Nurturing your talent for triumph

Ellenor Cox
Ellenor Cox

What does success look like? It’s different for everybody, but Emmy and AACTA award-winning producer Ellenor Cox shares insights into how to best position ourselves to achieve our goals – and dispels some tall poppy myths along the way.

Success in our industry encompasses various metrics, including awards, box office, repeat season orders, development slates transitioning into production slates, and securing greenlights.

However, these rewards materialise only when a strong foundation of cultivated habits and attitudes towards success is established early in our careers.


Self-belief is a remarkably potent factor shared among successful individuals in our industry. Those who can manage their self-morale and foster self-awareness create an invaluable shield against Australia’s pervasive ‘tall poppy syndrome’, which can undermine our belief in ourselves, our judgments, and our talent. The more ambitious you are, the more the world will attempt to dismantle you, so focusing on evidence that validates your judgment and consistent delivery of results is crucial.

As you develop more trust in yourself, you’ll feel increasingly confident in sharing your unique and possibly unconventional ideas for compelling screen content or processes. This is where you add value and become a formidable competitor.


Self-belief alone is not sufficient; you must also be able to persuade others of your convictions.

Ultimately, all great careers in our industry involve salesmanship. You must evangelise your ideas, skills, and contributions. This requires strong communication skills, charisma, and execution ability. Invest time in honing your communication skills. Utilise tools like Grammarly and ChatGPT to enhance your written communications. Build a network of colleagues to practice pitching to and support each other at networking events, refining your elevator pitches or ‘why you should hire me on your next production’ spiel.

The best salespeople genuinely believe in what they’re selling. Your projects and career paths must align with your purpose and passion. When this synergy exists, your confidence in yourself and your project becomes infectious.


Focus is a potent force multiplier in our work. Successful individuals invest considerable time in determining their areas of focus and identifying their ‘Zone of Genius’. This clarity enables you to work ‘smarter’ rather than ‘harder’, minimising time wasted on trivial matters that could be delegated, postponed, or automated.

Daily disciplines such as intention setting, goal setting, task prioritisation, and effective time management techniques are indispensable for swiftly tackling your priorities. Successful individuals are characterised by clarity and focus around their vision.

The internet offers numerous free tools and courses for vision and goal setting, making money a non-issue – only willpower matters.


You’d be surprised at how often you can bend the world to your will, but most people are too apprehensive to try and instead accept things as they are. You possess an enormous capacity to make things happen. However, a combination of giving up too early, self-doubt, and not pushing hard enough prevents most people from reaching their potential.

Go out on a limb and ask for what you want. Perhaps you won’t get it first time round, but you will start to get used to the discomfort of rejection and become more impervious to these feelings of failure.

Confidence resides on the other side of competence and becoming competent at anything requires persistence, willpower and practising asking for what you want. Confidence is a muscle that requires training, and a good training session will always leave us feeling a little sore but a little stronger.

To be wilful, you also have to be optimistic. This is another personality trait that can be improved with practice. Name one successful pessimistic filmmaker (even Woody Allen is known for saying 80 per cent of success is just showing up”).


One of the great joys in life is finding your purpose, excelling at it, and discovering that your impact matters to something larger than yourself. It’s far too easy to burn out in our industry and yet work stamina seems to be one of the biggest predictors of long-term success. A key strategy for avoiding burnout is focus on the work that brings you the greatest amount of joy and work with people who you enjoy spending time with. When you’re energised like this, you’re aligned to your purpose and passion. In most cases, momentum compounds and success begets success.

Working hard is a similar muscle to that of confidence. It takes effort and persistence to build up to a level of ‘work fitness’ where stamina seems second nature. Do it at the beginning of your career as hard work compounds like interest, and the earlier you get into this habit, the more time you have for the benefits to pay off.


Robert Frost was onto something when he said, ‘Freedom lies in being bold’. Our industry values innovative and uniquely creative thinkers, but these individuals aren’t overnight success stories. They believe in their ideas, are willing to zig when everyone else is zagging and have the courage to persist.

Be open to following your curiosity and nurture ways to develop and celebrate your boldness. Emphasise your strengths rather than your weaknesses and surround yourself with positive people who support your ambitions.

The most successful individuals are primarily internally driven; they pursue excellence to impress themselves and because they feel compelled to make a difference in the world.

This is why understanding a person’s motivation is crucial, and the daily practice of learning more about yourself, your passions, your strengths, and your visions is vital for laying the foundation for success.

When you define success by delivering outstanding work in areas that matter to you, you can set off in that direction sooner and go further. Success in our industry is what we make it, and opportunities abound for those with clarity on what success means to them.

Ellenor offers a range of free resources available to the screen sector at and is available for individual and team coaching, consultancy and workshop facilitation.