How George Clooney Used Design Thinking to Kickstart His Career - Spring2 Innovation

How George Clooney Used Design Thinking to Kickstart His Career

November 29, 2021

Perspective is the way we interpret what we see based on a set of worldviews, experiences and circumstances, which then determines how we respond to everything happening around us. The perspective that we choose to use in each situation we encounter acts as a lens that can either cloud our judgement or unveil new insights. And for something so intangible and innate, perspective has tremendous ramifications.

Nobody understands this better than George Clooney, the Hollywood superstar actor, director, producer, screenwriter and philanthropist. In the book The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, author Ryan Holiday offers an inside look at one of Clooney’s secrets to success:

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.

Clooney subconsciously submitted to what Seth Godin, the former dot com executive, calls the “tyranny of being picked.” In the eyes of the nameless actor grovelling for a role, it is the casting director’s job to hold the authority, and it is the actor’s job to wait passively to be picked.

Everything changed for Clooney when he tried a new perspective. He realized that casting was 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.

He realized that auditions were a chance to solve their problem – not his. He was going to be 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 pre-production, on camera, and during the promotion.

Perception precedes action. The right action follows the right perspective.

Clooney probably didn’t realize it, but he used design thinking to change his life. He altered his perspective to empathize with casting directors and producers, he reframed the challenge, and he asked, “How might I become the solution to the challenges of filmmakers in auditions?”

Often, we all go about our lives without even being aware of the way we are choosing to look at our problems. But always looking at a challenge in the same old way will never result in a better solution. Innovation requires new ideas that stem from different perspectives.

Consider how you can apply George Clooney’s revelation to yourself. From your personal life to your professional career, there is an abundance of opportunities to empathize with other people’s perspectives. The next time you go through a job interview or pitch to a client or go on a first date, reflect on what challenges lie on the other side of the scenario – how might you become someone’s saving grace instead of the other way around?

Design thinking will allow you to develop the George Clooney mindset so that you can start framing your challenges the right way. Check out our training sessions or contact to learn how you can #DoUnlimited.