Thursday, August 8, 2013

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Mark Burnett

Unscripted Leadership--

Mark Burnett's business in the US started by selling T-shirts on the Venice Beach.  In Europe if you don't come from the right upbringing doors are closed.  Mark started buying $2.00 slightly damaged T-shirts and reselling them for $18.00.

Bill:  In the beginning your ideas were rejected.  How did you handle this?

Mark:  When I hear NO, I hear Next Opportunity.  I kicked the doors down to get The Bible series on television.  When Jesus calls you, you have to get your ass off the couch and do something.

Bill:  When I came to see a viewing of The Bible, you were kind of down.  Do you remember what happened?

Mark:  We were feeling a little bit of an attack and I was feeling defensive.  I explained to Bill that we needed help in counteracting the attacks.  Bill turned to me and looked me in the eye and said, "I'm going to help you but stop acting defensively and start acting offensively, and that changed everything."

Bill:  I could tell you felt very strongly you should do this.  How do you describe the success of this series.  What happened?

Mark:  It's not about us but this has nothing to do with us.  This is completely and utterly the Holy Spirit.  You know, we prayed so hard and found the time to try to be still and listen to God.  We were given courage in our prayers and this is a nation that is absolutely built on the Bible and on faith.  This is a nation that is in need of hope and in need of that message.  We came along with The Bible series at the right time in our nation's history.  It has become the #1 series of 2013.

This is global.  It did great in Canada and beat out hockey.  It was also #1 in Spain, in Portugal and in Colombia (except for one night when it was beaten by the Ten Commandments).  It's helped people to start conversations.  It's a great thing to use.  It was God's plan and it's continued.

Bill:  One of your deeply held leadership values is "Choose your companions before you choose your road."

Mark:  It's important to travel with the right people and to choose people on your team who will build the team.  You don't want to keep around people who are energy suckers.  You've got to make the tough choices.  In a normal work day you spend the energy at a steady rate but dealing with tough people will drain all your energy.  Unresolved conflicts will drain your energy.  Not everybody is the right player on the right team.

Bill:  You said you team up creative people with finance people and force them to work together.

Mark:  Everyone on my shows is teamed to know they need each other.  They need to work together.  Mistakes are very costly.  If the person at the top isn't wise or courageous enough to give responsibility to other areas it won't work.  If you want to lead big teams you can't do it all yourself.   I manage from an arm's length.  Producers should not be doing the editing; it's insulting.   Hire the right people and empower them.  You're not there to do the job for them.

Bill:  If you have a creative team and you let them dream up a show, do you let them dream free without a budget or give them a budget first.

Mark:  If someone came to me and pitched a show without a budget and a schedule I'd think they were insane.  That would be completely crazy.  It's hard to get a show on the air.  I don't want to pitch a show without a great story but also need a budget and a schedule.  It's not a game.

Bill:  I always think we should dream in the context of a budget.

Mark:  We did The Bible for 22 million when it would have normally cost 100 million.  You need a sense of the skill set of what it takes to do it.  The easiest thing to do is to waste money.  With The Bible we didn't want to tell people how to feel, we wanted them to feel it .  Making shows from a Christian perspective doesn't give you permission to make them crappy.

Bill:  When you made The Bible there is one scene that strikes you more deeply and you chose one for this crowd to see (clip of "Mary Did You Know?" with scenes from The Bible series)

Bill:  Here's the last thing I want to say today.  Mark stepped out in faith and made a movie that made a difference.  Bob Goff, a lawyer, used his career to rescue children.  Find a way to lead where you are.  You only have between this day and your final day to make a play for God and to serve others and heal up this broken world.

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