James DuBose is a highly successful television producer, filmmaker, and industry executive, who is driven by his passion for meaningful storytelling. Surrounded by like-minded individuals, he has created some of the most successful shows on television.
James DuBose landed his first job in the entertainment industry after graduating from Wake Forest University, where he earned a degree in communications. After joining the Emmy Award-winning Brad Lachman Productions Company as a program assistant, James began his career on what he considered to be a wild roller coaster ride. James took on various roles over the next twenty years as a television producer in sports and entertainment, a filmmaker, and a veteran entertainment industry executive.
In 2006, James launched DuBose Entertainment, producing several reality shows that performed extremely well. However, at the height of his career, his mental health took a turn for the worse, and his battle with depression impacted his ability to fulfill his professional obligations.
It took several years for James DuBose to conquer the demons that plagued him, but after coming out on the other side, James DuBose is now the Head of Programming and Executive Producer for a new interactive streaming channel, Fox Soul. Backed with confidence by the Fox Corporation, Fox Soul celebrates black culture with an intent to entertain, educate, and inspire.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Sports came easily to me when I was young, whether it was football, basketball, or baseball, it was second nature—I even earned a full scholarship to Wake Forest University to play football. Like sports, I always had a knack for entertainment. As a child, I used to DJ and wanted to be a rapper when I was ten or twelve years old. I loved reading stories and watching TV. I gravitated toward stories with substance. Above all else, the stories about struggle, survival, and combating the challenges of everyday life were what really captivated my attention.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m up at 4AM every morning. I say my prayers and set my intentions for the day, and then listen to 45 minutes of affirmations. It’s important to start your day on a positive note.
I’m currently in a new role in the network, so I’m still in the process of developing a set work schedule. However, despite what my day may look like, I’m consistently searching for new ways to tell stories. I wake up every day excited to use my creative gifts to inspire others.
How do you bring ideas to life?
If someone wants to pitch me an idea I require three elements, it must: entertain, educate, and inspire. If a pitch fits all of those criteria, I work closely with a tight-knit team to ensure that every piece of media produced is well-rounded. Bringing ideas to life is a team effort, and above all else, storyboards, brainstorms, and collaborative work sessions help us visualize what we are going to create.
What’s one trend that excites you?
What excites me is that people are starting to look inside themselves to discover some form of truth. There is a growing trend towards producing more engaged, thoughtful, and challenging media, and I love that we collectively want to take a deeper dive into understanding how it all works. Of course, this ‘seeking’ extends beyond TV media. People are seeking out self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship. Shows such as The Profit and Shark Tank showcase creativity and passion, inspiring inventors, entrepreneurs, and thinkers everywhere to invest in themselves and their ideas.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, life can get extremely busy. The one—slightly counterintuitive—thing that has helped me be more productive is a return to patience. For me, patience is the key to success. I’ve rushed, pushed, hurried, and every time I do, it all comes crashing down and I have to start all over again. My advice? Don’t rush into projects, partnerships or relationships; if you go slow, take precautions, and make intentional decisions, it will all come to you when the time is right.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to attack all of the issues you face head-on. It’s easy to avoid discomfort and conflict, but addressing problems head-on not only builds better relationships, but allows you to grow more quickly as a person.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think that some people were put on this earth to struggle. I know how divisive that statement can be, but people grow only through struggle, internal or external. Those individuals are here to show others what struggle, resilience, and integrity are all about.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I would tell everyone to pray. Whether you pray, meditate, or spend some quiet time reflecting on your life, a small slice of reflection can be beneficial for your mental, physical, and spiritual health.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It’s a collection of strategies. First: I’ve learned to assess all situations in their totality—seeing the big picture. I’ve learned not to rush into things even if I have a need and someone can satisfy that need right then, it pays to be patient. I’ve learned to say no when the occasion calls for it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was not prepared for the success I had at the beginning of my career. I didn’t know much about the business end of the entertainment industry, which made it a roller coaster ride with dozens of challenges. At the height of my career, I was emotionally in a very dark place. I was facing internal issues that resulted in profound sadness and deep depression. I tried to fill the void by spending money that I didn’t have. I was searching for new businesses, but nothing seemed to be enough, nothing could fill that void—not even family.
My pastor once told me, “A blessing given too soon is not a blessing at all if you are not prepared and ready for it.” I was the living, breathing example of that statement. My blessing is that I was given the gift of telling stories. If my story can help anyone to overcome their challenges, I’m fulfilling my journey in the entertainment industry. I overcame my struggles by surrounding myself with people I can trust, and by setting boundaries between my work and personal life.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We live in increasingly isolated communities, and there is a real need out there for people to connect, to be able to call someone and simply talk. It doesn’t have to have an explicit purpose, like therapy, but is just to talk. If someone could figure out how to make a business of connecting like-minded people, I think it would be a good one.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought four books, I’m an avid reader. I like reading about people’s real-life journeys. They share a message of resilience and the unbreakable nature of the human spirit. Even if you’ve gone through hell, you can’t help but be inspired. A book is the greatest return on investment.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use the voice memo on my phone. When I’m in business meetings, in the car, on the go, and inspiration strikes, I use voice memo. Unlike a notebook, I always have my phone on me, and can listen to them back at the end of the day or week to put ideas into practice.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Three Feet From Gold”, it’s an inspiring book about not quitting. Written by Sharon L. Lechter and Greg S. Reid, the book provides a guide on how to turn obstacles into opportunities.
What is your favorite quote?
“If there is no enemy within, there is no enemy without that can do you harm.”
- Don’t rush into anything, projects or partnerships or relationships. If you just go slow and let it come when the time is right, it is the key to success.
- People are identifying with the fact that they do not have to be dependent on the nine- to-five and then you die
- Work from your strengths, and hire great people to cover the weaknesses.
- Assess all situations. Learned not to rush into things. Learned when to say no.
- Attack all issues head-on. Don’t try to mask it with other things.
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.