Jamie Horowitz co-founded Omaha Productions with Peyton Manning in December 2020. He serves as the president of the company, which focuses on creating unifying and uplifting content.
Previously, he was WWE’s EVP, Digital and Development. Horowitz led WWE’s original programming slate and digital initiatives. In this capacity, Horowitz shaped the strategy for WWE’s social media output and off-platform content distribution.
Before that, he worked as the EVP of Content, North America for DAZN. In this role, he led content creation and strategy for DAZN’s North American business. This included the creative development and production of DAZN’s studio shows and working with Sylvester Stallone on original boxing documentaries and films.
Prior to that, Horowitz was President of FOX Sports National Networks. Horowitz oversaw programming, marketing, and scheduling for FS1 and reinvented the FS1 daytime strategy.
Earlier in his career, Horowitz was an ESPN senior executive where he developed innovative daily sports talk shows such as “First Take” and “SportsNation.”
Horowitz began his career in sports television as an Olympic Researcher for NBC Sports leading up to and during the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. He graduated from Amherst College. He was a very average point guard on the basketball team.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
My wife Kara and I feel like there are no slow days. We have 3 active boys, aged 14, 11, and 8. My alarm goes off at 5:00 am, I make a cup of coffee while I take our dog outside. Then I try to answer emails starting around 5:15 am. I start early because there is a lot to do but also because I want to keep late afternoons and evenings flexible since I want to attend all of the boys’ activities and coach them in the local basketball leagues.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I continue to believe the most underrated part of finding new ideas is endless research. Through the years, many of the shows that my teams have launched that were considered original were often just the combination of some other shows or ideas that had worked in different genres or different eras. The research part of the journey isn’t always fun – it’s a lot of content consumption and flow charts trying to connect dissimilar ideas. But once we understand the beats of what makes something work, we often find the best path to success.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Over the past couple of years, it feels like there is a strong movement to empower creative people to do creative things. That’s not the way it always was. Media used to be a lot more top-down – meaning networks had a point of view on the world and everyone needed to fit that model. The whole industry is more bottom-up now. I guess it’s the natural by-product of the social media era where creators speak directly to the fans. It’s a good evolution for the customer because instead of trying to serve all fans with one type of content, we can now hyper-serve fans with specific interests.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
I agree with the leadership theory that if you want to improve at anything, you have to measure and track it. I try to be relentlessly self-critical and constantly assess if I am not just working harder, but working smarter. I think that constant assessment of my performance helps me continue to be more productive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Who you surround yourself with has a sneaky big impact on your career and your life. If you surround yourself with high-achievers who are getting up at 5 a.m. to work out and then be first in the office, that attitude ends up sneaking into your life. If you hang out with less focused folks, you may end up going the other way.
A relentless focus on who you spend time with should also inform your hiring decisions. “People are your most important asset.” Former ESPN President George Bodenheimer said that for years. When I was in my 20s at ESPN, I thought that was just something a nice boss would say. But as I got older, I realized how profound his statement is.
There is a famous clip after the Patriots beat the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl in 2015. It was the game where Patriots Coach Bill Belichick famously stayed impossibly calm in the waning moments while there seemed to be confusion on the other sideline. After the win, Patriots Wide Receiver Julian Edelman hugged Belichick and said: “You are the greatest coach in the world.” And even at that moment, at the height of his powers, Coach Belichick knows enough to say back to Edelman, “Players Win Games.” It’s true. All the leadership strategies in the world are worth very little unless you have great players.
So I would tell my younger self to focus on who you hang out with, who you work with, and who you hire. Tennessee Basketball Coach Pat Summit said it best: “Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by herself.” Once you know that, you realize you should constantly assess who is around you because it changes everything.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?
I continue to believe that the best leadership philosophy is to oddly have no philosophy. I think it’s more effective – though harder – to try to understand each person and then tailor your leadership to that individual. As Red Auerbach once said: “you have to learn whose butt to kick, and whose butt to kiss.”
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Constantly think long term. So often people are fighting over every last detail in a deal. My default position is to give in on everything. I want to make sure whoever is sitting across the table from me leaves feeling good and wants to do more deals down the road. I am barely ever trying to “win” a negotiation. Life is long, stay friendly with everyone, treat people with respect, and understand their needs – we are all in the long game.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Go play sports. My escape has always been playing sports. Drinking, drugs, partying — none of that has ever been my escape. Going to play a great game of pick-up basketball, competitive tennis, or even a grueling run is what allows me to escape and then refocus again.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
I spend a lot of time reminding the team that “being right is not the most important thing.” So often people are on this road trying to be right about something. Then I ask, if showing someone that you were right ruined your relationship with them, would you consider that a win? Focus less on being right and more on determining what your goal is and then we can discuss the best path to getting there.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?
I love Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History. It’s fascinating because it forces us to confront the idea that things we were certain about may not have been what we thought all along. Gladwell describes Revisionist History as “a way to look at the overlooked and the misunderstood.” He goes on to write: “Every episode re-examines something from the past — an event, a person, an idea, even a song — and asks whether we got it right the first time. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.” I love that concept.
I think it’s helpful to constantly be reassessing if we got things right. So many bad decisions are made because the first conclusion was wrong and now we are making a series of decisions along a road we should not be on. I think it’s really helpful for people and organizations to consistently acknowledge how much there is to learn. Former NFL Coach Bill Parcells had a clever — though confusing — phrase that can guide perspective: “When you don’t know that you don’t know, it’s a lot different than when you do know that you don’t know.” He is right. A secret of being successful is trying to identify what you don’t know and also questioning if what you thought to be true, may not be.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
I am currently watching two shows. My two older sons are binge-watching The Office on Peacock and I am thoroughly enjoying a second pass on the series. The comedy hasn’t aged at all. I am also selfishly watching QUARTERBACK on Netflix with the whole family. Working on that show was one of the most fun experiences of my career. We documented what it was like to play quarterback in the NFL by following Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, and Patrick Mahomes for the entire season. I highly recommend that if you produce an NFL docuseries following quarterbacks, you should choose in advance the guy who ends up winning the Super Bowl and the MVP. I believe they call that strategy: luck.
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.