From Childhood Actor to Dealmaker
Jeff B. Cohen’s story is compelling. The former child actor is best known for his role as “Chunk” in The Goonies. The Goonies debuted and quickly became a classic, but Jeff’s career took a different turn. Adolescence changed both his body and his career trajectory. Now, Jeff is one of the entertainment industry’s prominent transactional attorneys. He co-founded Cohen Gardner LLP and has been named by Variety to its Dealmakers Impact List.
Though you may read Jeff’s articles in numerous publications, it’s his book that grabbed my attention. The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments: Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood is a must read for serious negotiators.
Think Chunk meets Machiavelli and you will have a sense of the enduring book he wrote on negotiating. Some are sure to disagree with his philosophy or approach. Some may not like his view of power. Still, the book is a powerful tool for negotiators because it shows a side of negotiating not usually taught in class.
Jeff recently spoke with me about his work, his life as a childhood actor, and his fascinating new book.
How Your Experience Can Affect Your View
Your story from childhood actor to co-founder of your own Beverly Hills-based law firm makes for great reading. Talk to us about how losing work as a teenage actor impacted your view of power.
As they say, the beauty of first love is our ignorance that it will ever end. Acting was my first love as a kid, and I was really broken up when I hit puberty and couldn’t get gigs anymore. Fortunately for me, in high school, I found my way to a book written by Niccolo Machiavelli in the early 16th Century called The Prince.
Machiavelli discussed the question “Is it better to be feared or loved?” He comes to the conclusion that it is better to be feared than loved because people fear you because they have to and love you because they want to. A prince can only rely on what he controls.
The book was a revelation to me, because as a performer being loved is your first priority. It showed me that as a business person I would have to view the world differently than I had.