Book review: “The Hollywood MBA”

30 years in Hollywood gave Tom Reilly, author of “The Hollywood MBA”, a colorful variety of leadership experiences in a mostly unpredictable environment that needed quick decision-making. Working with alligators in the Everglades on one day and camels in the Sahara Desert the next, he needed to be adaptable and rather lead by principles than case studies. How do you handle 130 new employees that were only hired yesterday and what to do if you have to move your working place 80 times in four months?

Picture: Tom Reilly

Tom Reilly’s situations may have been extreme and certainly make for colorful reading. But colorful also means memorable. During his career in Hollywood, Reilly has led more than 100,000 employees and been responsible for over two billion dollars in production budgets. He’s worked on over 100 films and with actors like Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, Tom Hanks, Charlize Theron, Sean Connery and Harrison Ford and he is not afraid to use his partly extreme, partly hilarious work scenes to explain management principles in his book.

In “The Hollywood MBA” Reilly argues that good leaders work with the same principles across industries. They all have to make decisions about resources, morale and people. By telling the reader stories about Hollywood's best films, the book explains these principles to its audience who in return learns how to deal with people whilst increasing a company's profit and attracting the best talent. Reilly explores ten key strategies that he used successfully to work with big crews and large personalities and to manage big budgets, and he explains how these can translate into any other business.

What readers liked (according to Amazon comments):

“Hollywood MBA is excellent. The end of each chapter ends with a summary statement of the chapter and actionable items to accomplish the idea discussed in the chapter.”

“Reilly begins each chapter with a complex situation that was his responsibility to navigate and resolve (filming in an alligator-infested Everglades with Sean Connery; discussing with Robert De Niro when to use or not to use a stunt double at night, in freezing temperatures on a beach in Coney Island; managing the life cycle and growth of a baby piglet cast as a co-star in a film), then discusses the process he used to do so. He then translates how that process can be used to make any business or company more efficient, productive, and successful.”

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Barbara Barkhausen