Founder and CEO of Digital Content Group and former University of Miami School of Business Administration adjunct professor, Jay Scharer, spoke to students of the Media Management Association (MMA) Wednesday evening at UM’s School of Communication. His presentation, “Becoming a Media Entrepreneur,” encouraged students to ask themselves “Is this what I want?”
During his career, Scharer has developed new brands and content and helped existing brands expand and succeed in more than 40 countries. He has worked as the Director of Marketing at Fox Television Station Productions and a Vice President at QVC. Scharer also co-founded and worked as the CEO for Cisneros Television Group, which eventually grew to earning more than $120 million dollars in annual revenue. Today, Scharer is the CEO of Digital Content Group, a boutique firm he founded that specializes in video content creation and programming strategy.
Professor Dupagne, the advisor of the MMA, invited Scharer as the first speaker for the new semester so that students can get a taste of what they may be facing in the media business today.
“I hope MMA students will get a flavor for the challenges and opportunities they may run into when starting a media business. Scharer will tell them how to deal with these challenges. Learning about media entrepreneurship can help any student, even if they have no intention to start their own business,” says Dupagne.
As members of the MMA, students are given opportunities to network with successful media professionals, to ask them questions, and to speak with these professionals about their own ideas. This year, the association is working hard to give students a sense of all the different aspects of the media management business, kicking off the year with Scharer’s presentation.
Scharer began by explaining to students that the best way to be a successful entrepreneur is to “get fired,” so that eventually they will be so unemployable that they have to start their own business.
“Entrepreneurship is not a career. It’s more of a what-do-I-do-now play. You have to say to yourself ‘I know how to do this and I know how to do it better than anyone else or I have a vision and I can create demand’,” said Scharer.
Students from the MMA laughed at his down-to-earth approach to such a competitive and growing industry. Doménica Leone, the 2014-2015 MMA vice president, was pleasantly surprised at Scharer’s realistic explanation of the road to success.
“We always have this idea that people who are successful never struggle, and it’s good to see that that’s not true. He didn’t fluff it up. We are going to struggle, but eventually we are going to get there. Just like he said, the key is being persistent,” explained Leone.
Leone, who sees Scharer as a mentor, believes that students interested in the media business would definitely benefit from joining the MMA. The growing organization gives students the opportunity to listen to stories first-hand and learn from people like Scharer.
The best thing to do, Scharer advised students, is be educated, get a job, learn the business and “then be naïve enough to think you can do it better.”
“Get up. Chase your dreams. Be relentless. Be stubborn. And that’s how you become an entrepreneur,” says Scharer.