Sunday, January 22, 2012

Everything I Know About Business I Learned From THE TOXIC AVENGER!

Lights, Camera, Action!

Early in my career I spent 7 years working for Troma, the low budget film studio probably best known for the cult Classic, The Toxic Avenger…  As I am sure you know, The Toxic Avenger is the heartwarming story of Melvin, a lowly mop-boy, who, teased and taunted, falls into a vat of radioactive waste and emerges as… The Toxic Avenger - The First Superhero from New Jersey! (And affectionately called "Toxie.")

Making movies is hard work, especially making movies on a shoestring budget… (OK, eventually we were able to advance from shoestrings to Velcro budgets!)  But I learned a lot… how to mix theatrical blood…  How to make a cantaloupe substitute for a head crush…  but making movies also taught me a lot about business and being an entrepreneur...

In truth, an independent movie production is like a start-up on steroids.  You go from screenplay (business plan) to product completion (launch) in a matter of months.  You have to hire, fire, build, tear down, raise money, spend money, rally the troops, fight deadlines and external forces, and make constant compromises all the while fighting to stay the course and make the best film (i.e. product) you can.

Nobody sets out to make a bad film, just like nobody starts a company with the intention of failing...

Ignite Toxie (Thanks to Ford)

I recently attended a great event for bloggers and online influencers sponsored by Ford (who paid for my trip to Detroit) in connection with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). During a dinner event the Ford team organized an evening of Ignite Talks. If you are not familiar with Ignite, it is a great format for short, thought provoking and inspiring presentations.  The presenter has 5 minutes and 20 slides, and the slides advance every 15 seconds, no matter what the presenter is saying.  While I do quite a bit of public speaking, I've never given an Ignite talk... until now.

I thought the Ignite format would be perfect for sharing 5 lessons I learned from my Troma days that I think apply to all businesses and entrepreneurs:

1. Show Up (and be prepared)
2. Collaborate & Delegate
3. Be Passionate, Real and Believe
4. Sink or Swim
5. Commit To Your Culture and Vision

Here is a video of my Ford Ignite presentation, called "Everything I Know About Business I Learned From The Toxic Avenger."  Please let me know what you think in the comments!

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