You may be wrinkling your nose at the thought of people making millions of dollars on one movie giving you business advice. But there’s a new generation of Hollywood stars that aren’t content with just time on screen. They’re building empires, too. And while name recognition is easier for them and start-up capital only requires dipping into their millions, they still have the same struggles to find a valuable product or service to bring to market. They didn’t go to Harvard but they’re learning every day just like you are and here’s what they have to say:
“Build Bonfires” – Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey’s Instagram profile describes him as “Husband. Father. Actor. Minister of Culture. Professor. Creative Director. AustinFC. JKLivin. …Pickle Expert.” On a recent podcast, he told a story about how he was involved in many different business undertakings. He had about eight projects going at once—a movie production company, a music production company, his acting, and a few more side projects. Each was generating a nice little income. He referred to them as “campfires.” Following his gut, he decided to step back from all of them, but three. He concentrated his energy on the three he was most passionately invested in. Those three went from campfires to “bonfires.”
What we can learn from this: Pick 1-3 things to focus your efforts on. Go into each quarter with goals for as many as three things, but no more. If you try to do more, you’ll spread yourself thin. You won’t have the time to dedicate to them, so they’ll stay small. When you give a few ideas your undivided attention, they’ll catch fire and take off. Plus, you’ll have a more solid brand. People will understand what you do because you’re an expert at those few things.
Change Isn’t Bad, It’s Necessary for Continued Success – Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba, actress and Founder/Creative Director of the Honest Company, wanted to create a business based around healthier, ethically-sourced products for babies and homes. One of the things she talks about is the need for reevaluating success periodically. (Former Blockbuster execs would certainly agree.) Even a successful business requires review. She said, “No matter how much success a business has, the model constantly needs to be evaluated to protect that success. Even the most successful businesses are fragile and vulnerable. It's not enough to rely on having a great product that people love. The supply chain and operations need to be in place to support the business growth.”
What we can learn from this: Success is temporary, like Andy Warhol’s quote about “fifteen minutes of fame.” Your business audience will always be asking what you’ve done for them lately. To exist as the same entity for years means you will get typecast just like an actor does. That’s fine and can be lucrative until your audience decides they want something else and since you haven’t embraced change, you won’t be it.
Trust Your Instincts - Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro is one of Hollywood’s iconic names but he’s also the co-founder behind the lifestyle brand Nobu Hospitality, owner of hotels in Spain and London, as well as Nobu Residences luxury condominiums. De Niro believes in surrounding yourself with smart advisors but that’s not all. He says, “Listen to as many people as you can and get their input, but then finally you have to make your own decision about what you're going to do."
What we can learn from this: Making up your mind is critical to success; after all, it’s your business. But the first half of what he says is important too. “Listen.” Soak up what you can from others. Be a lifelong learner. Build your references from other people’s experiences and then take that information and use it to derive your answers for your business.