(Read Time: 2 minutes)

Gene Wilder will be missed. He spent decades making us laugh and helped us remember the wonder of childhood.

Response to his death was immediate and vocal. Movie theaters hosted Gene Wilder film festivals, Hollywood paid tribute and Coldplay remembered the actor with a rendition of ‘Pure Imagination’ during the Today Show (Coldplay on Today).

What  we will remember is not

the number of films he made, the plays he performed

or the books he wrote, but

how his work made us feel


Gene Wilder spoke infrequently about his philosophy on work and acting. What he did reveal translates well to conversations around creating environments that encourage connection.

Insight #1

“What do actors really want?… I think to be believed.”


Productivity increases in settings where staff believes that management supports both their work and personal development

  1. Meet individually with staff. Help them establish their personal professional development goals
  2. Create action plans and a timeline to move toward those goals
  3. Act as an advisor, rather than boss, during one-on-one meetings
  4. Be clear about organizational goals and realistic when integrating staff goals with larger business goals/timelines
  5. Set and articulate expectations of staff performance early
  6. Determine what you will do to support your staff- with management, peers, HR, etc. Put these actions in writing. Review quarterly.
  7. Monthly self check in: Am I walking my talk?

Why it Matters: Creating trust decreases expensive staff turnover

Insight #2

 “Don’t try to make it funny; try to make it real.”


Connect organizational goals with staff ability

  1. Spend time out of the office thinking dispassionately about the capability of your staff against organizational goals
  2. Create a team goals and activities timeline – 30, 60, 90-days, 6 months, 1 year
  3. Talk with staff about what is needed to achieve the goals
  4. Do an experiment: Offer (don’t assign) 1-2 projects to the entire group. Observe how working groups form and perform. Make adjustments to future work assignments based on team behavior.
  5. Offer incentives. (Yes, we respond to a feeling, but also respond to reward)

Why it Matters: Setting expectations early and understanding team dynamics creates team focus and decreases competition


Insight #3:

“If I can make my wife laugh, I’m on the right track”


Find someone you trust – a mentor or advisor, who is willing to act as counsel and a sounding board

  1. Great advisors can be hard to find. Understand what you want out of the relationship before ‘interviewing’ potential mentors
  2. Create a mentor job description to crystallize your thoughts
  3. Don’t treat conversations with your mentor as complain-a-thons. Come to the meeting with an agenda
  4. Offer possible solutions. Don’t rely on your mentor to do all the work
  5. Be patient and work through issues thoroughly
  6. Say thank you often

Why it Matters: Drawing on the experience of others helps explore issues from multiple vantage points  

To Mr. Wilder

Thank you for creating a body of work that brings joy and will be revisited many, many times


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