There is pain in learning new things – stick at it

I’d been a creative in the stage design business when it came crashing down in 1987 after Jeremy Thom, my business partner, went off to America.

I spent a year in the wilderness when an old buddy from Los Angeles, Kevin Wall, who had been a scaffolder for outdoor events and had invented Radiovision, offered me a niche to reinvent myself – selling rights to televised rock shows, just as MTV got off the ground and mainstream television cried out for late night programming and music strands.

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Though I knew nothing about that world other than knowing the management of a lot of the UK music business acts, I said the famous word that you have to say to get on, which is YES, (subtext “I’ll give it a go.”)

I learnt the business by going to the Cannes Film and Television Festivals, meeting TV stations, and soon I could name all the national broadcasters from Iceland to India.

I learned deals and contracts and financing and when I added that to my creative stuff and my experience of running a small business and not running out of money, it was a pretty good package.

It wasn’t the creative world I’d come from, but I could get excited about all of these things and I became good at them.

Then there was a lunch at a television festival in the South of France. I was asking about the story of a documentary and one of the sales executives said, “What’s that got to do with anything?”

Important to him was having a big-name director, an American broadcaster, and most of the financing in place. I think he actually said, “We’ve got 75% of the money, we are just looking for the other 75%.” 

That’s the TV business for you.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.

Henry Ford

You can learn to be capable at pretty much everything if you need to. If you stick at it you find enthusiasm. Then spend a large proportion of your time on things that you are good at, and that is a winning formula.

The more you can get to be good, the stronger you are.