I was fortunate enough to meet David Sable over a lunch that we hosted almost a couple of years ago. David is the Global CEO of Y&R, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies with over 16,000 employees around the world.
Here’s a sneak peak and some of my favorite moments from our conversation:
Was the son of a rabbi and so because his dad was always in the spotlight, he always had to be careful of his actions.
Career was never planned and was non-linear. Instead, he chased after opportunities where he could constantly learn and grow. There’s a Yiddish term called Bashert which means "It was meant to happen". If you don’t grab the opportunity, it’s not going to happen.
Nearly botched a major advertising campaign for Kinney Shoes (now Foot Locker) because CBS decided to change the date that they were going to air The Wizard of Oz.
Huge proponent of reading. He recommends reading the classics like Shakespeare and Harry Potter as there's a reason why they have survived through so many generations.
Being in the ad industry during the period of Mad Men was not always easy. There were projects that people wouldn’t give him because he was Jewish and "different". He shared some of those stories on the PBS special, The Real Mad Men of Madison Avenue.
On spending time with family, he believes that if you’re present 100%, it covers the times that you’re not able to be there.
As part of practicing Sabbath, he disconnects from all devices from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. It’s an incredibly powerful way to practice mindfulness, read and listen more. It can almost feel like you’re on vacation once a week. David wrote about this in one of his posts for the Huffington Post. This is something that another leader in the marketing world, Gary Vaynerchuck (4x NYT Best Seller, CEO of VaynerMedia) also practices with his family time.
Always wanted to be an astronaut. He’s scared shitless of heights but would still love to be able to travel to space one day.
I hope you enjoy. You can see the Full Transcript below.
Ray Cao is the CEO of Exact Media. We’re transforming the world of direct mail by enabling advertisers like P&G and Pepsico to distribute product samples and coupons through a vast network of e-commerce and omichannel retailers.
Today's guest is David Sable, the Global CEO of Y&R and a true legend of the advertising industry. You may be familiar with David Sable as an influencer on LinkedIn or on the blog he's been writing on since 2006, or perhaps from what I call the "Oscars of Advertising," the Cannes Lion's Awards where he took home 99 trophies this past year. David has been in this industry since 1976 and he has so much to share, so I'll let you get right to it. Here it is, Exact Media's CEO, Ray Cao, interviewing David Sable.
Ray: David, maybe you could start us off in this conversation just sharing a little bit about what childhood was like. Where did you grow up, and how did you manage to get into the world of advertising? [00:03:31]
David: So my childhood is probably the least important indicator of how I ended up. I grew up in New York. I grew up in Riverdale. My father was a rabbi. My late dad, he was rabbi of a big Orthodox congregation in Riverdale. He founded it. He created it. Actually, maybe that did put a role in some of what I did later on because the creativity of just bringing people together and creating just a vision of something from nothing. And I went to the usual spate of schools that somebody likely would. It's sort of a very liberal Jewish day school, that's where you learn half the day, more religious subjects in Hebrew. And the other half of the day, intense like any other private school, math, English, and such, and social sciences.
But it was interesting upbringing because, you know, as a rabbi's son, you so often have the spotlight. So you see your dad up on the pulpit all the time speaking. And literally, from the age of 5, you have to perform because you're expected to be able to do things, to do services, to speak at the drop of a hat, like, to say something. And so, I think that actually, that's what honed my presentation skills. And so if, you know, actors' children are born and they would say actors' children were born in the trunk, right, or born on the stage. I was kinda born on the pulpit.
Ray: Would you say that when you go up and speak that it comes more natural to you, or do you still have to do a lot of prep? [00:05:21]
David: I always prep. I have to say I am very meticulous about my preparations as was my father when he spoke. But having said that, I do find it comes naturally. I rarely speak from a prepared text because I find it inhibiting. I much prefer to have a theme and to follow the theme down and sort of relate to my audience. I am very careful of the nuance of people's behavior as I speak, they could be falling asleep and they'll look in the other way every now …you know, they're texting, something other than like, you know, what I'm saying. So I think that I do find it more natural than most I would imagine.
Ray: This is gonna be back to childhood, I mean…So I grew up, I've said this to people with a tiger mom, right, incredibly strict that was like in math camp and science camp, all growing up. What was, sort of, your upbringing like? What were your parents like? [00:06:25]
David: You know, I'd say that it was a balance between what is a fair and very strict. You know, again, you're the son of the preacher man. And so if you are the kid making noise in services, or if you're sitting there with a piece of gum in your mouth while your dad's speaking or something else is going on, you get home and, you know, you kinda get bounced off a wall. So I think that there was a certain strictness to it. There was a certain strictness to the way you were brought up to relate to people. I think, again, that's something that is very beneficial to me as I grew up, being able to talk to anybody, to listen carefully. And that's a, sort of a, again, it's a pastorial [SP] kind of a thing where people who are really good at that are able to do, whether, rabbi, preacher, priest…there is no difference…minister.
I think that on the other side, it was a bit, laissez-faire in the sense that it was very open. My mom, my late mom, was into music. She had studied opera and piano. And so we grew up in this household where, you know, by the age of six, we knew then...my sister and I knew the entire Pete Seeger canon by heart. Peter, Paul and Mary were, you know, heroes in our house. And the funny thing is that I always said that my mom was a classic commie. You know, that she had Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, these were her iconic things. And then the joke was that my dad was more of a republican. And so we had this interesting balance in the house. And mom publicly, I guess, came out of, you know, so I towed the line, as you would imagine. But we learned it.
And the funny thing was that many years later, in fact today, I'm very close to Peter Yarrow from Peter, Paul and Mary. And Peter described once, at the dinner we had, how, in my generation, many of the parents who taught us were, in fact, classic radicals. And I hadn't told him about my mom. He just started talking about it. And I was like, "Whoa, my God, that's my story, story of my life." So we had this real interesting, you know, it's tensity, not tension, but sort of was a tensity, you know, a ying and yang in our upbringing.
Ray: To say…How did you end up in the world of advertising, though? Did you start off there or did it happen, [Crosstalk] [00:09:09]
David: [Crosstalk] end up in advertising, I was sort of born into it in the sense that I was always into creative stuff, always was this the idea guy. I was the one coming up with the games to play, with the story to tell. I was always into acting and performing, and all of these things. And in school, in high school still, I would act in a play but I'd also wanna be the producer and think about what would the backgrounds look like, and what were the costumes like. And how did you do really cool things with these sound effects, remember we're just in high school. In those days, [inaudible 00:09:59] for record. And how'd you make it work? So I was really into all that, and I had an opportunity in high school.
My school was a very liberal and forward-thinking kind of a place. And in fact, that means one of the few schools that I know that when I was already a junior in high school, allowed us to take off a day if you promised this is what you would do and go out and canvass and get, you know, get petitions signed against the war in Vietnam. So just to show you like the kind of place I grew up in.
And we had…They realized early on that by the time a school like ours, by the time January, February rolled around and you're senior year, it's sort of were done. You'd apply for college, you're accepted, and everything else was just sort of waiting for the ink to dry. And so they started, the year before, I was at work program where from, let's say, February, March, April, you would have an opportunity to work some place, either four days a week. You weren't allowed to take any money and you had to have a learning situation. You couldn't be just touching coffee. Now, the truth is, in their vision, they sort of wanted everybody to be working in laboratories, and you know, doing stuff like that.
And my father, by this time, had left the rabbinic, so he was no longer a religious leader and he had actually gone into the political world. And he was in the cabinet of the governor, he was commissioner of human rights. So again, sort of, continuingly, there was a continuum here of behavior and of philosophy and so on. And he had some friends who had an advertising agency in New York, small but very prolific. And they were very into retail, they did a lot of TV, a lot of trend. I mean, it was just crazy, really just, at the time, leading-edge stuff. And so I was kind of intrigued. I thought, "That sounded cool, I'm creative. Let me see what I can do." So I chose that is my job and I walked in and I never walked out, basically.
Ray: And that was your first job? [00:12:16]
David: I came in...That was my first job, yeah. And so I came in and I just, you know, kinda hung out with them for months. They would take me to meetings. It's lot of fun. I got to meet people. I got to see how the process goes. And this is a true story. One day, a client walks in. They're not there, they're out some place else, and the client says, "Hey, I need this ad in the paper by Friday." And maybe it was Tuesday. "And here's what we wanna sell." It was actually juices, this was a dairy in the Staten Island. And they said, "We have some juices. We need to see it done, you know, we'd really need to see proofs tonight." Nobody's there, so I went back, I took the little trafficking ticket that you need to create stuff. I sat on my desk, I wrote an ad. I sketched it out. I brought it to the stereo. I had them do a comp, I swear to you. And by the time they came back, I had it approved by the client. And they like freaked out. They couldn't believe it.
And I was out again, and you know, I spent the next four years in college selling copy to them and to others, writing radio ads. I'm doing print. I learned how to produce a television commercial. I did a whole bunch of non-profit stuff. You know, I took advantage of people that I knew in…so for example, Channel 9 in New York which was a small independent channel at the time. I could get in there at 2:00 in the morning and have a studio and be able to do a television commercial using stills and music and whatever, and pay $200 in a basic union rate, or something. So I did it. So I had like a whole bunch of clients I did stuff like that for.
Ray: How much of it was trained upon you formally, and how much of it was just you using your creative imagination and whipping stuff out? [00:14:22]
David: Most of it was, I think, just learned as I went along. But then, I locked out at a particular point. I had a mentor. So I got a job when I was older at New York Telephone Company. And their telephone, a precursor at time, huge company, before the bells broke up. Huge. And it was also [Crosstalk].
Ray: Were you at an agency or you were in... [00:14:49]
David: No, I was in school. I was in school. And so I come in, so I was an intern. I was summer intern. So I come in as summer intern. And here's New York Tel, serendipitously, interestingly enough, the biggest client of Young & Rubicam at the time, the biggest local client of Young & Rubicam at the time, very interesting company, really good work. And I had been, most of the previous year, in Israel as a volunteer, I'd left school. It was 1973, it was the war. I wanted to volunteer. I was replacing people who had gone to war, so I was doing critical work. I was working on the kibbutz, actually, in a turkey farm.
And I come back and I get this job. When I got it again, I lucked out, my dad had his connections, I get this job. Now, my boss was the late Edward A. Chaplin III [SP]. I have to tell you, in the history of mankind's pairing, there probably was not a more incongruous pairing of people. Edward was conservative, a real republican, dyed-in-the-wool, incredibly liberal. So he was what in those days was called a social republican or a Rockefeller republican…and that's after Nelson Rockefeller…socially liberal, incredibly socially liberal, and physically conservative. Unfortunately, those people don't exist anymore, but that's sort he was.
I walk into his office. He's got short hair. Behind him is this big picture of his sailboat. He's all buttoned up. I've got...you know, I come in, long hair, you can't even imagine. And I'm like, "Oh, shit. Where is this gonna go?" It turns out, Edward became, until the day he died a few years ago, was my mentor, my friend. Wherever we lived in the world, he came to visit with us. My confidant, my father/confessor. He's like, just unbelievable. And he taught me discipline. He taught me discipline. He taught me everything from "Don't ever worry where you sit, like the size of your office is irrelevant. Don't even think about a title. It's bullshit. Just do your work. So long as you're in an atmosphere and in an environment where you can do your work and make a valuable addition to people's lives, that's what you should be doing." And so he taught me that. And he taught me...he brought this one to my writing, to my thinking, to my ability to design. I mean, just, he was amazing.
Ray: How common was, I mean, my only reference of the ad world is like "Mad Men." And you know, it sounds like the way you described him almost a bit different from what I see on TV. You know, was he just different and a bit of a contrarian or [inaudible 00:17:53] "Mad Men" alive? [00:17:55]
David: Well, I think also... Yeah, but I think also he was a decliant [SP], he's a decliant side. So he was a little bit different. He was a little earthier. I mean, this guy, Edward, was a…you know, next time you come to the house, I'll show you his picture. Edward was a member of what is called the 500 Club in the U.S. Armed Forces, you know, the first 500 people that fly faster than the speed of sound. He was a navy pilot. He was, you know, he has DAR, Daughters of American Revolutionist background, fifth generation dark myth. And we're talking here serious. We're talking serious. So the truth is, he probably could have fit that world from the point of view of his pedigree, there's no question. But I think that he just...his whole value system is just so big and so broad. And I swear to you, to this day, I keep his picture in my office. To this day, I doubt a week goes by, maybe even a day, that I don't think of him. And like, just ask myself like "How would Edward have handled this? Well, what would his view would have been? And what would he have thought?"
Ray: And when you talk about someone like Edward as a mentor and maybe there are some other ones, maybe not as impactful as him, but how many would you say came out of just opportunity, by chance, and how many did you actually seek out to find a formal mentor? [00:19:22]
David: I think almost everyone was totally serendipitous, incredibly serendipitous. Just I was lucky, you know, I was blessed that I was able to meet these people. Now, you know, it's interesting in Yiddish, there's an expression called beshert. The beshert is, more often than not, means like, okay, it's like "It was meant to happen." It was beshert. But it's different than kismet. The kismet is sort of like "Stuff happens, there's nothing you can do about it. It just happens." Beshert is more, "Yeah, it was meant to happen but if you don't take that crossroad, if you don't grab the opportunity, it's not gonna happen."
And so I was lucky I was in this position. You know, a few years later, I moved to Israel. And I had the opportunity to meet someone, an Israeli who had been in America for 14 years. He was a brilliant art director, Raffy, and he had done mostly B2B. And he and I met. We, literally, from the second we met till today, so it's 30-something years, 35 years maybe, he's been like my older brother.
And we started a company in Israel. And we were really the first people who attacked...I'm talking about 1979, 1980, high tech, because the high tech industry had already begun in Israel. And companies like SyTech's and Afrotech, and just amazing companies doing amazing things. And so he's a brilliant designer. I was the copy writer [inaudible 00:21:07] together, we would create big ideas. We really changed the way the industry, maybe in the world, looked at some of that stuff at the time. But I was lucky that I got to meet him. But you know, if I hadn't grabbed the opportunity and if we both hadn't seized the opportunity, it wouldn't happen.
When I moved back to America, I went to Burson-Marsteller. I seized an opportunity that wasn't obvious because it was a public relations firm. And I got to meet Harold Burson, who's still my mentor. Harold's 95 years old. He goes to the office every day. I still talk to him on a regular basis all these years later. I met Lester Wunderman through Harold. And Lester Wunderman became my mentor.
So you know, I've had Edward, and I've had Raffy, and I've had Lester and Harold, and others. And I've just been very lucky to be able to have these people who mentored me in different things. And all of them had one thing in common. I think they all had this certain sense of humanity that was sort of on the same continuum.
Ray: You know, I just find this fascinating because a lot of people ask, you know, do you go and actively seek out and, you know, I think in all the cases...yeah, I don't know if you noticed but I consider you a mentor and not of it was planned right [Crosstalk]. We met over a lunch that Philip Thomas at Cannes had introduced us and, you know, I think I just find it so funny because many of us seek that advice and guidance. And oftentimes, it's not what you're actively looking that you find but it's that serendipity but you do have to grab on to it when you see it, right? [00:22:52]
David: Yeah. I think, look, you know, occasionally I get e-mails from people, even I don't know, saying, "Oh, I saw you here at...would you be my mentor?" Like, what does that mean? Like, I don't know you. "Hey, I don't know if I wanna be your mentor. How do you know you really want me to be your mentor? Because you think I have a nice title, or?"
Ray: "You don't even know me." "We haven't even dated yet." Oh yeah.
David: Yeah or whatever, like it's just bullshit. So I very much believe that true mentorship happens serendipitously. But again, even serendipitous means you've been on a journey, something happens…so even the story that you tell, right. So Philip is somebody who's a really good friend. My relationship with Philip is built up on many things. It's not just because, you know, we do very well at Cannes and we win. It's because I've been involved with him in a bunch of stuff around Cannes, around some of the issues, so that we've developed a relationship. It's not just a, "Hey, Philip, you know, isn't this great? I won, you know, we're number three in the world this year," but much more around helping define, you know, this is the first present to the jury and data. So helping define like what that meant, and how do you set a benchmark for the future so that it's meaningful. So those things.
And then so when I meet you through him, there's already a third-party endorsement here for both of us. That's kind of interesting. And then I see the environment you're in, I think, "Wow, that's pretty cool, like, I like what you're doing. I think it's really interesting." I listen to the conversation, I think that's interesting. And then, we talk and I hear what you're doing, I would say, "Wow, that's something that we had talked about, you know, back in '96. That's so exciting." And so think about, like, all those things that came up to that point because just even that point of you doing something that we had begun to do…we is when I had my company just direct with my partners…back in '96, '97, like, that's pretty crazy. They even just that one point of, that one data point you'd look at, you'd say, "Wow, isn't that nuts?" But it's not because all these other things had to happen first.
Ray: Right. Right. There's ton of a topic that's sort of serendipity. And if you look back at your career so far, how much of the things you did would you say were planned and how much would you say just happened and went to the flow of things? [00:25:19]
David: I'd love to tell you everything was planned, that I sat down in 1976 when I first walked into Young & Rubicam and said, "One day, I wanna be the CEO." Now, having said that, no doubt, when I walked in that first day, I probably thought, like in the fantasy of fantasies, "Can you imagine if?" But it wasn't like I sat there and planned it. I can, honest to God, tell you that I planned nothing. Every move that I made was a move that came up because I had an opportunity. And the opportunity came about because of something else I had done, not because I planned it or thought about it. And if you look at my career, it's pretty clear that, I mean, it's incredibly non-linear.
But everything that I did, the only thing that I did plan because...But that was, you know, this wasn't planning in the sense of that's something to do. It's planning in the sense of when I had multiple choices. I had a filter. And my filter was never about money. It was never about title. It was always about, "Am I gonna learn something new? Am I gonna walk out of here with something that adds to my repertoire, with something that adds to my intellectual abilities, with something that adds to what I can bring to the table in what I saw is the business I was in, which was marketing?
And so, although I began, you know, I thought I was a creative and I thought that's how I was gonna stay, you know, keep going on the business, my first real opportunity actually was in media. And if via the reasons for it, some of which, I've talked about this on PBS Special on "The Real Mad Men and Women of Madison Avenue," which PBS did, it's really interesting show to watch because they have some of the people who actually were the inspiration for the characters on Mad Men. You should watch it, it's really cool. And there were a couple of people from my generation. I was one of three people from my generation that was on it.
And so, you know, I told the story, which was true. When I came in, originally, you know, there was discrimination in the business. And so, you know, I come in, kind of this longish-haired, or maybe long-haired, Jewish hippie, having spent some time in Israel already, you know, basically rented a suit for my first interview kind of thing, and they made it pretty clear to me that I didn't fit. And it took me a while to figure it out because you got to understand, I grew up in this environment. My father is the commissioner of human rights in the State of New York during one of the most turbulent times in the history of our country before now. And I'm like sitting there, like, I didn't get it when they said, "No, you wouldn't be comfortable," meaning, they wouldn't be comfortable. Or, "Yeah, I don't think this client is for you," meaning, no this client doesn't want me.
And so, it's kinda interesting. So I ended up in media. And I'm thinking, "What the hell? Why am I doing this? Hey, I don't wanna be in media. It's the last thing I wanna do. I can't add numbers." And I took it. I don't know why but I said, "You know what, I know everything else," meaning, I've had that...but it's not true. I didn't know anything. I had that experience in other areas of the business. I didn't know anything about media and I…Just sad to think about it, it's well, you know, like 90% of the money in the business in those days went to media. So let me learn it. So I did. And I became like a creative media guy which is kinda interesting back then.
But I was, like, so now all of a sudden I have this career in media. And I start out at Y&R in the training program. The day I'm out of the training program, I get hired by Wells Rich Greene which at the time was more of a boutique-y kind of creative agency because they had just won P&G. So I get hired by them into their media department, I get…"What the hell am I going with this?"…I had four times the salary. But you have to understand, four times of salary is probably about $10,000, I don't know. Because when you're in the training program, you get nothing. You know, you get overtime, you get…they paid you money for lunch and dinner if you stayed late enough which I did every day because you were there from 7:00, you know, 6:30, 7:00 in the morning till 2:00 the next morning. I go there and they say to me, they had just won P&G and they had no discipline. They didn't know anything about their stuff. And I said okay…Again, I'm 22 years old, I said, "Okay, you gotta go hire 15 people." "Hello? What? Hire?"
And it wasn't like today where you have an organized HR and somebody would sit with you and whenever you say, "Hey, go hire 15 people. Here's, like, what you need" And I'm, "How do you do that? I had no idea." So I called the smartest person that I knew from Y&R, Sue, who's still with me all these years later, and she's the first person I hired. And I paid her more than I was getting paid because I needed her to come, and she deserved that because I thought she knew more than me. And that's how I started. I mean, ain't that crazy? So I had nothing to do with anything and all of a sudden, I'm in this state.
Then I went to Israel. That's what I wanted to do. I was there for six years and I started this agency with my friend, Raffy. And that was all creative. That was really just...we were doing amazing things. We did everything from write annual reports to design trade booths for international...major international shows, like, I'm talking about huge like Le Bourget in Paris, the biggest air show in the world. I mean just crazy stuff.
Then I came back to America to Burson-Marsteller, public relations like really high-end powered public relations. And I went from there to Y&R to run global business called big global accounts like Colgate. And the postal service which was the biggest integrated account anybody had ever heard of at the time, you know, back in '92, we did first website anyone had ever done for just about anybody, first interactive ads anybody had ever done, with same as Orlando test. I mean, you can look this up, it's actually pretty wild. Then I went to the internet world in '96 and I came back. I mean just nothing...there was nothing linear about this.
Ray: I'm just gonna go back to the time where you somehow landed in Israel. What was that decision like? I mean, people get mortified at the thought of, you know, going from large safety net to another company. Not only did you decide to jump out of, probably, what was a subtly more comfortable job but you also decided to take an airplane to a whole other continent. What was that thinking like? Was it an easy decision? [00:32:32]
David: It was easier than you would think. And probably also because I tend to make decisions, one time [inaudible 00:32:38] I just sort of do 'em. But you know, when you grew up like I did, so Israel was sort of an ideal. And I married, my wife was Israeli-born. Her father was a diplomat. Her parents were actually from England, originally. They would...he was a very famous Israeli diplomat. And in fact, he passed away a year ago. He wrote an incredible book called "The Prime Ministers," which has become a movie. And so, everything I [inaudible 00:33:07] I grew up thinking was an ideal. Most people don't act on it but I had an opportunity, actually, to act on it. And I did. Well, I just took it. I took the opportunity. I saw it so this is what I have to do.
Ray: And what was the thinking behind jumping back after running your own thing? Why go back? I mean, [Crosstalk] [00:33:34]
David: I mean, there were bunch of reasons, some were personal, but I think that at the end of the day, one of the biggest drivers was that...and you know, I think this is what I learned from Ed, this he drummed into my head…just, like, never believe your own bullshit. And so, here we were, again, I was 30 years old, we had started this agency. We were very successful…you know, again, everything's relative…and high tech, like, nobody had this talent, nobody had done it and I was also traveling around the world, which back in those days is like a really big deal. And I had actually set my career off for the next phase. But I just felt that I wasn't learning enough, like we were kinda making it up as we went along and I wanted to be back in an environment where I could learn, where I could be surrounded by people who could teach me stuff. Which is why I chose Burson-Marsteller to go to because I didn't know anything about PR. And they said, "Don't worry about it. We will teach you. You write really well, you're creative, you know, we've got this high tech thing, then you just...you got on DEC as a client." Digital Enterprise, you know, DEC the…you know what this means.
Ray: Yeah, yeah, yeah. What would...
David: And so, they just got them as a client and they needed somebody to work on it. You know, they need more people to work on it. And I had all these high tech background. And so I went and it was a new world for me. You know, I walked in the first day, I didn't have a suit. [inaudible 00:35:11] but I had two sports jackets. Very, very Italian, very boxy. And so those days, it was like, you know, pants were kinda like big pantaloons for not just pleats, but like double reverse pleats. They're very, very Italian. I felt very cool.
So I remember, I walked in the first day and everybody is wearing, like, Brooks for the suits, it's white shirts with buttoned down suspenders, like, holy shit. So we went and bought two suits that afternoon. And every day that week, there was a little note on my desk. It said, "A person must always wear suits." I thought the guys around me were kinda ribbing me. On Friday, there's a must, we wear suits and we get haircuts. And it was, like, it turns out it was the CEO, Jim Dowling. I was like, "Oh, God." So you know...
Ray: Different times...
David: Everything's a process.
Ray: Yeah, yeah. I was gonna jump to a slightly different topic. I mean, in the years that you've been through a number of experiences, if you would look back at the people that you worked with and the people who've become incredibly successful, what are some of the things that you would say stand out in terms of common traits? [00:36:26] And maybe even looking back at some of the early start of your career with, what would you say are reasons why people haven't been as successful in their careers as they probably could have been? [00:36:37] I guess, what are some of the commonalities that you've seen? [00:36:40]
David: I think that people I know who've become the most successful...let's be clear, right? There's always, you know, there's always the person everybody hates who becomes incredibly successful. We all know that, right? And so there is a track like that. There's no question. There is the track of, you know, you be the nicest guy and just take out everybody in front of you. And you know, sometimes it works. Now, I'd like to believe that in the end, they all get it, you know, but they don't do. Although some of them end up retiring very well. And that's a fact. So I sort of leave that track alone, I think. And there are people, sadly, and I see them all the time, there are people who just feel that's the way to go. And no doubt, many of them will be successful, but I find it actually pretty pathetic.
To me, this question is what is really success? Success mean that you're getting paid the most? Or that you have the biggest title? What does it mean that you do the best work and get rewarded for it and have a reputation that's good and do something valuable along the way? That's the way I look at life. I think that you have to sort of look at life and say, "What do I want success to be?" I have friends, some of my most successful friends are not wealthy, they're not poor, and they're not whatever. They're not wealthy, they're not famous. They don't blog, or tweet. They have no Facebook pages, but they do amazing things. Well, some of them are teachers, some of them are psychologists. I have friends who are CEOs and huge hedge fund guys, and they're incredibly successful. What I find to be really interesting is that the people who are the most successful share success in the same way. In other words, you always read about the guys that only surround themselves with other people like them?
David: Those are the ones who would have the least confidence. But when you read about the guys and you go to a thing, and you see a hedge fund guy who's sitting with his best friend who's teaching in the Bronx someplace and they grow up together and they're still close, you know that they're both successful in the same way, in my opinion, because they're both confident in what they do. And they're both confident in the outcome that they brought to the world and to themselves and to their families. And to me, that's really the key.
So you know, I think that when I look at it, and I say, "My most successful friends are the ones who are confident, who are not content in a bad way, like content that they don't want more. They do want more, but they get it. They're content with what they do because they keep trying to advance, not just their personal career, but they try to advance the world somehow. Those are the greatest people I know.
Ray: It's a great answer, but it's a very different perspective, though. I need to look at the class. I am gonna switch to a bit of a personal side. So I mean, there's stuff a lot about your career, company, and all of that. Personally, I mean, like do you have more tactically, any rituals or routines that you stick with? So do you meditate in the morning? Do you not eat for breakfast? You know, how do you manage stress? What are some of the routines that you stick with? [00:40:48]
David: I wish I had great routines. You know, I try to go to the gym every day.
Ray: What does that mean?
David: So it doesn't mean a lot. I'm actually almost embarrassed you asked me. I have a big problem. My daughter is a rock star soul cycle instructor and a personal trainer. And I'm following. And my wife is incredibly fit. So it's like sort of like I feel like I have to go to the gym because they're like, you know. I know, everybody sees my wife and two daughters and they think they're sisters. But nobody ever looks at me and says, "Oh, you're the brother." Like, I'm unfortunately the, you know, very credible father and grandfather. Oh, for goddamn.
So I go to the gym and play. You know, I get on the treadmill for half an hour. I do a circuit, a little of this, a little of that. You know, just because I sort of feel I have to but I feel good when I do it anyway. What can I say? I do my morning prayers and stuff that I do. I do have breakfast. Yeah, and sort of, I don't know if it's ritual as much as that's what I do, it's in my DNA. I would say that that more ritual is I read the "New York Times," every single morning wherever I am in the world. I've been doing this since I'm in 7th grade. I had a 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Shrank [SP].
Ray: Physical copy or digital?
David: No, digital. Now, digital. It used to be physical.
Ray: Yeah, back then.
David: In fact, I love reading. Actually, I love reading the digital in a second but I read...So Mrs. Shrank was my seventh grade English teacher. And Mrs. Shrank said this, "Boys and girls, if you don't read the "New York Times" every day, you will not be successful." And in those days, for a quarter a week, every morning, you came in to school and you got a copy of the Times if you're a student. And from seventh grade on, I have read the "New York Times" every morning.
And so I'm just using the "New York Times" as a placeholder because I read a lot more than that. I use it as a placeholder for your need to read. I tell this to all the executive...bunch of lectures to, or presentations to interns or some of our interns. "You have to read. You have to read everything." And by the way, I balance the "New York Times" because obviously "New York Times" has a particular, liberal bent. So in the afternoons, I'll read the Post, also online, because that's much more conservative. It's actually funny to see sometimes they have the same stories spun in different ways. And I think it's also important for our business, like, you need to understand stuff like that. It's just fascinating to just parse a story and look how the same facts are looked at this way and that way.
I read the FT, the Journal, that's my morning ritual. I kinda go through all of that. And if I see something interesting, I tweet it out which is, by the way, why I love the "New York Times" online because you can tweet out and share any article. But I love it, it's like, oh, it's awesome. You sit there in your 5:00 in the morning and you read something and just tap it and there's your Twitter account, and you're out, with a couple of [inaudible 00:44:09] in front of you.
Ray: How early do you start your day? [00:44:12]
David: I start, usually, between 4:30 and 5:00 every day.
Ray: Wow. I think I'm still in my deep sleep then.
David: No, I sort of it's, you know, a habit. And also part of it is, to be honest, if you were a global business, so you know, 24 hours a day, we have people going. So it just makes my life easier, frankly. And I like that early time, too, by the way. It's just quiet and it's like the world is quiet and it's a little dark, and the sun's kinda coming up. It's always, I just find it to be a magical time for me. So you know, I think that's really the big ritual.
Ray: That is, I mean, in your world today, imagine there's a ton of travel. But do you set rules or do you have routines at home in the days that you might shut up? [00:45:02] Or, and I get e-mail response from you late at night so I know you don't shut up e-mail, but how do you manage your life that better work? [00:45:10]
David: So interestingly enough, I'm a big, huge believer in unplug and reconnect. I think that everybody needs to unplug every once in a while. Now, that might sound funny coming from me because people who know me otherwise tend to…outside of my boss, you know, Sir Martin…I'm one of the quicker answerers of any kind of communication. Now having said that, because of my religious practice, so I am offline completely from Friday night to Saturday night. So I keep Sabbath. And I've written about this a lot.
And what's, to me, what's really interesting is the great sociological study. So during the week, if I don't have a device in front of me, I literally get a jolt, and I get my...in fact, my hand starts to shake, okay, I gotta find it, "Where is it?" And it's still training in discipline. I don't take any device and convenience a client anymore, because otherwise, you have the sort of have the itch to look. At dinner, I put it under the table, not on the table like many do because otherwise, you have the itch to look. But I do feel it, so you feel the pull. It's like Lord of the Rings and the ring. You know, it's like, "Arrrrhhh..." It's like you've...it's drawing you, "Oh my God, the eye. It's watching me." You know, you just don't know what to do.
What I find is, Friday afternoon or Friday night, at sundown when I just put the stuff away till it comes up again, until I get it back on again sundown Saturday night, I have this zero addiction because I know that I'm not gonna do it. And I find that it's an incredible opportunity to talk and to sit. And you listen and you read, and there are people. And I don't use my Kindle to read. So I keep hard cover books for the weekend, and magazines. And I found, interesting enough, that my grandkids are the same.
So my three grandchildren...I have four but one is only nine months. But the 4-year, the 7-year, and the 10-year-old, all have their own devices, of course, because papa's a good papa. And so during the week that they're playing games, they're watching stuff, they're doing whatever. But they know that on Friday night, they can't, Friday and Saturday. So they read books, they love to be read to. Or they play games, so they talk. And they listen. It's unbelievable to see the difference.
And there's been a lot written about this, and not just me, so I write about it from my own perspective. But I mean, sociologists, psychologists have written about this, about how important it is to take a period of time and just unplug everybody. The Waldorf schools, for example, that's their whole philosophy. No computers.
So I just think that everybody needs to find that place. Everybody needs to find that place in their life. And whether it's on Monday at 10:00 or Thursday at 9:00 at night, or whatever, just pick a time and just unplug and see how it makes a difference in your life.
Ray: It'll make your partner happier as well. [inaudible 00:48:43]
David: Oh, [inaudible 00:48:44].
Ray: Just done on the piece you mentioned the grandkids and such, I mean, if you're to look back on your career, I mean, I'm sure you've had to make sacrifices whether it's jumping from one geography to another, one career to another. Are there things that you would have done slightly differently? I mean, if you're to talk to your 25, 30, 35-year-old self, looking back? [00:49:07]
David: I would ask myself that question, but you know, the honest truth is, probably not. You know, everything that I've done...so let me put it into perspective. One is just the perspective career. You know, I turned down moves for more money. And in retrospect, if I look back, if I had taken that move to more money, I probably would have ended up with more today but I wouldn't be in the same place that I am. And so personally, I wouldn't be as happy. So I have no regret.
Another move, I went to the internet world. You know, we kinda lost everything. I would do it again tomorrow because we learned so much. And to be in that world in '96 and 2000, and to have the profile we had, and to learn as much as we did, look, I wouldn't give that a price. So on that side, nothing.
On the personal side, it's funny you asked, I said to my daughters a couple of weeks ago, "I feel bad because I feel like I've missed stuff." And they both looked at me, saying, "What are you talking about? You missed anything?" And I realized that early on, my wife who is just wiser than me, had said, "Look, if we're gonna do this, because you're gonna be traveling out"…that was a track I was on…"and we worked really long hours and that's kind of your dedication, there's just one thing. When you're home, you need to be home 100%. Even if it's an hour, or a day, or a weekend, you have to be 100%."
And so my girls felt it. So from their perspective, I was there and I made every effort. I coached the little league team, and I went to all the plays, and I did that. And the truth is, I do believe I did miss things but I don't remember that I did. I think I did but they don't think I did. So I think again, it's like it's that unplug-reconnect. And so there was like, when you're in, you gotta be in 100%. It's like...
Ray: Yeah, be present. Yeah.
David: And I think if you are, if you're present when you need to be, if you're present 100%, it covers the times you're not.
Ray: Well said. I am gonna try to squeeze out something that you have not done right, all right, eventually. If you're to look back, I mean, was there a moment in your career where you just thought you've royally screwed something up and that either you would get fired for it, or that this was gonna be the end? [00:51:41]
David: All the time, my wife will tell me that a hundred times in my life. First of all, we are a paranoid business, to be fair, probably the most paranoid business in the world. And so yeah, there were a bunch of times. You know, it's tough to tend to be outspoken and so, you know, I just say sometimes what I think, and it doesn't always go damn well with these people you work for, especially when you're younger. And so, you know, I mean, I think there were any number of times like that.
And clients, you know, there's always one client who doesn't like you, or care who you are. There's always one client who's just, it's fine, not personal, it's just that's just the way they are, your convenient foil. You lose a piece of business, it happens. Yes, so you know, I think it's just part of life. It's part of our careers. And so when it happens, you just have to keep your head up and keep moving, never stop. You have this confidence. You have that confidence. And by the way, sometimes, you got to back off.
You know, I had a situation with somebody I worked for that was just really bad. That was really bad. I swear, like, it was just so bad we couldn't be in the same room. And I worked for him so the guy was obviously, you know, I'm just at a disadvantage here. And the worse it got, the more I pushed his buttons. The guy's just really pissed. So I thought I was right. Of course, if you think you're right, you get a little righteous, and so I'm pushing his buttons and it's just getting worse and worse. And finally, [inaudible 00:53:38] sat me down and said, "Look, here's the bottom line. You like what you're doing, do you wanna stay here?" I said, "Yeah, I love it." This guy said, "Okay." And he's not a bad guy. It's like, he's not. He's just, whatever, it's the way he does business, he's not a bad guy. "So you make a decision. Either you figure it out or leave" because it's not his problem.
I had to tell you, it changed my life. And up until that point, you know, I'm feeling the aggrieved person, oh my God, and all of a sudden, you realize, "Wait a second. You know what? There's two sides to every story. You're being a schmuck," meaning me. He is who he is and he's the boss so I get over it. And I did. And it changed everything.
So sometimes, you just got to, you know, you got to look at yourself. It is so easy to get caught up into being the aggrieved person, being the one who is, and so...You know, I think you just have to do it. You have to be ready. And in our business, I think you just have to be ready to...we're in the service business so you got to take second seat. Harold Burson taught me this, you know, of Burson-Marsteller, there are something your firm is in, and you know because you've seen this, where somehow the PR firm's name is next to the client's name always? [00:55:05]
David: When the PR person is next to the client, Harold always said, "Like if that happens, you've failed." Not what they're paying you for. They're paying you to get their name in the paper, not yours. And so I think you sort of have to have a little more humility, and you know, look at every situation from that point of view.
Ray: But was there a...
David: That's not always easy.
Ray: Do you have any fun memories or maybe not so fun memories of a project that you screwed up completely? [00:55:43]
David: Yeah, I'll tell you one. There's probably a hundred, frankly. I mean, I'll tell you a funny story about that but about another one that I think is just instructive for the good that can come from it. So years and years and years ago, we had a client called Kinney Shoes. Now, at the time, Kinney Shoes was the largest retailer shoes in the United States. Big stores, they made their own stuff, you know, huge. And we did this incredible...they were actually very famous at the time...television commercials for them and that was really great. So I had this idea.
Back in the day...and remember, this is the time we had ABC, CBS, NBC, those were the three national networks. That's all there was, and radio, whatever. But you know, television that was the national, that's all you had. So it was, I mean, the very earliest days of cable, there were only a couple of channels of [inaudible 00:56:48] cable, anything much. And I had this idea.
In those days, "The Wizard of Oz" was on every two or three years. That's all. And it was always a big event, big, big event. And it was our audience, it was perfect. And so obviously, the ruby slippers, salon, shoes, yeah, would it be great if Kinney would be the sponsor, the sole sponsor? Like you imagine, the ruby slippers, and we'd use stores, you know, shopper. I didn't know it was called "shopper" then, but you know, I had a whole vision. And again, I'm only 23. This is amazing. I'm really excited. And I put this deal together. And Kinney spends a ton of money, and the shoes, we get replicas of the shoes. You can imagine. Huge. And it's definitely gonna drive tune in. there's no question for them. And I think it was CBS, I want to remember.
But I didn't know. I wasn't...you know, what did I know? I was working for a small agency. I made the deal. It never occurred to me that it wasn't gonna run any night or time other than the one they set. And all of a sudden, a week before they come in, they said, "By the way, we changed the night." I'm like, "What?" Like, "You can't do that. Do you not understand…" I think, I didn't know what to do. I literally was paralyzed. And I'm thinking, "Holy shit, how do I go tell the client? He spent all his money, the stores are packed with his stuff." Though, finally, I un-paralyzed myself. Luckily, I didn't stay paralyzed for long. And I went to CBS and in a very...a lot of hubris...I kinda threatened them with everything that I could possibly make up. In the end, they relented and ran it, and climbed up in there.
But I have to tell you, it was such a lesson in, like, "Don't assume anything." It just never occurred to me. What did I know? I didn't…you know, we didn't have lawyers like today. I swear to you, I don't…you know, some of the things I don't do, without showing to a lawyer, or getting an opinion or making sure. I tell to everybody, "You just gotta be careful. Everything's gotta be documented. You have to make sure because it's a complicated world." And it's not like their fault. They had every right. I didn't tell them, you know. We didn't have it clear. "Anything is, well, you know, if you had wanted that night, you should have paid us more. We could've had a different cost structure." Like, "Screw you." Like, "You didn't tell me that." Well, I said, "Yeah, but other people have done those negotiations." I say, "No." So I didn't know. I had no one to teach me that. But I learned. I learned.
The other side of that, though, which was just kinda interesting. I had a client, I remember, years ago, who gave us a huge project. And she used to work with me, used to work for me, with me, whatever. And she got us this project without a pitch and was just kinda interesting. So we were at a meeting, and she said to everybody, "I want you to understand why I made this decision." And she said, "You know, I worked for David a bunch of years ago and I screwed something up." And says, "Screwed up really big. It was a piece that had to be. It was a printed piece. I didn't have it proofread properly and they were a couple of typos. And we had to reprint it and pay. And so I was sure that I was gonna be fired.
And so I remember standing in the kitchen of our office. I was crying. And David came in, saw me crying, and said, 'Why are you crying?' And well, obviously, I had cost us money, and it's terrible. I'm gonna fire the client." So she said, "You said to me, 'Okay. So you fucked up. Move on next,' then you walked out." And so she said, "Like that was all you...that was the only thing that ever happened." And said, "I learned from it like everything got proofread after that. And so all those years later, I had a big piece of this. There you go." So there was a lesson in all of it.
Ray: In everything, yeah. I just wanna ask you a couple of quick questions. I mean, you talked about reading, reading, reading a lot. Whether it's with your interns or perhaps with new hires, are there any books that you recommend people read? [01:01:29]
David: So I strongly recommend that everybody read the classics and ask themselves why people still read them. It's one of the most...I tell guys all the time, like, "Read the Bible and the Koran, not for religion. Just read it. Read Harry Potter and Shakespeare and the Iliad and the Odyssey, and ask why are people still reading it?" This is not ephemeral content that goes with. It's not the cat kissing on your shoes that everybody shares and then it gets about a millisecond later. It's like, why are people still reading it and why do they still iterate from it?
And I think that if you do that, the learning is so huge. Like, what is it that connects us to these stories? How did they so get into our human DNA, psyche, gestalt, whatever thing you wanna call it, that we still read them and share them? And then why, every once in a while, is there a Harry Potter that comes in the same way, right? So you'll have a Harry Potter, and meanwhile, you'll have 40 best-selling anything. They come in newest, greatest, and then, like, you know, 10 minutes later, [inaudible 01:02:52].
Like, why? What is it? I think you wanted...that's how you see. You wanna be successful? Figure that out. I tell everybody, those are the critical thinking. If you want to read business books that kind of…you know, Harold Burson's book, read Lester Wunderman's. Read books from people who wrote, well it's not about that they write anecdotally. It's not about how great they are. Read about people's success from that point of view. Read history. I think history is incredibly important. The thing, if you don't understand history, you can't understand our business. So if you don't understand the Guttenberg, you don't understand that the internet revolution began with movable type, then you have no clue what the internet revolution is about. It's not a revolution. The Guttenberg was the revolution. Like, you need to understand these things. And I think the only way you can do it is by being eclectic.
And what concerns me in our world today, we have pre-Guttenberg, right, so pre-movable type. Where was all the manuscripts in the world? Where was all the information held by the church? And then Guttenberg comes and there's an explosion and we get to Renaissance. But pre- that, there was this bias confirmation existed in the world, right, because the only information you had was the information they confirmed whatever it is they wanted you to believe, right? So that was it. They don't let you read the stuff that wasn't gonna confirm their view.
So today, we live in a world where the algorithm is limiting what you see, if you're letting it. So if you only get your news via Facebook's algorithm, or whoever's, they're providing you with news and information based on what they think you wanna see, based on their view of what you're interested in. Well, think about how bad that is. That's why I tell everybody to read as much as you can find in its source and look for different, you know, balanced left and right and middle, and up and down, and whatever. Did you get a full view no matter what your view is? That would be my recommendation.
Ray: And plus the "New York Times" and "Financial Times"?
David: Plus the...always the "New York Times." Always the "New York Times," bed rock.
Ray: One of the questions I wanted to ask you when you're talking about travelers, do you have a certain routine that you stick with while you're traveling? [01:05:33] Do you fly at a certain time, things you do differently just to fight off jet lag? [01:05:37] What do you do differently while you're on the road? [01:05:41]
David: Yeah. So when I fly, first of all, I've never flown to accumulate, which is what I find with our friends who, like, only fly to…their whole routine exists on flying one airline. And so literally, they have time schedules based...because that's where they accumulate the most miles. I just never did that. I don't have the time for it. I don't have the time or patience.
My ritual is pretty much the same. Interestingly enough, and I think it's a bias because back to having watched my grandparents get on airplanes back in the day, like, I remember waiting at the tarmac, on the tarmac, literally by the steps, because that's what we used to do in those days. They'd roll out a red carpet and people would come out, wave until they...because they lived in California, we lived in New York. And they'd come out impeccably dressed, and you know, like I was like...
So when I get on a plane, I always wear a jacket and tie, usually jeans. But I always wear a tie. I don't know why but I just do it. And I always had this view that if you wear a tie and so, hey, you're getting upgraded. There's a bias to people who, you know, kind of dress that way and people just tend to be nice. I don't know. I just kinda do it. Depending on the length of the flight, I change. My girls bought me Lululemon pants and a shirt, and so the most comfortable thing you ever wanna wear in airplane, and it keeps you warm and it's kinda...it doesn't, you know, it [inaudible 01:07:21] start to wear back the wrinkles side so I put my...I fold up my shirt and my pants and hang up my jacket. And so when I get off the plane, I always look pretty fresh, nice, that's important. Again, if it's a long, like overnight, flight or going to Asia, or whatever.
From the second I get on the plane, I put myself on the time of where I'm going. So if it means I have to stay up beyond what's humanly possibly, I manage. If it means I have to go to sleep when I'm not tired, I do it. I don't take any pills or anything. [Crosstalk]
Ray: Pretty much operating local right away. Yeah.
David: The second I'm on the plane, I operate local. And I find it really makes a big difference when you get off the plane. I don't drink on the plane, so I don't drink liquor. I think it's just the altitude and the dehydration that's like, "Could I have a glass of wine?" which is great because I just think it's kinda nice because you're like a little, you know, a little mellow. It's nice, a little chill up. It's fine. I tend not to eat, like, the food that they serve. It's usually just, like, filled with sodium and shit and just bloats you out.
So I bring usually a sandwich, like a peanut butter sandwich or something and maybe I have a piece of cheese of, set up, tomato salad or something. That was like, I tend to eat light, drink a glass of wine, drink a lot of water, and put myself on local time. Do some work, you know, obviously, today, also because some of the airlines are connected and so you know, you kinda get your e-mails or stuff. I try to catch up on movies, and television, stuff on plane. So my iPad's always loaded with books. I always have magazines with me. So I use the time as best I can.
Ray: I know you do quite a bit of writing, whether it's on the "Huffington Post", LinkedIn or your "Weekly Ramble", when do you find time to write? [01:09:20]
David: So I usually write late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. So either I write or like into the wee hours or from the wee hours, one or the other, it depends on the time of the year. In the summer, I tend to write late at night. In the winter, I tend to write early in the morning. And I just find like time...
Ray: You get up at, like, 4:30, when do you go to bed, normally? [01:09:47]
David: Right around 11:00, sometimes later. But usually, I try it like 11:00. I try to be constant. I read someplace, I have no idea if it's true or not. But it just kinda made sense that you're less tired if you stick to the same time. Like, you know, if you let yourself every day, one day, you sleep an extra three hours, the next day, it's two hours less. It just kinda screws you up more, so I try to be pretty consistent. And even on weekends, I tried to...like I get up at 6, so that's already an hour and a half longer than I sleep. And if you go more than that, it kinda messes you up, so.
Ray: Yeah. All right. I'm just gonna finish up with one final question. What's something that people probably don't really know about David that you think would be surprising for them to find out? [01:10:47]
David: What don't they know about me that they'd find surprising? I wish there was something. Nothing. I hate to do this. I'm pretty transparent. There's nothing. I am what you see. Maybe that's surprising. I think maybe that surprises some people. I am what you see, you know. You know, to me, like my grandfather taught me years ago. You know, my grandfather came from Russia, he was a tailor, enlisted in the army in World War I because he got automatic citizenship, didn't speak a word of English. I don't know how he managed that. But [inaudible 01:11:35] live in Kingston, New York. Can you imagine? And he's, you know, he died, weren't rich, you know, poor people. And yet, when he passed away, he was on the front page of the local paper. He was a local celebrity, in a sense, because he was up and known person. He was just a good guy who took care of people, helped people out.
And he always said to me, "That you have no entitlement in your life. Nobody owes you anything." He said, "In the contrary," he said, "you know, you're on earth, God, or whatever you believe in, put you here. And so it's your job to make the most of that, not to look for what you can get." And that's always sort of driven my life. And I think that it does surprise a lot of people. If there's any one thing I hear when people meet me, get to know me, you know what? "Wow," like, "you're kind of approachable." Or, "Wow, you're really like," and yet, it's not like, "Wow" and it's not an act. It's just who I am. So it's what you see is what is you get. I apologize it's boring. But that's how it goes.
Ray: Well, I think you are present and you just live right versus...and if anything I've learned is that most of the things you've done, you just gone after because they've been opportunities to learn more, it's try things you haven't done before. And yeah, I'm surprised but also not surprised that I guess things were not really planned but, I mean, I guess that's, in my opinion, the point of life is experience as many things as you can.
David: Yeah, exactly. Experience as much as you can. It's like life is too short. It's that bucket list. It's so critical. It's like really, you need to have a bucket list, like, what are you gonna do? [01:13:21] Where are you gonna go? What are you gonna see?
You know what? I'll tell you some of the greatest things I've done in my life. When you see the "Mona Lisa" for the first time and you realize it's this tiny little canvass instead of like...I remember the first time I saw it back in the day. It was in the middle of the gallery, not at the end where it is today protected. I remember I walked back and forth and the guard was laughing because he's seen it a thousand times. I'm looking, where the hell is it? And like, all of a sudden, I realized, like, this little canvass in the middle, like, holy shit. Like, didn't you think it was a huge, big canvass? You only saw the picture in a book. And you heard so much about it. I just assumed it was some big canvass, and you see, wow. This is crazy.
The first time I saw the "Last Supper" was a holy religious experience for me because the immenseness of it, the beauty of it. And then, if you've ever seen it, so you know that on the opposite wall is another fresco by a leading painter of the same time, who was painting at the same time as he was, and you can see the difference. It was like stick figures against his work. But that was the work of the time, and you realize when you look back and you say, "Oh my God. This wasn't just genius. This was revolutionary genius." And forget "The Da Vinci Code" and all the bullshit. This was just revolutionary genius, you know.
And so to me, those are things you need to experience in your life, things that just give you revelation and just make you just sit up and wonder at the marvels of the universe. So there you go.
Ray: Is there anything left that you want to experience and accomplish that you haven't yet? [01:15:15] You wanna build an app or something? [01:15:19]
David: Yeah, I've done that, been there, done that. You know, I'd like to go into space. I always wanted to be an astronaut. You know, I grew up listening on a little transistor radio. When John Glenn went up, I listened live, I remember, on the rooftop. I was in fourth grade in school. And I had a little transistor and I think I had the only one in the class at the time. I was always interested. It's just funny like I was always interested in stuff like that.
And I remember my friends cramming around as we listened to John Glenn going up. I still remember actually, I swear to you, where we were standing on the rooftop. I went to school in the city and it was unbelievable. And our playground was on the roof, obviously. And there we were, and I was listening, and I always wanted to be an astronaut. I'd love to go to space. I'd love to just to see it, to experience it. I did the...
I flew on the Concorde once, and that was, like, an experience because you know, you got to see the curve of the earth and you went faster than sound. And that was as close I've ever gotten to it but I really would like to go into space.
I wanna go skydiving. That's one that I will do in the next, hopefully, couple of months. I'm scared shitless of heights so I keep doing crazy things to, not to overcome it, but just to do it. And I don't think I'll ever overcome the fear but just to sort of make the fear irrelevant. That's one of the things I wanna do. And beyond that, I like nothing more than just kinda hanging out with my family and friends and my favorite thing.
Ray: All right. David, thank you very, very much.
Vocalist: People try to put us down. (Talking 'bout my generation)
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