Book notes: When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead by Jerry Weintraub

When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead book summary by Marlo Yonocruz

When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man by Jerry Weintraub

Here is the story of Jerry Weintraub: the self-made, Brooklyn-born, Bronx-raised impresario, Hollywood producer, legendary deal maker, and friend of politicians and stars. No matter where nature has placed him–the club rooms of Brooklyn, the Mafia dives of New York’s Lower East Side, the wilds of Alaska, or the hills of Hollywood–he has found a way to put on a show and sell tickets at the door. “All life was a theater and I wanted to put it up on a stage,” he writes. “I wanted to set the world under a marquee that read: ‘Jerry Weintraub Presents.'”

Initial thoughts:

I think the first time I saw this book was on Tai Lopez’s top book recommendations. I didn’t put it on my reading list then, but I think it popped up on my Amazon suggestions so I decided to pick it up for this month. I think the reason I was hesitant at first was because I didn’t know who Jerry Weintraub was. The book cover and title sounded interesting, nonetheless.

I usually have good experiences with biographies and autobiographies of successful people. Total Recall is still one of my favorite books actually. I knew the value would come from learning all the life lessons and thought processes of people like him.

Key ideas:

  • Savor life, don’t press too hard, don’t worry too much
  • It’s not the gem we buy, it’s the story behind it
  • The trick to selling: packaging
  • When you want something, get a job, save money, and buy it. This way you’ll enjoy it. Otherwise you won’t and you’ll get tired of it
  • At some point, you forget the object and the means becomes the end (fulfillment through the process)
  • Throughout his life, he’s seemed to attract many mentors (a big reason for his successes)
  • On making money: people will pay you to make their lives easier
  • Always take the time to make the pitch
  • Personal service is the name of the game
  • Never get paid once for doing something twice
  • He had no desire to go to college, the world would be his classroom
  • There are many ways to deal with a bully, best to be smart
  • As soon as you feel comfortable, that’s when it’s time to start over
  • He didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he knew he would do it well like his father taught him to, and following his example of doing it his own way
  • For artists, what drives them and what terrorizes them are often the same thing (useful to know when managing talent)
  • Think: “who really needs what I’m making
  • Be willing to be lucky
  •  A talent agent is an optimist, make the small things big and the big things enormous
  • “Buy your own steak, it’s cheaper”
  • Theory: if you act like you’re in charge, nobody will stop you
  • Disney: everything he made was just a reflection of him
  • Nothing is as important as relationships. It trumps politics, party, and affiliations. He’s a big believer in the strength of relationships and numbers
  • If you work with people you love, the hard times become an epic adventure
  • Persist. Push. Hang on. Keep going. Never give up. Persistence is a cliche but it works, just pretend you don’t hear the naysayers and don’t believe them
  • The person who makes it is the one who keeps on going after everyone else has quit, he had almost never accomplished anything on the first try
  • The blue tarp story reminds him of the need to innovate and improvise
  • The colonel was always open to new ideas, no matter how successful he was
  • Lesson: let the other guy save face with his people but keep score
  • Management sells a sense of certainty to the artists
  • School of Sinatra: learned how to tell a story
  • Sinatra: when you’re feeling depressed at the top, you don’t need rest, you need a new hill to climb
  • Frank taught him spontaneity and how the first take is the best
  • The artist is the engine, your job is to get people there to see them
  • Jerry always wanted to be involved in everything that moved and electrified him
  • Movie producer: smarts, sell an idea, attract talent to idea, bring out the best in players while also keeping them in line
  • Lesson: know what you’re buying
  • Lesson: work with the best talent. Life is too short to be surrounded by morons
  • Every 10 years he builds a new career without meaning to
  • Just because you get older, doesnt mean you should forget how exciting it all is
  • His family foundation: love, loyalty, and concern, tempered by a large dose of comedy
  • In the end, your outlook has less to do with money and more with the values your parents exhibit and your own nature
  • He believes it’s impossible to succeed in career and home. At some level you make a choice
  • Having good writers and a good script is KEY, which leads to getting money and a studio
  • The producer is the driving force behind a movie. Temperament is important, you have to love it. His main job is to solve problems
  • He wanted to impress his mother, whom instilled the confidence and belief in himself that allowed him to achieve
  • Lesson: being successful in life means filling your life with calls you want to return
  • You have to be willing at any moment to walk away from the most comfortable perch precisely because it is the most comfortable
  • Freedom is calling back whomever you want
  • You learn more from failures than from successes
  • 3 key words in business: I don’t know
  • Don’t get hung up or paralyzed in the quest for perfection. By the same token, be able to identify what is truly important  and hold out until you get those things right
  • No matter your age, never stop looking for teachers
  • Armand Hammer smiling at funeral; as long as you’re here, you might as well smile
  • On Hollywood and politics: the world is very small at the top. A few thousand people run everything
  • It’s less about making connections with leaders in different fields, but climbing high enough on your own to see the place where all lines converge
  • He learned from John Kennedy that the best politicians are not different from movie stars, they charm, communicate, command. Their target is the soul of the people
  • The best leaders include you, enlarge you, and make you see the best qualities in yourself
  • Material things are nice but none of it is yours, we are simply renters on this earth
  • Lesson: people judge on first sight so make those surfaces shine. If you wanna be seen as a major, look like a major
  • Philosophy: operating on the confidence and belief that something will happen
  • Lesson: perception is reality, you’ll grow into the suit
  • Great rule of business: if you find something you love, keep doing it!
  • Style and fashion change, but the underlying drive in Hollywood remains the same
  • Developing true friendships later in life is one of the greatest things that can happen
  • Lessons: ask when you don’t know, listen when someone else talks
  • Sell with joy so your product is fun to buy
  • Most important: never be afraid to fail, try, or look silly
  • When you’re in a suatuation and want to respond to someone emotionally, sleep on it and wait until the next day to reply

Closing thoughts:

Wow. Definitely underestimated this book. As I went through the book and found out just who this guy really was, I was almost annoyed at myself for not reading it sooner. This man lived the American dream essentially. He’s accomplished so much and his networks were among the top people in the world. So many powerful nuggets in this book, I definitely have to go through this book again.

I think the biggest idea that I got from this book is one Jerry mentions at the very end. The biggest reason for his success and his greatest strength came from his ability to keep going and pursuing what he believed in. No matter what the naysayers said, no matter who discouraged him, he was never afraid to try and fail. With that, it was clear his resilience and hard work put him in a position to become “lucky” so often when the opportunities came.

Nutshell: The stories of Jerry Weintraub’s life illustrates how not being afraid to try and fail can open up many doors and lead to big opportunities.

Rating: 5/5

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