Before Byron Allen became the sole ownerÂ of a global media empire, he was broke and sitting around in his undies.Â
OK, maybe that’s an overstatement â Allen may have been in his underwear (by his own admission), but he was doing anything but sitting around.Â
Allen is the founder, CEOÂ and soleÂ shareholder of Entertainment StudiosÂ (ES) based in Los Angeles. His content production and distribution company has more than $1 billion in assets, including the recently acquiredÂ Weather Channel. Allen also controls networks behindÂ shows such as “Funny You Should Ask,” “Beautiful Homes & Great Estates,” “Animal Control Patrol” and “Entertainers with Byron Allen.”Â
What many people don’t know about him is that theÂ company he founded prior to ES was forced into involuntary bankruptcy.
As he describes it, “ES was launched in my living room. I worked in my underwear, and I was flat broke.â His sunken level is even more meaningful when you realize this is the same Byron Allen who was a household name in entertainment and comedy throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, having launched into stardom at 17Â as the youngest comedian to ever appear on Johnny Carsonâs Tonight Show.
I recently sat down to talk to Allen for “Uncommon Drive” â the new video series from USA TODAY’s homeÂ for startups and entrepreneurs, USA & Main,Â where I pick the brains of todayâs top performing entrepreneurs.
As I reflected on our conversation, which I encourage you to check out at usaandmain.com, I thought aboutÂ the manyÂ entrepreneurial potential assessments out there, each with varying intricacy and accuracy. Iâve taken quite a few of these tests. Early on, I think I took them as a confidence builder to reassure myself I was cut out for the trials and tribulations of self-employment.
And besides, given the enormous amount of time and resources we dedicate to the pursuit of entrepreneurship, wouldnât it be great if we could take a test that could determine if weâll be successful before starting our business journey? The stakes are high.Â The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports thatÂ Â 50 percentÂ of new businesses close within fiveÂ years.
After taking all those tests, I never thought aÂ simpler version â one with less than 20 questions â would beÂ very informative until my interview with Allen.Â
Back to Allen: Following a successful Hollywood career and what he thought was the launch of a promising company, here he was, with nothing.
“Most people would have called that absolute failure, but I didnât,” Allen said.Â
So what kept him going?Â
“Failure is not what Iâm afraid of;Â what Iâm afraid of is not pursuing my fullest potential,â he said.Â
That simple statement encapsulates Allenâs brilliance as well as why not only he, but every entrepreneur Iâve interviewed for “Uncommon Drive,”Â has succeeded. Each guest has had the same take on failure. Itâs simply a data point to tell them what to change, as opposed to meaning what most people interpret from failure, and thatâs to stop.
SoÂ ask yourself this simple question. Are you more afraid of failure or more afraid of not reaching your full potential?
Paul C. Brunson, host of USA TODAY’s video seriesÂ “Uncommon Drive,”Â is a serial entrepreneur with three exits andÂ a pioneering matchmaker (yes, he is the real-life “Hitch”).Â He alsoÂ is building a school in Jamaica. Follow him onÂ LinkedInÂ orÂ InstagramÂ for behind-the-scenes footage and insights from his interviews and travels.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the authorâs and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
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