Glamour and Grit!
Hollywood's Hidden Business Lessons
Hollywood is currently in the throes of awards season, and I, for one, am all in. I have a genuine love for a red carpet moment, especially when it involves my friend Reese Witherspoon at the Golden Globes, accompanied by her darling son Deacon! This awards season has been particularly rewarding for me as a fan of both Succession and The Bear, two series that swept the Emmys. And it was incredibly moving to witness Christina Applegate take the stage despite her debilitating MS. I've been a fan of hers since the Kelly Bundy days, and never more so than in that poignant moment.
As I was reveling in the red carpet's elegance and enthusiastically cheering on my favorite stars, it occurred to me that these ceremonies offer more than just glitz and glamour; they hold genuine substance. In fact, Hollywood and its heavy hitters provide a wealth of valuable insights that can be applied to the business world. The parallels between the entertainment industry and the startup world are actually strikingly similar; both require resilience, determination, and the ambitious pursuit of bold dreams. And that's just the beginning.
Here are five important business lessons we can glean from our friends in Hollywood:
Be a Multi-Hyphenate
Hollywood has long embraced the actor-writer-director archetype, reflecting an understanding that a career can be wonderfully multi-faceted. In fact, this versatility is a superpower. Entertainment professionals often use their diverse talents to build dynamic and sustainable careers, and that same versatility is critical in the business world. No one embodies this more than Reese Witherspoon, who can claim the titles of actor, producer, best-selling author, founder, and many more among her accomplishments today.
The ability to embrace and combine various skills and talents while wearing multiple hats is the mark of true innovators. There's no need to confine yourself to a single niche—I certainly haven't. I've embraced a wide range of roles, from baker to entrepreneur to author, and this diversity has opened up a world of career possibilities for me. So, don't limit yourself; explore the breadth of your interests and expertise to see how far they can take you.
Don't Be a One-Hit Wonder
The stories of actors or musicians who skyrocket to fame with one blockbuster or hit song, only to fade away, are a familiar Hollywood trope. But true success in the entertainment world isn't made with one shining moment; it's about sustaining and building upon it. Given the phenomenal success of the series Succession, for example, I would bet we will see the stars from that show cashing in on their runaway success, leveraging it, and building their careers with a slate of new roles and shows in the near future.
This concept is critical in the business world as well. After hitting a milestone or achieving a significant victory, resting on your laurels can be tempting. But that's exactly when you need to push harder. Use the momentum of your success to propel you to the next stage. Keep innovating, diversifying, and adapting. Strive to be a multi-hit wonder, turning each achievement into a stepping stone for the next.
Time Fixes Most Failures
In Hollywood, failure isn't the finale; it's often just an intermission (hello, Winona Ryder). Time has a way of healing the wounds inflicted by box office flops and setbacks. This is crucial to remember in business too. The spectacular failure of Pets.com under Julie Wainwright didn’t stop her. After the company went bankrupt and a recruiter told her she was “washed up”, she went on to found the RealReal, raising $350 million and ultimately taking the company public.
Failures aren’t dead ends; they're an opportunity to learn and pivot. A setback today can set the stage for a major comeback tomorrow, provided you view each failure as a chance to grow and refine your approach. Embrace setbacks as building blocks to success.
It’s The Company You Keep
Have you ever noticed how Hollywood's power players tend to stick together? In Tinseltown, it seems there's an unspoken rule: the company you keep matters a lot.
In the business world, this principle is just as important. Building a strong network means more than simply making connections; it means surrounding yourself with role models who can expand your belief in what's possible and mentors who will help guide your journey. Entrepreneur Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Your network can be your greatest asset (or liability) so surround yourself with people who share your values and ambitions.
Everyone Loves a Comeback
Hollywood has a special place in its heart for a comeback - think Natasha Lyonne, and Robert Downey Jr. Their stories captivate us because they embody hope, resilience, and the human capacity to rebound and persevere. In the business world, this narrative is equally compelling. We often find ourselves rooting for the failed founder or the entrepreneur who's faced setbacks yet refuses to give up. Take the unsinkable Melanie Perkins, founder of Canva, now valued at $25 billion, who faced 100 rejections by venture capitalists before she received her first investment. She showed remarkable grit and came out on top. If you get knocked down, just keep getting up. The world is waiting to cheer on your triumphant comeback!
So, the next time you're on the couch watching a Hollywood awards show, remember this: there's more substance to the splendor than at first glance. If you look closely, success in Hollywood is about more than getting a golden statuette or a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; it's about the behind-the-scenes hard work, resilience and determination that got you there.
Learning important skills for business and life with a dash of red carpet fashion? Not a shabby way to spend an evening. Now…who’s excited for the Academy Awards?