DeVon Franklin — best known for producing the films Miracles from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real, and co-authoring the New York Times bestselling book The Wait — is a bit of a unicorn. He’s not only a top Hollywood producer, he’s a renowned preacher. He’s a recognized authority on faith and the entertainment business, not necessarily two subjects that you’d expect to see together. He discusses the blending of the two in his first book, Produced By Faith and his recently released title, The Hollywood Commandments.
Franklin seems to be winning everywhere: He’s the successful CEO of Franklin Entertainment, a production company in conjunction with 20th Century Fox, a bestselling author, a TV personality, a producer and a sought-after speaker. Beliefnet called him one of the “Most Influential Christians Under 40,” Variety magazine named him one of the “Top 10 Producers to Watch,” and Ebony magazine has named him one of the “Top 100 Influential African-Americans in America.”
Since so many beginner entrepreneurs, authors and speakers I work with struggle to combine multiple passions and messages into one brand, I could not wait to ask him how he does it all. Here are my top seven commandments on how the rest of us can follow his lead and weave together multiple passions into one successful business.
Thou shalt pay your dues.
Some may be tempted to say that Franklin is successful thanks to his proximity to Will Smith, because he started his career within the company that manages Smith. However, Franklin started there as an intern, waiting on the firm’s assistants. In other words, he was at the very bottom of the bottom. It took years before he actually had a relationship with Smith himself.
When I asked Franklin about his start, I love how he explained the phrase we’ve heard before about “taking the stairs” to success: “I pray that people don’t have overnight success, because if you get it overnight, you’ll lose it overnight. Taking the elevator to the 20th floor takes no energy, takes no effort. However, if you need to manage life on the 20th floor and you haven’t taken the steps, you might get here; but you’re not going to know how to manage it.”
He went on to explain that the process it takes to work your way up builds not only your character, but your actual capacity for managing life on that top level. Plus, getting there is not the goal, is it? It’s staying there.
“Your ability to maintain what you obtain is critically dependent on the process you went through to get it,” Franklin said. “I would never be able to do and manage what I have now if I had tried to shortcut the process.”
Thou shalt learn to be patient — very patient.
“It took over 150,000 hours, over 6,500 days from the day I set foot in Hollywood to finally getting my production company. That is 150,000 hours of showing up, serving,” Franklin shared.
He understands the frustration of feeling stuck, and he offers a great solution for those moments. Realize that the frustration is wasted energy and wasted time. Shift your attention immediately onto what you can do right then and there to be productive and create results.
“If you really want to maximize your time, fix your focus. Think about this. Every time I’m frustrated, ‘Okay, what can I focus on that can actually be productive?’ If I can focus on something productive, what’s going to happen? I’m going to feel better. Because what I focus on creates how I feel.”
Thou shalt learn to let go.
In the last few years, within the entrepreneurship and personal development space, there has been a growing focus on letting go: “Let go and let God,” “the universe has your back,” etc. I don’t’ know about you, but this can be a frustrating idea because I love to hustle. I love to solve problems and produce results — when do we push and when do we release?
“Your prayers alone aren’t enough. I talk about the concept of praying and preparing,” Franklin said, explaining his mindset. “I don’t work to make things happen. I work because I believe things are already happening.”
He explained if you start to think, If I don’t land this sale, if I don’t make this deal, everything will fall apart, you have a lack of belief, and belief is necessary for success. He reminded that desperation is like bad cologne. The moment you walk in the room everyone smells it and no one wants to go near it.
“[Think], What can I actually do today and am I maximizing where I am? Once I actually look at where I am and I say, ‘Yeah, I’m maximizing where I am,’ great. Then I’ve got to relax, to pray, to have faith and to trust. Am I doing the work? Yes, but am I doing the work to the point of losing my mind? No, because when I actually sit back and I rest in the confidence of who I am and what I’m doing, more opportunities come.”
Thou shalt be your authentic self.
Franklin doesn’t deny any part of himself in order to succeed and he says you shouldn’t either because “your difference is your destiny.”
“Too often we try to become a version of what other people want us to be. As a result, we diminish the destiny we were created to achieve. For me, [it’s] owning my authenticity, owning the fact that I am a Christian. I’m a person of faith. Owning the fact that I love Hollywood.”
He went on to quote a phrase he’d once heard from another preacher. “‘When you are rare, you are rewarded.’ It’s important to hone that rarity, hone that difference — it will lead you to your destiny.”
But, thou shalt focus on one passion first.
Herein lies the rub, multi-passionate reader. Be authentic, yes, but build a foundation first. What do you want to be known for first that will set you up to explore all of your other passions? That is your tree trunk.
“We all have different gifts … we’re really broad and unfocused,” Franklin explained. “If you’re unfocused, you’re not going to be able to hone your energy, your time, and then zone in on what are the opportunities that are going to help you build who you are and become who you need to be. It’s like the tree. If the tree does not have a trunk, there can be no branches.”
Franklin’s trunk was entertainment. He knew at an early age that he wanted to be in the entertainment industry — even though he also felt called to preach, write, etc. — so he moved to Hollywood, started his film degree and got an internship in the industry. Later, an established influence in the industry, he began writing about his faith and making faith in entertainment part of his platform.
Thou shalt prepare for conflict.
Even though it seems like all Franklin does is win, win, win, no matter what, he said that is untrue. For example, a popular Bible app wouldn’t work with him on a devotional series to go along with The Hollywood Commandments. His upcoming animated Christmas film, The Star, isn’t supported in some Christian film festivals because of its celebrity cast members. Franklin asks, when have we ever seen someone operating in their destiny who did not receive conflict along the way?
“If I’m getting conflict, then that means I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. It keeps me hungry. Oh, okay. Y’all don’t get it yet. I’m going to keep going.”
Franklin understands the temptation to obsess over likes and shares and follows, but believes using our gifts as a way to receive praise sets us up for “massive disappointment.”
“People are fickle. They are. Some days they love you, some days they don’t. I have found that if you just stay consistent and you embrace the conflict, and you keep moving forward, the right things happen at the right time …. Too often, we get discouraged by a ‘no.’ A ‘no’ only sets you up for the right ‘yes,’ but you’ve got to remain persistent and consistent in order to get it.”
Consistent, he added, not for weeks or months but years.
Thou shalt focus on your intentions and your audience.
It’s not about followers, but at the same time, we need ears and eyeballs to pay attention to us in order to gain new clients, share our message, etc. I asked him, how do we focus on growth and success but keep our ego at bay?
“You’ve got to look at intention,” he answered. “Ask yourself, Why am I doing this? Why am I fighting for this piece of publicity? Why am I fighting for this notoriety? What is it actually here to do?
“If the answer is just, ‘Hey, I want to be known,’ that might be just ego. Everything I do is geared toward whoever is receiving what I’m doing, to help produce a moment, an urge, a desire to do something different and positive in their life that they otherwise may not have done had that they not had that moment. Everything I do is knit by that.”
He broke down a lesson he’d heard in a sermon that explains this brilliantly.
“What do we do with the fruit tree? The tree produces a fruit. We go to the tree for the fruit. Now, does the tree say, ‘Look at me. I’m the tree.’ No. Nobody cares about the tree!
“Your [work, the gift you produce out of your talents] is really precious. The more that I just honor myself, the less the gift gets a chance to put front and center. The more I’m saying, Yes, this is the gift I’ve been given, and I want to give it, the better I feel; and the more I believe I can actually help people.
“It’s not about me, the giver, it’s about the gift.”
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Unilever Turns Up the Heat on Facebook & Google Over Tech’s ‘Unintended Consequences’
Unilever has issued a stern warning to digital platforms including Facebook, Google, and YouTube: do more to improve transparency and clean up the “swamp” of fake news, exploitative, and socially divisive content, or be cut off from its multi-billion dollar digital advertising budget.
CMO Keith Weed recently spoke at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual leadership meeting held in Palm Desert, Calif. CNBC quotes him as saying, “We need to redefine what is responsible business in the digital age because for all of the good the tech companies are doing, there’s some unintended consequences that now need addressing.”
Two of the most important consequences being referred to include the threatening of safety of users, especially young children, and loss of trust by consumers and companies at large.
While it’s unlikely that Unilever will turn its back on the two largest digital platforms, Weed’s words matter because of the sheer amount of ad budget Unilever holds across its portfolio brands. MediaPost reports that in 2017, the company spent approximately $9.8 billion on marketing and advertising, a quarter of which went to digital.
Beyond the public denouncements, Unilever is also working with IBM to develop a blockchain with which the company can more effectively reduce ad fraud via a record of what media is purchased and how it is delivered.
A separate MediaPost article shares YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s response to Weeds comments on Monday. In her own statement at Recode’s Code Media conference, she assured,
“We want to do the right set of things to build [Unilever’s] trust. They are building brands on YouTube, and we want to be sure that our brand is the right place to build their brand.”
Recent efforts we’ve seen in support of this include significant updates to its Creator Program policy. Further, in light of the recent Logan Paul controversy involving a video in which a suicide victim was filmed inside a Japanese forest, the company has suspended running ads on his channel, per Ad Age.
While brand safety is a concern on the minds of many marketers, Unilever’s public comments this week indicate that brands are viewing the issue with a much broader lens, and seriously questioning the role these platforms play in people’s everyday lives, beyond the world of advertising. In this important cultural moment, people are looking to brands and platforms to assume responsibility and be proactive to keep their spaces safe, trustworthy, and suitable for communities.
To further explore the overarching question of how technology, including digital platform giants, can be used to bring us closer together versus further apart, join us at SMWNYC April 24-27. Register today and save 20%.
Facebook’s Next Step in Building Community: $10M in Grants
Facebook has made several important announcements as of late the support its mission to create more “meaningful communities.” The latest? Investment in a newly announced Community Leadership program designed to support its community-building leaders through a variety of residency and fellowship opportunities that offer training, support, and funding.
Here’s how it will work: Facebook will name five “community leaders in residence” and provide up to $1 million each to fund their proposals, in addition to providing them with the opportunity to attend a customized leadership development training session.
Moreover, Facebook will select 100 individuals to join its fellowship program and receive up to $50,000 each for a “specific community initiative.” They’ll also participate in four in-person gatherings during which they will have the chance to meet and collaborate with other fellows.
Another key initiative in the works? Expanding Facebook’s “engineering team for community safety,” which is headquartered in London. In particular, the company hopes to double the number of employees focused on such efforts including detecting and stopping fake accounts, protecting people from harm (e.g harassment and scams), and making it easier to report content, by the end of 2018.
Further, Facebook outlined new tools for group admins, including page personalization options (e.g. color and the ability to pin announcements to the top of the page), the ability to create and share group rules; and more features to monitor Group Insights.
Outside of its Communities Summit, but along the theme of ensuring time on the platform is time well spent, the company also confirmed last week it was testing a downvote button that would allow users to provide feedback on comments in particular. The downvote button is being tested within a limited group of U.S. users for the time being.
This is not to be confused with a “dislike” button, but rather a more “lightweight way for people to provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading”—this according to a Facebook spokesperson quoted in TechCrunch.
Here is what the button looks like in action:
As the screenshot depicts, the user will have the ability to select whether the post was found to be “offensive,” “misleading,” or “off topic,” the choices aimed to help guide Facebook’s course of action with respect to the particular piece of feedback.
Forbes adds that, the downvote option in its test mode only applies to public posts as opposed to Group posts or the Pages of public figures. It also doesn’t affect the ranking of the post and the number of downvotes a post gets won’t be publicly shared.
These initiatives by Facebook to reverse some of the negative perceptions of its role in society come at a critical time as brands and citizens alike are putting more and more pressure on the world’s leading tech platforms to course-correct their products for the safety of their users. Just this week, Unilever threatened to yank ad dollars from Facebook and Google due to the company’s growing dissatisfaction with their overall impact on society.
“We cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” stated Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, to the BBC.
Learn about Facebook’s increasingly complex role in society by joining SMWNYC April 24-27. The conference will offer multiple sessions designed to explore where brands and platforms fit into tech’s future in our world. Register today to secure your pass.
5 Ways Cryptocurrency Can Help Entrepreneurs in 2018
Cryptocurrency has revolutionized the way we transact value, invest our savings and raise capital with its decentralised digital cash system. Blockchain technology is a once-in-a-lifetime invention; never before in history have we been presented with such a breakthrough in financial technology. In 2018, entrepreneurs are well positioned to become early adopters of blockchain technology.
1. Raising capital
Cryptocurrency has disrupted the way early stage companies raise capital. With initial coin offerings, startups around the world can raise money quickly and cheaply from a wide pool of global investors. The valuation of a company is almost immediately reflected by the market, a process that has traditionally been challenging for early stage businesses. Shares are issued as tokens and tradable almost immediately, bringing large amounts of liquidity to the company.
This new approach to raising capital has changed the world and enabled the best technical talent to build their companies at high speed. In 2014, a teenager from Canada called Vitalik Buterin raised money for his startup, Ethereum, through an initial coin offering. He wanted to improve on Bitcoin’s blockchain and create a platform for people to build unstoppable applications. With just a whitepaper and a vision, he was able to successfully raise $18 million for his new blockchain, which was valued at over $100 billion as of January 2018.
2. Transacting value
Cryptocurrency enables us to transact value between peers without a centralized authority. It provides a cheaper, faster and more efficient alternative to traditional payment networks. As a company, accepting cryptocurrency payments is becoming increasingly efficient, saving on fees and bringing faster settlement. Soon, startups will no longer need to go through the long process of setting up a business bank account to receive and distribute funds. In 2014, Overstock.com became the first retailer to accept bitcoin, receiving over 800 orders worth $126,000 in bitcoin in the first 22 hours. It has since amassed a $403,000 portfolio of cryptocurrency.
3. Investing for the future
For entrepreneurs, cryptocurrency may be the investment opportunity of a lifetime. Never before in history have retail investors had investment access to high growth early stage companies. Traditionally, venture capital funds and private angel investors have held monopolies on access to investment in the world’s best technical talent. Cryptocurrency provides a gateway for anyone in the world to invest in the world’s most exciting technology, allowing retail investors to own a basket of high growth companies. For example, through the decentralized method of blockchain investment, teenager Erik Finnman was able to invest in Bitcoin in 2011, becoming a Bitcoin millionaire at age 18. These types of investment stories would not be possible with traditional private venture capital fundraising.
4. Developing on the blockchain
The blockchain offers powerful infrastructure for companies to run their technology and create entirely new business models in a trusted way without a centralized authority. Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the way startups create value. The Ethereum platform allows companies to build unstoppable blockchain applications quickly and for free. One example of a company leveraging the Ethereum blockchain is OmiseGO, a payments company that is using blockchain to provide banking services for the world’s 2 billion unbanked population. Blockchain technology is a cost-efficient way of building decentralized applications that can scale to a global population.
5. Joining the blockchain community
The blockchain community offers access to some of the world’s best entrepreneurs, who are actively investing, advising and building upon the blockchain. Telegram, Facebook, WeChat, Slack and WhatsApp groups have proved popular in building communities of decentralized blockchain investors who can communicate with each other on a daily basis. Many large investments in early stage technology companies can be coordinated within minutes, a process that would traditionally take months in traditional venture capital. For example, in 2017, Brave’s Basic Attention Token sale sold out of its $35 million offering within 30 seconds. The blockchain community offers a strong sense of purpose with all members committed to a common goal of advancing blockchain technology to global adoption.
Cryptocurrency provides a platform for entrepreneurs to raise capital quickly, cheaply and efficiently. Entrepreneurs can transact value through the blockchain at high speed with limited setup costs and invest in high growth technology companies at an early stage. Platforms like Ethereum allow entrepreneurs to build decentralized applications to a global audience for free. The blockchain community offers access to some of the top entrepreneurs, engineers and investors in the world and in 2018, cryptocurrency will continue to provide a viable means for entrepreneurs to create value in the world.
7 Ways to Get Recruiters and Job Offers to Come to You
“You are your own brand, and you need to build that brand and promote it as much as possible. It is important that you start building your brand online, because this is where employers are going to be looking for potential employees,” suggests Dima Midon, an expert from TrafficBox. Use all of the online tools at your disposal, particularly LinkedIn, which is a professional network that allows you to really promote yourself as a professional, and someone who is an expert in your field. This is a great tool for job seekers. Make sure that you keep your profile up to date, especially when it comes to contact information, so when an employer searches you, they will be able to contact you if they are interested in learning more.
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