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Jay Leno Quotes

James Douglas Muir Leno

Jay Leno quotes: on living way below his means, making money talking versus building something with your hands, why low self-esteem can be a positive, and more.

“Your preoccupation should be on doing what you do as well as you can.”

“It’s only work if you don’t enjoy it.  Most people have a job, not a career.  Because this is a career for me, everything I do eventually benefits me.”

“If I have one advantage, it’s that I will try to work harder than the next guy.”

“People don’t mind if you have a lot of money if they know you’re working for it.”

“Ambition beats genius 99% of the time.”

“I think high self-esteem is overrated.  A little low self-esteem is actually quite good.  Some people with very high self-esteem tend to be criminals or egomaniacs, you know?  I do understand that children should have good self-esteem, but there’s nothing wrong with feeling like maybe you’re not the greatest.  Maybe you’re not the best, so you should work a little harder.”

“Contact with the customer is what business is all about.”

“When you fix something with your hands it gives you a sense of accomplishment and a sense of self worth.”

“When you work with your hands, you learn to appreciate how easy it is to earn money talking.”

“I always had day jobs, and I did comedy at night.  I’d put my comedy money in one pocket and my job money in another, and I’d live on my comedy money.  I still do.  When it got to the point that one night of comedy was more than a week’s worth of day job money, I thought, ‘Let me get myself some more nights of comedy and lose this regular job.'”

“There’s nothing more frightening than a day job.”

“I’m not a mortgage kind of guy.  When I have the money to buy something, I buy it outright.  And I still bank my TV money.  I’ve never touched a dime of The Tonight Show money.  It’s invested.  I live on the money I earn as a comic.  Comedy is what I do – the key is to make show business money and lead a normal life.  At any moment in show business, you can hear, ‘Sorry, we made a mistake with you.'”

“I always tell new people in show business… I say, ‘Look, show business pays you a lot of money, because eventually you’re gonna get screwed.  And when you get screwed, you will have this pile of money off to the side already.’  I mean, that’s the way it works.”

“Here at work, obviously, I make the most money of anyone on the show, so I try to be the first one here and the last one to leave.  I have the crummiest office.  I try to balance things out, spread it around.”

“If you think of life as like a big pie, you can try to hold the whole pie and kill yourself trying to keep it, or you can slice it up and give some to the people around you, and you still have plenty left for yourself.  The real trick is not to try to get the whole pie, but to keep the biggest slice.”

“Having a life is easy.  Having a career is hard to come by.”

“I love winning!  I’m a very competitive person.  But I don’t have to beat people into submission.  I don’t need to be the highest-paid guy on TV – that really doesn’t matter to me.  You can’t spend all the money you make, anyway.”

“Facebook has revealed their estimated net worth – $96 billion.  That’s almost as much money as businesses lose every year from their employees wasting time looking at Facebook.”

“You can’t stay mad at somebody who makes you laugh.”

“You’re not famous until my mother has heard of you.”

“Don’t forget, I’m in a field where the rewards are so huge compared to the amount of work I put in.  If you work with disabled kids and you spend a year teaching a kid to tie his shoelace and then he forgets, that’s a lot harder work than I do.  My job is not that tough.  There’s not a lot of paperwork, and there’s no lifting.  It’s just time-consuming.”

“Yeah, and I like being a piecemeal comic, the idea of write joke, tell joke, get check.  I don’t do HBO or Netflix specials because I can make almost the same money doing a live show.  Why not just do four or five live shows instead of giving something away on TV?”

“I am the luckiest guy in the world.  I got to meet presidents, astronauts, movie stars, it’s just been incredible.  I got to work with lighting people who made me look better than I really am.  I got to work with audio people who made me sound better than I really do.  And I got to work with producers!  And writers!  And just all kinds of talented people who make me look a lot smarter than I really am.”

“I never spent money before I had it.  I never bought anything before I could afford it.  I never bought anything on time.  I don’t lease vehicles.  Cash is king.  I work and my money relaxes – that’s the way I look at it.  I live pretty frugally.  I’m a huge believer in low self-esteem.”

“I know I’m pretty wealthy, but I live like someone who’s on their last dime.  I take nothing for granted.  I don’t take vacations.  When you’re in show business, you get to go to vacation places.  I enjoy doing philanthropy stuff.  I like feeling like if I don’t work this week, I’m gonna go broke.”

“My advice is just take the job.  Don’t worry about how much it pays.  I’m always astounded when I meet comedians who go, ‘I’m not going there for that kind of money,’ and I go, ‘Who are you?  You haven’t done anything.  No one knows who you are.’  If you’re any good, the money will come.  Pay attention to your product.  If you’re not making enough money, it’s ‘cause you’re not good enough.”

‘[On living the life of his dreams] Oh, sure – but I’m always happy with whatever I have.  If I can get something else, great.  If I lose half of everything tomorrow, fine.  That’s why I don’t buy anything on credit.  If everything is over with now, I still have what I have.  If everything ended tomorrow, I’d say, ‘Well, I did okay.  That was a good run.'”

“What’s more fun?  Every day someone claps… well, thank you very much.  Most people don’t get that in their jobs, you know?  Every day I walk out and I get that on my job and it’s – it’s very rewarding and I don’t take it for granted and it’s a lotta fun.”

“And when it’s successful, it’s very rewarding.  There really is no greater satisfaction than the adulation and respect of other human beings.”

Related: David Letterman quotes.

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