I stayed on Earth today, but that does not mean day five of networking was any less than incredible.
The first meeting was with the senior vice president of the Gaumont Film Company, a French-established film studio, and her colleagues. Besides just telling us how they got to where they are and tips abut the industry, they presented us with advice I really thought we could use in life. Some of the guidance was to always practice our craft and what makes us happy, and it will pay off, and that out of something comes something else. It was a relaxed vibe in the conference room as we asked them questions and chowed on the cheese, pita, fruit, and crackers they had out for us.
Speaking of useful life advice, we got a heap of that at our next stop, MGM Studios, the production company behind classics such as The Wizard of Oz and Singin’ in the Rain. We met with the president of unscripted, a Hofstra alumnus who still had a huge connection with what it is like to be a school of communication student, often bringing up classes he was in and projects he worked on while there. He also showed us show promos for a show he’s working on, and went over the aspects of the promos that did and did not work.
Some of the best life advice, though, came from one of the top television producers in the world and current chairman of MGM, Mark Burnett. I don’t know many behind-the-scenes names in Hollywood, but this is a name I do know, and again, I was astounded to be meeting someone so important in the industry. He seems like a friendly, but straightforward guy. His most memorable advice was to get rid of any toxic relationship in your life, whether it be at work or home, so it can stop weighing you down. He used a bathtub metaphor to explain it: if you filled a bathtub at the beginning of the day, you want it to slowly drain until you go to bed, which is when you refill it. If you have a draining relationship in your daily life, the bathtub will be depleted much too soon. He also compared our path to our goals to an airplane: you cannot fly a plane and do nothing. You continuously check up on your path and adjust it as necessary to get to where you need to go.
The meeting at MGM was extremely insightful, overall. The Hofstra alumnus was extremely bubbly and fun, and the fact that he fed us and gave us a fancy MGM notebook, hat and pen was the cherry on top.
While our schedule originally called for some Beverley Hills exploration, the weather did not want to cooperate. So, after a break at a Nespresso café, where I am pretty sure I drank the most expensive hot chocolate I’ve ever consumed, we drove around through Beverly Hills. Our bus driver pointed out spots of interest such as Michael Jackson’s former apartment, the hotel in which Whitney Houston died, the Roosevelt Hotel, which is also where the first Academy Awards was held, and more.
The tour ended at the Westfield Century City mall, where we had a delicious four-course meal at Toscanova. This dinner was the most monumental and important one we’ve had because it was with Lawrence Hebert, the creator of the Pantone® Matching System®, as well as the man after which Hofstra’s school of communications is named. It is very rare that one meets the man who her school is named after, and it is even more rare that she gets to eat dinner with him and his girlfriend. Tonight will definitely be a story I tell for a long time.