Ron Meyer: the Path to Success

On Monday, Jan. 11th, students were able to meet Ron Meyer, the Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal. It was an executive chat held at the State Playhouse, in the form of Q&A conducted by Bill Teitelbaum, an alumnus and professor of Cal State LA.

According to Professor Teitelbaum, seven students from Cal State LA will begin their internships with NBCUniversal after the executive chat. Meyer said students aren’t just given the job, they had to stand out from the 30,000 applications who applied.

When asked how Meyer earned the Vice Chairman position by himself two years ago, the story unfolded as the conversation went on.

Ron Meyer was born and raised in Los Angeles, not far from here. His parents were Jewish immigrants who loved films and he inherited this passion profoundly. Meyer attended three different junior high schools. As a way to seek out his personal identity, he engaged in fights throughout his younger days. He then went to an university high school in West Los Angeles to continue classes one day a week till he was 16. Meyer then got drafted at 17 and half and joined the Marine Corp.

As a young man, Meyer looked for jobs in the agency business door to door. He didn’t know anybody in show business, so he went everywhere to deliver his applications. He ended up selling clothes until he got a call from Paul Kohner Agency that their messenger had quit and the position was vacant. Meyer’s career took off since then in 1964.

In 1970, Meyer decided to move on and interviewed for the William Morris Agency in order to advance his career. When he got the job, he would research and study everything about the agency to make sure he will do a good job. Five years later, he and four other agents decided to open up their own agency due to internal conflicts. But the plan fell through and they were fired onto the streets.

However, giving up was not an option for them. They found a simple office with a conference room and started their own company, named the Creative Artists Agency (CAA). They would sign clients from 7:00 am to 12:00 am, and seven days a week. The agency itself became a curiosity.

“I had a good sense of people,” Meyer said. “I was never good at numbers, but I had good people skills and I was very good at my job. I wouldn’t pretend anything I didn’t know. It was the combination of collaborations that made it work. Everybody brought their skills to the company. We tried to be the super bowl team everyday.”

He also commented that being an agent was a 24/7 job. You discover the talent, sign them, and you are responsible for them. You have to made the impression that you are here to serve your clients and you have to make yourself available for them.

“The more money you have, the better you feel your success,” Meyer said about his time at CAA. “But it wasn’t comfortable” due to long hours of work.”

He then served as the President & CEO of Universal Studios, (formerly MCA), and held this position since August 1995, until he was promoted in 2013 to the Vice Chairman position. He was the longest serving chief of a major motion picture company in the history of Hollywood.

When asked what advice he would give to the students that are trying to find a job in the entertainment business nowadays, he told the University Times, “Unless you have something waiting for you after you graduate, you are going to be in the job pool as hundreds and thousands of students competing with each other. So you have to do anything and everything, with honesty and the right morals, to get a job. . . . I sat in the exact place as you guys, and you can make it happen. It’s not easy, but if you let go of that grip, you are making it easy for someone else”.

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