He was the middle child – number five out of nine. As a youth, he enjoyed reading books about heroic figures in American history. Being born and raised in Chicago, there was an endless list of local heroes in the four major professional sports – he became a fan of both the players and the teams. While not the only kid to ever be kicked off of a little league team. he certainly was a bit of a troublemaker – maybe more of the ‘class clown’.
As a teen, he spent years as a golf caddy, earning money to put towards his high school tuition at Loyola Academy. He played in a band named the Dutch Masters. After graduating, he took pre-med courses at Regis University in Denver but it didn’t take long for him to drop out of school and head home to Chicago. At twenty years of age, he was arrested at O’Hare Airport with nearly ten pounds of pot – ultimately being placed on probation. He was seeking direction for his life.
There were two things he knew about himself. Number one was that he enjoyed interacting with people and had a knack for it. Number two was that he was funny – he enjoyed laughing and having a good time. With that knowledge, he joined his brother on the cast of Chicago’s Second City, an improvisational comedy troupe. The ‘class clown’ had found his path. He began to polish his comedic talents.
Soon he moved to New York and joined the cast of the National Lampoon Hour radio show. After being in the Big Apple for two years, he was recruited to be on a new variety show on ABC – Saturday Night Live – with Howard Cosell. It was 1975. Ironically, NBC also launched a late night variety show that year also titled Saturday Night Live (SNL). Even though the ABC show was a failure, his talent was recognized in the midst of that bad show. He became a member of the cast of SNL on NBC. In 1977, the ‘class clown’ from Chicago won an Emmy for his writing.
His first significant movie role was as a camp counselor. The crew wasn’t certain he’d show up on time – if at all – but when he did his performance generated an almost irresistible appeal. His next movie of note was c0-written by his brother. For that role he merely showed up on set and improvised. He created his character – a hapless caddy at a snooty country club – ad libbing his lines. His approach – his work – resulted in one of the most iconic roles in a comedic film.
That success launched him into a period of comedic superstardom. His appearance in a film virtually guaranteed a successful box office. Through the years he has made dozens of movies, transitioning into more serious and diverse roles. He has become a cultural icon adored by millions – and in great demand for movies, events, public appearances and talk shows. His immense popularity and success are not what define him as a fearless brand. Bill Murray is so successful and loved because he is completely his own man – he is a fearless brand
Fearless Brands are true to themselves.
Bill Murray is indeed his own man. He is totally authentic – comfortable with himself and fairly unimpressed with his own success. He acts, dresses, speaks and appears how and where he chooses.
- He has no agent – just an 800 phone number where people can leave a recording of their ideas and pitches. While he may or may not listen to them, he has a close friend and advisor who does.
- Murray is an annual mainstay in the AT&T Pebble beach Pro-Am golf tournament. While a decent golfer, he is more appreciated for his antics and crowd interaction. There’s no telling what he might do – from dancing with spectators to taking selfies with fans.
- Bill Murray stories are legendary – while some are manufactured most are true.
- He randomly crashes parties of ‘everyday people’ giving advice, adding fun – and once even washed the dishes
- He’s been known to sing karaoke and play kickball with total strangers
- Just because he wanted to – he joined an NYU archaeological dig in the Mediterranean
- He unexpectedly dropped in to read poetry to the construction workers building the Poet’s House in New York
For some, these stories just describe the antics of a character – and they are correct. The important point to make is that Bill Murray IS a character. His behavior is genuine – there’s no false pretense. He is true to himself.
That characteristic is evident in all of his work – he gives his all to his projects – good or bad. From being the voice of Garfield to playing Franklin D. Roosevelt – he is ‘all in’. When it comes to life – he is also ‘all in’ – and all Bill Murray.
The lesson to learn here is simple – be authentic – be yourself. There’s no secret to building your fearless brand. You merely need to learn from Bill Murray –
Be authentic – find your passion – hone your skills – be relevant
Building your fearless brand is simple – though not easy. It takes effort. It takes diligence. It’s an ongoing process. The results are worth every effort you make. Building your brand will have you achieve dream results. In the words of Carl Spackler – It’s a Cinderella Story!