Editor’s Note: The following is an exclusive excerpt from “THE GOLD STANDARD: Rules to Rule By” by Ari Gold of HBO’s hit series “Entourage,” in stores now.
Rule #1 – You Don’t Have Any Power Until You Have All The Power
“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” — Jay Z
When people ask me what business I’m in, I borrow words from my man Jay Z, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”
My clients are movie stars, athletes, business authors, restaurateurs, cartoon dogs, and dead rock stars. I can pick up my phone right now and call thirteen current heads of state and they will pick up. When Seth Rogen wanted to kill Kim Jung Un, who do you think he called first? I own at least two percent of every social network worth visiting. I have the green light to kill a two-hundred-million-dollar movie or a Kodiak bear if I feel like it, and four Nobel Prize winners did the chicken dance at my son’s Bar Mitzvah. It took me a long time to get to the top of the food chain and my journey began in earnest when I learned what is, perhaps, the most important rule of success: You Don’t Have Any Power Until You Have All The Power.
My wakeup call came in January of 1990, in an auditorium at the University of Michigan, where I was getting my JD/MBA. At the time, I was ambitious and eager, but I was also sloppy. I didn’t understand that every aspect of my life, from my wardrobe to my wallet, had to be in sync in order for me to matter. Don’t get me wrong, I was top of my class and I slayed a ton of ass, but I also wore Birkenstocks in public, rocked a jew-fro, a Hootie and the Blowfish goatee, and had enough body fat to make finding my dick difficult. Unacceptable.
I had attended a number of speaker panels during my time in grad school and always walked out unsatisfied. This panel was different. For starters it began late, despite the fact that the first two panelists arrived early. Jim Bennington was a VP of Corporate Strategy for IBM and a total middle-management douche who sported a comb-over like Christian Bale in American Hustle. Janet Williams worked for the Transportation Secretary and had been a key lieutenant in President George HW Bush’s election effort. Her bright blue suit had shoulder pads that made her look like the kicker for the Detroit Lions.
Janet and Jim had to wait in their seats like assholes for twenty minutes until the third panelist arrived. And what an arrival it was. The third guy strode up on stage like a panther, decked out like James Bond. He was shouting at the top of his lungs into his massive mobile phone, and for a full three minutes he stood on the stage and proceeded to ruin whoever was on the other end, completely ignoring the four-hundred people in the audience, let alone the two robots on stage.
“You have three seconds to wake the fuck up or I’ll have Whitney walk off ‘The Bodyguard’ and you can see if you can get the mom from ‘The Cosby Show’ to replace her. I’d love to see if Claire Huxtable can sell records.”
The whole place was captivated. The girl sitting next to me started biting her lip and shifting in her seat, as though this guy’s aura was making her moist. Finally, Bond closed the phone, sat down, and said “Let’s get this started. I’ve gotta be on a plane in 55 minutes.” Badass.
His name was Quinn McBride and he was a talent agent at CAA in Los Angeles. Up to that point, I always assumed that when grad school ended, I would go to New York or Chicago, work for GE or some big law firm and then spend the next thirty years padding my 401k. But those mundane dreams were incinerated five-seconds into that panel. Janet and Jim had carved out nice little careers for themselves but it was evident that McBride was the only one on that stage with power. At one point during the program, he got into a heated argument with the other two panelists about whether he, Quinn McBride, was more powerful than the President of the United States. The mere fact that the others engaged in the debate and felt the need to defend their positions (Janet Williams worked for Bush!) reinforced McBride’s superiority. Twenty-five years later, I have no problem defending McBride’s argument, myself.
The President can’t eat a hamburger or get a hand job without the press jumping down his throat. Power is not defined by one’s position, but rather by one’s ability to enact change on a whim. The President can’t always use his power because of Congressional cock-blocks. I, on the other hand, routinely move billions of dollars around the world, construct and topple empires, shape international culture, and I do it all without having to take shit from anyone.
From THE GOLD STANDARD: Rules to Rule By, by Ari Gold
Copyright 2015 Home Box Office, Inc, Courtesy of Hachette Books