Michael Coleman

Look at the common habits of other successful people and imbed them in your own routine.


Michael Coleman is an award-winning writer and actor with an extensive career in film, television, animation, radio, stage, and video games. He is the oldest of three brothers, a proud parent to two wonderful young ladies, and a dedicated husband. Michael’s start was in Surrey, British Columbia where he discovered his passion for storytelling. In the fourth grade, he played the lead in the school play, “THE DUMP MONSTER”, in a costume made entirely of old newspapers and a large box. In high school, his love for the arts continued and he performed in several cable access television shows by the eleventh grade, including one where he starred alongside his three younger brothers.

After high school, Michael earned his stripes on the comedy circuit by taking stage time anywhere he could find it for improv, sketch, and stand-up comedy. He was lucky to work with some incredible local and international talents. One of Michael Coleman’s best memories is performing while Robin Williams watched from backstage. He even stuck around for hours sharing stories and offering advice to Coleman and other local comedians. This is one of Michael’s greatest showbiz memories.

Michael Coleman has written, directed and starred in numerous modern-day pantomimes revolving around modern fairytales like Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. He has been honoured with nomination and awards for many of these productions. Other theatre companies licensed these productions and they were performed all over the world.

Michael notes many favourite career moments that include: hanging out with Stan Lee, playing the Incredible Hulk in two well received parodies and playing the role of Happy on ABC’s hit series, Once Upon A Time. He has also performed in many other cherished roles such as Dr. Watson in The Doctor’s Case, Stan in Hamtaro, Idasa on Dragon Ball Z, Inonushin on Hello Kitty, Bert Camp on Smallville, and Adam Pi on the upcoming feature film Thirty-Seven.
Michael loves the craft of storytelling and has shared his knowledge with over 1,000 students. He has taught at several institutions and he has created four different schools over the years.

Michael’s latest school is Story Institute. Here there is a strong focus on storytelling, and how storytellers can make the world a better place by creating opportunities for actors to work with a greater sense of purpose. The diploma programs at the Story Institute offer actors an unparalleled experience to learn the craft and the business of acting for film, television, stage, radio, cartoons, and video games. Michael is the founder, Senior Educational Administrator and teacher at the school.

Aside from his career, Michael Coleman is actively involved with numerous charities. He has survived two life threatening diseases and now acts as an advocate for these and other organizations.

Michael’s current projects involve his production company, Rebel West Pictures. He has multiple projects in development, one being released in Spring and another going to camera this summer. Michael is the Principal Partner in this company and often assumes the role of Producer and writer for his company’s projects.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

My generation had less educational opportunities right out of high school than actors have today. Most of us went to university or a prestigious theatre school. These offerings, many of which still exist today, offer a classic form of training, that wouldn’t necessarily prepare us to accomplish the specific goals we had as young creative individuals. We were told things like “If you can see yourself doing anything else? Do it.”, “Don’t expect to make any money at this”, and “don’t worry about the career opportunities, this will make you a better person.” Can you imagine going to a dental school and then being told “You will get your degree but likely won’t be able to get work on fixing people’s teeth. Thankfully, you will be a nicer person to be around!” This never made any sense to me and I saw lots of people on stage and television making money. So, I dropped out of university and sought these people to be my teachers. I discovered that they were happy to share their knowledge and experiences. I replicated this into the school I run today. Sure, you may become more grounded, and self-aware but that is just a related benefit. What you really learn is how to perform at a high, disciplined, measurable level and run your business like a business. Over the years, I am proud to have students go on to perform lead and supporting roles on shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Letterkenny, My Little Pony, Supernatural, The 100, Riverdale, and many more.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I do something creative 365 days a year. I am a fan and a believer in human potential and combine my art, craft, and personal life with those goals and habits set out by leaders in the human potential industry. I have daily habits that commit me to my craft whether I feel like it or not. I learned a great phrase years ago that changed things for me immeasurably: “Anytime you think you’re too busy to do something, ask yourself if what you are doing now is more important than what you should be doing”. It’s amazing how quickly time on social media or time watching Netflix can be swapped for something that can tangibly move your life forward and bring you greater joy.

My days always start out the same. Special, quality time with my wife and daughters, as this is what is most important to me, then I usually go into my studio and follow the list I’ve made for the week.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I am a curious soul and someone who needs to know the why and how for everything. I also love a good game of “what if”. This is how most of my stories and characters are created. I love looking deep into the central questions or thematic premises of all I experience and explore the root and possibilities that exist within.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I am very excited by the developments in technology. It is becoming more accessible and less expensive. The downside is that people are now able to create without learning the core elements. The positive side is that we are able to create our own stories with less limitations. When I was a 16 year old filmmaker, my friends and I would pool our money together to rent a video camera from 7-11. To edit these projects, we would use two VHS recorders. Kids today are able to access professional software and hardware to create their stories.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Hard work. I have never been the tallest, smartest, best looking… but I am rarely out-worked. When others are sleeping? I get up early and started already. When others need a day off? I only need an afternoon. Fortunately for me, my work has never seemed like work. My work is one of my greatest joys. I am thrilled when I get to work. I have never understood any occupation or career that didn’t offer this reward for your efforts.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Build strong habits. This is everything. If it is habitual it becomes all you know and almost effortless. The science of achievement and the art of happiness are the keys to true success. It’s not enough to be one or the other. Be great at what you do and be happy doing it.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Love and respect other “choirs”. We have become so polarized as a society that we all seem to be preaching only to our own choirs. We then become frustrated when other disagree with us. As the wise Stephen Covey once said: “you need to understand before you can be understood”. Once we all truly embrace this concept I believe we can flourish like never before.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Look at the common habits of other successful people and imbed them in your own routine. The habits for success are often identical in those who have achieved greatness in their respective fields. Those who are able to understand and implement these same habits, often see the same results.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I have always been results driven and have thought “win/win”. There is an authenticity and appreciation from customers/peers/everyone for people who operate from a place of truth and kindness.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My greatest failure came from not informing myself on all aspects of my business to allow myself to really focus on what I did best. Unfortunately, this left me vulnerable and I was taken advantage of. I learned from this to never let myself be unaware of the things that directly impact my business. Even if it is not what I am responsible for, I will always know as much as I can about every aspect of my business.I do not want to experience that surprised and defenseless feeling as a result of my own lack of information again.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Self-employment. If you are not building your dream, you are building someone else’s dream. Personally, I recommend educating and sharing your passion as the ability to assist others in creating a career too is very rewarding. If you are good at baking? Teach baking. If you are good making clothes? Teach people how to make clothing. Whether this is your primary or an ancillary form of income, it is rewarding and gives you more control over how you allocate the hours of your day.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

It is always on something that gives me special time with my wife and children. Whether it is a day at an event or even just simple dinner out, this will always be where my money is best spent.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Owning an effective CRM (customer relations management) is an amazing way to increase productivity and generate analytics that allow you to measure and reassess your short-term and long-term goals.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In my early twenties I was working in a sporting goods store and the owner gave all of us this book as a Christmas present. If I didn’t read that book, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is your favorite quote?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Key Learnings:

  • Work smart and work hard.
    ● Create successful habits that mirror the habits of other successful people.
    ● Being happy is an important part of being successful.
    ● Family is #1
    ● If you don’t set your own value, someone else will, and it likely won’t be as high.