For More Episodes Visit: www.podcast.scottdclary.com
Jeff co-founded Cohen Gardner LLP in 2002 and focuses on transactional representation for clients in the entertainment, media and technology verticals.
He has been named by Variety to both its Dealmakers Impact List and Legal Impact List. He has been profiled by The Hollywood Reporter, The ABA Journal, Chambers Associate, Law Crossing and others.
His first book, The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments: Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood was published by the American Bar Association’s imprint Ankerwycke in 2015.
An active writer, he has authored numerous articles discussing business and legal matters for CNBC, The Huffington Post, Backstage, Lawyerist and others. He is proud to serve on corporate boards in both the non-profit and for-profit arenas.
Jeff received his Juris Doctor from UCLA Law School with an emphasis in business law and his undergraduate degree from The University of California at Berkeley, Haas School of Business. While at UC Berkeley, Jeff served as President of the Associated Students of the University of California.
Jeff has a unique background growing up as a child actor in the entertainment industry. His most notable role was playing ‘Chunk’ in the cult Richard Donner/Steven Spielberg film The Goonies.
He asks that you don’t hold that against him.
SUCCESS STORY PODCAST
Stories worth telling.
On the Success Story podcast, Scott has candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.
Machine Generated Transcript
business, book, people, read, actor, fired, clients, film, life, combat, remarkable, berkeley, podcast, commandment, machiavelli, starting, love, gardner, deal, negotiating
Jeff B. Cohen, Scott D Clary
Scott D Clary 00:06
Welcome to the success story podcast. I’m your host, Scott Clary. On this podcast I have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, politicians and other notable figures, all who have achieved success through both wins and losses. To learn more about their life, their ideas and their insights, I sit down with leaders and mentors and unpack their story to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between. Without further ado, another episode of the success story podcast. Thanks again for joining. I’m sitting down with Jeff B. Cohen, who is the co founder of the Beverly Hills based law firm Cohen Gardner LLP. he co founded in 2002. It focuses on transactional representation for clients in entertainment media and technology verticals. Now, he has been named by variety to both its dealmakers impact list and legal impact list. Cohen Gardner LLP some of their clients include director writer producer, Bong Joon Ho recently won four Oscars Best Picture Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Foreign Film at the 2014 Academy Awards for his film parasite, amongst many other notable clients. Now, Jeff has also written written that book The dealmakers 10 commandments, 10 essential tools for businesses forged in the trenches of Hollywood published by American Bar Association and is available on Amazon. And I’m going to link that book in the description I want to I want to go into that. Jeff received his Juris Doctor from UCLA, emphasis on business law, his undergrad degree from Berkeley High School of Business, and while at UC Berkeley, he served as a president of Associated Students of the University of California, unique background. Jeff has a unique background growing up as a child actor in the entertainment industry most notable role was playing chunk in the cult, Richard Donner Steven Spielberg film, The Goonies, which was added to the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress in 2017. And he asks that you don’t hold that against him. So thank you.
Jeff B. Cohen 02:12
Thanks for having me. Scott. I’m happy to be here. Thank you for having me.
Scott D Clary 02:15
Now. It’s my pleasure. It’s my pleasure. I’m, when I first reached out, I was like, oh, prominent lawyer, you know, I want to speak about I want to speak about your book, I want to speak about negotiation. I want to speak about the business and the work that you’re doing on like, oh, by the way, he also is a child actor, turned lawyer. So that’s probably the best possible outcome of becoming a child actor. I’m not gonna lie, probably. You’re doing it. Right. Right. You’re doing it right.
Jeff B. Cohen 02:43
Well, thank you. Thank you. Yeah, it doesn’t, it doesn’t always have to turn out this way doesn’t always you know, being a being a former child actor is not always a recipe for success. It’s not always a secret sauce for winning at life, but ultimately teed me up pretty well for what I do so.
Scott D Clary 03:02
So man, walk me through, walk me through your life, your career, we can start as young as you want to go. But I do want to tee up. What brought you to the work that you do now?
Jeff B. Cohen 03:12
Sure, of course, of course. So yes. You know, former child actor, a cultural icon, you know, that’s another way to say it, you know, the, you know, the Jerry Garcia of my generation. Yeah. You know, some people say that is the burden heavy? Sure, you know, is it is it to have such adoration and, you know, cultural weights, in addition to my own girth as a as a professional fat kid. Now, I, you know, I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, in the suburbs of Los Angeles. And I was kind of a, you know, hammy little fat kid, and I love the Three Stooges. And I love the little rascals and I loved watching old, you know, black and white comedies. And that’s kind of what I wanted to do. So I got into the business when I was a little kid, which is easy to do in LA, you know, in LA, everyone either has a screenplay, or is an actor or some combination thereof. So, you know, I don’t think my writing was that good at the time, so opted to be a good actor, and, you know, kind of did all the 80s you know, sitcoms like family ties and facts of life and Kids Incorporated and all that kind of stuff. And then, ultimately, and 85 to the film The Goonies, directed by Richard Donner, who’s the best, who’s remained, you know, kind of an inspiration and a mentor and a friend throughout, you know, my life. I’m kind of very fortunate to kind of, you know, rely on His guidance, and picked on or directed to remarkable films as Superman, and the omen and all the lethal weapons and of course Goonies and you know, produce all the X Men films and all kinds of You know, fantastic stuff. And so then yeah, to do nice when I was 10. And of course, it was directed by Nick Donner for a producer, you know, written by Spielberg and Chris Columbus. And yeah, that kind of was pretty cool and did its thing and then, you know, hit puberty, and then you look different, and it’s harder to get work, the shelf life. I love entertainment, and I love show business. I just love the fact that, you know, you can do something like I did Goonies in 85. And now it’s, you know, 35 years later, and people still like it. People watch it with their kids, you know, in our kind of COVID world, where theaters are having trouble, they’ll have like, drive in movies and make sure Guney to drive in movies, which is, I think, really fun. So what I love about art and entertainment is that you can do something and it has legs. You know, like Shakespeare wrote his plays 500 years ago, but they have little legs. So you know, even 500 years later, we still read Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet and Macbeth, um, you know, 100 years later, or I guess eight years later, we’re still watching, you know, Casa Blanca. Um, you know, so, cat. I thought cats would last longer because in the 80s Man, that was a big play. That was a really big musical. Cats. Not holding up so good. I still thought it was pretty cool. I like the movie. Actually.
Scott D Clary 06:24
I actually didn’t see it. I saw I saw so much I saw so much negative about it. I couldn’t bring mice I’m gonna, but I haven’t yet. But yeah, I don’t know.
Jeff B. Cohen 06:32
You know, it’s funny. Like, like, and I don’t have any clients associated with cat. So I’m, I’m able to freely discuss cats. Um, when I, I watched it, and everyone had hated it so much, but I was like, Dude, this is this is the same, like, like, I remember as a kid seeing cats in the theater in the ad don’t like is kind of same exact thing. Like, what up? Everybody loved this so much then and hate so much now. But anyways, yeah, um, but anyways, you know, kind of, you know, I love that element of entertainment, that, you know, it can kind of help push culture forward and kind of, you know, bring a lot of joy. So, you know, when acting didn’t pan out, because you look different. You have kind of a short shelf life as a kid actor, it can work out for some people. But you know, it certainly didn’t for me, I was very fortunate that Richard Donner who directed Goonies, um, you know, took me under his wing. You know, every summer I would work predict honor at his offices at Warner Brothers. And I went from being an actor to, you know, cleaning up lunch after everybody was done. And being a production assistant, and going on runs throughout the city to pick things up. And Dick Donner showed me that there’s a whole different side of show business, that there’s the studio executives, and there’s the producers, you know, and there’s the, there’s the directors, and there’s kind of this whole other, you know, there’s a distribution executives and the financiers, there’s kind of all these different elements to it. And kind of, you know, at that point, I knew that kind of my way to improve my life, or to have a shot was was academics was to get into the best college that I could get into. Because I kind of, you know, I had good grades, and I worked hard, and I was looking for, you know, a way to kind of, you know, open up my horizons. So, you know, I got into UC Berkeley, which I was really excited about, and it was fun for me growing up in LA, to, you know, go to school outside of LA. So I love the Bay Area. You know, I still am a big Berkeley guy, go you know, go Bears houses, you can see a Golden Bear actually over there in the corner like Berkeley. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, we’re that we’re the mighty California Golden Bears, Go Bears. So I actually decorated my house with weird stuff, like, Scarface is thrown. Yeah, Tony Montana is thrown Golden Bears very, very mature stuff. But, you know, went to Berkeley study business. And, you know, trying to find myself like, Okay, what, you know, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re an out of work actor, what do you do in California, and it’s politics, you get into politics, you know, that’s kind of the normal path. Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, became our governor, Ronald Reagan out of work, actor, you know, became the Governor as well. So I was like, hey, you know, people love voting for X actors. So at Berkeley, I got really involved in student government and I was a student senator, and then I became president of the student body. So anyways, um, you know, in June of 2002, I started my law firm with one of my colleagues from Universal Studios. Jonathan Gardner, we formed Colin Gardner, got an office in Beverly Hills, the cheapest office in the in the most remote portion of Beverly Hills. You know, it’s certainly a bootstrap situation. But yeah, you know, we’ve been going for 18 years and you know, we’re very fortunate to represent great writers and directors, producers, production companies. Um, and you know, basically we are transactional attorneys. So what we do is we negotiate their deals, whether it’s for talent services, or for writing a film or, you know, directing a film or, you know, distributing financing of film, or television or digital content for that matter. So yeah, that’s, that’s what we do.
Scott D Clary 10:19
And, you know, so So obviously, like a huge, you didn’t even work for a major firm to start, like you had a little bit of business experience, but then you just sort of went out on your own and did it and you sort of bootstrap for lack of a better term from the ground up? Well,
Jeff B. Cohen 10:33
there was I did gloss over a period of about 18 months when I think I got fired three times.
Scott D Clary 10:39
Yeah, yeah, I think. So for that stuff.
Jeff B. Cohen 10:42
I tried to make it more elegant style. But thanks for the twisting the knife. I was fired from a big firm, I was fired from a small firm. And then I was fired from a medium firm. So I think it was fired from from every level of firm, our basic start. I mean, I mean, basically, what I realized is, again, I had issues with authority, and I’m a terrible employee, but I think I’m a pretty good boss. So I figured that the only way to not get fired anymore was to start my own business, because then you can’t really I mean, you can’t get fired, I suppose. But you really got to work at it. So I was, you know, I kind of there were, you know, large and small firms between that and that little window between universal and starting my own firm. But realized pretty quickly, I, you know, if I worked for me, I would have fired me. So it’s totally no hard feelings completely reasonable, you know?
Scott D Clary 11:34
No, it’s fair. So starting your own business, essentially, starting your own business, you know, you had a couple of follies and whatnot. But how do you how do you go about building a firm from the ground up? Because I assume that and correct me if I’m wrong, I think that most successful individuals probably started much later on in their life, right? They don’t they don’t jump into it as their first venture or the first venture is not successful. And that could just be, you know, me drawing assumptions. But still, I’m curious, some of the struggles that you went through and how you sort of overcame those to build out. Cohn Gardner to the point where now you’re, what, 18 years and successful? Yeah, yeah.
Jeff B. Cohen 12:11
You know, it’s, you know, there’s a, there’s a, there’s an idea that actually, failing at a young age is a great blessing. And I think that’s true. For me, anyways, that was really true. Because as a kid, all I wanted to do was be an actor, like, that’s what I loved. I mean, I wanted to be Spanky. From the little rascals, I wanted to be curly from the Three Stooges, like, that was it, and I had a taste of it. And then as a kid, you don’t realize like, oh, things. And, you know, there’s that other idea that the beauty of first love is the ignorance that it will ever end. That’s why it’s so beautiful. So to kind of have something that I really wanted, and then kind of have it slip away, and kind of go through that experience, I think was really, for me as a human being was very fundamental. And also, when I, you know, when I started my law firm, I realized that, you know, the greatest secret weapon is no alternative. No alternative is the best secret weapon, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s that Sunsoo idea that, you know, when you when you invade another land, you know, you park your ships on, you know, your partnerships, all the troops get out, then you set the ships on fire, because the troops know, if they don’t win, they’re gonna get pushed into the ocean, you know? So, so for me, you know, I love show business. And, you know, the thing with show business is it’s very fickle. You know, it’s very hard. And that specific industry, I mean, a lot of industries, you know, but in that industry, specifically, it’s very hard to have long longevity. So, where I think a kid actor has kind of the shortest shelf life unless they can transition and become something fantastic. Like, you know, Jodie Foster or Josh Brolin, or something like that, you know, in show business, the other end of the spectrum, who has the longest, you know, shelf life is actually an entertainment lawyer, in my, in my opinion, because it’s one of the few places in entertainment, where you want someone who’s old. You want someone that you want a wizard with a white beard, who lives in the castle, and you know, in the, in their weird wizard tower and have seen everything and that, you know, so one thing to me that was appealing about entertainment law is like, Oh, they actually want you to be old. You know,
Scott D Clary 14:38
they want that experience. Yeah,
Jeff B. Cohen 14:40
they want that experience. They want you to have been through all these battles. And one of the, you know, something that I saw when I was at Universal is, how harder it is to have longevity at a studio. Because if you’re not kind of the top of that pyramid, you know, there’s so much you know, You know, change it, when there’s a change in regime, it’s very easy to get fired when it’s completely not your fault when you didn’t do anything wrong. Um, so for me, I was like, wow, entertainment law, you know, a, I love Entertainment, be it’s fun to work with artists and help them kind of create cool stuff and be an advocate for them, I care about that. And with my own business, I can kind of build it the way that I think it would be, you know, that it would be best, um, the, you know, certainly early on, it was rough going, you know, for about the first year of the firm, I literally, you know, not not not no embellishment, I actually slept at the law firm, like, I couldn’t afford both an apartment and my half of the rent for the law firm. So I had an air mattress, and you know, have, you know, built the Scotch in the evening, when everybody went home, everybody me and my law partner wasn’t a huge wasn’t a huge group, inflate my air mattress, go to sleep, get up early, before anybody came in, I would go to the LA Fitness by the 10 freeway and then lost the antiga, which is not too far from our office, I would work out I would, you know, jump in the shower, and rinse and repeat. And I did that for about a year. Because I I had to make it work. You know, I had to make it work. And fortunately, you know, we’ve had some great success. You know, I’m very excited for the clients that we work with, and kind of the projects that, you know, that that they’ve, you know, done and continue to do. And ultimately, it’s a great place to be.
Scott D Clary 16:40
I love the story. I want to bring up one point that that you didn’t touch on but I think sort of alludes to your success in your business, as well as as well as a reason why you wrote the book that you actually wrote. Because you mentioned
Jeff B. Cohen 16:52
you mean nice book.
Scott D Clary 16:55
Exactly. Exactly. That man man. Amazing. Me too.
Jeff B. Cohen 17:00
I’m so funny. I just happen to be brushing up on my dealmaker 10 commandments available on Amazon in hardcover audiobook and the Kindle. The kids love the Kindle. So you can and I actually
Scott D Clary 17:13
read the book on audio. You did the you did the voice of yourself. I did the audit. So exciting.
Jeff B. Cohen 17:17
Back it back back on top as a performer once again. So if you like these beautiful dulcet tones, I will actually read this brilliant book to you. You’re welcome. So are welcome world. On that topic. I’m sorry, I interrupted Scott, please go ahead.
Scott D Clary 17:35
No, that’s where I was going. Cuz cuz you mentioned I was reading some notes you mentioned that you found you found Machiavelli’s book, The Prince, which then sort of opened your eyes to business. And then that, you know, fast forward eventually led to your success book and career. So what what did you learn out from there that sort of has shaped the book, the way you pursue business, the way you pursue life? The way you you know, you deal with negotiations on a daily as a lawyer? I’m curious about that.
Jeff B. Cohen 18:04
Of course, I’m dealmakers commandment one spoiler alert, spoiler alert, I’m absolutely ripped off of Machiavelli, but I give him credit. It is better to be feared than love. Um, and of course, in the book, I give a warning in the beginning of the book that this is for your professional life, not your personal life. So, you know, things can get, I know, fairly rough in what I do, you know, it’s, it’s a lot of combat. It’s people’s economic well being on the line. Um, so things can get, you know, fairly rough. Um, so, basically, when I was in college, the I read, you know, just the intro to poly sigh class, I was interested in political science, and I read the book, The prints by Nicola Machiavelli. And it blew me away. It absolutely kind of altered my, you know, worldview. It was a real game changer for me. Because prior to that, I very much had a performers mindset, which is great. But, you know, the point of being a performer is to be loved, you know, is to entertain and enlighten and hopefully inspire. And, you know, in exchange for the applause, the adoration of the audience. So, that was the mindset that I was, was was used to is like, well try to be loved try to be loved. But what this book said, it said that if you want to gain power, and if you want to wield power, if you have a choice between being feared or being loved, it is better to be feared. The reason being is because people fear you because they have to, and they love you because they want to. And if you want to build your house of bricks, it’s preferable to, you know, build with something that you control So, what I learned from a deal making perspective was that in order to get a deal to kind of come out, you know, in the best for the best result for your client, the first analysis is the analysis of fear. You know, we’re negotiating against large corporations. You know, sometimes we’re David, sometimes we’re Goliath, you know, we’re mercenaries, we have standards, but they’re low and flexible. You know, but but when you’re when you are, when you are negotiating against a much larger opponent, you have to get in their mind and think, Okay, what are they afraid of? You know, what, what is the button that I need to tap in order to create wealth, and some sort of creative control for my clients? So what what Machiavelli discusses, you know, in the context of being a prince in Renaissance Italy, is how do you acquire power? How do you manage power? And how do you deal with, you know, those around you? So for me, the book, The prince was fundamental and kind of structuring what I do as a business person. And as an as an attorney, you know, being a vigorous advocate for my client. Um, Machiavelli really kind of opened up my whole world, because for me, the the mindset was always being loved. And I was like, oh, no, if you’re feared, then you’re able to actually get better results for your clients. So even though it’s not elegant or polite, it’s I found it to be necessary, especially when you’re negotiating against multibillion dollar corporations who are tough and savvy opponents.
Scott D Clary 21:43
I love that. And I think that people that don’t go into business on their own, don’t see that all the time. And I think that the the rose colored glasses stay on, but the second you go into entrepreneurship, but the second you go into doing deals where you are the stakeholder and you’re the main decision maker, I think a lot of this stuff is very important. So that you protect your assets you protect, you know, you really protect your asset to be quite honest, so that people don’t take advantage of you. Because people do play this. People play these power games, in business, in law, and especially in politics, but I don’t, I would never even go there. But you see these types of games being played. And I think that the more you know, like other entrepreneurial books that I think are good for people than business orders, entrepreneurs, like the hard thing about are things like things like that, like books that really paint life the way it is not to be pessimistic, but just to be like eye opening and aware. That’s what I really appreciate. When people write books like that. That’s really why I’m, I you know, you mentioned the prints. And I thought it was interesting, just because that that is like the lessons like are all the lessons somewhat in line with with things pulled out of that book, or the author’s own experiences?
Jeff B. Cohen 22:46
Sure, what I tried to do, and I actually I very, it’s, it’s great that you bring it up, because I very much patterned the book after the prints a because you’ll see, it’s short, it’s a short book, it’s about 130 pages, because the prince was about 110. And I have a very short attention span. So I wanted, you know, I very much did not want to waste the reader’s time, I wanted to, you know, kind of put those lessons together, what I tried to do is basically combine, you know, the philosophers and the political scientists and kind of the business books that I that I like, you know, everything from, you know, you know, Rich Dad, Poor Dad to Nietzche, to, you know, Machiavelli to my own personal experiences, of course, without revealing any specific details, because of course, attorney client privilege is fundamentally important to what we do. And kind of also, of course, my own experience, kind of building my law firm representing my clients and kind of going into battle. You know, there’s that idea that, you know, being a professional, no matter what your business is, but being a real professional, actually means you have a deep knowledge of the ugly side of your business. And I think that’s correct. That’s what actually being a professional is part of it is that you get paid for what you do. But the other part of it is, no matter what your business is, business is tough businesses, rock businesses, is businesses combat. So being a professional means you’ve seen the ugly side of it, and you’re, you know, you have some sort of calluses, regards to that. So, so I totally agree. And part of the reason I started my own business, and I enjoy advising other, you know, business owners, who are my clients, you know, who have their own production companies or their personal service companies, etc, is, you know, I, I, when I worked at a studio, I saw people who I really cared about who I thought were great, you know, executives get fired. And it wasn’t their fault. They were they didn’t do anything wrong. It was just some numerical calculation. They’re like, Oh, if we fire this person, we can hire two people who are 20 years younger and can do you know, two thirds of the work between the two of them, you know, And I found that to be very unfair, and it drove me nuts. And it made me sad. And I didn’t want to, personally selfishly, I did not want to be in that position. So that’s why I felt that in life, there isn’t much stability. Businesses always, you know, is always combat and you know, is always precarious. But at least when it’s your own company, you have more control. Because, you know, as a capitalist, you allocate capital, right? That’s what you make those decisions. So, you know, it’s funny, actually, I won’t say his name, specifically, but I was able to speak to a kind of a well known billionaire. And, you know, I, I asked him, this was very early on, you know, you know, decades ago, I’m that old, I can actually say decades ago, and it can be as weird Damn, I’m old. But, but I wanted some advice. You know, he was a self made billionaire, pretty remarkable. And he gave me two pieces of advice, give me two pieces of advice. The first he said, control your capital. He said, Don’t let someone else control your capital, you have to control your capital. So for me, you know, co owning my own business with, you know, you know, my great law partner and I, that I co founded the firm with, and I have another law partner who’s great as well. But being an integral part in deciding how we allocate capital, which markets we’re going to go after how we control our overhead is important. The second thing, he said that, when you succeed, if you succeed, people will say, Oh, you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. And he’s like, that’s true. He’s like, But why were you in the right place? How did you put yourself in the right place? How did you know it was the right time? How did you make the right decision when you are in the right place at the right time? Um, so I think that was also great advice to really recognize, like, you know what, once you solve the problem, it’s easy. Once you have some success, it seems easy. But man, when you’re sleeping at the office that year, and drinking yourself to sleep with some some red in a Johnnie Walker Red Label, not the Black Label, certainly not the blue label. You know, not even green label or Gold Label, the red label, let’s be honest, maybe Cutty Sark was even in there for God’s sake. And, you know, at the time, it seems, it seems really hard. And when you have some success, people will just kind of be like, oh, yeah, it was meant to be. But but when you’re the person actually in the arena, it feels somewhat differently. You have to give yourself some credit in a way that other people can’t, because you actually went through that experience. So anyways,
Scott D Clary 27:42
I think that this is a these are a whole bunch of knowledge bombs that you’re dropping right now. So I appreciate it. And these are great.
Scott D Clary 27:51
Yeah. 100. Yeah,I’m telling you, the clips are going to be awesome, because now I get all these little life lesson insights segments, I can post on social so I appreciate it. Seriously, man, this is awesome. Um, out of these out of these 10 commandments, you know, you got the first one and then you brought in some other stuff. But are there any others that you think would be good to highlight without giving away the whole book, but just the ones that are you love you love one of these in particular for whatever reason?
Jeff B. Cohen 28:19
Yes, I do. Scott, thank you for asking. So deal makers. Commandment one is better to be feared than love. Machiavelli deal makers. Commandment five. And it sounds silly, but it’s really important. It’s really important. No, pig wrestling. Deal makers. Commandment five. You heard it here first. No pig wrestling. do not wrestle pigs because you get dirty and the pig enjoys it. That no pig wrestling basically is how one should view combat. Because in your mind, combat seems clean. Seems easy. I’m a much bigger opponent. They’re a much smaller opponent. I’m going to hit them once. So I’m going to hit them and they hit the floor two hits. But if you’ve ever actually seen a bar fight, any bar fight, they are not elegant affairs. They are always ugly, and always goes away in a way that you don’t expect. And out of all the things that you can do as an entrepreneur as a business owner, combat is the most expensive. It takes mental energy. It takes a you know mana it takes a treasure. It takes resources and energy that you’re spending in combat. If it’s not the right fight is a complete waste. And part of that is only fight larger opponents if you can, because if you fight a smaller opponent, you can only lose because if you win, who cares? You seem like bully, and if you lose, you’re doomed. So the funny thing is, I actually, you know, I view combat as honor. When you engage in combat with someone, you are bestowing honor upon them. You know, in the old days, a knight would never joust against the squire, a knight would only engage in combat. You know, with another night, a CEO is not going to negotiate a deal against an intern, a CEO is going to engage with another CEO. So picking the right fight. And choosing who to honor with being you know, who to honor with by engaging combat with them is very important. Because if you do that wrong, it’s really easy to get into a terrible fight. Where then your pride is on the line, and the money’s on the line. And history is laden with people engaging in, you know, foolish combat that just ruins the empire from Rome on, you know, so no pig wrestling, viewing combat, as honor and finding the right fights to get into is very important.
Scott D Clary 31:13
I think coming from an attorney, that’s well, he didn’t advice. Or does. If you are, if you’re saying that, how many, how many entrepreneurs, will they do? They look at their business as their baby, right? There’s so it’s so emotional to them. And they, and they pick fights with absolutely everyone that threatens that, but they lose track of their Northstar metric. I think the first huge issue.
Jeff B. Cohen 31:34
Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, you know, like, there’s that saying, beware of the man of one book, you know, I, you know, you have to be aware of the client with one idea. You know, if like, for example, if we’re representing a producer, and they have a script that they’ve been very passionate about, once they’ve been out into the marketplace, and out into the marketplace, and out into the marketplace, if it hasn’t sold, you know, sometimes you got to move on. Sometimes you got to say, You know what, I love this, I’m passionate about this, but you have to kind of respect the marketplace. So for me, for my example, personally, like I loved acting, I wanted to do it. But I looked different. I kind of didn’t have the heart for it. And I kind of didn’t have the, I guess the tenacity to be able to continue to go out and kind of make myself vulnerable like that. I had to say, Okay, well, I have to respect what the market’s doing. What else am I good at? Well, I have kind of, you know, I’m good academically. I like to read, I love dealing with artists, I love helping them and I kind of found something else. So, you know, being able to kind of realize like, oh, you know, you know, walking away from the table, down 10 bucks instead of down 1000 bucks, you know, so that’s weaving a table is tough. You know, there’s actually um, you know, I think it was Orson Welles and quote is, there’s nothing more difficult than leaving a table a winner. And it is hard, you’re Vegas, you want 100 bucks playing blackjack, leaving the table a winner. That is, that is. So kind of being able to cut your losses and kind of, you know, nobody, I guess there’s two other quotes that I sent about. One is nobody ever went broke, making a profit. And then also, you only have to get rich once. I think that one’s actually really important. You only have to get rich once, which of course, you know, tons of investment advisors from Jim Cramer to Goldman Sachs to whoever say that, and it’s really true, you know, once you, you know, have enough money where you feel like, Hey, I’m wealthy, like, you know, do your thing, take risks, but, you know, is it worth it? To put it all on the line? Probably not, probably not. So that’s something I think about as well.
Scott D Clary 33:46
Why, you know, you’re you’re a really big fan of quotes. Where do you? Is it reading? Is it like, what’s your, what’s your driver? Because I know people that quote, I like, I love quotes, I definitely don’t memorize as many as you do. So I’m curious for sure where that comes from?
Jeff B. Cohen 34:01
Um, I would say, first of all short attention span. Yeah, I love that. You know, I love it, like a, quote, a great quote, can have so much information packed into a small amount of time, you know, also, I think it’s like a unique way to kind of look into the thought process of Socrates and Nicola Machiavelli, and, you know, Nietzche and Abraham Lincoln, and you know, Rockefeller, like, it’s, it’s a really, you know, I love intellectual property, generally. Like, I love books, and I love music, and I love video games and I love plays, just because I think it’s so fascinating. What are people you know, what do they care about so much about that they’re really gonna you know, put their time into it. As far as books, you know, quote books you start with Bartlett’s you know Bartlett’s you know book of familiar quotations. It’s a big fat book, but it’s marvelous. I I think that was one of the first ones I’ve read, you know, from cover to cover, which is great. And then there’s just tons. You know, there’s the Oxford Dictionary of quotes, which is also great. And it’s, you know, it’s great bathroom reading. It is, you know, I learned a lot of information are in the bathroom, you know, just, it’s great bathroom reading, and then you kind of triple the pros like, oh, wow, this is really interesting. So I love quotes. I think it’s I know some people hate them. But I think it’s a great way to get a ton of information in a small amount of time a
Scott D Clary 35:30
snapshot of somebody, for sure. I love it. It’s very good. And I just noticed hearing them off like, you’re like I’m watching and you’re not reading them off a sheet. And I know that when I do these, and they read them off sheets, because like, it’s tough to remember all these like, you know, you don’t want to mess it up. You don’t want to you don’t want to misquote you don’t want to say the wrong word. But you you have them like, right off top of your head. It’s very impressive. So I just I noticed it.
Jeff B. Cohen 35:52
And I am you know, short attention span be I hate things that waste my time. And quotes Do not waste my time. You don’t even like, like knowing what Abraham Lincoln thought about something, or his take on getting harangue in the press or something is remarkable. So I do love quotes. And tons of quotes in my book.
Scott D Clary 36:12
Yeah, I know. I Yeah. So we’re gonna, I’m gonna I’m going to link that below in the show notes. I’m also going to say I wanted to I have a couple rapid fire questions that I’d like to touch on before we tee it up. But before we go there, was there anything in the book or otherwise in your life, where you’re going next was your firm what you want to do next in your life that we haven’t spoken about?
Jeff B. Cohen 36:37
Um, you know, it’s, uh, I would say with my firm, you know, knock on wood. I’m, I’m there. I feel we’re very fortunate. And we represent some great artists. You know, Bong Joon, whoa, remarkable director and writer and producer just won four Oscars for his film, parasite, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Foreign Film, we also have a director named Ryan Coogler, who has a remarkable talent. He won Sundance for his film Fruitvale Station, which is more relevant now than ever, you know, wrote and directed creed, or CO wrote and directed creed. Also, Black Panther one is now working on Black Panther to you know, I’m very excited. I think we’re working with great artists. And, you know, the, the one nice thing, you know, technology always has, you know, you know, good things and bad things. But the one nice thing about technology now is, you know, anyone who’s creative, is able to have worldwide distribution, as long as they have an internet connection. So I love that in our current environment, all of these artists that otherwise we never would have, you know, discovered, are able to create something interesting and distributed. So, being an entertainment lawyer, and kind of helping companies and people do that is really, I don’t know, it’s, it’s a great place to be. So, you know, I’m very fortunate for for kind of the trajectory of our company.
Scott D Clary 37:58
Do you see do you see massive changes and content creators and personalities going online? Because they’re forced
Jeff B. Cohen 38:05
to stay home? Yeah, it’s very interesting. Um, the, the big question. I think kind of, in our current, or in our current kind of pandemic, um, people are consuming more content than ever. But it’s challenging to create content. You know, we have kind of home productions, Zoom Productions, which are great. You know, studios and producers are starting to figure out how to kind of quarantine a crew and a cast and, you know, start, you know, kind of creating production and starting to thaw out, you know, live performance is a big question, whether it’s, you know, music or theater, or speaking tours, or, you know, sports. So, I think kind of the real question right now is live performance, how is that going to work out? Um, you know, I think ultimately, you know, limits are kind of good for artists, because it requires a kind of compels them to innovate. And, you know, artists, you know, art finds a way. So people are creating really interesting content now, from all over the globe, which is marvelous. And I just hope once we’re on the other side of this, you know, damn pandemic, production and live performance can begin in earnest, and we could, you know, hopefully there’ll be a boom.
Scott D Clary 39:24
Yeah, no, I agree. I agree. Regardless, it’s going to be a massive shift in various industries, various sectors, various ways we consume content. It just I think there’s going to be a huge shift for some industries for the better for some for the worse for sure. But it’s, it’s a massive shift. Okay, so rapid fire questions. Right. First one, one lesson that you would tell your younger self
Jeff B. Cohen 39:51
wear sunscreen, but I stole that I sold out from somebody else. wearing sunscreen.
Scott D Clary 39:55
He sold me trust me I learned a lot sir in the sun.
Jeff B. Cohen 40:00
As especially like I have no hair to protect me. I stole that from someone somewhere, I think was a graduation speech or something. Um, let’s see. If I were to give my old self one piece of advice, it would be by the dealmakers, 10 commandments and learn from someone else’s mistakes. I guess I would say it, if you can ever learn from someone else’s mistakes, take that opportunity. Because it is a it is a way to kind of, you know, jump to warp speed. You don’t have to make those mistakes yourself. You know, read biographies, you know, read histories, like if you could learn from someone else’s mistakes, you save yourself a lot of time and experience, which of course, is the nice word for no mistakes that you’ve made over the course of your life.
Scott D Clary 40:53
The good and very good answer, very good answer. And the next one, you’re not allowed to answer with your book. But this is okay. Well, what’s a what’s a book or an audible or a podcast or even a person a mentor, that you’d recommend people go check out the you’ve learned from?
Jeff B. Cohen 41:15
Let’s see. You know, there’s a marvelous book. There’s a marvelous book and it’s about showbusiness, specifically, but I think it can apply to kind of any any arena. There’s a great he passed away, but there’s a remarkable producer and manager named Bernie Brillstein. And Bernie represented Jim Henson, and help build them up at Empire. You represented John Belushi, Gilda Radner. Bill Murray, Lorne Michaels, the entire kind of original SNL cast, he produced the sopranos, he had a remarkable career. And he has a book, which is called you’re no one in Hollywood until someone wants you dead. I love that title. You’re no one in Hollywood until someone wants you dead by Bernie. Um, so anyone who wants like a fun kind of interesting, inspiring read with show business lessons that are applicable to anyone as an entrepreneur. That’s a great book. You’re no one in Hollywood until someone wants you dead by Bernie Brillstein. Great book.
Scott D Clary 42:15
Very good. Thank you. Thank you. And then lastly, where do people go to get more of your book? You Your social, your website, all that.
Jeff B. Cohen 42:23
Great. Thank you. Well, the book is available on the old gi old Amazon. And it’s available in hardcover audiobook and also Kindle. I’m on LinkedIn as just B as in boy Cohen. I’m available on Twitter as Jeff underscore B underscore Cohen, and also on Facebook as Jeff B. Cohen, Esquire, yes que. So between those, you’ll get plenty you’ll get more Jeff Cohen than you ever thought that you needed. So those are all great places.
Scott D Clary 42:56
That’s all for today. Thanks again for joining me on another episode of the success story podcast. You can download or stream this podcast wherever podcasts are available, including iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, I heart, radio, and many others. You can also watch his podcasts on YouTube. If you haven’t already. Please subscribe and share this podcast with your friends, family, coworkers and peers. Please leave us a rating on iTunes takes about 30 seconds as it allows other people to find our podcast and lets our amazing guests reach even more people with their message. And remember any rating is fine as long as it contains five stars. I’m Scott Clary from the success story podcast signing off