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Enterprise Marketing & Promotions Management

Retailers Can Learn How to “Pivot” From Kevin Spacey’s Life Work

By / March 2016


When the Netflix political drama HOUSE OF CARDS burst on to the scene several years ago, Kevin Spacey became a household name for his role as Frank Underwood. But Spacey fans knew that this was simply the culmination of a very successful career that spans over 30 years and saw him serve as an actor, director, producer, singer and comedian. He has won two Academy Awards for his roles in AMERICAN BEAUTY and the classic THE USUAL SUSPECTS. And if you think Frank Underwood is evil, then check out his character in SEVEN. You may also remember him form L.A.CONFIDENTIAL and PAY IT FORWARD. Among his roles for TV were in the short-lived but critically acclaimed WISE GUY. On Broadway he won a Tony Award for LOST IN YONKERS, and nomination for THE ICEMAN COMETH. In 2007 he starred in O’Neil’s MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, and I had the pleasure of seeing him perform with Eve Best and Colm Meaney. He was, in a word, brilliant.

But for me, it is the movie BEYOND THE SEA that best defines all the qualities that make Kevin Spacey such a force. For years he had wanted to produce a film about the great singer Bobby Darin. There was little interest in Hollywood for such a project. But Spacey was driven to get it done. And so, he went abroad to raise money. He co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in the movie. He even sang all the songs and surprised so many people who were not aware of his vocal skills. He set a vision and did not stop until he had accomplished what he set out to do.

Having done all this, he suddenly left Hollywood to become the Director of the Old Vic theater in London. Talk about an unexpected career move! He has since finished that stint and now concentrates on HOUSE OF CARDS, when he is not doing commercials for E-Trade. The Harvard Business Review recently caught up with Spacey to talk about his career and the learnings about leadership, mentoring, succession and managing as they apply to the business world. In retail these days the hot buzz word is “pivot”, which seems to have replaced “nimble”. Regardless of what word you use, it is incumbent upon retailers to be able to adjust from one situation to another so as to remain current and become stronger. As you will see, that is exactly what Spacey has done over the years. The link is attached and while brief, it is a wonderful and informative read. And if you are a HOUSE OF CARDS fan you most likely know that Frank, or Francis as his wife Claire calls him, will be returning very soon. (We included the trailer for HOUSE OF CARDS season 4).

Contributed by Dave Henry, Board Member at Aptaris and Senior Marketing & Advertising Executive
Dave has over 40 years creating successful brands that customers love and companies depend upon. Nationally recognized for building the businesses of several large grocery retail chains, his career includes SVP of Marketing for Winn-Dixie and senior executive at Price Chopper Supermarkets and Star Markets division of Jewel Companies. He has been a leader at organizations such as the Food Marketing Institute and National Grocers Association. You can follow Dave on Twitter at: @d_f_henry.


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