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The capacity to dream: Haskell shares his thoughts on life and success

February 19, 2011

Sam Haskell's fascination with television began when he was a young boy growing up in Amory.
It propelled him to a life of working with some of the most talented people on the planet.
He is the former executive vice president and worldwide head of television for what is now known as William Morris Endeavor, a professional talent company.
He shared his experiences with several dozen people Saturday who came to Hollywood Premier Cinemas to hear him speak and ask him to sign his book, "Promises I Made My Mother."
His appearance was part of the 14th Annual Magnolia Independent Film Festival.
He says that from the time he was a little boy, he could tell people what shows where were and weren't working.
Haskell says he earned about $29 a month from a summer job shelving books at the local library in Amory.
He went to a five-and-dime store and bought model airplanes, paint and glue. He assembled the aircraft and hung them from his ceiling.
"And I would dream. I dreamed about everything that might be," he said. "The capacity to dream is what gives you the capacity to make something positive happen, and if you aren't able to dream, then I suggest you find a way to dream, because reality is not reality unless it follows a dream," he said.
He said he believes anyone interested in arts, film or television has to "understand this very simple concept, simple in its explanation, but profound in its execution, this ability to dream. And I dreamed of going to Hollywood."
He says his mother believed in him.
Every day he left the house, he said she would say: "'Sammy, you go do what know you need to do. You keep dreaming. You're special.'"
He encouraged the audience to positive about people, not the negative.
"I really believe that everything about our journeys must be about standing in the light of God's grace and focusing on what's positive," Haskell said.
He also addressed the subject of greed.
"Never, ever be so greedy that you ... prohibit something wonderful from happening," Haskell said. "... Success breeds greed. Incredible talent breeds greed" and a person must remove this from the equation, he said.
Haskell also said for something of value to develop, an individual can't do it alone.
"You can't be cocky enough to think that you can make anything important happen by yourself," he said. "I embrace the concept of being thoughtfully political. ... Think about what you want, think again about who's going to help you get it ... , and then the political aspect is to make those people who might help you happy to help you," he said.
He said a person has to think about:
• Being organized.
• Determining who is going to help with organization and execution.
• Staying creatively on task.
• Handling success the one might have.
• Figuring out how he or she is going to get there.
So many times people don't think about the ripple effect of their decisions, he said.
"If you know who you are, and you like who you are and you do everything to maintain who that person is, you can do anything," Haskell said.
Maintenance of self "is attacked and challenged and compromised every step, whether you're in Hollywood or Starkville, Mississippi. ... You have to understand how you're going to respond to those challenges and you've got to understand in your own heart what your ultimate goal is and you're going to execute all the different things surrounding you into getting there," he said.
Haskell says he finds it comes from consistency – of thought, faith, execution, believing in oneself and those one chooses to have around him or her.
"You're going to be surrounded by people whether you like it or not. ... and you've got to get along and you've got to build relationships and you've got to maintain those relationships and you will call on those relationships when you need them most and it's those relationships that will take you where you need to go," Haskell said.
This will be "because you've been thoughtfully political and you understand the importance of knowing, liking and maintaining and you find a way to be a consistent magnet of strength for all those who might surround you," he said.
A person has two kinds of power – his or her character and integrity is the first and learned skills is the second.
"Try to have both. ... Don't focus on what's wrong ... focus on what's right and you can do anything," he said.
Haskell says he's working with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant on legislation to develop a new effort to help Mississippi match rebate and tax incentives other states offer for filmmaking, adding he would like to work with studio executives to encourage them to make films in the state.
One of the pieces of advice Haskell offered was for people to be genuine.
"Be real. Don't try to recreate who you are for anyone. ... Be who you are, because if you're not who you are, no one's going to buy it," he said.

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