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Lesson #2: Being Stubborn Is Fair Play On The Road To Success
When Marvel Comic executives first told McFarlane that he could not draw his villain with a sword being thrust through its eyeballs, that it was too gruesome for Marvel viewers, McFarlane was not going to have any of it. Right then and there, in what others might have seen as an impulsive move, McFarlane decided to quit his job. He was willing to give up the security of a steady career to start his own company simply because his bosses would not let him have his own way.
“Once I decide what I want to do, I either go, [or] well before I come, I like to decide if I’m not going to do it,” says McFarlane. “If I’m going to do it, well, if I have to, I’ll start the company for myself.” And, that is exactly what McFarlane decided to do; he started a company for himself.
McFarlane is an artist, first and foremost. But, he has not gotten to where he is today by just drawing great comics. “We’re not built as artists to think about the other stuff,” he says. “But I found that if you don’t learn business, you’re not going to have opportunities to drive the art.”
However, as an artist in business, McFarlane has remained adamant that his art stay true to his vision no matter that the business cost. “As an artist, one of the things I want to do is show my art, to the most people possible, and [have it be] actually art that I want to show,” he says. “And if they don’t want to give me the vehicles to do it, then I’ll create my own vehicles.”
When McFarlane first came up with the idea for his company, McFarlane Toys, to create Bob and Doug McKenzie action figures after two key characters on the Canadian sketch comedy show “SCTV”, other company executives were unsure of the decision. It might not have been along the usual lines for the company, but McFarlane carried through on his plans regardless.
“Bob and Doug McKenzie comes first off from me being Canadian, and second, from me being the owner, right?” says McFarlane. “I get to pull rank every now and then. I own this company. I'm making this; I don't want anyone else to give me an opinion.” In fact, McFarlane says that rarely does he humour his colleagues’ criticisms. “About 85 percent of what you see is just because I get on the phone and [say], ‘Let’s go do this,’” he says. “I don't do any market research or test groups or focus [groups]. I just go, ‘It's my company; would I buy it, personally?’”
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