Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon -- none of them would have reached the summits they did if it weren't for the efforts of uber-producer Jerry Weintraub. To say he could sell ice to an Eskimo is a gross understatement. The kid from the Bronx without a college degree didn't just take Hollywood by storm, but the entire world -- and he's finally selling the secrets of his incredible powers of persuasion in a new book, When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead -- Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man.
In it, he tells the remarkable stories of how, when he was in his 20s, he convinced Colonel Parker to take Elvis on tour, and how he was so successful that the Chairman of the Board, Sinatra himself, recruited Weintraub to do the same thing for him. And how he also worked with Bob Dylan, The Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, the Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, John Denver and more.
And that's just in the music world. Weintraub also relates how he put together some of the most star-studded and successful film packages ever assembled, such as the Ocean's franchise, the Karate Kid franchise, Oh God!, Diner -- the list goes on and on, and includes a number of TV shows as well.
What's his secret? Well, he has a number of them, and they're surprisingly simple. In an exclusive with AOL, Weintraub shares these secrets with AOL readers.
Jerry Weintraub's top 5 tips on the art of persuasion
1. Be persistent.
Do not hear the word no. Almost every time I have a new idea, someone says, "No, that will never work." But to me, "no" is just an opportunity to convince someone to say "yes." When you hear "no," you say "What? Say that again, I didn't catch that." If someone says "Get lost," you say, "Go where?" Keep knocking, keep pitching, and the door will open for you.
2. Have conviction.
Act as if the result you want has already been achieved. When I first signed John Denver he had only one genuine hit, but I still called his next record John Denver's Greatest Hits, making it seem to the public as if he was already a star, like they'd known his music forever. They already loved him -- they always had. I knew Denver was a star; I could feel it, and I believed it. And the rest is history.
3. Respect yourself.
This is key. If you respect yourself, you will be treated with respect. Consider my relationship with the great Chicago power broker Arthur Wirtz. Wirtz was a huge man, 6-foot-6, all power, a very intimidating guy. When I first went to meet him, he made me wait outside his office for hours. He did not even look up when I finally walked in, just sat at his desk signing checks. Then, from the side of his mouth, he said, "Yeah, what d'ya want?" So you know what I said? I said "[bleep] you!" Why? Because he was not treating me with respect. He looked up at me and smiled. I was no longer one of the thousands of faceless nobodies asking him for a favor, but an individual. After that, we forged a relationship that lasted for years.
4. Be creative.
Think your way around problems, come up with novel solutions, improvise. If you think you have failed, you simply haven't thought hard enough. As an example, watch the animated video here about the first show I did with Elvis. I had 5,000 unsold seats in a 10,000 seat arena with only hours until showtime. Big problem. I was never going to find enough people to fill the seats. But I quickly realized a solution: not more people, but fewer seats. 5,000 to be exact, unscrewed from the floor and carried out the door. Voila. No more empty seats.
5. Go nuts.
I don't mean go crazy, I mean reach for the moon. Most people think that if it hasn't been done, it can't be done. But if it hasn't been done, that probably just means it hasn't been tried. This is the story of my life, the kid who tries what no one thought to try before: putting on concert tours in sports stadiums, selling the greatest hits of an artist that has only one hit, having the greatest singer in the world (Sinatra) perform in a boxing ring in the heart of New York City. Listen to me: It is OK to fail. Fail and fail, again and again. You learn by failing. And if you fail 10 times for every one success, then why not fail a thousand times? It will make your success into a legend.
At a youthful 72, Weintraub still has lots of new (and surprising) projects up his sleeve that could well become legends.
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