Wally Amos Interview
(Uncle Noname Cookie Company)

Wally Amos is what you might call a multi-talented guy. He's been an agent to the stars. He's the author of two books, The Face That Launched a Thousand Chips (his autobiography) and The Power in You. He's managed a chocolate chip cookie (Famous Amos Cookies) that actually became a star.

Wally’s new company is called the Uncle Noname (pronounced no-na-may) Cookie Company.

We talked with Wally Amos about his "recipe" for success.

Q. You once sent out an 8 x 10 black and white photo of your cookie. It had the A and M Records logo as well as the William Morris logo on the bottom of the picture. The cookie had an agent?
A. When I started the business, the concept was show business. The cookie was a star. Chocolate chip cookies are superstars. I managed the cookie. So, if you're a performer, you gotta have an agent — William Morris and you gotta have a record company.

Q. Yeah, but who was doing the singing?
A. (Laugh). It was just a put-on, obviously. A parody on real life.

Q. You discovered Simon and Garfunkel, The Temptations, and Dionne Warwick. Yet, you left the William Morris Agency. Why?
A. I left William Morris, and went in business for myself as a personal manager, for seven years. During that time I just got tired of show business, the grind of it, not making money. I lost the material drive I had for so many years. I wanted to be a big shot. I just no longer wanted that. I just wanted to make a living, and that's why I started selling cookies. Show business was no longer satisfying. You don't have to do one thing for the rest of your life. It seemed as though I went as far as I could at the Morris office. I got tired of booking rock 'n' roll acts. I asked them to transfer me to the T.V. department and motion picture department. They said they didn't feel the T.V. and motion picture department was ready for a black agent. I said, “well, make me the department head of the music department”. They said, “we don't feel the guys in the music department will take directions from a black”. Well, hell, I couldn't understand that, because some of them had been my secretary, and I had helped train some of those guys. They didn't have any problem then, taking a letter from me. (Laugh). So, I said, well you know, I'll leave.

Q. Marvin Gaye helped you with start up money for your Famous Amos cookies. What kind of a guy was he?
A. Marvin was a fun guy. Marvin was a nice guy. I knew him from early on in his career, since I represented him at the William Morris Agency. He was nice to be around. He was fun to be around. And, he was very talented. But, I think also he was in a lot of pain. Here's a prime example of a guy so talented, but something was missing inside of him. He wasn't really comfortable with Marvin Gaye.

Q. Why do you think that was?
A. People don't know who they are. Why do so many people wander around aimlessly? Are they seeking approval? It could be any number of things. It goes all the way back to your childhood. Money isn't the answer. Fame isn't the answer. Those things have no meaning. And, they are not lasting or satisfying, unless you are able to be locked in a room by yourself and not want to go any place unless you can be comfortable being with yourself, and not needing any crutches or substances to make you feel good. You gotta be able to wake up in the morning and feel good simply because you woke up. That's what I was talking about in “The Power of You”, the power that's inside everyone. It takes time to discover it though. What we believe is not really what we believe. It's what our mother believes. It's what our father believes. It's what our teacher believes. It's what you see on television. It's what you read in magazines. It's what we hear on radio. So, what I say is, cut through all of that and start discerning what the truth is. Not facts, but what is the truth for you. And then, live that truth. Test it. See if it really works.

Q. As I was reading through "The Power in You", it struck me that the people who should read this book probably won't.
A. Why do you say that?

Q. Because the people who should really change their attitude and personality, aren’t even aware of it.
A. That's everybody. (Laughs). It's more than an attitude problem. There are people with good attitudes who don't realize how valuable they are, who have no idea they're this magnificent human being, who still walk around feeling they're victimized. And, that person needs to read the book also. There are people in high places with very responsible jobs who are going through a lot of pain, and a lot of agony, looking for an answer, looking for a glimmer of hope. It's an everybody book, man. There's no question about it. I've been receiving responses from all kinds of people, people in all walks of life. We all got stuff that we're dealing with and I think the book can help people get rid of it.

Q. So it must make you feel good when someone says, "Wally, you changed my life."
A. Oh, let me tell you, it makes me feel damn good! It lets me know that the principles I talk about in the book are relative to everyone, that the things I'm going through, other people are going through also.

Q. A study was once done, about what it takes to be successful. The conclusion was, success wasn't based on someone's education, background, sex, race, or religion. Success was based on two intangible qualities, personality and luck.
A. I disagree. How does one become lucky? There is no such thing as luck. You show me a lucky person and I'll show you someone who on some level, has done some preparation. You just can't wake up one morning and be lucky. There's no such thing as luck. The harder I work, the luckier I get. The more I prepare, the luckier I become.

Q. How about the people who work hard, and are never successful?
A. What is success? Success is relative. Is making a lot of money success? Is that the only measure of success? How do you know people, who work hard and don't make a lot of money, don't see themselves as being successful? That's the judgment, that's the determination we make about other people. If money is your goal, and the criteria by which you measure your success, hard work alone does not produce money. There are more elements to it than that. You can't just work hard. Garbage collectors work hard, but, it's a limited ceiling on their income. Ditch diggers work hard, but, it's a limited amount of money they're gonna make, digging the ditch. So, working hard has nothing to do with it. It's working smart. Its learning what other facets are involved, if making money is what you want to do. If that's how you determine success. Success is more than material stuff really.

Q. Can you say that because you have money?
A. I have no money. I never really made a lot of money from Famous Amos. I felt this way a long time ago. It has nothing to do with money. It's attitude. It's a consciousness. It's a belief system. It has nothing to do with material things. It's not about money. It's the power in you, the power in me.

Q. Morris Levy, the founder of Roulette Records once said, "The music business was a beautiful business. The government doesn't like the mavericks and impresarios. It used to be Horatio Alger stories. Now, they want no talent bums. Stick your head up above the crowd, you get it chopped off." Do you believe that?
A. Some of it. It's always risky to stick your head up above the crowd, to make waves because people are conformists. It's just like me wanting to start a store selling cookies. Everybody said I couldn't do it, because it never had been done before. But hell, at one time, nothing had ever been done before. So, how do you create things? Somebody's got to start it. Why not me? Why not you? But, there's still opportunity to do things. People who wish to express their individuality need to do so. They will find their chances of success are great.

Official Website: www.wallyamos.com/about-wally-amos

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