How Not To Succeed in Business - July 3rd

How Not to Succeed in Business Without Really TryingThursday, 3rd July
It pisses me off when I hear someone say they can’t do something. It’s my pet peeve. I find it annoying. I don’t want to hear it. So when people tell me that I am not capable of something, well don’t even get me started.

I say this to everyone, whether you’re in showbiz or not, you’re responsible for your own life. You set your own path. Do you ever see someone do something and you’re like “I wish I could that.” You can! If you’re afraid of doing something, do it anyways. And when you’re finished, do it again. I guarantee by the 1000’x time, you’ll be pretty good and somewhere out there, you’ll be inspiring others to do the same.

Flashback two years ago.

I was in our television offices when my producing partner, Atif, comes running up to me. “So and so agreed to a meet us!”

We had just started raising money for our first movie. We were asking anyone and everyone. Family, friends, whoever. The thing about raising money is that it’s like the wild west. There are no rules. You can ask and get nothing for years and then one person comes along and gives you 5 million dollars because he wants to see his name in the credits. It makes no sense.

So a few years back Atif and I set up a meeting with a very wealthy business person. I can’t mention his name for obvious reasons. But he was Indian, worked in computers and once funded a movie on his own that didn’t go anywhere. There are many people like that in Hollywood. I’ll leave it at that.

I used to get mad at Atif when we started out trying to set up business meetings, we’d send out these query letters asking to meet. “We’re not business people!” Atif would say. I hated it when he said that because deep down, I knew it was true. Neither of us had experience in anything related to business. I once had a paper route, and I gave it up after a week. I went to film school and work as an on-air host. The toughest part of my profession is putting on my own make-up on for TV shoots.

Still, I wanted to learn how to run a production company so meeting a financier one on one was a good place to start.

We met our financier at Starbucks. A nice, friendly environment. What could possibly go wrong? Atif and I showed up early and got the corner table. Our “investor” showed up 20 minutes later.

He was quiet and sort of reminded me of my uncle. The only difference was that this guy truly believed that he was the Jerry Bruckheimer (famous Hollywood producer) of India. For an hour we listened about how great his past film was (the only film he’s ever made), how “script” is the most important thing in a production, and most importantly, his critical analysis of our webisodes.

We responded like two mental patients let loose. I rambled with really no sense of purpose while Atif vehemently defended our productions. “We get fan mail from around the world!”

I realized at some point in the meeting that this 50 year old computer software guy from Northridge wasn’t our normal 15-35 demographic. I’m willing to bet that “Desi Karate Kid” didn’t tug at any emotional heart strings.

In retrospect, the funniest thing was that we didn’t even have a business plan or investment model to present. We were just like “Hey, we’re funny guys! Give us your money!”

So, two hours later, as we’re getting ready to leave, he says “Send me script. If I like, I’ll give you 300,000 dollars.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We somehow just convinced this random guy to read our script and potentially launch our film careers. We were in business! Hooray!

Our investor leaves and Atif and I head out the door to the sidewalk. We’re talking excitedly like two girls about what just happened.

“Wait.” I say. “What if he drives past and see’s us blabbering away. We made a good first impression, we should head back inside.”

So we go into Starbucks and wait in line to get some coffee.

Atif, standing in front of me, says. “He seems like a nice guy.”

“Sure.” I respond. “But if that dude understands anything in our script, I’ll eat my hat.”

Atif turns around. He looks frozen, which is strange because he never gets rattled. I turn around, looking straight into the eyes of our beloved investor. His eyes are popped open, I could see the blood leaving his face.

“The frappacinos here are really good!” I squeak. I ran out the exit to my car with Atif following right behind me.

“Do you think he heard me?”
“He’s not deaf! He was standing five inches from you!”

Now I guess you could say, what I said wasn’t that bad, but it certainly didn’t help the cause. When I got home I wrote the investor an e-mail to apologize and thank him for his time, but I never heard back.

It was one of those life lessons. Don’t make judgments on people, and if you are, at least make sure that guy isn’t standing directly behind you.

It was like right out of a movie. Whenever Atif and I reflect back on it we bust up laughing because it’s so stupid. Looking back, we’re almost happy it happened because I’m not sure it would have been such a good idea to make a movie with someone who doesn’t share your sensibilities.

What’s my point to all this? We’ve had countless business meetings since this first incident. Some good, some bad, but we always try and hopefully we’re getting better at presenting ourselves. And even if we don’t get money, we don’t take it personal and have long term amicable relationships with our business associates, many of them are reading this right now.

And If I don’t have a good relationship with you, well I’m probably talking s***, but just far far away where you can’t hear me.

Tarun ShettyComment