4 Lessons From George Clooney About Side Gigs

Photo courtesy of Diageo

Maxwell’s Playbook is a huge proponent of having a side gig. Your 9 to 5 can be great bread and butter but who doesn’t love a bit of their favorite dessert after chowing down on salad and protein?   Enter George Clooney – whose Wikipedia entry describes him as an “American actor, filmmaker, activist, businessman, and philanthropist” – to prove us right.  ICYMI, he and his partners just sold their tequila company Casamigos for up to $1 billion. Something that started with a quest to find tequila that, as described by Katie Mettler of the Washington Post, is “so smooth it doesn’t burn the throat, require lime and salt, or induce a hangover”, was initially more of a hobby and not designed to become a business.

After years of creating tequila concoctions for their personal enjoyment, the partners settled on a recipe, found a distiller and took Casamigos public.  Sales took off with Clooney and Gerber (who’s married to uber model Cindy Crawford) as the brand ambassadors. Fast forward to today when Clooney and Gerber announced that Diageo, one of the world’s largest distillers, is acquiring Casamigos at a sweet price of $700 million, and potentially another $300 million, depending on sales.

Here are the top four lessons that we all can learn from Clooney about a side gig:

  1. Figure out what you like and are good at.

Clooney and his friends love tequila. They’ve said that they bonded over it while he was filming a movie in NY; Gerber owned the bar where they would imbibe.  Later, while building adjacent vacation homes they wound up comparing tequila served by hotels in Mexico in a quest to find the best. Clearly they LOVE tequila!

  1. Create a way to make it better.

Never satisfied with the brands and quality they found, they finally came up with a blend that met their requirements and based on sales of 120,000 cases in 2016, it met the requirements of other tequila lovers as well.  This took years of testing and even with Clooney involved, it wasn’t an overnight success!

  1. Everyone has roadblocks – but they can be overcome.

Clooney and company faced a few.  They were pretty much forced into the business.  After ordering a LOT of “samples” for friends and family, they had to get licensed in order to keep their supply coming in.   So Casamigos went public.  Reviews have been mixed with some critics criticizing its perfection.  One in Long Island Lou Tequila called it “artificially sweet and overpriced.”  Others disagreed giving it a good review, especially for those who are new to sipping the spirit. Distiller.com gave it a 4.4 rating out of 5 stars.

  1. Bring different skill sets to what you’re doing.

We already know that Clooney’s an actor perhaps a discernible palette. Gerber’s a bar and nightlife industry entrepreneur, and a third partner, Mike Meldman builds luxury residential private club communities and resorts. Each brings something to the game that the others don’t, which helps make the brand a success.

Granted, Clooney’s “9 to 5” career may be more like croissants and pain au chocolat than ours, but he still gets it. Your share of $150,000, $500,000, $1 million or more is no less valuable to you than his share of $700+ billion is to him.  It’s all relative, but in Casamigos lies proof (pardon the pun) of what a side gig can do for your bottom line now and into the future. Best of all, as this is passive income, he gets to make money while he sleeps.