In Michael J. Wolf’s The Entertainment Economy, he contends that imagination is the most valuable asset of all. As proof, he takes you on a pop culture tour, uncovering the lessons of Michael Jordan, Madonna, Viagra, e-commerce and SUVs, and finally, the mystery of how you get to create the next cultural phenomenon.
Hollywood is the USA’s largest exported brand; it brings in millions of people from all walks of life to the most happening country in the world, a country people dream of being in.
Some of the key learnings were: You can’t understand the business of entertainment if you are not having fun with the product or are having “too much fun” with it. It requires a combination of show biz and analysis, getting into the experience of the product and standing back and being objective about the business.
Suits versus creatives is passé; if you want to run an entertainment business, you need to have ‘creative suits,’ people who can do both creative work and business. Entertainment is fast becoming the driving wheel of the new world economy. The USA stands at $750 billion and India is poised to become a Rs. 75,000 crore entertainment economy.
This book really inspired me to get into the Indian film industry, and later, BR. I am a great believer that we can create global film and entertainment brands out of India.
The title Freakonomics (by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt) itself grabbed my attention. I loved the simplicity of the narrative and the insights which, if explored, change perceptions completely.
Very interesting case studies showed strange co-relations in consumer behaviour. Like why do drug dealers live with their moms? What is common between sumo wrestlers and school teachers? They explore the hidden side of, well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.
What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a great deal of complexity and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and — if the right questions are asked — is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking.
Freakonomics establishes an unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually works. (Co-ordinated by Elizabeth Flock)
(This story appears in the 20 November, 2009 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)