Foundr Magazine publishes in-depth interviews with the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. Our articles highlight key takeaways from each month’s cover feature. We talked with Dany Garcia about how she operates her multi-industry empire. Read excerpts from that in-depth conversation below. To read more, subscribe to the magazine.
Want to build an empire? Then start studying Dany Garcia.
The founder of The Garcia Companies is living proof that it’s possible to run multiple businesses—successfully—all at once. Her portfolio includes brands in entertainment, sports, food, business, and fitness. She’s co-owner of the XFL (making her the first woman in the U.S. to own an equal or majority stake in a professional sports league) and recently launched a new fashion brand, GSTQ. She also produces blockbuster films with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
But how does the consummate multi-hyphenate manage her empire?
Building an Entertainment Empire
Garcia and Johnson started producing films to give them creative control over Johnson’s career. Garcia says it allowed them to inject their philosophical point of view into filmmaking.
That point of view has 2 tenets. First, every creative piece has to speak to the bottom line before they even begin filming. Second and most important is that the audience comes first.
“So anything creative, we never just do it for ourselves,” she says. “We make the decision as if the audience member is sitting right there next to us. That has allowed us to make decisions that have led to global success.”
When they first began, Garcia was coming from a finance background, and Johnson was fresh from the WWE. Their backgrounds and method were a hard sell for studios, and so they committed themselves to overdelivering on every film they made.
“So we had to earn every step, every comment, every note that went into a script—we had to earn by having incredible success but also by giving a perspective and a point of view that no one had ever heard before,” Garcia says.
Recently, they produced Disney’s Jungle Cruise. This year, they will release Black Adam, the next tentpole movie in the DC franchise. They have also produced hit TV shows for HBO, BET, NBC, and Disney+.
“When we talk about obsession, you have to become obsessed with your clients’ success and their vision,” Garcia says.
In 2020, Garcia was awarded the Outstanding Film Producer Impact Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
Pulling the Portfolio Together
Garcia acknowledges that her portfolio seems disparate. But she points out one commonality: an immersive, positive experience for her audience.
For example, now that she has a majority stake in the once-bankrupt XFL, she plans on taking it to another level, completely immersing the audience in each football game.
“We were looking at an opportunity to be the stewards of football in a 360 sort of viewpoint, multidimensionally looking at everything that surrounds football and taking responsibility for that,”
Garcia says. “So how are the athletes experiencing it? And how are the fans? How are our partners, our sponsors, our production partners? And we have a very specific point of view on how the storytelling and the interaction and how the XFL should be experienced and not watched.”
She is also looking for brands that can help raise up the others. “I look for my companies to elevate the other companies that are within the portfolio. That’s really important to me—it builds community, it builds a sense, and it gives me one plus one equal in three, or maybe five or 10, which would be great.”
She gives an example: Zoa is an energy drink brand and product made from natural ingredients. Promoted by Johnson, it’s the fastest-growing energy drink in the U.S. Its message of positivity and healthy living carries over to the XFL, where Zoa could be a sponsor. With Seven Bucks, product placement of Zoa in the upcoming Black Adam, starring Johnson, is also a possibility.
So each brand helps the other in one way or another, promoting the overarching theme of Garcia’s companies: positivity.
“If you actually go up, I would say 50,000 feet, you will see that there are strong similarities. There’s a strong philosophical arc. There’s a tone that’s very similar within all the companies. So that’s going to be very important. Any addition is going to complement what’s already in the portfolio and cross-complement,” she says.
Keeping Perspective With So Many Companies
“I try never to get too much into the soup of anything because then I lose my perspective,” Garcia says.
It’s a lesson she learned the hard way after a particularly busy year, where she found herself heavily involved in all of her projects.
“I specifically remember 2016 was an incredible growth year. We ended the year, and my husband and I went to Hawaii in January. And I think I slept on a sofa outside every day for about two weeks straight.”
After that, she says, she got really good at “firing herself,” pulling away from projects before she is pulled too far into the weeds. Once she finds herself focusing too much on one project or when she starts to feel frustration or friction, she knows it’s time to make her exit and give the job to someone who can give 100% to it.
“The last firing of myself was probably from the official role as Dwayne Johnson’s manager,” she says. “I fired myself—he was very gracious—because I needed to move into a strategic advisory position over his enterprise in particular, which is ginormous.”
That’s how she keeps perspective on so many companies while still keeping time for family and self-care. She begins each day with coffee with her husband before heading off to work out for at least an hour. They’re both opportunities to center herself before she begins her day.
“I do a lot of centering. Since I do have such a broad portfolio, being very centered in what my philosophy is and understanding how I want to interact with the world and how I want my companies to interact in the world is very important.”