B. Jeffrey Madoff — The Hidden Persuaders, Working with Ralph Lauren, & More | The Tim Ferriss Show | Transcription
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Guest Introduction And Personal Stories
Introducing B. Jeffrey Madoff. (03:45)
"Optimal minimal." Make this altitude like in one flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Can I also do a personal question? Now we're the same, I've got a pastime. I'm a cybernetic organism living to show a metal enticellular. We might keep that in the intro. Hello boys and girls ladies and germs, this is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of a very, very warm Tim Ferriss show. I'll come back to that. My guest today is B. Jeffrey Madoff, M-A-D-O-F-F. Jeffrey began his career in fashion becoming one of the top 10 designers in the US before switching careers to film and video production. He has directed award-winning commercials, documentaries, and web content for clients around the world, including Ralph Lauren, Victoria's Secret, and Tiffany. His book, Creative Careers, Subsidal Making a Living with Your Ideas, is based on the class of the same name he teaches at Parsons School of Design. Jeff has been a featured speaker at Wharton School, Princeton University, NYU Steinhardt, Google Next, Barclays Rise and Verizon on the topics of creating a brand and creativity. He also works with private equity firms and investment banks such as Lazard to create the brand story for companies that are being sold or for startups looking to attract investment. He graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in philosophy and psychology. We'll talk about that. He was also on the wrestling team, might sound familiar, which combined with his academic studies prepared him for a life in the film business. You can find him online at creativecareer.com, madoffproductions.com, and then on social and Instagram at a creative career, as well as at-madoffproductions. And Jeffrey, Jeff, welcome to the show. So, fun to see you. Fun to see you too. Thank you for having me on. And to paint a picture, I am sweating profusely. The AC has broken in this home at an undisclosed location, and to hydrate, because I have nothing that is cold besides what is in my hand, I have hard kombucha, and Jeff is drinking carbonated water. So, this is an unfair fight to begin with. We'll see where this all goes. And I thought we would start with a, I suppose, the beginning of a story that I cut short when we were having lunch earlier today, and it came about because of the phrase, "scratching your own itch," or "scratching my own itch."
How Ralph Lauren built an empire by scratching his own itch. (06:08)
And you mentioned Ralph Lauren, which I confirmed is not Ralph Lauren, as many people say, but Ralph Lauren. So, I thought we would just start there. And if you could tell me the story that I so rudely interrupted earlier, because I wanted to keep it for the beginning of the show. Well, I was talking to Ralph about how he got started, what motivated him to start a business. And Ralph's muse were the movies. He loved films, and he would really lose himself in the fantasy of the movie house. And he'd look at people like Kerry Grant and Fred Astaire and Gary Cooper. And he wanted to dress like that. And he wanted to find suits that were cut like that and ties that were wide like that. And they didn't exist. And he started designing first with ties, then moved into the rest of "Men's Wear." And he started designing that stuff because it was stuff that he liked. And he figured, "I'm not the only one that wants to dress like a movie star." And so, I said to him, you've kept your pulse on the consumer for so long. How have you done that for so many decades? I mean, that's quite a feat. And he said, which is the kind of scratch your own itch thing, he said, "I know who my consumer is because I am the consumer." And so, I thought that was just a really brilliant insight, not unlike when you and I spoke, when I interviewed you, and you talked about your book for our work week. It was the same kind of thing. For sure. Yeah, being. And that was also, I mean, you have spent so much time in front of students and speaking that I know in some respects what you've done in the classroom at Parsons School of Design is in some respects scratching your own itch. And that is kind of doing what feeds and nourishes you or checks the box for an unmet need. And I had written this book because it was the book I couldn't find. And furthermore, I then had workshopped that, although I didn't know I was doing it at the time, by speaking to students. And I knew what students responded to. And I knew what fell flat. And it was sort of like a comic working on there, one hour special. It's like you cut, you were fine, you test again. And that was the reason why after 26, 29, however many rejections it was, I still kept going.
Perseverance through rejection. (08:31)
People sometimes ask about how I maintain the faith. And I always point out it wasn't faith. Like I already knew that at least there was a verified market of one, which is ahead of a lot of folks. So let's talk about these degrees in philosophy and psychology. You've written in your book that at the time when you graduated, the wisdom factories weren't hiring. So what did you do after graduation? Well, I went to work in this boutique, and I'd actually been working there before graduation. And it was this little clothing boutique in Madison, Wisconsin, where I went to college. The wall behind the cash register is where we had the stereo system that puts it into a time frame of many, many years ago. And we were in the base of a rooming house. So when somebody OD'd and fell down the stairs, the arm would skip across the album. And we'd go up, there goes another rooming house. That's, what is a rooming house? A rooming house is somewhere between an apartment and a hotel. You pay every week, you have a room upstairs, and let's say that the clientele aren't necessarily very upscale. Got it. In the campus where we were in downtown, this rooming house was kind of notorious. What was sold in the boutique? We sold clothes at the old impulse buy, as they say, or at a restaurant, it might be mince, or when you're checking out at the grocery store, it's candy bars and magazines. We had hash pipes and rolling papers. That was the impulse buy. Location, location, location. That's right. Underneath the rooming house. That's right. And how did that job inform your path if it did? Well, yes, it did, but I know how it informed it in retrospect. I didn't realize that before. And that is my firm belief. Here's some of the practical information. I think that everything you do, if your eyes are open, informs everything else you do. And so I didn't know anything about clothing design. I was totally naive. I thought that when I saw fabric on the bolt, I thought that was wholesale because it hadn't been made in anything yet. So I was ignorant, fortunately, not stupid. And the difference is ignorant. You can learn, stupid forever. So I did learn. And I wanted to go back and refer to what you had mentioned in terms of your book, because I think this is a really important part. And that is, you had at least 29 rejections. I believe it was like 34 before this. It was a lot of rejections. I was also rejected for my first jobs. That was 30 plus rejections. Quite a few. So what's that component that keeps somebody going in the face of all those rejections as opposed to giving up? You know, and I think that when I'm asked about entrepreneurship and business and that sort of thing, what's a key ingredient? And I'm curious if you agree with this. I think it's perseverance. You mentioned ignorant, but not stupid. I think I would add to that informed perseverance, because I think that you can smash your head against a wall and never break through. But if you have some informational advantage, meaning in my case, I had this feedback from students, I knew that the material worked in front of live audiences, including people who would land squarely in the demographic the book would be positioned for. So I do think that's a huge component. You know, if you have informed belief, having the commitment to persevere through the pain, I think, is a large siding factor. And I should also just add as color for this conversation, because people have most likely have no idea. We first met in 2007 or 2008, shortly after the first book had been published, you helped with the for our body, many, many of the photographs from the photo shoot and photo shoots that we did related to exercises were a product of your help. We've definitely kind of been along jointly for each other's rides over the last, it's hard to believe in a decade plus now. And I love this type of conversation with a friend, because it gives me the very unnatural sort of asymmetrical opportunity to just pepper you with all sorts of questions that I get to choose in a fairly lopsided way, although this can certainly be a conversation. But it also gives me an excuse to do a bunch of homework on you, which would otherwise seem really creepy. So let me ask you, just as a way of looking at your earlier years, what or who are the hidden persuaders?
A formative read. (13:41)
My understanding, this is a book that had some effect on you, The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. Is that a fair statement? Yeah, it is interesting you bring that up going back through the memory bank here, because I think I was in seventh or eighth grade. And I read this book, and The Hidden Persuaders, what it related to is how products are placed and what creates desire. And this was long before behavioral economics was applied to consumerism and that sort of thing. So to give a simple example, the colorful cereal boxes would be on the lower shelves so that the kids would pull it off the shelf and basically nag their parent, usually their mother at that point, into buying it. And so there were all these things I've never thought about strategic placement of products or anything like that. And then I started realizing, wow, there's a whole science to this in terms of trying to elicit preferences, trying to place things in the right eye line. And the fact that instead of being at five feet, which might be eye level for the mother, it's down at two feet where it's eye level to the kid. And so the kid will take it off the shelf. So Packard's book was like, wow, I had never thought of that before. And it was really cool. How did you end up going from fashion as a designer where you found quite a bit of success to film and video production?
From fashion to film (15:18)
How and why? Is this a mini series? Because this is the beginning of our mini series, episode zero. I wanted to move to New York and my financial backer was a very good guy, but he made it clear from the beginning that he was backing my company because we banked at his bank and that the employees, which in August 22 and I had like 110, 120 employees, I provided jobs for Wisconsinites and we banked at his bank. And when I made a decision that I wanted to move to New York, he said, I'm not going to continue to back you if you do. You know why I invested. And so I had to make a really big decision at that point in my life, which is, I think 24. And am I a failure? If I close the business, what does this mean to me and who I am? I was the type that went out there and competed and did things. And now I would be closing down a business that I had started. Is that failure? What is that? And I decided and I think part of this is influence of my dad, which is I learned that money comes and goes, time only goes. And that's a great way to put it. And you know, I mean, I like the way that words relate, you know, like you can spend money, you spend time, you waste money, you waste time investing in your future. That's a really weird concept when you think about what does that mean. And so I decided, if anyone heard that, that's Molly trying to eat flies that are definitely avoiding her maw, please continue. You know, I was so tempted to snap at that one myself, but I figured I didn't want to interrupt the sound. Don't want to throw your neck off. That's right. So, you know, I made the decision to close down the business. And it was really based on that kind of a conversation of realizing I could never replace the time, but I could replace the money. A quick interruption was the desire to go to New York to play in the big leagues of design. I was already playing in the big leagues. And what made me unique was I was doing that from Wisconsin. So why go to New York and enter the shark tank? Why go to New York because I discovered I'm a stimulus junkie. I love the energy of New York, the activity. You know, if you're bored in New York, it's on you. There is so much going on all the time. And I can go here, a jazz concert, see a play, eat at a great restaurant, and walk tall those places. I love it. That's why, you know, flying saucers land in Wyoming and New York, you can't find a place to park. It was so I was seduced by the energy of New York and wanted to be there. And one of the people I did bought fabrics from, he said to me, do you know anything about the movie business? And I said, not really. I mean, I've read some books. I love film, but not really. And he said, well, my son is your age. And you're a bright kid. You have a good head on your shoulders. Would you mind meeting him? Because he's getting involved with some people. And he's not going to listen to me, but maybe he'll listen to you. Would you mind meeting with him? He's your age. No, I don't mind at all happy to. Well, the people he was involved with was Dennis Hopper, William Burroughs, and Terry Southern. And Tommy, the son, had bought the rights to junkie, which was one of William Burroughs' novels. And Dennis Hopper was going to direct it and star in it. And so this was interesting. You know, I mean, you've got Dennis Hopper coming off of Easy Rider and then Apocalypse Now. Yeah, you got to, I think for people who are listening, who maybe don't recognize the name or the gravitas at that time associated with that, I mean, that's a big deal. It was a very big deal. And he had just come off of filming Apocalypse Now with Marlon Brando, another iconic film name. And Dennis would get the checks from Zoetro, which was Francis Ford Coppola's film studio, endorse it on the back, then give it to Burroughs' assistant. And he would go out and score drugs and buy alcohol. The shortest line between two points. That is correct. That's correct. So I saw, wow, Zoetro, that's Coppola's studio. Oh, there it goes. And when I met Dennis, we really hit it off. And it was kind of a weird way that we hit it off. I've never shared this before, but it's funny. I think you get a kick out of it. I said, you know, why I'm familiar with you, Dennis? He goes, yeah, man, I know, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, easy rider. And I said, actually, it's not easy rider. I said, what? I said, now I remember all those Warner Brothers TV Westerns and everybody would be wearing Hollywood wardrobe of what a cowboy looked like. But you actually had the 10 gallon hat and actual authentic cowboy clothes. He goes, man, you're blowing my mind, man. Nobody ever said that, man, you know what I would do, man. I would take my own money and I would go to Arizona. I go to Texas and I would buy authentic actual Western clothes, man. Nobody's ever said that. That was my money, man. So he loved me after that. I know that was where the fashion background kicked down. Yeah, okay. So it was really funny. So I was granted a part in this movie acting role and acting role. He wanted me to act in it, which I thought would be a blast, although it became clear that this was never going to get made because these guys were staying at that Chelsea hotel, which was another awesome destination in New York.
A dubious acting offer (21:27)
And they would get up at about five in the afternoon, have something to eat, then start drinking, doing blow. And by about two in the morning, it had devolved into Dennis and Terry Southern arguing who actually wrote Easy Rider that had the same argument. It was like groundhog day. The loop would start. Yes. It was like an Escher drawing, you know. And so they would argue with each other, really animated arguments. I thought they were going to get into a fight, which they never did. It's like fear and loathing in New York City. And the funny thing was, is that Burroughs would sit there and he would click off his hearing aid. Because he didn't want to listen to any of this stuff. So he'd click off his hearing aid, they'd argue, and then they'd fall asleep. And then I'd get there the next day at around five, see the mirror with all the finger scrapings on it from the blow. And I said to Tommy, they're going to squeeze you out of this, and this movie's never going to get made. What do you mean? It's my film. And I said, these guys can't get it together to go have dinner. You think that they're actually going to get a movie made? Not going to happen. Sure enough, about two weeks later, they offered him money to buy his part out. And see you're at Nostradamus. I was Nostradamus, or just somebody who realized these guys can't get out of their own way. It's not happening. So they offered him four times as much money as they paid for it. And I said, take it. How long have you held the rights? He said four months. So you've quadrupled your money in four months, and this film's never going to get made. Take the money and run. So the reason, Tim, that you've never seen me on the big screen is because the film never got made. But at least he got his money out of it. And how did you go from that into being involved in production?
Why Ken was asked to join a production company (23:45)
God, it's so convoluted how things happened. But there was a lawyer who was representing William Burrows. And he thought I was an interesting guy. We're around the same age. She was at Young. And he wanted to introduce me to some people. And what I had seen that was really attractive to me is the promise of what it could be to make a film and tell a story like that. That was really exciting to me. So I met these people that were starting a company, a production company, and they asked me to join him. And I did and taught myself how to shoot, how to edit, how to light, how to do all that stuff. Two questions. Why did the lawyer do that? Presumably he's got many things he could spend his time on. So why do you think he offered to make introductions? And then number two, without any previous production experience, why did that production company want to bring you on? They wanted to specialize in fashion. And so my knowledge of fashion had value to them. And when we first started watching some of the videos they had done together, I was able to distinguish between like when I saw work I really liked, said, who's that cinematographer? And then we'd watch for another hour and then something come up and say, that's the same cinematographer, isn't it? And say, yeah, how did you know? I could recognize style and recognize how it was done. And so they were interested in my fashion knowledge. That was one thing. And I kind of had for whatever reason, and I can tell you the reason actually, an innate understanding of the medium. So earlier I mentioned, I think everything you do informs everything else you do. Well, when I was designing clothes, it would start with a sketch. I'd have to cost out what were the materials? What was the labor? How long would it take to get made? Could I ship it by a deadline, collect the money for it and start to cycle over again? Well, making a film, you start off with storyboards, you know, a concept, you figure out the costs of the labor involved, the cost of the materials and rentals involved. And can you complete it by this time and deliver on deadline? I would imagine that there's the process similarity, but that also, whether it's by nature or nurture, I don't know, but your ability to look at fashion and the components of fashion visually in high definition had to also be reflected in your ability to spot the same cinematographers, a certain visual acuity, I would imagine, also helped. Yeah, I mean, that helped, and that was certainly developed as I was doing the fashion work. That's a part of what I do is dealing in those visuals. So yeah, you're right. And I think that jargon is what separates a lot of fields, as opposed to if you look at just the protocol and the practice, most businesses are the same in those very broad strokes, they're very much the same. Yeah, the vernacular, the terminology is different. That's right. Different dialects are the same language. That's right. And the lawyer, why did he help you? So the lawyer helped because he was more than a lawyer, he was a deal maker. Yeah, that's a great point. And so he was really interested in bringing me into this mix to show them he knew people. And that's really why he brought me in and he said, yo, this guy's got the fashion knowledge you need. He's working on this film. He has a sense of what production is, you guys automate. And so that was why, because that was part of his selling point, was that he knew people.
What students think success meansand how Ken defines it (27:31)
Yeah, which I should point out is, I think one of the things that separates, in some cases, really good lawyers from great lawyers, is that they are deal makers and they're very creative about getting deals done. And they recognize that by getting deals done, they ultimately have the most renewable resource of repeat clientele they could ever want. But there are very technically legally adroit lawyers who are perhaps more interested in billable hours and the kind of micro level tactics, but they're not deal makers at heart. And they're very different animals, really different. So I'm glad you mentioned that. I'm going to grab another hard kombucha and be right back. I'm going to ask you about success and definitions thereof with your students. Well, I just want to mention one, make a comment about your lawyer thing. And that is, in that definition of good lawyers who can recognize a potential deal and do something, they're also kind of like, if they were a doctor, they would infect you so they could treat you. Because they create more work for themselves by putting those deals together. I mean, I guess there are sort of, not to use like Dungeons and Dragons parlance, but there, like, constitutionally, there are sort of, they're the light arts for doing that, and then they're the dark arts. And they're different. They're very different. So let's talk about students. At the beginning of every semester at Parsons, you ask your students to define success, or at least you've done that many times. Why do you do that? And you can answer this in whatever order you'd like. And what have been some of the insights or answers that stick out? Or what are you looking for? Let's just explore why you do that. Because you mentioned when you had to, or chose to lay off whatever it was, 110, 120 people, in Wisconsin, you were asking yourself, is this failure? Does this mean I'm a failure? Like, what does this mean? And we're meaning making machines as humans. So you ask students to define success. Why? I think it's really important to question some fundamentals that maybe you never ask yourself. So what does success look like, I think, is a really important question. And it doesn't mean, by the way, that your definition can't change. I mean, my personal definition has changed. But I think it's always important to sort of have your own compass going on, and knowing what it is you're after, what it is that you're doing. And so some will say, well, you know, having enough money, and oftentimes money is attached to this, having enough money so that I don't have to worry about anything. And I said, so having enough money so you're not worried about anything, can you be making that much money? However, also hate doing what you're doing every day, you're doing it. Would you still consider yourself successful? And so that starts a dialogue. So I use that as kind of a kindling in the hopes of igniting a dialogue about thinking about what does success really mean? And one of the things that I think is overlooked in so many circumstances is context. And looking at that in context, and looking about, you know, what success is, I mean, the nature of success to me changed when I got married, when I had kids. And then I thought of a separate definition of success, when my business was going really well. And that was, I'd consider myself successful when I could say no without any negative financial consequences. So the freedom to say no was a big part of success for me. But now I'm at a different stage of life. And I would say that my definition of success has evolved for me into engagement. I want to be engaged in what I'm doing. I want to be excited about doing it. I want to look forward to it. And I don't care how much money I'm beginning. If I'm not engaged, if I'm not involved, I don't want to spend my time doing that. What does engagement feel like? Like, how would you know you're engaged? You know, you're engaged when you are unaware of the time that passes, that you are so in the zone of the work that you're doing, that time doesn't mean anything. And you love doing it. And that you look forward to the next time you get to do it. And that can also mean the group of people that you're collaborating with and working with, that you just enjoy that process. And to me, that's what's really important is, you know, knowing and understanding why I want to do this, and that it brings me fulfillment. And I think that's really important. How do you choose who you interview for your class?
How Harvey selects his students (32:29)
I mean, you've interviewed some enormous names, Taylor Swift being just one example. How do you choose them? What are the criteria or what are you looking for? What are you hoping to share with your students? How do you go about guest selection? Now, it's interesting because this is also scratching your own itch. Okay. And by the way, Taylor Swift was as part of a Victoria's Secret job. She didn't do my class, just to be clear. Nonetheless, you know, I think that I'm more legal department contacted. Fair enough. She never did that. He's misrepresenting. So my criteria for a guest is, have they demonstrated in some way, whether it's a lecture I heard, a their book that I read, an article, whatever, that they've got knowledge that I think is interesting, compelling, can bring about a change in the way people look at things, make people aware of things. So it's really, you know, it's scratching my own itch. I find what they're doing really interesting. And I love the idea of being able to talk to somebody and explore what they do and learn from what they do. Teaching is a fabulous way to learn. Yeah, it really is. And I love learning. So side note for people, I don't know if this footage can even be found anywhere, but thanks to your introductions, you may remember if people can find this, it would be hilarious. There was a very unusual promo that I did for the four hour chef during one of the Victoria's Secret annual events. And I ended up cooking some dish. And I think it was Alessandra Ambrosio or Ambrosia. And then Adriana Lima next to me. And I have never felt like such a hobbit slash bridge troll. I mean, the visual was so hilarious because they're super tall and obviously stunningly gorgeous. And they're in heels. And there I am, like three feet shorter with some kind of Willy Wonka jacket on trying to make God knows what it's quite hilarious. So if people can find that, I highly recommend taking a look at it. Finding people who are interesting, I want to shift to someone who may or may not be interesting.
The man sitting cross-legged (34:59)
And we're going to move from New York City to the Mojave Desert. Can you please tell the story of the life coach who lived deep in the Mojave Desert? I'm laughing because I love that you picked that. And I don't know the story. I do. I do not know the story. I'm just using the prompt because I want to hear you tell the story. I may have to reread my book. So there was this person that I heard about who supposedly had insights into what makes life meaningful and eternal. And how old were you at the time? And I was in my late 20s, early 30s, the seeking ages. And I heard about this person who lived deep in the Mojave Desert and that for a fee, for a fee, he would share that knowledge. And so it was really hard to get there, by the way. It's not like there were direct flights to this place or anything. And so I make this journey which involved plane flight, then a train, then walking, and a car. And it was quite a thing to get to this isolated place. And I go in and there's this very beautific man, smooth skin like porcelain. And he said he crossed legged on the floor and he motions me in and asks me to sit down. I sit down and he said you were a seeker. I'm thinking, well, yeah, I made it here. Seeking something that's not under the umbrella of big insight. And he said, you see this fire. Yes. He said, first I want you to close your eyes. And I closed my eyes. And he said, you know, I'm closing my eyes. And he said, you've opened your eyes. I'm thinking, well, how'd you see that? Your eyes are shut. I was testing you. So he said, close your eyes. And I want you to allow your mind to go blank. And I want you to think of nothingness. So I won't tell you where my mind went, but it didn't go to nothingness. And he said, now I want you to open your hand and place it in front of you. And I opened my hand to place in front of me and he said, your right hand. I'm thinking, again, how did he know his eyes are closed? And he said, put your palm towards the ground and move it in front of you. And it's where the fire was. So I moved in front, he says, now I want you to slowly put your hand into the fire. And I opened my eyes and said, are you fucking crazy? I'm not putting my hand in the fire. And he said, you know, how many people I have to stop once they start putting their hand down and I reach out, we're in the middle of fucking nowhere. If they burn their hands seriously, I'm in the shit and they're feeling miserable and were probably 120 miles from any kind of hospital. So thank goodness you had the good sense not to do that. You want a beer? And so he hands me a beer and he's got this diamond encrusted can opener, give him. And he said, yeah, one of my followers sent me this, you believe this? I spent their money on a fucking diamond beer can opener. So he takes a big sip of it. And I do. And he said to me, you came here for the secret, right? And I said, yes. He said, okay, here's the big secret. He said, what's that? And he said, there is no secret. If you would have put half of the effort into your own career and what you're doing into what it took you to get here, you would have been far ahead of the game. Everybody comes here thinking that I've got some secret and you're so invested in all the what it takes to get here that I feel like I have to do something. And I said, what about the eternal life thing? And he said, listen, you live in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of people coming up wanting a PCU and all the answers from you. It feels like an eternity. And I said, why do you do it? And he goes, yeah, it's a living. That's amazing. Okay, with you follow ups. How did you hear about this guy? And what impact did that have, if any, on you? Okay, here's the big reveal, Tim. You are the man sitting cross-legged. And simultaneously across from myself. The big reveal is that I wanted to end my book with a parable. And so I made that story up. And I can't tell you how many people said, well, who is this guy? And all of that kind of thing. And what inspired me to write it is that there are so many self-acclaimed people with insight. And so many people who were clamoring to share in that insight. So it'll somehow unlock the secrets of riches and long life to them. And I thought, you know what? It really takes, and I don't know many exceptions to this rule, unless you're born into money, is it takes a fuckload of work. That's what it takes to do what I've done, what you've done, what everybody I know who has accomplished something has done. So there are no secrets. What there is is the hard work, the perseverance, and that keeps you going after what you're going for.
LinkedIn Jobs (41:03)
There aren't any secrets to unlock. You got to do the work. Just a quick thanks to one of our sponsors, and we'll be right back to the show. This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. It's summer of 2021. And with all the rapid changes we've seen since last year, small business owners are busier than ever. Time spent searching for and interviewing the wrong candidates for job opening could be time better spent growing a business, growing your business. That's why LinkedIn Jobs has made it even easier and faster to reach candidates worth interviewing. Create a job post for free in minutes on LinkedIn Jobs to reach your network and well beyond to the world's largest professional network of more than 750 million people. That's a lot of people. Focus on candidates with the skills and experience you need. Use screening questions to get your role in front of only the most qualified people. Then use the simple tools on LinkedIn Jobs to quickly filter and prioritize who you'd like to interview and then hire. LinkedIn Jobs helps you find the candidates worth interviewing faster. Did you know that every week nearly 40 million job seekers visit LinkedIn? Post your job for free at LinkedIn.com/Tim. That's LinkedIn.com/Tim to post your job for free. Terms and conditions apply.
What do shoes, a masturbating ape, and office supplies have in common? (42:26)
I want to talk about a particular type of work. Quote, "I was hired to sell shoes, not be a zookeeper." Please elaborate. Those don't go together for you. So when I was a kid, I was about 16 and a new shopping mall was opening in Akron, Ohio, which is where I grew up. I'm going to piggyback the story, piggyback the monkey story. I feel like Dr. Doo little right now. There was a manager there. It was a chain of stores. They had run an ad for somebody who was at least 23, had shoe selling experience and was married. I was 16, unmarried, and never sold a shoe. Why let that stuff? Well, that was my thought. You know, truly. I met with this guy and I had done door-to-door sales. I had done all kinds of selling. What did you sell door-to-door? Not to digress. I was a fuller brushman, which maybe many of your listeners don't even know what that is. I don't know what that is. Paint brushes? No, fuller brush was like kitchen stuff and personal grooming stuff. I went around with a sample case. You'd start off so they wouldn't slam the door in your face. You'd say, "I've got a free gift for you." That was a big thing back then. You get a missionary. Yes. You get a choice of one of three gifts that we've got this week. And then you try to sell them shampoo or dish soap or whatever. One time a woman opens the door wearing a robe and her hair is wrapped up in a towel. I said, "Our special this week," and it may interest you since she just got out of the shower, who's our hairspray. I actually could use the hairspray now. You have a sample. I said, "Yeah." I pick up the aerosol. Everything was aerosol back then. I handed the aerosol cannon. She first brushes her hair, then she sprays this. As she's spraying, I say, "Oh, man." I handed her the oven spray. So I take the can back before she looks at it and puts it back in the thing. She's going, "This was very firm." And I'm thinking, "Yeah, and food won't stick to your head either." She actually bought it. She was probably disappointed with the actual hairspray. But I had 30 seconds to engage a potential customer before they closed the door in my face. Nowadays, I don't even think you get anybody to open the door, but back then, you could. So it was an amazingly good experience for selling. That also prepped me for retail when somebody walks into the store. I would engage them and get them selling. So I had that conversation with Bob, who was the manager, and he said, "Look, I can't hire you. You're supposed to be 23, you're 16, you're supposed to be married, you're 17." I just loved that the number is 23. He went on to found 23 and me. I was just kidding. So anyhow, I said, "I can't hire you. I'm really sorry. I like you, but I can't hire you." And I said, "Well, I sold you, and you've got to be harder to sell you than a pair of shoes." And he laughed and said, "I'm sorry." So as I'm walking out, he comes after me and he said, "All right, fuck it. You're hired. And he hired me." I said, "Why are you hiring me?" And he said, "Well, you're right. You sold me. I'm willing to take a chance on you." Well, that was really good management because although he had policies, when he saw what he thought would be a good opportunity, and in fact, I was a very successful salesman for them, he was willing to take a chance, take a risk, and do something and sort of make the perimeter for the job qualifications a bit more elastic to fit me in. Well, in the back of the store, there was a monkey in the back of the shoe store. In the back of the shoe store, there was a monkey and attention. Do I have your attention? Interested. Interest? Are you interested? Yes. Decision. Have you made your decision for Christ? Yeah, anyway. For those who don't get the reference, you can look it up. And as you had said earlier, this was an adult show. Exactly. So the idea behind having a monkey in the back of the store, which by the way, would never, ever happen these days. Not up to good. No. No. So the, you know, since it was a family shoe store, the mother would come in and she'd say to the kids, go back and look at the monkey. What could go wrong? By the way, a phrase that I had never heard before or since. Go back and look at the monkey. And so there was a, when we first opened, there was a name, the monkey contest. Okay. And the monkey's name, the winning name, was solo. Now, at that time, the man from uncle was the most popular TV show. And the hero's name was Napoleon Solo. That's why everybody thinks we chose the name solo. The truth revealed here for the first time is we named it solo because all the monkey did was masturbate. And so, of course, what would you do, sitting here? The mother would then look back to see, look at her kids and she'd see the monkey furiously masturbating. Get away from the cage. Get away from the cage. So somebody had to clean the cage, finally getting to your point. And the assistant manager, you know, who masturbating makes that test so much worse? I didn't know that detail. I didn't want to reveal everything over lunch. And so the manager, Jimmy, says to me, the assistant manager, wants to clean out the monkey cage. And there were five other employees, and I was by far the youngest. And I said, do you ever clean out the monkey cage? And he said, I told you to clean out the monkey cage. And I said, and by this time, the other employees gathered around because he was very animated when he said that. And I said to him, I'll take my turn if everybody else takes their turn. Otherwise, I was hired to sell shoes, not be a zookeeper. He must have loved that. He said, I told you to clean out that cage. And then Bob, the manager hired me, had heard this and walks over. And he says, Jimmy, why don't you show him how to clean the cage properly? And then you'll take your turn, Jeff will take his, and then everybody else will take theirs. Why was okay with that? Because then everybody was treated equally and fairly, and I wasn't treated differently because I was a kid. And I was often the top selling salesperson. So again, I learned something about management. From that, which is first of all, hear people, listen and hear people. Don't just assume because the assistant manager said, I'm not doing something. Maybe there's a reason. Maybe there's something to learn from that. Maybe there's something to make the situation better for the employees or whatever. And again, he demonstrated this very common sense good judgment and that stayed with me to this point traumatized by the masturbating monkey, but learning from his management prowess, which I thought was quite good. Oh my God, masturbating monkeys. Glengary Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin's performance is my reference from earlier for people who missed it.
Memorable Moments And Personal Experiences
Giving and learning (50:33)
Good reference, by the way. Thank you. Thank you. And the last is action. A-I-D-A flipped over on the chalkboard. I think he was nominated for an Oscar for that. Like six minute performance, which is just incredible. David Mamet wrote it. Such an incredible writer. I mean, just stunning, stunning writer. This is a complete non-sequitur, but I have to ask and we're jumping around, but that's the nature of our conversations.
True story: the sympathy pains of being mistaken for a jail-bound Madoff. (51:06)
And the monkey, by the way. So from monkey masturbation to 2009. So you are mad off as you reminded me very kindly before we started. So I was asking you about Lauren versus Lauren. Now there is a Madoff who became quite famous in the wider world. So I don't know if this is accurate. Were you actually quoted in the New York Times as saying, I got a package at my office, which I returned to the post office because it was addressed to Bernard Madoff with no return to us. Is that you being quoted? Or is that somebody else? Yes. What was that? Did that year turn into a massive headache for you? Or was it really just a comical distraction for a short period of time? It's interesting. It was a few things. So first of all, my first initial, although I go by my middle name, Jeffering, my first initial is B for Ben. And not Benjamin. Not Benjamin and not big. Well, let me say that. Let me phrase that differently. But anyhow, yes, it was Ben. And I would get calls all the time, my office would get calls because it was Madoff Productions. The mnemonic, so you can keep it clear in your own mind, is he made off with the money. I'm Madoff. So we got this package. And the package was addressed like a kidnap note. There were letters cut out of a magazine or magazines. That sounds promising. Yeah. And I thought, "Godefic is anything good." But I didn't know it was even potentially dangerous. Oh, it could be a bomb, for sure. And I had gotten so many calls at all hours of the day and night, four in the morning, I would get calls from people who had lost their money to Madoff. Yes. And I had real compassion for these people because in good faith, these people invested, and they had lost their money. And so I got some really horrible calls. Some people who were crying and begging, and I said, "It's not me." And Bernard has been sentenced. You think that you're going to find a number in a phone book? There are still phone books then. I'm not him. And I got a call at five in the morning from Fox and Friends. At Rang, I pick up the phone and they say, "I forget the person's name from Fox and Friends. We'd love to have you on today." Bernard Madoff is being sentenced. And we'd love to have you on. I said, "Well, first of all, let me be clear. At five in the morning, you are not my friend. And no, I have no interest on being on your show." And I said, "Well, well, we know it's early, but we wanted to get to you today." And I said, "You think that I want your audience to see me on the screen. Then you talk about Madoff or Madoff being sentenced with my face on there. And they're going to think it's me. I want absolutely no part of this." Nothing but upset. Yeah, that's right. That's right. Exactly. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Could you put a target on me too? And you know, Tiffany anthrax, I can borrow. And I was aggressively pursued for the David Letterman show. They wanted me to-- Just because you had a name that was spelled the same way. Yeah, so they wanted to do top 10 reasons for not having the last name. And so they called me a few times and it happened. My studio was less than a block away from Letterman studio. So as producers invited me over trying to talk me into it. And I said, "Look, I understand that you guys have to entertain your audience every night, five nights a week. And I'm not interested in making fun or making light of the pain that so many people have suffered. Nor am I interested in being the butt of jokes because my last name is spelled the same way." So do you know how big our audience is? Do you know how huge an ass you could appear to our-- To so many of our national audience. Yes. Yeah, I said, "I'm aware." You know, and you know, but what ended up happening-- So there was a period of time and obviously to this day I'm still asked about it. When my mom died and this was in 2010, I'm in Akron with my wife. We're at the funeral home. And the funeral director is looking at the certificate and he says to me, "Oh, I couldn't help but to notice the last name." I said, "What, you usually don't check when you're going to bury somebody?" And he said, "Well, I do see the last name. May I ask, are you related?" And I said, "Yes, it's my mother." So that ended that discussion. But what I did though was I wrote an article. I did a call back from the Daily Beast and I hadn't submitted it. I sent it out to a bunch of friends and somebody must have submitted it. It was called, "I'm not that mad off." And-- Or I'm not that made off. Correct. And I've never gone into this. This is kind of bringing back memories, all of them good. And so the Daily Beast said, "We love your article." I said, "Thank you. We'd like to publish it. Thank you. But we want you to make one change." And I said, "What's that?" "Well, you have a line in there. It's very funny. It's very clever. But you have this line in there that we'd like you to take out." And I said, "What's that?" And they said, "You say that wealthy people often cloak themselves in religious and philanthropic causes to inoculate themselves against criticism." And I said, "Yeah." So we'd like you to take that out. I said, "No." And they said, "Well, I mean, we'd love to run it, but we would like to take that out." And I said, "How much are you paying me for this?" Zero. But I wouldn't take it out anyhow. And I said, "No. That's integral to the piece." Why did they want you to take that out? As far as I'm concerned, it's a statement of fact. It is, I mean, you don't have to look very far to get a lot of confirming evidence. Why did they give you a reason? No. Other than they thought that it was very clever and good, but they didn't like that part because it got serious. So I said, "No, the next day I got a call from the Huffington Post. Love your articles. Thank you. We'd love to run it." I said, "As is." They said, "Oh, we wouldn't change it, absolutely." And then that led to me writing for them. So I did around 50-some articles because I wanted to get down the discipline of writing regularly. So they didn't impose that on me, but I did an article a week for them for a little better than a year. And so it actually ended up being something good. So I don't know if this is going to be a natural segue or not. I call it our other monkey masturbating. I like all of my monkey masturbating to Glenn Ross segues. I'm a natural folks. Just goes to show how far you can get with perseverance and a lot of ignorance. But that's how, since we've known each other, the conversations are like pinball. They're always like this. They're always like this. Yeah, pinball meets racquetball, meets LSD. Lloyd Price. Who is Lloyd Price?
A posthumous homage to Rock & Roll hall of fame singer Lloyd Price. (58:53)
Well, Lloyd Price is a dear friend who died on May 4th. And Lloyd Price is, and I hate this term because it's beaten to death, but it's true in his case, an icon, one of the founding fathers of rock and roll. He's in the rock and roll Hall of Fame. And his first song, "Laudy Miss Claudia" back in 1952, broke down the wall that was called "Race Records," where you could only buy records by black artists and black record stores. And "Laudy Miss Claudia" sold and was the first record to sell this much over a million copies, no record by a young person had ever sold anywhere near that. Yeah, that's crazy. I mean, it's a crazy story. Yeah, and by the way, at that time, which would have been my grandparents' generation, kids didn't buy records. The only kid records were Shirley Temple. Kids did not buy records. It wasn't a market. So there were a bunch of independent labels around the country that sold blues, gospel, and jazz. And this was the breakthrough album. So there are many rock and roll and musical scholars who consider it the Cornerstone Song of Rock and Roll. And it was covered by Elvis, by the Beatles, by Bruce Springsteen, on and on and on. And I met Lloyd. We really hit it off. And I was... What was that? I met him in like 2012 or '13, something like that. And I was asked to do a documentary about him because they wanted to start getting his story out there in hopes of doing something. And so I researched him and I met him first, really liked him, and then researched him and did this documentary.
Birth of a Play: Keeps the Music Alive (01:00:29)
And I was so taken by his story because it takes place to the crossroads of the youth movement, the birth of rock and roll, and the civil rights movement. And I felt like this is a story that needed to be told. Most people don't know Lloyd's story and just how influential he was. And in breaking down that wall that was called Race Records, nobody's prejudiced against green. And so... That's very true. And he opened the doors not only for black positions, but for young musicians. And that started that tidal wave that became rock and roll. So he and I became very close friends. And I said to him, after doing a documentary, I know I can capture your voice. I want to tell your story. Little did I know that meeting him was going to be a life-changing event. Because since then, I wrote the first few scenes, read them for Lloyd. So let's pause here for a second. So you wrote the first few scenes of what? Oh, the play. There we go. Yeah. I wrote the first few scenes. How did you get to a play? Did you already have it in your mind when you said, "I can capture your voice"? Was it in the form of a play? Yes. And although movie was in the back of my mind as a next step, but play, there's something about theater and live performances. Whether you're seeing a play, whether you're seeing a comedian, even a live concert, where the talent is at risk the entire time they're in front of an audience. Because in movies, you can do another take. Yeah. On a play, you can't. Yeah. I love that. You know? And so that risk, I find, profound and profoundly seductive. Because you have to be there, present in the zone to really be good at what you're doing. And I have so much respect for the talent that I work with and the actors that I work with. It's incredible. And comedians, they put a product out there and they get immediate feedback. You know, it's no A/B testing, right? They laugh. They don't. That's right. There's no charity. That's not funny. They don't laugh. That's right. Yeah. And you can't talk them into, you know, that was fun. That's right. That's the proof. And so you've got to pivot quick and recover quick. And if you get angry at your audience for not doing it, that's a death knell of your career. I stopped you when you said I wrote the first few scenes. I don't know if you remember that thread to pick up on that wasn't sure where the thought was going. You wrote the first few scenes of, I'm not sure if it was called this at the time, but personality, subtitle, the Lloyd Prites musical based on his life. And what happened when you wrote the first few scenes? Well, I wrote the first few to tell him the kind of voice I wanted to do the play in. Right. So when I read them out loud to him, he loved it. And I said to him, he said, you got it. And I said to him, but there's something really important that we need to understand right now. And he said, what's that? And I said, you're the messenger. This story is bigger than you, because your life and what you did changed the face of music. Created with instrumental in creating this new form. And you're the messenger. And he said, Jeff, I've been waiting years for somebody to say that to me. And they're all puff smoke up my ass. And it's not about my ego. It's about wanting to tell this story. That's why I want you to do it. And that began a friendship and a collaboration that lasted until his death. And now I have an additional mission and purpose, which is to keep his legacy and story and music alive. So many questions. I want to ask you first, how did it feel? What was it like to hear him say that to you have been waiting to have somebody say that? It was really gratifying. What I said, could have pissed him off if he was a lesser person. But his ego didn't get in the way of that. And Lloyd had a phrase, the truth needs no defense. That's great. And I love that. He had another one, which I thought about as I was raising money for this, which is telling him about some of the meetings and someone he said, Jeff, you got to understand something. There's a million ways to say no. There's only one way to say yes, you're right at check. Right. We'll get back to you. Let us think on it. And there are people, by the way, that just love having meetings. And they think it's cool to have a meeting about a play and all of that kind of thing. Yeah, if you want to, all you can eat buffet of that, just spend a bunch of time in Los Angeles and get plenty of practice. Fucking meetings and phone calls. Geez, Louise. So as it stands right now, where is this musical?
The State of Affairs: Jeff's Play in Pandemic Times (01:06:07)
So the state of affairs. So the state of affairs is back in September of 20. We had a, we got a theater deal. We did a workshop. First of all, let me say that if I knew how long it took to mount a play out of started when I was younger. And we did a full up workshop with choreography in the end of March, 2019. We got a theater deal and that theater deals with people's light theater in Malvern, a very good regional theater. And we're very excited about that. That's in Pennsylvania. Yes. And we were going to open in March of 21. With COVID, I had to make the decision because theaters, by the way, get booked up a year and a half to two years in advance. So in September of 20, I made the decision to see if we could move it, if my management could move it to 2022, which is what we did. That was prescient. Yeah. We would have been really screwed if I was wrong. Yeah. Fortunately, well, not fortunately, which COVID was over. Yeah. But my hope is that by March, we'll not only all be safe, we will believe that we're safe. And that people will be attending theater, which is beginning to happen. Bruce Springsteen opened his show on Broadway last weekend. I mean, today's June 30th that we're doing this. It is June 30th. That's right. And last Saturday, I'm just putting a time frame on this. Springsteen was the first Broadway show to open and he sold out. And three weeks before that, the Colbert show invited full audience without face masks. They just had to pass a COVID test and show proof of vaccination. And he's been full to capacity every day since. Those are all good omens. So that's really good. Yeah, the roaring 20s. Here we go. So we're now in the process. I am raising some more money because that's, you know, it's like any startup. It's like the tech startups you've been with, you know, you cross a certain threshold, then you got to raise money for the next stage. And then you cross that stage and you got to raise money for the next stage. We've got wonderful talent involved. Sheldon Epps, who's the director is phenomenal, who's been with me since the beginning as has Shelton Beckton, who is the musical director. And Chester Gregory, who plays Lloyd and Stanley Mathis, who plays Logan, who was Lloyd's mobster mentor. And many, many awards across these people. Yeah, we have creative team David Gallo, who's won multiple Tony Awards, is doing set and projection and Rob Capilowitz, who was doing sound design as a Tony Award winner. And we just have a tremendous number of people involved who are so good and so committed to the project. That's very gratifying. And you might like this when I hired Sheldon, which was before we did our first reading. And I really liked him. And I liked his insights into theater and everything else. And so I said to him, I want you to know I have a no asshole rule. And he laughed and says, well, I think I know what you mean. But why don't you explain it to me? And I said, if you are an asshole, but you're paying me, I'll put up with it, but I will never put up with abuse. But if you're an asshole and I'm paying you, I won't put up with it. And he laughed and said, we're in the same place. And we have built such a sense of community for each of the productions we've done. And it's been just a joy. And the thing is, and I said this to the assembled cast before we did our workshop is, and I think this is a general life lesson for me, anyhow, which is never let anybody rob the joy of the process. Because the process is what's magic. The process is what's so much fun.
Don't let anyone rob you of what's most important. (01:09:56)
And that's the journey on your way to that finished product, that process. I mean, that's where the real stories come in as you're on that journey. It's also the bulk of your time. That's right. That's right. Because once it's up and on its feet, there's a lot less to do. Is it fair to say that, and I don't very little about theater, but that the People's Light Theater in Malvern and certainly others sort of around the epicenter of Broadway act as effectively feeders if they're successful into Broadway?
Books, Movies And Life Lessons
Regional theaters as feeders for Broadway. (01:10:21)
Yes. Yeah, it is. And that's from whether it's a La Jolla Playhouse in California, or whether it's Goodman Theater in Washington. There are many regional theaters of very high order. The Public Theater in New York is a regional theater. That's where Hamilton started. La Jolla Playhouse is where Jersey Boys started. And those were all like what we have enhancement deals. But the big caveat is if you're successful. Could you define for people who don't know the term enhancement deal? An enhancement deal basically means that a theater, a good regional theater will set aside a certain amount of money for original productions. Maybe they do one or two or tops, three a season. So they have their fixed budget. And then on our end, we have to enhance that budget with the rest of the financial contribution. So they're putting up the set shop. They're building the sets. They're building the costumes. They're doing the marketing and sales. They're doing all of those things. And if there's is any recoupment, they'll be able to get that. So we're not producing it. But what we are doing is marketing from that. That's the idea. But we've enhanced their budget. So we're both able to put on a play that the cost would be prohibitive for either party alone, but together in pooling resources, we're able to do the production. It's very similar. Not entirely. It's not a perfect parallel, but very similar to the marquee titles that a publisher will select. They'll handpick a few that they'll kind of double down on in terms of betting their bandwidth and capital to back. Very, very similar. Did you find, by the way, I'm just curious after the success of the four-hour work week, and I think it's fair to say that that launched your career. Sure. I think that's fair to say. Did you get any kind of response from any of the publishers that had originally rejected you that wanted in on your next book or anything like that? You know, I did get a couple of letters from publishers who rejected me. Not only rejected me, but did so with no grace whatsoever. I mean, really, abrasively rejected me. And I don't think I replied to any of them. I found them amusing. I found them very amusing because you can say no in many different ways.
Class vs crass: dealing with rejection. (01:13:00)
And there were people who said no, but did it taking just an extra sentence or two to encourage me even though it wasn't a fit for them. And it was really just an extra sentence or two and a shift in tone, just a few different words. And that made a real world of difference. For instance, there was an agent, she may still be an agent, really, really capable agent named Jillian Manus, who did not take me on as a client, but gave me a lot of really good advice and feedback and was very generous and gracious in how she interacted with me. And a bunch of her advice helped me in my writing of the book, even though I ended up working with an agent who I still work with, Steve Hanselman. And I have the utmost respect for her. And I think she is she is a better player, a more competent actor in that field because of the way she handled herself. And she had no reason to do it at the time. I shouldn't say no reason, but I felt like it was her default way of existing in the world, because I had nothing to offer her at the time. But there were examples like that. And then there were the counter examples of people who were just like, Who the hell are you kid? This is a dumb idea. Goodbye. And it just struck me as so short sighted in a way. Even if your job is to say no, 99% of the time, which is certainly true for venture capitalists as another example, I mean, a lot of people say no 99% of the time. It strikes me as a very good investment of time to decide in advance how you're going to do that with some degree of grace. So yeah, absolutely, I received letters from some of them. And none of them were going to get a bite at the apple before the publisher who took a calculated risk on that first book, for sure. And they got a great deal as they should have, right? I mean, I was after all, I'd been punched in the face and kicked in the nuts 30 times or whatever it was. So I didn't exactly have a lot of leverage. But that's smart to be aware of, because a lot of people get very resentful about rejection. But they don't look at it in the context of, I have got no backstory here yet. I can't point to my successes in this world. Yeah, totally. And it goes both ways, right? Like you can be gracious in receiving no. I think that's very important. And these days, it's like, I get through various channels, hundreds of communications a day. And 90 plus percent of those are asking for something. And it's not physically possible for me and my team to even respond to all of those. But if we do, it's usually a no. And it's usually a polite decline. And that's how I phrase it with my team. I'm like, please, play the client. And some people get extremely upset. And they do the equivalent of responding rudely, as the publishers did, but they do it from the perspective of the person who's asking for something. They get very morally outraged and offended. And then they burn the bridge. I say, no, thank you. I can't do this right now. There's no bad weather. I'm heads down on projects and they get really offended. And they guarantee that I'm never going to do something with them in the future by responding in a very overly sensitive, brush way. Right. So it's definitely a two way street. Like if you're going to try to do anything in the world, like you need to get used to people saying no to you. There's a lot more no's than yes's. And the question that I have is how does one construct that emotional moat around that part of your psyche that you want to protect and you realize they don't know me. This is what's going on here has nothing to do with who I actually am. I think establishing that moat is critical for emotional survival. Otherwise, more kicks to the head. Totally. And also, I have now on the receiving end developed tremendous empathy and compassion for people on the receiving end. Because in the beginning, I might ask someone for a book blurb and they would say no. And I would be very upset. I wouldn't respond rudely. I think I knew enough not to do that. But it would stick for a while. And I would be very upset. And I'd be like, why would they say no? Like, there's such an easy ask and this and this and this. And I can come up with a laundry list of reasons why they should have said yes. And now that I'm in the receiving seat, like it's physically impossible to respond. I mean, it's like, if I look at my phone right now, it's like, I've got 98 unread text messages from close friends. And then I have another like 253 unread text messages on Google voice. And it just goes on and on 834 notifications on calendar. I mean, I can't physically respond to this many things. And it is entirely possible that the vast majority of people or a high percentage of people who say no to you will say no, because they just don't have the bandwidth to figure it out. And just because it's not a fit for them, which you should accept is valid. If they say it's not a good fit, doesn't mean it's a bad idea. It just means that your shoes are too fucking tight. It's not going to fit on their feet or whatever. It's not the right fit. And it's going to take a while. If you have a novel idea, and if you're unproven in a particular area, it's going to take a while to find Cinderella with that glass slipper. It's just going to take a while. And it doesn't matter if you've had a lot of success in one area, it doesn't automatically copy and paste to the next. In many respects, you're going to have to start over. And I really respect you for doing that not once but multiple times. Taking your not necessarily leave, but departing from a well trodden path that you know very well, where you have all the connections and you understand all the dynamics to explore an area where you're inevitably going to face more nose. And I hesitate to say rejection because I don't view those as exactly the same. Do you know what I mean? Like rejection distinction. Well, it's like rejection, I guess just has such a negative connotation. Whereas no, not right now. No, not for me. Don't quite have the stigma or the stickiness of rejection. Rejection is just for me at least has such a heavy connotation. So I don't think about it that way. And it's been a strange journey and an interesting one. Let me ask you a question with respect to fundraising without giving out your personal contact information. So I think that would be a terrible, terrible idea. I've seen that backfire before. Where could people go to maybe learn more about the production or consider supporting what you're doing with personality, the Lloyd Price musical? Well, as of yet, because it's too early, I mean tickets don't even go on sale till September. So if somebody was interested, they could message me on LinkedIn. Okay. That's easy. Be Jeffrey Madoff. All right. We'll include that in the show notes as well for people. So you can direct message. Big Jeffrey Madoff on LinkedIn. And great. I mean, if that works, that's easy. I can suggest people do it that way. And those who are motivated will figure it out. Yeah. And if they have just a bag of cash, they want to drop off. I can give us the many convenient drop off locations. Well, let's talk for just a little bit longer. The process of doing homework, I saw somewhere that you've read everything by Raymond Chandler.
Recommended reading, and a quick aside. (01:21:07)
I think that's how you said the last name. Yes. James Elroy. You talk about Michael Lewis, Charles Dickens. You've clearly read a lot aside from your own book, which just as a reminder is creative careers, subtitle, making, living with your ideas. Chaz, I think an average of five stars on Amazon is very well reviewed. What books have you given most as gifts to other people? Well, you preempted the actual answer, which is my own. Yeah. That's why I preempted. God damn you. There are books that I have suggested to people. That's good enough. You know, and so a book that was really amazing to me, Michael Lewis wrote, well, first of all, I think Moneyball was a spectacular thing. Spectacular book. Yes. And I'm trying to get Billy Bean on the podcast. Oh, really? I am. We'll see. Fingers crossed. Billy, if you're listening, I'd love to have you on. I mean, Michael Lewis is as a nonfiction writer is so good. Yeah, mind-boggling. And the way that he's able to make things understandable without dumbing them down, he's just so good. And I've read everything he's written, except his latest book. I haven't read that yet about pandemic, but I will. Moneyball, which was great, which, you know, I read Moneyball and Freakonomics back to back.
Why Fred recommends The Undoing Project. (01:22:47)
And it was like a... That's a good combo. Yeah, it was like a case study, right? But I love the undoing project. You know, I know the story of the undoing project, but I haven't read the book. It's brilliant. I had read about 15 years ago, I read Heuristics and Biases by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Dversky. Quick side note, I was a test subject of Danny Kahneman's at Princeton, where I was a subject in some of his experiments, just as a quick side note. Yeah, anyway, please continue. Well, you know, they created the field of behavioral economics. Yeah, and Green Hall. I was sitting there in front of a computer looking at things on a screen and hitting space bar or whatever the indication was. Yeah, wild. Never met them. Yeah, they're brilliant. And the thinking about thinking and why we believe what we believe, I found so amazingly insightful and useful. And I was just blown away by it. I just absolutely loved it. So the undoing project went into who they were as people. And it just even enhanced even more what their whole mission was in terms of behavioral economics. So I love that. But Michael Lewis's books, I have recommended tremendously. Same with Timothy Wu. Timothy Wu, I don't know the name. So he wrote the master switch. He's a professor at Columbia University. It's incredible about dissemination of media and the attention economy. I may have screwed up that name, but it's Timothy Wu, WU, and he's brilliant. And I kind of read him like I put together free economics, with heuristics and biases with Timothy Wu, I put together James Gleek and information, which is God, it's an amazing book. I love things that make me look at things differently and challenge my own beliefs in really interesting ways. So those are the kinds of things that I recommend.
Fred's suggestion for fans of hardboiled detective novels. (01:24:56)
I read mostly nonfiction back when I was reading a lot of fiction. I loved Raymond Chandler. Raymond Chandler created the prototype, Philip Marlow, the hard-boiled detective, who's got integrity and a ball of rye in the deep desk drawer. And his books, I was always sorry that they ended because they were so much fun to spend time with those characters, and I really loved it. Have you ever read Motherless Brooklyn? I saw the film. I thought that Edward Norton and team did a really nice job with that. They did. And I thought it was really interesting. And of course, the eccentricity of having detective with Tress was just kind of interesting. And I'm a sucker for any of these movies, whether it's LA Confidential, which is one of the best ones. Incredible. With the fedoras. And I love that genre, the film "warish" kind of genre. I just love it. And James Elroy, who I mentioned, who writes with a blowtorch. Okay, please elaborate. His use of language has such velocity to it and is so strong. And he wrote LA Confidential. Oh, I did not know that. That was based on one of his books. Okay. And the movie, which I loved, was like a Disney version of the book. That's hard to imagine. I know. But if you read the book, which I'd highly recommend. By the same name? Yes. Yeah. It's wickedly rough. But really good if you like that genre. I love it. I'm looking for more fiction. I've really been drawn to fiction recently, having been a nonfiction purist for decades. But I can't remember who said this. So I don't know the attribution. Somebody can figure this out. But the masks we wear, tell us more about the truth than the real faces we own or something like that. Right? Like the masks often tell us so much. And so I do feel like fiction can convey deeper truths sometimes as effectively or more effectively than nonfiction. I've really been drawn to that craft recently. Do you have any favorite documentaries or movies?
Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird, and life lessons in unexpected places. (01:27:13)
Oh, God. This, you know, as you know, I love film. So to name a film is really tough. I mean, I recently rewatched for the 19th time, I don't know, to kill a mockingbird, which I loved. And I had the additional joy of turning my kids on to it when they were like 12 and watching it with them. And there are certain points in that film that I cry. 10th subject matter. Yeah, but I've got really smart kids. And they loved it. And I loved when I saw tears, welling up in their eyes at the same points that had happened with me when I watched the film. And it's just so beautiful. Quick sidebar to that. So I had done a film for Eliza Manelli at Radio City. And there was a big party afterwards in the rainbow room, which is as glamorous as, you know, the movies make it. It's gorgeous space and it's wonderful. Gregory Pack was sitting there. And I said to my wife, Margaret, it's weird sense. I said to my wife Margaret, as opposed to my wife, Alice, I want my other wife. I said to Margaret, my wife, you want to meet Gregory Pack? This is in 1991. And she said, I pass out. I said, come on. So we go over and I shake hands with him and said, I've always wanted to shake Atticus's hand. And Atticus Finch is the character that he played. And he said, you know, it's interesting that you say that. And he has, by the way, one of the great voices of all time. I was just speaking with Alan Picula, who produced the movie. And we were wondering if that movie would be made today. What do you think? And I said, I don't know. But what a sorry statement about our culture, it would be if a film that was that great, wouldn't have been made. And I said, were you aware that you were making something that was going to live on for generations? And he said, you know, I've made over 174 movies, never before, or never since, did I have the feeling that I had when I was making that? And the very first scene, he said, you know, we shoot movies out of sequence. And I said, I'm aware. And he said, the very first scene is actually the courtroom scene, although it happens later in the movie. And I walk out on set and Harper Lee was there. I don't know that name. Harper Lee wrote it. She wrote to Killmockingbird. And when I walked out onto the set, she got up bursting the tears and left. She came back about an hour and a half later, and I walked over to her, you know, he was wearing a three piece Lendensu, which is what her father always wore. And she said, I'm sorry, I was so overwhelmed by how you reminded me of my father. But there was one thing that was missing. And he said, what was that? He said, he always had his pocket watch and a watch fob. And then she hands him her father's pocket watch, which he put into his pocket. And she said, whenever he was giving a closing argument, he would rub his thumb over the face of the watch, the pocket watch. And I said, wow. And he said, and when I got the Academy Award for Best Actor for that film, as I was giving the speech, I had my right hand in my pocket and was rubbing my thumb over the face of the watch. I said, oh, wow. And then he takes his hand out of his pocket and says, would you like to see the watch? And he hands it to me. Wow. Man, wow. That was to me like somebody seen the sacred shroud of terrain or something. I mean, it was just amazing, really amazing. But that's a film that not only was the book great, the movie was great.
Concluding Thoughts And Recommendations
Approaching Jason Statham. (01:31:21)
So I have to interrupt for a second, because this reminds me of an experience that we had where we were at some party, a camera where it was LA or something like that. And I was a huge fan of Jason Statham's. I don't know if you remember this. And he walked right past us at this event and ended up whatever, you know, 100 yards behind us in the middle of this throng of this, this crowd. And I think I mentioned something along those lines and you're like, well, should we go meet him? And I was like, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. And you just grabbed me and we marched right up to him and said hello. And he was extremely friendly. He was very, very kind and gracious, also built like a brick shithouse. I mean, God, it's that guy well, well built. And funny enough, you know, I saw that photo about a year ago. And I was like, wow, since I've lost my hair, I'm kind of converging on Jason Statham. Have you always had that hutzpah to walk up to people? Or was that developed? Or how did that come to be? All right, God, I, yeah, first of all, I just love when Gentiles use words like hutzpah. And after you're telling me that your ancestors came here in like the 16th century or something, mine didn't. They were kicked out of a country. But, you know, I like to keep my my doors up. You know, I think most people don't mind you approaching them. If it's about something nice. So I had a short conversation with them because I said, you know, my son is a huge fan of your movies. And when I watched them with him, said, you know, you've got something going on. I mean, you can act. You've got chops. You can really act. And he said, Oh man, thank you. And we talked for just a moment or so. And then I said, would you mind if we got pictures with you? Yeah. And so the sure way to make sure that nothing happens is do nothing. Yeah. So worst case scenario, he says, get away from me, kid. You know, the worst thing he does is he says no. Yeah. But we both ended up with picture that we really enjoyed. And it was nice to meet him because he was a very nice guy. Yeah, a really sweet guy. And so it was cool. And I have seen his, they're married now, I think, his wife, I had shot many times because she was a model. And, you know, I did some videos with her and she was really, really a nice person too. Yeah. I was supposed to have Jason and I think Guy Ritchie on the podcast some time ago. And then without any explanation, we were all slated to go. And then the phalanx of God knows what in between very last minute canceled. So maybe someday I'll get to actually thank him in person for being so cool on our first encounter. Here's a question that might be a dead end. And I accept that possibility and I'll take the blame if that's where it goes. But nonetheless, I will ask. Good preamble though. Thank you. Thank you. I specialize in preambles. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere, metaphorically speaking, right, this is to get a message, quote an image, anything out to billions of people.
What might Jeff put on a massive billboard? (01:34:35)
What might you put on that billboard? Doesn't have to be an original, could be from somebody else, whatever you want, something non-commercial. Well, if it was an actual billboard, I would say pay attention to the road. That's a very be Jeffrey Madoff answer. And if it was a metaphorical, in terms of just a metaphorical idea that I wanted people to get would be stay curious, keep learning. Stay curious, keep learning. I think you've done an excellent job of that. So you walk the walk. Well, you're very kind. It's true. It's true. I've seen it over and over again. That's very inspiring. But it's fun. When you and I first met all those years ago, the conversation, which was going to be you had a half hour, I think, and then we were like four and a half hours later. I remember. We were ricocheting all over the place like that. I mean, it's a very enjoyable thing to do when you're talking with somebody who I don't want to presume you respect me, but I do respect you. But the same, it's fun. And you also unearth things about oneself that you might not have hit on otherwise, or you see it in a different way. And I think that's a great thing about doing a podcast, isn't it, when you get to talk to people that you find interesting and all of that? Totally. In some ways, all the more so when I know someone and have the excuse and the pretext to do all this creepy due diligence, it would otherwise be really strange. And I think this is a pretty good place to start to wrap up. Jeff, are there any other things you would like to mention? Any requests you have the audience, anything you'd like to say, closing comments, anything at all that you would like to add before we bring this first conversation to a close? Well, I am going to be taking a leap into the podcast world because of all the guests that I've had in my class. I think that you being a master of that, and I've been learning podcasting. And so I'm looking forward to that because it's just, I think like you, I think it's accurate to say, it's about spreading ideas.
Why Be Jeffery loves teaching (01:37:09)
And that's what's fun to do that and engaging with people about ideas. I am proud of my book. I think that that was an interesting thing, especially as I was going through some of the same things I was writing about. In terms of that was one of the things when I was thinking about, well, was I a failure and all that. And writing a book about things you've experienced in life can be therapeutic at the same time and bring things up that maybe I wouldn't have thought about otherwise. And as I had already mentioned about the teaching is that teaching is such a great way to learn, is such a great platform to engage with ideas. And I've got an audience that changes every semester. I really enjoy it. And very grateful for an opportunity like this, where we can just pinball back and forth and talk about the kinds of things that interest us and in scratching our own itches. We hope that we also do the same for our audience. Yeah. Well, I'm excited for you to get into the podcast game. You're a natural and you're already doing the heavy lifting and you're doing the interviewing. You know how to do it. You are an expert storyteller and it's just a matter of sharing the audio. So I think you'll do very well. And to just repeat where people can find you, there are a few different options, acreativecareer.com. That is at a creative career on Instagram. The book is Creative Careers Subtidal Making a Living with Your Ideas. Check it out. You can also find Madoff, not made off, Madoff Productions.com, which can be found at Madoff Productions on Instagram. If you are interested in learning more about possibly supporting personality, Subtidal, the Lloyd Price Musical, which I'm very, very excited to see, you can direct message Be Jeffrey Madoff, M-A-D-O-F-F, on LinkedIn. Is there anything else, anywhere else that people can find you or any other links or any such things that we should mention?
Where to find more about Be Jeffery (01:39:17)
Well, hopefully they'll look that well, actually they will be hearing that podcast. This is kind of surreal, self-renewher, another M-C-E-Sher thing. I was going to say you could tell them about this podcast, but the only way that they would hear it. It's like I had a teacher that would say, "And if you're not here today, please raise your hand." Look, look, what? So, no. I think it's a... No. So people can search... I got nothing else. Yeah, people can search your name and podcast and by the time this is reaching their ears, perhaps they can find it. And also, if it is live, I will link to it in the show notes, along with everything we've talked about, all the books, all the people, all of the everything at Timnup.log/podcast as per usual. And what fun Be Jeffrey Madoff? Thank you so much for making the time and putting up with this sauna infused with hard kombucha.
A Discussion of the Past 2.25 Hours (01:40:22)
It's been a lot of fun. I loved it, man. Thank you very much for having me on. I really appreciate it. Absolutely. And until next time, do everyone out there listening? Thanks for tuning in. Hey guys, this is Tim again. Just a few more things before you take off. Number one, this is "Fiblet Friday." Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday that provides a little more soul of fun for the weekend? And "Fiblet Friday" is a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I've discovered. It could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up in the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I've read and that I've shared with my close friends, for instance. And it's very short. It's just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend.
*NEW*: Sign up for Tim's email newsletter (1-2 per week) (01:41:22)
So if you want to receive that, check it out. Just go to fourhourworkweek.com. That's fourhourworkweek.com. I'll spell it out and just drop in your email and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it.
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Public Goods (01:43:17)
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