There are so many business leaders to be inspired by these days: the late Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and on and on. For me, one of the first business leaders who inspired me was Lew Wasserman. You’re probably asking, Lew who?
Well, if you’re younger than 30, or maybe even 40, you have probably never heard of him. I discovered Lew in my very early 20s. One of my favorite books ever on business is one about him written by Connie Bruck called When Hollywood Had a King: The Reign of Lew Wasserman, Who Leveraged Talent into Power and Influence.
There were so many things that Lew did that inspired me and I have tried to incorporate a lot of his philosophies into my daily life. His secrecy, discretion, the way he cornered one sector, Hollywood, (and devised a strategy to dominate the industry from every angle), his discipline (his dress code was legendary) and his ability to think really, really big and constantly re-invent. Even into his older years, he was formidable and relevant in the industry.
So, I was thinking, what would Lew be like in today’s digitally obsessed culture? Would he do anything different? Would he embrace all of these tools? Would it change him?
I am no expert on Lew. I’ve never met him and my only connection with him is what I’ve read, but here are my thoughts on what Lew Wasserman would be like today.
Would he use social media?:
I can’t see a chance in hell of him using social media. Twitter? No friggen way. LinkedIn? Forget about it. He seemed just way too private and secretive to ever want to share information. After all, for guys like him, knowledge was power and so he would never give up on that edge.
Would he embrace technology?:
I could totally see Lew using a sleek new iPhone. He was one cool cat with his clothes and homes, etc. and I think he would get a kick out of some of the gadgets out there today. But, what I think he would be doing the most is investing and doing deals in the tech sector. He would have totally understood the explosion of tech and would have come up with a way to marry Hollywood and tech before anyone else did.
Would he embrace new media?
Lew would no doubt be considered a media mogul today. He would have been one of the first to see how the media landscape was changing and gotten ahead of it. He was such a forward thinking guy that he wouldn’t have missed this. He would have clearly seen how traditional media was dying and gotten ahead of the curve. You could see him on the board of a company like Twitter; he just wouldn’t be using it himself!
So , what’s the takeaway? Moguls 50 years ago would still be moguls today. Also, old school, old-fashioned values like trust, networking and discretion are as important today as ever.
Lew Wasserman would’ve been a stud in any era!