Secrets of celebrity companies — Daena Giardella

Daena Giardella, MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer

Daena Giardella, MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer

From Forbes México

Companies helmed by or fronted by celebrities can have meteoric rises, but can also face dramatic and public setbacks.  Recent news stories, for example, have highlighted both the stratospheric success of some celebrity companies and also a set of well-documented problems with some celebrity companies.

Celebrity companies are unique in many ways, but studying them can yield important insights into where everyday entrepreneurs should put their energy and emphasis.

Given my background as an executive coach, organizational leadership consultant, and actor as well as my enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, here is what I am convinced actors and celebrities, turned successful entrepreneurs, do really well.

Celebrities use their passion: Passion drives actors, artists and entrepreneurs. Our passion can often be found in our personal stories—the key experiences, lessons, and values that have shaped who we are. The power of personal story cannot be underestimated for entrepreneurs in any sector. Using passion as a driver for our ideas requires us to be strong communicators so we can influence others to get excited about our vision. It also means having the courage to take risks and rebound from setbacks as we hone our vision.

Celebrities often use conscience and emotions:  Entrepreneurs can do the same. Strong values around social consciousness can be powerful motivators for success. The emotion of wanting change is an entrepreneurial driver. Pay attention to those things that matter to you. Turn your desire to find a solution and create a change in the market into an idea that you can get others excited about.

Celebrities use their platform and their network. Celebrities may have tens of thousands to millions of followers on social media. Yet most entrepreneurs do not have the advantage of celebrity and networking may not come naturally to them. Still, entrepreneurs need to know how to cultivate and build a network that they can turn into a platform that helps them support and grow their ideas.  This may require getting help from people in their network to grow larger circles of connections.

 Celebrities build a team of partners: Actors rarely work alone. They collaborate with other actors, set designers, makeup and lighting experts. For actors and entrepreneurs alike, gathering a team of people who are as facile in failure as they are in success is essential. Anticipate the kind of skill sets you would want your key players to possess if you were to hit a sudden big bump in the road.

Trust your gut instincts. Actors trust their gut instincts and so do entrepreneurs. Pursue ideas that matter to you and meet a need in the marketplace. Leverage your personal story to help create and promote your brand. Gather a smart team with diverse talents. Believe in yourself and what you can accomplish. And remember that manifesting great ideas depends upon deft execution. Think big, but don’t miss the important details.

Be ready for setbacks. Actors understand rejection.  It comes with the territory. So do entrepreneurs. Even companies who have the advantage of celebrity branding with great ideas for products or services run into problems. No start-up or veteran company is immune to setbacks. When celebrity companies run into problems they do so under the glare of a larger stage. They give us a wider window into the kinds of problems that can occur and which company responses work.

Ultimately, it all comes down to this: Whether you are a modest start up with a small platform or a celebrity branded organization with a huge reach, the entrepreneurial journey, like most human endeavors, can be messy at times on its way to success. There is always a human story behind the business story. Heroes, villains, plot twists, loyal allies, conflicts, betrayals, power shifts, visionary ideas, defeats, and victories. This is the stuff of human collaboration, creative innovation, and progress.

A start up venture’s life cycle depends upon its ability to navigate the unavoidable stream of unexpected events, obstacles, and disappointments with quick responsiveness, concrete solutions, confidence, and transparency. Entrepreneurs need to be adept improvisers who plan ahead for the inevitability of the unexpected by finding smart team members who are flexible and pro-active when faced with conflict.

And don’t forget the fundamentals: Make sure you have excellent finance people who know the numbers. Comprehensive and detailed research, planning, and development is vital. Finding the right people to lead the technical, manufacturing, and customer service areas is crucial. An entrepreneur’s ability to improvise when faced with the unexpected depends upon the strength of these fundamentals.

Read the full post at Forbes México.

Daena Giardella teaches “Improvisational Leadership” at MIT Sloan School of Management and she is also a leadership consultant and executive coach who combines her dual careers in the performing arts and in organizational development to create educational programs for companies and organizations in the USA and abroad.

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