The George Clooney Perspective

“The difference between the right and wrong perspective is everything.” – Ryan Holiday

One of the most important intangibles needed to succeed when investing is the correct perspective on the financial markets.

Perspective helps you understand the power of long-term thinking, set your correct time horizon and determine your tolerance for risk.

Ryan Holiday explains the importance of perspective in his new book, The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph:

Perspective has two definitions.

1. Context: a sense of the larger picture of the world, not just what is immediately in front of us.

2. Framing: an individual’s unique way of looking at the world, a way that interprets its events.

Both matter, both can be effectively injected to change a situation that previously seemed intimidating or impossible.

The correct perspective is important for your career prospects as well.  Holiday goes on to share a story about George Clooney’s initial struggles with breaking into the acting business and how perspective changed everything for him:

George Clooney spent his first years in Hollywood getting rejected at auditions. He wanted the producers and directors to like him, but they didn’t and it hurt and he blamed the system for not seeing how good he was.

Everything changed for Clooney when he tried a new perspective. He realized that casting is an obstacle for producers, too— they need to find somebody, and they’re all hoping that the next person to walk in the room is the right somebody. Auditions were a chance to solve their problem, not his. From Clooney’s new perspective, he was that solution. He wasn’t going to be someone groveling for a shot. He was someone with something special to offer. He was the answer to their prayers, not the other way around. That was what he began projecting in his auditions— not exclusively his acting skills but that he was the man for the job. That he understood what the casting director and producers were looking for in a specific role and that he would deliver it in each and every situation, in preproduction, on camera, and during promotion.

It’s easy to assume that Clooney was destined for success based on where he is today, but he didn’t get his break on ER until his mid-thirties.  He spent his early acting years in a supporting role on The Facts of Life with this glorious haircut:


The George Clooney perspective has a number of applications:

  • When looking for a job figure out the problems you can personally solve for the prospective company.  Generic resumes sent to every career website you can find doesn’t work anymore.  You have to stand out by showing how your unique skill set can be used for specific companies and industries.
  • Financial advisors must be able to share their value-add with current and prospective clients. This will be more important than ever going forward as robo-advisors continue to gain market share and offer automated portfolio construction (see How Financial Advisors Can Fend Off the Robots).
  • Serving your clients in any number of industries.  Consumers and clients need goods and services.  You must be able to distinguish your product or service from the competition by actually helping a person or business get things done.

Further Reading:
In this esquire profile Clooney shares an awesome story about him and his buddies schooling Leonardo DiCaprio and his friends in pick-up basketball: George Clooney’s Rules For Living (Esquire)