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Hollis Hills’ Donny Deutsch made millions in business

By The Greater Astoria Historical Society

If you have watched NBC’s morning show “Today” in recent years, then perhaps you have encountered the show’s popular discussion segment “The Experts.”

The panel consists of Star Jones (an attorney), Nancy Snyderman (a physician) and Donny Deutsch (an advertising executive) and native of Hollis Hills.

A good analogy about New York City would be to say that Donald Trump is to real estate as Donny Deutsch is to advertising. They share more than just their first name: Their stories are similar, too. Both grew up in wealthy areas in Queens, attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, inherited companies from their fathers and built them into major forces in their respective fields and have achieved success in publishing and as television personalities.

In 1983, Deutsch joined his father’s small advertising agency, Deutsch Inc. and, over the next two decades, built its annual billings to $1.5 billion. It was during this time that Deutsch formulated his “leaner, meaner, faster, smarter” philosophy that made his company one of the Top 10 advertising firms in the country.

Clients included GM, Johnson & Johnson, DirecTV and IKEA. Perhaps his most famous ad campaign was the “gay shoppers” ad for Ikea in 1994, the first time a gay couple was featured in a mainstream ad for a large corporation. Although there was harsh criticism at the time for an ad depicting a same-sex couple shopping for furniture, it generated massive publicity for a brand just entering the U.S. market.

In 2000, Deutsch sold his shares of Deutsch Inc. for a reported $280 million and branched out into new areas. He formed a media company and, in 2004, began a four-year run as host of “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” a nightly show on cable news network CNBC.

Interestingly, Trump himself appeared more than eight times on “The Big Idea,” and Deutsch, in return, appeared several times on challenges for Trump’s show “The Apprentice.”

Deutsch wrote a best seller in 2005, “Often Wrong, Never in Doubt.” In the book, he describes his business motivation techniques. Amazon reviewed it, saying it was “an inspirational book from one of America’s most colorful and exciting entrepreneurs.” In 2008, he followed up “Often Wrong” with the eponymous “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.” A companion of sorts to his television show, this newer book used examples of successful entrepreneurship to inspire.

Deutsch continues to be sought after for his business advice, as evidenced by his current status as one of “The Experts” on “Today.” His teachings can be summed up as being personally empowering, team-valued and hyper-goal oriented.

As Deutsch wrote in “Often Wrong,” “The key to success is not purely who’s the smartest, who’s the best, but also who can say with conviction, ‘I deserve it.’ The entire concept is wrapped up in one phrase: ‘Why not me?’”

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