5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Co-Founded E! Entertainment Television, With Larry Namer

“Don’t marvel at today’s technology. Tomorrow’s will be better.

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“Don’t marvel at today’s technology. Tomorrow’s will be better. Build ideas on what will be, not what is (within a reasonable time frame of course).”

I had the pleasure to interview Larry Namer, President/CEO, Metan Global Entertainment Group. Larry is an entertainment industry veteran with over 45 years professional experience in cable television, live events and new media, Larry Namer is a founding partner of Metan Global Entertainment Group (MGEG), a venture created to develop and distribute entertainment content and media specifically for Chinese speaking audiences in China and abroad. MGEG recently launched the inspirational competition series The Bruce Lee Project in China, in conjunction with Company Films (co-owned by Keanu Reeves and Stephen Hamel), Bruce Lee Entertainment, LLC (Shannon Lee’s production company) and Benaroya Pictures. Mr. Namer was involved in creating the series’ original format and currently oversees sales and development for the project. The company recently launched the MGEG Film Fund I and serves as managing partner. Mr. Namer is the co-founder of E! Entertainment Television, a company now valued at over $3.5 billion USD, and the creator of several successful companies in the United States and overseas. Among those companies are Comspan Communications that pioneered Western forms of entertainment in the former Soviet Union and Steeplechase Media that served as the primary consultant to Microsoft’s MiTV for developing interactive TV applications. His vision and direction garnered VCTV several Emmy and Cable ACE award nominations, as well as recognition by Forbes magazine as the national model for local cable television programming. In 1989, he was awarded the prestigious President’s Award from the National Cable Television Association. He was honored with the “Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television Award” at the 19th Asian Television Awards in Singapore, and most recently was presented with the International Media Legacy Award at the 2017 Elite Awards Foundation Gala and the Hollywood Lifetime Achievement Award in Entertainment at the 2018 Hollywood Tribute Awards in Celebration of the 90th annual Academy Awards®.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to very middle class parents. My father drove a Pepsi truck my mother worked for the city of NY. I was the first in the family to go to college. As a kid, I worked many jobs ranging from clerk in a discount store for 35 cents an hour to coaching a Boys Club basketball team. Eventually took a job as assistant splicer for a cable company called Sterling Manhattan when cable was just 17 channels and mainly to get good reception. Still in the media business 47 years later, albeit in quite a different position. Probably best known in the USA for being the founder of E! Entertainment TV.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

Right now many of my projects are in China. We do programming in China for Mandarin speakers. Now we are producing a series for the US about modern China and a reality competition show titled The Bruce Lee Project, which is a format we co-created with Shannon Lee, Michael Benaroya and Keanu Reeves. It’s sort of a Survivor type series based on the philosophies of Bruce Lee. The show is very inspirational and aspirational, with no fighting. We have sold it in eight countries already. We’re also doing a big film titled “Empress,” which is about the first woman ruler of China. It’s very “today” in that its focus is about a strong woman’s rise to power in what was a very male-dominated society. It’s written by Academy Award winner Ron Bass (Rain Man) and will be cast with all English-speaking Chinese actors and actresses. These projects fall under the Metan Global banner. Separately, I’m working with a friend, Darren Mayer, who comes out of fashion industry branding, and together, we’re creating and developing several new shows for English language markets.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I was fortunate to be exposed to some fabulous mentors, such as Nick Nicholas and Thayer Bigelow at Time Inc., however, it was Frank Chiano who showed me that hard work and perseverance can overcome lack of an Ivy League MBA and that barriers were there to be broken

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Not as much as I hope to as we go along, but yes I have some. I participate in a lot of charity events and always speak without fee for any worthwhile charity. Now I’m focused on helping protect endangered species and working with a few groups involved with that.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Several books come to mind. In my younger days, it was reading folks like Alvin Toffler and getting perspective on the future and inevitable change. More recently, though, it has been “As The Future Catches You” by Juan Enriquez and “Alone Together” by Sherry Turkle. Turkle’s books discuss the importance in understanding how technology impacts society and us as a human race.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started my career” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Just because it’s a good idea, it doesn’t mean that an investor will give you the money to do it. Money people apply a lot of other criteria to their investment decisions.
  2. Never hire relatives. They will always take advantage of your kindness.
  3. When everyone around you tells you your idea is bad, it still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. However, always stay ready to ditch that idea if it turns out to be bad. Trying is good. Hanging on too long is not.
  4. Don’t marvel at today’s technology. Tomorrow’s will be better. Build ideas on what will be, not what is (within a reasonable time frame of course).
  5. Always hire people smarter than you in specific areas, otherwise you are just managing a puppet show.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Well, the first name that comes to mind is Warren Buffet. Not only have his business moves been genius, but I have deep admiration at the way he has managed his life, wealth and fame. I guess if I could have a second breakfast, it would have been Aaron Spelling. It was his shows that captivated me.

Originally published at medium.com

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