Brian Grazer (@BrianGrazer) is an Academy Award-winning producer whose films and TV shows have been nominated for 45 Academy Awards and 196 Emmys. He is the author of Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection.
What We Discuss with Brian Grazer:
- What imposter syndrome looks like when you’re at the top of the Hollywood game.
- How Brian turned a childhood learning disability into a superpower.
- Why being called a loser by Harvey Weinstein at the 1996 Academy Awards doesn’t Brian hurt so much these days.
- How Brian networked himself up from legal clerk at Warner Bros. to one of Hollywood’s most respected producers.
- Why Brian values curiosity over IQ.
- And much more…
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A lot of people make their way to Hollywood so they can see their names in the bright lights of a movie marquee, and then burn out on the grind long before they even earn an entry on iMDb. But some people leverage very modest means and catapult themselves into the jaded old town’s pantheon of silver screen immortals without damaging themselves or others along the way. It sounds like the plot to any number of screenplays a studio mogul might find stacked in a sprawling pile on their desk, except the story is true — and it happened to today’s guest.
On this episode we sit down with Brian Grazer, the Academy Award-winning producer who co-founded Imagine Entertainment with his partner Ron Howard, together creating films and television shows that have been nominated for 45 Academy Awards and 196 Emmys. He is the author of Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection and co-author (with Charles Fishman) of number one New York Times Best Seller A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life. Aside from his success on screens big and small, Brain is an incredibly curious person. For the past 30 years, he’s made it his mission to meet a new person every week or so, and sit down with them for a very specific curiosity conversation. It sounds a lot like this podcast, in fact. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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On No Dumb Questions, a science guy from the deep south (Destin of Smarter Every Day) and a humanities guy from the wild west (Matt Whitman of The Ten Minute Bible Hour) discuss deep questions with varying levels of maturity. Give No Dumb Questions a listen here!
THANKS, BRIAN GRAZER!
If you enjoyed this session with Brian Grazer, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection by Brian Grazer
- A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman
- Brian Grazer’s Website
- Brian Grazer at Twitter
- Brian Grazer at Instagram
- Brian Grazer at Facebook
- Imagine Entertainment
- Ron Howard at Twitter
- A Beautiful Mind
- A Beautiful Mind Wins Best Picture: 2002 Oscars
- Apollo 13
- Sidney Poitier announces Best Picture at the 68th Academy Awards in 1996.
- Harvey Weinstein Timeline: How the Scandal Unfolded, BBC
- The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger
- Warner Bros. Studio
- The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
- Dyslexia Symptoms and Causes, The Mayo Clinic
- Lew Wasserman
- Russian Martial Arts: Systema
- About Walt Disney Concert Hall, L.A. Philharmonic
- Creative Artists Agency
- Friday Night Lights Will Be ‘Reimagined’ With a New Movie, Vulture
- Scott Rudin
- Edgar J. Scherick
- Jonas Salk
- Liar Liar
- Jim Carrey Is Here, YouTube
- Times Tom Hanks Was Just as Cool as You Hope He’d Be, Ranker
- Jimmy Iovine
- Beats by Dre
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- Chilean Describes Her Arrest and Torture, Son’s Burning Death, The Morning Call
- Frank Gehry
- Rem Koolhaas
- The Opposite, Seinfeld
- Malcolm Gladwell | What We Should Know about Talking to Strangers, TJHS 256
- Isaac Asimov
Transcript for Brian Grazer | The Art of Human Connection (Episode 267)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:03] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with producer Jason DeFillippo. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most brilliant and interesting people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you.
[00:00:22] Today on the show, Brian Grazer, he co-founded Imagine Entertainment along with Ron Howard. Over the years, the films and TV shows he's been involved with have been nominated for a total of 43 Academy Awards and 131 Emmys. The films they produced over at Imagine have grossed over $13 billion, which is just bananas. But aside from success in film, movies, and television, Brian is an incredibly curious person. For 30 years, he's made it his mission to meet a new person every week or so and sit down with them for a very specific curiosity conversation. Much like myself, Brian started off as a shy kid and had to work around his anxiety and a learning disability to become one of the most iconic folks in the film industry. He then networked his way from courier in a closet all the way to the peak of Hollywood. And of course, I'm getting the lowdown on how he networks and builds relationships both back in the day and even now that he's at the top of the game. Brian is a riot and this conversation was really fun. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and not only is Brian talking networking, but I'm doing the same.
[00:01:24] Six-Minute Networking: It's how I get guys like Brian on the show. It's how I get every guest on the show. It's a networking course for you that I've created and it's free. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. By the way, most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course in the newsletter. Come join us and you'll be in great company.
[00:01:41] All right, here's Brian Grazer.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:44] I was mentioning that we have a weird start because we're both Catholic Jews who almost joined the Freemasons through the law school route.
Brian Grazer: [00:01:53] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:54] That sort of circles back to the mastery idea because I think part of that for me comes up as trying to make up for lost time because one thing that really struck me when I read the Curiosity book was, I also couldn't look at the teacher or anyone else when I was a kid.
Brian Grazer: [00:02:07] Why couldn't you?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:08] I couldn't pay attention in class.
Brian Grazer: [00:02:11] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:11] I was having a really hard time. I still feel that sometimes, so I did the look away, the look down or look away.
Brian Grazer: [00:02:17] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:18] And that created the social anxiety that I had as a kid --
Brian Grazer: [00:02:22] I understand. They fit each other.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:24] Because it's like you can't get over social anxiety when you can't look at someone, you're doing this when you're talking to them. It's weird.
Brian Grazer: [00:00:00] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:31] It just makes it worse because you know you're being weird.
Brian Grazer: [00:02:33] Yeah, exactly. Even today, going to a party, not feeling like you have enough confidence to go in there with confidence and it's all that stuff.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:44] Yeah, of course, and I think for me I still feel in some ways like I'm faking it. I wonder if you feel the same way.
Brian Grazer: [00:02:52] I don't, but Ron Howard, my partner, my symbiotic mate --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:57] Hetero life partner.
Brian Grazer: [00:02:58] Hetero life partner. We won Oscars for Beautiful Mind. We'd been up for winning Oscars before, we didn't win. Now, we actually won and we're sitting in this little waiting area to go in front of like a bank of 300 journalists and photographers, and he's getting a stomach ache. We already won. He goes, "Oh, man, I have a stomachache." It's usually me. He goes, "I have a stomachache." He said, "Do you have..." I said, "I have these Tums." I handed him the Tums. He ate the Tums. He felt like that helped a little bit and goes, "Wow. Thanks." He said, "Do you think anyone will ever find us out?" And I go, "You've got to be kidding. We're geniuses. Are you crazy?" Here's again evidence that we know. We don't not know, we absolutely know.
[00:03:47] I don't think that ever but I look at it like this. I have extreme optimism, hope, and enthusiasm on one hand. I feel like I do tap into my internal heartbeat of what that truth is and that truth really turns out to be like the most valuable commodity in any conversation. But on the other hand, even though I've got this whole thing of like I will make this workout, wheel it into working out. The hundred movies that I produced. I do also think like what's going to go wrong -- I don't know if we should say that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:19] You can say whatever you want.
Brian Grazer: [00:04:20] I know there's going to be a bunch of things that go wrong. Always a bunch of things that could go wrong. Even though I have high expectations on the result, I think the journey is going to be fraught with unpredictable problems.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:34] I know you're a pretty hands-on producer by your own account. I wonder, are you the one that normally yells at people, or is it Ron? It's hard to imagine Ron Howard being like, "You, dumb piece of shit!" He's like a little Opie, right?
Brian Grazer: [00:04:48] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:48] But now is a grown super accomplished man; still I can't break that image.
Brian Grazer: [00:04:52] Yes, yeah. Okay, so he doesn't yell at people.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:55] Yeah, no surprise.
Brian Grazer: [00:04:57] I mean he got mad -- hey, look this is like 35 years -- he got mad on the set once at an actor. He said something like, "God damn it!"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:05] Yeah. "Gosh darn it! Get off my set!"
Brian Grazer: [00:05:08] It was something like that. It was a really crabby old character actor, star in his own in his right. He just kept kind of like pushing on Ron. Eventually, Ron yells, "Gosh darn it. You're off," and he let him go, which was pretty amazing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:26] Bring the coffee in here. Bring the coffee in here.
Brian Grazer: [00:05:27] Hot set, hot set, pal. All right. Thanks. Okay. Should I yell him right in front of you?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:34] No, that's okay. That's Hollywood though, right?
Brian Grazer: [00:05:36] Well, I don't yell at people.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:39] No, that's worse, then. You make them feel bad and then they know they've done wrong. Because if you yell at someone, they're like, "Wow, jeez." But if you just say, "I'm disappointed in you. I thought better. I expected more." Then they're like, "Shit, I'm such a piece."
Brian Grazer: [00:05:52] I had a boss that yelled all the time. He yelled like all of the time and I just saw just the physics work against him. I was like 22 and I'd watched this man, Edgar, yell at people. If he's not yelling at me, he's yelling at someone else, and I'd look at people looking at me like, "Is this going to end? What's going on with this guy?" So I just thought I don't want that to happen to me. I get very wound up, but I don't show the person like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:29] Internally you're like super pissed off, but externally you're going to deal with it.
Brian Grazer: [00:06:33] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:35] I wonder if you feel like human connection in your quest for human connection maybe saved you from a life that you thought you were going to have? Because you have a learning disability, right?
Brian Grazer: [00:06:44] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:45] But that was undiagnosed as a kid.
Brian Grazer: [00:06:46] Correct.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:47] So movies are a good escape. But I wonder if being creative is kind of like, "Well, I'm not good at sitting down reading all this stuff, so maybe a creative pursuit rescues me from a life of like breaking rocks," which -- we're not built for that man, especially you.
Brian Grazer: [00:07:01] No we're not. What I did is I turned a disability into a superpower. So first, the disability produces a lot of shame. A disability is a disability, and so it's hard if you just keep, you know fighting for that little bit of oxygen out of the middle of the ocean, you'll get it and you will then use that bit of oxygen to animate powers inside of you that you didn't think existed. It creates a person that's resourceful. Like you were doing right then. You were fixing all of these things. There was what, not a SIM card. What was that?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:43] Yeah, there's no SD card.
Brian Grazer: [00:07:44] There's no SD card.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:45] There was, which is even worse. That's not even Mark's fault.
Brian Grazer: [00:07:46] I don't want to see you blow up or anything, but you didn't. You actually found the problem, you isolated the problem, then you fixed the problem, and so similarly I can do the same thing with stories and movies. I can get my hands on the carburetor and fix the engine.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:05] But there's more to that story, of course. You were nominated for 43 Academy Awards, 131 Emmys. I don't think I'm getting nominated for anything.
Brian Grazer: [00:08:12] 196.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:13] 196, well jeez, you've got to update your Wikipedia, man.
Brian Grazer: [00:08:15] Yeah, we've been wanting to meet for two years. Oh, was it in the Wikipedia?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:20] That's probably where I got that. I assume.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:23] You're never going to be able to change that. They're going to fight you tooth and nail. You try to change your Wikipedia. Good Lord.
Brian Grazer: [00:08:28] I think I might have to put some effort into it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:31] Don't have Will do it. It'll never get done. Poor Will.
Brian Grazer: [00:08:34] It's a funny show. I love that. You're right. That's right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:38] Unintentionally funny show.
Brian Grazer: [00:08:40] Unintentional.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:41] I was going to save this for later, but the best award story might be the one that you actually didn't get for Braveheart. Can you tell me about that?
Brian Grazer: [00:08:49] Yeah, okay, sure
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:50] That was ridiculous.
Brian Grazer: [00:08:50] I read a 12-page outline written by the astronaut Jim Lovell, on a failed journey to go to the moon and it was called Apollo 13. I ended up buying the rights to this failed journey, which became a book, and then we thought "Well, geez, how are we going to make this into a movie? Everybody knows the ending." Then we figured out if we got Tom Hanks, the world would want to save Tom Hanks.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:17] I knew you did that! I knew it! Because I was like, why didn't they put you know, like --
Brian Grazer: [00:09:21] Wow, you are smart. Kevin Costner or somebody.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:24] Yeah, even Kevin Costner, you want to see him come back, but there was somebody else I was thinking like, "Oh, they didn't put him in there and there's a good reason," and I'm trying to think who it was.
Brian Grazer: [00:09:32] Like an action-starry guy, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:33] Yeah, or like --
Brian Grazer: [00:09:35] Wasn't Steven Seagal, was it?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:36] No that would be -- you wanted to win an award for that movie.
Brian Grazer: [00:09:40] Yeah. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:41] I'm trying to think. I even wrote down -- I knew that you had to put Tom Hanks in there for that reason. It will come to me.
Brian Grazer: [00:09:47] That was the reason. We had a whole list of actors including Kevin Costner and Tom Cruise and other action stars, and probably the one you're thinking about. I had this sort of moment where I thought about: Who does the world want to save the most? The guy is not on the list. This guy named Tom Hanks, and that became our choice and it was a good choice for all of us because the world did want to save him and they lived inside of his soul and had tremendous empathy for this journey that was filmed. We ended up making the movie with Tom Hanks. It is incredibly successful financially and so far exceeded what we ever thought -- and then gets nine Oscar nominations.
[00:10:29] So now with the nine Oscar nominations, I'm thinking now in this new race not just to make money, but now we're in the Oscar race. Comes down to the day before the Oscars and everyone is saying, "Oh, you're going to win, Brian. You're going to win for best picture. Apollo 13 is going to win. It's patriotic. It's intersecting with NASA's anniversary."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:52] Oh, yeah.
Brian Grazer: [00:10:52] Yeah, fortunate, and so a lot of things were very much going in our favor, the patriotism, the heart, the success, and Las Vegas odds. People were. "You're going to win. It's Apollo 13." A very famous financial wizard named Mike Milken said, "I wanted to come over and see you. I want you to say eight words when you accept the award." I said, "I can't even think like this." But it was like a lock, we were winning. I write this speech. I'm ready to say the speech because I'm positive, we're winning, so I have my speech in my tuxedo pocket. The final envelope of the night is read by Sidney Poitier, the Oscar-winning actor, who's very deliberate about how he communicates, slow and deliberate. He's got the envelope in his hand for the Best Picture. He got the envelope in his hand and he's opening it very slowly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:48] Of course.
Brian Grazer: [00:11:49] Which is torturous. Then I think I see a B for Brian imperceptible as it was, rolling off his lip, and I'm in the sixth row and I'm looking and I get up to accept the Oscar because all those signals and I'm imagining and I get up them to accept the Oscar, and he says, "Braveheart." Then I was so embarrassed. I walk back to my seat and I turn around only for a second to sit down and I see a guy say, "Loser!"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:25] Oh, my God.
Brian Grazer: [00:12:26] Chairman of another studio does this to me. I don't know why I'm such a loser. And then Jim Lovell, the actual astronaut, reaches over Tom Hanks and Ron Howard to get to my wrist and he says, "I never made it to the moon either." He put the whole thing into complete perspective.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:46] Yeah. He never made it to the moon, but no one went, "You idiot. You tried to go to the moon." You just had a premature celebration.
Brian Grazer: [00:00:00] That's true.
Jordan Harbinger: And then, I don't know, Harvey Weinstein or somebody was like, "Hey, you're a loser."
Brian Grazer: [00:12:57] Yeah, that's the guy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:00] Was it him?
Brian Grazer: [00:13:01] He is now in prison.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:02] His now predictable behavior.
Brian Grazer: [00:13:03] Predictable!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:05] When somebody does something really terrible in Hollywood, you just go, "It's probably Weinstein. Unless it happened after right now because he's in prison."
Brian Grazer: [00:13:11] You're so funny! My God. Okay!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:15] Your books are about human connection, but you post a lot of food photos for a guy.
Brian Grazer: [00:13:19] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:19] In a book about human connection.
Brian Grazer: [00:13:20] Food videos.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:21] Food video! Like, I know what you have for breakfast every day. It does make sense, though. I do the show in person because the human element is so huge.
Brian Grazer: [00:13:28] It is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:29] Eye contact.
Brian Grazer: [00:13:29] Oh, yeah. It's important, we're doing this together.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:32] Yeah, that's right.
Brian Grazer: [00:13:33] Yes. I do these food videos and I say stupid things, kind of silly things, but I'm always exposing what I'm eating, as you know. Only this Saturday, I had an amazing chef and I was eating Japanese food, and I had these amazing spare ribs. I said, "I call them Saturday ribs," and my friend Bob Iger, who goes under another --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:00] Oh, yeah.
Brian Grazer: [00:14:01] Then he says, "Oh Saturday ribs, that's fascinating." Because there's nothing inventive about calling something Saturday ribs.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:09] Yes, you don't get to come up with the names of the movies that you produce. It's somebody else's job.
Brian Grazer: [00:14:14] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:15] Bob Iger, interesting guy.
Brian Grazer: [00:14:16] He's very accomplished. Accomplished as you can be.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:20] Yeah. I mean, he's the chairman of Disney or the president or CEO.
Brian Grazer: [00:14:25] No, chairman, CEO of Disney and he just wrote a book himself called The Ride of a Lifetime. I'm now selling his book. But yeah well, but we're closest of friends. Oddly, we both wrote books around the same time and released them only a week apart. My book Face to Face was out first -- and that's the one to purchase.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:46] That's right. Don't worry about Bob. He can make everyone at Disney go buy it.
Brian Grazer: [00:14:48] Bob is doing fine.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:49] He's fine.
Brian Grazer: [00:14:51] Bob is great. He bought Marvel. He bought Pixar. He's bought everything, and now he bought Fox.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:56] And he's got Disney stock. Don't worry about Bob.
Brian Grazer: [00:14:57] He's killing it. Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:58] When you started your career in Hollywood, you started networking your butt off right away. Tell me about that, because I know you got your first job at Warner Bros. in '74 as a legal clerk. That's really kind of funny, like a glorified sort of courier at that point, right?
Brian Grazer: [00:15:14] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:15] "Clerk" in air quotes.
Brian Grazer: [00:15:17] Yeah, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:18] Like, "Here, you take this envelope, then you bring it over there," but you made the best of that. Tell us what you did to make that a job that wasn't too --
Brian Grazer: [00:15:25] Well, okay, you almost didn't define it as demeaning as it really was.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:28] Right, yeah, I'm trying to cut you a little slack, but you turned it into like a really good opportunity.
Brian Grazer: [00:15:34] I turned this absolutely zero job into an amazing opportunity. It was a zero job, just like you said. My job was just to deliver papers, Warner Bros. documents, if they even happened. The first week, I just sat in an office, this big, no windows, just looking around. Actually, somebody caught me once, Jeff Katzenberg. He said, "I saw you." I was sitting back in my chair. I was throwing pencils into the ceiling, actually a ceiling like this, because he brought it up to me only last night because I had a book party actually. He goes. "Remember when I met you? You were throwing pencils into the ceiling!"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:12] Like, trying to stick pencils into acoustic tiles by throwing them really hard?
Brian Grazer: [00:16:15] That what I was doing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:16] I didn't even know you could do that. I've never been that bored, I guess.
Brian Grazer: [00:16:18] Yeah, and I was at the height of boredom, and then eventually they said a week later, "Okay, deliver these papers to Warren Beatty." I had to deliver papers to Warren Beatty, who is living and working out of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and an assistant was down there and said, "Hand me the papers, punk." You know, that kind of thing. And I made this up, I was 22, I said, "Oh, the papers are legal documents that aren't valid unless I hand them directly to Mr. Beatty." And the guy goes, "Give me the fucking papers." And so I said, "I'm sorry, but they're invalid and I have to go back to the office to Warner Bros. in Burbank with the papers." "All right." So then I got upstairs. My job was now just to hand them to Beatty, but I turned it into, like, a conversation. And I was really enthusiastic and I lit up, I guess, and he lit up back, and I turned that moment transaction into like, an hour conversation. Then I thought, "I can do this all the time. I can do it every time I have to deliver papers." So I remember William Peter Blatty, he wrote the book The Exorcist, the best-selling book. I can name all these big names.
[00:17:31] But when I had no one to deliver something to, which quite often occurred, I would just do outgoing calls to people that I admired in the movie business. I'd write a letter to Lew Wasserman -- they didn't have emails in the day -- and then I'd follow up immediately with a phone call saying, "I just sent a letter to Mr. Wasserman. My name is Brian Grazer," and they'd hear my fresh, excited, young voice, fresh out of college, and they always said yes. I mean, I did say, "I work at Warner Bros. This is unassociated with studio business, but I want to meet your boss for the following reason and I guarantee you I do not want a job," and I was --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:07] That's indemnified.
Brian Grazer: [00:18:08] Yeah, that's very essential in greeting because I indemnified them from embarrassment.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:12] And the "I do not want a job" is important, because that's what they're thinking is, "This person wants something from me. They're just trying to be famous and Hollywood, and I'm so sick of that." And that's probably why these assistants didn't get fired for letting you talk to their boss in the first place, although Warren Beatty probably fired his assistant if you talked to him for an hour after that.
Brian Grazer: [00:18:30] Maybe I could maybe ask him!
Jason DeFillippo: [00:18:35] You're listening to the Jordan Harbinger show with our guest Brian Grazer. We'll be right back.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:30] This episode is also sponsored by Skillshare.
[00:20:33] I love this company. I love the idea that you could learn things online. Man, I would have loved this when I was a kid. I loved it as an adult. Who knows maybe I would have spent less time trying to go to college classes for things that were sort of interesting only to have them be ruined by spending 90% of the time on the history of something when it wasn't a freaking history class? Skillshare is where you can learn, well skills among other things. It's an online learning community with thousands of amazing classes everything from creative to entrepreneurial skills. You can take classes in everything from photography to creative writing, design, productivity. Jason, you found some gems on their recently, right? What's what was that one with like drones?
Jason DeFillippo: [00:21:14] Yeah. Jen actually turned me on to this one since you guys, I guess, you're looking to buy a drone. It's aerial videography drone filming and since I have a drone it really is helping me build my skills out, which is pretty cool.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:25] I got to say you guys are looking to buy a drone...No, Jen wants a drone.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:21:29] Jen wants a drone.
Jordan Harbinger: 00:21:30] Okay, don't front Jen. This is your drone. Whenever she wants anything like that she's like, "Wouldn't it be cool if you did," and I'm like, "Yeah. Just buy yourself a drone." So whether it's a passion project or she really wants to like, learn something that's for the house, that's why I think Jen's business is coming in. I think it's like, "Oh we're building a house so we can use it to film the progress of the house," and I'm like, she just really thinks drones are cool.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:21:59] There you go.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:00] She wants a freaking drone. The point is Skillshare has classes for everything. Okay, that's the real issue here. And so that's what she really likes to do. She wants to learn stuff. Aerial drone filming is just one element of how to design a kitchen, of course, is on her list now because she's designing a kitchen and she can actually get to build it. Everyone I know who wants to learn something is loving using Skillshare and we have an offer for them. What is it, Jason?
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[00:22:32] Thanks for listening and supporting the show and to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard from our amazing sponsors, visit Jordan Harbinger.com deals. Don't forget, we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Brian Grazer. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all of the latest episodes downloaded automatically to your podcast player. So you don't miss a single thing. Now back to our show with Brian Grazer.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:26] It's a great speech though to come up with people to meet in the movie business because you kind of don't really get to do that very often. And I know you set a goal to meet one person, new person, in the movie business every single day.
Brian Grazer: [00:23:37] Every single day, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:38] And that's impressive.
Brian Grazer: [00:23:39] You have to create discipline. And so I was good even with, again, dyslexia. I never solved it, but probably I found a way in junior high to read and I was able to spell and to this day I can still of course read, but it takes effort and discipline. But the bottom line, I created this discipline of every day I would go meet a new person. And so that was just really a function of saying I'm going to disrupt my comfort zone every single day and put myself in a situation where I have to learn about the language of physics or I have to learn the language of whatever that is to meet somebody so I can communicate with them. For you, I had to learn about your podcast. I didn't know everything about your podcast, but I realized all the really smart people that you've met. I think I was able to understand the theme of what you're trying to do. You come in, you're informed, and you can be interesting. I think the goal in life is to be interesting because if you're actually interesting, then you'll be interested and people will be interested in you. And so that makes the bridge of connection valuable.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:51] That's one of those --
Brian Grazer: [00:24:52] I have to have something to say --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:54] Yeah, like be interested in other people to get them interested in you.
Brian Grazer: [00:24:57] Tom Hanks always used to say during Splash, "Here he is. Today's version of Dale Carnegie."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:02] Oh, really?
Brian Grazer: [00:25:03] He was always teasing me. "He is Dale Carnegie. What question do you have, Dale?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:08] Wow. Tom Hanks is making fun of you. That's a bucket list item for most people, I think.
Brian Grazer: [00:25:14] It was a regular activity.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:16] Yeah. I'm sure. He seems like a funny dude.
Brian Grazer: [00:25:18] He is a funny, smart dude.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:20] Yeah, he has to be.
Brian Grazer: [00:25:21] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:22] In 10 minutes though, with Lew Wasserman, changed the way that you look at the movie business. Didn't he kind of like rip you to shreds and throw a legal pad and say like, "Do some real work!" Something along those lines?
Brian Grazer: [00:25:31] He did. I tried to meet Lew Wasserman. Everybody said yes. Lew Wasserman said yes. I got him to say yes because I cornered his assistant Melody and many other people working with him. The minute he saw me, he realized, like, "This is bullshit."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:45] "Who is this kid?"
Brian Grazer: [00:25:45] "Who is this kid?" So he said, "Sit still" or "Stand still." He wouldn't let me in the office. He went to his office, came back with a big legal pad. It was a yellow legal tablet and a pencil and said, "Take this." He hands me the pad and then the pencil and he said. "Put the pencil to the pad and it has greater value than they do as separate parts. Get out." You know, like "Beat it!" So I got in the elevator feeling pretty embarrassed that he did it in front of a bunch of people, but it was the most valuable lesson I learned. I learned that you have to come in with something -- you have to own something -- meaning you have to give life to ideas, and so write them down and then you own something. It doesn't even have to be perfect. Don't have someone say, "What's going on?" and you go, "Nothing." You can't say "Nothing!"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:37] "I'm just here to take up your time and your oxygen in your office." "Take a selfie."
Brian Grazer: [00:26:42] You are super funny! Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:45] Well, the book's about curiosity --
Brian Grazer: [00:26:46] "Take a selfie!"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:47] Lew Wasserman would be like, "Hold on, let me get the camera guy." The one guy in the building with a camera.
Brian Grazer: [00:26:51] Yes!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:52] Curiosity's such an American, or maybe Western value. I mean, it's really not --
Brian Grazer: [00:26:56] It is, by the way. I can speak to that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:59] Yeah, let's do it.
Brian Grazer: [00:27:00] Our company, Imagine, has Chinese investors.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:04] I was just going to bring up China! Yeah.
Brian Grazer: [00:27:06] And I told one of our early investors, they read my book, and they loved the book. So I said, "I would like to do a location-based entertainment that involves curiosity, but I don't want to go through that right now." And he looked at me like, "Not a good idea." And I said, "But you liked my book!" And then I got him to explain what curiosity means in China -- his interpretation of me. If curiosity is directed towards productivity, like it's literally -- it's not meandering, it's not a casual thing. Curiosity is used to case build or build something that is a product of value --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:54] Right. Tangible.
Brian Grazer: [00:27:55] That is tangible. Then
China likes that. But if it's a casual dalliance, if it's a hobby or flirtation, they don't like it. It's a negative word. It has to be very defined.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:09] Especially if you're questioning, "Should this be the way that it is right now?" This order we have --
Brian Grazer: [00:28:14] Existential curiosity.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:17] Or curiosity about whether or not you're being governed in the best way possible. Then it becomes fatal in China and Russia.
Brian Grazer: [00:28:23] Yeah, or "Why are we doing facial recognition everywhere? Why would we do that?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:28] "It's convenient for you to get arrested when we're looking for you." Yeah, that kind of thing. You have built your life around these curiosity conversations, which when I read it, I went like, "Oh, it's kind of like my podcast, only he's not recording it," in a way.
Brian Grazer: [00:28:40] Sort of like that. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:42] I love that idea, though. Can you tell us what those are? I think that's useful for people that aren't just like podcasters or movie producers. More people should do it.
Brian Grazer: [00:28:50] More people should do it. And you don't have to go reach out and meet Jonas Salk, who I did, or Princess Di, or Michael Jackson, or Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates. You can do that. I've learned a lot from my Uber driver. Just recently from a Serbian, first of all, I didn't know he was Serbian, but I had to ask him. And he was a very big guy and he was an Uber driver. I started talking about martial arts, which I'm very interested in martial arts. I have done three different disciplines. And he said, "Oh, well, in Russia, we have one called Systema." And so, I didn't know what that was. You do, apparently. And so I said, "Can I pay you to teach me this?" and he did.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:32] It's like kind of Krav Maga-esque and it's based on reality. It's not based on like doing things in the corner by yourself.
Brian Grazer: [00:29:40] You're using -- if you think about a wave in an ocean, so using the energy of that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:46] I think they use it in the Army over there.
Brian Grazer: [00:29:48] I'm sure they do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:48] Or Special Forces and stuff like that.
Brian Grazer: [00:29:50] You're good to do this job.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:52] What?
Brian Grazer: [00:29:53] Curiosity job.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:54] Oh, this job?
Brian Grazer: [00:29:55] You're very good at this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:56] Thank you!
Brian Grazer: [00:29:57] You said, how do I use it? So basically --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:00] Well, you had a cultural attache. This person was like your booker.
Brian Grazer: [00:30:04] Yeah, my booker, but I did it for 20 years before the cultural attache.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:08] Good, I still have a few years left before I hire my own.
Brian Grazer: [00:30:10] So I had 20 years of doing this on my own, scrambling around and begging and groveling, which I still do now because --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:16] It works.
Brian Grazer: [00:30:17] It works!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:19] That's how we got here. They finally said, "Listen, Veronica, if you don't book Brian, I'm going to keep whining to you every week." And she was like, "Fine."
Brian Grazer: [00:30:28] Yeah, that's what happened. You did it. Here we are.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:30] You're my Lew Wasserman, except I brought my own iPad. No legal pad required. How do we get these meetings if we're not Hollywood heavyweights or podcasters with a social media following or whatever?
Brian Grazer: [00:30:43] You have to think about subjects that interest you. Well, first of all, if nothing interests you at all, then this is not the thing you should do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:51] Remedial curiosity each time.
Brian Grazer: [00:30:53] But if you're interested in anything -- architecture, how a building looks -- and you realize, "Oh, I like the looks of that building," and then you say to yourself, "Why does that building look that way? Oh, it's the architect." Then it's not just the design on the inside, it's the architect. It's Disney Hall. Then you go, "Why does Disney Hall look like that?" "Oh, it's this architect." "Really? Who do you think that is?" "His name is Frank Gehry." "Wow, he must be a young guy." "No, he's 90." "Interesting. Wow, I'd like to meet a guy, like, that could do that at 90. I'd like to know what it's like to still be vital at 90. Plus, I'd like to know how he was able to come up with this sort of design, and is that a consistent design in all of his architecture?" You have to like sort of iterate all these questions.
[00:31:41] No, and then you're a nobody. Honestly, I still feel like I'm a nobody. I mean, I have accomplishments, but I do feel I feel like I have to scramble. How do I scramble? I have three assistants. They have to do stuff. They're supposed to make calls. I don't let them make calls. I say, "No calls." I'm making every call right from here myself. Every call is done by me. It's faster. It's more efficient. And guess what? I get to know the assistants. The assistants are going to rule the world and I've been doing that...if you think of the Creative Artists Agency, there's two guys, there's four guys, but two, they really run it. Someone named Richard Lovett and someone named Bryan Lourd. They used to work for people and I would call their bosses, but I talk to them. Richard Lovett goes, "You used to talk to me. I worked for Fred Specktor." So, it's really important to do that. First of all, it creates good karma. It activates your enthusiasm because you can't go, "Hey, can I talk to your boss?" You have to --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:39] You could now, but why start now?
Brian Grazer: [00:32:41] You go, "Hey, is Bryan in?" Bryan Lourd, in that case, or to be fair about it, Ari Emanuel.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:50] Sure.
Brian Grazer: [00:32:51] I called Ari's office even if he couldn't. I'd just go, "Hey, is Ari in?" "Hey, sure!" Because then they want to connect you. They have something vested in it. There was a director I was trying to get approved by Universal Pictures, and so I called the boss, the executive. I called and said, "Hey, is so-and-so in?" and they said, "Well, he's leaving." I said, "Before he leaves the country, he needs to have a meeting with this one director." "He's got no time." I go, "Please. He's got to meet this director, please, please, please?" "Who are they?" I say the names, and the assistant goes, "We love them." All of a sudden it became "Off. CAA's, Thursday afternoon." We showed up. They approved them, they're now directing Friday Night Lights, the movie, the new movie again.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:38] So don't outsource your networking, basically, because a lot of people do that. They go, "Oh I don't want to do that anymore." So, they hire someone for 20 bucks an hour. You're laughing because that's twice as much as you pay the person.
Brian Grazer: [00:33:52] Yes, that, and outsourcing your network. Yeah. It's very true. I mean I understood it in the day when people used the systems to make the calls, jumped right into a speaker box and they could sound like The Wizard of Oz and like some big deal. I'm surprised that Hollywood doesn't do that. Tech guys do that. They don't use the systems to make calls, really. Brian Chesky is a very good guy who created Airbnb, who actually stole my assistant. I became friends with him because he stole my assistant, but I was okay because he didn't go to a producer in Hollywood. He didn't go to Jerry Bruckheimer and go, "He's better than you, Brian." He went to Brian Chesky, who's created Airbnb that makes sense!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:38] So you would have taken it personally if she had gone to somebody else in the same niche.
Brian Grazer: [00:34:41] Yeah. I would have been, "Jeez, what happened? What's going on?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:45] Yeah, I can see that, though. We're competitive with people that are kind of within that magnetism range of where we are, in our same orbit, but if somebody goes and works for somebody on the other side of a totally different industry, it's hard to compare.
Brian Grazer: [00:34:58] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:59] You're too different. You can't really --
Brian Grazer: [00:35:00] All my superstars are people that got yelled at by Scott Rudin. I've taken all of them. He's really talented, really gifted, tremendous sense of quality. Ironically, Scott Rudin and I both worked for the guy that yelled! There was a guy, Edgar J. Scherick. He was the boss, and Scott and I were equals as two guys that were just punks trying to get up in the business.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:22] Two punching bags.
Brian Grazer: [00:35:25] Well said!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:26] So you met Jonas Salk. Was that like one of your first big sort of curiosity conversations?
Brian Grazer: [00:35:30] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:31] And you puked on him, right?
Brian Grazer: [00:35:33] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:34] At least you puked on a doctor.
Brian Grazer: [00:35:35] Yeah. I know! That was the good news. So I was so nervous. I was very excited about meeting my childhood hero, Dr. Jonas Salk, who created the polio vaccine. But it took two years to finally get someone to agree for Jonas Salk that I could meet him. And I had so much excitement. I had so much pre-anticipatory excitement -- anxiety -- that when I approached him to say, "Mr. Salk," I kind of projectile vomited. But he is a doctor, so he wanted me to lay down. I was feeling faint anyways, and he summoned a glass of orange juice, and just the comfort of his hand on my head, I was back to life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:20] That's quite an impression. I think he probably remembered that for a long time. I would imagine.
Brian Grazer: [00:36:24] Then he said he really liked me. I did curiosity conversations with he -- Jonas Salk until sort of the end of his life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:32] Wow.
Brian Grazer: [00:36:33] We became friends for the remainder of his life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:36] "Just sit three feet away, or here's the air sickness bag for the next time." Yeah. I think if somebody was so nervous that they puked on me, I don't know if I'd be like, "When's our next meeting?" You know? Good for him, though. Clearly a caring guy --
Brian Grazer: [00:36:52] "Let's do this on the phone!"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:53] Yeah. "We'll do the interview remotely next time. Thanks for puking on me, Jordan."
Brian Grazer: [00:36:57] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:57] You have worked with a lot of amazing people over the years. Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, heaps of others. How do you manage strong personalities like that? I almost feel like you can't. You know, you can't really be like, "Denzel, this is ridiculous. Behave yourself." Not that you would have to with him, but I don't think you could if you needed to.
Brian Grazer: [00:37:14] No I can't. You can't do that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:16] So what? You just have to hope that they're cool to work with? That they work well?
Brian Grazer: [00:37:19] With real very accomplished people like Denzel or Tom Hanks or Eddie Murphy or Russell Crowe, or I could go on, you have to have a communication system where you're warm and honest so they feel your heart. When people feel your heart, they're rooting for you. They don't want to be on bad behavior. But there are times that they would become impatient with some part of the process and you have to fix something. That's inevitable. And the way I think I did that was even if I'm afraid, I appear to be fearless. So you have to appear to be fearless, and when you appear to be fearless, then you can be loose. And if you're loose, you're honest, and there's a better chance you are to hit that ball, make it work. And so I try to be loose and open-minded and absolutely know that I will say things that are mistakes that they could prey upon, and know what I'm going to say when they do. Which is like, "Hey, I make mistakes, but my intention is the following." Always know what your intention is with somebody. Always know -- whether it's a movie or a startup company -- you have to have intentionality. What is that intentionality? Because of the execution, they'll be so much fallibility involved in that execution, you have to be prepared to know what you intend to achieve and be able to state that and evangelize even when things are off course.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:54] That makes sense. I suppose that way it doesn't make sense for them to pounce on you if they feel like you're being vulnerable with them. You're not trying to maintain an air of perfection.
Brian Grazer: [00:39:04] Yeah, in trying to maintain an air of perfection, you're going to go wrong. You're going to say something that's not true, then they'll ding you for that. By acting like you're perfect, that's almost arrogance, which they're really allergic to. Artists are truth detectors. If you just show your truth, if you're intelligent, and you're well-read and you just show your truth, then usually they will be attracted to that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:30] That makes sense, because I was wondering how you build trust with people that are always targets for being taken advantage of. You have to signal that it's okay for them to trust you, but these are people where, I mean, I'm sure Jim Carrey -- or Denzel -- has a million fake friends all over the place and they just are immediately guarded even by somebody that's working with them, because they're like, "What does this person want that?" That's going to be their default.
Brian Grazer: [00:39:53] It is. Yeah. That's for sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:55] It's actually got to be quite isolating for people like that. So if you can show that you understand that, there's probably some level of sympathetic in there.
Brian Grazer: [00:40:02] I'm tempted to tell this Jim Carrey story, so being tempted means I will.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:07] Yeah do it.
Brian Grazer: [00:40:08] So basically, I produced Liar Liar, which was a massive hit and great for me and great for Jim. It was a win-win. I always try to go for a win-win. Certainly, I don't try to convince anyone of even an hour with me if it's a win-lose. If it's me trying to get something off you, and I know if it's transactionally oriented and that person doesn't know that it's transactionally oriented, then there's deceit in the conversation. That's how I see it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:39] Yeah, they're keeping score and you're not. So they get mad when you don't do what they want you to do and you're like, "What the Hell? I thought we were just having lunch." And they're like, "I don't want some lunch. I wanted you to read my script, you prick."
Brian Grazer: [00:40:50] Exactly, that's really true. With Jim Carrey, I already did two giant hits with him. I did The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and Liar Liar and then one other movie. You know, he's hard to work with, but he's a genius. He got really mad at somebody on the set and he kicked over the monitors, and that scared everybody.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:11] Like the TVs, like the screens?
Brian Grazer: [00:41:12] Yeah, those screens, there's a director chair, and you're watching the monitors, and he kicked them over. And it was like a temper tantrum kind of thing. He's so brilliant and I want the best for him, of course. But when he did that, my impulse was to grab him and hug him and even though he was really -- he can be intimidating because he's physically big and physically very strong.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:36] Is he? You wouldn't think!
Brian Grazer: [00:41:38] He's big. He has big shoulders and big arms and he's physically really strong because he gets adrenalized quickly. He can get hyperadrenalized, and when you're hyperadrenalized, you're very strong. You lift cars up and stuff like that. So he's sort of that person, and so I just hugged him and I said, "You know, Jim, you've just got to be happy. You're the biggest movie star in the world right now. You have to be happy with that." And it was a really touching moment and he just sort of gained his footing, you know, like rebalanced and it became a good day. He turned the day around for everybody.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:17] The second part of that, I guess, would be, "And those were $20,000. We're taking them out of your check." He strikes me as the kind of guy who, along with a lot of other artists who, no matter what, they will never be really happy with what's happening in their life.
Brian Grazer: [00:42:32] That's interesting. There's many artists, but Tom Hanks is happy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:37] He seems like he's happy. That's probably why other people like him so much. And I think Jim Carrey is brilliant and insightful, but he's brilliant and insightful in the way where you go, "Wow, that comes from a lot of pain." Like when you're watching him talk about things on YouTube, you're just like, "That's not a guy who's like, hanging out with his family and having fun."
Brian Grazer: [00:42:54] Tom has the right dosage of pain to cause him to want to avoid it, avoiding pain or shame. There's the right amount, the balance is right. It motivates him. He's very, very perfectionistic. He'll seem like a really regular guy -- he's just definitely not a regular guy. He has really supersonic skills not only as an actor but as a curator of picking ideas that are right for him, discarding the ones that aren't, just dealing with his managing choices, the things he does on CNN. He's very extraordinary not just as an actor, but he does every job. He knows what it feels like.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:36] He's a magical personality. But this is your show, this is your episode of the show.
Brian Grazer: [00:43:41] Yeah, sorry. Yeah!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:42] So how do you keep in touch and stay connected to people that are hyper-scheduled like that? You are so busy. I'm super busy. It's a constant struggle to be like, "Let me just give this person a call." They're not going to answer they're freaking in a meeting. They're always in a meeting. They're always doing something.
Brian Grazer: [00:43:57] So how do I reach people when they're super busy or how do I--?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:00] You don't even have to reach them. Maybe you're just staying in touch with them in some other way. Like for me, I text a lot of people because I know they'll eventually read it when they're like getting in the car, going to the next place. But they don't want to be on the phone.
Brian Grazer: [00:44:12] Well, this blows Veronica's mind, my wife, who you referred to. I will call everybody, because then they see the phone ring. And they almost always answer the phone because they're used to this consistent pattern of getting emails or texts or WhatsApps. So if you call them, they think, "Oh, wow. This --"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:31] "It must be important."
Brian Grazer: [00:44:32] "It's important. This is an aberration! This could be interesting to me!" And so I call them. I make it short. But I talk.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:41] That's the key: you make it short.
Brian Grazer: [00:44:42] Got to make it short. Got to cut to the chase. When people call me and they go, "Hey!" And the minute they do the, "Hey!" like that, Okay. Now what's happening? I don't think I'm better. I just want to know what the point is. I want to know: what's our story on this call? And so get to the point so we can both be engaged in it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:02] Yeah, that makes sense. You're training people to pick up the call because they know it's going to be five minutes and not 55 minutes.
Brian Grazer: [00:45:08] Yeah, they know Brian understands time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:10] Yeah, that makes sense. That's important to signal. I think a lot of people try to be small talkie because it seems more polite, but it's a waste of time.
Brian Grazer: [00:45:16] It's a waste of time and nothing fun comes out of small talking. This morning I called my friend Jimmy Iovine. He's a brilliant guy, he's created many music companies. Anyway, he created Beats, that became Beats by Dre. He's someone you should have on your show.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:34] I will take you up on that.
Brian Grazer: [00:45:34] Oh my god. He's a master. Basically, at 20-and-a-half years old, because people go, "Wow, why is he a billionaire?" I go, "Why is he a billionaire? I'll tell you why! He was sweeping floors in a music studio. He found a way to become the assistant to the assistant of John Lennon as an engineer. He shows me a picture of John Lennon and he, at 20-and-a-half years old, and he's important to John Lennon. He earned it. These kind of people are so interesting to me. They're earning it from the very beginning and becoming experts, and have far exceeded their 10,000 outlier hours.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:46:11] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Brian Grazer. We'll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:19] This episode is sponsored in part by Xero. We've been using Xero for years. It's a cloud-based accounting software. We actually went after them to sponsor the show because Jen loves it. It's fast it's intuitive and it's easy to use. I actually met the founders years ago, and they're just great people. Even for people that hate the idea that they even have to do accounting in their business at all, and I know that might sound ridiculous, but we need, not you, we are out there. Accounting is not something I love doing but Xero makes it painless. That's, to say the least. A lot of our entrepreneur friends use it. It's what the cool kids are using these days for accounting for the business. It's you can give access to an unlimited amount of users. So, you're not swapping logins with people, contractors people who shouldn't have access to everything. You can also give access to your accountant so they can get reports out of there without going in and seeing every little thing that you're working on or your business's cash flow if they don't need access to that. Also, if you need an accountant, Xero can actually refer you to some of these experts here. You can also pay by month. There's no contract and they're really good with multiple currencies. I remember that was their thing a few years back. It was like if you're accepting payment in New Zealand dollars, in Taiwan dollars, in US dollars, in Canadian dollars, and in Mexican pesos, Xero has no problem reconciling all that stuff with up-to-date exchange rates. It's just built-in there. That was what they originally were really, really good at and it's just improved from there. Again, no contract. So, if you're a terrible manager, hypothetically, of course, and you go out of business in a few months. You don't have them banging down your door for some annual contract. Not that they would do that. They're too nice. These are people from New Zealand. They're not coming after you it's too far anyway, and now you're thinking, well they're in New Zealand, what if I need help. Well, they've got 24/7 support for you and you can screw everything up at 11 PM on a Sunday, and you'll be fine by Monday morning. You can also view things from your iPhone or Android app. If you're obsessively compulsively checking on your business on your phone like I am. And this helps when you check your dashboard in an Uber on the way to the airport because you need to get something for somebody. Xero is a great product. I highly recommend it if you have any businesses and you plan on like making some money doing it. Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:48:30] Try Xero risk-free at xero.com/jordan. That's zero with an X, X-E-R-O xero.com/jordan for a free month. You'll thank us later.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:38] This episode is sponsored in part by Figs. Figs are scrubs that are for people who actually have to spend more than five minutes in scrubs. Look if you're going to wear scrubs for a Halloween costume, fine get the cheap ones. But if you actually work in scrubs, you know, you're one of the people that needs them like a nurse, doctor dentist, people who work in medical healthcare. These are awesome people that deserve to work in something. That's not a repurposed recycled bed sheet and Figs are what these people deserve frankly. These are super high-quality scrubs. I mean, they're stylish their functional. They have nice zip pockets. They're easy to wash. They're not this weird sort of shaped...When I go to scrubs, people look like they're wearing a freaking pillowcase. Scrubs are comfortable. They are designed well. They're high-quality medical apparel. So that medical professionals look their best, feel their best, perform their best. They're antimicrobial. So, they protect from germs and bacteria. They're really soft. They wick moisture. They've got four-way stretch. Forget the yoga waistband. They come in a variety of styles from classic to straight leg, jogger skinny styles. So, they're built like the people who work at the hospital or in the medical profession are built as well. By the way, every time you shop at Figs, they give scrubs to healthcare providers in need around the world through what they call Threads for Threads. Basically, you buy one and then somebody in another country who maybe needs it but can't afford gets a pair or two. They've donated hundreds of thousands of sets in over 35 countries. These make great gifts for the lifesavers in your life. You can get gift cards for Figs. So next time your doctor, nurse, dentist, dermatologist pediatrician friend saves the day, tell them thank you and send them some Figs, and trust me a lot of medical professionals. They don't even know this stuff exists and I feel like this should be the new default for those people at their job because these are human clothes for important people, and I think Figs does a great job with this. I was wearing them and I thought these are really the next level. Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:50:41] So whether you're one of the awesome humans that work in healthcare or someone that wants to say thanks to these deserving folks, Figs is going to make that easy by providing you with 15% off your first purchase by using the code Jordan Harbinger. Get ready to love your scrubs head to wearfigs.com. That's W-E-A-R-F-I-G-S wearfigs.com and enter our code JHS at checkout.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:03] This episode is also sponsored in part by ZipRecruiter. Hiring can be a slow process and Cafe Altura's COO, Dillon Miskiewicz, needed to hire a director of coffee for his organic coffee company, but he was having trouble finding qualified applicants. Director of coffee, it sounds like a pretty cool job title. It sounds like what an owner would want. Anyway, Dillon switched to ZipRecruiter. ZipRecruiter doesn't depend on candidates finding you, it finds them for you. That's actually a big deal. Because what it does, it identifies people with the right experience and invites them to apply to your job, so you get qualified candidates really fast. I was just at a week-long entrepreneur event in Mexico and since a lot of the people there listen to podcasts as a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners do, people were joking about ZipRecruiter because they advertise on so many shows including this one. And so, what a lot of these folks were doing, we're talking about this in the pool, what a lot of folks do, yes, ZipRecruiter post to a bunch of different job boards, but the real key here is you're going to get hundreds or possibly thousands of responses. ZipRecruiter's matching technology finds the relevant people who've applied, filters the applicants, and you can find a new director of coffee if you need to, just like Dillon, just a few days. Four out of five employers who post on ZipRecruiter get a quality candidate within the first day and that experience was definitely echoed in the pool time conversations among the business owners that I talked to this week. I was very impressed by that. A lot of people had been using ZipRecruiter. It's not. Just something you hear a lot about on this podcast. It's something that a lot of people especially business owners and entrepreneurs are using to find a lot of really great help out there. So definitely give it a spin and definitely let us know what you think of ZipRecruiter if you do. Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:52:50] See why ZipRecruiter is effective for businesses of all sizes. Try ZipRecruiter for free at our web address ziprecruiter.com/jordan. That's ziprecruiter.com/jordan. ZipRecruiter, the smartest way to hire.
[00:53:07] Thanks for listening and supporting the show, your support of our advertisers keeps us on the air. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard so you can check out those amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. And don't forget the worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Now for the conclusion of our episode with Brian Grazer.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:28] You feel like ideas come from all corners of your brain and I'm wondering what you mean by that, because I would love to sort of show people who also feel that way that there's nothing wrong with the way that they think. Does that make sense?
Brian Grazer: [00:53:40] Yeah, you know, that's an old-fashioned measurement tool. That's like thinking about the way I think, the way my thought is measured, is through an IQ test and it's singular like that. So now we've proved that certainly, curiosity is, if you use it, you learn a lot and there's a randomness involved in it. And so you're just trusting the randomness and that's a system unto itself. My system, which you could say, "Oh, that's a singular system or discipline," it's allowing for the randomness. Because I have seen like in either A Beautiful Mind or the case of Apollo 13, it all accessed my insights that enabled me to have value to both of those movies that became huge successes, came from a woman named Veronica de Negri that I met in 1985. So basically in 1984, I thought "Wow, I think I want to meet this musician named Sting, because Sting was like a schoolteacher in England and all of a sudden, he's now a rock star -- what is that guy's journey?" He was kind enough to grant me a meeting. I got to meet him. And a year later after that meeting, he said, "You know, I'm having a barbecue. Why don't you come over?" He'd just done the Amnesty Tour and a woman named Veronica de Negri was there. She'd been tortured in Chile under dictator --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:02] Pinochet.
Brian Grazer: [00:55:03] Pinochet, exactly. I said, "How did you survive?" That became a long story, that long story got me focused on how people survive when they're being tortured, and they live in an alternate reality -- another story. So if you think about thought, our present thought would be this: She knew she had to redial that present thought because that present thought was experiencing unpredictable pain every day. So she created another story with another thought system and within that story and thought system she could survive this 18 months of unbearable pain, which of course, if you use those insights and transport them to A Beautiful Mind, a schizophrenic, you realize that's the cinematic way to begin the movie, is through an alternate reality. Because it then makes it a thriller, not just a drama.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:52] Yeah, that does make sense.
Brian Grazer: [00:55:53] Was that too circuitous?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:55] No, I think it makes sense. You've said that your curiosity helps you make movies and that sounds like what we're talking about. You take just as much with your talk with the activist Veronica de Negri as you do with the astronaut, and they both go into Apollo 13.
Brian Grazer: [00:56:09] Yes, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:10] In a different way -- or A Beautiful Mind.
Brian Grazer: [00:56:11] I just think if you're a thoughtful person, and you're not lazy, and you create disciplines, any kind of discipline -- even just saying hello to somebody is a discipline. Looking at them and just saying, "Hi," and then you don't have to be active using curiosity as actively as I, as long as you have a discipline to improve yourself. And the only thing you have to do to improve yourself is disrupt your comfort zone. Put yourself in situations that are kind of like this sink-or-swim survival. Like I'm going to be smart on this show, or I'm not going to be smart on this show. I'm going to be the best I can be on the show -- see, I'm failing at this! But I'm okay feeling, but the point is you have to institute some disciplines upon yourself and you use those disciplines to grow.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:03] You've said that learning from someone in front of you is better than sex, better than success. And I love that because I usually get into, like, the flow state when I'm doing an interview that's going well. I totally agree with it. I think if I say this conversation is better than sex, that might come across a little creepy, but I'm fine with that. Emotional curiosity is something that you talk about in the book as well. You connect feelings and mindset to someone else's work and then try to bring it into your work. This might be tricky. But what does that mean? How do you do that?
Brian Grazer: [00:57:32] Okay. So, let's use that Frank Gehry example. I'm meeting this architect Frank Gehry, which I did do by the way. I pulled that randomly, but nothing is random, I suppose. I know that I can't talk to a master architect in-depth about architecture. Because I can only learn so much on YouTube or you know reading books or and you only have a certain amount of time you can read a book and now, we all know how to study quickly. There's lots of methods to study quickly. There was a previous architect that I didn't -- I didn't want to meet any architects. It was very early in my curiosity conversations about 25 years ago. And my cultural attache keeps telling me, "Meet this architect named Rem Koolhaas," who's a master architect himself. I said, "I get it. He's a master. I don't want to meet an architect." Bottom line, he says to me -- this guy, my attache -- says, "Why?" I said, "Because I think architecture is a manipulation of space as beautiful as it could be; it has nothing to do with feelings or emotion." He said, "I don't know. I think you could be wrong. You should meet him." So, I meet Rem Koolhaas. I say hello. The first thing he says, "Architecture is like a living organism." Because I wouldn't understand the big picture. It's like a living organism. And you have to think of architecture as a living organism because living organisms are going to be flourishing or not flourishing inside of the shell -- the architectural shell. Unless you centrally care about people's feelings and flow -- as you brought up flow -- like you're creating environments that are inspirational to human beings. That is the goal. And so I didn't even realize it, so I had it completely wrong and it was funny to me because I would have never bet that an architect would talk about feelings or emotionality or describe it through architecture through imagining a living organism.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:32] You're taking these insights that are seemingly disconnected from your work.
Brian Grazer: [00:59:37] Yes,
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:37] And then through these curiosity conversations or podcasts or other input sources. Then you take them and they trickle into your work, and do you credit a lot of your success in your work because of the outside input that most people just don't ever get?
Brian Grazer: [00:59:51] Yes. I definitely do. I credit all of these curiosity conversations and just my most recent book, Face to Face, it's saying yes instead of no. When you walk past people to get to your office or the parking or the receptionist that's not even your receptionist, and if you're saying yes, I see you as a human being, and you go, "Hey!" It lives in a constellation of events in your consciousness that somehow then might seep into your subconscious state, but it gives you a competitive edge over other people. It gives you a tip on the jump ball because someone might say something in a conversation years later and you go, "Oh, wait a second. I remember it! The receptionist or the Uber driver talked about Systema!" And yeah, you know, it's just like all these dots connect. The more open you are to all of the dots in the constellation of dots that are available to you, that you continue to expand upon, the more opportunity you have.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:51] It makes sense. It goes along with what you said, and I can't remember if this is the first or the second book, were you said instincts have no value unless they are informed.
Brian Grazer: [01:00:58] Yes. I know.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:59] And I wish more people would listen to that. Because everyone now is like, "Well my intuition says..." And I'm like, "You're in your fifth marriage with a guy who's horrible and strange, like I don't know if you should be listening to your intuition. You should probably stop."
Brian Grazer: [01:01:17] Yes, "Why don't you read a book? Or see somebody? Get some help!"
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:20] It's like when George Costanza on Seinfeld, he goes, "I'm going to do the opposite of what George would normally." Do you remember that?
Brian Grazer: [01:01:25] Yes, of course.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:25] Yes, of course, everything starts working out in his life. It just makes sense.
Brian Grazer: [01:01:30] It's very funny. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:30] This is how we get better instincts. We inform our instincts not by like, going to study something in-depth, necessarily.
Brian Grazer: [01:01:36] This sounds very categorical, but in that space. The helicopter parents, which I might be classified as one of them. You know, parents have enough money and they care about their kids. They're overly protective. They say, "Trust your instincts." But if your kid doesn't read a book, don't trust your instincts. Read some books, read something, meet people, learn. But it's like in show business it's very magnified, because people go, "Why do you like that actor?" or "Why do you like that story?" "Because I trust my instincts." But your instincts aren't informed. You don't know anything.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:10] You're an attorney. Your instincts are enough. Your creative instincts are -- you went to law school.
Brian Grazer: [01:02:17] You read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, do that, and then come back and start trusting your instincts.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:22] Exactly. And I mean, Malcolm's latest book, he was on the show last week, Malcolm's latest book is all about, "Hey, your instincts? Probably totally wrong. People get shot because you think your instincts are correct and it's not really a good look."
Brian Grazer: [01:02:36] Yeah, it's true about him. Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:38] This well pretty well in my opinion, Brian. I know you've got to go in a few minutes, but my fear on the show is having a situation like you had with Isaac Asimov. You want to tell us about that?
Brian Grazer: [01:02:50] I love that story. Basically, we're both the same person. He and I are both curious people. I was a very curious person and I seek to meet Isaac Asimov, as you would seek to meet somebody. Isaac Asimov was the leading writer and probably the most prolific and both valid writer of science fiction.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:12] He had, like, dozens and dozens and dozens of books. He had so many -- so much work.
Brian Grazer: [01:03:16] He wrote like a book a month or so --
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:18] And they weren't even all science fiction. He had like books on -- textbooks and stuff. He was just an incredible guy.
Brian Grazer: [01:03:24] So I wanted to meet Isaac Asimov because of all these extraordinary accomplishments, because he was the esteemed Isaac Asimov. And so I flew across the country, coach seat because I wasn't Brian Grazer, then -- I was the beginning of Brian Grazer. Mini-Brian Grazer! And I meet with Isaac Asimov and his wife at the Ritz-Carlton Central Park in the bar. I'm remembering this. I sit down with he and his wife and they both order ginger ales. I do a quick exchange with both of them, starting off like I normally start up. I'm thinking I'm smart and she says, "Isaac, you know what? I don't think he knows your work well enough -- you know, like robotics and stuff -- I think we should get up and go right now."
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:16] Right in front of you.
Brian Grazer: [01:04:17] Right in front of me! They are having this conversation in front of me. And so, Isaac said, you know, like --
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:23] "You're the boss."
Brian Grazer: [01:04:25] Yeah, pretty much! "You're the boss!" And under five minutes, they just got up and left. They left. They said, "We're leaving," and they got up and they walked away. They couldn't do it. That was the end!
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:35] What did you take from that? I wouldn't --
Brian Grazer: [01:04:37] First, it was really embarrassing, and I felt like that was wrong of them. Years later, I thought, "They could have right. I didn't know enough and they could have suffered through it or we could have found commonality. But in order to write a book a month, you have to use your time wisely, and she said she could detect I didn't know enough about what he did for a living, and that's not respectful enough, and we're leaving. Goodbye." So I try to be well-researched.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:09] I envy people who can just do that.
Brian Grazer: [01:05:11] Oh, yeah, me too.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:12] I mean how many meetings have you sat through where you're like, "I knew two minutes in this was going to be a waste of time?"
Brian Grazer: [01:05:16] Many.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:17] Many! Especially in Hollywood. How many times in A Beautiful Mind did people have to remind Russell Crowe to just like "Hey, you're American! Speak with an American accent!" Because it's kind of like through the movie, he's just like not going to do that. He just talks in his own way
Brian Grazer: [01:05:32] In his own way, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:33] He's got like a little accent. You're like, "I don't think that's a Boston accent."
Brian Grazer: [01:05:36] Well, he'd just won an Oscar, so that made it tough. We hired him pre-Oscar, and then he won an Oscar for Gladiator, so now we were really on our toes. You can't really argue and go, "You don't know what you're doing, Russell!" You can't say that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:54] Yeah, he can just do him, and that's what I meant, I think --
Brian Grazer: [01:05:57] He was very good, by the way, but he did have that thing that you just said.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:58] It must be hard to take -- did you see little Gladiator kind of mannerisms on the professor at that point? I mean, it must be hard to switch cold turkey and jump into another character.
Brian Grazer: [01:06:12] Yeah. It's probably -- well, that it is probably hard. Because in order to be convincing as a character, you have to live in that character. You're not just memorizing. It's not a TED Talk or something.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:21] So you end up schizophrenic Gladiator genius. Kind of a weird mix. Kind of a weird mix to be around for, I don't know, a hundred hours a week or however long it takes to shoot a movie.
Brian Grazer: [01:06:32] Yeah, very long time.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:33] Brian, thank you very much! This was a really fun show!
Brian Grazer: [01:06:35] Sure!
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:38] Great big thank you to Brian Grazer. The link to the book will be in the show notes. It's called Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection. There's a video of this interview as well on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. And of course, there are also worksheets for each and every episode so you can review what you've learned today hear from Brian Grazer. Those are at jordanharbinger.com in the show notes. We also now have transcripts for each episode and those can be found in the show notes as well.
[01:07:03] We're teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. The problem with kicking the can down the road, you know doing it later, putting down for a minute, you can't make up for lost time when it comes to relationships and networking. The number one mistake is not digging the well before you get thirsty. So, make sure you build those relationships much like Brian did so when you need them, you can hit the big time. They take just a few minutes per day. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. Find it all for free at jordanharbinger.com/course. And by the way, most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course and the newsletter. So come join us and you'll be in great company. Speaking of building relationships, find me on social media at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram.
[01:07:50] And this show it's created an association with PodcastOne. This episode was produced by Jen Harbinger and Jason DeFillippo, edited by Jase Sanderson, show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty, music by Evan Viola, and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Our advice and opinions and those of our guests are their own; and yes, I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer, so do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. And remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting which should be in every episode. So, please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:08:33] A lot of people ask me which podcast and media I listen to. Of course, one of my favorite YouTube channels is Smarter Every Day. Then I've got Destin here with me from the channel. I always thought you know, if anything ever happens to that guy, God forbid, I'm taking that name.
Destin Sandlin: [01:08:45] Oh, yeah. It's a great name, and I will really fortunate to get that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:48] You were man. You thought ahead, and you've got a new podcast, which also has a great name, No Dumb Questions, also a great name. Actually, one of your recent episodes it's less science and more just right up my alley right now. It's called Congrats...On A Life with Chapters. And for somebody like me who just had a kid. This is very timely.
Destin Sandlin: [01:09:06] Oh, yeah, no doubt man. So, what was going on is I'm a father of four kids, man, and I was in a career. I was testing rockets for like 15 years. And then I got to this point where I'm like, man, it's time for something to change but I'm really kind of in the groove here. Like I know what I'm doing. I'm comfortable with it and from listening to your show, I know that you're all about self-improvement and stuff and I finally got to the point, I was like, you know, something has to change and so I decided to leave my job that I love to go, I don't know how to say it other than, like temp to level up like I went back to school. So right now, I'm a student with four kids and a kind of half of a career behind me. We call this call a different chapter in life. So, we call the episode Congrats...On a Life With Chapters, and we just discuss all those things. I mean, it's really hard to come up with a decision like that. I mean you've done that. You were a lawyer, right?
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It was a lawyer and then it was like, oh I'm going to teach guys how to meet and attract women and then it was like, whoa, this is really creepy and I'm not 25 anymore. So, I got to grow out of that. You know, I don't even know what I am now, that's probably why that episode resonated so well with me because I'm not even sure what the heck I'm doing and the more people I talked to who are like pushing 40 or just past 40. I realize man we just kind of all secretly winging it hoping nobody notices.
Destin Sandlin: [01:10:19] Of course we are and we all have imposter syndrome, every one of us. Yeah. I think there's an art to figuring out like when is one chapter coming to a close and what is it time to open up another chapter. And that's why I enjoy your program and I think people would like gaming that out with Matt and I. Matt's a humanities guy. I'm a science guy. We like to talk about different things in our lives. And yeah, I think people might enjoy that episode. So, thanks for letting me talk about it here. I really appreciate that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:44] Of course man, I will link to that episode specifically in the show notes and you can find No Dumb Questions the podcast anywhere you find your podcasts.
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