5 Business Lessons We Can Learn From the Oscars
The most glamorous night in showbiz is over for another year, but far from being removed from the world of business, there are plenty of career lessons we can learn from the red carpet…
1. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try (and try) again
Oh #poorLeo. Four times a nominee, four times a failure. So close, and yet so, so, so, so far. He’d be forgiven for hanging up his Hollywood shoes and calling it a day, so snubbed he must feel amongst the A-list elite. And yet, film after film, DiCaprio comes back to give (another) performance of his life. From Danny (Blood Diamond) to Candie (Django Unchained) to Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street), we have watched him grow, master his craft, and become the type of actor we will reminisce about in years to come. Ironically, some commentators have suggested he missed out – again – because he was too realistic as Jordan Belfort; he was just too good. But all agree that his time will come, he just needs to seize the moment like Matthew McConaughey did with Dallas Buyers Club (another lesson for us all right there).
So, if you ever feel snubbed at work – for a promotion or interview perhaps – take heart from #poorLeo. Sometimes the best just have to bide their time.
2. Take time to be pitch perfect
Alfonso Cuaron, winner of Best Director for Gravity, spent five years planning and perfecting his blockbuster. An absolute stickler for detail, everything in Cuaron’s film – from the space suits to the shuttles to the Hubble Telescope – is accurate in terms of size, look and physics. In fact, before any filming even took place a year was spent modelling and building the set, and a further three and a half years spent in pre-vis, a basic animation process that blocks out the action in each scene before cameras start rolling. Perhaps some of these stages could have been condensed, but then the film may not have been worthy of all its accolades.
Taking time to plan and perfect applies in many business scenarios: pitching for new business, giving a presentation, putting together a portfolio, even just seeking approval for a project. Time spent drafting, reviewing and refining is never time wasted. On the contrary, to get something right, really right, requires plenty of room for error. Revising and amending is not a sign that your original work was poor, it’s simply a sign that what was already good has the potential to be great.
3. Don’t let a tumble knock you back
She may not have clinched her second gong in as many years but, yet again, our girl J Law won a virtual high five from women everywhere. Impeccably dressed in beautiful red Dior, she fell foul of Hollywood starlet nightmares by tripping in front of the world’s media – for a second year in a row. With the press hounds baying for this sort of clumsiness, Jennifer Lawrence’s tumble could have been the moment and image of the Oscars 2014. However, her ability to laugh at herself, shrug her shoulders and not worry what others think has seen her horizontal turn on the red carpet become yet another reason for worshipping J Law.
And so, the next time you walk into a meeting and fall over the projector wire, or trip down the stairs and land at the feet of your boss, no matter how red faced and humiliated you feel, remember Jennifer and her ability to laugh and carry on. Don’t dwell on your red faced moment and don’t let it overshadow your subsequent performance. Do not be defined by a stumble; be defined by success.
4. You get by with a little help from your friends
Ellen’s selfie. Need we say more? It has become the most tweeted photo in history and the defining image of this year’s Oscars. Not only do we dig the down-to-earth feel of this photo – it rivals our own blurred camera phone snaps, minus the A-listers, natch – but also we love what it stands for: friendship, love and respect. Because look, there’s J Law beaming alongside the woman who beat her to Best Supporting Actress, Lupita Nyong’o, and there’s Meryl Streep enjoying herself alongside the bright young things. Talent and success breeds rivalry, of course, but in every sector and profession there is always room for friendship. Strive to be the best and give the performance of your life, but remember everyone else along the way.
5. Dress the part
Liza Minnelli, what were you thinking? Beautiful blue, granted, but looks distinctly similar to something I wore to bed last night. And this is before we get onto the neon-streaked hair (didn’t hair mascara go out of fashion circa 1998?) and lack of bra…
There are some rules not meant to be broken, and dressing for the occassion is one of them. Certainly, this is easier said than done, but in business a sensible rule of thumb is to dress smart and tone down if necessary. So, if you’re going for an interview or heading to an office you’re unfamiliar with, always wear a jacket and heels but keep a scarf and pair of pumps in your bag. Then, if you turn up and the environment is casual, you can make a quick switch if you feel out of place (the addition of a colourful scarf is one of the best tricks for adding a bit of fun to an outfit). Don’t ever try anything new or ‘radical’, however. It’s not worth doing a Liza.
Photo: Christopher Polk