An Original Collection of Provocative and Powerful Essay's by R. B. STUART. Her Work Begins and Ends at the Crux of Truth, Sorrow and Humor---Capable of Slicing Through Your Psyche and Piercing Your Heart.
BY R. B. STUART
Original Interview from 2009
International ad man (and proclaimed ‘great dancer’), Donny Deutsch morphed into a rapid fire orator, author, Indy film producer and acclaimed talk show host of CNBC’s, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.” Deutsch appeared on the celebrity scene with the debut of his television show by interviewing America's most influential entrepreneurs and business titans. It spawned a new book in January 2009, “THE BIG IDEA: How to Make Your Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True from the AHA Moment to Your First Million.”
His life, packed with as many projects as his punchy, straight talking purr---is orchestrated by three assistants from his massive 14th floor, 130,000 sq/ft. Manhattan headquarters, where Deutsch sits as Chairman of Deutsch Inc. As they celebrate their 40th anniversary, the roster of prestigious clients include; Johnson & Johnson, Anheuser-Busch, InBev, DIRECTV, Kodak and IKEA.
The highly secured ad agency saddles two coasts. Since 1999 the West Side Chelsea location has housed a portion of the 1,000 employees, where most dressed in jeans, glide across concrete floors on silver scooters. With terraces wrapping around nearly all four corners of the space, you’re greeted by a receptionist overshadowed by a mammoth brushed steel counter---the DEUTSCH brand illuminated and etched on its façade.
The receptionist’s overhead pages echo throughout the exposed HVAC and metal piped ceilings like an airport terminal. The windows of this open, raw design, frames a panoramic view of the city bustling below. Deutsch’s office, no more stately than the other executives, overflows into a private conference room. It’s the epitome of transparency---with the third wall made of glass. And only steps away from Deutsch Commons, a sunken loft size room with a pool table, ping pong, and arcade games where employees gather for lunch, meetings or parties.
Deutsch, an impeccably dressed Wharton School graduate favors suits by Tom Ford, wears this day, a pair of jeans with a custom Alfred Dunhill shirt made by Bruno. A Vintage Rolex strapped to one wrist, and beaded, string bracelets on the other. A blend of Bohemia meets affluence for this laid back Queens native whose motto is, “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”
His father David Deutsch an advertising veteran, began Deutsch Associates in 1969. His tough love approach helped shape his son, at one point firing him and saying, ‘Get the hell out of here and find something you’re passionate about.’ That catapulted him to become a lawyer. Then at 26 years-old Donny forfeited law school to intercept the sale
of his fathers company. Over an 18 year period the once identity seeking Deutsch fell in love with advertising, and turned it into a thriving 2.5 billion dollar agency. By implementing his personal, “leaner, meaner, faster, smarter” philosophy, he transformed the small advertising shop into a five time award winning top 10 agency, which begot 300 million dollars in 2000 when they sold the company.
With Donny remaining at the helm, his father advised him early on, ‘do what you love.’ And he continues to….no matter what the occupation. “My father probably had more influence on me than anybody,” Deutsch admitted. “He taught me values as a man and as a business man. And has been a tremendous influence on me as a teacher and mentor. We’re very different in a lot of ways---but also very similar in our overall values.”
In 2004 Deutsch stepped in front of the camera for CNBC and hasn’t looked back. “I tell people if you sell something you have to be prepared to let it go.” So instead, he’s no longer jolted in the middle of the night about ad campaigns but a show idea. “The Big Idea” provides the right amount of inspiration and intuition necessary, to nudge an entrepreneur with a new patent into the marketplace. Deutsch is the motivational catalyst to many peoples ideas and dreams. “One of the greatest thrills I’ve had is when someone comes up to me or sends me a letter and says, ‘I started my business because of the show. It motivated me.’ What a privilege it is to be part of something that literally inspires people and effects their lives,” he conceded. “I don’t think you can hope for anything more in any endeavor particularly in television. I’m very fortunate to be part of that.”
Although his show is currently on hiatus, Deutsch can be seen guest anchoring on CNBC’s “Reports” and “Power Lunch,” with regular appearances on NBC’s “TODAY Show.” As the economy sabotages peoples dreams, they’re less likely to risk capitol on new ventures. But Deutsch says, “The counterintuitive answer is now is actually a good time…if you’ve lost your job or may lose it. Out of the depression a lot of new businesses were started. Because of adversity comes the necessity for new thinking, the models broken so there’s opportunity. We will invent and build our way out of this.”
Deutsch never dreamed his life would unfold as it has, but he always knew he’d be successful. “I felt I had certain gifts, abilities and always believed in myself and owe that to my parents,” he reflects. (He quickly reaches to extinguish his cell phone ring tone of “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”) “Now I look back and say wow, I’ve been pretty lucky.”
The Deutsch brand he explained, “Has always been about empowerment, rugged individualistic achievement in terms of going for your dreams and breaking some rules along the way. So I kind of apply the same ethos to everything I do. And I get a kick out of that I’m able to motivate and inspire people.” His trademark candor, bold and funny style has translated well to print, penning his first business motivation book in 2005.
While he has become a brand he isn’t thwarted by it. “You can argue it…a good brand is not for everyone. But there is a core of set values (clearly defined) and if you’re in touch with your value system and stay true to those, I don’t think there’s a downside,” Deutsch remarked.
Whether at his Park Avenue apartment or East Hampton home, when he has downtime Deutsch loves being with his girls. “It’s clearly my favorite thing. Second place would be out to dinner with friends. They’re the greatest therapy. Sitting two hours with people you enjoy….laughing and having a drink. I find that a real joy.”
As a father of three daughters, “I so enjoy being a Dad---I love it,” Deutsch beamed. “I call it little people management. Managing is all about empathy and trying to understand the needs of the other person. Kids are very simple, they thrive on tons of love, structure, safety and fun. It comes natural to me because I had a great teacher, my father. On a scale of 1 to 10 he’s 100.” His father, now 80 years-old. “Is my greatest supporter, a fantastic artist and sharp as a tack. I should be like him at 80.”
The best aspect of being Donny Deutsch he says is, “If you’re lucky enough to achieve a level of stature, ascertain some money and notoriety---there’s tremendous access and opportunities that comes with that.” But he doesn’t rest on his laurels, Deutsch serves on the Executive Committee of University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy & Practice, and the Board of Directors for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
In 1992 he tasted politics for the first time as the lead member of the Clinton/Gore communications team. It sparked rumor of Deutsch running for NYC mayor, but he scoffed, “I’ve talked about it but I don’t think I can…I’m a little too crazy---nothing horrible---just a lot of women---nothing that’s not fun.” (He is single and twice divorced, his manager sitting in rolled her eyes at his candor.) “What are you rolling your eyes at it’s no secret,” he jested. “In France it would be a political platform.”
He noted, “Amongst my many weaknesses, my biggest strength is public speaking. I find I’m able to inspire people and am very lucky it’s a gift I have. Hopefully in 10 – 20 years I’ll be utilizing it whether in philanthropy, on the media side or business, somehow they’ll understand it and be enthralled by it.”
In the coming years Deutsch says we as a society have to start looking at ourselves in a different way. “And start behaving differently whether it’s not being gluttonous consumers to not trying to kick the worlds ass anymore and play nicer. We’re going through a change as a society---finding where we fit, in the world.”
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