Regards croisés : How to make a story out of your history

Side by Side team
Most successful American self-made men share a defining characteristic: they know where they came from, and most important, they know how to talk about it.

Justin Szlasa is one of them. This young management-solutions-company-founder-turned-film-producer is a storyteller. Invited to give a lecture as part of our Masters program, Justin not only told us how he came to earn a lot of money_and subsequently be free to pursue his dreams, he also told us a tale of American success.
He creates a story using images that most people can relate to: he was raised in the Big Flats, i.e. the middle of nowhere (he even uses a picture of a farm in his presentation, not only illustrating the remoteness of his origins, but also reminding us that farmers are the working spirit of the United States). And then he began his rise: from Baltimore to New York to Chicago. These images of evolution through different states were reminiscent of cinema; it is no surprise that he works in this field. Everyone has an idea of American life, even outside of the United States, thanks to the movies.

But of course the path is not so easy. You meet bumps in the road along the way. Sleeping in your office in a cold city (an image of Chicago under the snow appears on the screen), dreaming of the top. The American dream. It helps to focus on your priorities and reevaluate the concept of your business. The main idea is that financial gain is worth any risk because money is, at first, the main goal.

Money helped Justin to finance his real passion: cinema. Having succeeded in business, it was time for Justin to follow his heart. He sold his company, went back to school, and started to film documentaries. The top is not just money. Financial succcess is a way to access another part of the American dream: fame. Not that he set out to achieve it, but his photos show that being friends with Keanu Reeves is a happy by-product of Justin’s rise.

A flight from the countryside to the stars is quite the story arch for one’s career. In the end, in order to give us a kind of formula for success, Justin has defined a set of rules that can make any regular guy into a successful man. Being 100% reliable, prioritize, saying bad news first, write things down…These principles leave a lasting impression and they highlight the strong values upon which he built his character.

Quand on reçoit un producteur de films, il ne faut pas vraiment s’étonner de se trouver face à un très bon story-teller. C’est donc à grands renforts de photos, de suspsens et d’anecdotes que Justin nous parle de son ascension dans le business. Ou comment faire de sa vie une histoire à part entière.

Par Guilhem Monceaux
Source de l’image : Side by Side website

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