Ten Money Questions for Howard Bragman
Howard Bragman knows a bit about fame. He’s the colorful founder of Fifteen Minutes, the boutique public relations firm in Los Angeles. His agency specializes in the business of entertainment that includes assisting prominent clients from the gay and lesbian community. Read on to hear his take on fame and fortune… you’ll learn that sometimes even the “rich” need to live on a budget.
1. In your line of work, you get to hobnob with celebrity clients. Money buys access, comfort and some might say happiness. How often do you see money doing anything good?
I see money do amazing things and I have since 1989 when I started my first company. We have always done a disproportionate amount of work on a pro bono and reduced fee basis to help make the world a better place. We have been able to do that because we were a profitable company with a need to make a difference.
2. What is your most significant memory about money?
I remember when I was young and poor and it was time to write my checks how gnarly my stomach would get because there always seemed to be so much month left at the end of the money.
3. What is your worst habit around finances?
4. We typically think “rich and famous” go hand-in-hand. Do you ever see former clients fretting about money after their 15 minutes is up? Got any financial advice for those on the D-List?
When people come to me and tell me their lifelong passion is to be an actor I ask them what they are going to live on until they get there. I encourage them to bartend, temp, massage, anything that will enable them to earn a living wage so they can take the time it takes to make their dream come true. And yes, I do know famous poor people. Money, like fame is currency. They are not goals, just a means to an end.
5. Why was it so important for you to be financially independent before coming out of the closet?
I have always been fiercely independent. I didn’t want my coming out to be muddled with other issues. And give me a break – I was 22 and it was 1978.
6. I’ve been told that you and your partner, Chuck have a lot of animals. Would it have been cheaper to raise a couple of kids? Are all those pets worth the price?
We have purchased a piece of land in Ojai and are building a horse ranch. I expect we will add to the menagerie with chickens, goats and whatever else ends up in our lives. I think pets are a bargain for the amount of joy and love we receive.
7. What is the most important lesson that your grandmother taught you about money?
I learned that true happiness, for me, comes from helping other people. Even when she could not afford it, she was amazingly generous.
8. Midwesterners are stereotyped as having a better work ethic. Is this true?
I sure have met a lot of New Yorkers and Angelinos along the way with some pretty spiffy work ethics, so I wouldn’t give work ethics to any particular region. I do think my Midwestern upbringing was of great value. I am not too cynical and jaded and I can be impressed.
9. Do you remember how money first came up in your relationship with Chuck?
Money wasn’t the first thing that came up. Eventually, money enabled Chuck to leave a job he wasn’t excited about and to follow his passion of training horses.
10. What are your plans for retirement?
I tried retirement – it doesn’t work for me. I plan to continue to consult and be active as long as my synapses are still firing. That being said, we plan to spend the majority of our time in Ojai and I’m sure there’s a lot of “residue” from all our animals that will need shoveling.
More about Howard Bragman
For nearly three decades, Howard Bragman’s expertise in media and pr has solidified his reputation as one of the nation’s best known and most respected public relations experts.
He founded, Bragman Nyman Cafarelli, the largest entertainment PR firm in the US in 1989 and sold it to IPG in 2003. In 2005 Bragman began, Fifteen Minutes and in less than three years, it has become one of the industry’s most respected boutique pr firms with clients in crisis communications, celebrity representation, corporate entertainment, consumer branding, GLBT issues, cause related work and special events.
Bragman is a regular television, radio and newspaper pundit on issues involving entertainment and popular culture. He also shared his expertise as an adjunct professor of PR at the USC’s Annenberg School for Communications for six years.
For more information about Howard Bragman and Fifteen Minutes, please visit www.FifteenMinutes.com.
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.