Moments of Conception 153 — The Losing Scene from Casino

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the losing scene from Casino:

What can we learn?

If we can’t get in trouble, it’s not an adventure. Ace says that in the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. Because the longer they play, the more they lose. And in the end, the casino gets it all. That’s why I never play the casinos. The deck is literally stacked against me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a gambling man. In fact, I bet on myself all the time. Because when you bet on yourself, it’s an asset you understand. And that’s the kind of risk I can get behind. Interestingly, according to modern portfolio management research, gambling actually becomes an investment once it meets the three specific criteria. First, the bet has to provide economic utility, because the good or service meets the demands of a consumer. Second, the bet has to yield positive expected returns in the long term, because the incrementalism pays off in the end. And third, the bet has to have underlying value independent of the risk being undertaken, because the experience of betting on yourself is meaningful in its own right. I like those odds. Because unlike the casino, as we continue along our creative journey, our steps become more certain. The more shots we take, the more precise and dangerous we become. The more we play, the more we win. How much of your income have you invested in yourself to further your vocation and passion?

Show people that you are a viable force. Casino is a movie about gatekeepers. Dealers and box men and pit bosses and floor managers and security guards and mob bosses. And these people, these authority figures, will happily punish the rule breakers by smashing their fingers with a ball peen hammer. But we don’t live in a casino. Not anymore. The world of gatekeepers where you have to wait for someone to say yes for you to practice your art is long gone. Now you can create a vehicle for yourself. Now you can open your own casino. Now you can can become you’re the craps player, card dealer, pit boss and security guard, all at the same time. But you have to move fast. Creativity is more than just knowing a good idea when you see it, it’s executing that idea before anyone else sees it. Like knowing when the deck of cards is due for an ace. Because odds are, somebody else is having a brilliant idea the same moment as you are. And so, the most responsible thing you can do as an artist is never wait. Like my mentor likes to say, just go be the first at something. Because there’s nothing more valuable than unclaimed real estate. Will you give yourself permission to go through a door nobody’s ever gone through before?

You don’t need money, you need permission. The costume budget for this film was one million dollars. One. Million. Dollars. Deniro had seventy different outfits throughout the film, and was allowed to keep every one of them. That’s obsceneYou could make forty movies on that amount alone. Of course, when you’re the most brilliant director in the history of film, you can ring the register as loud as you want. What’s interesting is, this movie was filmed twenty years ago. Back then, a naïve, inexperienced, underfunded artist wouldn’t dare such an ambitious project. But today’s filmmaker lives in a completely different world. Now that the resources are free and accessible to everybody, anybody can do anything for nothing. Which means the only thing stopping them is permission. Eighty percent of the distance between idea and execution is the mental construct of notenoughness. And so, if you’re forty years old and you still haven’t written that script or made that movie or produced that album, it’s not because of procrastination, it’s because you haven’t given yourself permission. Period. If you found yourself and your thoughts interesting, what might you try


What did you learn from this movie clip?


For a copy of the list called, “157 Pieces of Contrarian Wisdom,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

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Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!


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