LAKE FOREST, Calif. – British-born entrepreneur Mark Burnett, who is the creator of such reality TV shows as Celebrity Apprentice, Shark Tank, Survivor and The Voice, said one of his fears is that of not making a "meaningful contribution" in life. Burnett was interviewed by best-selling author and pastor Rick Warren for a taped segment shown during a business summit at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., on Friday.
"I have had great fear, but my fear isn't of the failure of the project. It's looking back later having done nothing. It's a very serious fear. The fear of not making a meaningful contribution, of being insignificant, of looking back [and thinking] that I didn't step up. I am honestly petrified of that, or I was, and my pain of feeling like I let myself down, my family down, and not taking the risk to do it was far greater than the pleasure of being calm," said Burnett.
The reality television pioneer was one of five speakers featured at the O.C. (Orange County) Business Summit, spearheaded by Warren. The Saddleback Church founder said he felt that one way to tackle a struggling economy was to bring together the brightest minds in business to discuss how they achieved success. More than 2,000 people attended the day-long conference which included sessions led by Steve Case, who is the former CEO of America Online and presently chairman of the Case Foundation; Lynda Resnick, listed #634 on Forbes Billionaires list and #212 on Forbes 400; Michael E. Gerber, who is well known as a business guru and author of The E-Myth Revisited; and Warren.
In his discussion about fear, Burnett also talked about the making of "The Bible," a 10-hour miniseries, filmed in Morocco with his wife, Roma Downy, as co-producer and playing the part of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The series is scheduled to premiere on the History Channel early next year.
"In doing the Bible project with Roma, if I would have over-analyzed it and took too much advice I would have never started. It's too enormous, too scary, but actually my fear was of looking back and feeling like a loser that I was called to do this and I didn't do it and I have massive regrets and I'm not going to have that happen," Burnett told Warren. "I don't know for a fact that the Bible project will be as big as I hope it is, but I know I did it well and that's what matters."
When asked to talk about his creative process, Burnett first talked about the opportunities that are unique to the United States.
"America is a country, which obviously from my accent I wasn't born here but moving here, it is the land of opportunity and what that means is that this country will allow you to have an idea, take a risk, make mistakes, and try again. This country celebrates ideas and action. I know that what I've succeeded to do in television here would have unlikely been done in Europe where I came from," he said.
Once someone has an idea they should rely on their instinct that it is a workable idea and not ridiculous, because "the first thing that usually happens is a hundred people will tell you how stupid you are," Burnett explained.
"When I set out to do Survivor the amount of people who said to me, 'You know why that's not going to work? If it was so good somebody would have already done it.' I thought that's crazy. Everything has to start somewhere," he said.
"Survivor did sound like a little crazy idea that I'm going to find an island, take 16 Americans that have never met before, get them to build a society, and play this game on television. But I just kind of knew. I knew there was something extraordinary about the idea about people who have never met. Have you ever sat on an airplane and wondered if this thing goes down where do I fit into this society? Am I the leader or the follower? Am I brave, am I weak? I always wondered this things and that is the embodiment of Survivor."