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Mind Your Business: What Would Woody Do?

Jeanette Mulvey

Woody Allen has a new movie out — "Midnight in Paris" — and it reminds me of his famous quote that 80 percent of success is just showing up. It's especially true in business, isn't it? So much of success is just being there, staying focused and plugging away, day after day.

It got me thinking that Woody might have a lot more business advice than one might think. For that matter, so might many of the other well-known "Woodys" out there.

And so, the next time you find yourself in a fine business pickle, ask yourself: "What Would Woody Do?" Which Woody you choose is up to you.

Woody Allen

Faced with a corporate conundrum, neurotic, self-deprecating Woody Allen (or at least the version he plays of himself in movies) would spend a lot of time worrying about which course of action to take.

Rather than charge ahead with a decisive plan, worrisome Woody would wonder whether to go right or left, up or down and, ultimately, come up with a half-hearted plan that accomplished little except getting him into hot water.


If you're running your business like Woody Allen would, maybe you need to get it together. You either need to change your way of thinking or accept your own neuroses and find an outsider — a business partner, consultant, attorney or accountant — to help you focus, pick a course of action and stick to it.

Woody from 'Toy Story'

Ever-earnest "Toy Story" Woody would, no doubt, take a team approach to problem- solving. He'd round up Buzz and Barbie, call his toy soldiers to attention and break out his trusty Etch-a-Sketch for a little group brain-storming.

And while it's true that two heads are better than one (even if it's a Mr. Potato Head), the real benefit of this kind of team work is the positive effect it has on group morale. When everyone on your , they feel more invested in the overall success of your business.

Even though it might be tempting to be a Buzz Lightyear (the blowhard who acts alone hoping to inspire some hero worship) a good old-fashioned cowboy-style roundup will serve you better in the long run.

Woody Woodpecker

Woody Woodpecker, the business owner, is that annoying boss who somehow manages to miss the important point, no matter how clearly you make it. Rather than focus on the problem at hand, this bird-brained entrepreneur flies from person to person, laying blame and generally creating a lot of racket without getting much done.

If you think that incessant tap, tap, tapping is annoying outside your window at 5 a.m., it pales in comparison to the boss who yammers on and on about issues that are irrelevant and chirps out orders that are pointless.

If you are a Woody Woodpecker boss (and your employees can tell you if you are), stop flitting around from idea to idea long enough to focus on the most urgent issues at your company. Instead of , take them under your wing and let them help you help yourself.

Woody Guthrie

The great American folk singer , who penned "This Land is Your Land," had a gruff exterior, but he was a team player at heart ("This land belongs to you and me," after all). He seems like the type of entrepreneur who'd need some alone time to work through the details of the problem, try out a few different versions of the solution and then present his conclusions with great conviction.

Though I'm picturing him as more of a solo-preneur, I bet he'd be great to hang out with at the hotel bar after a conference.

Woody Harrelson

Based on Woody Harrelson's support of the legalization of hemp, I suspect his approach to entrepreneurial problem-solving would be…shall we say…laid back.

Rather than jump in with both feet and address the problem hastily, Woody Harrelson would take a step back, find his happy place and just let the ideas flow. By the same toke-n, I suspect that once he decided which way the wind was blowing, he'd stick to his guns.

His vehement backing of the hemp movement — the legalization of the cultivation of hemp for fabric and other products — has been unwavering, even as it's been misconstrued and misreported.

And as we know from his character on "Cheers," Woody's good at playing dumb. He might just be the kind of boss who lets his employees come up with a solution once in a while, rather than taking credit for every idea that proves successful.

And, that would be the most wonderful thing any Woody could do.

Jeanette Mulvey Member
<p>Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter <a href="" target="_blank">@jeanettebnd</a>.</p>