What Every BA Should Learn From The Oscars

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo12

“Meryl. Mamma Mia. We were in Greece. We danced. I was gay, and we were happy.”

Colin Firth presenting Meryl Streep for Best Actress

When Colin Firth introduced Meryl while announcing the nominees for the best actress in a leading role, the entire world looked at her with respect and awe. She has been nominated in the oscars for 17 times, the most for any actress. She is only the fifth performer to receive three Oscars. Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan all earned three, while Katharine Hepburn won four. I am not trying to be an oscar-awards-tracking-junkie here, if you are beginning to get this thought. But there is a lesson for all of us to learn from her win last night.

We all love watching oscars and getting inspired by the movies. They have been an essential component of our culture, entertainment, and a source of inspiration – at least for the first 2 days after watching a great movie. :) If you’ve watched Inception, you will exactly know what I mean. :)

So, what can business analysts or for that matter any professionals learn from her nomination and win?

Streep’s win was a great example of an actress who continues to be an A+ in her game and never fails to get noticed. She is an epitome of grace and charming performance. She brings out the best in the characters she plays. We can learn three timeless lessons from this:

  • Consistent Good Performance is Noticed – No matter which project you work on, give it your best. Being consistent with your quality of work will get you noticed one day or another. This is a very important thing to remember when you want to advance your career, both as an employee and a consultant. As an employee it helps you to work in some credibility and predictability in the way you are perceived by the management. For a consultant, well, who doesn’t like a contract extension?
  • You Don’t Win All the Time – Your work will not get you a super-star award for every project or initiative that you are involved in. This is an important thing to remember. Regard each project as a step. And multiple steps make a staircase into the next level. If your project is a multi-year project, scale down your scope of vision to a release or even a change request. Don’t expect to win (an award or a big appreciation) all the time.

This context can also be applied to your projects going well or not. There will never be a time when 100% of things are accounted for (although that should be a goal). Be realistic, do your best and continue to do better.

  • Never Rest On Your Laurels – Once you get lauded for your performance, don’t stop. If Streep had stopped giving her best, after winning her first oscar, she wouldn’t have been nominated many more times after that. She is also known for being a perfectionist when preparing for roles and for her ability to master almost any accent. Granted she is really talented; but she is also persistent and looks at every role like a new challenge and pursuit. This is what makes her stand out and got her 17 nominations and three wins.

“When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Aww come on! why her?’ ”

Meryl Streep after winning Best Actress

Because she deserved it America! and she continues to inspire hollywood and all her fans throughout the world. Including me. :)

In summary, let us be inspired by her performance and win. Try to emulate her in our professional endeavors by being consistent in what we do as business analysts, while trying not to be complacent with our success.

Would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on her win and also on what we could learn from this. If you have anything to add, please use the space below.

Featured Product -> The Ultimate BABOK® Kit

Unprecedented CBAP-CCBA Study Guide, BABOK eMindmap, eTables, BOK Cartoons, Audio and Video. The Ultimate All-in-One Study Aid is here.

Go to top

Article by

Yaaqub Mohamed (Yamo), is the founder of The BA Coach community and host for the #1 ranked business analysis podcast in iTunes. He believes in adding relentless value to the BA community and advancing the practice.  He host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. He's the author of 'The Five Pillars of a Great Business Analyst', best selling 'The Ultimate CBAP-CCBA Study Guide' and the creator of the revolutionary 'Ultimate BABOK Kit'. 

5 Pillars of a great BA

With this E-book, you will learn about the five pillars of being a great Business Analyst!. Sign-up below for our eNewsletter and receive your FREE copy once the book is launched! Sign up, or learn more!

12 Responses to “What Every BA Should Learn From The Oscars”

  1. My favorite part of this article is the comment to never rest on your laurels. We all have to work at being better BAs and better professionals all the time. This reminds me of “excellence is what we repeatedly do,” by Aristotle.

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jonathan. Yep, excellence is a habit, more than an act. It is important to continually be better at one’s ‘game’ if we are on the road to excellence.

  2. Yamo,
    This is a great article. I love it when people take mainstream media, movies, etc. and relate it to project management and business analysis. It’s a new way to present tried and true ideas. I agree that Meryl Streep represents what every PM and BA should strive for – excellence. Even though she has already attained one of the highest achievements in film before, she continues to strive and improve as an actress. No matter what good or great you are at your job, you can always be better. Thanks for reminding me of that important lesson!

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks, Jeannine. It is indeed a great reminder for all the professionals. The only way to do great work is to do a lot of good work consistently, and Streep’s career is a testimony to this.

  3. Lori Witzel (@loriaustex) says:

    Hey Yamo, very creative post! From my “not a BA but works closely with BAs” perspective, one of the other things your post brings to mind is the leadership role a BA can have within an organization. Even if a BA doesn’t feel like a leader, acting – in this case, acting as a leader would – can help create positive change and positive outcomes. We may not all be as talented in acting as Ms. Streep, but we can still take a lesson from her craft!

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks, Lori. You are absolutely right about being in the fringes of leadership role. There are a lot of opportunities where BAs can extrapolate their competencies to create a compelling use case for career advancement. A BA placed in positions so close to decision making and influencing that it can become a potentially powerful leverage to transition one’s career; of course with consistent performance and building credibility within the team and the organization.

  4. Doug Goldberg says:


    I too liked your article, but for different reasons than that of my esteemed peers. You see, I do everything I can to NOT put any one person up on a pedastal, so I have an inherent distaste for these types of events. This is especially an issue for me when these same “examples” of what it is to be at the top of your game are summarily excused from the same behavior that would land any of us “common folk” in jail.

    Diatribe aside, I still found great value in your post….as usual. The one thing that stood out was you mentioning how Meryl Streep never gave up after the first award and how she continually strove to replicate success in excellence. Now THAT I think is a valuable lesson. Even moreso, I think that it’s even a good idea to not wait until another big event (award show, end of project, etc) to re-evaluate yourself. I believe that you lose valuable opportunities to learn from your mistakes in an iterative fashion and capitalize on your strengths in the same fashion. Sometimes, I’ve found, it’s really good to step back from the day-to-day grind to check if you’ve gone astray.


    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      It is sad but true, Doug. I believe sometimes it gets engrained into the work or team culture. Thanks for bringing out this tone to the post and emphasizing such a possibility. It is a relevant diatribe for sure.

      Another great point your brought out is to step back and look at one’s work objectively; via formal or informal feedback channels and self-assessment.

  5. Katie Metcalfe says:

    Hi Yamo, what a creative post and thought provoking comments.

    Meryl is a true example of hard work and perseverance in her career as an actress. I’m sure she never thinks about getting an oscar when she is working. She just continues to fine tune her craft with each role, learn from her experiences and most of all she is passionate about what she is doing.

    When BA’s are passionate about what they are doing the success comes and for us in many forms. Successful project outcomes, satisfied stakeholders, new learnings and building relationships.

    I recall the final comments from Meryl’s acceptance speech. She talked about the best part of her career being the people she meets, the friends she has made…the human interaction that evolves from her career.
    Much of our success as BA lies in the social skills we bring to our role. The interactions that allow us to do our job and understand stakeholder needs.

    Thanks for another great post.

    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks for adding these wonderful additional points, Katie. Believe it or not I was thinking of including the ‘building wonderful relationships’ piece into the post, but I guess it slipped out of my little brain. :) So, thanks for adding this from her thank you speech.

      Yep, the BA role is a social role. This is one of the BIG reasons I have included “Adaptive Social Skills” as a second pillar for being a great business analyst in my book. Your comments and feedback attests to this.

  6. Great post Yamo

    The above three things combined with passion is a winning formula.

    And I love Meryl Streep!


    • Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo says:

      Thanks, Alexandra. Yes! passion is an important component. Thanks for sharing the final winning formula. :)

Leave a Reply

Previous post:

Next post: