4 Career Lessons by Entourage’s Ari Gold
“Don’t waste time worrying about work/life balance or looking for your best self, sham ‘secrets,’ or any other snake oil being pushed by sloppy hippies who have never built a business, let alone a bankroll. Or you will wake up twenty years from now poor, pissed off, and primed for a midlife crisis.”
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Hollywood agent and author of The Gold Standard: Rules to Rule By, Ari Gold. In the Bizarro La-La Land of HBO’s Entourage, main character Ari, played by Jeremy Piven, has no problems admitting his success was the result of ego-driven, self-promotional brute force.
“I would love to tell you that my success in Hollywood was fueled completely by passion and creativity instead of aggression and ambition, but that would be a lie,” Gold writes in this fictional autobiography. “The following are my rules to live by. You’re welcome.”
Here are four surprisingly helpful career tips you can learn from Ari Gold:
1. Develop an ADA (Attention Deficit Advantage).
Experts agree many of the most brilliant minds and best entrepreneurs have one "affliction" in common: they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In the Gold Standard, Gold describes it as, "An affliction. A condition. A handicap. Turns out, I was lacking an abundance of a particular neurotransmitter, a chemical in the brain that regulates behavior," he writes.
"But I didn’t need to be tranquilized. The bad thing about rounding out your corners is that you lose your edge.
"Then I came to one of the most profound realizations of my life. I wasn’t too fast. The rest of the world was too slow.
"And so, as I’ve done so often in my life, I learned to flip an obstacle into a benefit. Instead of attention deficit disorder, I developed what I call an attention deficit advantage. I learned to see the condition as a positive, an accelerant that would help me excel, rather than as an impediment that would hold me back. Because I could process and synthesize mass quantities of stimulation and information faster, I could achieve more in a shorter period of time. It sharpened my ability to cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter."
2. Because I Can’t Sit Still, Meetings Should Move, Too.
Meetings are the bane of many busy people's existence. Gold shares this disdain and writes, "They are, by nature, bloated and cumbersome, yet also a necessary evil." His tip for effective meetings? "Regardless of the topic, your North Star is to keep them as brief as possible."
An Ari Gold-ism: A meeting should never take longer than 20 minutes. Better yet? Make them walking meetings. Walking to the car, walking to the next meeting, walking to the bathroom even.
3. Only Take Phone Calls in the CIA War Room.
Phone calls are the single biggest distraction in many of our lives. To cope with the hundreds of phone calls our fictional hero receives, Gold developed a sophisticated phone sheet system that—"with the aid of my assistants functioning like a special ops team in a CIA war room"—could track the person, timing, and reason for all phone calls. This allows him to designate an order of importance around which ones to take first, return, ignore, or roll later in the day. The phone sheet is your fluid strategy plan for the day’s battle. It needs to provide up-to-the-second data and be updated rigorously.
Another Ari Gold-ism: No phone call should last more than two minutes. If you can’t get across what you need to get across in 120 crisp seconds of articulation, then send a text or an email.
4. Lunches: Don’t Do Them.
They are a massive time suck and will devour the middle part of your day. Especially if you live in Los Angeles. The turnaround of leaving the building, getting in your car, driving to your lunch, valeting, having lunch, then getting your car from valet, driving back to the office, sitting in lunch traffic, and getting back to your desk all told can be a two-hour swing, if you’re lucky. Only take lunches when it is absolutely necessary to meet with someone face to face in the middle of the day.
Adapted from The Gold Standard: Rules to Rule By, Hachette Books, copyright 2015 Home Box Office, Inc.
Jeremy Piven is featured on the July 2015 cover of SUCCESS magazine, on newsstands June 9. He shares what he’s learned about leadership—good and bad—from his most iconic characters, including the notorious Ari Gold.