Everyone needs their own Entertainment Team

Last week was “Entertainment Team”.  Entertainment Team is one of my favorite networks.  This group of former work colleagues represents hard work, risk-taking, the ultimate collaboration, a long-term personal commitment to each other’s success and a shared sense of accomplishment. I care deeply for the personal and professional well-being of this special network. If any of them needs a reference, a shoulder, a cheerleader or a drink (water, wine, coffee…) – I am here.  And even though we can go 8 months without getting together, it is always like old times.

When I led Hallmark Properties at Hallmark, I quickly realized how important entertainment would be for the licensing success of our character properties. I mean, would Disney launch a new princess without entertainment? Of course not!  So, I quickly surrounded myself with other people who understood entertainment.  I enlisted the help of our Hallmark Hall of Fame producer who had produced dozens of movies, artists that had created entertainment characters, lawyers who had done entertainment deals, a grant writer who understood funding opportunities, and our Character Properties Leadership team.  I called our first meeting at a local wine bar and named the meeting “Entertainment Team.” I asked the group to share their expertise – and together our group built on each other’s ideas and we developed our plan. We tested our entertainment ideas through interstitials (short animations – a la The Simpsons on the Tracey Ullman Show, way back in the day) and created some hometown KC excitement with unique stadium entertainment for the KC Royals.  Then we ventured into our plan – to develop seasonal specials that showcased our characters, drove fan engagement and drove licensed revenue.

This team celebrated success together – we had a party on Black Friday of 2011 to watch our first two specials air on the same night on different networks! Last week we reminisced about that party in my basement.  Some of us attended the Annie Awards together and walked the red carpet. We celebrated great ratings, and jumped into the production of two more specials in 2012 – one special even had Keith Urban singing Jingle Bells in it (along the way, I was asked to take on Music Acquisition licensing – so we significantly upgraded our music options!).  Some of us joined the television academy and even went to the Emmy’s together.

Everyone needs a long-standing group of smart colleagues that stay connected, even after job moves, company moves, life events, etc.  My advice — if you are working with that type of team today – I encourage you to continue it. There is such value in connecting with people you enjoy working with, who support you and know your work better than anyone. It’s the group where you can exchange honest feedback, remind each other of your strengths, brainstorm new opportunities, and share stories that no one else understands. For this special network, I will be forever grateful.

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