“When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man” – Jerry Weintraub and Rich Cohen

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Read this book. I think you’ll like. “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead” is the rags to riches story of Jerry Weintraub, a poor kid from the Bronx who ended up becoming one of the biggest players in Hollywood and the music industry.

At the age of twenty-six, he took Elvis on tour during the time when all Elvis was doing was making films. He launched John Denver into an international star, and produced the Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen later in his life.

It’s nice that this book doesn’t come off as an extended resume. The prose is friendly and direct and the stakes are often so high that it’s hard to put down. There’s some great storytelling in here, and Jerry often imbeds a crucial life lesson he’s learned from each story.

The reason I think reading “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead” was a valuable use of my time is that while reading these stories I got to spend time with a man who went far in making his grand visions happen – outlandish ideas he usually improvised in the moment and then proceeded to accomplish.

When trying to take Elvis on tour, he called up the Colonel – Elvis’ manager – every day for a year. No bite. One day the Colonel says, “You come to Las Vegas tomorrow, bring me a check for $1 million, and you can take Elvis on tour.”

I think one of the hidden lessons here is to be true to your vision, even if it forgoes some social rules. Wouldn’t you think it was crazy if someone called you up every day for a year? I think when you’re aiming for big things in life it’s going to take persistence and the ability to selectively tune other people out.

Optimism is focusing on what’s possible, after all.

And let’s face it. We’re animals. And it’s within our nature to take risks to survive and thrive. In modern living, which eliminates much of the risk out of living, some people are more in tune to risk-taking attitudes then others. Jerry’s one of them.

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