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Nicholas Cage and Personal Leadership

Harrison Barnes
By Jan 13,2024
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True leadership comes from standing for the things in which you believe, even if you stand alone and others disagree with you. Taking charge of your life means acting and doing what others are afraid or unwilling to do; this is personal leadership, and will lead you to incredible results. You will reach your fullest potential by being the person you are capable of being, rather than the person that others say you should be.

Yesterday I saw the most interesting story about Nicholas Cage. Apparently, he just had a pyramid commissioned and delivered to a Louisiana cemetery for his body to be placed in when he dies. The story also talked about how Cage had recently dyed his hair blonde to ”get in touch with his Celtic roots.”

I have been hearing interesting stories about Cage for a long time. A few years ago I was walking on the beach and one of my neighbors was bragging to me that he had recently loaned Cage $1,000,000 against one of his properties and was going to loan him some more money. At the time this did not seem to make sense: Cage seemed to be a very well off movie star.

When it came out recently that many of Cage’s homes were in foreclosure I went over to try and find my neighbor and ask him about how his loans to Cage were performing. I could not find my neighbor, however. He was trying to sell his own house and had put it up for sale. I wondered if he was selling his house because he had lost so much money to Cage.  I felt sorry for my neighbor and, also, wondered to myself if he too had lost money to Cage.

Cage strikes me as someone that really has a sense of himself. For example, he loves collecting comic books. He loves toy trains. He loves purchasing real estate. Many of his homes are under foreclosure but Cage just keeps going. Hurting people based on not paying for what you buy is not a good thing; however, Cage certainly is original.

Cage is original and I would go so far to say he is the rarest sort of personal leader out there.  The more I read about Cage the more I am convinced he is a leader. He is extremely eccentric but he knows exactly who he is. He is not afraid to be 100% original and I would dare say that he will long be remembered both for his work and his personality. He will make an impact with his pyramid in the cemetery long after he dies. People will look at that pyramid and say ”That was one unusual guy.”

Cage is not afraid to be his own person.  His love of comic books and real estate will certainly never qualify him to be remembered as someone who changed the world.  Cage is, though, someone who is “original” and “memorable” and is able to lead himself and be 100% his own person.  He is a personal leader.

Most of us will not be remembered. We will die and most of us will be forgotten. Most cemeteries are packed with the bodies of people who were never leaders in anything. They spent their lives conforming and trying to be like others and then they died. They never got in touch with their inner leader and the things they believed in. They came and were just like everyone else and then they died and were forgotten.

This is probably what is going to happen to you too unless you wake up.

But you probably will not wake up.

Most people never wake up.

Most people are not leaders. Most presidents are not leaders. Most CEOs are not leaders. In fact, the more you look around the more you will see that there are very few true leaders in the world.

When I was younger I read book after book about leadership, success and many, many biographies. Since I started this reading at such a young age, I began to have a very ”instinctual” understanding of what it took for people to be truly successful and to really and truly lead themselves. After all of this reading, I learned one main thing:

Personal leaders are able to stand behind an idea they believe in even if it means acting alone.

If you look at any person who is truly a leader and makes a lasting impact on the world you will see someone who believes in something and is able to act alone.

  • The best artists who do incredible works that leave a lasting impact on the world are able to stand behind an idea even if it means acting alone.
  • The greatest religious figures throughout history are people who are able to stand behind an idea even it means acting alone.
  • People who have started giant companies and made hundreds of millions of dollars generally had an idea and stand behind it even if it means acting alone.
  • The greatest political figures are generally able to stand behind an idea so long and fight for it so long that others eventually follow-but not before the person has spent years, or decades acting alone.

The world respects people who stand behind ideas despite all opposition and are able to act alone. The reason the world respects this so much is because it is so rare. There are very, very few people out there who are able to stand behind an idea and act alone. Most people are all too willing to ”cave in” at the first sign of resistance from a group. Most leaders are actually followers.

In order to really lead, you need to take a stand for the things you believe in and you often need to do this alone. It does not matter if others agree with what you are trying to do—you need to act in the things you believe in. Are you brave enough to act alone?

The average cemetery out there may be filled with the bodies of thousands and out of those thousands of bodies the odds are there is not one leader among them. There may be former Congressmen, well known business figures and others-but no true leaders.

There are two main types of leadership. There is what I call ”bureaucratic figurehead” leadership and there is what I call ”personal” leadership. If you are going to be a leader in anything, you are going to have to decide at some point what sort of leader you want to be. Even the well-known leaders among us are really just ”bureaucratic figureheads”—there a very few personal leaders.

In ”bureaucratic figurehead” leadership, someone is ”appointed” into a position as a representative of a group. Someone who is a representative of a group is acting as a voice for the group’s concerns. They may be elected to lead the group but the election is more of a ”choice” among well-defined people who are similar.

The Democrats in the United States have traditionally wanted higher taxes, more government involvement in social policy and business regulation. Republicans have traditionally wanted lower taxes, less government involvement in social policy and less business regulation.

If you are a member of either party and take a stand for one of these issues that is consistent with what your party stands for you are not going to get a lot of opposition; instead, you are going to be simply taking a stand for things that are consistent with what you are expected to be doing.

The ability to be a bureaucratic figurehead sort of leader revolves around your ability to successfully navigate within organizations and be ”popular” and someone that is supported by the group. In order to be elevated as a bureaucrat, you need to play by the rules of the organization and make sure that you are gaining the favor of your constituents. You do not need to have charisma, but it helps. You need to stand for what the group stands for and be an adequate voice for these concerns. You are supported by the group.

The individualized sort of leader is someone who steps forward and takes a stand against something that they believe in—regardless of whether it is the popular way of doing things. They take bold risks. They live the life they want to live instead of living the life that society may have trained them to want. They refuse to be resigned to mediocrity. They seek, in some small measure, to leave the world better than they found it. They do not care what people think.

After all of my reading and study of leadership, I decided when I got to college that my life gave me the choice of being a ”personal” or ”bureaucratic” leader and that I wanted to be a personal leader. To that end, I started taking steps to support and lead a change against the things I believed in. I did many things.

  • I started businesses and the businesses were very successful.
  • I took classes I was interested in and not the ones everyone else did and did well.
  • I drove outrageous looking sports cars with gold rims that attracted a lot of attention.
  • I dated the sorts of girls I wanted to even if they were not the right color, or religion, I was led to believe I should be dating.

I started organizations I believed in.

I had grown up around a lot of drugs and saw the damage they can do. In high school I had a friend whose mind became so ”fried” that he was left with the inability to say few words beyond ”dude”. I had spent some time going to school in Bangkok, Thailand and had seen some high school classmates become addicted to heroin. One person I knew in Bangkok had been thrown for years in a Thai prison for trying to smuggle heroin out of the country in a hollowed out sandal when he returned back to the United States for summer vacation.

I’ve never used drugs, but felt that they were dangerous enough that I needed to take a stand against them. Because I thought they were so dangerous, I decided to start an anti-drug organization.

  • I travelled to conferences for the anti-drug group.
  • I petitioned the school for money to hold various events.
  • I set up information tables to sign up members.
  • I wrote little books and pamphlets about drug use to discourage people from using drugs and handed them out to students.
  • When asked, I debated my fraternity brothers and others about drug use.

I did not particularly enjoy running this anti-drug organization. The organization took a great deal of my time and was quite a bit of work. Moreover, I lived in a fraternity house in college that was definitely considered the ”wild” fraternity house on campus.

Since everyone knew that I was part of the “party” fraternity, many people outside of my fraternity found my involvement in the anti-drug organization quite unusual. In general, people were a bit ”perplexed” about my dual involvement with the fraternity and this anti-drug group.

Because of my stand against drugs, people I knew spent a lot of time trying to get me to do drugs, discredit my involvement with the drug organization and, in general, discredit me. This is what happens to anyone who sets themselves apart: The nail that sticks out people try to pound it down.

I remember one of my professors called me and told me that one of my fraternity brothers had come to her confidentially and told her I had cheated on the final exam test for her class. The only problem with this accusation was that the class had an ”option ” of taking a final exam or writing a paper at the end of the semester. I had written a paper and had not even taken a final. This same fraternity brother was someone who used a lot of drugs and was the most vocal in making fun of my drug organization.

If I would spend some time talking to a girl who was not my girlfriend at a party a rumor might be started that I was cheating on my girlfriend. I remember I once spent over a week trying to convince my girlfriend that nothing had happened with a girl that I had spent some time talking to at a party.

Rumors and so forth are, of course, quite normal and I am sure they happen to everyone in college but in my case I felt like they were occurring a little bit more than normal. Because of my personal stand against something, I was being held to a higher standard and being put under a little bit more powerful microscope than others might be in a similar situation. Moreover, in most cases I found that the problems I was experiencing were most attributable to the people who had been most interested in my anti-drug activities and had the most serious drug problems.

I ran the anti-drug group for four years and each year in my fraternity I was elected to a higher and higher office. In my fourth year of college I was elected to be the President of the fraternity.

In retrospect I realize that even though I was against drugs, most of my fraternity brothers seemed to respect the fact that I had taken a stand against something. In short, I was my own person and capable of being among them and holding my own opinions that differed from what the group believed in.

  • It is one thing to take a stand for something when surrounded by people sharing your views.
  • It is an entirely different thing to take a stand for something when surrounded by people with completely different opinions from your own.

Inside you may have some views about right and wrong and what is correct; however, very few people voice these concerns when surrounded by people who do not share your views. When you take a stand against something personally that differs from what others around you are doing and thinking, you are entering a different dimension of leadership that is more challenging and will have a different set of outcomes and rewards than from simply leading a group.

A politician for the Democrats or the Republicans is someone who is generally always leading with a group. They are taking stands but doing so with the support of their Democratic or Republican constituents. While they will certainly have countless detractors, they are being supported by others within their own party who are generally behind the things they are doing.

  • A politician who wants to run for a major or important office in the United States simply cannot do so if his or her views are too different from the people whose support they are hoping to get.
  • The leader of a giant company generally has the support of a Board of Directors in carrying out various objectives. They need this support in order to operate. They simply cannot come forth with radically different stands about anything.

However, there are some people out there who are able to step forward for what they believe in and do this regardless of whether they are supported by others or not. What I am talking about is not a way to power, titles, or wealth, but a way of living your life that puts you in complete charge of the outcomes that you get. I am talking about personal leadership and a decision making process that is going to change everything if you understand it.

Most lives are wasted.

What’s the point of worrying about others opinions? In order to lead and take charge of your life you need to act and do what others are afraid, or unwilling to do. This is personal leadership and it is what is going to change your life and give you incredible results in everything that you do.

When you do what you want to do you become an innovator and not a follower. The world respects the innovators. You are able to reach your highest visions and be the person you are capable of being—instead of the person others say you should be.

For you it may mean writing a book. It may mean quitting your job to go help the poor. It may mean becoming the best possible parent you can be. Whatever it is, personal leadership is going to change your life. You can be whoever you want to be but you need to be a personal leader and do what is deep inside of your heart. You need to be the person you are capable of being no matter what others may think.


True leadership comes from standing for the things in which you believe, even if you stand alone and others disagree with you. Taking charge of your life means acting and doing what others are afraid or unwilling to do; this is personal leadership, and will lead you to incredible results. You will reach your fullest potential by being the person you are capable of being, rather than the person that others say you should be.

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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is the Founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter himself. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in a search and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive that gets results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities that its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.

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18 Responses to “ Nicholas Cage and Personal Leadership”
  1. Just a quick note to tell you that I very much liked your recent article about your mother and her travails, and your family experiences growing up in Detroit. So much of the input available in this day and age is very superficial and does not relate to what is really important and true. And worse, much of it is subtly or overtly deceptive and harmful. Actually this is not really anything new, and I’m certainly not relating to any new or unheard of concept. It just makes me very appreciative of your efforts. Thanks much for your articles.

    • Harrison Barnes Harrison Barnes says:

      Mr. Knobloch,

      I wanted to thank you for your comment. I want to tell you how much I appreciate your comment. I put a lot of effort into these posts and want people to have a good understanding of themselves through understanding the stuff I went through. I often feel that the writing I do is “putting myself out there” a bit too much because I go into so much personal information. I believe, though, that by making myself vulnerable I can help you understand your own vulnerabilities and make the right decisions.

      A few years ago I was not writing these articles as actively because our company had grown and we had scores of writers writing all sorts of articles. I felt, though, that many of these articles were “manufactured” and not necessarily something that could change peoples’ lives. For example, how many articles are there about how to write a resume? A job search is about a lot more that technique, or style and really is something that delves deel into who you are and your emotions and very core. The decisions you make about your career will have long-lasting implications on the course of your life. You need to understand yourself when in the job market.

      Thanks again for your touching comment. It meant a lot to me.


  2. Avatar GP says:

    Every once in a while Harrison will write a post like this… And though I’m a huge fan of Harrison, I feel that articles like this are wasted space. They seem to be directed at an individual or group of individuals who get under his skin somehow. And there’s a defensive tone the article that seems to say: Don’t believe in the rumors being circulates about me. This is wasted space. Harrison, do what you do best. Don’t be distracted by people who throw accusations. You do good work, through your businesses and through these posts.

    • Harrison Barnes Harrison Barnes says:


      Thanks for your post and being a fan. I think you are correct about a “defensive tone” to some of the articles. Most of the articles I write sort of take a position on something and this position can be alienating to many people. When I write these articles I often receive a lot of wierd hate mail from people who believe that the articles are directed towards them specifically. I never really write these articles with any one person in mind and never have.

      I have a lot of passion about people choosing the right path for themselves because I have seen too many people choose the wrong path and end up unhappy, or unfulfilled. What generally happens when people get out in the world is that they make a series of decisions that often limit them and what they can do. This is ok, of course and what life is all about but I feel that with the right information people can be limited. Many times the wrong decisions that people make are simply a product of having been associated with others who were influencing them in the wrong way.

      The Cage article here is referring to my belief, quite simply, that you need to be your own person no matter what others are doing. There is a huge value in being your own person and this is a good path for many people to follow with the right “goading” and understanding–for others this is not the right path and this is their decision.

      The articles I write are quite long but I want to give people time to think while reading. I am trying to help people get real insight into themselves.


  3. Avatar Tall says:

    How is Nicholas Cage a leader? Because he collects toy trains and reads comic books? While going bankrupt because he overextened himself? What am I missing?
    Like many of the stars in Hollywood, personal connections help a great deal. It is my understanding that he related to Francis Ford Coppola. He is a fine actor, but he is not the only one.

    • Harrison Barnes Harrison Barnes says:


      I agree with your comment. I am not saying in my post that I necessarily respect Nicholas Cage for his “leadership abilities”. The point I am trying to make is that he is not afraid to be his own person. This is the most important thing about Cage in my mind and what “personal leadership” is all about. We need to be our own person and need to choose the path we ant to choose.


  4. Avatar Jim says:

    Mr. Barnes we have alot in common. I just got done reading your article and loved it. Boy did it hit home. And thank you because im getting ready to have a job interview and your article just made me understand more my convictions as to why I want this job and why Im making the changes in my life. Thank you!


    • Harrison Barnes Harrison Barnes says:


      Thanks a lot for your comment. Looking for a job is among the most important things that we do because it determines our happiness and well being. It is important that we always look deep inside ourselves and understand who we are when seeking work.


  5. Avatar Gregory Ruppert says:

    Wonderful article Harrison, and not the first one!

    • Harrison Barnes Harrison Barnes says:


      Thanks for your encouragement and positive feedback! I really appreciate you being a reader.


  6. Avatar Tara Currey says:

    I know I am a leader. I don’t care what others think, and I see that they do respect it but at the same time distance themselves. I want to do everything, so I have not started. I need to find my passion, which is art, but it takes money to make money. In addition, in the art world its really who you know not what you know. How can I balance my children, job, husband, and art? I try, and I guess I need to try harder somehow. Do you have any contacts in art galleries that would be interested in looking at my work?

    Thank you
    Tara Currey

    • Harrison Barnes Harrison Barnes says:


      There you go. You need to stand up for being the way you want to be! There is a really good book you should read called On Being an Artist that I think you would really enjoy. This book is a classic and has changed the lives of so many people.

      It is so important to be your own person.

      In order to succeed at anything you need to have a laser focus. You do not need to make rules about how things should work; however, if this is how you feel the art world works then make getting to know the right people your focus. This is what you need to do. You need to think about them, go to places where they are and make them aware you are out there.

      I thank you for your comments and know you are going to do great!


  7. He is an idiot and a coppola!!!!

  8. Avatar SAM says:

    i loved ur article.. i am a business student and it was my home assignment to read this article and see what i have learned from it…its really amazing..i really enjoyed reading it…

  9. Avatar Devon says:

    I don’t usually comment on this kind of self-indulging article but I’m so appalled I thought I’d put a little word in. I’m sure the author (and I see here he is the CEO of this website, good grief!) will probably just be proud that he ruffled a few feathers with this piece, as he seems quite keen on “standing alone.” Anyway what a load of ego-stroking garbage! This article was nothing except a long love letter from the author to himself. Far from inspirational, it literally made me sick as he talked lovingly about himself over and over and then, get this, over again. He also has a disgustingly low opinion of other people that I must say, is a(nother) big turn off as a reader. I was under the impression that most successful businessmen were good with people but I guess this guy must be an anomaly. I mean, he certainly isn’t going around being this rude to people to their face so he’s not as “open” about his opinions as he would like to think. And So he started an anti-drug organization in college, what a maverick. Just because people don’t start a big organization (or business, or website, or whatever) doesn’t mean that they are a “waste.” It doesn’t mean that they don’t have strong convictions or stand up for those convictions or fight their own personal battles. Some of the strongest, most clear-sighted, sure-directed, and good-hearted people I know don’t advertise the good works that they do at all. Instead, they lead quietly, with the testimonies of their lives and their actions and, Hey! the way the treat other people. Some of the best leaders I have ever met are servants at heart and far from taking flashy positions as the team leader or fraternity President, they simply volunteer their time and energy into things where they are most needed. According to the author these people must be “wastes.” And please, please don’t get me started on the non-sensical little title and intro that got me to click on the link to this article in the first place. I thought we were going for a little humor here when I first saw the title of the article but No! the author actually does consider Nic Cage to be a personal leader! Nicolas Cage, a leader!!!?? On the level of Harrison Barnes, I’m sure. And what evidence exactly does the author give us for Nicolas Cage being one of those rare, glorified leaders?? Well folks, he likes comic books, is irresponsible with his purchasing habits and hurts a lot of people in the process (including the author’s friend), doesn’t learn from his mistakes, and therefore goes ahead and purchases a pyramid as his tombstone with his nonexistent money. What a leader, ladies and gentlemen! I’m sure we ALL want to be like Nicolas Cage, buying whatever we want with money we don’t have, not caring about who we hurt in the process. Please. Nicolas Cage is not a leader. He is an irresponsible actor who is not really a good role model for anyone unless they want to be a mediocre actor with slightly unusual recreational interests. Anyway, I’m done. There are so many holes in the author’s logic that I could probably go on for even longer than the author talks about himself but I’ve said the main things I wanted to say. I hope you have a pleasant day, staff at LawCrossing. You do work for an interesting boss. This is the first and probably only time I will ever visit this website. Fittingly, it seems, most of my emails from you all end up in my junk mailbox.

  10. Avatar Monique Hodgkinson says:

    While I agree with many things in your article, your assessment that “most lives are wasted” strikes me as harsh. While some people are going to find themselves in circumstances that will place them in the annals of time, those who make a personal difference in their daily lives are not wasting their lives. It is okay just live a kind and thoughtful life that gives satisfaction without recognition of others. I think that also falls into your definition of personal leadership.

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