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Uncomfortable Truths About Being a Great CEO: A Conversation Between GaryVee and Michael Ovitz
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Uncomfortable Truths About Being a Great CEO: A Conversation Between GaryVee and Michael Ovitz

Michael Ovitz launched the most powerful agency in the world, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), sold two major Hollywood studios, and was at the forefront of the digital revolution. He's earned a reputation as a ruthless negotiator, brilliant strategist, and super-agent to Hollywood stars like Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Bill Murray, and David Letterman. For the past two decades, he has been a private investor and advisor to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs behind companies like Skype, Stripe, and Airbnb. Modern media mogul GaryVee joins Ovitz for a rare, intimate glimpse into the highs and lows of this mega success story, sharing his secrets and lessons learned.

We caught up with Gary and Michael for brief Q+A after the talk – read the interview here.

About the Presenter

Gary Vaynerchuk, Co-founder and CEO, VaynerMedia

Gary Vaynerchuk is the chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company and the active CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency servicing Fortune 100 clients across the company’s 4 locations.

In addition to VaynerMedia, VaynerX also includes Gallery Media Group, which houses women’s lifestyle brand PureWow and men's lifestyle brand ONE37pm. In addition to running VaynerMedia, Gary also serves as a partner in the athlete representation agency VaynerSports, cannabis-focused branding and marketing agency Green Street and restaurant reservations app Resy.

Gary is a board/advisory member of Ad Council and Pencils of Promise, and is a longtime Well Member of Charity:Water.

Michael Ovitz, Co-founder, CAA

Michael S. Ovitz is an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. He is a talent agent who co-founded Creative Artists Agency in 1975 and served as its chairman until 1995. Ovitz later served as President of The Walt Disney Company from October 1995 to January 1997.

[applause] [00:00:05] Michael Ovitz: Hello.

[00:00:08] Elliott Bisnow: I'd love to kick things off, and I'd love Gary to expound on Michael's historic career. It really is hard for so many of us, just given our age demographic, to understand the level that you are playing at, types of deals that you are doing.

[00:00:26] Michael: That's because I'm really old. Gary says you just showed my age right there.

[00:00:32] Elliott: I'd love you to expound on and really share what you've learned from Michael Ovitz.

[00:00:38] GaryVee: If you're like me and you're over 40, you actually remember the world pre-internet, which for a lot of people in here doesn't exist. From afar, he hates when I pontificate about this. When you are literally the leader, the rainmaker of Hollywood during a pre-internet world, you are not only at the top of Hollywood, you're talking to somebody that thinks that Hollywood has been the great engine that has built the American brand over the last hundred years.

If you think about having a decade when nothing significant doesn't run through you or your organization, there is no current calm in our society of dictating culture, because the Internet has amortized it out to a lot of leaders. When you think about four to five or six or seven individuals map to the level, it's not a money thing, it's an impact on culture and really just a level of power. There aren't a lot of individuals have who've had a run on dictating what this country consumed, and thus the world, more than what Michael did at the top of CAA.

[00:01:58] Elliott: What did you learn from observing him the last 20 years?

[00:02:03] Gary: Being obnoxiously powerful is cool. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I think it's a little bit different actually. I have a very nuanced answer. That is definitely not what I learned and not something I think a lot about. What I did learn though, or more importantly what as I started digging into Michael's career, is my career changed, because I didn't really grow up with a eye towards Hollywood A, all my buddies and pals and gals and friends, that look towards LA and Hollywood of a certain age. This is way up there.

Number two, my whole career, right now I'm currently building a company that's goal is to buy IP and businesses in the future and repackage them and merchandise them. I think a lot of entrepreneurs here, and not only entrepreneurs, nonprofits, politicians, tastemakers, whatever your goals and ambitions are. A lot of you are missing, everything is right except you didn't figure out how to create the proper container for it and how to merchandise that container.

What Michael spearheaded was a packaging of talent, the IP, not the distribution that gave his clients and his organization the leverage, and was able to extract out dollars from the system that they were entitled to that they didn't get in the past, no different than a Players Union did for athletes and sports. What did I learn? That it reinforced my intuition, that packaging and merchandising is as important as having the chops for it.

[00:03:45] Elliott: Can you continue on this, Michael, on packaging? That really is something you're known for.

[00:03:50] Michael: It's important to bear in mind you have to in the course of this hour or we'll have 45 minutes we're spending together, one has to start thinking of timeframes. Gary had mentioned it articulately. Pre-internet, post-internet, a completely different approach to distribution. Today, if Elliott had a good piece of content he wanted to put up, as Gary does also, they can create audiences, they can create small niche audiences, they can create large audiences that cut across a large demographic. When I worked in the entertainment business from the '60s, yes the '60s, all the way through early 2000 when the business started to change because of the internet, there was a very large barrier to entry. If any of you out there had an idea, there were very limited ways to get it to the public, very limited ways. Actually to be very specific, you had CBS, NBC, ABC, later on Fox. You had seven movie studios, five publishing houses, five record companies, and probably 10 different companies in Europe. That was it. What we tried to do is move the leverage, as Gary mentioned, from the buy side, who were buying your ideas, to the sell side, we did it by packaging ideas. If Gary had an idea for, in those days, a film or TV show, a book or a record, a magazine, article or today, a podcast, we would proceed to try to add as many elements around that as possible before going to a buyer. So that the more elements we had, the buyer only had two choices, yes or no, and then we would back it up.

Today it's a different game. Although I will say you can still play the game we played in today's market, you've done a good job about.

[00:05:47] Gary: So much of this is about leverage, it's how I think about kindness in the biggest macro. I literally think kindness is the ultimate leverage in perpetuity and something as frothy as that or building community or being an execution player, it's all about the leverage. If you're not commoditized, you got a shot.

[00:06:09] Michael: With leverage comes the connotation of non-continence, by the way, because you have that leverage, it's a question of how you use it. Gary and I were talking before the session with Elliott, and I will say that in today's marketplace, many of the things that worked in the past probably would have to be adjusted and either ramped-up in certain areas or ramped way down in others. Leverage is a very dangerous thing in an internet world where everything's instantaneous and everything is communicated if it's not used properly.

[00:06:43] Elliott: How did you package Rain Man, and how did you break through those walls?

[00:06:48] Michael: Rain Man started as a screenplay that was turned down by Warner Brothers. I'll try to give you the short story of this, because it actually took three years just to get it off the ground. The studio didn't want to do it , which was really raw meat for CAA. When a studio didn't want to do something, we wanted to show that we could do it as being really a company that was patterned a lot after what MGM was in the '40s '30s, '40s and '50s, which was a repository of talent.

Anybody that had any kind of talent at all, was somebody that MGM tried to acquire by put under contract, we tried to do the same thing. With Rain Man, we had a screenplay turned down with nothing attached to it. We immediately, after reading the script, gave it to Dustin Hoffman who fell in love with both roles, but particularly the lead role of Rain Man. We then decided to try to cast the other role prior to going to a director. We came up with the idea of Tom Cruise.

It sounds great after the fact, but when we did it, there was a front page article in the Los Angeles Times saying that we were idiots, that there was no way that those two guys could be brothers. They didn't look alike, they had nothing to do with each other. Hoffman had gone to UCLA to meet with the head of the doctor who ran the autism program, and discovered that in autistic families, the kids don't necessarily look the same. It's a strange part of nature. They can or they don't have to, in this case, the majority of the time they don't.

Casting Cruise was very important because we wanted that demographic, and Hoffman had his own demographic. Long story short, we had a director and the director couldn't figure out how to get the picture made quickly. We went to a second director, the first director was Marty Brass who had done our Beverly Hills Cop, he couldn't figure it out. We went to Barry Levinson who ultimately directed the picture. He got called away to do Good Morning Vietnam. We then went to Steven Spielberg who had trouble with the script, then he got called away to do something else.

We then went to Sydney Pollack who couldn't figure the piece out because it didn't have a third act. Then by that time, it had no third act because an autistic person unfortunately doesn't get better. Sydney had a very linear mind, he wanted to have an ending. Anyways, in conclusion, by that time, believe it or not, Good Morning Vietnam was done and we released it. Levinson was available, I called him, I said, "You should really come back to this." He went back, read the script and he said, "There is no third act, this guy doesn't get better. I'm going to make a movie that I'm going to term two Schmucks in a car." That was the working title of the movie, about two Schmucks in a car. He made a road movie which for those of you that are a little older, I don't see many of you. There all these movies made in the 40s with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and old time movie stars called Road movie. Levinson did what Picasso did, he appropriated somebody else's idea, which is highly acceptable by the way, as long as you don't infringe on their IP and he made a road movie. Lo and behold, the movie came out and it was a dismal failure opening weekend.

[00:10:31] Gary: Is that right?

[00:10:31] Michael: Yes, it did six million dollars for a weekend, and the New York Times wrote an article that Cruz Hoffman and Levinson were going to fire me, and that the head of the studio that did the actual physical distribution was going to get fired. What they didn't figure out was a word of mouth movie, and the movie did six million dollars for the next 50 weeks, next 50 weeks, and then it eventually got over a billion dollars of gross, and in that time frame in the 80s was important and won six Academy Awards.

[applause]

[00:11:06] Michael: Thank you. I only go on about this and then I'll shut up, but it's really something to take to heart. It's called don't give up if you believe in something. Just don't give up.

[applause]

[00:11:22] Michael: We were told don't do it. We were told we'd get fired. We were told that, by the first director, the movie wasn't makeable. We were told by the second movie director, it wasn't makeable. Third director, same thing, fourth director. The movie got made and it was a huge hit. When you're into something out there, whether it's an idea or a deal you're working on or something where you know your stomach and your head have met each other, just don't stop.

[00:11:48] Elliot: Gary, how-

[00:11:49] Gary: Real quick, Elliot. I apologize. Michael, when your stomach and head have connected on something not named Rain Man, give us something that has failed miserably that your stomach and head connected. You were sure, you saw it through, you put your name on it, and it's shit the bed at the theater?

[laughter]

[00:12:13] Michael: God, I'm embarrassed. One that I worked on with one of my partners, probably one of the biggest disasters we ever did was Rhinestone with Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton. It'd looked really good, Gary, on paper.

[00:12:31] Gary: I get it, men.

[laughter]

[00:12:33] Michael: It kind of reminds me of a football play, for those of you that like football, every play is designed to be perfect, and it's a touchdown. If that's the case, football scores would be 270 to 220-

[00:12:45] Gary: That's right.

[00:12:45] Michael: - instead of 20 to 30 to 15. And the reality is this had everything going for it on paper. She was on fire in the music area, I had five back-to-back hits singles. Sly had done one giant hit action movie after the other. He was, at that time, the highest paid action star in the business. We thought we put good creative elements around it and I remember sitting in the theater after the opening real and getting nauseous. That's one. I think there are many more.

[00:13:16] Gary: I think it's a very important point for all of us. I love when my intro is like he invested in Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and all this stuff and the back of the room every time before I go out stage, I'm like, yes, but I thought you'll Bongo was going to be the biggest of them. I think we don't talk enough about how no and failures are the foundation for yes and winds that it's a net game, and too many people take an L as a scarlet letter which stops them from doing anything, and I think that's the important part of the equation.

[00:13:50] Michael: I think another part is through, and I agree with that.

[applause]

[00:13:55] Michael: I think another part is to don't take no for an answer, and I think that if you believe in something, and if you believe you can do something, we came up with the thesis that we could advertise as well as an advertiser. We thought we had the cultural roots. We had all the connectivity. We knew what the audience wanted because we were a cultural enabler basically as an agency. We weren't just guys, and Gary just started an agency and he understands this now better than anyone, which is you can't just take a phone order, like is Elliott available to be the MC at Summit. You can't just do that.

You have to create the job and go to Elliot and say hey, I think you could do so much. You'd be great at it. You'd be a great business to start, you'd be great to lead it. You have to be able to enable. People said that the advertising was something that no one could do differently, and we ended up doing all of the advertising for the Coca-Cola company. We did it for 10 years. When we took it over, there were 365 account executives at McCann Erickson handling a $600 million-year account. We came up with this concept of outsourcing and also using our client base.

We did the same exact thing they did, except they did six commercials a year. We did 35 a year for 10 years. We did it with six people, six people. They had 365. Now, bear in mind, this was the beginning of outsourcing. When we did The Polar Bears, which we created in-house at the agency, we had 300 animators but not working for us. They were on somebody else's payroll. Whereas at the other company, they were hiring all these people, trying to manage them, made no sense. Again, another example about being pragmatic, being confident, being bold, and attempting to get in front of all the criticism and negativity.

[00:15:54] Elliot: In order to win that specific account, is it true that you did it for no commission, and how did that story go down?

[00:16:01] Michael: I happened to be at a conference, a smaller version of this, called the Allen and Company Conference. The CEO of Coke and the CEO of Coke were there, and we were sitting having a coffee and a very casual environment in Sun Valley, and they were complaining that Pepsi-Cola was starting to beat them on case sales, and I don't know if there's a book out many years old called The Cola Wars.

They were about as competitive and cutthroat. You couldn't get any more cutthroat. A matter of fact, one of the subsequent CEOs of Coca-Cola was once asked, at a group meeting like this with 1,200 people in the audience, what would he do if he was with the CEO of PepsiCo and the CEO fell out of the boat? And he said I'd hand them my-- I'd shove a garden hose down his throat.

[laughter]

Needless to say, he got fired, but that's how competitive they were, and our goal at the time was not to be in that business, but my goal was to always listen for new ideas and new things that we could do.

Every day when I came in, and Gary knows this feeling, you walk in you have a thousand people working for you. When he walks into his Media company, he's got to start generating ideas himself. He's got to be generating ideas in people to work for him. He's got to be figuring out how to pay the overhead, and how to grow the business. How to make it an interesting place to work. It's never being a CEO or founder. There's never enough hours in the day, and it never ends never, never ends. We basically said to them that they asked me if I'd take a look at it, and we said yes, and we did and six months later, we had the account.

[00:17:45] Elliot: I want to talk about hard work, and get into it because we're sitting here, two Goliaths, but really your stories, and how you relate to your story is about being the Davids, and there's a paragraph in your book just came out, Who is Michael Ovitz, that I really related to because it gets into the specifics, and I'd love for you each to continue this paragraph after I read it.

As agents, we didn't agree on anything. We were sellers. We sold our clients our time and expertise, and then we sold the buyers our clients. Our tenuous Capital was the hours in the day, less the few we slept, and we spent that capital at a frenzied pace. I dropped everything to get you the right cardiac surgeon, the right car, a place for your kid at the Johns Thomas Dye or Harvard-Westlake schools, whatever you needed. I was everyone's chief psychiatrist, legal advisor, financial fixture, cultural translator, and shoulder to cry on.

[00:18:41] Michael: Would you take that first? Because you're doing it now.

[00:18:44] Elliot: Period.

[00:18:45] Michael: You're doing it. I did it.

[00:18:46] Gary: Yes, I mean look, I think everybody here could be empathetic. How many people here by show of hands are running their company or are the founder of their company, the last line of defense, just raise it. An enormous amount. Look, I think thank God we're having very detailed nuance conversations and culture about work-life balance, about proper rest, about meditation mental health, and that makes me happy. I think a lot of times I love hard work as a competitive advantage, but I get thrown under the bus of somebody who doesn't believe in what I do believe in, which is self-awareness. Like if this is what you love and you love your process. I have no interest in judging anybody's work-life balance, how they parent or how they live their lives because I don't know the context who here would--

I would never want somebody to work so hard or be stressed so much that they commit suicide or they don't feel well. That would be ludicrous. That's ludicrous. At the same token, I have no interest in judging somebody who's so passionate about their work or the things that they want to see in the world that during this period in their life, they're willing to make that commitment to that product.

Everybody who just raised their hands knows-- how many people of the people that raised their hands also have a child? Raise your hand. Your business is the other child, you love it that much. It's just the truth, and so what do I think? I think when you're the lastline of defense within an organization, you're always on. It's just the cost of entry. I also think for a lot of people in this room, it's the only way they could breathe. On the flip side, the thing I am concerned about is that I do think entrepreneurship or being a CEO has been glamorized over the last decade, and I do think that people are not deploying self-awareness, and I do believe that a high number of the hands that went up are actually far more suited to be a number two or three. The coolness and the excitement and just the sheer amount of money in the system to fund to be a number one is attractive to people. There's a part of me that loves it because I want everybody to take a swing at it, but to me, it's about self-awareness he loved it, he loved it. Do you know how much I love when somebody comes into my office and says Karen's ruining me? I'm the head of HR. I love it. Three of my calls today were people who were not satisfied with their raise, I'm worried about the leak in the roof in our Chattanooga Tennessee office. I love it. It's what I like to do. My brother hated managing people, which is why he left VaynerMedia and now is trying to be Jerry Maguire. I think self-awareness matters, but to me when I hear that, I'm like uh-huh uh-huh. I wake up-- We have a London office, we're opening up Singapore. When I wake up, I look at my phone to make sure if there's any fire I need to put out. I literally you'd have to do it anymore with Global Entry, but for the last year that I was filling out the passport thing where it said occupation, I literally wrote firefighter, because that's what we do. We're always on ready to go. When you're reverse-engineering a client, whether it's an organization or a human, you are there for them.

If you need to be their financial adviser or cultural interpretate or if you got to pick up their dog, these are things that you'resigning up for when you're in a client service business. It fucks and sucks, but it's the cost of entry.

[00:22:22] Michael: I think it is the most complicated discussion that could possibly be had. I think that to be a CEO founder is probably one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. I work with a lot of founders up in the Bay Area, that's what I do now. I think their job is impossible. Every time you think you have something under control, you have a leak in the roof in Chattanooga.

[00:22:55] Gary: That's right.

[00:22:56] Michael: The reality is that one of the pieces of advice is simple and stupid as it sounds, that I've given is that when you think things are going well, you're going to walk around a corner and someone's going to walk in the shins with a two-by-four, because they never ever go well.

I had an incident with a startup Upnorth, it's done exceedingly well taken off like a rocket ship. I'm one of the advisors. I went in at the recommendation of the one of the investors to invest and advise, I did. I met with the two young founders, both brilliant young engineers, mid-20s. I said look, I'm going to give you a little bit of advice that I was asked to give you. You won't listen to it, you won't agree with it, and when I walk out of here you're going to say that old guy is really an idiot. I'm not going to blame you for thinking that but within six months, you're going to call me because you've got a problem.

When I left I look back and they were snickering a little and probably saying the things that I thought they wouldn't that they probably should have. Well, I was wrong, it wasn't six months, it was four months later. I was in Palo Alto, my phone rings. I was shocked it was one of the founders, shocked because he never used a phone in his life. His idea of a communication was a three word text. The words, how are you feeling never came out of his mouth. The first thing that I heard was, do you remember when you told us something would happen that we didn't expect? I said, yes. He said, well, it happened. I said tell me. They told me that their business had gotten shut down because they'd been hacked by some rogue Nigerian hackers.

Which because I do work for a company called Palantir, I actually advised them was going to happen. They were shut down and they're in the e-commerce business now. For those of years that are on the consumer side, picture yourselves shut down on a weekend, which is your highest traffic day. In any case, they had no relationships, they never reached out to anybody, they never cultivated any relationships with anybody. I was fortunate enough to have had just had dinner with the man who ran PayPal who just happened to purchase the company that shut them down. I called that person, congratulated him on his sale. I said by the way, can you do me a favor, and of course he did, they were back up. That lesson to them did not go unheeded. That lesson of trying to build relationships build a network, deal with people and try to make sure that you put in a certain amount of time in that direction. Going back to the question at hand, it's very hard when you're a workaholic like Gary or myself and you enjoy the action, you just enjoy the day-to-day fight, you enjoy every part of it. One has to remember, as a founder, you can't expect everyone in your staff to have the same persona that you do.

[00:26:03] Gary: I actually think, you can't-- I'm also an investment advisor to a lot of businesses and obviously get a ton of DMs and emails from entrepreneurs. The audacity for you to want somebody who's not compensated in the same way that you are to work the same way that you do, is one of the great shocking things that I watch about. Gary, I want them to work as hard as I do. I'm like give him 50% of the business. It's ludicrous. I've been fascinated by that. I've never had the expectation of any.

I feel like the almost thousand people that I work for, which is the other thing you learned very quickly if you're a good leader or entrepreneur or a CEO, is you work for them, they don't work for you, which is why so many of you through your career struggled with the transition from being a doer to being a manager because you thought that was the graduation and it's actually the reverse, that's why people struggle with that. It's crazy to me that people have that audacity of expectation.

[00:27:05] Michael: I think you raised a really good point about the fact that you work for all your employees. I do think that there is a way and you do it, I watched you two when I'm up at your office, I did the same thing, which is that you can only lead by example. It's the only thing you can.

[00:27:21] Gary: Be going at it hard. For me I think I want to know the context. Everybody's driven by different things. Some people are driven by titles. Some people are driven by finances. Some people are driven by work-life balance. For me, it's always being on. Today, Sarah wants money, next week she falls in love and she wants to spend more time with that person and so she needs a little time off. In four years, somebody that used to work for her, now has a bigger title than her.

You're just always on I feel like not only do I have to reverse engineer what they care about period, I have to be that way in perpetuity while they're with me because they're going to have to evolve, they will evolve and I have to create the foundation for them to be able to navigate, otherwise I don't bring value and they have to find an alternative.

[00:28:06] Michael: That goes to the point that it is incredibly complex. Look at the roadmap you just drew, and those that lead have to make certain sacrifices to those who don't.

[00:28:18] Gary: You know what, that brings up an interesting point. The other thing that I think is super interesting is that it's in perpetuity. I always laugh at people boo or cheer in the second quarter. Let me promise you one thing, how many people again running or their own company, hands up right. It's hard, right? Guess what, this is the easiest time to do it. The amount of fucking money that's in the system and the amount of you that have bullshit businesses that actually aren't businesses but are funded, I’m being serious. This is something we have to talk about.

If you think it's hard now, one of the things that I'm most proud of is that from the day I started running my dad's business 20-plus years ago to this moment, I've been running a company and I've never had a credit line that I took from my library I never raised capital, I have paid my bills weekly in perpetuity I have never lost $6 million this year and did all my behavior to get enough CAC an LTV to get the next fundraising round. You do understand that everybody's about to get smoked the fuck out.

Everybody's so over leveraged they don't have this, they have VC arbitrage machines for the next fundraising. I'll see you all working at Bank of America in a couple of years. It's 100% true, and let me say this. I'm not sitting up here like I'm cool and I'm razzing you, I'm hoping that that hits you in a way that says fuck, maybe I should actually build a business, not something that appeases the VCS who have no vested interest in my business to get the next fundraising round. That's how you'll navigate the shit, you'll be practical.

[applause]

I like how many people clapped versus how many did not.

[laughter]

[00:30:01] Michael: I might hope that maybe somebody might make a pivot.

[00:30:05]__ Gary__: Michael, look, I think one of things I'm most fascinated by right now is there's so much money in this system. If you follow where the money comes from, that's an interesting thing to debate in the first place, but let's leave that for another day. I am fascinated by people thinking that not making more profit than expenses is not something you need to think about a lot more. I'm just watching people spend all their time on influencer marketing and Kack and M&A, and like all these.

When the money dries out, there's a lot of young people in the system you didn't live through 2007 as an operator, you were in college having fun. You didn't live through 2001. We have never been this over-leveraged, we have never been this over-leveraged. When the dominoes fall, and there's no next fundraising round, or when you're an influencer and nobody's got $8,000 for you to take a picture with a fucking toothpaste in your hand, it's not going to be fun to go from traveling the world as an influencer to no money in the system and you have to go get a job.

I want people to be prepared, and everyone's living in fucking La-La land. We've been living in La-La land for a decade, which makes me nervous as fuck. Thank you.

[applause]

[00:31:29] Elliott: I want to ask a question about deal-making. Looking back on a-

[laughter]

[00:31:34] Gary: The Segue, is always so hard.

[00:31:36] Elliott: It's not a segue, I have to continue just going right on this. I just want to ask that.

[00:31:40] Michael: After what he said I'm going to retire, because there's no hope, because there's no hope.

[00:31:46] Gary: Actually that was super hopeful.

[00:31:48] Michael: I guess it was.

[00:31:49] Gary: No, it really was. The no hope is to live in the delusion that if you run a business, losing money is a viable option.

[00:31:56] Michael: Well, but I agree with that.

[00:31:58] Gary: Well, guess what Michael, this is an ecosystem right now that is built on losing money.

[00:32:03] Michael: I happen to believe that that is something that's going to change. I think that the people that are handing out the money while they still have it, are starting to think through and probably listening to your podcast.

[00:32:15] Gary: Because what Michael knows way better than I do but I've got at least a gray hair or two to know this is what always happens. I'm not guessing up here, this is cycles. When you haven't been through one, you don't know the context.

[00:32:32] Michael: When we started CA, we started with a very small amount of debt, we bought $100,000 and we paid it off four months after we started and we had zero debt for the entire time I was at the company. The reason was exactly, and, again, this is 40 years ago. The reason was exactly what Gary is saying. 40 years ago was the same problem, there was too much cash in the system, there were a lot of businesses starting out that shouldn't have started out, there were a lot of businesses starting out that should have started out but they were over funded and worried.

They weren't worried about making a profit. I will say, and I can speak for Gary on this because I admire how he runs his business. When I ran CA, there was only one thing that was important, and that was secondary of course to our people, which was the most important thing, most important and we've commented on that. It was to turn a profit and not to be in anybody's back pocket and not have anybody being in a position to tell us what to do. We were going to rise or fall on our own deeds, our own brains, our own willpower and what we could do.

To me, past is prologue. When Gary mentioned cycles, it's the same way to say it. History always repeats itself, we're seeing that now in the stock market, we're going to see it, we're seeing in world affairs, and we're seeing it up north in the startup area, and we're seeing it with Black Swan companies as well. Let's not forget that as good as Apple's report was yesterday, the stock was still when I last looked down $15 today before I turned my phone off. We're in a very cyclic world right now.

[00:34:28] Elliott: I want to ask one more question to expound right on this. I think it's a fun way to end. You guys have been fantastic. I want to ask Gary, you say it's your number one thesis that is so much of what we can learn about how the world works, is based on this hip-hop rules the world.

[00:34:47] Gary: Michael said something super important, which was that history repeats itself. I think if you really study the impact that rock and roll had on our society all the way through to legislation, governments, the way we feel about many issues, I would argue that for many of us who are between the ages of 35 to 55, who if you just look at history have a very big impact on where the world goes and how, that many of us grew up in a hip-hop environment and with that seed where I look at. It's crazy for me to see Cypress Hill is the who. Run DMC and Beastie Boys are rolling stones.

It's amazing to see history repeat itself. Look, I study where the pebble is that starts waves. To me, the fact that I can map back some trends that are impacting 14 and 15 year-old girls in Kansas, to what Ghana was doing in Atlanta 36 months ago as he was an emerging hip-hop artist, is fascinating to me how much. I would even go even more specific, that right this minute Atlanta’s impact on our culture overall is fascinating. Because who does that hip-hop person influence? It's an athlete which then influence an influencer, which then influences a teenage girl.

You would be fascinated is if you're as nerdy as I am of how the reboot of women wearing jeans with rips in them that started 23 and a half months ago, why that happened? The fucking whys and what is happening in our world are fascinating. I think hip-hop has a much bigger impact on it than people realize.

[applause]

[00:36:34] Michael: I've maintained, in privately and publicly, that the hip-hop generation basically, which a number of people in my generation and the generation behind me thought was going to fade out, is not only here to stay but I feel it dictates the cultural agenda of eccentric. I have to say, I think it's a good thing. I think it's opening up people's minds. I can't say I agree with all the lyrics that I hear, but I do think that it's the, which is going to sound ridiculously stupid to all of you.

In the '60s, when the rock-and-roll groups from England came over, the Beatles, the who, the stones, and they wore this what today doesn't look like long hair. There was an actual debate about whether or not the Beatles or Elvis Presley would be allowed on a Sunday night television show called The Ed Sullivan Show, which was on Sunday nights at eight o'clock in the family hour on CBS, was a variety television show. This went on for months and debated in the press A, whether Presley should be allowed because of the way he gyrated his hips.

This is true by the way, this was actually discussed all the way up to government levels, and whether the Beatles should be allowed on because their hair was so long. I think if we fade out to today, it's exactly the same thing with a different costume, and I think it's a good thing.

[00:38:11] Elliott: That was a fast hour. That was an unbelievable hour. Let's give a huge round of applause to GaryVee and Michael Ovitz.

[applause]

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