“The feelings business”

Ask Brian Grazer what he does for a living and he won’t tell you he’s a movie producer. He certainly won’t mention his Academy Award. He’ll say, “I’m in the feelings business.”

That’s what he told me last week—well, not in person. On the phone. Well, no, Grazer didn’t call me. I was using my phone to listen to James Altucher’s podcast interview of him.

Still, Grazer might have called me. Because he’s famous for talking to people, and not just celebrities—anyone he hears about and finds fascinating. I’m fascinating; just ask my dog Fenway. So it’s only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, Grazer shares insights from many of his conversations in his book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, which is a serious contender to be the next thing I read. Nope; it just won.

Yes, I’m writing about the book even before I read it because Grazer said something in his interview with Altucher that I couldn’t wait to write about—that thing about being in the “feelings business.” Grazer distilled his career down to its very essence in just a few words—and you know I’m a sucker for that kind of communication skill.

What does Grazer see as the most important aspect of his work? Not that he oversees billion-dollar budgets and thousands of people. Not that he works with A-list stars and genius actors. Not that he creates memorable, award-winning movies and TV shows.

No, the most important thing is what those movies and TV shows create: feelings. Arrested Development stays with us because it made us laugh—and think; A Beautiful Mind stays with us because it made us cry—and think.

By that measure, I’m in the feelings business too. (So we’re already colleagues. Call me, Bri; let’s do lunch.) And so are my clients, at least for the duration of the speeches they deliver or the bylined articles we write.

I know I’ve said this before, and you can bet I’ll say it again:

Feelings connect us with people.

They’re the secret password that lets you into the private club in your audience’s hearts and minds. If you want to be remembered, you have to be real. You have to make them feel something.

It’s not always easy to convince a Type A executive to do that. But if people have given up their time to sit in an audience and listen to you speak, or to watch a video of your speech, or to read what you (and your trusty writer) have taken the time to write—then you have an obligation to give them something real in return.

The “feelings business”—we should all be in it.