I had the unique opportunity today to attend a conference call with Peabody Award-winning international film and television star Nick Searcy, Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient Bryan Anderson, and filmmaker Chris Burgard. Along with that special access, I was given an early "secret" link to Nick's fifth episode of Acting School:
I've been a fan of Nick Searcy ever since the short-lived television series, American Gothic (it ran in 1995 & 1996). More recently, I was impressed by his off-the-wall Herman Cain "He Carried Yellow Flowers" YouTube advertisement during last yea's Republican primary season. The purpose of the ad was to endorse Mr. Cain, but it also introduced an implicitly self-ridiculing persona of an egotistical Hollywood star. (Go figure, who would ever think those would exist?!)
Searcy has taken that initial character, put it on steroids, and re-released it to the wild as the star of Acting School with Nick Searcy. Sometimes he plays the part so effectively (and convincingly) it's painful. However, most of the time I can't stop smiling and chuckling at the surreal advice he provides. For instance, digest this from the second episode, "Family Time":
You know, being a successful working actor like me requires a tremendous amount of focus and attention. And all of that focus and attention has to be on myself, because an actor is like a musician, except that his instrument is himself. And that means at all times I have to make sure that my instrument is polished, prepared, warmed up, and ready to go. And anything that distracts me from focusing on my instrument can be a problem.
Now an actor like me, who is married with children, already has built into his life one of the greatest distractions that any actor can face. And how you manage this distraction can be the key to success or failure. And I’m talking about the distraction of family time.
At that point his son comes running out of the door, full basketball gear on, and says, "Come on dad, let's go!" Then, very seriously, Searcy continues:
See what I mean? He wants me to shoot some baskets with him. And I know that every moment I spend with my son is a moment I am not spending focused on my career. And I know that I’ll never get those precious moments back.
Followed by a long, pensive look.
It kills me every time. 🙂
I have multiple blogs, and one could argue this write-up might be more appropriate elsewhere than on this, my business one. So, why did I post it here?
Because hidden within the humor is some real commentary on Hollywood, society, politics, and so on…and some not-so-obviously "real" advice…for instance, Nick's guidance to "always stay in character."
Watch the video…it is both hilarious and disturbing to see him arguing over a handicapped parking space and then wrestling with a veteran missing both legs. I can assure you from following Searcy's Twitter feed (@yesnicksearcy) that he is a man who both supports and respects our military and the principles they fight for. So, it must have been very tempting for Searcy to get out of character during the call and sound like Robert Redford discussing his tradecraft (talk about a way to ruin Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!)…but Nick never did…even when the decorated veteran joined the call. Not for even a second did either stop playing their parts.
As businessmen and women, we have a persona, both as individuals and as an organization, that we should keep for our clients and our customers (although I would suggest it would be best not to have one quite as…err…disquieting as Searcy's Acting School identity).
And, not matter what the temptation, if it is the right persona you should stick with it. If you are known to provide good customer service, always provide good customer service—even if the client is a jerk and you've got a massive headache. If you pride yourself on high quality, don't ever cut corners because you want to save a few bucks.
A single moment out of character can completely damage your brand or your reputation.
But don't lose track of the important lesson.
Always stay in character.
P.S. As a warning, there is some foul language in Acting School episodes and if you are of the liberal persuasion, you'll likely find his Twitter feed problematic. With the latter I can't say I am entirely comfortable with some of his interpersonal approaches, but I appreciate his genuine willingness to interact with his fans.
P.P.S. How could I forget to mention this?! Nick is also a star on the FX television series, Jusitified, which just began its fourth season.