I rationalized the time I spent watching the annual spectacle known as the Academy Awards by trying to garner some lessons from the "best in the business." There's no business like show business, and we restaurateurs spend a great deal of our time in the very same activities as these Hollywood moguls. We pitch concepts, obtain financing, recruit talent, smooth over ruffled feathers, produce a marketable product, entertain guests, and hopefully make a buck. And, we can never let them see us sweat!
Watching the gracious and not so gracious accept their awards gave me some insight into our own business. Here's what I learned at the Academy Awards:
- Nobody can do it alone. Everyone, regardless of their job description, contributes to the success of a venture. Believe me, on most early morning movie sets, the kid who gets the coffee is as important as the executive producer.
- We all like to be thanked personally, and acknowledged publicly, whether we're behind the scenes, fans or even critics.
- Overnight successes are rare. It takes lots of hard work, dedication and vision to have a bona fide hit on your hands.
- The biggest successes excel in many areas...art direction, script writing, acting, directing. Recruiting the best talent to work together is key.
- Even $100 million movies have a budget.
- Not everybody can ad lib. If you aren't comfortable speaking extemporaneously, prepare your presentation. Script it, practice it, and remember, sincerity makes up for a lot of shortcomings.
- It's good to be able to laugh at yourself.
- Shorter is better than longer when it comes to speeches. Even when you're good, it's still all about the timing.
- Not everyone can tell a joke.
- Every project needs a leader.
- Arrive early and get a good seat.
- Dress codes are important. What one wears says a lot. Or at least those red carpet critics will say a lot if you pick the wrong outfit.
- The opening act sets the tone for the night to follow.
- And last, but not least...smile, stand up straight, and don't forget to thank your mother (or husband, or agent, or kids, or....).