Shep Gordon | A Supermensch in Maui (Episode 544)

Shep Gordon (@SupermenschShep) is a talent manager, Hollywood film agent, producer, and author of They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock’n’Roll. He was also featured in Mike Meyers’ documentary — Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon — about his life and times.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • How do you create history rather than waiting for it to happen?
  • Do you have to be a jerk to make it in Hollywood?
  • What’s Shep’s coupon system?
  • What’s the most selfish thing you can do?
  • Is fame toxic?
  • And so much more…

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According to Shep Gordon’s account in the Mike Meyers-directed documentary Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, he was beaten up by Janis Joplin and advised to become Alice Cooper’s manager by Jimi Hendrix before he’d even been in Los Angeles for two days.

And by the accounts of those who have known him over the years, he’s accomplished everything between then and now by being nice. “Shep Gordon is the nicest person I’ve ever met, hands down,” says Mike Meyers — which means a lot coming from a Canadian, eh?

When you’ve lived a life like Shep Gordon and influenced the entertainment industry’s movers and shakers since the ’60s, you can retreat to an island in the middle of an ocean and make people come to you if they want to grab an interview — which is exactly what Jordan did for this episode of The Art of Charm. If you like the stories here, make sure to read Shep’s soon-to-be-published book They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock’n’Roll — because there are a lot more. Enjoy!

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Shep Gordon | A Supermensch in Maui (Episode 544)

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In Hollywood, everybody knows (or claims to know) somebody famous. In Shep Gordon’s case, he very well may have been instrumental in making them famous. As a talent manager, producer, agent, and author of They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock’n’Roll, Shep Gordon has been an insider in the entertainment industry since the ’60s.

With a strange mixture of being a nice guy and possessing mind-staggeringly astounding luck, Shep seems to always be in the right place at the right time — so much so that his friends call him “the Forrest Gump of Hollywood.” But a large part of it is being a fan of the people he works with and trying to understand what makes them tick in order to improve the way he lives his own life.

“There’s a lot of things that I grasp for — and maybe that’s part of what makes it work,” says Shep. “There’s a part of me that’s a little bit groupie. I’m really attracted to fame and power. There’s a part of me that’s always looking for a substitute father, so mentors…I tend to stretch out to.”

In fact, this interview was secured in much the same spirit. Our mutual friend and previous guest Jayson Gaignard saw Mike Meyers’ documentary about Shep and knew he had to meet him — and thanks to his introduction, we knew we had to meet him and help share his stories, too.

“Somebody highlighted to me an email from Jayson,” says Shep. “And I read it and I said, ‘Boy, this sounds really interesting.’ [But] I didn’t answer it. And another one came in. ‘This is different than the others.’ He was able, in a very aloha way, to hit on things that he knew would get my attention. He said, ‘You have a book coming out; I’d love to help you promote the book. I don’t know if you care or not, but if you care how it does, I think I can be useful.’ And that hit a note with me because I don’t have a manager! [As a manager,] I know how much work it takes to get above the noise.”

Through correspondence and meeting, Shep found a kindred spirit in Jayson. After Jayson visited him in Hawaii for three days, Shep wrote him a note that said: “You know, if I had a birth son, I’d sure like him to be like you!”

It was a win/win situation, which Shep says is always his goal in any interaction. Everybody gets what they want — everybody comes away feeling enriched and invigorated in some way just by the occasion of acquaintance. “You get to meet another human being who’s on the same journey, which is great,” says Shep.

It may be surprising that somebody who’s met everyone who’s anyone would still approach new interactions with such an inviting attitude rather than shrug them off with a jaded, cold shoulder. But he’s learned life lessons from some of the world’s best — including the Dalai Lama.

“He walked in the room and I felt like I had just taken the greatest shower of my life,” says Shep of their first meeting. “I don’t know how else to describe it…I got back home to Hawaii and I said, ‘Boy, I sure would love to be able to spend a little time near him and see what this is all about…could I see something in the way he conducts his life that would help my life be better?'”

Shep understands — as we think most of our listeners do — that learning is a lifelong pursuit. He also understands the satisfaction that comes from providing value to others.

“The most selfish thing you can possibly do is serve other people,” says Shep, “because it makes you so happy!”

If you want to hear more, you’re in for a treat: this interview clocks in at just under two hours and is full of so many great, personal stories straight from the Supermensch’s mouth. Shep and Jordan talk about everything from the revitalization of Detroit to Alice Cooper’s warm welcome by the new neighbors upon unknowingly moving next door to an insane asylum. Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about what Shep means when he says someone (e.g., Jayson Gaignard) is full of aloha, how he learned to work for the mutual benefit of paparazzi and celebrities (and the local food bank), Shep’s hand in elevating the status of chefs into celebrity, who he sees as the next trend in celebrity elevation, and lots more. In closing, Shep requests that we pass this along: “Everybody go vote, please!”

THANKS, SHEP GORDON!

If you enjoyed this session with Shep, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter (in spite of Jordan saying Shep’s not on Twitter in the episode, we find him alive and well and residing here):

Click here to thank Shep Gordon at Twitter!

Resources from this episode:

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 898 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.

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