By Andris Pone
President, Coin Branding
10. Focus. Dave didn’t get the Tonight Show, and Leno beat him in the ratings every week, but Letterman didn’t fiddle with his formula in an effort to get more market share.
9. Think fresh, not new. Over the years, hundreds of regular features came and went – but the cranky, weird, self-deprecating tone never changed.
8. When you screw up – and you will – apologize and mean it. Dave is remembered as a humble man, not as a jerk, because he (eventually) learned how to say “sorry.”
7. Celebrate your team. Dave honoured his crew by including them in innumerable gags and always admitting he was nothing without them.
6. Care about what people think, but not too much. Letterman cared deeply about his brand, but he cared more about sticking to his vision at any cost.
5. Long term consistency pays off. Even if someone doesn’t like Letterman, they have to respect his 33 years and 6,000 shows in the can.
4. Be authentic. Dave was unvarnished every night – whether jolly, angry, tired or downright unfunny – so everyone felt they knew him.
3. Don’t be afraid to show some humility. Dave could be a tough interviewer and his jokes could be vicious, but people loved him because he made the most fun of himself.
2. Content is king. If Dave couldn’t continue to attract the top celebrities and public figures, he would have been toast years ago.
1. You’ve got to be good. Letterman endeared himself by being both funny and human – but without the funny, no one would have cared.