Alive & Unedited: Artie Isaac

  • Jodi Miller photo
    Artie Isaac
From the 12/02/2009 edition

After selling Young Isaac, his successful Downtown advertising agency, Artie Isaac retired - with about five part-time jobs. He maintains, a network of public speakers, and teaches at both Ohio State and CCAD. Most recently, he co-wrote a holiday play with help from resident playwrights at Available Light Theatre. Isaac shared more about what he calls the luckiest life in the history of mankind.


I married a woman in business school. We decided we were not courageous enough to have kids in New York. Columbus is a great place to raise kids, because it's flat. They leave, you can see them, and you can call them home for dinner.

I love Columbus. My parents are here, and my wife has family here. My kids are growing up with just enough sophistication - but not so much that they're annoying and jaded.

I sold Young Isaac 16 months ago. April 1, 2008. It was, immediately, a huge relief. I admire people who own businesses and allocate resources. I, however, don't like telling adults what to do.

I'm closer to death than birth. I have to figure out what my legacy is, and I have to start to leave it.

The best advice I've ever received is to pause every hour randomly to assess how I feel physically. Connected to the physical reality is an emotional reality, and connected to that is a sign of whether or not I like what I'm doing right then.

Writing plays is an unbelievable vehicle for me. The full title of the play is Consolidated Amalgamated Incorporated's Annual Xmas Spectacular Featuring Winford Doke, Certified Public Accountant, but Playing the Role of Winford Doke Is Artie Isaac.

The setup of the play is that the audience is the employees of our company, Consolidated Amalgamated. Every year, this chief financial officer recites from memory A Christmas Carol as a gift, but he got fired three hours ago. I'm the senior clerk of accounts receivable, and they ask me to pick up his workload, including this. Problem is, among other things, I'm Jewish. might very well be the most important work of my career. If I can democratize public speaking, get people to turn off their TVs, go out in the public realm and share what they know - if I can do that in the hundreds of thousands - that would be the biggest [success].

There are three qualities required of a good teacher. Good teachers need to be a scholar, a performer and a pastor. I'm definitely a performer. I'm a pretty good pastor. I might be a budding scholar, but it's coming slowly.

Three things that I can't live without are my ethics, teaching and chocolate. My goal for this article is to get people to stop giving me bow ties as presents and start giving me chocolate.