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15 Questions with actor Andy Buckley…and CFO David Wallace

Playing Dunder Mifflin’s CFO David Wallace on NBC’s The Office wasn’t a stretch for actor Andy Buckley. 

As a former advisor with Merill Lynch, Buckley had plenty of real-world material to base the character on. 

As one of the headline presenters at AdvisorEngine’s >drive 2022 conference in Austin, Texas, Buckley sat down with AdvisorEngine COO Craig Ramsey to talk about work, naturally. 

And so did David Wallace.


Andy Buckley, Actor

David Wallace, CFO, Dunder Mifflin

Best thing about your job? Getting hired! And when I get hired, being on sets. Being on a set is really a fun place.
The people. There’s a lot of crazy, but that's what makes it fun. 
Hardest thing about your job? You're always looking for your next job. You never know when it's coming. Also: being away from my family Turning a profit in the paper business these days is a tough one.
Are you entrepreneurial? Yes. You have to be if you really want to try and get hired as an actor. You gotta be out there. Not that I'm starting many businesses – I did make one movie with my wife and a hundred other people – but you have to always be on the lookout for various income streams.
You may have heard of one of my former inventions, actually: the SUCK IT. It’s a children’s vacuum which teaches kids to pick up their toys.
I don't have a ton of time now, since I’m running Dunder Mifflin again. But certainly in spirit. I would love to do something with my sons someday. Maybe a startup, you know…take over the local pizza place in Connecticut where we live.
Best investment you’ve ever made?

♫ Marrying my wife ♫ …  I gotta say that, right? (Laughs)…

Ok: Sixteen years ago, I went to the local farmer’s market to pick up some bread. That's when I ran into Allison Jones, who was the casting director of The Office. We’re buddies – she's from Boston, I’m from Boston – she tells me, ‘Just give me your card in case something comes up.’ I still had my Merill Lynch card on me. She called me four months later to come and audition for The Office. So, technically, you could say that was a pretty good rate of return on a farmer’s market visit.

I think it would have to be picking the SUCK IT because that worked out pretty well. We ended up selling the patent to the Department of Defense.
Worst investment you’ve ever made? There are no bad investments because we learn something from them, right? We got very overextended in our real estate holdings at Dunder Mifflin. That is basically why we went belly up and had to sell to Sabre.
Have you ever been fired? Yes, twice! Once, it was kind of my fault, really, from Mad Men. During the audition, I get notes from the director to add to my initial reading. I do it, and he says, ‘Fantastic, you're hired, Buckley.’ We then did a table read – when everyone sits down together and goes through the script. You do that with a couple of days to go. The writers are there, and they listen and decide, this joke doesn't work, or let's cut that scene, it's too long. The only times I had been a part of a table read prior to that was for The Office and a show in Austin. I was already established. I had been hired for a couple of episodes to do a few scenes with Jon Hamm and I didn't realize how important these things were. I was just excited, and I wanted to be on Mad Men. Well, I forgot to put in the notes [for the table read] that the director had given me – he was also the show’s creator Matthew Weiner. By the time I got home, I learned I was fired. Well, once. And it was a big one when Sabre took over, I got drop-kicked. Deservedly so, I'll add.
Your best boss ever?

I’ve worked with some amazing people.

Armando Iannucci, who did Veep, was a spectacular boss. I'm about to start another job with a guy I've worked with before, Nick Santora. It’s a really cool Netflix show – I'm not supposed to say what it is yet. Five days ago, I was like, ‘Alright, I gotta shed my late night chocolate here, that late night ice cream.’

Let me add; that I based the David Wallace character subconsciously on two guys. One was sort of my senior partner and mentor at Merrill Lynch, Craig Bennell, and then a Texan, Dick Valentine. He was the guy that hired me at Merrill Lynch, and I considered him my boss there. 

You know, both magnificent and ‘Win-Win’ guys are not your typical corporate caricature. So when I first auditioned and was getting into the mind of a business executive, I thought, these guys aren't bad. They're terrific guys, actually. They're helpful, they want the clients to win, they want you to win, they want the office to win. They couldn’t have been better, super sharp, hard-working guys, very thoughtful.  So on that side, they were my two best bosses.

I would have that my best boss has been Alan Brand. He's head of the board at Dunder Mifflin now. He's a fair guy.

My worst boss was a guy by the name of Jerry Aldini. I used to cut lawns and caddy for him during the summer.

Do you wake up early - or stay up late? Both! Once you have kids, you don't sleep so well. So, I burn both ends of the candle. Early bird. I wake up early and I go to bed early.
What keeps you up at night? My teenage son. Our balance sheet.
Phone call - or text message? Everybody texts, but I'm in the car a lot, so I prefer phone calls these days. Email.
Vacation or staycation? Staycation! I just love hanging around my house, since I'm often gone for work. Vacation. We have a place in Martha's Vineyard. My wife also loves to go down to Miami.
What is your spirit animal? Giraffe. Koala Bear. I do like to stay close to home. Plus they are around trees and we’re a paper company.
Your greatest weakness is: I can't go to my left in basketball. Also, unfortunately, I have a quick temper sometimes at home – I'm working on it, my Irish temper. Getting too involved. I should delegate more.
What’s one of the best compliments you’ve ever received? Over the years, people will just walk up to say something incredibly nice. It's not always even geared towards me individually, but it’s always about The Office – how they got through some terrible times because of it. It's just a lovely thing to hear about the show’s wonderful effect on people. It was from Lee Iacocca when I was starting off. He sent me a bottle of 20-year-old single malt Scotch, which was terrific. It's taken me years to finish that. And there was just a little note from the desk of Lee Iacocca, ‘Great job, kid.’
Advice you would give to a person starting out their career As you get older, you discover the cliches are all true. Do what you are passionate about.

And the hardest worker wins. Or at least they finish in the top three. You gotta work your tail off. 
Don't be afraid to ask questions of the senior folks, the men and women who you really admire and respect, because they're happy to share insight.

Aside from that, magic can happen with sales productivity if you let the unorthodox folks spread their wings – Michael Scott being the perfect example!

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