Cloud computing company ServiceSource drew an enthusiastic crowd of about a thousand people when it invited Alec Baldwin to appear at the Dreamforce technology conference in San Francisco today.
The session was titled “Breaking Baldwin: The Art And Business Of Transformation”. Scripted questions were interspersed with Baldwin’s film and TV clips – to the delight of fans in the audience.
Baldwin has played a sales boss in Glengarry Glen Ross, a CIA analyst in The Hunt For Red October, and media executive in 30 Rock but appeared a little unprepared for some of ServiceSource CMO Christine Heckart’s open-ended questions about business transformation and leadership.
Here are some of the odder moments:
Christine Heckart: Are the best decisions made with data, or intuition, or both?
Alec Baldwin: Both.
Heckart: How tough do you think you need to be on yourself and others when the status quo isn’t good enough?
Baldwin: I’m sure everyone in this room is the same in their business – you’re never satisfied, and that’s a good thing. I work in a business where once we put the film in the camera, we very rarely go back and do it again.
I’m a firm believer that you strive for the clarity, for the right answers, but once you have them, you pull the trigger and go.
There’s a lot of velocity to movies and television. It’s very expensive, we’ve got to shove 10 pounds in a 5 pound bag every day.
The business today is even less luxurious than it was before. The people who succeed are the ones who develop the muscle to make quick decisions. Is that the right answer?
Heckart: Is there something that you know or believe that nobody else in this audience knows or believes that you want to share?
ServiceSource CEO Mike Smerklo: I think the entire world gets transformed by cloud computing … the transformation that we’re seeing out there is incredibly early. It’s not even close to the middle of the game yet.
Baldwin: I disagree. [Laughter from the audience]
Smerklo: I think the paparazzi should have more rights.
Heckart: You’ve had such a transformative career: you were on Days Of Our Lives, you’ve been a movie star, you’ve been a comedian, I’m not sure if you are or were a talk show host, and you’ve talked about maybe being a politician. What is your next transformation?
Baldwin: I’m thinking of getting into this cloud information business. There are a lot of leaders there – I’ll just be decisive, strong, hardworking, get in there, and really really make a score.
No, truly being a dad is what I’m most happy about.
Smerklo said that ServiceSource had thought long and hard about having Baldwin at the conference after Baldwin was accused of making an anti-gay remark in anger last weekend.
Baldwin addressed the issue at the start of today’s discussion, denying that he used the word “fag”, expressing his disappointment that anyone believed him to be a homophobe, explaining the pain of having his family targeted by paparazzi and suggesting that certain campaigners were using the opportunity to promote their agendas at his expense.
“In my business, there’s a variety of things that go wrong. I don’t mean to be cynical but movies have to sell tickets, TV shows have to have viewers,” he said in response to a question on managing difficult situations.
“We do live in a world where you have to have a lot of caution – it’s drive-by justice through the internet society … But you live and you learn and go through extreme lengths to make sure that everyone is comfortable.”
“I don’t need to say this because all of you are businesspeople, but public relations is an urgent thing,” he later added. “I want better PR.”
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