If you live in New York State and have received a traffic ticket, you may already be familiar with this next person I had the opportunity to interview: my friend and the very successful entrepreneur Matthew Weiss. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of being represented by one of the lawyers at his firm, Weiss & Associates PC, you will want to hear about his entrepreneurial journey and why he started a second business.
In our brief interview, Weiss spoke with me about his dual identity as traffic lawyer and filmmaker, what motivated him to launch this second business venture, and also shared some insights on how to successfully pursue your passions.
Scene 1: The Law Offices of Weiss & Associates PC
At the start of our interview, Weiss takes me back to 1991 when he opened and operated his own law firm, Weiss & Associates PC. With the main offices located in Manhattan, the 20 to 30 lawyers that currently work for him cover the entire state of New York.
Weiss tells me that it’s their job to help New York motorists keep their licenses clean and avoid insurance increases: “We fight, on average, 6,000 traffic tickets every year. Anything bad you do behind the wheel, we can help you get out of trouble.”
Now this is where his story gets really interesting. Twenty years after opening his own law firm, Weiss decided to start a second business and create his own film production company.
Over the last five years, Weiss has been working on his first film, a documentary about a man named Welles Remy Crowther. He researched, wrote, and directed Man in Red Bandana, and the Gwyneth Paltrow-narrated documentary is slated for release sometime next year.
“It’s a great story about a young man who died on 9/11 and what he did on that day, and how his heroics were revealed to the world eight months later due to an ordinary household object.” While Weiss didn’t share too many other details about the film, you can read all about this 9/11 hero’s story on the website.
As Weiss works on marketing and distributing the film—a challenge that is completely new to him—you should take a moment to listen to the full interview below. He talks not only about what inspired him to take on this hero’s story, but how it serves as a good life lesson for anyone else wanting to pursue a new opportunity.
Scene 2: Post-Production, A Man in Red Bandana
Weiss originally heard about Welles’ story from his father, Jefferson Crowther. After learning the details of this man’s amazing story, he was inspired to share it with others.
“I never read a book on filmmaking. I never took a class on filmmaking. But I heard an amazing story that I wanted to share,” he tells me. The basic point he was trying to make? Don’t let yourself get pigeonholed. If there is something you are truly passionate about, just get out there and do it.
In Seth Godin’s latest book, What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn), he talks about this very same point. People spend so much time in fear, believing that they need to be an expert in order to do something. But just because you don’t have training in a particular field or you don’t have some innate insight into a subject doesn’t mean you can’t be good at it.
According to Weiss, “You just need to read and learn and try and try again. Put that effort into it. It’s that love and passion that conquers over experience.” And he knows what he’s talking about.
This is his second soon-to-be successful business venture, and he didn’t get where he is through lack of trying. Just to give you an example, he spent hours trying to perfect a half-minute of footage for his documentary. It took a little bit of patience and whole lot of love to make this product, and he believes everyone else has the ability to do the same.
Scene 3: An Impassioned Call for Passion
When I asked Weiss about whether or not there were any commonalities between his two businesses, his answer was simple:
“For me, I need to love what I’m doing, to believe what I’m doing. And when I started my law firm, I was on cloud nine,” he says. He then goes on to liken the experience to his film: “When I heard Welles’ story, I was just blown away. I thought this was an amazing story and that everyone needed to hear it.”
This is right about where the similarities end though. Weiss explains that, as an attorney, the reward in helping clients win their cases is very short-lived. Once a case is over, people forget about it just a few days later. But, as a filmmaker, his hope is that this inspiring film will touch thousands upon thousands of people now and in the future. He explains:
Over the course of five years and having to wear many hats during the production of the film, Weiss’ passion has never waned. It’s this drive to share Welles’ inspiring story and his wholehearted passion for it that he believes is the reason for his success.
And love it, he does. Weiss was inspired by this story of a little-known American hero so much that he chose to turn his passion for it into a second business—and a film that he could share with others. Even if it’s in the smallest amount possible, his hope is to inspire others to be better people, just as Welles was on 9/11.