He’s not one of the most common answers when you ask someone who their favourite actor is, but I can say without any shame that Owen Wilson is most definitely mine. I’m not sure what it is about the guy but I find every single thing he does entertaining and I would quite happily pay to watch him read the phone book.
My obsession for his acting talent has got to the point where my former flatmate cited one of the things they enjoyed most about no longer living with me was no longer having the sound of a constant Texas drawl in the flat as I watched his DVDs on repeat. I imagine me and Owen will be best friends one day. And that’s not being creepy, I just think we’d get on.
Now usually the most common reaction I get when this comes up in conversation is ‘Are you mad?’ or ‘You know nothing about cinema’ but I don’t care, to me Owen Wilson is the actor whose work I enjoy the most. But are there any lessons from the career of Owen Wilson that can be applied to the world of business? Well, I think there are four.
1. Always be yourself
One of the biggest comments I get when this comes up in conversation is ‘how can Owen Wilson be your favourite actor when all he does is play the same role?’
Do you remember that quote that your old school friend post on Facebook every other week? The one about how you should only be yourself as everybody else is taken? Well, that quote is correct. Why waste your time trying to be someone else? You might not always think it, but you’re pretty good you, so don’t bother pretending to be something you’re not. You don’t need too.
This is the same for businesses too. Both online and offline my advice is to just stick to what you believe is right and what your values are. When sharing content think, is this really relevant to my audience but most importantly to yourself?
The Drum recently did an article on brands showing how businesses should use social media, so here are a few examples and ideas of content.
2. Stick to what you know
The next point most Owen Wilson detractors like to make is that he only makes comedy films. Well, he doesn’t for a start, but I will concede that the majority of his back catalogue is made up of them. A large number are ‘buddy movies’ with a similar plot of two conflicting personalities being thrown together only to fall out before ultimately re-kindling their partnership and moving towards the common goal that they eventually achieve despite the odds being against them. Examples include Shanghai Noon, Zoolander, I SPY, Shanghai Knights, Starsky & Hutch, Wedding Crashers, Drillbit Taylor, Hall Pass and The Internship.
But that’s what Owen Wilson’s good at. And while he sometimes dips his toe in the water and tries new things (he’s also been in action, horror, blockbuster and animated children’s films), he knows that if you’re good at something you should stick to it, because the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
The Internet allows people to become ‘experts’ in anything and everything overnight. Though the important lesson here is that it’s better to know a lot about one area or topic than to know barely anything about a lot. Don’t waste time trying to pretend you know about something which you don’t as you could be using that time and efforts to be sharing your expertise about areas and topics you actually know. It’s also important to remember that whilst you might not know something about a topic, perhaps someone in your business does, so use your skills wisely and play to your strengths.
3. Build strong & long-lasting relationships
Owen Wilson knows this better than most and he’s worked with the same people on multiple projects as a result. Since writing their debut feature ‘Bottle Rocket’ together in 1996, Wilson and director Wes Anderson have worked together on seven occasions. As well as that there is his partnership with Ben Stiller who Wilson has shared the screen with ten times.
Networking is key to any business, we’re told that all the time. But it’s not all about meeting as many people as possible, it’s equally as important to foster you’re existing relationships to ensure that they are the kind that will last the course of time. Also, remember that networking isn’t all about you and your needs, you should use your connections to help others in that network.
It’s key to meet new people but make sure you spend time focusing on existing relationships too.
4. Don’t be afraid to improvise
Like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, Owen Wilson is one of these great innovators and is known for improvising his own ideas and lines into the existing script; the majority of which make it into the final cut.
Sometimes you need to go off script if you’re going to achieve the results you need. All of the great innovators in the world are those that know sometimes you have to throw the rulebook out of the window and make your lines up as you go along if you’re going to achieve something truly special. Many businesses will spend a lot of time creating plans and strategies but then crumble when things don’t go the way they’d expected. As your parents always used to say “life isn’t always fair”, so you need to prepare for when things don’t go your way. Though whilst you can have a contingency plan for certain things, sometimes you need to just improvise and think quickly on your feet.
A great example of this is the KFC chicken scare. When the fast-food fried chicken shops started to run out of chicken, there was worry, but also laughs, that a business had run out of its key ingredient. The scare went on for weeks and KFC had nowhere to hide, so the chain thought quickly and created an advert to take back control of the situation by holding up their hands and explaining “FCK” they were sorry.
So those are my (Owen Wilson’s) business tips. Now you know those and want to put them into practice then, first of all, I advise you to check out this blog on 5 social media basics to get right. Because the basics are always a good place to start.