I recently attended the BAFTA Britannia Awards evening in Los Angeles and I admit to being more than a little star struck--but fortunately not so star struck that I didn't recognize the lessons for success in the acceptance speeches. Here are a few lessons from the stars for all of us:
1. Pay it backwards.
When Robert Downey Jr. was in the depths of his drug addiction, he called Jamie Foxx and said, "I just need somewhere to stay." Jamie helped him out and Robert never forgot it. So when Jamie asked if Robert would stop by at his daughter's birthday party, Robert showed up in full Iron Man gear and delighted a room full of children.
Robert never forgot who helped him in his valley of despair. He remembered to pay it backwards. Even in Hollywood, friends matter.
How are you showing gratitude to those who helped you on your rise to success and what can you do to pay it backwards?
2. Laugh if you are lost for words.
There was silence. While waiting for the next award, Rob Brydon, the Welsh comedian host and BAFTA nominee himself, stood on stage for a few awkward minutes in silence until he finally said, "This is the nervous smile of a man waiting for the auto cue to work again." The silence was broken, and everyone laughed. The speeches could resume. Self-effacing humor at its best.
Could you continue with your presentation if technology failed? Expert speakers know their content and can talk extemporaneously about any topic.
3. Surround yourself with people who are confident in you.
Emma Watson had just given her incredibly powerful UN ambassador speech earlier in the week. As she accepted her Britannia Award she credited her success to her agent: "Thanks for the confidence in me."
Success comes from focusing on what is possible and making it happen. Negativity and naysayers are distracting energy suckers. Are those closest to you your greatest supporters?
4. Don't be defeated by negativity.
In 1957 Dame Judi Dench was told, "You will never make a film. Your face isn't quite properly arranged." Fortunately for all of us, she didn't let that negative assessment dissuade her. Instead she relentlessly persevered. Thirty-six years later John Madden asked her to play Queen Victoria.
Don't believe in defeat. Success comes to those who don't give up.
5. Don't forget to say thank you.
Like any award ceremony you have ever seen, the BAFTA winners thanked everyone--one even recognized the water bottle distributors on set.
Leaders can be a lot like toddlers: They need regular reminding to say thank you. How can you spontaneously thank your team today?
All of the award winners that night displayed one powerful common trait: they are incredible storytellers, which makes them memorable. It isn't enough to be brilliant; you have to be brilliant at demonstrating your brilliance. That's a lesson that entrepreneurs can't afford to forget. What memorable stories do you tell?