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)
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
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
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
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
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
© Gary James All Rights Reserved