My nights are spent as a film critic and freelance writer (how romantic), but my day job is Director of Communications with a software company called Pointman. Every so often, my day job and my passions intersect. Hence this blog post exploring why Keanu Reeves is a strong role model for business owners. I’m very happy with how it came out.
There is a moment in the new Netflix romantic comedy “Always Be My Maybe” in which a world-renowned chef’s new boyfriend enters a trendy restaurant. She has raved about this mystery man’s prowess as a lover and intensity as a deep thinker — so it is only fitting that the figure who enters the room is Keanu Reeves. Yes, the Keanu Reeves, playing himself.
It’s a hilarious moment, and the capper to what we might call the Summer of Keanu. May saw the release of “John Wick 3,” the latest entry in Reeves’ cool-AF hitman-on-a-rampage series. Also in cinemas is “Toy Story 4,” featuring Reeves as the voice of Duke Caboom, a Canadian stuntman toy. Plus, the internet has been flooded with stories of the actor’s kindness, his underrated talent and his enigmatic appeal.
OK, Keanu is great. You loved “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Speed” and “The Matrix,” and you’ll happily watch John Wick log kill-shots. What’s that have to do with business?
A lot, actually.
Reeves is not a Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, or Mark Zuckerberg. But in his own quintessentially Keanu-ian way, the actor is a smart, sensible role model for how to carry yourself as a business owner.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few of the traits that make Keanu Reeves an unexpectedly solid role model for business owners.
Making an Impact — Quietly
Reeves has never been the star who shows up on TMZ or is trailed by stories of out-of-control behavior. Instead, he’s the Hollywood icon quietly donating to children’s hospitals and talking airplane passengers through an emergency landing. He does not broadcast these efforts — he doesn’t broadcast anything, really.
Not every leader has to be the loudest voice in the room. It’s often more effective to speak and act with restraint, but also with an ability to take action when needed.
Ability to Withstand Criticism
For years, Reeves has been tagged as a lightweight; as Time explained, the consensus among many was that he’s “a bad actor. What he does is not really acting, he’s just playing himself.” But Reeves, of course, flourished in spite of these taunts.
Whether you are a veteran business owner or just starting out, you’re going to face criticism, and you’re going to be told you don’t have what it takes to succeed. The businesses with real longevity are those led by owners who can take the heat.
Taking Risks, But Also Knowing What Works
From tackling Shakespeare to directing a documentary, Reeves has never shied away from taking chances. However, he also has an innate understanding of what the public wants to see him doing on screen — to put it bluntly, kicking ass.
Risk is vital for business success; starting your business in the first place was a risk, wasn’t it? But take the right risks, and never forget what makes you, your company and your team unique.
Kindness and Likability
Onscreen and off, Reeves has always had an inherent likability and an air of kindness that goes a long way toward making him a box office draw. Whether you’re an actor or a business owner, being viewed this way impacts whether people want to spend their dollars to support you.
So how can you be seen as a “likable” owner? Pointman VP of Community Engagement Tim McGuire discussed some ideas in a recent blog post. From adopting a local charity to celebrating the successes of your team and their family members, there are some simple ways to ensure your employees and the community feel the love.
We can’t all be daredevils like Duke Caboom or ass-kickers like John Wick. But we can run our business with poise, intelligence and kindness.