Keep listening, keep learning and look for others that can lead. Answering these questions reignites that passion.
Ed Crain is President of Kingstar Direct and Kingstar Media.
He has specialized for more than 30 years in entrepreneurial product launches and brand building, as well as in strategic media campaigns that drive ROI across multiple platforms.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
In about 1993/94 I was VP and General Manager of CFA Communications, Toronto. Our business was primarily video duplication for the home video business and corporate communication for companies like Honda, Chrysler and RBC and others. I had a lot more production experience from my days at CFTO/Glen Warren and wanted to start a more diverse production company, so we started “The Production Partners” in and around this time. I got asked to do a Direct Response commercial for an Elvis CD collection by Quality records. For a low creative and production fee they offered a royalty on sales. It was the first time I realized that a piece of creative content aired in broadcast could have residual revenues. This lead to “Dance Mix USA,” one of the most successful music infomercials in North America at the time and further to
“The Power Rider” the most successful fitness infomercial of its time. It was at that time that I incorporated Kingstar Direct Inc. and went out on my own. 2-3 years later I started Kingstar Media to in part to place the shows and spots I was producing on Canadian television and to follow the US DRTV agency model and do the same for other clients in the Canadian market.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am up early every day. I consume news, business news and am generally on emails by 8am. I spend 2-3 hours on correspondence and schedule most mornings. Meetings at the office are generally scheduled between 10am and 4pm. I work out at the gym generally after work or occasionally at lunch. Productivity is focus. Over the years I have practiced many techniques to get there – including meditation, discipline of schedule–Scheduling time for different tasks. To me it’s critical to separate business tasks from creative ideation.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By giving myself “space” to create. That can happen on a run, on a plane, a walk or time spent away from the endless detail demanded by business. Often with a product I have to experience it first hand or watch and witness reactions of close friends and or employee/partners. We run testimonial groups, build influencer networks, look for reactions online to similar products/categories. We web test concepts, FB test etc. All of this information when digested helps formulate “the pitch”. It may sound archaic but to me and to our business it’s still at its essence about getting “the pitch” right. And it’s not just one pitch anymore. It’s a pitch for TV, a pitch for FB, a pitch for influencers etc. That said, nailing your USP is everything, and it’s not easy.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The explosion of content. Not just advertising opportunities but real creative content. The number of engaging series work on Netflix and countless new platforms is amazing for the creative industry. In LA and all major centers, the creative and content industries are booming. Performance was my first love as a childhood actor and performer through university and many formative years. I turned to the business side of TV to make a living in the business and raise a family. It’s still the creatives – those that really struggle for art – that I admire most. It’s great to see everyone that’s good at it busy.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am not sure if wanting to win is a habit but it’s a mantra. Maybe call it visualization, imaging if you will the path to success. Winning where maybe others have failed. Being relentless in defining a critical path to success. After the USP is nailed, the rest is strategy. Strategy is hard work defined by specific tasks and actions.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Listen more before you act. It took me until probably 35 years of age to adapt what I called the 24 hr. rule–To that point I was too reactive. Like firing someone when you’ve only heard one side of the story; green lighting projects with not enough R&D time. Be less reactionary and plan more. That said, this can go the wrong way. If you wait until things are perfect to launch a business you will never launch. The ideal is somewhere between prepared and ready and being able to whether the storms you create along the path to success. But young me? Slow down, listen, take 24 hours and then react.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That children, dogs, employees and people in general need conservative discipline and rules to succeed and be happy.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Exercise, eat well and give yourself time to “imagine” wonderful things. Take time to daydream.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Hiring and fostering great people. I have said since day one that I don’t have a company with a set of guidelines for success. I seek and find entrepreneurial spirit and reward and incentivize. I envision a large boardroom table. If you are going to sit in a seat at the table you must not only pay for your seat, but you must make that 20-seat table appear like it has 40 seats. The sum of the effort and the result of those efforts must exceed individual value. The sum is greater than its contributing parts. That’s a successful company. I simply look for people to sit at the table.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have failed at times in my life to maintain a proper work/life/family balance. This you pay dearly for. Seek guidance and help to balance emotion, business, family and fitness. There are expert life coaches that you can find. I have sought out and found some great ones over the years. It made all the difference.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A portable 6ft x6ft x 7 ft ( tall) ( maybe inflatable) Greenhouse. I actually had prototypes made in China 10 years ago or so. Inflatable like an inflatable bed. Clear plastic. You could unzip the door walk in and tend to 2 shelves of plants. Fits on a balcony. Packs up in a duffel bag and you can move it. I love this category and all of the residual items like growing lights, planters etc. In the age of the 100-mile diet and wanting to know more and more that what we eat is real – this is a winning idea
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Any of the charities that I have donated to in the last year and the last 100.00 I have spent on books.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I am fairly old school so going from a Daytimer to Outlook was major. I continue to find tools in outlook that help me stay organized.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Four Agreements Book by Don Miguel Ruiz.
A great guide to life, business and good practice.
What is your favorite quote?
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
- That I have been doing the same thing for a long time and I love it.
- That there is so much road left and the path is always new and exciting, with new players and possibilities. Just let it happen.
- Keep listening, keep learning and look for others that can lead. Answering these questions reignites that passion.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.