The George Clooney Effect

You’ve seen George Clooney. Handsome, debonair, quick-witted. Everything he does is tinged with almost impossibly easy-going glamour.

His appearance at an event—say the New York Comic Con in the midst of his honeymoon—instantly takes it up a notch. Or seven. The crowd around him moves like a wave, trying to ensure they are close to a power source.

And yet with all that wattage, he still manages to come across as a real guy, humble and grateful, while swashbuckling around the globe. He uses his power to shine the light on the causes and projects that matter most to him. Everything he touches seems infinitely brighter for his presence.

The George Clooney effect.

Every field has a George Clooney or two—rock stars who command attention (and premium price-tags) because they have outsized talent, personal appeal and an unerring focus on their audience: whom they’re serving, what they’re teaching, how they’re making a difference.

Lucky for the rest of us, we don’t have to look like George (or his female counterpart Angelina Jolie) to carry it off.

Talent is a given, of course. You must be absolutely rock-solid in your core skill set. But it’s not necessarily about being the most talented—it’s about delivering a consistently delightful experience to your core audience.

Humility is essential and vastly underrated as a success factor. Can you build a platform on kindness and humility? Sure, but ONLY if it’s natural and authentic. Jeff Goin has a humble and generous delivery that screams authentic. Paula Deen does not.

Relentless focus is crucial also, although we do tend to prefer our icons to make all that work look easy. George does it. Angelina does it. So does author Seth Godin and digital mavens Marie Forleo and Danielle LaPorte. But even those who don’t make it look so simple can still rock the stage: think cutting-edge chefs Thomas Keller and Homaro Cantu.

Likeability matters. You don’t have to make everyone like you (an exercise in futility), but if you effortlessly connect because you’re focused on your audience, chances are your likeability is high. Kardashian mania aside, likeability is highly correlated to doing good for your circle—to serving something larger than yourself. Note: if Millennials are your core audience, serving the greater good is essential—they refuse to bond with cantankerous “experts”.

Wielding a little George Clooney effect gives you options. Sure, it has revenue implications that make it a no-brainer, but let’s think even bigger than that.

You get to pick and choose the work—the projects—you most want to do. YOU get to decide who you help, whose lives you make better. You get to decide how to spend your time, which means you control your satisfaction and happiness.

You can attach your name to a worthy project or cause that might not see the light of day otherwise. To shine the spotlight where it matters and use your platform for good.

So what do you think? Is there room for a little George Clooney effect in your life?

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  • I used to live in New York, and sometimes took people to, the now sadly closed (RIP 2004), Lutece, run by the ever-humble Andre Solner,

    The reason Lutece was my go-to place for celebratory events when expense did not matter was because the very first time I went there, Mr. Soltner and I engaged in a pre-meal discussion about a mushroom dish I wanted prepared differently than suggested (I went his way), and then he came out to speak about it after the meal. Mr. Soltner had no knowledge about whether I had been there before, or would ever go again. Everyone was made to feel at home. It really was a great French country kitchen. The owner/cook spoke with everyone in his restaurant when time permitted.

  • Thanks for the brilliant example K.C.! I’ve heard his hospitality was legendary…

  • Quite thought provoking Rochelle. Thanks for making my brain work harder than I told it we would today.

  • Love the analogy.
    Believe or not I have not really followed Clooney the actor/ performer but always noted how he carried himself with dignity when I viewed various media.
    I always argue talent alone, excellence may be a related phrase, cannot carry the day; you need style (and grace but I include grace in my definition of style), an ability to communicate (other(s) can help here), an ability to listen to your (target) audience (this could involve “filters” and and “advisor” who guide you), hard work (even if not visible to those around you and your audience, and commitment.
    Personally, I prefer to take the approach of an artist who creates special outcomes that wow clients, colleagues, and “followers”. Not many view strategy as art per se but when you adapt approaches to the needs of a client or situation they (or if it’s an entity of some kind, in contrast to a cookie cutter approach that so many use……
    Thanks for commentary that provokes this kind of discussion. Very useful.

  • Rochelle

    “Strategy as art”–I may be borrowing that one Corey!

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