The story of the rise and fall of Hollywood's greatest movie moguls is a testament to the spirit of entrepreneurism, and the will and ability to achieve the American Dream. Over Christmas, I received a copy of Neal Gabler's Award-winning book "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood." In addition to being an excellent historical account of the moguls rise to fame, the book also offers insights into what makes a successful entrepreneur.
The great moguls (Harry Cohn, William Fox, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer, Jack and Harry Warner and Adolph Zukor) all shared similar characteristics that led to the creation and definition of the American motion picture system. Most were immigrants who left their "old country" (or were the children of immigrant families) in the search of something much better - the pursuit of the American Dream. Their strong sense of business acumen combined with a dogged sense of determination, persistence and ability to visualize trends and markets helped them achieve heights that many only dare dream of.
What's striking about their story is that the characteristics that led to their success still apply today. Their way of thinking and doing things was quite visionary for the times, and they persisted when others insisted their actions would be met with failure.
What can today's entrepreneurs learn from the moguls? Here's what I think would be their Top 5 tips to entrepreneurs today:
1) Trust your gut - If everyone is telling you that your idea will fail, chances are it probably won't (Adolph Zukor was told that there would never be an interest in feature length movies)
2) Don't give up - Success doesn't come right away, so the more failures you get through the closer you will be to achieving your dream
3) Have a Vision - The moguls visualized what they thought was the future of motion pictures, then found ways to achieve that vision
4) The past doesn't determine your future - As immigrants, many left impoverished situations overseas and vowed to rewrite their lives in America
5) Each career move is a stepping stone to greater success - Several moguls took what they learned in the fur/fashion trade and applied it to a new realm...motion pictures. They took what they learned from each business success/failure and used it to move on to the next step
As we move onto new projects and successes in 2008, I'll be thinking of the movie moguls, and how they were able to write their own way into the history books when virtually everything at the time was working against them.
May 2008 be the year you write your greatest story - and achieve your greatest vision once and for all!
HAPPY NEW YEAR - and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and insights in 2008!