Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Jordan Peele’s Nope

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.

Nope is Jordan Peele’s latest movie. His previous films, Get Out and Us, were highly rated, so I was ecstatic to go and see Nope.

What is Nope? Nope tells the story of the Haywood family. Their ranch was the only black-owned horse training ranch in Hollywood, CA.

When strange things begin to happen on the farm, siblings OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) start to look for ways to capture the strange occurrences. This includes going to Fry’s Electronics and purchasing a surveillance system for the ranch.

Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Brandon Perea in Nope movie

The science fiction/horror movie sure delivers in the traditional sense. There’s enough science fiction to keep you entertained and enough horror to get you to jump from your seat.

Included in all of this are the leadership lessons in Nope. You’ll find plenty of leadership lessons and we’ll examine them today.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Nope

1. Small things can do big damage:

Otis Haywood Senior (Keith David) and his son OJ were talking. Otis was training a horse, and OJ was headed back toward the house.

Quiet descends upon the duo. An eery silence tells the audience something is going to happen.

Suddenly, small things begin falling from the sky. One of those hits Otis in the eye.

The offending object? A nickel.

The hit was a fatal blow to Otis. The small object did big damage.

You can easily dismiss the little issues in your life or business. They seem so inconsequential.

The reality is the small things matter.

The longer we let little things linger, the more they have the chance to do big damage.

Deal with the small things early on. If you don’t, they can do big damage later on.

2. People can be a liability:

OJ had a meeting scheduled with Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park (Steven Yeun). Jupe was a local amusement park operator looking to purchase horses from the Haywoods.

Emerald shows up as OJ is getting ready to meet with Jupe. OJ confronted Emerald, telling her she wasn’t welcome at the meeting.

OJ went as far as calling Emerald a liability.

OJ’s view of Emerald may seem harsh. However, Emerald was a liability. She saw her personal pursuits as more valuable than the farm. Emerald would begin talking about the farm only to interject promotional terms about herself.

Do you have people on your team that are like Emerald? Do they see everything as an opportunity to promote themselves?

We have to watch out for these kinds of people. They’re a liability.

People who are constantly promoting themselves will put their needs before the organization. They’ll do anything to promote their own activities.

Watch out for these types of people.

3. OJ Haywood:

I’ve got some work I gotta do.

After the meeting with Jupe, OJ told his sister that he had work to do. Emerald wanted to hang out and have fun.

Originally, OJ wasn’t going to have it. Eventually, he relented and hung out with his sister.

He chose family and fun over work.

There are times when you’re going to be tempted to put your family on the backburner. You’ll believe you’re doing this for their own good.

Truth is, you may be doing it to get out of building relationships with those close to you.

Be wary if you find yourself pushing people away. You need people close to you.

4. Check into things when they don’t make sense:

The official report stated the nickel that killed Otis fell from an airplane. The information didn’t make sense to OJ or Emerald. They believed something was amiss.

OJ eventually sees an object, a UFO, in the sky. What OJ sees confirms his suspicion something isn’t right.

What doesn’t make sense in your organization? Are there things that just seem odd?

Look into them. There’s probably something wrong where these oddities are.

5. Be careful not to have inappropriate conversations:

OJ and Emerald go to Fry’s Electronics to purchase a surveillance system for the farm. There, they meet Angel Torres (Brandon Perea). He’s a clerk at the store.

Angel is also an installer.

He comes out to the Haywood farm to install the cameras. While there, he begins lamenting about his failed relationship. He goes off about his girlfriend leaving him.


Angel didn’t know what was and wasn’t appropriate for the situation. Many leaders don’t as well.

When talking to your team, make sure the conversations are appropriate. Don’t dive into intensely personal information.

6. Things may not be as they appear:

Angel and Emerald began to theorize that the UFO they’ve seen in the sky may not be an actual ship. They believed the item was something else.

They were right.


The UFO wasn’t a ship. The UFO was an actual alien being.

Things may appear to be one thing your business. When examined closer, they turn out to be something else.

Be prepared to accept new possibilities. What you’ve thought was one thing may be something else.

7. Study behavior:

OJ noticed something about the UFO. The UFO would suck up the things that looked at it. When things weren’t looking at it, it would pass it by.

He theorized this was a specific behavior of the UFO. He’d noticed a similar phenomenon in the horses he trained.

By studying behavior, OJ could avoid being abducted by the alien.

Studying the behavior of the people you lead will help you understand what they’re doing and why. Watch and learn from your people.

You can then apply what you learn to your leadership style. Your leadership style will become more effective as you use what you’ve learned from your people’s behavior.

8. OJ Haywood:

Anything with a spirit can be broke

Another thing OJ learned from the horse ranch was that the spirit of anything could be broken. He’d broken the spirit of horses.

He knew he could break the spirit of the alien.

You can break the spirit of your people. Some leaders would believe this information is positive. They can learn how to break a person’s spirit and make them easier to lead.

Breaking the spirit of the people you lead is a bad tactic to take.

Breaking your people’s spirit does more damage than it does good. Make sure you’re tending to the spirit of your people.

9. Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott):

We don’t deserve the impossible.

Holst was a cinematographer. He was looking to get the impossible shot.

OJ and Emerald entice him with the possibility of just that.

Holst shows up at the ranch with a manually powered camera to record the creature. He captures the alien on film only to realize something.

Holst suddenly realizes he and those around him don’t deserve the impossible. He offers himself up to the creature.

Now, don’t think this leadership lesson from Nope is going to be to offer yourself up to a creature. It is not.

I want you to consider what we deserve. We believe that we deserve everything. The world is our oyster.

I want you to consider something different. We don’t deserve a lot, if anything. Especially the impossible.

Yet, we can strive toward the impossible. We can work hard, do great work, and possibly grasp the impossible.

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