3 lessons from Haim Saban

September 4, 2017

by LIOR ZOREF @lior

I have always enjoyed following watching the success of Haim Saban. How did a young kid with low grades that was kicked out of school become a billionaire and a philanthropist?

I recently listened to an NPR podcast called ‘How I Built This,’ which contains a fascinating and insightful conversation with Haim Saban.

In the end, there’s a link to to the full podcast. In the meantime, here are three things we can all learn from Haim Saban:

1. Minimizing costs

When I’m on a business trip abroad, as I arrive at a hotel after a long day of work or travel, I go to bed and stare at a local TV channel often in a language I do not understand, trying to shut off.

Saban tells a story of his visit to Japan where he stared at the TV from his hotel room. That is how he first saw Power Rangers in the original Japanese version. Saban says he enjoys watching the series. Then he had a very creative idea.

At the action scenes, all heroes wore masks. In other words, the actor’s real face was hidden. In such action series, action shots are the most expensive part of the production. Saban thought it would be possible to reshoot the dialogues with American characters and then incorporate in editing the original action in which the characters appear with masks.

Buying the rights to the Japanese series will enable him to produce an American version at a fraction of a production budget for such a series.

2. Schlepping

Saban tells how he tried to sell the series and uses the Yiddish word ‘Schlep.’ I admit I did not know that word. I looked for it. Schlepping is moving around reluctantly doing something you need to do while you don’t want to do. People who Schlep seems to be pathetic as they drag themselves to do something difficult.

Saban tried to sell Power Rangers to many TV networks. “I Schlepped, this is what I know how to do best.”

In the first year, he failed. The second year failed. The same is true for the third time. Everyone said he had no chance.

Try to think about how long you tried to do something without success until you gave up?

Only after eight years (!) a Fox network producer showed interest.

Eight years.

3. There is no connection between grades and success

Saban’s success is another example that there is no connection between grades and success. As a child, he was a bad student. The school principal threw him out of school, and his parents sent him to a boarding school.

Even today, as in the past, many students in the schools have difficulties and receive low grades. The message they receive is: “You are not smart enough” and “To succeed in life you have to succeed in school, you have no chance of succeeding.”

For these students, the education system kills the sense of competence and self-confidence. Here’s a link to another post I’ve written on a topic that has been taking me more and more lately.

Finally, I recommend you listen to the full podcast broadcast (43 minutes long).

Here’s the link to the Podcast.

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