Career Advice From Captain Lou Albano
Iconic pro-wrestler and entertainer Captain Lou Albano passed away yesterday at the age of 76.
Some will remember him for the rubber bands. The penchant for Hawaiian shirts. The boisterous rants.
But I’ll remember him best for demonstrating what it takes to make it in business…
Lesson #1: Always Leave Them Wanting More
Probably the most obvious, given the persona of Captain Lou. Whether he was in the ring himself or managing other wrestlers, Lou understood the point was not winning or losing–it was about making an impression and making people want to come back, again and again.
The next time you’re at a trade show or a cocktail party, how can you make yourself stand out from all the other people in the room? How can you make a memorable, positive impression–from what you say, to how you say it, right down to your business card’s appearance.
Hint: Depending on your industry, you probably don’t want to pin rubber bands to your face.
Lesson #2: Seek Non-Obvious Opportunities
Mixing Cyndi Lauper with pro-wrestling, on the surface, might not have the same visceral appeal as pairing chocolate with peanut butter. But Captain Lou spearheaded the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling movement that helped propel wrestling out of the cheap seats and into the mainstream.
On a similar tip, there’s no reason to think Mint.com could do better with Yodlee’s online personal finance software than Yodlee could. But Mint coupled that technology with a terrific user experience and a smart financing strategy. The end result: Mint acquired by Intuit for $170 million.
Some people wouldn’t think mixing user experience and personal finance is worthwhile. After all, it’s personal finance. It’s supposed to be a chore. But know the right ingredients, and you could produce something with great appeal.
Lesson #3: Play Your Part
Whether he was playing the evil manager trying to end the long-standing reign of beloved Bruno Sammartino, or rocking on the side of the angels, Captain Lou understood his role in the drama and played it to the hilt.
In business, there are roles and boundaries. As a product manager in a given business, you don’t tell your engineers how to code; you focus on what needs to happen and when. You encourage discussion and reasonable debate. You earn and develop trust, and your team does the same with you.
At the end of the day, everyone involved needs to know their role and do it well, and you play a key part in setting that tone–regardless of whether any of those involved report directly to you or not.
Lesson #4: Strike While The Iron’s Hot
Once Captain Lou moved into the mainstream with Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, he didn’t stop there–he capitalized on his new celebrity status with acting roles on TV’s Miami Vice and The Super Mario Brothers Super Show. He even had his own 900 number!
When you have success at work, do you rest on your laurels–after all, you’ve earned it–or, do you set your sights even higher for your product and/or your career? You don’t want to over-reach or get a swelled head, but you need to understand that nothing lasts forever. That special glow you’re feeling will fade. And you need to get on while the getting’s good.
Lesson #5: Give Back
I’m not sure why he’s still wearing his Super Mario cap in this video clip. But Captain Lou demonstrated his willingness to give back to the community with this anti-drug public service announcement:
How do you contribute back to your industry and/or the product management community? Blogging? Commenting? Twittering? Whatever you can afford to do, do–everyone benefits, including you.
Bonus points if it’s not court-mandated.