“Success and Luck” Quotes

I recently read “Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy” by Robert H. Frank. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

Success and Luck“Because the contests that mete out society’s biggest prizes are so bitterly competitive, talent and effort alone are rarely enough to ensure victory. In almost every case, a substantial measure of luck is also necessary.” (3)

“Taking a risk means that a successful outcome isn’t certain. So if Varney took risks and was successful, he was lucky by definition!” (5)

“Branko Milanovic has estimated, roughly half of the variance in incomes across persons worldwide is explained by only two factors: country of residence and the income distribution within that country.” (7)

“Napoleon Bonaparte once observed, “Ability is of little account without opportunity.” (7)

“So if you want to be smart and highly energetic, the most important single step you could take is to choose the right parents. But if you have such qualities, on what theory would it make sense for you to claim moral credit for them? YOu didn’t choose your parents, nor did you have much control over the environment in which you were raised. You were just lucky.
Many people don’t like to work hard and also have limited endowments of cognitive abilities and other traits that are highly valued in the marketplace. In the competitive environments most of us inhabit, those people are unlucky.
In short, even if talent and hard work alone were enough to ensure material success – which they are not – luck would remain an essential part of the story. People with a lot of talent and an inclination to work hard are extremely fortunate.” (8)

“Chance events have always mattered, of course, but in some respects they’ve grown more important in recent decades. One reason for that has been the spread and intensification of what the economist Philip Cook and I have called winner-take-all markets. These markets often arise when technology enables the most gifted performers in an arena to extend their reach.” (9)

“In such winner-take-all markets, the quality difference between best and second best is often barely perceptible, but the corresponding difference in rewards can be enormous.” (10)

“It’s one thing to say that someone who works 1 percent harder than others or is 1 percent more talented deserves 1 percent more income. But the importance of chance looms much larger when such small performance differences translate into thousands-fold differences in earnings.
The spread of winner-take-all markets has amplified the importance of chance in a second way. In almost all cases, the prodigious rewards that accrue to a handful of winners in these markets attract enormous numbers of contestants. And the more contestants there are, the more luck matters.” (10)

“Denying the importance of luck may actually help people surmount the many obstacles that litter almost every path to success.” (11)

“Perhaps the most important such obstacle is that most of us find it harder to summon effort when the resulting rewards are either delayed or uncertain. Narratives that stress luck’s importance call attention to the fact that not even the most diligent current efforts can guarantee future success and by so doing may encourage some to sit back and hope for the best.” (11)

“Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon estimated, for example, that couples who spent more than $20,000 on their weddings were more than 12 percent more likely to divorce during any given year than were those who spent between $5,000 and $10,000.” (15)

“The Music Lab findings suggest that many songs (or books or movies) that go on to become hits owe much of their success to the fact that the first people to review them just happened to like them. Works of unambiguously high quality are of course more likely to earn positive early reviews and may succeed even in the face of some negative early commentary. But most artistic endeavors elicit a broad range of subjective evaluations. Some go on to succeed simply because the first people to express their opinions about them publicly just happened to come from the right tail of the opinion distribution. Which is to say, many artistic endeavors owe their success, at least in part, to pure dumb luck.” (31)

“To acknowledge that seemingly trivial random events often matter enormously is not to suggest that success in life is independent of talent and effort. In most competitive arenas, those who do well are almost invariably both highly talented and incredibly hardworking.” (39)

“Charlie Munger has written, “The safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want.”” (39)

“It is far more likely that a book of given quality will become a best seller if it was written by an author of earlier best sellers.” (45)

“Winner-take-all markets generally display two characteristic features. One is that rewards depend less on absolute performance than on relative performance… Second is that rewards tend to be highly concentrated in the hands of a few top performers. That can occur for many reasons, but most often it’s a consequence of production technologies that extend a given performer’s reach.” (45-46)

“The top one-thousandth of 1 percent of song titles now account for a much larger proportion of sales (15 percent in 2011, up from only 7 percent in 2007).
Trends for weak-selling titles have also been running counter to the long-tail prediction. THe proportion of titles selling fewer than one hundred copies annually, for example, was 94 percent in 2011, up from 91 percent in 2007.” (48)

“CEOs of the largest American corporations, who were paid forty-two times as much as the average worker as recently as 1980, are now paid more than four hundred times as much.” (51)

“But these global pressures do not account for what’s been happening in the white-collar professions. The growing inequality at the top is even more dramatic than at the bottom, as the most highly compensated corporate managers, lawyers, physicians, and even preachers have pulled away from the pack.” (54)

“Winning a competition with a large number of contestants requires that almost everything go right. And that, in turn, means that even when luck counts for only a trivial part of overall performance, there’s rarely a winner who wasn’t also very lucky.” (63)

“If luck has only a very small effect on performance, why is it so hard to win a large contest unless you’re very lucky? Two factors are involved. One is that the inherent randomness of luck means that the most skilled contestant is no more likely to be lucky than anyone else. The second factor is that with a large number of contestants, there are bound to be many with close to the maximum skill level, and among those at least some will also happen to be very lucky. With very large contestant pools, then, there will almost always be someone who is almost as skillful as the most talented contestant, but is also significantly luckier. So even when luck counts for only a tiny fraction of total performance, the winner of a large contest will seldom be the most skillful contestant, but will usually be one of the luckiest.” (66)

“I emphasize that this isn’t the same as saying that most winners win only because they’re lucky. In highly competitive arenas, most would not have even been realistic contenders had they not been both extremely able and hardworking. It would be grossly unfair, the, to say that most winners didn’t deserve their rewards.” (68)

“Bryan Cranston said, “Luck is a component that a lot of people in the arts sometimes fail to recognize: that you can have talent, perseverance, patience, but without luck you will not have a successful career.” (68)

“People with more realistic beliefs about their talents and about luck’s importance may actually find it more difficult to muster the will to overcome the difficult obstacles that litter every path to success.” (70-71)

“Nondepressed students consistently overestimated the quality of their own performance in tasks at which they succeeded, and underestimated the importance of their own performance in tasks in which they performed poorly.” (73)

“A narrative that openly acknowledges the strong link between success and luck calls explicit attention to this uncertainty. It might thus discourage the very efforts that are so often critical for success.” (76)

“Parents who teach their children that luck doesn’t matter may for that very reason be more likely to raise successful children than parents who tell their children the truth.” (77)

“Pride in one’s achievements is often one of the most powerful motivations to expend the effort it takes to succeed.” (82)

“Liberals are more likely than conservatives to embrace the importance of luck in life.” (83)

“The effects of a decline in any one person’s after-tax income are dramatically different from those of an across-the-board decline. If you alone experience an income decline, you’re less able to buy what you want. But when everyone’s income declines simultaneously, relative purchasing power is unaffected. And it’s relative purchasing power that determines who gets things that are in short supply.” (92)

“Overlooking luck’s role makes those who’ve succeeded at the highest levels feel much more entitled to keep the lion’s share of the income they’ve earned.” (93)

“Of the one hundred largest US counties, those where income inequality grew most rapidly were also those that experienced the largest increases in three important symptoms of financial distress: divorce rates, long commutes, and bankruptcy filings.” (114)

“Because chance events figure prominently along virtually every career trajectory, people who claim complete responsibility for their own success are almost surely claiming more credit than they actually deserve, a move that’s unlikely to make them more attractive to others.” (132)

“In short, it may be in your interest to acknowledge luck’s role in your success if only because people will think better of you for having done so.” (141)

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“Bird by Bird” Quotes

Bird by Bird coverI recently read “Bird by Bird: Some INstructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, please buy the book here.

“Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.” (19)

“One writer I know tells me that he sits down every morning and says to himself nicely, “It’s not like you don’t have a choice, because you do – you can either type or kill yourself”” (22)

“We need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here – and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.” (32)

“As soon as you start protecting your characters from the ramifications of their less-than-lofty behavior, your story will start to feel flat and pointless, just like in real life.” (45)

“One line of dialogue that rings true reveals character in a way that pages of description can’t.” (47)

“Ethan Canin said, “Nothing is as important as a likeable narrator. Nothing holds a story together better.”

“A person’s faults are largely what make him or her likable.” (50)

“THere’s no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.” (51)

“John Gardner wrote that the writer is creating a dream into which he or she invites the reader, and that the dream must be vivid and continuous.” (57)

“Drama is the way of holding the reader’s attention. The basic formula for drama is setup, buildup, payoff – just like a joke.” (59)

“Fix instead on who your people are and how they feel toward one another, what they say, how they smell, whom they fear.” (61)

“Sometimes Alice Adams uses a formula when writing a short story, which goes ABDCE, for Action, Background, Development, Climax, and Ending.” (62)

“Dialogue is the way to nail character, so you have to work on getting the voice right.” (67)

“My friend Carpenter talks about the unconscious as the cellar where the little boy sits who creates the characters, and he hands them up to you through the cellar door. He might as well be cutting out paper dolls. He’s peaceful; he’s just playing.” (72)

“Writing involves seeing people suffer and, as Robert Stone once put it, finding some meaning therein.” (97)

“In those moments, you see that you and the chipmunk are alike, are a part of a whole. I think we would see this more often if we didn’t have our conscious minds. THe conscious mind seems to block that feeling of oneness os we can function efficiently, maneuver in the world a little bit better, get our taxes done on time.” (98)

“”The Gulf Stream will flow through a straw provided the straw is aligned to the Gulf Stream, and not at cross purposes with it.” … So now I always tell my students about the Gulf Stream: that what it means for us, for writers, is taht we need to align ourselves with the river of the story, the river of the unconscious, of memory and sensibility, of our characters’ lives, which can then pour through us, the straw.” (121)

“If you want to know how God feels about money, look at whom she gives it to.” (128)

“Historically, when people do too well too quickly, they are a Greek tragedy waiting to happen. I, who did not do too well too quickly and who was in fact not doing too well over time, was actually in the catbird seat.” (128)

“When a child comes out of your body, it arrives with about a fifth of your brain clutched in its little hand.” (137)

“I told him that the best possible thing was to shoot high and make mistakes, and that when he was old, or dying, he was almost certainly not going ot say, “God! I’m so glad I took so few risks! I’m so glad I kept shooting so low!”” (156)

“To be great, art has to point somewhere.” (205)

“The coach says, “If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.”” (218)

“If something inside you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write striaght into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don’t worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.” (226)

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“Funny On Purpose” Quotes

I recently read “Funny On Purpose: The Definitive Guide To An Unpredictable Career in Comedy” by Joe Randazzo. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, click here to buy the book.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 2.15.57 PM“As in all of the arts, fortune favors the persistent much more than the merely talented.” -John Hodgman (12)

“I have never been badly served by stopping before typing a word or taking a step on stage and asking myself: Why am I doing this? What do I have to say – need to say – on this specific day, to this group of people? It takes rigor, and a certain brave honesty, because sometimes the answer is small and dumb.” -John Hodgman (13)

“In a comedy-saturation era, where every joke you can think of has already been made five times, twelve minutes ago, knowing yourself is not merely essential to being funny, it is more important than being funny.” -John Hodgman (13)

“The seven traits of highly successful comedy people: 1. Self-Doubt 2. Excellent Procrastination Skills 3. Fear of the Unknown 4. Laziness 5. Fear of Failure 6. Poor Planning 7. A Need to Express Something to the World” (15)

“A character who innocently and earnestly pushes stupid, even dangerous ideas is infinitely funnier than a character who speaks in wisecracks.” -Jack Handey (23)

“It’s funnier – and perhaps more sympathetic – if a character doesn’t know that he’s being mean. If he’s oblivious and actually thinks he’s nice.” -Jack Handey (24)

“The two primary functions of comedy are: to push the bounds of comfort and to challenge authority. Without these two principles – and an important and universal third principle, which is to smear the edges of tragedy with a shared sense of the absurd – one does not have comedy.” (38)

“If The Onion is doing its job right, each article should offend at least a thousand people.” (40)

“When I’m running a show, I’m really looking for jokes from new writers. It’s great if they have story pitches. I mean, we need them, but a great way to contribute is to really listen to want the room and show runner want and pitch within that framework.” -Danny Zuker (76)

“The worst thing any writer can do is get married to their ideas. Write a book if you want final say, but in TV it’s collaborative. And don’t take a rejection of your jokes or stories as a rejection of you. You really need to take it with a smile and keep pitching.” (76)

“Cut anything that you wouldn’t read aloud in front of the people you hope will hire you. Then go through and do it again. ANd again, and again. I know that less than 1 percent of comedy writers actually do this, but I also know that 97 percent of that 1 percent are currently working on a show somewhere.” (79)

“There are five essential building blocks of great comedy performance… Relatability, timing, shamelessness, yelling and vulnerability.” (124)

“The job of the comedy performer is to be able to expose the raw inner animal of the human being at a moment’s notice – to look like a fool. If there’s even a hint of worry or concern about how one will look, the spell is broken and the comedy is dead.” (124)

“A good primal yell is equal to thirty-seven solid spit takes or nine pratfalls. It represents the deepest, least-eloquent form of communication, the bottom rung of emotion, hopelessness, the last straw. In other words: comedy itself.” (125)

“Liana Maeby said, “In some ways, the best career advice might be to figure out how to get to a place where you can be happy for other people’s success.” (136)

“Good characters are funny because of who they are and how they act, not necessarily because they tell jokes.” (190)

“The key is knowing the intention of the scene. If you know you have to et from A to B, and you have to hit certain emotions and story points to be clear, you can have fun along the way, but the intention of the scene must be the same.” -Judd Apatow (215)

“When considering the business of comedy, these are the core questions:
What are you selling?
Who will buy it?
What do they want from it?
How does it compare to everything else in the marketplace?” (301)

“Any good show usually starts from character.” -Kate Adler (317)

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“Deep Work” Quotes

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 2.02.14 AMI recently read “Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World” by Cal Newport. This is one of the most useful and insightful books I’ve read in a while. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy the book here.

“Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” (3)

“Deep work is necessary to wring every last drop of value out of your current intellectual capacity. We now know from decades of research in both psychology and neuroscience that the state of mental strain that accompanies deep work is also necessary to improve your abilities.” (3)

“Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.” (6)

“Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.” (7)

“If you create something useful, its reachable audience is essentially limitless – which greatly magnifies your reward. On the other hand, if what you’re producing is mediocre, then you’re in trouble, as it’s too easy for your audience to find a better alternative online.” (13)

“The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.” (14)

“The lack of distraction in my life tones down that background hum of nervous mental energy that seems to increasingly pervade people’s daily lives.” (17)

“Once the talent market is made universally accessible, those at the peak of the market thrive while the rest suffer.” (25)

“Talent is not a commodity you can buy in bulk and combine to reach the needed levels: There’s a premium to being the best. Therefore, if you’re in a marketplace where the consumer has access to all performers, and everyone’s q value is clear, the consumer will choose the very best. Even if the talent advantage of the best is small compared to the next rung down on the skill ladder, the superstars still win the bulk of the market.” (26)

“An increasing number of individuals in our economy are now competing with the rock stars of their sectors.” (26)

“Current economic thinking argues that the unprecedented growth and impact of technology are creating a massive restructuring of our economy. In this new economy, three groups will have a particular advantage: those who can work well and creatively with intelligent machines, those who are the best at what they do, and those with access to capital.” (28)

“The complex reality of the technologies that real companies leverage to get ahead emphasizes the absurdity of the now common idea that exposure to simplistic, consumer-facing products – especially in schools – somehow prepares people to succeed in a high-tech economy. Giving students iPads or allowing them to film homework assignments on YouTube prepares them for a high-tech economy about as much as playing with Hot Wheels would prepare them to thrive as auto mechanics.” (31)

“Another general observation for joining the ranks of winners in our economy: If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive – no matter how skilled or talented you are.” (32)

“High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)” (40)

“By working on a single hard task for a long time without switching, Grant minimizes the negative impact of attention residue from his other obligations, allowing him to maximize performance on this one task.” (43)

“There are, we must continually remember, certain corners of our economy where depth is not valued. In addition to executives, we can also include, for example, certain types of salesmen and lobbyists, for whom constant connection is their most valued currency.” (47)

“If e-mail were to move to the periphery of your workday, you’d be required to deploy a more thoughtful approach to figuring out what you should be working on and for how long.” (59)

“We no longer see Internet tools as products released by for-profit companies, funded by investors hoping to make a return, and run by twentysomethings who are often making things up as they go along. We’re instead quick to idolize these digital doodads as a signifier of progress and a harbinger of a new world.” (68)

“the skillful management of attention is the sine qua non of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience.” (77)

“Our brains instead construct our worldview based on what we pay attention to. If you focus on a cancer diagnosis, you and your life become unhappy and dark, but if you focus instead on an evening martini, you and your life become more pleasant – even though the circumstances in both scenarios are the same. As Gallagher summarizes: “Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love – is the sum of what you focus on.”” (77)

“Elderly subjects were not happier because their life circumstances were better than those of the young subjects; they were instead happier because they had rewired their brains to ignore the negative and savor the positive.” (78)

“Human beings, it seems, are at their best when immersed deeply in something challenging.” (84)

“To build your working life around the experience of flow produced by deep work is a proven path to deep satisfaction.” (86)

“The task of a craftsman, Dreyfus and Kelly conclude, “is not to generate meaning, but rather to cultivate in himself the skill of discerning the meanings that are already there.” (88)

“The meaning uncovered by such efforts is due to the skill and appreciation inherent in craftsmanship – not the outcomes of their work.” (91)

“The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration.” (100)

“Mason Currey says, “the single best piece of advice I can offer to anyone trying to do creative work is to ignore inspiration.” (119)

“David Brooks summarizes this reality more bluntly: Great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants.” (119)

“Any effective ritual must address: Where you’ll work and for how long… How you’ll work once you start to work.. How you’ll support your work.” (119-120)

“By leveraging a radical change to your normal environment, coupled perhaps with a significant investment of effort or money, all dedicated toward supporting a deep work task, you increase the perceived importance of the task. This boost in importance reduces your mind’s instinct to procrastinate and delivers an injection of motivation and energy.” (123)

“Focus on the Wildly Important: identify a small number of ambitious outcomes to pursue with your deep work hours. The general exhortation to “spend more time working deeply” doesn’t spark a lot of enthusiasm. To instead have a specific goal that would return tangible and substantial professional benefits will generate a steadier stream of enthusiasm.” (137)

“When I shifted to tracking deep work hours, suddenly these measures became relevant to my day-to-day: Every hour extra of deep work was immediately reflected in my tally.” (138)

“Downtime aids insights.” (144)

“Providing your conscious brain time to rest enables your unconscious mind to take a shift sorting through your most complex professional challenges.” (146)

“Attention restoration theory (ART) claims that spending time in nature can improve your ability to concentrate.” (147)

“Trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day enough that you end up getting less done than if you had instead respected a shutdown.” (149)

“Ericsson notes that for a novice, somewhere around an hour a day of intense concentration seems to be a limit, while for experts this number can expand to as many as four hours – but rarely more.” (150)

“When you’re done, have a set phrase you say that indicates completion (to end my own ritual, I say, “Shutdown complete”). This final step sounds cheesy, but it provides a simple cue to your mind that it’s safe to release work-related thoughts for the rest of the day.” (151)

“Decades of work from multiple different subfields within psychology all point toward the conclusion that regularly resting your brain improves the quality of your deep work. When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done.” (154)

“The ability to concentrate intensely is a skill that must be trained.” (157)

“Don’t take breaks from distraction. instead take breaks from focus.” (159)

“Schedule in advance when you’ll use the Internet, and then avoid it altogether outside these times.” (161)

“To succeed with deep work you must rewire your brain to be comfortable resisting distracting stimuli. This doesn’t mean that you have to eliminate distracting behaviors; it’s sufficient that you instead eliminate the ability of such behaviors to hijack your attention. The simple strategy proposed here of scheduling Internet blocks goes a long way toward helping you regain this attention autonomy.” (166)

“I suggest starting with a careful review of the relevant variables for solving the problem and then storing these values in your working memory… Once the relevant variables are identified, define the specific next-step question you need to answer using these variables.” (173)

“Michael Lewis notes, “It’s amazing how overly accessible people are. There’s a lot of communication in my life that’s not enriching, it’s impoverishing.” (193)

“This strategy picks specifically on social media because among the different network tools that can claim your time and attention, these services, if used without limit, can be particularly devastating to your quest to work deeper. They offer personalized information arriving on an unpredictable intermittent schedule – making them massively addicted and therefore capable of severely damaging your attempts to schedule and succeed with any act of concentration.” (205)

“To take full advantage of the value of deep work: Schedule every minute of your day.” (222)

“This type of scheduling, however, isn’t about constraint – it’s instead about thoughtfulness. It’s a simple habit that forces you to continually take a moment throughout your day and ask: “What makes sense for me to do with the time that remains?” It’s the habit of asking that returns results, not your unyielding fidelity to the answer.” (226)

“Without structure, it’s easy to allow your time to devolve into the shallow – email, social media, web surfing. This type of shallow behavior, though satisfying in the moment, is not conducive to creativity. With structure, on the other hand, you can ensure that you regularly schedule blocks to grapple with a new idea, or work deeply on something challenging, or brainstorm for a fixed period – the type of commitment more likely to instigate innovation.” (227)

“Decide in advance what you’re going to do with every minute of your workday. It’s natural, at first, to resist this idea, as it’s undoubtedly easier to continue to allow the twin forces of internal whim and external requests to drive your schedule. But you must overcome this distrust of structure if you want to approach your true potential as someone who creates things that matter.” (227)

“To evaluate where given work tasks fall on the shallow-to-deep scale ask: How long would it take (in months) to train a smart recent college graduate with no specialized training in my field to complete this task.” (229)

“Here’s an important question that’s rarely asked: What percentage of my time should be spent on shallow work?” (232)

“It’s incredibly wasteful to pay a highly trained professional to send email messages and attend meetings for thirty hours a week.” (234)

“The key is to avoid providing enough specificity about the excuse that the requester has the opportunity to defuse it.” (239)

“The ability to concentrate is a skill that gets valuable things done.” (258)

“There’s also an uneasiness that surrounds any effort to produce the best things you’re capable of producing, as this forces you to confront the possibility that your best is not (yet) that good.” (263)

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“When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead” Quotes

I recently read “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories From A Persuasive Man” by Jerry Weintraub (with Rich Cohen). Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

Jerry Weintraub“Though he was selling rubies and sapphires and I am selling Clooney, Pitt, and Damon, the trick is the same: packaging. You might have the greatest talent in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t sell it.” (8)

“When you dig through all the craziness of my life, you’ll see that I’m just a guy from the Bronx who knows how to a attract a crowd.” (8)

“At some point, you forget the object, and the means becomes the end. You work for the joy of the work.” (16)

“Relationships are the only thing that really matters, in business and in life.” (17)

“I saw the neighborhood with new eyes. It was no longer just streets and stores: It was needs and opportuinties, money to be made. Once you see the world this way, things are never the same.” (19)

“As soon as you feel comfortable, that’s when it’s time to start over.” (27)

“Do not get attached to the world as it is, because the world is changing, something new is coming, every ten years a big hand comes down and sweeps the dishes off the table.” (38)

“Grunt jobs are often the most instructive – they allow you to flow through an organization unnoticed, a corpuscle or cell moving in and out of the heart and lungs.” (39)

“The job of an agent is, in part, anyway, to bullshit and schmooze: How better to find talent than by seeing who can talk his way into a career?” (42)

“An idea is only crazy, after all, until someone pulls it off.” (52)

“A lot depends on who you know, who you can get to. If you have people who will open the door for you, literally and figuratively, you can make a pitch. It’s in your hands from there.” (65)

“Ther person who makes it is the person who keeps on going after everyone else has quit. This is more important than intelligence, pedigree, even connections. Be dogged! Keep hitting that door until you bust it down! I have accomplished almost nothing on the first or second or even the third try – the breakthrough usually comes late, when everyone else has left the field.” (76)

“Let the other guy save face with his people, but keep score.” (98)

“What had started as a ploy to snap Frank out of his depression had turned into a major deal – handled wrong, it could turn into a major embarrassment.
At such times, I become obsessed with details. That’s where God is, so that’s where I go, with my notebook and phone numbers and head full of ideas. The people, the angles, the chairs – I wanted to get everything exactly right.” (111)

“it’s best, when selling something new, to envision the goal – let the entire world hear John Denver – then work your way back. How do we get there? Now and then, it happens by itself. This is a matter of luck, zeitgeist. More often, you have to be creative, crabwalk your way.” (121)

“You can evolve and grow but you should never resent your thing. If you look at how few artists actually make it, you will recognize that those trademarks, though in some ways limiting, are a gift of providence.” (121)

“Know what you’re buying. Was I buying Nashville? No, I was buying Robert Altman. I did not understand the script, but Altman did, and it was Altman who was going to make the movie.” (164)

“Work with the best people. If you have the best writers, the best actors, and the best director and fail, okay, fine, there is even something noble in it; but if you fail with garbage, then you are left with nothing to hang your spirits on.” (167)

“I don’t care what kind of cast you have, how beautifully the thing is shot – if you don’t have the right script, you’re going to fail.” (179)

“Being successful means filling your life with calls you want to return.” (204)

“You have to be willing to walk away from the most comfortably perch, precisely because it is the most comfortable.” (204)

“I believe in not getting hung up or paralyzed in a quest for perfection, but by the same token, you have to identify what is truly important and hold out until you can get those things right.” (209)

“People think that Hollywood and politics operate in different spheres – they don’t. The world is very small at the top, with a few thousand players running everything. For a producer, an actor, a banker, a politican – name your celebrity – crossing genres is less a matter of making connections with the leaders of other industries than of climbing high enough in your own to reach the place where all lines converge.” (229)

“From Kennedy I learned that the best politicians are not different from movie stars. They charm, communicate, command. THe good ones never make you feel isolated or small, as if they have something you don’t. Quit the opposite. They include you in their world, enlarge you, make you recognize the best qualities in yourself.” (230)

“This is why politicians seek out movie stars, and why movie stars want to become politicians. They seek the same target, which is the soul of the people.” (231)

“People judge on first sight, so make those surfaces shine.” (245)

“Steve Ross said, ‘What are you worrying about? You are a talented guy. That talent did not go away. The company went away? So what! Companies always go away. They’re a dime a dozen. It’s talent that counts!” (248)

“I don’t care if you get flattened a thousand times. As long as you get up that thousand and first time, you win. As Hemingway said, ‘You can never tell the quality of a bullfighter until that bullfighter has been gored.’” (248)

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