods, and all of the different things that are echoing from that. And recognizing that even when you meet somebody or you talk to somebody, and it seems like, well, they’ve got it all together, you know, everybody has, everybody has their 10 year panic attack story, or there’s something that happened to them.
Just knowing that, I think one of the interesting things about the approach of taking it from a story and from what’s my character, as opposed to what do I need to do? Like, what’s my character need to do next? You know, it makes a serious subject, accessible, and, and I think it’s even fun.
I really love, you know, what you’ve done with the book, The Hollywood Approach. And I know that you’ve taught this to people and, and so, you know, I’m curious. And, Kristina, as we wrap up, what’s, what’s one message that as you’ve worked through this yourself and taught other people, what’s the one thing that you want people to know, you know, that you’ve learned about, you know, what’s possible in getting closer to their character and making active choices.
I think it’s really, with that framing of getting closer to your character and making choices. It’s it’s the concept of observing, and practicing, observing, not judging. And you can notice yourself doing it if you don’t notice it with yourself. You can, you maybe, you may notice it, you may notice yourself doing judging other people first, or you may notice judging yourself first, it doesn’t matter. But either way, the practice of observation of “Hmmmm, you know, that car in front of me seems to be breaking fast.”
As opposed to, as opposed to some other more active, more active profanity!
More active profanity, or something else but but that is a good place, that’s a good place as any to practice in traffic, but there seems to be some distress. And practicing this calming voice can also really be reassuring to yourself, it can be validating, you know, we forget the art of validation and reassurance to our own selves sometimes.
And sometimes we just need that, continuing on my path. It’s a practice and you can notice different levels of your own ability as you go on in time. And I think that that’s something really beautiful when you can, because the more you observe others, the more you observe yourself, and vice versa, the more you observe yourself, you will be observing others and observing is is an expanding modality, whereas judging is a contracting, it’s a finite: oh, that jerk in front of me is breaking all the time. And he’s probably texting and whatever.
But observing is expanding, it’s coming at something with more love. And that is a higher vibration. It just it opens up your opportunities and it opens up your choices and actions for what’s next. And that I think is what is important when we’re trying to figure out our path, is giving ourselves more choices.
And who doesn’t need more love and more fun and more movies and more positivity? Yes, please. More please. Hello, universe. So Kristina Paider, The Hollywood Approach is the new book. Thank you so much for being here. I so appreciate getting to know you and hearing more about you and really encourage people to grab the book. A purchase of a book is like a vote for the author’s work and all that she’s gone through. So, thanks for being here with us at Red Cape Revolution.
Thanks so much for having me Darcy, what a pleasure.
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