Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

The 2019 movie Knives Out was a smashing success for Rian Johnson. Johnson returns to write and direct another mystery, Glass Onion. He also produces the movie alongside Ram Bergman.

Glass Onion landed in limited theaters before its release on Netflix on December 23rd. If you enjoyed Knives Out, you will love Glass Onion.

Glass Onion is a continuation of the world’s greatest detective (no, not Batman), Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). He is invited to a murder mystery dinner of an eccentric billionaire, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), founder of a company similar to Facebook and his friends. His friends include Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), and estranged friend Andi Brand (Janelle Monae). They’re also joined by friends of friends, Peg (Jessica Henwick) and Whiskey (Madelyn Cline).

Cast of Glass Onion in front of pool

The story takes twists and turns. Some you’ll expect, others will shock you.

I highly recommend watching Glass Onion. Your mind will be challenged as you try to figure out the mystery (make sure to watch the movie first before reading this article, or you’ll have the film spoiled for you).

Now, let’s dive into the leadership lessons in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

1. Multiple people:

You can tell him no…

The movie opens with Lionel in a Zoom meeting with multiple people. They’re talking about the desires of Miles. He wants to do something everyone is uncomfortable with.

Lionel thought the project Miles wanted to pursue was unwise. Even so, Lionel thought he couldn’t say no.

The other people he was talking with encouraged him to tell Miles no. They said you can always tell him no.

Being a leader, you have a lot of sway over your people. Your people may feel uncomfortable telling you no.

Make sure you let your people know it’s okay to say no. Let them know they don’t have to go along with everything you suggest.

Saying no is okay. Others saying no is okay. Don’t make your organization into a “Yes Team.”

2. Lionel Toussaint:

The question isn’t why did he invite her but why did she show up.

Miles and Andi had a falling out. They had founded Alpha, the Facebook-like social media network, together.

However, the falling out happened when Miles “Social Networked” her. He pushed her out of the company and had all of the gang testify against her.

Still, Andi showed up. She wouldn’t miss this for the world.

The reason for Andi showing up to the invite isn’t what you think. Andi wasn’t Andi at all. Instead, Andi was her sister, Helen.

Andi had been murdered. Her sister received the box that was sent to the group. She then delivered the wooden box to Benoit in hopes that she would help him capture her sister’s killer.

There’s always a motive behind actions. The deeper you look, the more you’ll discover.

Keep asking why. Change the words around why and you’ll get to the right question.

3. What can you disrupt?:

Every person in Miles’ group were disruptors. They had caused a stir in whatever industry they were in.

Duke had become the first Twitcher to reach 1 million followers, Birdie created a fashion line of sweatpants just as the COVID-19 pandemic hits, and on and on.

What industries are ripe for disruption? What can you do to disrupt your industry?

You have the ability to look into your industry and the industry around you. See what needs to change. Then change it.

4. Look for the common thread:

Everyone in the disruptors group had something they had in common. Miles had helped each one reach success.

He pushed, prodded, and paid off people to get them to where they were. This wasn’t right.

Andi knew this and called everyone on the island out.

Common threads are running through difficult situations. Look for them. Pull on the thread.

You’ll find what you need to find when you look for the commonalities, not the differences.

5. It’s hard to get out once you’re in:

Miles announced he would reveal his new energy company, Klear America, to the world. This led to gasps and frustrations from those around him.

Lionel protested. He told Miles they couldn’t do this and he was out.

Miles said there was no out. He had already started the testing of Klear technology in the Glass Onion.

Lionel had been sucked in. He found himself stuck. Once he was at this point, he couldn’t get out.

We’ve seen this in business. People get sucked into doing a little thing here or there to help the company out. The problem is those things weren’t ethical.

Yet, because they’ve done one thing, one thing leads to another. Soon, they’re like Lionel. They can’t get out.

It’s true. It’s hard to get out once you’ve started down the wrong road.

6. You stop seeing what’s right in front of you:

The murder mystery event was supposed to be fun. Then it changed. Duke had died.

The thing about Duke: He always had a gun strapped to his waist. The gun eventually blended in with everything. People began not even to notice the gun. When he died, the gun was missing. No one noticed.

Why did this happen? Everyone stopped seeing the gun because it was normal. They were able to block it out.

The more you see or do something, the more normal it becomes. This makes it easier to stop seeing the item or situation.

Be careful when this happens. You’ll miss critical details because things are the way they are, and you stop seeing what’s there or not there.

7. Don’t believe everything you see or hear:

It was revealed that Andi had committed suicide. Her sister, Helen, had taken her place to attend the murder mystery.

One thing that Helen couldn’t do was believe her sister had killed herself. She was right.

Andi didn’t kill herself. She had been murdered.

Because Helen didn’t believe this, she pursued the truth. She found the real killer and exposed him.

It’s easy to want to believe whatever you see or hear. You don’t want to believe people would lie or deceive you.

The problem is that people will. They’re not always honest. Heck, you may not always be honest.

You have to trust but verify a lot of times. Don’t take things at face value. Verify what you’ve seen or heard.

8. Helen Brand:

Is this safe?

Helen meets with Benoit before the party. They lay out a plan to discover who killed Andi.

During their discussions, Helen asked Benoit if this was safe. It wasn’t. There was a chance of danger.

Nothing is ever truly safe. There’s always some sense of danger.

We have to learn to live in the danger zone. There is no safety.

9. Benoit Blanc:

You see, I expected complexity. I expected intelligence. I expected a puzzle, a game. But that’s not what any of this is. It hides not behind complexity, but behind mind-numbing, obvious clarity. Truth is, it doesn’t hide at all. I was staring right at it.

Benoit reveals what truly happened. He had trouble seeing this, though.

Why did he have trouble? Because he was looking for complexity. The reveal wasn’t complex at all. The truth was staring them all in the face from the get-go.

Miles had killed Andi to keep her from revealing the truth. The truth was so simple it was hard to see.

That goes for us as well. The truth in many things is clear as day. We stare at it, but we miss it, like Duke’s missing gun.

Maybe we need to stop looking for complex solutions. The solutions that are convoluted, time-consuming, messy. Instead, we need to look for simple, straightforward answers or solutions.

10. What we want may not be what we want in the end:

Miles had said that he wanted to forever be remembered in the same breath as the Mona Lisa. He got that wish in the end. However, the desire wasn’t what he wanted after all.

Miles had been able to secure the original Mona Lisa painting. He brought it to his island.

Once everything went to hell in a handbasket, Helen revealed the truth. She then began to destroy the glass statues Miles kept. She eventually ramped up to using the energy technology Miles was going to reveal to burn the Glass Onion down.

The Glass Onion housed the Mona Lisa. Thankfully, it was enclosed in a protective case with security measures to protect the painting from fire and other threats.

Unfortunately, in his hubris, Miles installed an override button on the art piece. Helen hit the override button, and the Mona Lisa was burned.

Miles would be forever remembered with the Mona Lisa, except his fame is now marred. His fame is that he is the one who destroyed the Mona Lisa.

We don’t know what our desires will bring us. We think we want success. In the end, the success we sought may have destroyed our marriage, taken our honor, or something else.

Be cautious as you pursue your desires. Make sure they’re not leading you down a path you can’t return from. Make sure you’re not getting what you want but in a way that is completely opposite of what you wanted.

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