What the Academy Award Snubs Can Teach You About Success

Everyone loves a winner, but if your brand isn't getting the recognition it deserves, don't give up. Take cues from top films passed over by the Oscars.
January 28, 2014

Everyone loves a winner—so much so, that one of the strongest impediments to success for entrepreneurs and business owners is the fear of failure.

Apprehension around "giving it a go" can filter through to many crucial aspects of business. It can prevent the development of new products, keep you from finding efficient delivery channels to reach customers, and squash brand innovation—all of which are necessary to stay current and competitive.

Everyone who has started a business, launched a product or expanded a brand has encountered failure, yet we often think that success only comes to those who have already achieved success. Woody Allen, winner of four Academy Awards, once said, "If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."

Great Movies That Got Passed Over

The Academy Awards are here again, but it's not always the big award winner that ultimately comes out on top. Many of the all-time great movies and great performances were never nominated for an Academy Award.

  • Groundhog Day was named by the Writers Guild of America to be one of the top 101 screenplays of all time. Bill Murray's performance was widely acknowledged to be his best, but neither the film nor Murray received Academy Award nominations.
  • Midnight Run, with its innovative script and acclaimed solid cast including Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, was named one of the 10 best films of the year by the National Board of Review, but there were no Oscar nominations for the film or the actors.
  • Tom Hanks received positive acclaim for Saving Mr. Banks and Captain Phillips from critics and audiences for his roles in both films, but he wasn't nominated for either role.
  • Actor Robert Redford received wide acclaim for his extraordinarily demanding role in All Is Lost, yet was entirely overlooked by the Academy.
  • There were raves from reviewers and audiences alike for Oprah Winfrey's comeback movie role in Lee Daniels' The Butler; however, she failed to receive an Academy Award nomination.

How to Be a Winner Without Winning an Award

We can learn just as much, if not more, from those who aren't nominated for the prestigious award. How can Academy Award losers inspire your business?

Remember, winning is relative. Just because these films were overlooked for the Academy Award doesn't mean they were all-around failures. They succeeded in many ways and went on to be recognized as great pieces and performances. (By the way, on the road to Woody Allen's four Oscar wins were 15 losses.)

Keep auditioning. Even if you're not getting the top industry awards, or haven't been added to the "40 Under 40" or all-time favorite blogger lists, doesn't mean you're doomed to failure. There's still an audience and recognition waiting for you. Expand your social media presence by making comments on other blogs and social accounts. Consider guest blogging or asking others for their contributions. Request an interview or volunteer to give one. Keep networking and handing out your business cards. Don't give up.

Expand your repertoire. Great actors are constantly challenging themselves and pushing past their comfort zones. You should be doing the same. Wary of social media? Don't hide under the covers. Jump in! Take an online class, ask a millennial for some pointers, or just commit to spending one hour a day familiarizing yourself with a new channel. Afraid of speaking in public? Too shy to network? Put yourself in situations where you can push your boundaries. Find a local Meetup on branding or marketing. Don't stand in the corner. Channel your inner Jennifer Lawrence or Leonardo DiCaprio and work the room.

Practice your acceptance speech. Don't wait until you actually receive an award to make your acceptance speech. Think now about the people who are helping you get to where you want to go in your business. These could be friends, spouses, coaches, mentors, colleagues, clients or bosses. Don't forget to thank them often. You can also show your appreciation by retweeting their content, commenting on their blogs or inviting them to industry events as your guest.

Don't fret, even if this awards season may have looked you over—with a little practice and dedication, there's sure to be a red carpet and a branding blockbuster in your future.

Julie Cottineau is the founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build more profitable brands. She was formerly the VP of Brand at Richard Branson's Virgin, and is also the creator of Brand School Master Class, a global branding school for entrepreneurs.

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