NEXT – A motto – by Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor talent agency, Ari Emanuel

Hi Film Folk!

The Film Doctor Team recently came across these excellent and inspiring words written by Ari Emanuel, the Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor (the talent agency representing Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams and Helena Bonham Carter). We thought we’d share them with you.

Next by Ari Emanuel (via LinkedIn)

“Next” doesn’t sound like a motto to live by. It doesn’t make for an epic battle cry or moving political campaign slogan. But it was – and still is – an Emanuel family mantra that my father used every day when I was growing up. Sitting around the kitchen table after school, my brothers and I would spin our day’s success stories. Our father’s response? “Nu” (Hebrew for next).

So why am I telling you this? Who gives a shit what my father said? I’m sharing this with you because it’s a philosophy that has carried me from the family dinner table to where I am today. While I acknowledge that you can learn a great deal from historical precedents, I think we all spend too much time and energy looking backward. The successes or failures of your past don’t define you. It’s the ability to turn the page to the next, better chapter.

Take my career as an example. If I had paid attention to my “career indicators” – bad grades, dyslexia, ADD, non-Ivy League school (I could go on, but my parents would prefer I didn’t) – who knows where I would be. Certainly not here, sharing my opinion on life.

And when a few of my colleagues and I decided to leave one of Hollywood’s most established talent agencies to start our own, above a burger restaurant, there were plenty of reasons (families, mortgages, expense accounts) to stay put. But we weren’t satisfied. We could see that the business was changing. We knew that in order for our clients to play in this new landscape, we had to form an agency that fit our vision of the future. Even when Endeavor became a formidable competitor to the Big 4 talent agencies, my father’s voice once again rang in my ears.

What was going to be the next great leap forward for our clients and our company? The answer was merging our startup with a 100+ year-old institution, a risk that many warned against, citing countless failed mergers. Again, it was that same question: “What’s next?” It forced me to keep moving forward, and now WME is just getting started.

My point is, if you’re looking for an excuse to fail, you will always find one. Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem celebrating the wins. They instill the confidence that propels us forward. Just don’t trip on your victory lap. To some, “next” may come off as a dismissal. To me, it’s the catalyst for endless possibilities. As an agent, my job is not done when the deal is closed. It’s about constantly watching the road ahead. OK you’ve heard enough from me…

Follow Ari on LinkedIn.

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One thought on “NEXT – A motto – by Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor talent agency, Ari Emanuel

  • December 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    He sounds like the kind of guy I should have in front of me.

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