Happy Birthday Jay: John Ellis

As Jay’s newest assistant in an obviously long, illustrious career, I’ve had the least amount of time to get to know him personally. And still, in my first year of working with him, I feel like I’ve been exposed to a lifetime’s worth of wisdom, culture, art, business acumen, passion, and above all, enthusiasm.

I’m often in charge of the “guided tour” of Jay’s building when Jay’s not around. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job, because so often our guests are left literally speechless – and usually after only getting to the third floor (of six). Although I am able to repeat the stories Jay’s told me of various parts of the building and the work it contains, when I see the looks of sheer awe on their faces as the sensory overload kicks in, I can only tell them, “ditto.” But what really makes seeing that look on their faces so great is knowing that it’s not just the fact that Jay owns such such a big place – plenty of people own big buildings in New York City. It’s the fact that every inch of the 35,000 square feet in this place reflects the genuine authenticity of Jay’s immense character in all ways artistic, professional, and weird – and that’s what strikes people the hardest. Greg Heisler summed it up better than most when he once said that Jay’s work (and life) is “absolutely about appreciating the fact that God gave him eyeballs to see stuff.”

And that brings me to my next point. Aside from calling such a place my office for the past year, I’ve also had the pleasure of interacting with Jay’s circle of friends and family, all of whom share both a deep respect for Jay, and an insatiable compulsion to bust his balls. As the rookie and the techie nerd in Jay’s life, I thought it best to gather some of his closest friends for some veteran online ball-busting on his birthday.

So to Jay, I want to wish you a happy 80th birthday, and thank you for all the generosity, patience, wisdom, advice, and enthusiasm you’ve shown me in such a relatively brief time. I raise my proverbial glass to you, and will leave the roasting and toasting to the pros.


P.S. So it’s not even lunch time yet, and there are already a few blog posts from around the web celebrating Jay’s birthday. I’ll keep updating them here for everyone to check out.

Seth Resnick – An Early Happy Birthday to Jay Maisel (same as Seth’s toast below)

Scott Kelby – Jay Maisel: Happy 80th Birthday!

Ed Broberg – Jay Maisel