Men.com.au

Business Marketing

.


Max Belmonte has always loved acting, but he had to dig deep to find the courage needed to make the leap from his corporate career of 20 years to the world of acting.

“Jumping from a stable career to the very unstable world of acting seems like a crazy thing to do for a lot of people,” said the actor, now firmly established in the world of showbiz. “But it’s always been my view that life’s there to be lived, and it’s better to have tried and failed than not try at all and be left wondering ‘what if’.”

Though the conventional wisdom is that as people get older, they change jobs less and less, it may come as a surprise that the average age for switching careers is 39. Top reasons cited by those wanting to make the change included feeling unhappy in their previous job or industry, a desire for more flexibility and a need to feel challenged by their work. Notably, late stage career changers did not make their decision on whim, they’ll have spent an average of 11 months thinking things through before taking action.

“I began by taking smaller steps while working my job at the time which was as simple as enrolling in a course after lunch, networking, and finding out as much as I could. I attended seven seasons of the Sydney Theatre Company and countless premieres with artist Q&As before I accepted it was time to make the change,” said Max.

For many men, having their identity tied up in their jobs adds an extra layer of complication, and gender stereotypes of acceptable roles for men like that of the married, financially stable businessman still strongly persists.

“My lifelong dream was acting but it took me years to get to a point where I felt like I could pursue it,” he said. “It was vital for my mental health to be true to myself, and fortunately for me it paid off.”

Building the courage to go for what you want

“I wasn’t always confident,” admits Max who spent his formative years in Melbourne, “in fact up until my senior years at high school I was really shy, particularly in new situations. If you told the younger Max that he would be DJing live to air on radio, acting on stage and screen, and negotiating in a sales role he would turn bright red and run away.”

He cites his early career experience as a PR rep for a community dance music station as the catalyst for his blooming self confidence. Though he would suffer from setbacks throughout his career, he nevertheless lived by the mantra “fake it til you make it” to hone his public speaking and presentation skills.

“I was my own worst enemy at times over analysing situations where really, I could have just followed my intuition,” said Max. “It’s so easy to spend too much time trying to push yourself to be perfect over everything. To combat this I make sure I have a clear objective, that I am dedicating enough quality time to a task. This may even mean having the discipline to be able to stop, break, and come back to something.”

Last of all, it pays to develop good people skills and foster emotional intelligence. “It’s never a good thing to spend too much time in your head. You’ll feel so much more secure when you realise everyone’s got their own struggles and to focus on building connections with people instead of fixating too much on what you might be doing wrong.”

The other essential stuff

For Max switching to acting after spending two decades in the business world had its advantages too. Years of climbing the corporate ladder had armed him with a can-do attitude, organisation skills and a solid sense of self-belief.

“Confidence is just one half of the equation. Success really comes hand in hand with discipline,” said Max. “The trajectory of someone self-employed often lands entirely on their work ethic and ability to show up for opportunities and pivotal moments.”

“When I jumped into the acting world, I stood strongly by the key habits I could feel were important and would soon become the pillars of my career. There were periods where I felt like I had ‘imposter syndrome’ but I just kept focused on these steps I had laid out and worked through it.”

His patient chipping away eventually led to a long line of successful acting roles including appearances in Home & Away and in films like The Interrogation and Water Under the Bridge. Now as an actor Max splits his time across Sydney and LA and enjoys a varied work schedule filled with film, theatre and presenting roles. He’s also a host of the popular podcast “Two Unemployed Actors”.

“Most people are fearful of change and a loss of security. People will think you are crazy anyway,” advises Max. “It’s important that you don’t become a victim to everyone else’s priorities, timelines, and problems. Whether it’s a change in career or going after something you want in your personal life, break it down into more achievable steps and celebrate the wins. In the end the only thing stopping you, is you.”