Shaw’s Showbiz Stories
Show Success Secrets

By Tim Boxer

OU can learn a lot by watching performers on stage. Ron Shaw, who in an earlier life was a standup comedian, learned timing, how to connect with an audience, how to project, how to work a crowd, and most important, how to pay attention to detail.

He never forgot the time he opened for Dean Martin at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. He was struck by the attention Martin paid to every detail of his performance. Martin was extremely serious and thorough about every aspect of his performance.

“Every beat in his act, down to where he would sip his drink and slur his words, was practiced,” Ron writes in his wonderfully absorbing autobiography, Pilot Your Life.

The most important thing he learned from Martin, he writes, was that “successful professionals stay at the peaks of their fields not due to luck, but simply because they are more obsessed than anyone else with growing and perpetually improving what they do.”

In his eleven-year career as a comedian, Ron absorbed so much technique and secrets of success from the stars he worked with that he was able to apply his acquired wisdom in the next stage of his life – selling pens.

From show business, Ron learned how to dress, walk and make an entrance – which he adapted in his business situations.

He noticed that when a performer is introduced, often he would wait three beats before coming out onstage. He would always look behind him as he walked out, as if talking to someone “thus creating a certain mystique and theatricality.”

Ron says he learned more “about how to walk into a meeting or work a roomful of people from great stage performers than from any classroom or other experience in my life.”

Pilot Your Life is chockfull of interesting showbiz anecdotes from which valuable lessons are gleaned that can help propel you up the ladder in the business world. It certainly rocketed Ron all the way to the top. (See

In fact, Ron became so stupendously successful that today he is president and CEO of Pilot Pen Corporation of America. Headquartered in Trumbull, Conn., the company, which produces more than a hundred different pens and markers, has over 270 employees with $200 million in sales last year.

Ron’s autobiography, while chronicling his exciting career in show business and corporate life, is an engrossing textbook on how to succeed. Some of his salient points:

When speaking, always open with your strongest material.

Develop the ability to sell yourself.

Don’t always go with consensus thinking. Sometimes you have to challenge conventional wisdom.

It’s often necessary to bend the rules and take risks to move forward.

It’s important to define goals for yourself and for the people in your company.

One significant lesson – on perceived value – is derived from a story Ron relates concerning Picasso.

The maestro was sitting at an outdoor café when an older woman recognized him and, all excited, asked him to draw something on a piece of paper.

Picasso made a sketch. The woman asked if she could have it.

“Of course, Madam. That will be five thousand dollars.”

“Five thousand dollars! Why, that drawing only took you a few seconds!”

“No, Madam. That drawing took fifty-two years.”

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