Every Coconut has a Silver Lining
Conversations with Creatives at the Top: Jonathan Newman
Last week I started the first in a series of interviews for my book Creative Ways to the Top. I talked to Jonathan Newman about Dreaming Big and for him big is Big.
Born in Britain, he grew up in LA and from an early age he was interested in film. He didn’t want to be a spoke on someone else’s wheel, he wanted to be a Film Director. Lots of people have big dreams but they don’t chase them, or they get knocked back by the pitfalls and brick walls they come across. Jonathan has had his fair share of doors slamming in his face but he takes every failure on the chin, grieves the loss then picks himself up and takes action. He made three shorts Foster, Finkel and Father’s Day all of which won awards around the world. He made a mad phone call to British Telecom having seen they were just getting into media and asked for £10,000 to make a feature film. Luck was on his side, they were looking for content for something they were creating called Broadband. Good timing, luck yes but he took action. He picked up the phone and made that call. He says the film wasn’t great but everything he was doing attracted the attention of a film producer and he made two feature films (Budget £2million each) back to back. Jonathan believes it takes the chemistry of talent, luck and action working in synergy to make things happen.
But in the film industry he says you never get the moment when you feel you’ve made it, when you can sit back on your laurels. Some doors slam, some open, some people hate your work and some love it. “It’s not the rejections that kill you, it’s the hope, the dangling carrot- people saying ‘I love it’ then it fizzling out”. Ultimately though, he believes that nothing people say is real, opinions are just that, opinions. In any case he fought on towards his dream and made The Adventurer- the Curse of the Midas Touch at a budget of £25 million, and it sold worldwide. But in between was the waiting, the constant attempts to develop projects and more false starts. Being Jonathan he found a way to combat those soul-destroying times by starting a business on the side in 2011.
He went into coconuts, raised money, developed his products and slowly built his business. He made mistakes, lost contracts, learned from his failures and took more action. In four years he took www.chilondon.com to a multi-million pound company. He says he was a workaholic but somewhere along the way he realised that no amount of material possessions gives you a balanced life and he took stock. He learned everything he could from self-improvement books and instructors and he re-calibrated. He started to get healthy, eat properly, go to the gym 5 times a week, be there and present for his family at the weekends and take his kids to school on weekdays and put them to bed at night. And he continues to Dream Big. He joined up with www.drop4drop.com to bring water to villages in India and last year they built their first well. This year they have plans to build six wells. He says, if you’ve been able to make money at what you do then that’s your chance to give back.
And creatively he goes from strength to strength too. He has just signed a deal to produce a biopic feature film he wrote about Roald Dahl which he will be making with an American independent production company and fully financed by a British company. But he never takes anything for granted, he never leaves for tomorrow what he can do today and he uses his time efficiently and productively. He has learned to put his ego aside and be prepared to learn from those who can help him improve. He takes every failure as a stepping stone to success and he finds a silver lining in every coconut.
The full interview is available as part of Lou’s book “Creative Ways to the Top”. Follow the book as it’s being written: www.createlabcoaching.com