“Don’t Try This at Home” – George Clooney, Jock Mahoney (Yancy Derringer), and a Lesson in Preparation
“Neglect, carelessness and not clearing the stunt area are usually what causes accidents. Preparation is absolutely essential to any successful stunt. You have to go through a stunt in your mind — over and over again as if you’ve already done it. The stuntman must keep his mental separation from all that’s going around him. If it’s a nervous set and people are aggravating you, it’s best to not perform the stunt. If you take the attitude of it’s a piece of cake and I’ve done it a hundred times before, you’re going to get hurt. Preparation, good physical condition and a healthy state of mind are the ingredients for successful stunt work.”
Jock Mahoney, from his IMDB profile page
My Father in Law is living with us. He reads nine languages, taught classical languages (Greek, Latin), but in his later years, he is not doing much reading. He enjoys the Encore Westerns channel. And a few days ago, he was watching a movie with Jock Mahoney in it. I remember Jock Mahoney from my childhood as Yancy Derringer. It was only on TV for a couple of years, but for some reason I remember it – and liked it.
So, I pulled out my iPad and started reading about Jock Mahoney, and read the above paragraph.
And then I read this news item: George Clooney Contemplated Suicide After ‘Syriana’ Set Injury. Clooney injured his spine while filming Syriana, and it was a really tough injury. The article began with this paragraph:
Life as a movie star is not always so glamorous. It takes intense preparation, hard work, and a willingness to take significant risks, especially when it comes to action films. One wrong move and the consequences can be grave — even for the world’s biggest movie star.
So, here is the lesson for today. Preparation really is key. Whether it is in business, for a presentation, of for a movie stunt, don’t take preparation lightly. Prepare well, prepare thoroughly — and, even if you have to change your plans, the preparation will pay off.
And, remember Dwight Eisenhower’s counsel:
“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
I haven’t yet seen Melancholia. I intend to. It is clearly a provocative film.
Kirsten Dunst, who has been acting since she was 12 (actually, since she was about 3 or 4), has apparently given the performance of her life. She won the Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her role. Here’s a paragraph from the article Kirsten Dunst on ‘Melancholia’ and Lars von Trier: Dunst gives the performance of a lifetime in the bleak new film by Richard Rushfield (from The Daily Beast)
Before arriving on the set—an estate in a remote Danish village where she and the crew would camp out for a month and a half—Dunst took several weeks preparing to confront the morose character she was to play. She trained for Justine like a prizefighter trains for an opponent, studying her every decision from inside out. “I work with somebody, and we do extensive preparations. I went on vacation and she came with me. We spent day after day on it. It feels like I’m going to therapy. Sometimes we deal with imagery. Sometimes I work with my dreams as well. What it does for me is it really creates an inner life for the character that I really understand and that I know better than anyone else. My script pages are covered with notes. I created an emotional bible for myself. It gives me confidence when I go to the set. I refer to it before I do every scene. And then when you film out of order, it makes my performance make sense.”
Notice this especially: “My script pages are covered with notes. I created an emotional bible for myself. It gives me confidence when I go to the set. I refer to it before I do every scene. And then when you film out of order, it makes my performance make sense.”
In other words, she prepares thoroughly, and then refers to her written preparation note reminders before every “scene,” every part of her “presentation.”
We really should have learned this by now. In the acting arena, the great actors prepare, and prepare some more, and then prepare some more. Daniel Day Lewis, for just one other example, is beyond legendary with his preparation habits/rituals.
In the field of great presenters, the great ones rehearse, and then rehearse some more, and then rehearse even more. Steve Jobs, the presenter, was a legendary preparer.
As I have written earlier, all good presentations boil down to this: have something to say, and then say it very well. Preparation is key for each of these two parts of a successful presentation.
So, here’s the presentation tip of the day – be thorough in preparation, and then, “refer to your carefully prepared notes” before every “scene” – every “presentation.”
Prepare, Practice, and then you’ll be ready.
“We throw to the bases every day,” Cruz said. “We take flyballs every day, make sure we know the ballpark, we know any situation we can be involved in during the game. When you prepare, everything comes more easy.” (Rangers Beat Tigers 7-3 In Game 4: Nelson Cruz Leads Texas To 3-1 Lead In ALCS)
“When you prepare, everything comes more easy.” The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed. The more you practice – and practice every conceivable scenario — the more you put and keep your head in the game, the more prepared you are.
This was seen so very clearly in the Rangers win over the Tigers last night. Nelson Cruz hit another 11th inning home run, but it was his throw from right field that kept the Rangers in the game, and sent it into extra innings.
With Detroit runners at the corners in the eighth and the score 3-all, Cruz caught Delmon Young’s flyball to right field and made a strong peg to Napoli to nail Miguel Cabrera. The Detroit slugger bowled over Napoli, but the catcher held on to the ball and Cabrera never touched the plate.
For Rangers fans (that includes me) it was a terrific game. For all of us, it is a reminder of the most basic of business and life success lessons: prepare and practice, and you will be ready for the challenge.
Here’s the video of his walk-off Grand Slam to win game two against Detroit:
Mike Napoli can also add to our appreciation for solid preparation.
Napoli said it comes from preparation and taking time to learn his pitcher’s tendencies, something that has improved with each outing. (Mike Napoli does it all in Game 4).
To the best of my knowledge, there is no better single source for expert guidance on onboarding.
As George Bradt and Mary Vonnegut explain in the first chapter of this book, onboarding “is the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating, and accelerating new team members, whether they come from outside or inside the organization. The prerequisite to successful onboarding is getting your organization aligned around the need and the role.” Frankly, until reading this book, I was almost wholly preoccupied with successfully getting a new hire or a new promotion “on board” and to “flank speed” as swiftly and as easily as possible.” I gave little (if any) thought to the inevitable adjustments that new associates would have to make. Well, as Bradt and Vonnegut soon make crystal clear, there is a lot more to onboarding than getting someone on board.
They carefully organize their material within four Parts that correspond with the four major phases of the onboarding process: Preparation, Recruitment, Orientation, and what I would characterize as Expedition or Acceleration. Within these each four Parts, Bradt and several sub-processeses as they explain “How to.” For example, in Parts I and II:
• Ensure that everyone understands is needed and how it will be obtained
• Clarify and communicate key information
• Craft a time line, formulate a recruiting brief, and enlist stakeholders
• Create a slate of highly-qualified candidates
• Evaluate while pre-selling and during pre-boarding
• “Make the right offer, and close the right sale the right way”
Readers will be delighted to learn that the purchase of this book enables them to access 21 downloadable documents that include templates, briefs, timelines, sourcing and tracking documents, interview/ debrief/reference check guides, and personal as well as onboarding game plans with schedules.
Here in a single volume is just about as much information, wisdom, and counsel that leaders in almost any kind of organization will need during “the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating, and accelerating new team members, whether they come from outside or inside the organization.” As indicated previously, Bradt and Vonnegut make every effort to serve the best interests of both candidates and the new hire or new promotion as well as those of an organization. To the best of my knowledge, there is no better single source for expert guidance on onboarding.
I am not a sports writer. And, even worse, I am not even an attentive sports fan. I can give you the starting line-up of the 1961 Yankees, but not the current infield of the Texas Rangers. So – I admit I am out of my element for this post…
But – are you kidding me?
The Boston Celtics are ahead of the Orlando Magic 3-0 in their play-off series. The Celtics are basically humiliating the Magic. And then, look at this paragraph (from an article from the Huffington Post):
“The most disappointing to me was that I didn’t have our team better ready to play,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who was himself knocked over late in the game when Kevin Garnett was pushed into the Orlando bench going after a loose ball. “It starts with me. It’s my job. I’m the coach of this team. It starts with me and I’m not happy with where we had our team tonight or anything I did.”
I’ve got a question. Imagine that you are a basketball player. Imagine that you have dreamed your whole life of playing in the NBA, making it to the playoffs, making it to the finals, winning the championship. Do you think you would have trouble getting ready for the big play-off series? Can you imagine that you would not show up ready to play at that moment in your career?
I can’t either!
Which gives us one very simply business lesson – it is tough to show up ready to play every day. Even on the big days.
No wonder success is so elusive.