June 24, 2011

When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead

Photo credit: Better World Books

Just finished Jerry Weintraub's When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man.  It was a really enjoyable read.  The book isn't really structured as a continuous narrative.  As the subtitle suggests, it's really a collection of smaller stories that capture Weintraub's experiences at various points of his life and reveal insight into his perspective on life and work.  

This tweet first made me aware of When I Stop I Stop Talking:

I'm not in business and I don't know that I want to be an entrepreneur, but I thought I would at least look into it.

I looked up the book on Amazon and then decided to check it out at the library a few days ago.  The text moves along quickly because Weintraub's stories are so interesting.

He starts off by talking about growing up in the Bronx as the son of a jewelry salesman.  Then he goes on to relate stories of auditioning for Martha Graham, taking Elvis on tour, being mentored by Frank Sinatra and producing the Oceans 11, 12 and 13 movies.

Mixed in are various details about the risks and serendipitous circumstances that led Weintraub from one success to the next.  Everything from promising Elvis' manager $1 million, despite the fact that he had no idea how he would come up with the money; to faking a heart attack to get the rights to produce a Broadway play.

There are several stories that are almost too hard to believe, but they're still good stories and fun to read.  Here are a few quotes from the book that reveal the principles Weintraub carried throughout his life:
  • "You might have the greatest talent in the world, but it doesn't matter if you can't sell it."
  • "Relationships are the only thing that really matters, in business and life."
  • "You can evolve and grow but you should never resent your thing."
  • "You have to be willing to walk away from the most comfortable perch, precisely because it is the most comfortable."

When I Stop Talking is a really entertaining book.  Great stories and lessons from a guy who's lived a pretty interesting life.
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