Jared Leto on Persistence

In a recent interview, Jared Leto, the Oscar award winning actor and lead singer of the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars, stated that the advice he offers to aspiring artists is that they must “be compelled beyond a reasonable doubt to do this. Because if you are not, it’s not worth it. It’s too painful.”

The idea of persistence is just as applicable in leaders. In your pre-leader days, do you remember leaving work without a care in the world? Being off duty meant no responsibility, complete freedom. It would have been easy to remain in a job where you only needed to worry about yourself, but something drove you to want more.

If you don’t have this drive, Jared Leto says, “you should just do something normal, for lack of a better term, because the uncertainty and instability is too great.”

Leaders who are successful do not give up on accomplishing their goals. Despite setbacks (which are inevitable) and people who will tell you it can’t be done (also inevitable), persistence means rising beyond the fear and self-doubt, towards action.

The book The Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur provides a few suggestions to help get you through those rough patches:

  • Don’t panic.
  • Take time to ponder and understand the situation.
  • Consider every option and every possibility to solve the problem.
  • Invite a trusted mentor to advise you on the matter.
  • Engage employees who can help.
  • Make a decision, then act.
  • Evaluate the results. If they are unsatisfactory, try something else.

Harvey Weinstein on Altruism

Jay Chandrasekhar, a member of the Broken Lizards comedy troupe and successful movie director, tells a story from early in his career where he’s at the Sundance Festival trying to sell his first big movie.  Harvey Weinstein, one of the biggest film producers in Hollywood, agrees to go to the screening.

When the film was over, Harvey walks up to Jay and says, “I’m going to do you a favor. Come meet me at the bar.” They grab a drink as the other studio executives are gawking that Jay is with Harvey. “When you hang out with me,” Harvey said, “you’ll sell your movie.” And Jay did.

Harvey had nothing to gain from this gesture. He had no financial investment or personal stake in the movie or in Jay’s success. They were not even close friends. Harvey merely saw someone talented and decided to help.

Altruism should be an attribute in every leader. For starters, according to research by UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs altruists are more likely to help those around them, are more committed to their work, and are less likely to quit.

Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system. — Donald Moynihan

Put simply, these findings show that helping others makes us happier. But, if you’re happiness is not a motivator, consider that helping others has a domino effect that encourages others to perform good deeds which, in turn, boosts their happiness.

Happy employees are more productive, have lower turnover, and work harder than their unhappy counterparts. As a leader, how much easier is your job if everyone is happily helping each other?

Your ability to display altruistic behaviors can make all the difference. You set the tone.

Jimmy Fallon on Likeability

Jimmy Fallon has been a fixture on late night television for almost twenty years. Whether as a cast member on Saturday Night Live or as a talk show host, Jimmy has always maintained a likeable persona.

You may be thinking that this is a prerequisite for hosting the Tonight Show, but why should a leader care about being liked? Haven’t we always been taught that respect is more important? This is true, but is having both so bad?

According to the book The Likeability Factor, when a leader is “liked,” others are prone to believe what they say and value their guidance – two things that every leader needs to be successful.

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about being liked because you pander to the whims of others, refuse to make unpopular decisions, or lower expectations. Being liked is as simple as treating others with respect.

So how can we be more like Jimmy Fallon? The Likeability Factor tells us that there are four critical elements to consider:

Friendliness. Jimmy has an uncanny ability to communicate kindness and openness. His humor is not mean-spirited; everyone is in on the joke.

Relevance. Jimmy connects with others’ interests, wants, and needs. It’s evident in his enthusiasm for whatever he, his guest, and the audience are into.

Empathy. In interviews, Jimmy is able to recognize and acknowledge other’s feelings. He then reacts appropriately.

Realness. Jimmy’s friendliness, relevance, and empathy seem authentic. His sincerity appears to be genuine and honest.

Captain America on Passion

Captain America Shield

Amid another blockbuster movie and an illustrious career serving this country, Captain America has much to teach about how harnessing our passion will make us more effective leaders.

Check out my recent piece on CEO.com for more…



Pharrell Williams on Humility

Pharrell Williams has been on the music scene for quite some time. He currently has the number one song with “Happy” and was named by Billboard magazine as one of the past decade’s top producers.

On the CBS’s Sunday Morning, Pharrell gave an important lesson on acknowledging the help he’s received on his path to success. In the interview, Pharrell spent considerable time recognizing the people who taught and inspired him to pursue music. He mentioned his first high school music teacher, his band teacher, two more music teachers, and the instructor who taught him drums, not to mention his grandmother.

When asked why he’s giving credit to everyone else, Pharrell said, “Well, what am I without them? Just try that for a second. Take all of my band teachers out of this. Where am I?”

When’s the last time you recognized the people who made you the leader you are – gave you the opportunities when no one else would, recognized your potential even before you did, taught you the lessons and values that you continue to practice today?

…those are the most tragic stories, the most gifted people who start to believe it’s really all them. It’s not all you. It can’t be all you. Just like you need air to fly a kite, it’s not the kite. It’s the air. — Pharrell

No leader does it by themself. It may be your drive that moves you forward, but there’s an army of people who support you along the way. If this sounds like fluff, consider the John Baldoni’s HBR piece where he discusses the power of humility in leadership. It authenticates our humanity and demonstrates our character.

Doesn’t that sound like someone you’d like to follow?