Hello my DRIP family! An important announcement from Design Matters HQ! From now on, all DRIP supporters will be getting an AD-FREE PODCAST! Your support makes this possible and I want to thank you all very, very much! So without further ado, I hope you will enjoy this podcast with MICHAEL OVITZ.
Book titles range from the annoyingly abstruse to the awkwardly on-the-nose. And then every so often you come across one like Who is Michael Ovitz?—a title that does the rare feat of striking with simplicity at the pulsing undercurrent that permeates its subject.
Who is Michael Ovitz? is first an apt question for the public at large, fans of such films as Rain Man, Jurassic Park, Gandhi, Goodfellas and Ghostbusters, who likely have no clue as to the crucial man behind the movies.
Who is Michael Ovitz? is also something that has tipped the tongues of burgeoning actors and artists seeking to wrap their heads around a talent agent who often seems more a mosaic of Hollywood lore and legend.
Who is Michael Ovitz? is finally, well, a riddle Ovitz himself has studied for years.
Ovitz was raised in the San Fernando Valley of California, the son of a Seagram’s salesman who longed to open his own liquor store. Again and again, Ovitz’s father told told him about the merits of being in charge of his own domain and, thus, his own destiny. Meanwhile, Ovitz’s grandmother would imbue him with tales of his own possibility: that he could have a better future than his father. Whether or not these voices in his head played into it, as a kid Ovitz got a paper route. He hustled lemonade. He worked.
Early exposure to the universe of entertainment followed. As Ovitz details in his new memoir, his dad would occasionally pack the family up and ferry them off to Las Vegas, where they’d rent a $35 room at the Sands and see shows for the weekend.
Back home, at 9, he wandered a few blocks from where he lived and snuck into Howard Hughes’ RKO Pictures lot. From the actors in costume to the high-tech gear that abounded on the sets, his mind was blown. Later, as a teenager he got a job leading tours on Universal Studios’ backlot, where he obsessively absorbed every fact and detail he could, and fashioned himself into the company’s top tour guide capable of regurgitating his knowledge back at eager, thrilled guests. He took his act to 20th Century Fox and piloted the tour program at the company, bouncing back and forth between the studio and UCLA, where he was majoring in psychology, all the while outearning his father, pursuant to his grandmother’s prophecies.
After school, likely to no one’s actual surprise, Ovitz tried to figure out his way into the industry and applied for a job in the mailroom of William Morris, where he told the head of talent that he’d learn everything he needed to become an agent in three months—and if he couldn’t, well, he’d pay them back every dime he had earned. Soon he was out of the mailroom and working for a top William Morris executive, and then he found himself as a junior agent, picking up clients that would go on to have legendary Hollywood careers: Barry Levinson, Rob Reiner, Penny Marshall.
At the time, he considered himself “affable and considerate.” He and fellow agent Ron Meyer eventually broke off to start their own shop, Creative Artists Agency, where they built the business from the ground up—and where Ovitz and Meyer began refining burgeoning personas they had developed: good cop and bad cop.
Ovitz was the bad cop.
He and his team hustled mercilessly to forge their empire. And Ovitz, in his role, fostered a hard reputation.
“I was a Terminator,” he recounts. “When we built Creative Artists Agency, I’d get banged around, hurled through a wall, plaster dust exploding everywhere … and then I’d climb out from the rubble, red eyes glaring, and hurl my opponents through the wall even harder than they’d hurled me.”
Their work was indeed the stuff of legend: The firm never closed. They’d fight for their clients til the ends of the Earth, offering them not just film roles, but valuable services and appointments, luxurious gifts (Ovitz once handed the keys to his Ferrari over to Sylvester Stallone after the actor said he liked it). Sure, they could make your career—but they could also make your life itself better. And if all hell broke loose, well, they’d fix it.
Their client roster bloomed into a veritable Who’s Who: De Niro. Pacino. Madonna. Seinfeld. Scorsese. Spielberg. Kubrick. Streep. Cruise. Clapton. Letterman. Newman.
Meanwhile, Ovitz and his firm pioneered the concept of packaging an entire film using their talent, and then offering it to studios—flipping the industry paradigm on its head, and dramatically lessening the totalitarian authority the major houses exercised over films. The innovation subsequently led to some of the 20th century’s most notable flicks, including many of those mentioned at the beginning of this article.
But even that wasn’t enough. Ovitz and co. continued to charge forward, scoring a major coup and shaking up the advertising world by winning Coca-Cola’s business and launching the brand’s iconic polar bear campaign. After, CAA broke into other industries, all the while remaining obsessively loyal to their top film clients.
And it took a toll.
Ovitz had a “ruminative, vulnerable” side. But he bricked that up like a wall to the outside world. He gave all of his clients, all of his people, everything he had, as the unshakable agent who always delivered. And he did it, as was the company’s way, 24/7. As anyone who has spent time being a chameleon knows, when you’re something else for any meaningful length of time, you eventually forget who you are.
“Because I couldn’t afford to be human all day long—because I had to seem interested and attentive and farseeing and wise with everyone—it made me less human over time,” he writes. “I became insensitive, impatient, someone to be avoided if at all possible.”
Ovitz had seemingly crafted himself into an objectively unpleasant person, prone to the petty and the spiteful, and with the resources to truly ruin someone’s day if he so desired. And he terrified people.
Exhausted and seeking a way out of the cage he had built for himself, he devised a plan to work in the for-profit sector for a few more years before turning his attention elsewhere, and accepted Michael Eisner’s offer to take the helm of Disney alongside him—which he has said Eisner was trying to orchestrate for some time. It proved to be a disaster, as this episode of Design Matters details, and Ovitz soon found himself forced out of the company. And then, his opponents emerged to take him on and take him out.
“In 20 years I went from a complete unknown, to a comer, to being hailed as the most powerful man in Hollywood. After a few years of that, I became the most feared man in town. And once I left CAA, when it was safe for everyone to vent, I became the most hated,” he writes.
After starting a new agency and battling it out with the industry—at a cost of millions—Ovitz did a hard shift in his life and turned his focus to Silicon Valley, where he has forged a wildly successful second act, first with LoudCloud, and later with tech entrepreneurs Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz.
And perhaps most key, he seems to have sought to return to himself. To leave the persona in the past. To grow.
Today, having never met the Ovitz that struck both horror and elation into innumerable Hollywood hearts of the ’80s and ’90s, it’s hard to picture that agent of yesteryear. He projects elegance with a gentlemanly sheen. If anything, he comes across as sweet. All words that might have seemed blasphemous to the hard-edged agent in his prime.
One wonders if today he looks back upon his past with remove and the same wonderment he felt gazing upon the Howard Hughes backlot. Another universe.
Ovitz serves as a reminder that you can indeed craft the person that you are—and a dire warning about what you craft. (As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”)
Perhaps Ovitz’s most important lesson, though: In life, there are multiple acts.
So who is Michael Ovitz?
—Zachary Petit, Design Matters Media Editor-in-Chief
Debbie: Michael Ovitz changed the business of show business. In 1975, with a $21,000 loan, he co founded Creative Artists Agency which quickly became the world's leading talent agency. As a leader of CAA, Michael's clients included Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand, and Steven Spielberg but Ovitz has never been a mere Hollywood mogul. Over the years, he's deployed his deal making skills in advertising, finance and philanthropy. In other words, MO has had a remarkable and very public career. He tells his side of the story in a new Memoir, Who Is Michael Ovitz? Michael, welcome to Design Matters.
Michael: Thank you so much.
DM: Michael, I understand that at one point in your adult life you washed your hands 30 times a day.
MO: Not at one time, all the time.
DM: So still, you still do that?
MO: Yes, I'm a germophobe.
DM: You also I believe, insisted that your assistants not touch your food?
MO: I was paranoid about getting sick, is really, it's actually quite practical. It wasn't any phobia, I just didn't want to get sick. Getting sick for me was lost time. I was marveled at physicians when they would see 50 patients a day and not get sick. Then I realized what they were doing is they're washing their hands before, and after every single patient that they would see. So I adopted that protocol completely for practical reasons.
DM: Are you a big fan of hand sanitizer now?
MO: I don't know that it works, but I try.
DM: You were born in Chicago, you grew up in California, San Fernando Valley. Your dad was a Seagram's liquor salesman, who worked seven days a week, 365 days of the year. He had hoped to open his own liquor store but never did, and taught you that you needed to be in charge of your destiny instead of working for someone else. How much of an impact did that have on you?
MO: Well, I think it had a huge impact on me. I mean, I watched my dad as what they would call in Japan, a salary man. He made a very small living, he worked really hard but he always wanted to work for himself, and never could get the money together to buy a liquor license and open a liquor store which was his life's ambition. For me, what became instantly clear and not just from his discussing with me, but just watching it and being around him and his friends. Those of his friends who work for themselves just had it better, and they were all manual blue collar workers. One was a plumber, one was a postman. No one were professional people, but the plumber for example had his own plumbing business. Was small, two men organization but no one told them what to do. I used to watch my dad struggle with the people that he worked for, and it was simple signal for me. Don't do that.
DM: You were a Cub Scout growing up and I understand that when you were nine, you not only got one Paper Route, you actually got two. Why so many?
MO: Well, I guess I was a little possessed at nine years old. I actually needed the money on a weekly basis, because my parents didn't have any money. So whatever I would make is what I used for spending money, and I realized that the tract of Jason to where we lived, where I had a Paper Route became available. I asked for it and they gave it to me, and frankly I added on another 45 minutes and doubled my take.
DM: When you were also nine years old, I guess nine years old was a fairly formative year for you, you discovered the world of movies. I was wondering if you can share with us what you found just four blocks away from your house.
MO: We lived in a tract house in the San Fernando Valley, and four blocks from us was the RKO studios. Let's remember, this was a time when there was no such thing as terrorism. There is no such thing as heavy security, there was no such thing as fences really to speak of. So we would go over there, especially during daylight savings time. There after we did our work, usually get done around 5:00, 5:30 and go over there and catch the tail end of them filming these half hour television shows that RKO was making. They were in black and white, and it was just absolutely fascinating. Of course, we always got thrown off a lot, but they weren't mean about it and they knew we'd come back soon and we did. Probably twice a week, we would go over, sneak in, go to a different set, try to blend in which was impossible at that age, and watch. As I look back, it was a major influence on me without me even knowing it.
DM: In 1965 as a teenager, you got the first job you actually wanted. Music Corporation of America was restarting its tour program on Universal Studios Backlot. As you were putting yourself through college, you worked every spare hour. I guess one could argue that this really wasn't even the beginning of the evidence of your drive, given how many Paper Routes you were doing and Cub Scouts at nine years old. What do you think at that time was driving you so hard?
MO: It was always the same thing, it was always finance. I had to put myself through college, so I had to work full time. I actually worked almost 60 hours a week when I was in UCLA. It took its toll, but it was worth it to me because I actually was earning quite a bit of money at the time, for someone who was in school. It allowed me to put myself through school, have extra money and I needed to save money to get myself prepared for what might be coming up.
DM: You majored in psychology at UCLA. Why psychology?
MO: Well, I had a major in psychology and minor in business, and it was originally the other way around. I decided that it was really important for me to understand how people would process things, and think, and what really drove them, and what were the real, real reasons that people behave the way they did. I could see that whatever I did, whether I was a box boy at the local supermarket, I was a paper boy, or I was a tour guide, everything was about relationships with people and how they behaved. I wanted to know what caused their behavior, including my own by the way.
DM: You graduated from UCLA in three years in 1968. You then married your college sweetheart, Judy, and you applied to three different talent agencies. William Morris, Creative Management Associates and Jay Walter Thompson. What motivated you to be a talent agent in the first place? Interesting, your parents really wanted to get to be a doctor?
MO: Well, I actually was premed for a very short period of time at UCLA. When I was working at universal, I got hired away to go work at Fox which was a total accident. I actually ran the tour department at Fox, and had 75 people working for me. I wasn't 21 yet.
DM: Was that when you were making $600 a week?
MO: Yes, and that really cemented everything for me. The other thing that cemented something for me is I remember being in UCLA in a lecture hall at 8:00 AM lecture. I took 8:00 AM classes so I could get to work by 9:30. I remember being in a lecture hall with about 400 kids, and I remember writing furiously notes on this lecture. I looked around, no one was writing a note. When we were done, I went up to one of the kids and he was really very nice and I said, "Is it me or what's the deal? Why was no one taking notes?" He looked at me and said, "Well, it's also elementary." That was the end of my premed career right there, and it didn't take much to push me over.
DM: So why a talent agent? What gave you the-
MO: Well, you know it wasn't just a talent agent, you mentioned the third company you mentioned was-
DM: J. Walter Thompson, yes.
MO: The advertising agency. So I decided I wanted to be in something that had to do with creativity, whether it be talent or marketing, branding which you're very familiar with. Something that was creative, something that created IP.
DM: I understand that a mere three months later, at your very first job, you were working for the top Morris Executive in Los Angeles. A few months after that, you were promoted to junior agent. However, you were really unhappy because despite the promotion, you had missed a self-imposed deadline for your trajectory. Can you talk a little bit about what that deadline was, and why you were putting yourself under that kind of pressure?
MO: I've always set goals for myself, I'm very goal oriented and I've done this my entire life.
DM: What was the goal, because within 120 days you needed to be at a certain point with a certain number of clients? You had never done this before, and yet you were creating these audacious goals for yourself.
MO: The 120 days was a stunt. I mean it was completely done to get myself a job. I went in for, I knew I had an interview coming. I spent a month trying to get this interview with the head of HR at William Morris, and I needed to differentiate myself from everybody else. So I needed to go in and do something outrageous. I came up with this idea when I read in their handbook, it's a three year training program, I came with this idea that I could do the program on 120 days. By the way, I had no idea what the program was, I had no idea if I could do it 120 days. I didn't know anything, but I was looking to say something that was a little shock and all.
I went in and I said this to the gentleman who was head of HR, and I got a reaction which was a great lesson for me. He started laughing so hard, he literally fell off his desk chair. He said, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." The minute he said that, I knew I had the job because I moved him. It didn't matter that I moved him to laughter or to tears, it made no difference but he said to me, "You're hired." He said, "You'll never do it in 120 days." I said, "If I don't, you get your money back."
DM: So how close did you come and how did you respond to your own, I guess I hate to even use the word, failure at making this happen?
MO: Well, I wanted to become an agent in 120 days and I didn't.
DM: Well, junior agents.
MO: Junior, I hate that word junior and at CAA, we eliminated that. You're either, you were a partner period or an agent, and/or agent and that was it. So I actually made it in six months, and I got very lucky in that I put myself out in front of the senior executives at the Morris Office. By staying late, I discovered by accident that the president of the company would go to dinner with the founder at 6:30 every night. He came back at a quarter to eight, literally by 8:00 at the latest every single night. So the call time was 9:00 AM. I came in at 7:00, sometimes 6:30. At 6:30 at night when everyone went home or 7:00, I went positioned myself at the first desk on the executive floor on a secretarial desk, and just sat there and worked. Lo and behold, the president of the company would come back and sure enough, three, four days into this, he needed something. It's 9:00 at night, so who are you going to call? Not Ghostbusters?
DM: I was going to say, don't make me say it.
MO: I couldn't help myself. So he came out of his office and he came up to me and said, "I need you to help me with something." He didn't ask, he told me. I couldn't have been happier. So what he asked me to do, I did to the hundredth power and then he invited me each night to do something else. Then it was more and more and more. Three weeks later, his assistant called in sick, and he made a specific phone call to the HR department asking for me to be his fill-in assistant. I went in and he wasn't used to someone being there 14 hours with him, because he came in early as well and he left really late.
I came in earlier than he did, I left later than he did. I arranged everything for him from things that were important on his desk, to things that were less important. I answered letters for him, did drafts for him. I made his life really much easier, and he saw that and he thought that the way that I functioned showed some promise. So he promoted me pretty quickly.
DM: You started this description about your relationship with him by saying that you got lucky. I'm not really sure what luck had to do with any of that.
MO: Look, who knew he was going to come out of his office? It was a guess I had. If he didn't come out of his office or he didn't need anything, who knows. In those days, I don't know if you remember but we used to have a thing called paper.
DM: Yes. I'm a lot older than I look.
MO: Well, you don't look old enough to remember. We had a thing called a mimeograph machine.
DM: Yes, I did that in college.
MO: There were hundreds and hundreds of pages of mimeographed mail.
DM: That blue ink.
MO: It just sat on the desk and then he'd come back to the office at night, and he'd start to go through it and I watched what he did. He wrote little notes to the senders at the top right hand corner of each piece, and put it right back in the mail. Occasionally, he would come to things that needed to be copied, or needed another answer on. There was no Google, which means someone had to go find an answer for him. I became his answer man.
DM: Legendary screenwriter Barry Levinson, was your first client. Your very first client. How did you convince him to hire you to be his agent without any previous clients?
MO: I'm home one night, it's Saturday night, it's 11:30 and I'm watching a television show which is the precursor. I mean really early precursor to Saturday Night Live. It was hosted by two local disc jockeys, Lohman and Barkley. I'm watching the show, it's about 10 to 12:00 at night. All of a sudden, some guy comes out as the roller skating rabbi. I'm looking at this and there's very little dialogue, and I can't stop laughing. So I watched the crawl and it says, "Roller's getting rabbi Barry Levinson." Monday morning I call him up at NBC, the local NBC station. I asked for Barry Levinson and lo and behold, he gets on the phone. I said, "My name is MO. I'm with the William Morris Agency. You don't know me but I know you. I saw you, I think you're fantastic. I'd like to meet with you." He had just come into town. He didn't have an agent, he didn't know anybody.
DM: So this is pre diner, pre, yes.
MO: Pre everything. He was just sketch writing for a local one market TV show. We started talking and he signed with me immediately, and he was my first client.
DM: In 1975, you and several of your colleagues including Mike Rosenfeld, Ron Meyer, and William Haber, among others, decided to defect from William Morris and start your own agency. Why?
MO: Well we were, this all goes back to a very simple meeting we were all in. There were these weekly staff meetings where everyone was allowed to attend, and this was a weekly television meeting. The film meetings were separate. They didn't believe in blending motion pictures and television, which by the way we felt was a giant mistake the way the business was going. We felt that artists could cross over but putting that aside, we were in a meeting and it was an apocryphal meeting for us. I was sitting in the back of the room with Ron Meyer, and all the executives would sit at the table in the very same seats. We would sit as far back as we could intentionally to make a point, a relevancy point. It was almost, we're back here, we're not relevant but we really are because we're young and we understand what's important right now.
We had an incident where the president who I worked for made a big announcement that he had signed a song and dance lady named Ann Miller. Not an untalented woman, but a woman in her late 50s who was mostly Broadway. We were sitting trying to figure out how to sign movie stars. How do you sign Paul Newman? How do you sign Bob Redford? How do you sign Dustin Hoffman? How do you sign Al Pachino? How do you sign Bob De Niro? Not how do you sign Ann Miller? With the William Morris Agency, we have extraordinary client list, we should be feet up. Ronnie to his credit, raised his hand and got into it with all the senior executives that this was a mistake for the image of the company. They pushed back really hard, and really gave him blow back. When we were leaving, we found ourselves sitting in a room talking saying this is a bad direction for the business. That was the beginning of the end.
DM: You set up shop in a small office in Century City with folding chairs, and card tables and you were hoping to create a medium size full service agency, share proceeds equally, and do without nameplates on doors, formal titles or individual client lists. You even had corporate guidelines such as be a team player and return phone calls promptly. Did you write all of those guidelines, or was it a joint venture?
MO: We did it together, we had a whole work together at William Morris. We knew what to do and what not to do.
DM: With the goal of creating a midsize agency, especially given how goal oriented you'd been, were you surprised at how fast it all grew and how much of a behemoth it ultimately became?
MO: Ron and I weren't surprised. We had a game plan from the beginning. The concept of being a mid size full service company was really not our concept. That was a joint discussion we all had. We wanted to build a talent agency that dominated the talent business, and we had this thesis that we want to represent 100% of the town. Didn't say it too much because it sounded so insanely over the top, but the reality was it was a good goal, a good goal. We wanted to represent anyone who was talented, and we wanted them all under the same roof. The reason we wanted them all under the same roof was to give them leverage, because the studios, networks, publishers, record companies were in the driver's seat.
They had the money, they had the distribution. There were huge barriers to entry. Today, not so much. Today, we're doing a podcast. There is no distribution. You just put it up and you get eyeballs and if it's good, people listen. If it isn't, it goes by the wayside. In those days, if you didn't have access to those distributors, you had nothing. So our goal was to flip the power curve, and bring it back to the talent.
DM: Within a week of starting your business, you sold the game show called Rhyme and Reason, and The Rich Little Show, and Creative Artists Agency, CAA was officially on the map. Over the next 20 years, you worked with actors, including Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Bette Midler, Tom Cruise, and Meryl Streep. Comedians and talk show hosts, including Bill Murray and pretty much the entire cast of the original Saturday Night live, David Letterman and directors including Steven Spielberg. The aforementioned Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone, Ron Howard, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese.
You also orchestrated the making of many films that are now considered classics from Tootsie, The verdict, and The Color of Money to Dances with Wolves and Schindler's List to Ghostbusters and Rain Man. All of these incredible stories and many, many more are contained in your remarkable new Memoir, Who Is MO? So before I continue with my questions, I want to ask you, what made you decide to write this book at this particular time?
MO: I didn't decide this recently, I've been working on this for 10 years. We represented a lot of fantastic authors and I never gave that up, and did a lot of work for Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton, Stephen King, really brilliantly talented authors. So I had relationships at the publishing houses, and one of the publishers suggested that I take 10 deals that I did, and do a book that they titled, Working Title 10 deals. I liked that idea of writing them down, and particularly wanted to do it before I had early Alzheimer's. So I sat down, started making notes and as I turned in the notes and turned into pages, I got to asked more questions and then more questions and more questions and I kept writing. I kept filling in space about between the deals or what made the deal happen.
Then I started filling in stories that I remembered. Then about four years ago, my daughter in law got pregnant. My oldest son's wife and I said to myself, "My God, I'm going to have a grandson. I think I better write everything down and I better say how I feel." I then took what I had and started to reshape it, and play with it over the last four years.
DM: Why the title, Who Is Michael Ovitz?
MO: It's a very good question. The title is based on me coming to a point in my life where I wanted to know who I was, what I did, why I did it. Could I have done it differently? Could I have done it better? Could I have done it worse? Why did I do what I did? I started to get that when I was writing between the deals, if you understand what I'm saying.
DM: Absolutely. The thing that I'm struck by is how candidly vulnerable, and self aware you are in the book. You're highly critical of a lot of your own behavior and motivations, and seemed to be seeking an understanding not only of your behavior, but why people do what they do which is what I found so fascinating about the book.
MO: Well, thank you. For me, it's important that one understands that I went through a period where it wasn't winning at all costs, period. There was a lot of collateral damage to that. I felt that in a service business, one had to be all knowing, had to have a lot of information and could show no vulnerability. That in the chain, if there was a weak link, the chain broke and the service business would spiral. I felt very strongly about this and I was completely, completely myopic about it.
DM: How much of that was based on how you felt about yourself?
MO: It's really interesting, it had little to do with anything personal. It was all about a business idea, was all about let's be invulnerable. Let's be the all knowing, let's be in a position where we have all the cloud, all the leverage where we bring the game back to the talent. The game was always on the other side, and our goal was to try something different. Let's not let talent sell themselves short. Let's not let them take their IP and auction it to the highest bidder. Let's take that IP, and put them together with other pieces of talent that can expand that IP. Make it more valuable, and then bring the whole package if you will, to the people that put up the money but not until. You never saw, almost ever, out of CAA an auction for a singular piece of material, or an actor, or a director. It didn't exist.
DM: In many ways, you rebranded the way that artists and talent were positioning themselves in the marketplace.
MO: Our goal was that every artist become self sufficient, so we created production companies for hundreds of our clients, hundreds of them. They had their own little businesses, and they developed projects for themselves. They would take projects that were offered to them as well, but our goal was to have a mix. When we started in the agency business, which at the time was a lazy business, there wasn't a lot of turnover. Clients didn't leave their agents, there wasn't a lot of poaching. It wasn't a very aggressive business except in the format of being an agent, but it was mostly a phone order business. Someone would pick up the phone, say, "Is Ms. Millman available?" You'd say yes or no. How much is it? Can she work these dates? That was taboo for us.
We felt if someone called us with an offer for someone, we were doing a terrible job that we had to be in control of everything. Control aggressive behavior, go hand in hand. When you do them the way we did, we developed it as a science, and we knew how to use all of those tools.
DM: You've written that you taught your agents to reach for the club every single day, but to never pick it up and said, "Power is only power until you exert it. It's all perception." I'm wondering if you can elaborate on that. I found that to be spooky and fascinating, and scary all at the same time.
MO: Well, the word power itself is a misnomer to me. I don't think anybody has any power. I think maybe the president of the United States has power, because he can push a button but at the end of the day, power is only the perception of what people think you can do because when you start to do it, you lose the power. I always told the agents that we had this giant club, and the minute their hand touches that club, they lose. They lose, it's got to be the perception that that club is there and you can wield it but if you use it, it's a problem.
DM: Speaking of perception, when you first started CAA, you and your partners took out a car loan and bought five Jaguars for $1,500 down each.
MO: $15,000 each.
DM: Didn't you have to put only $1,500 down?
MO: Yes, we put $1,500 down, that's correct. My God, you've read the book.
DM: You ordered CAA license plates, followed by a hyphen and the partners initially. So the first vanity plates you described it as a rank extravagance for a company that would file zeros on its tax returns for its first three years, but in the city of fantasy, a big show was essential. Do you think that that would work now?
MO: No chance, but in those days the power of perception was extraordinary and everyone live this crazy lifestyle. When we were at William Morris, they had a pecking order for cars. If you were a senior, senior person, you got a Cadillac. If you were in the middle of the company, you got a Buick. If you were in the low end of the company like I was, you got like a Ford Mustang. So we decided we're going to just go ahead and we're going to take all of that perception, and we're going to change it. Buying a foreign car was a big to do in those days.
DM: You were projecting something you wanted other people to see about you and they believe it.
MO: Absolutely, we wanted them to think we were successful. The funny thing is we could barely afford the payments.
DM: You described CAA as a fortress, one that worked 24/7 for its clients. All talented, four or five agents on them versus just one. You had a reputation for working longer and harder, not Surprising given your origins at William Morris, and giving clients literally anything they needed from a gig to an appointment with the best doctor in the city, to incredible gifts. Is it true, Michael, that when Sylvester Stallone said he liked your Ferrari, you gave him the title to the car?
MO: That is true.
DM: Why? Did he accept it?
MO: He accepted it gladly, and he should have by the way. Sylvester Stallone, who was Ron Meyer's client, was paying us a small fortune or commission. I mean we charge-
DM: That was back in the first rocky movie days.
MO: He was making 10, $15 million a picture. We were getting 10% of that. It was a small thing that I could do for him.
DM: The stories of making movies like Rain Man, and Tootsie, and The Color of Money in the book are extraordinary, but you also did so much more. CAA also entered the advertising space and worked with companies like Coca Cola, where you were responsible for creating their massively popular polar bear characters, which are still in use today. What made you decide to do that, and can you tell our listeners how you won Coke's business, because frankly that is one of the best parts of the book? The whole story about what you did to win that business is classic.
MO: Basically, I came in everyday and when I put the key in the door, I knew I had this giant over head. So every day I tried to think what can we do to expand? What can we do to provide better service for the clients? What can we do to provide jobs for the clients? What can we do to keep our agents really interested in what's going on? Completely by accident, I met the guys that ran Coca Cola, Roberto Goizueta, who passed away. One great guy and his partner Don Keough also passed away. CEO and COO of the company. They bought Columbia pictures and I will never forget, Don was an amazing man. I remember sitting at the Allen Conference, Herb Allen gave a conference every year.
I remember sitting on Herb's porch with Roberto and Don, and they were being incredibly open that Pepsi was really eating their market share. Pepsi had a fantastic ad agency in B.B.D.& O and they had created the Ray Charles singers. You had these commercials coming on with Ray Charles playing away hot music, with three really attractive young women singing back up for him, and dancing. It just struck a chord with younger people. So Roberto says, "What would you do?" Which was probably a mistake for him to say to somebody like me. I said, "Let me think about it." I did. I went away and I thought about it. I called him back and I said, "I'd like to come in for a meeting with the 12 worldwide department heads, and I'm going to bring 10 executives from different demographics from our company."
So I brought people from every division of the company. People that had different takes on entertainment, on ads, on daily life. We went and spent a full day in Atlanta, and we listened to what they had to say. Went back and we designed this concept that we would do 30 to 40 commercials a year for the same price they did seven, by taking control of it. Not forming it out and using our clients to produce and direct. Then also outsourcing things that would keep our overhead down like animation. I went back and I said, "We're going to do this like a relay race." So we're going to do first of the year is hopeful. We're going to come into Valentine's Day and do love. We're going to go into April and do family around Easter. Come to the summer and we're going to do refreshment.
Come to the fall, it's back to school. November, thanksgiving family. Christmas, refreshment, snow polar bears. I said, "We're going do it like a relay race." They loved the idea. They had 370 plus account executives at McCann Erickson working on the account. They put us into what's called a shootout with them.
DM: In the same room, you presented to each other in the same room.
MO: Same room, and I had the most extraordinary team. I had a woman named Shelly Hochron who ran marketing at both Columbia and Paramount. She had done a genius campaign for Warren Beatty's movie, Reds. It was very unique and different. I had a young man named Len Fink, who was the number two guys shy a day in LA which was a great, as you know Boutique Agency and we prepped. We did 30 commercials. I bought Armani suits for Shelly and Len. Bill Haber, my partner came with and the four of us went into that room. We were in there, we were up for breakfast, checking out the room at 8:00 AM feeling really comfortable. Knew our stuff, and 10:30, the other side hadn't shown up. 11:00 they hadn't shown up, and at about 11:30, about 30 very tired people who had flown from New York that morning came into the room.
We flipped a coin to see who would go first. They won and they thought going second was best, was the greatest thing that ever happened to us because we wanted to go first, but they won the coin toss. They let us go first. Shelly and Len, and Bill were so good. So good that by the time I made the closing statement, there was no competing with us. As a matter of fact, we did such a good job that the other group stopped presenting.
DM: They stopped in the middle.
MO: They stopped in the middle, they just-
DM: Gave up.
MO: They gave up. I mean we just did a terrific job.
DM: It's incredible.
MO: But it's all preparation.
DM: It's an incredible part of the book.
MO: No different than anything else in life. Great movies, great preparation. Great sporting teams, great preparation. Great ad campaigns, great preparation. We were prepared. We did, and we just had quality work.
DM: It's still being used today.
MO: Still being used today, quite proud of it.
DM: With all of this success, you weren't very public. You described yourself like this, "Mike Ovitz was a potent boogeyman, because he wasn't a person. He was a specter. I avoided red carpets, I'd enter and leave parties through the back door. I kept the rights to almost all photos of me. I didn't do any press for the first 10 years, and very little after that." Why?
MO: I felt that it was a mistake to take a profile ahead of the client. I also felt that I had no upside in doing publicity, or creating a profile for myself. The only thing that could happen is I could go down. There wasn't any positive benefit of doing it. In retrospect, I was probably wrong, but I decided also since I was performing an act, Ron Meyer and I made a decision that one of us was going to be good cop, and one of us was going to be bad cop.
DM: Was it a coin toss, or did you just willingly take the bad cop?
MO: No, no, no, no. We made the decision that I would be the bad cop. The weird thing is when we worked as a team at William Morris, we were both good cops. I was a good cop for the first three, four years of the business. When we decided to go into the Motion Picture business, we decided that we needed to play off each other and we did.
DM: Do you think that a bad cop is always required in a corporate setting?
MO: I can't answer that. It was required in the business we had. You're dealing, you're constantly dealing with people. You're dealing with crowds and you're corralling different entities, and it so complicated the agency business. People that aren't in the business don't understand how complicated the creative business is. I mean the reality is someone walks into your office, says, "I have an idea." They tell you the idea, you have to be able to decide right then and there, how does the idea look? Who should be in it? Who can execute it? Where are you going to get the money for it? Does someone else have the same idea? Is something like this in development elsewhere? There's so many things you have to think about. What I loved about the business was just that process.
Some creative person comes in and pitches you an idea, and it ends up being a record, or a movie, or a television show, or a concert, or a book. It's the most extraordinary thing to this day. I'm mesmerized by the talent that creative people have, that they can actually do it but our job was to assist. Can it be done? Can we get you the money? Can we put it together? So it really was a lot of smoking mirrors, and coupled with knowledge, and information and what I call frame of reference, which means you had to know everything all the time.
DM: You had a public persona and a private persona that almost seemed diametrically opposed to each other. I'd like to read one passage of the book which is extremely candid, and self deprecating. "My clients played characters onscreen, I played them offscreen. 99 out of 100 people, their act is who they are, but anomalies like me manufacturer their characters from bits and pieces of those they're with, reflecting them back to themselves. I was a chameleon, becoming whomever I needed to be to make everyone comfortable and close the deal. My basic character was buttoned up, omniscient, wise, loyal, indomitable, but I could be a sports car officiant auto with Paul Newman, just as easily as I could discuss fiscal policy with Felix Rohatyn, the banker, or dive into the specifications of the Walkman with Akio Morita, the head of Sony.
So to those I worked with, I was a control freak. A shape shifting machine, a terminator. Yet the private me, the one only my closest friend saw was ultra sensitive to every slight, and constantly concerned about threats from every direction. This me, the man with back pain and uneasy memories, wandered into my living room to look at Jasper Johns's white flag his 1955 masterpiece." So Michael, why such an abyss between who you were publicly and privately? It seems like the private person was quite a lovely person, but yet you were hiding him.
MO: That person, I didn't think would be successful with that business, period. It's not anymore complicated than that. I didn't think that the person that I thought was, was going to make it in a cutthroat business. Let's not forget that traditionally, the entertainment business is one of the most cutthroat businesses in the world. Everyone's vying for something they most likely are not going to get. Think about when we cast Tootsie, the director and the star sat in a room and interviewed close to 300 actresses.
DM: For the Jessica Lange part?
MO: Yes. Think about that. You come in, you've worked so hard as an actress to get ready for this. You think about what you're going wear, what you're going to say and you read your scene. You're going in to see Dustin Hoffman and Sydney Pollack, and you look at their background and you say, "My God, they're just, they've done amazing work. I really need this part." You have a one out of 300 chance, and none of them got the role.
MO: None of them got the role, it went to an established actress. Originally the role was going to go to a less established actress. That is a tough, tough business and then you have to come back and do it again with someone else. So I walked into a business that was cutthroat dog eat dog. This business is tough or get out. It's still that way and it's been that way since it started 100 years ago.
DM: After calls and meetings day in and day out, and being so many things to so many people, wherever they needed, making you a true chameleon, you write that when you got home, you had no clue who you actually were. You also write that, "Because I couldn't afford to be human all day long, because I had to seem interested and attentive and foreseeing and wise with everyone, it made me less human over time. I became insensitive, impatient, someone to be avoided if at all possible." So Michael, as you became the most powerful man in Hollywood, it seems like you lost the best parts of yourself.
MO: It's so interesting. I used to marvel at my clients that would go out, and become a character in a film. Some of them handled it by never turning the character off, and staying the character through the whole movie. I remember going on sets where I'm talking to someone who's still in character. You look at their face and you know them, and you're talking to them, but they're talking through another person. It happened to me, it just happened to me. I would come home, it would take me an hour and a half to come down, to go back to who I was. It was very difficult.
DM: You go on to state that you kept your emotions a secret even to your closest friends like Dustin Hoffman, and you state, "I never wanted to show anyone even Dustin, the strength of my feelings because I worried that emotions were a fatal weakness." Do you still feel that way?
MO: No, I'm pretty open or I wouldn't be sitting here.
DM: Yes, that's it. Good point.
MO: I came to that realization late in my life but to me, being emotional, being vulnerable, those are taboo. You can't do that if you're running a business like I was running. There were too many variables, so there needed to be consistency.
DM: How did you change? How did you get to this place today?
MO: Well, I worked pretty hard at it. First of all, I came out of the business. It took me 10 years to get to the point where I could start to write the book and then while I wrote it, it was incredibly cathartic. I can honestly say I feel the best I've ever felt right now, means I'll probably drop dead when I walk into the street here on [inaudible 00:43:07].
DM: Please don't say that, Michael. No, no.
MO: I feel really good because I feel like I've just come through the other end. It's taken a long time.
DM: You were also quite candid about your insatiability, and you write about how well your fear of poverty receded. You were like an athlete who wanted to keep topping himself, setting new records and you state, "There'd be the adrenaline rush when we sent out the internal memo, Robert Redford is now a client. 15 minutes later it was, what next? In 1979 when I was 33, Ted Ashley at Warner Brothers took me aside and said, 'I'm going to give you some great advice.' He grinned ruefully, 'And knowing you, you're not going to take it, but here it is.' I could have worked 10% less and it wouldn't have made a difference in my professional success, but I would have been a lot happier." You go on to write that Ted was absolutely right on both counts. It was great advice, but you didn't take it. I want to know why?
You also go on to say, "I see now that I could have worked as much as 20% less, and it wouldn't have cost me. If I'd even work 10% less across 30 years, that's three whole extra years of life I'd have enjoyed." So what kept you striving so hard? How did you metabolize that success so quickly, that 15 minutes after signing Robert Redford, you needed the next big hit?
MO: I never enjoyed the victory, ever. To me, a victory was just the end of something that needed to be begun again. I remember I was involved in the sale of Universal to Matsushita Electric, and worked for a year and a half on it. A close friend, Herb Allen the second who was the banker on the deal and taught me so much. We had done several other deals together. He looked at me, he said, "You should enjoy this now." And I didn't. I went out that night, had dinner and started talking to them about what was the next company that we could sell. It was behind me, it was done. It was over. Now that came from a place of growing up in the San Fernando valley, and living in a very, very what I consider to be substandard lifestyle. I didn't want that lifestyle. I didn't want to be my dad.
It's funny, I was talking to a close friend of mine whose father is incredibly wealthy. He grew up with a very wealthy, successful father. I grew up with a terrific father who was not wealthy or successful. We both feel the exact same way, but for slightly different reasons, I didn't want to be my dad and this guy wants to be better than his dad. So there's things that drive us and the psychology of it isn't apparent when you're in the middle of the fight. When Ted Ashley, who was the chairman, CEO of Warner Brothers pictures and a former agent, who built a giant agency, Ashley-Famous. When he said to me, "You could back off 10%," it went in one ear and out the other. Then I realized way down the road that the momentum that we created could have carried us where I could have backed it off 25%, because people felt we were doing what we were doing, whether we were doing it or not. It didn't make any difference. That's what he was trying to tell me. Couldn't see it, I was blind as a bat.
DM: Now that you've learned this all, if somebody with the remarkable career that you've had was still pushing themselves because it's never good enough. What advice would you have for somebody that's just out there now, making a career for themselves that feels this way, that's driven because and their foundation, they don't feel good enough without it? What would you tell them? What advice could you give?
MO: They've got to be in touch with themselves, they've got to take a step back constantly. I didn't ever take a step back and it was a mistake, and they've got to celebrate their successes and analyze their loses. Without the ability to step back, appreciate what you've done, or criticized what you've done and be open about it, but to slow it down occasionally. There's a saying which is so trite, stop and smell the roses. Trite but true.
DM: You frequently told your agents, "Make your clients think they're your friends, but remember that they're not." Yet, it would be your clients who would stay loyal for the most part, and your friends who were ultimately going to betray you. One of the biggest betrayals came around the time you were 48. You were burned out at CAA, and looking for one last job before you turned to government or nonprofit work. In the book, you talk about how tired you were. I was wondering if you'd read that particular section for us. I think it'd be so much more powerful if you read it, as opposed to me reading it.
MO: I will do it because you're the hostess.
DM: Thank you.
MO: You're in control, so I'm going to do whatever you're doing.
MO: So it goes like this, "I never stopped loving artists and the creative process. I never lost my fascination for the magic of making something from nothing, but agenting was a young person's game and you could run just so long and so far. At 48, having run since my first day at William Morris, I was tired. I was tired of getting up at 6:00 AM and squeezing in a workout while on the phone with Europe. I was tired of rolling through 300 calls a day, talking until my throat was raw. I was tired of having lunches and dinners scheduled three months out. I was tired of flying 600 hours a year, the equivalent of one work week a month. I was tired of owning six tuxedos for the 30 obligatory events between November one, and Christmas. I was tired of returning calls till 7:00 PM, going to dinner till 10:00, coming home to a mountain of pink message slips. Calling Japan till midnight and starting over again six hours later.
I was tired of submerging myself, drowning myself really in the lives of my clients and their families and significant others. Our clients worries about the size of their trailers and how big their billing would be, had come to seem increasingly petty. The truth is, I'd always disliked having to see to people's creature comforts. Making sure our actors and directors had fresh guava and the perfect nanny. You're an adult, run your own life."
DM: Thank you for sharing that, Michael. It's really one of the most touching parts of the book. This self reckoning that you have. I was shocked to read that you would come to the realization that you'd always been faintly embarrassed to be a talent agent. Why?
MO: It wasn't until we opened CAA and became successful that I felt I was at least a principal in my own business. Talent agents for years had been depicted in films and television shows as smarmy, cigar smoking, fast talking, not very educated, not very elegant people. It always was a source of embarrassment to me. I didn't want us to be one of those people, hence the dress codes and the way we behave, the cars we drove. The office building, the idea of bringing I. M. Pei to design our building. That was not an accident, it was all thought through. How do we create something that's classic by the, at the time the world's greatest living architect.
DM: You're still on that building.
MO: I do own that building.
DM: That was a smart one. You left CAA after this bout of real, I think exhaustion. You leave CAA, this company that you built with your bare hands and you accepted Michael Eisner's offer to lead Disney with him. You write that, "It didn't work out from day one. I tried and I failed. It was one of the biggest failures of my life." You were effectively forced out after a year and a half, and afterward you stated that you were livid with Eisner and furious at yourself. You felt awful, worthless and an utter failure. It was made even worse when you were told by a friend that Michael Eisner didn't want you at Disney so much as he wanted you out of CAA, in order to weaken the agency's power. All agency's power in fact and declare that, "I'd been a thorn in Disney's side for too long, so he pulled it out. Humiliating me every day was just a bonus." How did you manage through that time?
MO: I don't know. I would get up early, go in and I assumed that like anything else in my life, if I kept my nose to the wheel and I just kept moving forward, and trying to do good things, good creative things and build relationships within the business that I could overcome it, and I just was wrong.
DM: Did you ever figure out what the intention was, or the motivation was? Was there ever a possibility that it could have worked?
MO: Well when we were talking about it in the planning stages, it seemed like the perfect storm. There were teams that were running large companies very successfully. Murphy and Burke at Cap Cities/ABC, Dalian [inaudible 00:52:39] of Warner Brothers, Goizueta and Keough had the most extraordinary relationship. The two of them when he decided to buy ABC and merging into Disney, was a behemoth business. It would take more than two people to run it. So frankly I assumed and I assumed incorrectly that he was sincere, that it would take two of us to run it but it was a mistake from the day that I showed up at his house.
DM: Yes, the first day you-
MO: Very first day. I knew-
DM: Even in the reporting structure.
MO: Well no, I knew it was over. I knew it was over before it started.
DM: What kept you continuing on doing it for as long as you did?
MO: I didn't have any choice. I had a contract. I had already sold CAA to the nine young guys that we left it to. I had to continue, I couldn't just quit.
DM: It must've been quite gratifying after the shareholders or the board, I don't remember which one wanted to sue because of your severance package, but the judge judged in your favor, and the fairly large severance package that you received was deemed to be fair.
MO: I worked really hard at that trial because I viewed that trial not just as a trial, but as a statement of fact about what really happened.
DM: You write this about the aftermath, "In 20 years, I went from a complete unknown to a calmer to being hailed as the most powerful man in Hollywood. After a few years of that, I became the most feared men in town. Once I left CAA, when it was safe for everyone to vent, I became the most hated." How on earth did you get back to yourself?
MO: Time is an amazing healer.
DM: How do you get over that kind of betrayal and anger? You write about how much you loved Harold Pinter's play in movie, Betrayal. It's also one of mine and betrayal and loyalty is really, really important to me. How do you get over, how do you forgive?
MO: It's not a question of forgive, it's a question of forgiving myself. It was me that I was obsessed with that I allowed myself to get dragged into these situations. So I had to forgive myself, it took a long time to get there. Writing the book as I said to you earlier, was incredibly cathartic for me because I had the opportunity to sit down, and look back from the beginning and then look at the motivations. What did I do? What did I do right? What did I do wrong? Look, some of the things that I did were very right. A company's still going today 43 years later. So with respect to the things I did wrong, it's good to understand them. I didn't understand them. When you're in the eye of the storm, you really don't see around you very well. It's easier to see when you're not in the middle of it.
DM: Would make a great movie this book.
MO: I don't know about that. It's not going to get packaged by me, that's for sure.
DM: In the time since you've turned your attention to Silicon Valley, and are working with Internet pioneers, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz. They asked you to sit on the board of LoudCloud, one of their businesses and a few years later, HP bought it for nearly $2 billion. You later advised the two on creating Andreessen Horowitz to be as you described it, the CAA of Silicon Valley. You've worked with companies including Medium, Palentir, Cloud, Priceonomics, GoodRX and others. Looking back on everything, do you see more similarities or differences between CAA and silicon valley, or Hollywood and Silicon Valley?
MO: Well, I'm up there now and I have been for the last 15 years. I view everything that I'm doing exactly similar to what I did at CAA.
DM: I find it so interesting that so many of the battles that you fought, I also recently interviewed Beth Comstock and so many of the battles that she fought. 10 years ago were battles that seem so ridiculous now in terms of the way in which we consume media, and content, and entertainment, and so forth. I find it interesting that how many similar types of obstacles need to be fought when you're on the cutting edge of new technology and new ideas.
MO: Beth is one of those people that can see the future, and was always ahead of the curve. The thing about the Valley that's so great is that it's very similar to ... When we started CAA, it's got really brilliant young men and women. It's flush with ideas, flush with money to finance those ideas, and there's this collaborative effort up there that is really commendable by all of this talent. Frankly, I'm still in the down line business. When you get right down to it.
DM: I think you're in the ideas business.
MO: Well, talent have the ideas.
DM: After all this work, you write at the end of the book that you realized that you would have been much happier as an artist or an architect. Why is that?
MO: I love art and architecture, just love it.
DM: You collect art, you've been doing it now for decades. You have one of the top 200 collections in the world. What made you decide to start collecting art?
MO: I've been collecting art since I can remember. Art is an elixir. When I'm in New York and I'm stressed out of my mind, I will go to MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art. I did it on Sunday. I went with my oldest son, Chris and we just walked the floors and just got absorbed in a sea of creativity.
DM: I have two last questions for you, Michael. The first is speaking of creativity about the book cover. It's quite a striking book cover and I was really happy to see that Chris Sergio designed it, who's a friend and a remarkably talented designer. When I asked him about it, he said that there was some interesting stories about the cover, and also the back copy which he also wrote. So can you talk a little bit about the design of the book cover?
MO: This is so simple and so uncomplicated. Chris Sergio is brilliant. Chris Sergio took my book on a Friday, I think we had one meeting. I had been given a lot of art for the book, not by him, by others. I didn't like much of what I saw. I took a shot at something. Chris read the book, called me on a Monday, he said, "You know, I really like this book." He said, "I've got, I'm going to send you what I think the cover and the title should be." We had a whole series of titles, none of which any of us really liked. Chris sent exactly what you're looking at and when I got it, I called him. I said, "You're brilliant," because he picked the script cover that we used to start the business and he asked the definitive question that I've been asking myself for the past 20 years, but I never told him that. He's a genius.
DM: He is indeed. My last question is this. Of all your experiences and successes in both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, what advice would you give to anyone looking to make a difference in either of these worlds?
MO: Creatively is of either is the same advice I've given for 50 years. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe in your own ideas and your own vision. I cannot tell you how many times as an agent, a client had an idea that was a rejected over and over and over again. Then was made and turned out to be incredibly commercially successful, or aesthetically successful. Rain Man's a perfect example of that, was a movie that everyone turned down. MASH was a movie that no one wanted to make. I can go through this over and over again where there are directors, or writers, or actresses, or actors, who come up with ideas and no one's interested. It's a no, no, no, no. Dances with Wolves, turned down by everybody.
Finally, we got someone they give us domestic financing and rolled the dice that we could get the rest of it. Kevin went on and made a brilliant, brilliant movie that defied the rules of length in the film business. The movie was over three hours. You're not supposed to make a movie over two hours.
DM: Now it's like 90 minutes, our attention spans.
MO: Different, different world.
DM: Yes. Well, thank you Michael. Thank you for joining me on Design Matters and thank you for making our world so entertaining, and thank you for showing us in this book that power can also be really vulnerable.
MO: Thank you.
DM: Michael Ovitz's Memoir is titled, Who Is Michael Ovitz? This is the 14th year I've been doing Design Matters and I'd like to thank you for listening. Remember, we can talk about making a difference, we can make a difference or we can do both. I'm Debbie Millman, and I look forward to talking with you again soon.