Wally Amos strutted out buzzing on a kazoo.
“I’m about being positive,” said the man who founded the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie brand in 1975 with modest ambitions. “It’s the only thing I want to be.”
He came to a halt at a podium positioned in front of a group of 40 entrepreneurs, nearly all of them Mainlanders who traveled to Kauai for the culmination of a six-month online personal development program.
“There’s no value in being famous,” said Amos, knocking his nationally recognized nickname. “I called myself ‘famous’ because it rhymes with ‘Amos.’”
And he opened his first chocolate chip cookie store 40 years ago in Los Angeles simply because he loves chocolate chips cookies, he said.
Kekaha couple Mark and Davene Januszewski founded the Master Key Master Mind Alliance business and leadership course after finding personal and financial success of their own in the network marketing industry.
Mark Januszewski said he invited Amos, who is 78 and lives on Oahu, to deliver the keynote address Tuesday at the Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu and share his entrepreneurial insights.
“I’m a high school dropout,” said Amos, gazing out from under the brim of a plush hat shaped like a watermelon. “I don’t have any really great skills. But I won’t give up.”
Amos, the William Morris talent agent who turned his Auntie’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies into an iconic American snack food, is known as somewhat of a comeback kid.
In the 1980s he lost control of Famous Amos, both the company and the name, after running into financial trouble.
But a decade later he was hired back as the brand’s spokesman, his toothy grin adorning cookie packages once again.
The Famous Amos brand is now owned by the Kellogg Co.
Amos is in the process of reinventing himself yet again with The Cookie Kahuna, his latest in a string of Hawaii-based cookie businesses he has launched over the years. Available in Butterscotch Chip Macademia, Chocolate Chip Pecan and Original Chocolate Chip, The Cookie Kahuna is sold online and at two retail locations on Oahu.
Amos admitted not all the business moves he’s made have been good ones. But he has achieved the success that he has, he said, because he is unequivocally committed to himself and to his goals.
“All your obstacles are up here,” Amos said, pointing to his head. “There’s nothing in your way.”