Happier in Hollywood's Liz Craft and Sarah Fain
We sat down and talked with Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain: TV writers and producers, and co-hosts of one of our all-time favorite podcasts, Happier in Hollywood. Our topic? Happiness--how we can get more of it, hold on to it, and even grow it.…
One thing we love about your podcast is how you tell it like it is and offer up easy-to-implement, actionable advice instead of big, old, lofty thinking. Tell us, what is one easy material thing that might secure a little more happiness in our day-to-day world.
Liz: A treadmill desk.
Sarah: A Corksicle water bottle.
And, while we’re at it, share a significant thing, event or goal that you anticipate will make you happier in 2018?
Liz: Finally being done with our nearly 2-year-long home renovation. We can now welcome people into our house. We are really looking forward to entertaining, connecting more, and just enjoying our house.
Sarah: Releasing myself from the grasp of sugar. I am committing to NO sugar (that includes sweeteners, agave, fructose, the whole thing) from January 1 – December 31, 2018. I am giving myself 10 “cheat days,” to account for birthdays and other fun occasions.
Are the keys to finding happiness and balance universal in nature, or do you think they change based on geography? What is different, in your minds, about being happier in Hollywood versus NYC, a cabin in MN, or a suburb of KC?
Every place has different challenges. In Hollywood, the ground is always shifting. It is hard to maintain your “true North.”
That said, we believe the keys to happiness are always the same, regardless of location. 1) Human connection; 2) Fulfilling career; 3) Being a responsible member of your community and society-at-large.
What is a favorite lifestyle happiness hack – and a workplace or career happiness hack?
Sarah: My ergonomic meditation seat has been a game-changer for my meditation practice.
And, during the workday, taking walks, getting outside, breathing fresh air. Liz and I get a lot of our ideas for our podcast and for our shows while walking. We try to take a break every 45-minutes, which helps us clear our heads and makes room for fresh, creative thinking. Plus, we get steps and feel better.
Liz: For my personal life, Flic, an app that helps you organize your photos on your phone, which I desperately needed.
And, for work: ban the “evil donut bringer” from your office. Don’t encourage, celebrate, or thank people for bringing the food that no one should be eating into the office. We all know the situation. There’s just no upside here. No one needs it.
You two have been friends and writing partners for over 18 years. What is your best advice for keeping a work relationship healthy and growing? It’s much easier said than done…
Letting go of the little grievances and the petty arguments. And remembering to celebrate the wins along the way so that there’s a good feeling to build on. We find that we grow by redefining our goals, making sure our goals stay current and refreshed to best reflect where we are in the present. Right now, we’d say our primary goal is: Create a hit show.
You both are straight shooters. But you also seem to know when to hold back. What are two actionable tips for getting your best work done and finding success?
That’s a fun question.
Sarah: Things work best when you have a healthy supply of cockeyed optimism, endurance, resilience, and a good education. And always prioritize sleep.
Liz: Re-read every email before you send it. Do this with an eye on grammar, tone, punctuation, and content. You can save yourself from a lot of trouble by doing this. And, surround yourself with people who are smart and ambitious; people succeed in groups.
When you consider that life continually serves up challenges and setbacks, particularly in the “backbiting world” that is Hollywood. How do you handle disappointment (when a show gets cancelled or isn't picked up) – and is it the same as how you handle disappointment in your personal world?
We like to remind ourselves of the classic Zen parable: You never know what good news is and what bad news is.
A Chinese farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. A neighbor says, "That's bad news." The farmer replies, "Good news, bad news, who can say?"
The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, you might say.
The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, then is thrown and badly breaks his leg. "So sorry for your bad news," says the concerned neighbor. "Good news, bad news, who can say?" the farmer replies.
In a week or so, the emperor's men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer's son is spared.
Good news, of course.
Though this is 2,000 years old, it definitely still resonates. For us in Hollywood, and for everyone anywhere. You just never really know. Pretty helpful for keeping things in perspective.
What are two of your favorite podcasts right now, other than Happier with Gretchen Rubin, of course!
Liz: This Is 50 with Sheri and Nancy. It’s my new obsession. Sheri is an Executive Producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and Nancy is a Fortune 500 brand strategist and storyteller. Together they are rebranding and redefining midlife as they pursue their dreams. Awesome.
And, By The Book, which is half reality show, half self-help podcast. Two women live by the rules of a different self-help book each episode to figure out which ones might actually be life changing. Really entertaining.
Sarah: Without Your Permission, hosted by two former LA gang members, whom we’ve interviewed on our podcast. They’re amazing and truly inspiring.
And, The Longest, Shortest Time, hosted by This American Life contributor and author Hillary Frank, a parenting podcast for everyone.
We are experiencing a watershed moment in history right now. What are your thoughts on the #MeToo or #TimesUp movements? As women in Hollywood, how are you helping to pave the way for future change? And, as moms of young kids, how does this shape your parenting?
Being a team of women, we have been protected from sexual harassment just by the very virtue that we are never alone. We always have wanted to set a tone of respect in the writers’ room, which we continue to do. We now feel emboldened and committed to speaking up more when we see things that we don’t think are right.
Who would your dream podcast interview be with?
Sarah: Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment Group and one of the coolest, smartest and most amazing women. I keep telling myself that one day soon we will be brave enough to email her and try to talk her into being on our podcast.
Say you miraculously get one whole week free from work. How would you spend it? Sand, city, or deep in nature?
Romance novel, mystery, or National Book award finalist?
Alone, with family, or girls’ trip?
Liz: Girls’ trip.
Sarah: Girls’ trip.
Spa-food, Michelin-rated restaurants, or In-N-Out Burger?
Sarah: Michelin restaurants.
You are a perfect pair. Listening to you two is not only entertaining and interesting, but it’s also so incredibly comforting. Your partnership is layered with friendship, work, years of togetherness, and what seems like a true understanding, appreciation and genuine respect for the other. But let’s bring it down to brass tacks, do you feel more Thelma and Louise, Felix and Oscar, Mary Kate and Ashley? Is there a duo you aspire to be like?
Laverne and Shirley.
We love this! And both of you. Thank you for taking the time to talk happiness with us. Laverne and Shirley look out, here come Liz and Sarah. (We’re even envisioning the cursive “L” emblazoned on Liz’s famed hoodies.)
Here’s to much more happiness for all of us, whether we’re in Hollywood or elsewhere!