Twins have a special bond – one that most people cannot understand. Such was the case with fraternal twins Christopher and Michael, born five minutes apart in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on February 7, 1978. Michael, the younger of the two, was born with a mild form of cerebral palsy. He was the kid with the thick glasses and a hearing-aid who endured some cruel behavior from other kids. Christopher, with his good looks and great physique, assumed the role of his brother’s protector. The boys were close.
Their lives changed dramatically in 1991, when the twins were thirteen. Their parents were in the process of divorcing when Michael went into cardiac arrest as the result of a viral heart inflammation. His life was saved when he received a heart transplant – his parent’s marriage did not survive. Chris never left Michael’s side during the entire ordeal, showing what true brotherly love is all about.
Two years later, the boys and their sister moved to Homestead, Iowa, when their mother remarried. When in high school, Chris discovered an interest in acting and appeared in several school plays. After graduating, he revealed a rebellious side. He was caught breaking into the high school. Convicted of misdemeanor burglary, he was put on six months’ probation and given community service work. For Christopher, that experience was a wake-up call.
Not only was Chris was very smart, he had the benefit of having had excellent teachers in a very good school system. He enrolled at the University of Iowa, majoring in biochemical engineering – his motive being to find a cure for his brother’s heart condition. His looks and physique, combined with his love of acting, sent his career in a different direction. After winning a modeling contest, he went to New York and was cast in high profile campaigns for Abercrombie & Fitch and Calvin Klein jeans.
That exposure landed him the role of Kelso, on what would become a successful sitcom television, That 70’s Show. That role, which began in 1998, led to several movie roles including Coming Soon and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Just Married. While the films achieved only varying levels of success, Chris had developed an almost cult-like following.
Chris had worked at a variety of jobs beginning at a very young age. Not one to sit around, he looked to branch into other areas both out of interest and to ensure that he had a ‘Plan B’ in case his show was cancelled. He moved into producing both movies and television shows, creating a major hit – Punk’d – a show which pulled elaborate pranks on celebrities.
In addition to producing, he co-founded a venture capital firm, A-Grade Investments. Through his company, he began to invest money and time in several high tech startups. His success as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist is evidenced by investments in Skype, Foursquare, Airbnb and Uber and his hands-on involvement in enterprises such as Ooma.
Along the way, several high profile relationships helped to further his celebrity, in particular his marriage to, and ultimate divorce from, the Academy Award nominated Demi Moore. His fame and popularity continued to grow, as did his fan base. As yet, he has not won any of Hollywood’s top-tier awards, yet he’s won numerous awards which are determined by the voice of the fan – notably the People’s Choice Award and the Teen Choice Award. His powerful connection with the public was further evidenced when he became the first account to gain 1,000,000 followers on Twitter. He achieved critical acclaim for his portrayal of Steve Jobs in the 2013 movie Jobs. In what can only be deemed a strong endorsement of his talent as an actor and his popularity with the public, he was named to replace Charlie Sheen in the wildly popular sitcom Two and a Half Men.
This type of success doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of the talent and determination of a fearless brand – Christopher Ashton Kutcher.
Fearless Brands are driven
Ashton Kutcher first came to public prominence through his role as Michael Kelso. That character was a good looking heartthrob who was a bit dense. Kutcher fit the role perfectly – except for the part about being ‘thick’. Ashton Kutcher is so much more than his Kelso character. It likely took a long time for the general public to discover and get to know the real Ashton Kutcher.
Kutcher is smart. He is well educated and open to learning. He believes in effort – as evidenced by his early job of sweeping cereal dust in a General Mills plant all the way to his current involvements.
In his acceptance speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards, he shared his three ‘insider’ secrets to success. These points apply to people of any age – of every age.
Opportunity looks a lot like hard work – From hauling roofing shingles, to washing dishes to sweeping floors, Ashton always had a job and kept that job until he had found his next one.
Be Sexy – “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being smart, being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is just crap!”
Build a life – Everything around you, everyone around you is no better than you. Find your purpose – build your world.
More than that, Ashton Kutcher has found true love – his wife, Mila Kunis. They have a daughter together with another child on the way. Kutcher has always had strong opinions and has been anything but shy in pursuing things he is passionate about. One of his crusades is seemingly simple – to get changing table in all men’s rooms – it’s about gender equality.
Kutcher has supported countless charities and foundations ranging from St. Jude Children’s Hospital, UNICEF and Habitat for Humanity. He and then wife Demi Moore founded Thorn, now known as the DNA Foundation – an international anti-human trafficking organization.
If you want to build a fearless brand, follow Kutcher’s three insider secrets. Additionally, Kutcher has three rules of investing. His rules are listed below – they apply to the individuals with whom he’ll invest and partner. These same rules apply to building your fearless brand in order to achieve the success you desire.
They must intimately understand both their product and their industry – Kutcher won’t get involved with people who don’t know what they’re doing. The take away here is for you to know your purpose, to embrace your dream, to know your talents (and shortcomings), to be relevant.
They must have a personality that will allow them to withstand failure and setbacks – In business – in life – things will happen which aren’t expected, things which have negative impact. The key is how you react to them. Gain a clear understanding of what you can’t control vs. what you can. Be positive, put your efforts where they’ll have an effect.
They must get along well with him – If Kutcher can’t get along with someone, he won’t be able to work with them. To have a successful brand you have to understand how to listen with an intent to understand. Seek compromise and exhibit empathy, while always being true to yourself.
Ashton Kutcher’s brother Michael now sells retirement plans in Iowa. Ashton loves him deeply. The bond between him and his twin laid the foundation for the person that Ashton would become. Kind, caring, supportive, hard-working and teachable. Those are powerful traits. Incorporate Ashton Kutcher’s philosophy into your life – be sexy – and you too can be a fearless brand.