This Week’s Guest: Jeff Cohen
Before we get into this week’s episode, let’s take a moment to talk about Why Not Pro. This great company provides professional solutions for startups and small to medium enterprises. It’s a one-stop shop for multiple services, including the things you may not like (like accounting, legal support, and HR). For a limited time, get 20% off their services when you mention Stage One Startup!
And now, onto our awesome guest! We’re even more pumped than usual for this interview with someone who was a childhood inspiration for both of us. But before we reveal why, let’s give you a glimpse of who he is now and see if you can figure it out.
Jeff Cohen is an American attorney and founding partner of Cohen Gardner LLP, a law firm that specializes in dealmaking within the entertainment industry. He and his partner built the firm from scratch, and Jeff was so dedicated to it that he actually spent a year living out of the office because he couldn’t afford both that and the apartment.
Have you figured out yet why Jeff was such a big childhood inspiration for us? If not, that’s understandable. After all, who would have thought that Chunk from The Goonies would grow up to be a lawyer? Yet here he is. Jeff, famous for his character’s “Truffle Shuffle,” also discusses the role that his childhood fame played on his entrepreneurial journey. (Hint: it’s not what you might think.)
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Part 1 of 2: Jeff discusses what his law firm does in some detail. He talks about his personal journey to entrepreneurship and explains the surprising ways in which being a child actor helped (and didn’t help) in his new career. He also gives us an introduction to his recent book.
4:34 – Jeff introduces himself, talking about his law firm and explaining that it focuses on negotiating deals in the entertainment industry.
5:46 – How did Jeff transition from Hollywood to entrepreneurship? In his answer, he shares an entertaining story about his adult return to the “Truffle Shuffle.”
10:21 – Jeff talks about the experience of being a former child actor. He then returns to the subject of entrepreneurship, exploring the necessity of passion in your choice to be an entrepreneur.
13:18 – Is anyone else from The Goonies still acting? After answering, Jeff mentions his recent book, The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments.
17:07 – Jeff talks more about what he does as a lawyer, and explains that he’s more of a solicitor than a lawyer in British terms.
17:47 – We hear in more detail about what Jeff does in his law career.
19:34 – Jeff takes us back to the very earliest days of Cohen Gardner LLP. He talks about the importance of having a mentor, even if it isn’t someone you know. He then explains that he spent a year living out of his office because he couldn’t afford both the office and his apartment.
23:58 – Being a child actor was helpful in reaching where he is today, but it didn’t make the path as easy as people might think, Jeff explains.
25:11 – Jeff talks about success using two quotes on the subject, explaining what it means to him and how entrepreneurship fits into that.
26:48 – We learn more about Jeff’s book, and one of the vital questions it asks: “What do you really want?”
Rocket Round Q&A
- Who is your favorite entrepreneurial idol? Steve Jobs.
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Drinking scotch and playing video games.
- What’s your favorite movie of all time? Other than Goonies, Jeff likes a particular part of Godfather 2.
- How do you define success? Jeff answers with two concepts: Nietzsche’s idea that happiness is overcoming resistance, and Humphrey Bogart’s idea that the only reason to have money is so you can tell any other man on earth to go to hell.
- What do you do to focus on a day-to-day basis? Journaling is very important for Jeff.
Part 2 of 2: In the tools, tips, and techniques segment of our show, Jeff offers some words of wisdom for entrepreneurs looking to get started. He discusses clients, web presence, and the importance of having a partner.
38:36 – How did Jeff bag his first few clients? His advice is “fake it ‘til you make it.” He also talks about how the 80/20 rule applies to clients.
40:58 – Jeff talks about how having a partnership helped his business grow in the early stages. He discusses the value of having a partner, and offers some words of wisdom on how to maintain a successful partnership.
42:56 – Whether you should build a website first, or focus on your product and clients first and only develop an online presence later, depends on who your market is. He also discusses how important it is to just show up.
45:25 – We learn about Jeff’s book, The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments, in more detail.
47:07 – Jeff shares one of the commandments from his book: “Take yes for yes, maybe for yes, and no for maybe.”
49:46 – Where can people find Jeff if they want to keep up with his journey or stay in touch?
Here’s where you can find Jeff Cohen:
The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments on Amazon
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