Introducing John Wesley Chisholm

Here is a math equation for you, what does an accountant plus a rocker give you?  A television producer named John Wesley Chisholm.  After finishing university with a finance degree, John Wesley had the intention of becoming an accountant. At the same time his part-time band, The Johnny Favourite Swing Orchestra gets a big record deal with MCA records.  Initially, John Wesley thought he could balance his two careers, but he found it difficult to commit to either one.  But he had an idea about telling the world about the thousands of Shipwrecks near his hometown of Halifax.  He pitched the idea to the Discovery Channel and was able to sell his idea to them almost immediately.  Just like that John Wesley was a successful TV producer, he created Arcadia Productions, and the course for his career was set.

John Wesley admits that he is a “professional bullshitter.”  It is common to believe that we live in the information age, but John Wesley believes we actually live in the misinformation age.  Everyone has their version of the story of the world, and as consumers of stories we all have to sift through what we are being told and make judgements on what to believe and to what degree.  John Wesley calls this, “the age of story wars.”   When John Wesley pitches an idea, he has to convey that he has a great story to tell, but he also had to pitch that he was the perfect person to tell it.  Everyone has to pitch their story in order to achieve their goal, whether it be a grocer saying they have the best fruit or a plumber who has the best fix.  As an additional benefit, when you sell on story you don’t need to compete on price.  Crafting an effective personal story takes creativity and confidence.  It is about finding the courage to express why you do what you do, and the passion for others to believe you.  Leaders need all of these attributes to attract devoted followers.

After you have your story, John Wesley believes you need to be persistent.  He admits that he is a 99% failure at his job.  For every hundred ideas for shows he might have, only one becomes a TV show.  He has to start-up and close about 17 to 20 companies a year because each show is a separate company.  Persistence doesn’t mean being stubborn.  John Wesley has the ability to take “no” for an answer and move on to new ideas.  The broadcaster, his customer, wants nothing more than to see him succeed.  They want him to give them the greatest story they ever heard and they want to write him a cheque.  This is until you say something, “stupid or boring.”  This is a great lesson for all entrepreneurs; your customer wants to give you money if you offer the product or service they need, especially if your story is great to start with.

John Wesley believes the secret to happiness in life is the secret to success in business.  He believes that no one ever became happy from sitting around trying to make themselves happy.  If you concern yourself with others and what they need or desire and try to help you will find happiness.  If you take the same approach to business, you will be successful.  This means you need to have a keen ear to what your customer truly wants and provide it.


In this episode

Greg and Dave are still in two different studios.  John Wesley offers a plethora of informative and philosophical nuggets on his life and business. Dave thanks God that John Wesley didn’t stop at becoming an accountant.  Greg is intrigued by the idea that any producer pitches two stories to broadcasters; the story about the subject and the story about the storyteller.  Dave appreciates John Wesley’s thoughts on not getting too attached to your ideas and having the ability to adjust, change, or scrap them and move on.



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