The following is a guest post from best-selling author and journalist Josh Young. Young relates his account of his first work session with Wayne Rogers on their book Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success to be published February 11, 2011. Rogers is the star of the classic TV series M*A*S*H, and an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur and financial advisor to actors, rock stars and business people.
Wayne and I met in Philadelphia to begin working on his book in August 2009. The first night we had planned to talk over dinner before starting the heavy lifting the following day. We were told by our hotel concierge to try a hip brasserie called Parc, run by local restaurateur extraordinaire Stephen Starr, that was located on Rittenhouse Square.
It was a beautiful summer evening, and the square was buzzing with activity. Clearly, Parc was the place to be. Located on the ground floor of a building that contained luxury apartments, it was designed like a classic French bistro. The restaurant opened onto the square, and the outside tables were packed with a fashionable Center City crowd nibbling on grilled sardines and sipping Sancerre. The inside bar was packed. I checked with the hostess on the wait for walk-ins: 90 minutes.
As inviting as the bar scene looked, we had work to do. We headed across the square to a different restaurant. Halfway there, two women stopped Wayne for photos. “The major TV events in my lifetime were the space landing, the election of JFK, and the final night of M*A*S*H,” one of the ladies gushed.” Wayne obliged, and soon we were on our way.
We entered the new restaurant. As we made our way past the bar, a man wearing a colorful shirt bellowed, “Wayne Rogers! What are you doing here?”
It turned out that the gregarious fellow wasn’t merely a Trapper John fan; he was Ira Lubert, a well-known Philadelphia businessman who runs a private equity investment firm. In fact, Ira and Wayne were old friends, and they had been partners in several business ventures over the years.
As we made small talk, Ira volunteered that we should really be eating at Parc. We relayed the story of the 90-minute wait and our need to begin working on the book.
“Come on, let’s go,” Ira said. “It’s in my building, and I’ve got lots of stories.”
Minutes later, we were back at Parc. Introductions to the manger were made. Ira selected the perfect people-watching table on the sidewalk for the three of us, and we were promptly seated. After a steady flow of passers-by stopped to talk to Ira, it soon became clear that Ira didn’t live in the building, he owned the building.
For the next two hours, we ate a fantastic dinner and watched the city life flow by. Out of the dinner came a story we used in the book. Wayne and Ira had been partners in a unique telemarketing company. The business sold family movies over the phone, but its real asset was a sophisticated automated calling system that could be licensed for emergency use.
As we left Parc, Ira asked where we were eating the following night. Wayne demurred and asked for a recommendation.
“Barclay Prime, Stephen’s new steakhouse,” Ira said. “It’s terrific and always booked. I’ll make sure you have a great table.”
Besides the telemarketing story, the dinner underscored another simple lesson that applies to business and to life: sometimes it’s who you know…
Josh Young is a bestselling author who specializes in collaborations with notable entertainment figures, most recently, Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me with Howie Mandel. As a journalist, he has worked for Esquire, George, and LIFE magazines. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Wayne Rogers is an extremely successful entrepreneur in a wide variety of fields, and has served as a financial advisor to actors, rock stars, and businesspeople. Still known for his role as Trapper John on the 1970s TV series M*A*S*H, he has remained active in show business, from acting in television sitcoms and dramas, films, and stage plays to producing HBO movies and Broadway plays. He currently appears as a panelist on Fox Business Channel’s top-rated weekly show, Cashin’ In. He lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife Amy.