How to Ask for Anything with Larry Kasanoff

Buckle up! Today, Equalman sits down with Hollywood Legend Larry Kasanoff. Kasanoff makes movies (Platoon, Terminator 2, True Lies, Mortal Kombat), animated movies (Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out), and theme park rides (Marvel Superheroes 4D, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman). In terms of innovation, he has worked on films and rides that include the first hit movie made from a video game, first movie to extensively use morphing, the first 3D steadicam (moving camera) shot, first EDM (electronic dance music) platinum album, and many more. He has a BA from Cornell University and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Learn more about Larry Kasanoff here:

In this episode, Erik and Larry discuss Larry’s new book, A Touch of the Madness: How to Be More Innovative in Work and Life . . . by Being a Little Crazy. Larry shares his journey to becoming the legendary movie producer he is today, why he risked his job to green-light the movie Platoon, why you should sometimes listen less, three questions you should ask yourself to discover your passion and much more.

5x #1 Bestselling Author and Motivational Speaker Erik Qualman has performed in over 55 countries and reached over 50 million people this past decade. He was voted the 2nd Most Likable Author in the World behind Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling.

Need a sneak peek? Below are the main takeaways from the episode.

How to Ask for Anything with Larry Kasanoff

Episode Preview:

“I wanted to be a movie producer since I was a little kid. And I got very lucky and out of grad school, I got a job with an independent new film studio that was growing up during the boom on video. So in the late 80s, and mid-80s, there was a boom in home video similar to the woman streaming today. I mean, there was no home video market. Then it started. All these stores opened. They had room for 25,000 movies on their shelves, they didn’t have 25,000 movies, so they needed them. So companies like ours sprang up to fuel them. Same things like a content gold rush, right, same thing that’s happening today. So I got a job as Head of Production and acquisitions for this new studio. And my job was to deliver 80 movies a year. “We don’t care how you get them,” said my boss, “but don’t lose money.” So I couldn’t believe someone was giving me this kind of responsibility so young. And so I made action movies and romcoms and horror movies, the kind of things you’d expect. And they did really well.

And then we got a script for a movie called Platoon. And Platoon was not one of those movies. It was a very serious film about the Vietnam War and the effect it had on the kids who went to it. The tagline of the movie was, “The first casualty of war is innocence.” The people who are going to be in the movie have become famous, but they weren’t famous then and the director Oliver Stone, we did one prior movie with him, which was great, but it didn’t make any money. So my boss and I wanted to make it, I just had an instinct. And my boss said to me, “you, you’re crazy. This can’t get a lot. You’re crazy. You can’t do this. This isn’t what we do.” And I fought for it. And he said, “Okay, well, if you really want to do it you can, you’re the head of production.” Of course, but there’s always a but “You bet your job. If it doesn’t work, you’re fired. What do you want to do?” And I have the best job in the world. And I thought, well, I didn’t get into the film business to play it safe. So I greenlit Platoon.

When I saw the first cut of the movie. I’m the only person in history to giggle their way through the first screening of Platoon. Not because it isn’t fantastic, but because it’s “oh my god, I’m not getting fired.” And it was so good. It won Best Picture at the Academy Awards that year. A few months later, I ran into the director Oliver Stone at a bar in New York one night, he bought me a drink and he said, “You know I always like you kid, you have a touch of the madness.” And I thought, “A touch of the madness. That means like a little bit of crazy, is he calling me crazy? I’m crazy?” And then I calmed down and I thought well, my boss had a touch of the madness by giving a 25-year-old kid with no prior experience an 80-picture film slot to run. Oliver had a touch of the madness by insisting on making the Vietnam movie the way no one else had. And I had a touch of the madness by betting my job on it. Then it occurred to me that that’s exactly what you need. That’s what innovation demands and that’s what I have to do. And that has been my touchstone ever since. Then the question becomes “Well, why is always important? Why is innovation boring? Why is creativity important?” And I believe the current of the river of life will always pull you towards the middle. When you’re sleeping, when you’re driving, you have a voice in your head… “you can’t do it, you can’t do it.” It’ll always pull you towards the middle. And if as a company, or an author, or filmmaker, you’re pulled towards the middle, there are people who aren’t who will eclipse you because the audience doesn’t want the middle. They want the new and the different. That pull for swimming against that current is innovation. And the best way to be innovative is to have a touch of the madness and be a little bit crazy. So that has been the touchstone for my entire career and my entire life ever since and that’s how I got it.”

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The Super U Podcast is hosted by #1 bestselling author and Motivational Speaker Erik Qualman.

About the Author: Erik Qualman

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