StartUp: Being J. Peterman


O’Hurley On…

Living fully: A very successful friend once offered words to live by. “He said to me, ‘John, you have two choices in life. You can have an ordinary life or you can have an extraordinary life. It has nothing to do with money or power and it has everything to do with the power and the richness of your choices. And that defined my life from there on in.”

The power of imagination: “I’ve always followed my imagination and nothing else. And that’s what leads me often to composing music, writing books and motivational speaking. It has moved me into the world of venture capital. Your imagination has nothing to do with fear—your rational mind knows what fear is and tells you what you can and cannot do—but your imagination knows everything about you and it will never lie to you.”


On overcoming obstacles: “When I went to New York  [as an actor starting out] I had the most deeply developed sense of stage fright—I had to live with that. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do what I was supposed to be doing—I was scared to death of it.

"I had a talk with myself one night and I gave myself a new set of images. I was on a bus on my way to a show called “Mass Appeal”—it was a two-man show—and it was show that I had wanted to do all my adult life—and I sat on the bus and was starting to feel the anxiety begin to creep up. I had a long talk with myself. I made a promise to myself that night that I was going to have fun onstage. And the second thing was that I was going to surprise myself at some time during the evening. Those two things have stayed with me through today and those are the two things I say to myself when I walk on stage. I have a prayer I still say before every show I do.”

Other roles he has loved: “King Arthur in “Spamalot.” He and Peterman are the same people, just a thousand years apart. He was as much of an elegant lunatic as Peterman was. And then the other character I love playing and I identify with is Billy Flynn in “Chicago”— he has none of the lunacy but all of the elegance.”

His best advice: “The world is hungry for great ideas and too often, everybody thinks that everybody else has a better idea than they do.”


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