As the son of actress Susan Saint James and sports media mogul Dick Ebersol, Charlie Ebersol, who's producing CNBC's new reality series "West Texas Investors Club," might seem to have a charmed life. But it hasn't all been golden. A plane crash in November 2004 killed one of his brothers, the pilot and a crew member. He pulled his father to safety. Ebersol talks about his recovery and the stamina it takes to be at the top of his game.
From my understanding the accident left you with back injuries.
After the accident, I did a lot of rehab and physical therapy. How to work on a broken back has changed pretty dramatically. It started out that they wanted me doing Pilates, yoga and a lot of core exercises, but then I met Dr. Jonathan Cole at the California Health & Longevity Institute, and he said you've got to build core but you also have to [strengthen] the whole body. ... It's all a connected system.
Your trainer has talked about how people have to make an active decision to be healthy. How did you push through your back injuries?
After I got out of the plane two things immediately happened. The first was I had very immense survivor guilt. … The other thing was a form of PTSD which is a lot about what kind of responsibility do I have to help or save people around me? I got so depressed about the crash I didn't get out of bed for days. Then my mom and godmother ... sort of burst through the door, opened all the blinds and were like, "Get out of bed." They said, "You either choose to live or you choose to die slowly." ... [Surviving] solidified my will to pour my entire heart and soul into whatever I'm doing.
What are the physical challenges of being a producer?
Every week I take two phone calls or meetings with an aspiring producer or director. So yesterday one of them was talking about how frustrated she was in her current assistant job and she's like, "I want someone to say 'good job' or 'here's how you do it.'" I said, "Welcome to being a producer. If you're not frustrated you're not producing." It's mostly why I work out.
How did growing up around so many peak-condition athletes and Olympians impact you?
It's sort of a running joke with me and around workouts how it always has to be competitive. ... The mind-body connection is essential. I constantly push my body to meet what my mind wants me to be able to do.
What do you eat to keep up your energy?
The company Sunfare delivers food to my house, and I eat six meals day. My two cheats are hot chocolate that I'm obsessed with and drink multiple times a day, and root beer I drink once in a million years. I drink about 2 gallons of water a day. I also enjoy cooking, reading, watching television, swimming … prayer is a big part of my life … I go as hard as I possibly can at work, working out, et cetera, and then I relax as hard as I can to be able to reset.