“Filmpreneur” Forrest Tuff: Mistakes in Filmmaking and College Basketball
Joining me for Episode #33 of “the My Favorite Mistake” podcast is Forrest Tuff, the founder and CEO of One Vision Productions, an award-winning, multimedia production company. He does so many things… he's also a professional speaker, business coach, and author.
Forrest is a creative person who is also business savvy (he calls himself a “filmpreneur”). He has 180+ movie credits that include documentaries, indie films, and a major motion picture with Twentieth Century Fox. He is the host of the Tuff Talk Show… and he was also a Division I basketball player.
Today, we talk about his “favorite mistake” of leaving a regular job (something others thought was a mistake). We talk about his views on the possibility of mistakes in making movies and taking three-point shots. We talk about his coaching through the SCORE program and how he defines servant leadership.
You can listen to or watch the episode below. A transcript also follows lower on this page.
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Automated Transcript (May Contain Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 33, Forrest Tuff, founder and CEO of One Vision Productions. Forrest Tump… Forrest Tuff. Gosh, turn. That didn't mean the turn of that almost Forrest Gump. That was just me misspeaking… I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. Inm this podcast you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success.
Mark Graban (45s):
Visit our website myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. It's the last week to enter to win a free My Favorite Mistake coffee mug, go to MarkGraban.com/mistake33… And now on with the show. Well, hi, welcome to My Favorite Mistake. I'm Mark Granan. We're joined today by Forrest Tuff. He is among other things, the founder and CEO of One Vision Productions. It's an award-winning multi-media production company. He is a professional speaker slash business coach slash author. He also describes himself as a “filmpreneur.” Did I say that right, Forrest?
Forrest Tuff (1m 26s):
You got it right, Mark.
Mark Graban (1m 28s):
That is a, a combination. He's got creative skills with business savvy. He has over 180 movie credits. He's got an IMDB page, which is pretty cool. These credits include indie films, documentaries, a major motion picture with 20th Century Fox. He's the host of a show called the Talk Tuff Show and he was also a Division I basketball player. So Forrest, wow. If this podcast was called, “is there anything you can't do?” you would, you would be right at home, but, but welcome. And, and thank you for joining us. This is of course My Favorite Mistake.
Forrest Tuff (2m 8s):
Thank you. I'm doing great. Thanks for having me.
Mark Graban (2m 11s):
I'm really excited about the conversation. I think there's a lot we can talk about, but let's, let's dive right in as we usually do Forrest. What, what comes to mind when you think about your favorite mistake?
Forrest Tuff (2m 23s):
If I had to think about what my favorite mistake was, Mark, honestly, I'd have to say believing in myself. When I chose to embark on this entrepreneurial journey, you know, coming out of school, having, having played sports and having that dream deferred now having to work, it was a little daunting when I decided, you know what, I think I want to do this for myself, but I think that's the, the favorite thing that I did, I made the mistake to believe in myself and venture out and looking back on it. That's gotta be the favorite thing. Favorite mistake I ever made.
Mark Graban (2m 56s):
So, I mean, at some point, did that, did that really, did that feel like a mistake? Cause that seems like a really positive thing in herself, but, but what happened there?
Forrest Tuff (3m 7s):
Well, you know, honestly, entrepreneurs, most of them won't admit there's safety in a paycheck. You know, when I was working in a job, you know, in sales or in management, I knew that if I did a certain thing or if I produce certain numbers, even if I didn't hit that Mark, I still had a check coming to take care of bills. And so that was a very safe place to be, you know, embarking on this entrepreneurial entrepreneurial journey. It's not as safe. I mean, there are moments where you're scratching your head going, wow. I just don't know where it's coming from. And when you're really starting out, you have to be the person that generates everything until the business grows. So yeah, it can be daunting, but you know, honestly it did seem like a mistake. You wonder if you made the right decision, you know, but in the end it pays off.
Mark Graban (3m 52s):
So what helped get you through, you know, those early days of those times when it's a struggle? I relate to that when it comes to, you know, when I left a, a regular paycheck behind 10, over 10, well, 10 years ago, we'll call it their struggles to get started. I mean, during the pandemic, I have times where I'm scratching my head, trying to figure out, okay, what comes next? How did you get through some of that? What did you, what did you draw upon?
Forrest Tuff (4m 20s):
Well, for me, I think my parents really were a stable place for me because they actually did the same thing in their journey. My father became a pastor had been in the, that line of work for 40 years now. But at the time he was in the education industry, my mother was in sales. And so they embarked on that journey of starting their own church from scratch. And we started in the house and I remember as a kid, the only members we had were my brothers and I and my sisters. It was just a sibling. So I think having that background, they were able to give me sound advice, even though it was a different industry just on how to weather that storm and to make it. So for me, my parents just having that same entrepreneurial background was key for me.
Mark Graban (5m 5s):
Yeah. Now were there others, like, did you have advisors or friends or family who were saying, Hey Forrest, you're making a mistake, leaving a safe, predictable paycheck. Yeah,
Forrest Tuff (5m 17s):
Yeah. Yeah. I had tons of friends that were telling me, Hey, what are you doing? You're leaving a good job to go out and start this venture. You know, the truth of it is I'm thankful for all the people, you know, the people that were for me and the people that said, Forrest, what are you doing? Because you need that fuel sometimes to keep going. You know, that a lot of people in the world now call it haters. But you know, I think those people help motivate you just as the ones that support you. So yes, I did. I, I chose to accept mentors, people that have been in business and I would sit down with them and ask them, you know, tell me what was the worst thing that ever happened and what are some bad things. So I had a couple of people that I, I did listen to and use their experience.
Forrest Tuff (5m 58s):
And eventually after I, you know, I'd been in business for a while, I actually went to an organization that focused on mentoring, small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Mark Graban (6m 7s):
Yeah. So tell us about that because I saw that in your background, I'm, I've heard of it. I'm familiar with, this is SCORE?
Forrest Tuff (6m 17s):
Yes. Yes. So SCORE is an organization assess a resource partner through the SBA, the small business administration they've been around for about 60 years. And what the organization does is help mentor pro bono individuals that are in a, you know, want to start a business. So for me, it was kind of a double-edged sword. I went to help after I'd been in business about a decade, I wanted to help, but I had this resource of, you know, executives and retired executives and entrepreneurs that I could pull from on a daily basis to give me information that would help me grow. So it worked out great where I received a lot of information and I was able to help people.
Forrest Tuff (6m 58s):
And honestly, even in helping entrepreneurs, I would learn something. So that was a great experience. And it has been for me, I've been a mentor now for six years. So I think it's been part of why I've been able to sustain my business. Yeah,
Mark Graban (7m 8s):
Well, that's, that's very cool. And I mean, there, there are different dimensions of your professional life and background that we can delve into here. But thinking about the score program and being a coach to other entrepreneurs, are there common mistakes, if you will, that you see entrepreneurs making situations that you end up coaching them through, what would you say is one of the most common that you try to help people?
Forrest Tuff (7m 34s):
I would say one of the most common things is wanting to have a look, the perception of being an entrepreneur versus the reality. Oftentimes you want to take money or you get alone and you want to just go out and hire people. I think you really have to have a solid plan of action or a business plan to know what's going to be the best course for you. I think for some entrepreneurs, I tell them, Hey, listen, you're the CEO, but you're also the janitor. So it's okay. You know, forget the image and focus on making sure that your company stays in a black and you get a return every year. So I would say the biggest thing that a lot of entrepreneurs suffer with is mishandling money and the image that they'd like to pur, you know, to put out versus the reality of being an entrepreneur.
Mark Graban (8m 20s):
Yeah. And one of the themes, you know, of the podcast series here is the idea of learning from mistakes that, you know, we're all human as individuals, as leaders, as businesses, we make mistakes. If, you know, if anything lean into it and it's not that we should be trying to make mistakes, but when they happen, let's, let's learn from them. So what I'm curious from your perspective, what comes to mind then if you're coaching organizations, what, what do you try to convey to others about the idea to, to learn from mistakes as opposed to hiding and covering them up?
Forrest Tuff (8m 56s):
In my personal experience, one of the things had to learn was basically how to reinvest back into the business. You know, there are times, you know, I say entrepreneurship is like the seasons of the year. There's a winter spring, summer fall. And there are those times when the money's just flowing, everything's going great with that time. That's when you really have to store up and you have to reinvest that back in into the company. And of course, you all have to tell you vacations, but you know, set a budget for those types of things. You know, don't splurge because there's going to come that winter and things are going to dry up and you're going to be scratching your head. Like where's the money. So, you know, it's best to prepare for those times about, you know, when things are really going good to save up.
Forrest Tuff (9m 38s):
And that was the lesson that I had to learn. You know, I learned it fast, but I always share that one because that really helps in that sustainability aspect of being an entrepreneur business owner.
Mark Graban (9m 51s):
And it seems like the, the learning fast is the key is what I hear you saying is being able to not just keep going, but yeah, I'm curious of the different things you're you're involved in was the production company, the first entrepreneurial venture, tell me more about getting started with that.
Forrest Tuff (10m 12s):
So back in 2004, when I embark on starting my media production company, it came from a place early, early, early childhood. My mother always had a camcorder and she recorded things. And even in my father's church, you know, we would record service. And so throughout my high school and college years, I would have my camcorder recording everything, you know, parties hanging out with friends, just regular everyday life. And one day as an adult, now that I'm working, someone said, Hey, do you record birthday parties? You know, I'll pay. And that struck the cord. And that's where everything kind of originated from that one small birthday party. It evolves. And, you know, over 15 years, 16 years later, you know, the company grew from doing weddings and, you know, we do photography, music videos, and we started to branch out to working with corporations and working with the government.
Forrest Tuff (11m 4s):
So that's how that was the first that's the lifeblood of all my endeavors. He would say that yeah.
Mark Graban (11m 12s):
Back to dating myself or w w we'll both do it. It was this, the camcorder up on the shoulder.
Forrest Tuff (11m 19s):
When I was a kid, we had the shoulder cam that's, that's what started at first. So to give you a timeframe, I came out of high school in 91. That's when I graduated, I'd give you a timeframe of, of what it was. And then, you know, we moved into the little mini tapes. And so now everything we had to go through, I think our generation is formidable because we've had to undergo so many changes and still managed to stay relevant from, you know, Hey, we have the internet when it dialed up, you know, you had to wait an hour just to get online. So yeah, that's the generation, I'm from the big camcorder, we started the big one big shoulder…
Mark Graban (11m 56s):
With the full size VHS tape,
Forrest Tuff (11m 58s):
VHS tape. Exactly. Yeah.
Mark Graban (11m 58s):
So that, that, yeah, that really makes me think about sure. For being Generation X, being resilient, we've gone from running VHS tapes to running DVDs to now. I don't think I have a single DVD…
Forrest Tuff (12m 13s):
I stream everything. Exactly.
Mark Graban (12m 14s):
So I'm curious a little more I've I've never, you know, one thing I love about this podcast series is getting to talk to people at such a wide range of backgrounds. So I've never had the chance to talk to anybody who's been involved in film production is, is each film, its own entrepreneurial venture. Like how, how do you try to find out hopefully sooner than later, if a production is quote unquote a mistake.
Forrest Tuff (12m 42s):
So in my case before I just jumped out, I actually worked on other people's productions in a capacity or in a row because I had been in production. I offered, I knew how to film. I knew how to edit, you know, I had equipment, there's so many things, I'm a licensed drone pilot. So if they needed a drone pilot on set, I had a skill that I could use to be on a set and learn. So for me, that was my teacher. I didn't have time to go to school because I had kids that were growing up and going to college. So I said, I need to do a lot of networking. So for that, I use a lot of volunteer time. I volunteered so much to say, Hey, yeah, listen, you need an editor. I'll edit this project for you.
Forrest Tuff (13m 23s):
So I could see the process. So for me, I cut my learning curve by having a skillset that allowed me to be on sets and learn about the industry before I started producing my own films. So I cut down a lot of the mistakes I would have made. And that just came from having the experience of being a business owner and knowing the mistakes that could be made with any new venture. Yeah.
Mark Graban (13m 45s):
Yeah. Well, that's, that's smart and you're learning on other people's dime. They're paying you to learn and
Forrest Tuff (13m 51s):
Yeah. And sometimes not paying me to learn, but yeah, that was part of the process because I was breaking into a totally new industry. And so initially I needed to know what they knew and people have a tendency to give you more when they know that you're working towards the goal, but you're doing it coming in at that volunteer space. So for me, it was a very strategic volunteering. That's what I call it. I had a strategy to my volunteering. It just didn't have, they had an end game. Let's put it that way.
Mark Graban (14m 19s):
Yeah. Well, that's smart. That's smart. So I think one other, you know, I want to ask you to think back for us to your experiences as a college basketball player, you know, playing division one at a very high level of basketball. I, you know, I was reading about your background. You're a guard. You were a shooter. Is that right? Yes. So, I mean, it was, it's different than now when, you know, half the shots being put up in every game or from behind the arc. But I read about you, you hitting a lot of threes in a game. So I was curious, you know, when, when, and not a basketball player, like I played the driveway as a kid and that was all.
Mark Graban (15m 1s):
But when you read about shooters, I'm, I'm curious if you have this mentality, he could go out and miss your first 10 shots of the game. And it seems like a true shooter. Isn't afraid to take that 11th shot. What was your mindset when you think about shooting, missing shots, mistakes on the court, bouncing back from that. W what was your mentality?
Forrest Tuff (15m 23s):
You know, it's interesting because this style of play that's, that's we see now, that's how I played then, you know, I had the rough aspect from playing at the parks, but I became a long range sniper as I called it. But I always had this saying that at any moment, things could change because when you're a three point shooter, the game can change instantly. There's a certain momentum with the three. It's almost like somebody comes down and slam dunks. The ball is just like the energy that it creates. So for me, my motto was never give up just like in business, you never give up. Right. So that means I'm not going to stop shooting. And my friend, sometimes we go really tough.
Forrest Tuff (16m 5s):
That's, that's your philosophy never stopped shooting, but it was the truth. I always felt like at any moment, things could change. So as a shooter, yeah. I'm sorry. I've never, never was scared to pull the trigger.
Mark Graban (16m 18s):
It seems like that, that, that is a common mindset among the top shooters. Right. But I mean, I mean, I'm curious, like what the, the thought process was, you know, you're, you're, you're, you're, you know, you missed 10 in a row and do you start thinking about, like, is it my shooting form, or are they just not going in, like, I'm curious what that thought process might've been.
Forrest Tuff (16m 41s):
So I'll, I'll be frank with you. I shot about 50% for three point range. I was ranked top in the nation. So I didn't have games where I went on those types of streaks. I really was strategic about shooting. I had a formula for getting my best shots. Like I knew that if I ran up and down the court, at least four or five times before I started pulling the trigger, I'd have a higher percentage of hitting shots. Now, if in the instance I get cold, which it does happen, I'll start to drive. I would change it up a little bit, you know, go to the basket. I wouldn't just shoot until I'm cold. I would, you know, find other ways to get involved.
Forrest Tuff (17m 21s):
I might, you know, hunker down and play, you know, intense defense, anything to get a rhythm because shooting is rhythmic. So for me, I had to make sure I found a rhythm, if I'm doing good on defense or from driving to the basket, or from making a great pass, my team has gotten into it. Once I find that rhythm, it normally translated into shots falling. So that's how I normally did it. I wouldn't just shoot myself out or shoot my team out. I would try to do other things to help get myself in that rhythm.
Mark Graban (17m 51s):
Yeah. So that me wonder, I mean, is there a more generalizable lesson from that? If you seem to be out of rhythm with business or whatever projects you're doing, I wonder if, if you know, it's just kind of mixing it up or doing something to try to mix up that rhythm, if, if that helps. So I'm trying to think what a parallel would be.
Forrest Tuff (18m 14s):
No, that makes absolute sense because that is, I'm glad you put it that way. That was, that was great. That was clever because in a sense, that's what I do. Oftentimes if I find myself in a rut or if I'm working or, you know, even when working with people or have my hands on it, if something's not flowing, I'll take a break from it and go somewhere else. I may have to take a break and go, right. You know, because that'll help me, you know, get my spacing, you know, if I'm writing and I'm having writer's block, I might go and create something in the editing room. So I do take the time to diversify in a sense, it's almost like, you know, it's a team sport and, and my line of profession and the things that I do, I do have to diversify what I'm doing.
Forrest Tuff (18m 59s):
Like I'm also a public speaker. If I find myself like, wow, I'm just not motivated by what I'm hearing. I may need to go do something else, you know, to get the creative juices flowing. So that's a great analogy to say that, you know, just switching it up, even in business, to make sure that you can be productive when you're doing a certain thing.
Mark Graban (19m 17s):
Yeah. I'm a big fan of getting up and going for the head, clearing a walk. It's just, you know, I spent a lot of time at the computer, especially this day and age. I'm not traveling for work and yeah, sometimes you just need to, or even go take the laptop out of the docking station and go in the other room. Like to me mixing it up means sometimes just to change the scenery,
Forrest Tuff (19m 40s):
Absolutely right, it does.
Mark Graban (19m 40s):
So one other question I'm just curious, I like trying to connect dots when you're talking about being a coach to entrepreneurs through the score program and other things, do you draw upon thinking of different coaches that you've played for and, you know, you know, th th do different coaches handle mistakes differently, a player, you know, sloppy pass something out of bounds, taking a poor shot early in the shot clock. What, what are some of your recollections about different coaches and how they handled, if you all players making mistakes?
Forrest Tuff (20m 15s):
Yeah. When I played in the nineties, I mean, you had different styles of coaching. You know, the Zen master was just on the rise, but, you know, back then we had the coaches that were getting your face and yell and, you know, but you had to have a thicker skin with the way, the styling of coaching back then. So, you know, I had coaches that could get in your face, but you knew they cared about you. You know, they yell at you. And at that next moment, they're calm. It's like, all right, he got it. You know, then you have the coaches that would talk to you, you know, make sure you understood and then ask you, what did you hear me say? So those different styles, you know, me to see that there's not just one way to mentor or work with somebody that each person has a different way that motivates them.
Forrest Tuff (20m 58s):
And so, as a mentor or a coach, you have to find that out with each individual, you know, you have to talk and find out what motivates them and how do they get things done? You know, some people you can challenge them, get in their face and they're like, I'm out. I got it. You know, some people you have to talk them through it, to where they understand it. So it's not a cookie cutter process. It definitely is a case by case process. So I would say to assimilate that the coaching style has helped to foster a way to mentor different individuals.
Mark Graban (21m 31s):
Yeah. Cool, cool. That's very smart. I, yeah, I, I think of influences. I've had this idea of understanding if you're a manager with different people on your team, they're not all the same. You got to understand what makes each individual tech that's. All right. So I want to talk a little bit before we wrap up about a lot of your focus with speaking. And one thing, you know, looking at the topics and things you talked about that stood out to me is the idea of servant leadership. How do you describe or define servant leadership?
Forrest Tuff (22m 4s):
For me, servant leadership is one leading by example, you know, your, what you do resonates with people, and also having an understanding that what you're doing has a greater purpose than just your personal gain. So for me, even though I'm a for-profit business, I try to make sure that not only myself, but the people that I work with and my staff, we work towards a higher purpose. And there's a way to, to balance that. So in our organization, we started a pay it forward grant. So for about five years now, we have a community grant that we give to local nonprofit organizations. And this is something that we do to kind of give us another purpose other than just making money, you know?
Forrest Tuff (22m 47s):
And I think it's nothing wrong with that. If that's, if that's your choice, but for me, and being my servant leader, I like to make sure that I give back to the community and find innovative ways to help out, you know, however we can when it's a conducive.
Mark Graban (23m 5s):
Yeah. Yeah. So, one other question about speaking, like what, what's your favorite topic or theme that you wish event planners or organizations would let you talk about more like what, what
Forrest Tuff (23m 20s):
I wish they talked about entrepreneurship more, you know, there's a lot of huge conferences for corporations and, you know, talking to the C suite and, you know, I think that's great, but there are so many people that are on this entrepreneurial journey and they need to know what's next. What do I do? How do I innovate? How do I get out of my box? You know, because many of us, we went to school, some of us on so many levels when he got a master's PhD, we've gotten a lot of certifications certifications. So we have a methodical way of approaching certain things. We know that if we start with A to Z, there's a process and that process usually yields a result.
Forrest Tuff (23m 60s):
And so when you have that trained way of thinking in that environment, it breeds success nine times out of 10. But when you step out of that environment, where a to Z in a straight line, no longer works, you may have to go to the queue and then come back to B. It confuses people. And that's where I think would be a great opportunity for, you know, some keynote conferences to have speakers like myself, come and speak to those people who now have to reacclimate or change the way they view how to have success in their industry.
Mark Graban (24m 34s):
Yeah. Or even if it, you know, within these companies, there's a big need for that entrepreneurial mindset. Some people refer to intrepreneur ship, you know, how does a big company become more innovative? So, so that people can build that muscle and practice those entrepreneurial skills, not just for their own benefit, if they were to leave the company or go into the next phase of their career. But yeah, I, I agree with even internally,
Forrest Tuff (25m 2s):
It's helpful to be innovative and think outside of the box to create revenue for the company, even if you want to stay with that company, just to help, you know, refreshing that mind muscle.
Mark Graban (25m 13s):
Yeah. Yeah. And then, so you talk about speaking and then you talk about writing. I, I saw you have a book that you're working on live to make an impact. So that seems to touch back on that theme of having a purpose beyond just making money. Tell us more about the book project.
Forrest Tuff (25m 29s):
So this project is really a culmination of my journey, just the things that I've learned and my philosophy on life, my take on life. And I think that's the most important thing. And I think what resonates with most people is your personal journey. You know, I can't speak to someone else's and I, you know, I can't say that this is the best, but I think for people that are interested in that life, or that may be prone to view the world in that way, I think this could be a guide and I have points and takeaways that have been useful in my life that I would love to share for those who are interested in that type of journey.
Mark Graban (26m 5s):
So I know you're still working on it in 2021, sometime you think it might be, I want to say 2021. I want to say 2021, we'll put you on the spot.
Forrest Tuff (26m 15s):
Let's say 2021, then let's, let's bump the time table to make sure that happens, but it's definitely a project I am working on currently. Correct.
Mark Graban (26m 25s):
Great. Sorry. Again, our guest has been Forrest Tuff. Forrest, what's the best website? people want to learn more about your work, your speaking, and everything else.
Forrest Tuff (26m 37s):
Sure. You can go to ForrestTuff.com and that's two Rs two Ts, two F's ForrestTuff.com.
Mark Graban (26m 46s):
Forrest Tump… Forrest Tuff. Forrest. Gosh, I turn that in. I didn't mean the turn of that almost Forrest Gump. That was just me misspeak
Forrest Tuff (26m 53s):
Use as a matter of fact, Hey, listen, I did a keynote recently where I designed this poster where I looked like Forrest Gump, because I knew they would readily identify with it. So yeah, I've dealt with that. That's a, I've turned that into a, a term of endearment now, so yeah, but actually ForrestTuff.com And you can find anything, you know, about any endeavors that I have going on.
Mark Graban (27m 12s):
Yeah. And you do have a lot going on, like I said, up front. So Forrest it's really been a pleasure having you on the podcast and getting to learn a little bit about you.
Forrest Tuff (27m 22s):
Mark Graban (27m 22s):
Thank you so much for being here and sharing your insights.
Forrest Tuff (27m 26s):
Mark has been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Mark Graban (27m 29s):
Thanks for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to pause and think about your own favorite mistake and how learning from mistakes shapes you personally and professionally. If you're a leader, what can you do to create a culture where it's safe for colleagues to talk openly about mistakes in the spirit of learning, please subscribe, rate, and review the podcast. Our website is myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. See you next time.