Risky Business: Crafting Your Break-out Moment

Tom Cruise, Risky Business

There’s an anecdote I love that says “Poor people are crazy. Rich people are eccentric”. And that leads us into a chicken and egg question …

Are celebrities wild and crazy because they’re rich and famous, or are they rich and famous because they’re wild and crazy?

It’s pretty easy to argue that one feeds the other, but I have to go with the latter because getting attention is marketing 101. It’s the first job that every brand, or rather, that brand’s packaging has to do.

The Risky Business Strategy

Tom Cruise’s career is a great case study. There are lots of people who have amassed huge fortunes and achieved great fame. But his case is very special because we can pinpoint exactly the one thing he did that started it all.

The year was 1983. The movie was Risky Business. And the one single (and risky) scene that took a relatively unknown actor and launched him into a superstar was Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear to Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll. Pretty easy to read that scene in a script and think you’re going to look like a total fool if you do it.

But that’s the point. It’s just another version of “feel the fear and do it anyway”. You have to own it with unflinching confidence. And he’s been capitalizing on that first big success ever since and rolling it into bigger and bigger successes.

The next time you’re brainstorming on how to create your own break-out moment or a launching point for something, make sure it’s a little scary. There has to be a risk. And sure, maybe you just think Tom Cruise is crazy.

Eccentric maybe. Crazy … not a chance.

6 thoughts on “Risky Business: Crafting Your Break-out Moment”

  1. The thing about Tom Cruise is, he’s been so successful at leveraging that initial success. There have been a lot of actors after him who have had those moments, and then fallen right back into obscurity…..I’m sure the same is true for any occupation. I think it’s easy to skip that first step of having a solid plan, and go straight for trying to get attention.

  2. Anthony,

    Both great points. Capitalizing on a success and rolling it into other successes is ultimately the only cure for the “one hit wonder” syndrome. And I think most big attention-getting moments are unplanned. That’s part of the risk – you get an inspiration and take the leap … or you don’t.

    The key to being practical about it is in the size of the risk. If you bet the farm and lose the farm, you’re done. If you bet a few cows, and you lose them, you’ve still got a lot left to play with to try other things and take other risks.

    Some will say, if you want big rewards you have to take big risks. I agree with that, but most people that are successful got a lot of farm left after they put their bet on the table.

  3. I like what you’re doing with your blog. Keep up the awesome work. Great Post!

    Love & Gratitude,
    Think Simple. Be Decisive.
    ~ Productivity, Motivation & Happiness

  4. Interesting post. You are right that scene did in large part set Tom Cruise up for greater opportunities for success. I think your argument is a good one. Sometimes we do have to take risks and see where they take us despite the fear that wells up in us. I have seen cases where people are presented with “do this right or else” type opportunities and turned them into even greater successes.

  5. Hey Ron,

    You just touched on one of my favorite concepts which is “capitalize on success”. Creating that first initial success is always the hardest part … but once you’ve got the ball rolling, it’s just a matter of keeping it rolling in the right direction and gathering momentum.

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