“I fell in love with waking up in the morning. Every day is a production – for all of us,” said Norman Lear, a legendary Writer, Producer and Free Speech Champion.

After just 30 minutes on stage with him, Norman left an indelible imprint on me (and many of the other CMOs in the room). As he shared his thoughts about marketing and advice for future generations, it became obvious that this Hollywood legend is about much more than humorous quips and funny stories.

But don’t worry, he had plenty of that, too.

On business in America

Norman has been around for a while, and he’d be the first to admit that we’ve come a long way in businesses and the way we market them. Even though we have technology that allows us to reach people quicker and more efficiently than ever before, he reminded me that relationships need to be focused on authenticity. And they are still slow and steady – whether that’s with someone you love, a new friend or a loyal customer.

“Time moves at such a different pace now – even the music is a faster tempo. But it still takes a long time to make those relationships.”

And then, with his next comment, the room got audibly quieter as everyone mulled over his words:

“Get out of the statement and idea of this quarter needing to be bigger than the last one. Nothing can grow forever. But Corporate America seems to think it can. Right now, excess is our biggest product.”

On what’s next

Norman went into some of the flaws he sees in today’s system and said that he believes the great country we’ve created – where people have the opportunity to pursue their dreams in a place that is free and equal – is something worth fighting for. He said it relies on each of us as individuals to trust our guts, be ourselves and cultivate new generations of leaders and change-makers.

That’s why he founded People for the American Way, a nonprofit dedicated to making The American Dream a reality for its citizens. Their mission is to promote equality, diversity, and creativity while encouraging people to participate in civic and political affairs.

“In terms of how to fix it all, I don’t know what to say because we’ve done such a poor job already.”

He said he really believes in the next generation of young people and their ability to create positive change. And, despite the level of depth from which he shared, Norman never let it cloud his positive outlook and humorous approach to….well, everything.

“Trust me, whatever is happening in life there is humor in there somewhere,” he said. “A sock and a sock, and a shoe and a shoe….With one you can’t run, but you can hop.”