I’ll never forget the last conversation I had with Jon Schnepp.
The sun shining down on a hot Los Angeles day as we ran into each other in a dusty alley behind the Collider Video studios. We did something that is kind of rare in this business and, unfortunately, the normal course of our time here -- we stopped and talked to each other. You work with people for so long they just become part of your routine.
“What’s up, Ken?”
And that might be it. You both move on with your days always believing in “next time” or “when I get back.” We are the center of our radar screens and everyone else is a blip that flies through.
But not that day.
Jon and I stood under the sun and caught up. We got onto the subject of the business we’re in and I moaned about my struggles with recent changes in my career. Jon had a wonderful and varied career. There are projects that will forever be linked to his name. He had success. But he also had struggles. He and his wonderful partner in life and business Holly Payne had to fight and scrape to get projects made. It was never easy. And somewhere along the way his particularly brand of talking about the things he loved connected with so many people. He is one of the reasons the media discussion world even exists. In the early days of it he brought, one, a credibility to it, but more importantly, a personality that transcended any subject matter. Knowledge, passion, and a distinct personality -- a blueprint for success.
So when Jon took the moment to talk to me about my career. I listened. You should as well.
Jon powerfully preached to me the importance of accepting your unique voice. Accepting that you bring value to the conversation, the game, and building on that. He could have gone back to several of the jobs and corners of his career at any point, but would he have been happy? Probably not. Jon told me how much he loved what had sprung up out of just him being himself. The Sweaties Uniting around him, with him, and beside him was something powerful and not something he took lightly. And on this day… he looked me directly in the eyes and passionately told me that I had to accept what value I had.
It’s a powerful message and one that is not easy for a lot of us. No matter what you do or who you are it is sometimes the harsh truth that we can’t look ourselves in the mirror and say, “I have value.”
Jon Schnepp was a wonderful, warm, and defiantly unique person. He was larger than life, the center of Collider Video’s soul, a leader, a rebel, and all those appropriate descriptions. But, above all that, he was real. Honest and real. When he spoke, you listened.
And on that day, in what would be the last time I spoke to him, Jon told the truth.
“You have value.”
I remain forever sweaty.