Oren Koules is the founder and former president of Evolution Entertainment, the producer of the Saw film series and the television show Two and a Half Men. He was also the co-owner and CEO of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL club. He married the wonderful Shereen whom I also had an opportunity to meet at her Italian restaurant, Terroni, on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles.
This young-looking film producer is the father of three children, 21, seven, and three. Shereen is also an extremely successful woman. She is a restaurateur and television personality — she appeared as a judge on Top Chef Canada. They are surrounded by positive energy, and they are certainly the people you would like to hang out with.
Oren made me think a lot. I realized that the richer a person is, the more time they spend doing things you don’t need money for. Oren is just another example of a super-successful person who realized that he is happiest when he is with his family. “It’s all that little stuff that matters. Driving girls to the school, going to the beach, or having dinner with friends,” he said. I could see in his eyes that all those mundane activities really made him happy.
Well, you probably don’t have to be rich to do that.
As usual, we also talked about money and how it affects life. Oren said: “Once you’re rich, you’ll become like a bank. Everyone is asking you for money. Every rich person I know is bombarded by different requests every single day! People think you can provide the money because you have it, but if you agree, you’ll be broke in two days! Charlie Sheen had twelve Mercedes-Benz leases at the same time. He didn’t drive any, though. Moreover, it can really affect friendship. It’s often friends who ask you for money for different reasons. The worst is that some of them even say: ‘How can you do this to me?’ I have to admit, it’s really hard to decide who to help!”
On the other hand, when talking about his own success, he said: “I never take ‘no’ for the answer.” Persistence is important after all. He has always been a hard-working man who made his first money in commodity trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He was one of the youngest members on the floor and spent eight years there.
Oren likes supporting different causes and he knows that money is a great tool for creating positive change. Interestingly, he always donates money anonymously. As he says, he doesn’t need people to know how much he gives and whom he supports. However, he told me that one of the organizations that he likes to support is youcanplayproject.org. Their goal is to ensure equality, respect, and safety for all athletes regardless of sexual orientation.
There was one amazing piece of advice that Oren gave me: “Always ask the questions you are afraid to ask.” He continued: “In relationships, in business, everywhere… Ask the question you are afraid to ask because sooner or later you might seriously regret it.”
At the end of the interview, I asked him: “What one message would you like to share with the whole world?” Oren looked at me with determination — like he knows the answer right away — and said:
“Trust your guts.”