Michael Jacobsen, Founder, The Centre for Future Europe, International Business Leader & Advisor

Michael is an Internationally respected leader in entertainment, media, arts and culture. He advises governments, cities and significant organisations on their cultural/creative and economic development strategies. Over the past two decades at the forefront of entertainment and leisure, Michael has founded major international entertainment companies which owned & produced content and others which developed and owned or managed leisure real estate for governments and cities.

Michael was the Founder, founding-co owner (of the global IP) and a founding International Producer of: Dirty Dancing (The Classic Story On Stage), one of the most iconic brands in entertainment and one of the highest grossing theatrical shows in theatre history and the fastest selling show in London West End history. His organisation promoted legendary artists including Sir Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand. The leisure venues (arenas/ convention centres and theatres) his organisation operated and owned are regarded as some of the most recognizable and eminent in their genres. A twice published author (“The Business of Creativity” and “Entrepreneurs Mavericks and Empire Builders “, Michael is also a consummate media presenter (“Nothing Ventured”/ News Corporation’s Sky News Australia & Your Money) and accomplished public speaker. Michael is a passionate campaigner for the cultural and creative sector which encompasses numerous endeavors.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Michael shared his professional trajectory, the inspiration behind establishing The Centre for Future Europe, significant career milestones, his favorite quote, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Hi Michael. Please brief us about your background and areas of expertise.

I have been an entertainment impresario for 20 years both on the content side: Owning, producing and promoting concerts (Including legends such as Barbra Streisand, Sir Elton John and Bruce Springsteen) and theatrical events and also on the venue side: Developing and operating theatres, arenas and convention centres.

I have also acted as an advisor to various governments and governmental bodies aground the world including in the UK, Slovakia, the EU and Australia. In these roles I have advised on national or local/city culture, creativity and innovation strategies.

I’m passionate about teaching and have been fortunate to have the opportunity to author two published books and be involved in TV as a host in addition to delivering lectures at various universities and speaking at major international gatherings including South By South West (SXSW) and others.

What was the inspiration behind establishing The Centre for Future Europe? Tell us about its mission and vision.

The Centre For Future Europe is a European based Non-profit with USA charitable registration. We work with partners and donors in order to undertake important projects in Central and Eastern Europe pertaining to culture and innovation.

You are a Strategic Advisory Board Member and Special Advisor of AVANEA and GLOBSEC respectively. Can you please tell us about these organizations and your role in them?

Globsec is a large European NGO specialising in security and economics. I have advised them on certain cultural projects they have undertaken in Central and Eastern Europe.

Avanea is an impact fund registered in Luxembourg with its offices in Slovakia.Its major investments are in improving the world through innovative infrastructure technology. With many major international investors, my advisory board role covers the entire business but has also seen me build bridges between the company and the entertainment industry internationally.

What are the three major trends do you foresee in your industry in the next 12 months?

The entertainment and leisure sectors in particular are interesting because they benefit from technology disruption but also thrive in live analogue form.

Culture and entertainment will continue the trend of utilizing technology to enhance, scale and augment their offerings but live entertainment in the form of galleries, concerts and theatre will remain strong and stable.

Further, there will be an insatiable appetite for content as we continue to consume content in various mediums and into the future as work from home, smart cities and 4-day work weeks take shape in various forms.

What has been your career highlight so far? Why do you love what you do?

I was fortunate to act as advisor to the Minster of Economy in Slovakia during its previous EU presidency period. This has been a truly rewarding period of time.

Additionally, publishing two books and having the opportunity to host a TV show have also been privileges for me.

I was also fortunate to be the Co-Owner and Producer of Dirty Dancing-which played in many cities across the world for over 20 years.

And conversely, what has been your biggest learning curve or difficulty to overcome?

Let me say this instead as a piece of advice. Stick to what you feel called to do.

If you deviate from your calling things will not flow for you as well as when you stick to what you heart tells you. I have experienced this with certain businesses I have been involved in.

If you are starting out and feel that what is in your heart isn’t a clear job title or business, or doesn’t seem to you to be financially rewarding enough, or if you feel nervous about it:

Do not be discouraged: Step back and refocus on your calling and pursue it with extra courage: Being you is what you are best at and you’re better at anyone at being you!

If you could have a one-hour meeting with someone famous who is alive, who would it be and why?

I would love to spend time with Oprah Winfrey who I find to be someone of great note. She has an unquestioned status in media and pop culture but has used this as a platform to promote self-development which is a worthy goal and one which has elevated the world.

I would like to learn more about her intention to deploy her position in entertainment and culture for the good of the world’s citizens.

How do you keep your mind healthy and stay resilient? And how do you motivate your team?

I rise early in the morning which allows time for meditation and contemplation and to take ownership of my time and the day.

Controlling one’s mindset is vital and I use a number of spiritual practices to do so.

The greatest motivation for my team or any team is to pursue a vision. I articulate the vision and ensure everyone is behind it.

It is important to note that the vision is not for my glory and should not be just gratuitous or for the banal ‘success’ of the organisation-it should be connected to something noble and greater than one self or the organisation-something worthy or pursuing for the benefit of investors but also for the benefit of all stakeholders and society.

What is your favorite quote?

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. DR SEUSS

Tell us about your future plans. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I have chosen to advise on culture and leisure to certain significant property developments; family offices; as well as a particular nation and City-State.

This allows me the chance to deploy the powerful tools of culture, creativity, entertainment and leisure in a strategic form which can deliver economic and social benefits for these major organisations and cities, and in turn allow them to enhance the lives of their citizens or stakeholders.

I plan to focus on these primary advisory roles, and I will also write more books and undertake media work.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out on their career in the cultural and creative sector?

Firstly, is important for those who are creative to embrace it and to realise that creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. A Coder is creative; lawyers can be creative; surgeons can certainly be creative. So, embrace the cross-disciplinary nature of creativity.

To respond to your question more directly: People who wish to work in culture and creativity need to realise they are in one of the oldest pursuits on the planet. Culture and creativity defines and explains history; helps us make sense of the present; and adds colour to the experience of life.

Often those working in these sectors are led to believe they are undertaking work that is not financially significant or not important to the world in a real sense-the opposite is true and to think this is to misunderstand the notable qualitative and quantitative role played by culture and creativity.

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