Skip to main content

Andy McNicol

 “Secrets to Success from Chrissy Teigen’s Literary Agent” Transcript

Kerry Diamond: Hi everyone. Welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe, the number one female focused food podcast in the universe. I'm your host, Kerry Diamond. I'm so excited to introduce you to today's guest, Andy McNicol. A literary agent at WME. Andy represents a few people you've definitely heard of. Chrissy Teigen, Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, Nasty Gal and Girl Boss founder Sophia Amoruso, and even Cherry Bombe.

Kerry Diamond: Andy is the reason the Cherry Bombe Cookbook exists. She is also the person I often turn to for advice about life and work, so I thought it would be great to have her on the show to help all of us.

Kerry Diamond: Let's thank today's sponsor, Sugar Free 3 by author Michele Promaulayko, the former editor in chief of Women's Health, and Cosmopolitan Magazine. Sugar Free 3 is the perfect book for people like me who have a wicked sweet tooth, and are trying to control their sugar intake. It's shocking how much sugar is snuck into the foods you least expect it to be in, like yogurt, wheat bread, and even salad dressing. Crush your cravings and super charge your health with this simple three week plan. Sugar Free 3 by Michele Promaulayko is available at major book sellers nationwide.

Kerry Diamond: Let's take care of some housekeeping. Tickets for our jubilee conference in New York City are on sale right now. The event is taking place on Sunday, April 5th, in Brooklyn. We would love for you to join us for some great food, networking, and conversations. Jubilee NYC is the largest gathering of women and food in the US, so don't miss out. Get your ticket today on Now for today's show.

Kerry Diamond: Andy McNicol, welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe.

Andy McNicol: Thank-you thank-you.

Kerry Diamond: It's very exciting to have you here.

Andy McNicol: It's kind of nerve wracking, but it's exciting.

Kerry Diamond: Is this the first time you're on the show?

Andy McNicol: This is the first time I'm on this show.

Kerry Diamond: That's crazy. As I said earlier, you work at WME. Can you tell our listeners what WME is?

Andy McNicol: Well, it used to be the William Morris Agency. We are an entertainment firm. Which means that we are in every sort of sector of the entertainment business. Music, TV, film, books, digital, podcasting, live events. We take creative people and we help them shape their dreams. WME is part of a larger entity now called Endeavor. We have, as part of that, IMG Models, Fashion Week, the UFC, PBR. I could go on.

Kerry Diamond: I feel like WME just covers everything.

Andy McNicol: We aim to. We hope to. I think that part of staying relevant in entertainment is getting really familiar with what that next thing is going to be. Lots of conversations right now about Tik Tok, and who's right for it? Who's not right for it? We just had somebody in digital sign The Hype House, which had the whole New York Times article on it. Which is these houses, where these 18 year olds live and make Tik Tok videos.

Kerry Diamond: I heard about that. You have been at WME since 2003, right?

Andy McNicol: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kerry Diamond: That's a long time in New York years to stay at one company.

Andy McNicol: Yes, and it was my second job out of school. It feels like forever, and it feels like I've also worked at six companies. Although I've only had two jobs.

Kerry Diamond: Well it's almost a completely different company today than it was in 2003. What do you think has been the secret to your longevity?

Andy McNicol: I think being open to learning new things. It's crazy, I was talking to a nine year old nephew of mine about what an answering machine was. He literally was like, "What do you mean?". I was like, "It's sort of like a voicemail device". He was like, "What?". When I started, Instagram did not exist. Facebook was, maybe Myspace. Some people knew what Facebook was. But the whole digital creator, influencer, so many things that are really important in what we do together didn't even exist.

Andy McNicol: I think it's staying open, and never being like, "Oh, I know this", or, "I understand. This is what this is". I think it's a very dangerous way of thinking for anyone.

Kerry Diamond: I guess at the end of the day too, in your business, so much of it comes down to a personal connection. Because literally, I can use this as an example. I was at a dinner. You were at the same dinner. You came over to me and said, "Cherry Bombe should have a cookbook". Boom, that's literally how it started. A face to face, a good old fashioned face to face conversation.

Andy McNicol: Yes, absolutely. I think that has to be it. But I think more over than not, you have to make that overture in person, on a DM, whatever it is. Be a fan. I think that's also what has sustained me. I'm curious. But more than that, the people who grab me or make me cry or laugh, or I remember. I have the kind of personality, and chutzpah or balls or whatever, to go up to that person. Because the bar of entry is so low.

Andy McNicol: They're not interested. They don't like it. Whatever it may be, people want to hear, "Wow. Something you did matters. I'm interested. I'm curious". I think that's longevity.

Kerry Diamond: You went to Yale and studied art history.

Andy McNicol: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: I had no idea you went to Yale.

Andy McNicol: I keep that on the DL.

Kerry Diamond: Which is funny, because people always tease folks who go to Ivy League schools, that that's the first thing they tell you. But it was not the first thing you told me, and we've been friends for a long time. What did you think you would do after college?

Andy McNicol: I thought I would work at a gallery, actually. I had worked at Matthew Mark's old gallery in Chelsea while I was in college. I really really thought I wanted to be in the art world. It was a very heady time in the New York art world. I think it was one of the first times that young female artists, in the early 2000s, were really having this moment. A lot of them had gone to the Yale arts school, so I thought I would do that.

Andy McNicol: Which was problematic, only because you have to sell the art, and I really loved the art and the artists. They were priced quite high, these pieces. I quickly determined that you couldn't game who you wanted that to go to. Somebody had $100,000, they got the painting. I was like, "But you don't love it the way that I do. How do you ...".

Andy McNicol: I was so frazzled. Then somebody was like, "It's a business. You have to understand that part of it if you want to be here". I was like, "Yeah". It didn't speak to me. I felt very confused. Then of course I made the brilliant decision to then go work in fashion, which ultimately didn't make sense to me either, so that was awesome.

Kerry Diamond: So you went to Vogue.

Andy McNicol: I went to Vogue.

Kerry Diamond: What was your first job there?

Andy McNicol: I was the assistant to the artistic director while I was there. That was also -

Kerry Diamond: Who was the artistic director?

Andy McNicol: Charles Churchward. This is before people were designing online, so he was doing everything by hand. Literally laying out the magazine by hand. Which was such an art form, really. He had learned from Alexander Lieberman. There was no In Design files or anything of that nature.

Kerry Diamond: That was during the really formidable Conde Nast years. When Vogue had a ton of power.

Andy McNicol: Literally I always say this. I'm the only person who watches The Devil Wears Prada and, "Aw, my childhood. There you are". It was. It was really heady, and it was the old Conde Nast building. Every floor had its own wacky design, and really was, Vogue looked exactly like you though Vogue offices would look like. The New Yorker, literally paper coming out of the elevator. It was just really wonderful.

Andy McNicol: In fact, Tiny Brown's book, Vanity Fair Diaries, I think does a really specific job of explaining just how glamorous that was.

Kerry Diamond: You were pretty young. Were you intimidated? Or did you love this atmosphere?

Andy McNicol: Both. I think I was scared that I was going to be found out, that somehow I didn't belong there. Because it is true, Anna did interview everyone who worked there. She wasn't interviewing me deeply for an assistant position. But she had to approve. That is frightening. You think about what you're going to wear, and all this stuff. Meanwhile, no one cares. But -

Kerry Diamond: That's not true. Yes they do.

Andy McNicol: I -

Kerry Diamond: Anna's not going to hire you if you walk in there in your outdoor voice's -

Andy McNicol: Track suit.

Kerry Diamond: Track suit, yeah.

Andy McNicol: That's true. But I think you really always are running around with this deep sense of, "Am I going to be found out? That I don't belong here?". Then you realize as you get older, everyone running around there has that feeling, probably except for Anna".

Kerry Diamond: But the Anna interview is intimidating. I remember one of the young women who was working for me at Harper's Bazaar had an Anna interview. She just choked. Anna asked her, "What are you reading?". She couldn't pull a single book out of thin air. She said, "What movies have you seen lately?". She couldn't name a movie. She just completely choked and came back to the office in tears.

Andy McNicol: By the way, those are her questions. She wants to know that you have a life outside of what you're doing. What did you bring into the office? Then you get involved in the job. At the time, these were very demanding people. You're running around doing everything, from getting coffee. I remember really specifically doing expenses in the Vogue fashion closet, with two other assistants. They're all by hand, half of them are in Italian. You're just like, "What is going on?".

Andy McNicol: But the good news is, and I think this is true in a lot of first jobs and industries. The friends I made there are still my best friends for 20 years. The fact that we have that in common, that was where we met, is pretty special. I would say that while I didn't wind up being a star there, or getting promoted, it was always a bit of a struggle, the people I met made that experience totally worthwhile.

Kerry Diamond: How did you make the leap from Vogue to WME?

Andy McNicol: Well, I quit Vogue with no other, I didn't really know what I was going to do. I was like, "Oh, I'm going to go home for the summer and hang out with my parents". Which I did.

Kerry Diamond: You quit with no job?

Andy McNicol: I quit with no job. Because I was just very confused. I was like, "I went to Yale, and I am steaming thongs and running around with magazines and coffees". I'm like, "This is just not what I'm ...". It just didn't connect. I didn't know what I was doing. But I knew that it wasn't the thing.

Andy McNicol: I was like, "You know what? I took a job right out of school. I'm going to take a summer off", and I did. By the way, told no one. So a surprise to everyone.

Kerry Diamond: What did your folks say?

Andy McNicol: Well here's the good thing about having a Puerto Rican mother, who is not letting me get away with pretty much anything ever. Which is, I was home for a couple weeks, having fun. Having a summer. She was like, "This is really great. It's so nice to have you here. But you've got to go. You've got to figure out what you're going to do, because this is not it. We love you. Last child we're ever going to have. But no, you've got to get out and figure it out". I was like, "Uh-oh".

Andy McNicol: I went to my family network, friends and family who had worked in publishing. I was very very lucky to sit down for a drink with my uncle ... This is so crazy. My uncle's ex-boyfriend. We sat down for a drink at this bar in Chelsea. He was like, "Name five things, five totally it doesn't matter, what you do. Regardless of education, money, opportunity, just five things that you would be interested in. Then let's start making a tree, as to how you can figure that out. Because somewhere in there is a passion".

Andy McNicol: On that was entertainment. I didn't really know what that meant, coming from New York. Where in LA people grow up wanting to be agents. I grew up in New York City, I still have to explain to people what I do.

Andy McNicol: I said entertainment. His name was Roger McFarland. He was like, "Okay. I used to be a dancer for Tommy Tune. I was represented by the William Morris Agency. Let me call them and see if you could be a temp or an intern there. They always had them when I was there". I was like, "Okay". To his great credit, he did. I became a temp, which is called a floater in our company.

Andy McNicol: It was there, it's funny. Because HR ... I was very young. HR was like, "You have to meet this woman. You have to meet this woman. You have to be on her desk". I was like, "What does she do?". At this time I thought I wanted to be with directors and writers, theater. I don't know. They were like, "She's this incredible book agent". I was like, "I don't know".

Andy McNicol: They were like, "No, just go sit with her. Trust me". I walked in, and it's like meeting someone you're going to marry. Or everyone always says, and I felt this way too. When you meet someone who's going to be important in your life. The truth is, something cellular in you knows. I knew. I was like, "I don't know what it's going to be. But I'm here for this". She was a head to toe Celine.

Andy McNicol: I just was coming from Vogue. I was like, "Yes. Whatever, yeah. I'm in".

Kerry Diamond: Who was that person?

Andy McNicol: Joni Evans, who had been one of the first female presidents of a major imprint at Random House, and then Random House. She had switched over into agenting. She was, and remains to be, a very important person in my life. The first person who really showed me, A, what it was to really work, and two, that you're not two different people. You're who you are in your actual life and your family life and your home life and your personal life, and your work life.

Andy McNicol: I think people make this mistake of bifurcating that. "Oh, I'm like this at work. But at home I'm really like this". No. I mean, you're only one person. I think especially in this day and age, a level of deep authenticity is important.

Kerry Diamond: This is so interesting to me, because I didn't know this about your early years. If I had to guess, I would have thought you were that super focused person who had all the internships, who had it all figured out, all lined up. Graduated, boom, you're on the path.

Andy McNicol: No. I always say, I am super super appreciative. I was saying last night to someone, I love my job. I still love my job. I love the mechanics of what I do. But it was kind of, it was an odd process. It wasn't necessarily a fluke, but it was a confluence of events that I just was like, "I'm going to try". I wasn't ... I mean, I was very focused, and I did all the right things. But they didn't add up. That was fascinating to me.

Andy McNicol: Because I've had moments in my life where I'm like, "But I've done all the right things". It didn't add up at the time. I'm kind of glad it didn't.

Kerry Diamond: You mentioned the mechanics of what a literary agent does. Why don't you tell us?

Andy McNicol: Well, I think the most important thing that you do is you champion somebody's voice. Some people, authors, I tend to primarily work almost exclusively in non-fiction. Some exceptions to that. But primarily that. Really what I'm attaching to is somebody's point of view. The way they see the world. Some people will come in, and that's very polished, because they are writers by trade. Some people have a deep message, but need help telling it.

Andy McNicol: You're sort of like a midwife in that way. You're constantly evaluating what the person needs, how they need it. Shaping the material. Shaping the message. I always say that the sale of the book, or now the podcast, or the digital show, is the most cursory level of my work. Yes, I have to know how to make a deal at this point in my life. But it's everything else around it. Protecting it. How does it role out into the world?

Andy McNicol: Because it's precious, and it's people's dreams. I think that's, I try and be very careful with that.

Kerry Diamond: You have some phenomenally successful clients. What would you say is the common denominator among all of them?

Andy McNicol: I will say, you included, passion. They return the email at 2:00 in the morning, 1:15, 6:00 am, when they can. I'm always shocked. It's funny, early in my career, it's not somebody I represented, but had been represented at our company. I was doing something for Rachel Ray. It was a very small deal. I was an audio deal for something she had written.

Andy McNicol: She personally emailed me back about something. I was like, "Oh, that's why you're so successful. Because you care". It's really easy to care about the $300,000 deal. It's harder to care about the $300 deal, when you're that person, and she cared. That level of specificity spoke to me early in my career. I would say that all of my clients actually have that. They are very aware of every part of their brand.

Andy McNicol: What they also have in common is that, what they are connecting with is really a deep point of view that they have about the world. Whether that be in food, politics, lifestyle, wellness. They're letting you into what they believe. It's constantly having that meter of, "Yes, this checks out for me". No one can filter that for someone.

Kerry Diamond: For the folks listening who have an idea for a book or a TV show, how important is social media today? Can you get a deal if you don't have a big social following?

Andy McNicol: Well it's funny, because I think fiction, it's almost, no one has a social following in fiction. It is truly on the strength of the book. Some people are like, "Oh, but you have to have a hook. It has to be ...". First and foremost, none of these things are going to get you a book in and of themselves. A huge social following is not going to do it. A successful, fill in the blank, is not going to do it. The material has to be good. It has to be considered. It has to somehow be deeply connected to you.

Andy McNicol: However, again, in non-fiction there is this attention paid to platform building. Because we all are, our attention spans are rather short. How do you game that a little bit? It's by having a connected following. Numbers are less important to me and a lot of people I know. Engagement is something I look at deeply.

Andy McNicol: It could be a smaller following, but an engaged following. Quite frankly, it doesn't really matter in what platform you have it on. But again, if something is amazing, which very few things are. I think that we all probably kid ourselves a little bit. "This is the best. This ...". There are very few things that are undeniable and universal. Those things still make it through. That gives you the hard stops where you're like, "Yes, this made it through".

Andy McNicol: Most things need a little help. Then the social really does help. Platforming.

Kerry Diamond: It's interesting to see in food what's bubbled up over the past few years. Because there have been some significant things, starting with Chrissy, your client. She's just a phenomenon. Samin Nosrat. Her book really felt like it came out of nowhere, and was just, boom.

Andy McNicol: Well I think, it's funny. Both of them, while on different spectrums, I think have one thing in common. The great goodwill of the community that surrounds them. You can not speak to anyone in food that does not adore Chrissy. This was long before the cookbooks and the cookware line. Or Samin. Samin had been this great cooking instructor.

Andy McNicol: They were, and this goes back to something I said earlier. They were real fans of what they did. They both asked a ton of questions, went to all the restaurants. Experienced it. Then through their own filters, again, very different. But I think that they both had a tremendous amount of goodwill in a community.

Kerry Diamond: But Samin's was interesting, in that it was a cookbook that succeeded, even though it was not like any other cookbook out there. No photos, filled with illustrations. Big, thick, heavy. All those things.

Andy McNicol: I think though that she really knew how to teach someone how to cook. I think that sometimes we forget, she had a very specific point of view. Actually, the funniest thing is, the woman who edited that book I know quite well. She was like, "She didn't even want recipes, or didn't even want the illustrations". It's like, "Wait, there's a cookbook without recipes?". Of course, someone who really knows how to cook will tell you, that's actually how you learn to cook.

Andy McNicol: But she had a spectacular point of view. Then the show is just such a breath of fresh air. I can not tell you how many times I've heard that show pitched. All the times people are like, "I don't know". Then you watch it and you're like, "How did this show not exist before?". It's alchemy, but it's also the right person with the right message at the right time.

Kerry Diamond: Like Alison Roman.

Andy McNicol: I think she's another one.

Kerry Diamond: She's the third, the other phenom.

Andy McNicol: I just saw her this morning on the Today Show. So yeah, she is. I will also say this. Knew who she wanted to be very early. Again, these women all have a very strong differentiating point of view. At the time, I think that no one had really jumped off Instagram the way that Alison did. I think something that admire, and now everyone does, it was, she would respond to everyone. If somebody made a recipe of hers, she would respond to them and be like, "That's so awesome". Or do it on her feed.

Andy McNicol: Now everyone does that. But I remember when I first saw that, I was like, "That's a good idea". Because again, community. Community to me actually is more important than a social following, and it's more important than any numbers. It's probably harder to track. But you can feel it. When a community gets behind something, which is now what I think we're all seeing with Alison, you can get behind it, and it feels different. There's a different stickiness to it.

Kerry Diamond: If one of our listeners is out there, and she's got a great idea that she's sitting on, and she really wants to find an agent, but doesn't have a connection. Doesn't know anybody in the industry. How would she even begin?

Andy McNicol: I think that there's a lot of resources, actually. Some of them totally old fashioned. You can go to the back of any book that you love ... Now first of all, I will also say this. Educate yourself before you're like, "I want to do X, Y, or Z". Because if you go in, and this has happened, and you're like, "I don't really read in the space", or, "I don't really know that person", but they have a huge book on the best seller list at that time, it's a little unsettling.

Andy McNicol: I think if you want to do a cookbook, or if you want to do an advice book, or you want to do a wellness book, a novel. Whatever it may be. Educate yourself. Know what you like. Chances are, if you really love something, you go back and you look at the acknowledgements, the people who helped birth that are going to be people who you connect to, or may connect to you.

Andy McNicol: Do a little homework. Go a little deeper. Talk to those people. All those people have very easy emails that are all attributable. You can go on any website, find them. Everyone's like, "Oh, no one's going to read something that just comes over the ...". People do.

Kerry Diamond: Do you read your DMs?

Andy McNicol: Yeah, I do actually. That's a faster way to get to people on private. It's a faster to get to people. Or you know what's funny? That I rely a lot now on our assistant pool, because they're in it more than I am. "Who are you interested in? Where are you going to dinner? What do you eat?". Sort of a version of the Anna question. "What do you see? What do you do? What are you out there?".

Andy McNicol: Sometimes it's really funny. I'm like, "Oh, I've got to check this out". I was unaware of Cameo, and hiring people to do weird birthday greetings from bravo celebrities. I was like, "This is a fantastic idea".

Kerry Diamond: Wait, what's it called?

Andy McNicol: It's called Cameo.

Kerry Diamond: Cameo, okay.

Andy McNicol: You basically can pay for a variety of reality stars to deliver private messages to whomever you intend.

Kerry Diamond: Oh my god.

Andy McNicol: Somebody did this ... Oh, no. Somebody did this for my dear friend and colleague for her birthday. It was a couple of younger people in our office. A, it was the most thoughtful gift in the world. But B, I was like, "This is a great mechanism. How am I not knowing this exists?". I like to learn things.

Kerry Diamond: If anyone wants me to wish their friends happy birthday, it starts at $19.99. You can DM me. All right, what are cookbook publishers looking for today?

Andy McNicol: I think they're looking for a couple things. Again, what's become really important, and this actually I think you guys were at the forefront of, is experiential. I think that the Cherry Bombe conferences, the Jubilees, were early to this. Talk about a community. I mean, that has been so wonderful to see grow. But experiential, the ability to talk about something, be in the room.

Andy McNicol: A touring property, I think. "Can this go on the road in a certain way? Can this work live? Can you connect with people? Does it have a platform?". Then, does it have a point of view? Now, point of views can be, and I think the people I tend to work with have very deep ones that can cross over into different years.

Andy McNicol: But then there's also the ketogenic diet, or Skinny Girl. That's a point of view. It's not going to maybe be a point of view longevity wise. But in the short term, and they also are looking for that. It's sort of a short term point of view, a long term point of view. A platform. The ability to talk about it. To expand it in different arenas. Can you do a podcast? Can you do an in store, live appearance?

Andy McNicol: When I started doing cookbooks, it was The Food Network or The Food Network. Those days are way over. Instagram I think has so much more. Buzzfeed, Tasty rather, has so much more staying power than any of these things. Or the very long tail version of it is, open a great restaurant, for food, and do that. But that's a long time.

Kerry Diamond: Let's talk about some of your clients. We have to start with Chrissy. We're still saying Chrissy Teigen, right? Even though she said everyone's been pronouncing her last name wrong for all these years?

Andy McNicol: Yeah, but she too pronounces it wrong at this point, so it's fine. I think we're all good. Yes, Chrissy.

Kerry Diamond: How did you and Chrissy come into each other's lives?

Andy McNicol: Through her modeling agent, actually. Her love of food, and John's love of food, is long long standing. She had had this blog many many years ago, that was just her feelings about food. She would write about it, and she loved it. I think about five or six years ago we met in that capacity. A wonderful editor, Francis Lam, at Clarkson Potter, they had been talking to one another. They shared a mutual background in Asian cuisine, and family stories.

Andy McNicol: He had reached out to her. She didn't quite know what she wanted to do at that point. She didn't really know if she wanted to hold that space. "Do I want to jump into this?". It was such a different era, when I think people would look at any personality and be like, "Well what are they talking about with food?".

Andy McNicol: She was weighing that. I was like, "But everyone eats. Everyone eats regular, real food. Not everyone's going out to these extravagant dinners. More people are attracted to that than anything else". We spent quite a bit of time thinking about what it would be. We held hands, jumped off the deep end. We were like, "Let's do it". Had a really ... It was one of the actually more fun sales that I've ever done. It was an auction. She was super game.

Andy McNicol: We had the editors to their then apartment in New York City. We set, I can't remember what it was, six or seven meetings. People came into Chrissy and John's home. But it was also like walking into exactly what you wanted it to be. Because he had just come home from a tour. There were bags. People were there. She was cooking in the kitchen. It was the most perfect spark of what of course we now all know as Cravings. Which was real six years ago, it's real today. It will be real tomorrow.

Andy McNicol: It was them in the kitchen cooking, talking about food. She was in it, and we wound up finding our partner, and now our forever home at Random House with Clarkson Potter. We just found wonderful team members. We've just been doing it now for a while, and it's only, it's getting richer and deeper. Because now with the kids and the food they like, and what's in the house now. It grows with you. When it's the right thing for you, it grows with you.

Kerry Diamond: Is she as funny in person as she is online?

Andy McNicol: There is absolutely no wall. It's literally, people are like, "Oh, well what is it like?". The same. It's the same. It's awesome.

Kerry Diamond: What's in the pipeline for her? Anything you can talk about that's coming up?

Andy McNicol: She has a lot on Hulu, and that's wonderful. We are working on some projects, book projects, so she has those coming. The website, which is what I think we spent a lot of time last year developing, has been just so wonderful to see. How something that she thought about, cared about so much, that it was so easy to be like, "Oh, you should have this website. You should have this newsletter".

Andy McNicol: Really considering, "How can I make this different? How can I make this worthy of what people want, and the fans? How do I express that in my own way?". Because everyone likes to come to people and are like, "You should do, why don't you start the new Goop?". First of all, that's incredibly difficult. It's not just, "Oh hey, let me go do this".

Andy McNicol: Also, if you're smart, it's not, "How can I make this?", or, "How do I make this for me?". "How do I differentiate something that's already really good? What's my point of view again? But also, what's going to be my par for what it looks ...". I've got to tell you, every step of the way, just the look of it. The feel of it. The content. The humor. I'm just so proud of her for pulling all of these people together, and making it really work.

Andy McNicol: I think more to come on that. But yeah, that's been a wonderful thing to watch happen.

Kerry Diamond: Let's talk about Sophia Amoruso. Because I am fascinated by Sophia. She is a survivor. She -

Andy McNicol: That's actually the next book for her.

Kerry Diamond: Oh really? She was the CEO of Nasty Gal. She runs Girl Boss. That was her baby. Nasty Gal fell apart spectacularly.

Andy McNicol: She would agree with that.

Kerry Diamond: But she somehow managed to come up with this other concept that was even better, and richer and deeper, and made a success out of it. Tell me about Sophia.

Andy McNicol: First of all, she's also 33. So it's -

Kerry Diamond: She's only 33?

Andy McNicol: Yeah. She might be 34 now. It's a lot of life in a short amount of time. Well, Girl Boss the book came out while she was at Nasty Gal. That really was ... It's funny, because when we went out and sold that book ... It's also, here's the thing. If you're selling a book, thinking about a book, you have to realize that these are not straight lines. People say no to things that then become super successful.

Andy McNicol: We had seven or eight meetings with Sophia. I'm going to say at the time, maybe six of those meetings were like, "Oh, really? You want to do a business book? I just don't think that your audience is going to come out for that", to her face. She was like, "Yeah, that's what I want to do". They were like, "You should write a fashion book". She was like, "Never in a million years is that the story I want to tell now".

Andy McNicol: We found somebody who had the same vision she did. But it wasn't like everyone did. Two people saw what she saw. One who then became her editor, and really helped shape that and refine that.

Kerry Diamond: So unlike Chrissy, we're not talking an auction. You had to sell this.

Andy McNicol: There was an auction of two people. But with Chrissy, that was at the time, "Yes. We know this is going to occur". Eight people, however many people, came to the party. This was, "We love Sophia. But we like her in this lane". She was like, "Well (beep), I don't want to be in that lane".

Kerry Diamond: The Girl Boss idea was so ahead of its time. I mean, it was before The Wing. Before Create and Cultivate. Before Me Too. Before so many things that have led to the point that we're at right now.

Andy McNicol: Yes, and she is actually now, it's so funny. People who turned that book down use that as a comp all the time. A comparative title. To women, entrepreneurship, business, young women, and -

Kerry Diamond: What does that mean, use it as a comp?

Andy McNicol: Meaning that when people run numbers on, "Okay. What do we think this book could possibly sell?". It's called a P&L. They're running numbers on these things. They look at other titles that they would think are similar, and then look at what they sold. How much money had been made. Because although the publishing business goes up and down, it's still a business. So they're looking at all those numbers, and profit and loss statements.

Andy McNicol: Now they use Sophia as a comparative title for so much. Which, the irony is not lost on me.

Kerry Diamond: She just sold Girl Boss, right?

Andy McNicol: She did. She took on Inspire Capital, and she's thrilled about that. But she really ... Listen. That's another thing, when I met her through a friend. Again, an in person date. "Go see this person". I at the time, I've told this story a lot, thought we were going on a friend date. I had no idea that she had a book idea at that point. She did. She had a fully formed deep idea of what she wanted to say. From I think the day we met, and I think probably about a month later she had that title. That's an unusual situation. She really knew what she wanted to do.

Kerry Diamond: She got really beaten up during the collapse of Nasty Gal, and the subsequent full collapse. But she seems so resilient. What's the secret to that.

Andy McNicol: I think, I mean listen. It's a question I think she's asking herself. It's a weird thing. I think she just kept going. I think she had to keep going. This is a scrappy person. She is by definition somebody who is going to get it done. That's part of Girl Boss. It's in that book. It was in how she started Nasty Gal, and eBay. It's how she decided to start the Girl Boss media company. It's how she's approaching her life now.

Andy McNicol: That kind of hustle doesn't sleep. That person doesn't get ... I mean, I think it takes you a hot minute when you get a lot of incoming, and you're young, and you're beautiful, and you're brilliant. You do get a lot of incoming. Again, what I'm so impressed by with that particular, let's just call them graduating class. Sophia, Emily Weiss, Whitney Wolf. They really are there for one another in a way that, when I was coming up, I don't think there was as many women talking about working with one another.

Andy McNicol: They have a great sounding board together, and they really talk to each other. Really root for each other to win. Audrey, The Wing, all of those women are women who know each other very well, and I think really have a comradery.

Andy McNicol: She really was like, "Okay. I'm going to keep going. I don't really know". But she had to, and she did. You don't arrive anywhere at these things. Because by the time you get to the place where you're running these companies, or you're getting funded, you've been through so much. That the idea that it's a destination, you already know is a fallacy. But you don't actually understand it until you're there.

Kerry Diamond: The message we're all going to take away from our talk here with Andy McNicol is, "Believe in yourself, and do not give up".

Andy McNicol: That's true. I mean, simple, but simple often works. It's true.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. Mentioned also at the beginning of the show, that you are one of the people I call when I have a problem. Thank-you for always answering those calls. Whether it's life or business, you name it. Who do you call when you need help?

Andy McNicol: I have a very good group of girlfriends. We are really group chat kind of people. You do have those, everyone I think has that text thread. Where you're just like, "SOS, blank". From personal to business, they're all really there. I still call my mom a lot for advice. Because even though sometimes I'm loathe to admit it, she truly is the voice in my head. She's the compass that I set a lot of my navigation on.

Andy McNicol: Then I had wonderful female mentors. I think it's very important to have your own, but also to foster it in another generation. I think you're great at that, truly. But Jennifer Walsh has been, just for all the years we've worked together, somebody who, I either run into her office, text her. I'm like, "What's up with X?"

Andy McNicol: She'll give it to me straight, which I like. I'm not somebody who needs a lot of throat clearing. If it's a crazy idea, tell me it's a crazy idea. The, "Well ...". It just, I don't, it doesn't speak to me.

Kerry Diamond: Maybe that's why I love you so much. You always cut to the chase. But if I haven't told you enough, I do appreciate that you always take my call. You're always willing to go to lunch or dinner or breakfast. You represent major major people, like Lin Manuel Miranda. I know there's a lot of space between me and Lin Manuel Miranda, so thank-you, Andy. You make me feel as important as him.

Kerry Diamond: Who have your mentors been?

Andy McNicol: Like I said, I think Jennifer Walsh at WME has been an incredible person. When we were working together, she was huge. Then Joni Evans, who I mentioned earlier. Both really direct ways in publishing.

Andy McNicol: Then people you gravitate to and find through different scenarios. Norma Kamali, who is an iconic fashion designer, and deeply fascinating and good human being. Shows me things. Mindy Grossman, who is the CEO of Weight Watchers now, but sort of started Nike's women's division. Then went on and had huge success at HSN. Now is at WW.

Andy McNicol: I like, it's funny. First my mentors were very much my superiors. Or people I'd grown into being partners with. Now they're people I aspire to be. Probably, that's always true. But not necessarily in my industry. Norma and Mindy are in different industries, but I look at the lives they've created for themselves. I don't just mean work lives. I mean their personal lives, and how they are committed to both as partners, as parents. As thought leaders. The grace and humor with which they both do that is always astounding, and really inspiring to me still.

Kerry Diamond: Before we get to the speed round, is there someone you have in mind as a dream client, that you can say out loud?

Andy McNicol: That's a good one. I mean, I always have ... Alison Roman, I think about a lot. I think about everything she's done, and I just am on the sidelines saying, "God, that must have been a good ride to be on". I look at Gwyneth still. I admire so much, Elise Lunan, who I adore, who's a friend of mine. Who is her right hand. Watching that show with them together. It's just, I'm fans of all of those women. The door is always open.

Andy McNicol: But I mean, they are all well represented and well loved. But I love them too. Again, it's important to be a fan.

Kerry Diamond: All right Andy, the speed round. I don't even know if you cook at home.

Andy McNicol: I do.

Kerry Diamond: We'll find out. Okay, good. Favorite kitchen utensil or tool?

Andy McNicol: Chef's knife.

Kerry Diamond: Most treasured cookbook? This is a tough one for you, because so many of your clients have cookbooks. It doesn't have to be your absolute favorite. But one you do use often.

Andy McNicol: Okay. The one I use often, that is, you know. This is, I mean I play around with them a lot. What I do is, I'm a human Smitten Kitchen. I'll open a ton of cookbooks, because I have a lot. I'll take a little bit from this recipe, a little bit from that recipe. It is rare that I follow a recipe through and through. Although I will say, I do it with Ottolenghi, because I feel like you can not mess around with his recipes, and the books are beautiful, so yeah. Probably an Ottolenghi.

Kerry Diamond: Oldest thing in your fridge?

Andy McNicol: A champagne bottle.

Kerry Diamond: Food you would never eat.

Andy McNicol: Pâté.

Kerry Diamond: Pâté?

Andy McNicol: I know.

Kerry Diamond: Really? Okay. I love pâté.

Andy McNicol: Consistency issues, I don't know.

Kerry Diamond: Got it. Dream vacation destination.

Andy McNicol: It's cold in New York right now, so I ... Mustique is playing in my brain right now.

Kerry Diamond: Fancy.

Andy McNicol: I know, because I have a group of friends who are there on Instagram. Killing me.

Kerry Diamond: That's rough.

Andy McNicol: Killing me right now.

Kerry Diamond: Song that makes you smile.

Andy McNicol: Higher Love. Whitney Houston, Kygo. Really a smiley song right now.

Kerry Diamond: If you were trapped on a desert island with one food celebrity, who you do not represent, who would it be and why?

Andy McNicol: David Chang. Because the food would be awesome, and the chat would be fun.

Kerry Diamond: Okay.

Andy McNicol: So I'd bring David Chang.

Kerry Diamond: Chrissy can fly in and rescue you two.

Andy McNicol: Well you said that I couldn't pick ... Because she really would be my first choice on a desert island. Again, the food would be dope, and the ride would be fun. That's why I was like, "David Chang. That could work".

Kerry Diamond: Well Andy McNicol, you know how much I love you, so thank-you for coming on the podcast and sharing your wisdom with everybody.

Andy McNicol: So super fun.

Kerry Diamond: That's it for today's show. Thank-you to today's sponsor, the book Sugar Free 3, by Michele Promaulayko. If you like what you heard today, consider subscribing to Radio Cherry Bombe on your favorite podcast platform. Radio Cherry Bombe is usually edited, engineered, and produced by Jess Zeidman, who is not feeling well today. Fell better, Jess.

Kerry Diamond: Our theme song is All Fired Up, by the band Tralala. Thanks for listening, everybody. You are the bomb.

When Harry Met Sally Clip: I'll have what she's having.

Jannell Lo: Hi. My name is Jannell Lo, creator of My GF Is GF, My Best Friend Is Gluten Free. A food blog inspired by Asian classics and North American comfort foods. Do you want to know who I think is the bomb? Leela Punyaratabandhu from Chicago. Cookbook author of Simple Thai Food In Bangkok. For making southeast Asian cooking accessible and approachable in North America.