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A lesson in humility from a famous actor.

“True hospitality is when someone leaves feeling better about themselves, not better about you..” -Shauna Niequist

Earlier this month I had the honor of recording a live podcast with legendary actor William H. Macy at his home. While his house was stunning, the view of the mountains was magnificent, and the evidence of a wildly successful career was scattered throughout the house, it wasn’t any of that stuff that impressed me. Instead, what fascinated me most from our visit is something desperately needed from our leaders today. Let me explain.

Traveling with my son and wife, we pulled our rental car in front of his stately house. Before even getting out of our car, the front door opened. Bill stepped out, waved, and came strolling toward our car proclaiming that he was glad we had made it. He gave my wife and me hugs, then shook our son’s hand warmly before ushering us into his house.

This is an extremely busy man who was kind enough to make a little time for us to record a podcast. As we came out of the cold and into his front hall, Bill asked if he could brew some tea to warm us up. In asking my son how he takes his tea, he learned Jack had never had a cup. Playfully acting aghast that Jack had never enjoyed tea, Bill insisted he’d make it his favorite way: with a little maple syrup and fresh orange squeezed into it. He then guided us back into his kitchen.

And so began our visit with William H Macy.

Visiting around the kitchen island, the prolific actor nominated for more than 76 acting awards was more interested in Jack’s hobbies than his own awards. Although he’s happily married to a woman of incredible talent and prestige, Bill was sincerely interested in Beth’s work as an Occupational Therapist. The man who had just finished shooting On Fire, who had just completed writing a script for a new movie and who was heading out the following week to begin work on a new project, was more curious about my speaking business than chatting about his projects.

My friends, as things progress this year with the production and release of On Fire the film, we’ll be sharing the Live Inspired Podcast episode featuring William H. Macy. You’ll learn about his parents, his upbringing and his brother who got him into performing. You’ll learn about what he loves about theater, where he learned to act, and how the movie Fargo changed his career. You’ll hear what he loved about the script for On Fire, why he was so motivated to portray Jack Buck and how he hopes people attending the movie might benefit from it.

But as we sat around his kitchen island and before even hitting record on the podcast, we had already received a masterclass in what makes William H. Macy one of the most beloved actors in the business: his genuine care for others, his humility regarding the gifts he has received, his passion for the work he does, and his joyful gratitude for the family he has and the life he leads.

Several hours after arriving at his house we pulled away from it.

In the rear-view mirror I saw Bill Macy at his front door waving goodbye. It became clear to me he possesses what we all ultimately desire: such grateful conviction for the blessings in his life that he’s able to invest the time and energy not only to continually improve within his chosen craft, but to make those around him feel loved.

So many stars walking the red-carpet love waving and smiling, celebrating how great they are. And it’s not just Hollywood actors who desire the conversation, the attention, the camera to be focused on them. Being ego-centric and me-first is a characteristic in many of us.

And yet, the most effective leaders, the most enjoyable friends and the most lovely individuals we know think far less of themselves and far more how they can make the people around them better. They are humble, hospitable and kind. And we leave conversations with these individuals feeling more connected to them and far better about ourselves.

It’s served as an effective strategy for the success of one of the great actors of our time.

It is certain to benefit each of us in our endeavors, too.

Today is your day. Live Inspired.


14 replies on “William H. Macy Makes the Best Tea”

That was my big takeaway as well. When my wife and I spoke to “Bill” at the movie party, it was like we were the only ones in the room. I was struck by his humility. He wasn’t arrogant or too important to talk with us. Justin Fears was there too as we talked with him.

The movie speeches started as we talked to Bill, and the John O’Leary gave an off-the-cuff 3 minute speech.

Bill Macy had just arrived in St Louis. Hadn’t met the cast and crew yet, but saw John speak. He was amazed! Bill asked me if John knew he was speaking that night. If John really did that off-the-cuff? I assured Bill he did. Bill said that it was one of the most amazing speeches had had heard in his life, rehearsed or not rehearsed.

And I thanked Bill for signing on to this movie project, because this movie is special and will change lives. John really is that inspiring. And this will be an amazing movie and it’s better with Bill in it. And because Bill is putting his name on this movie, more will see it.

Can’t wait for the movie to be released!

The cast party was such an amazing event! It was like an All Star game of the most caring, passionate, and empathetic individuals that one might hope to assemble. I was blessed to be able to attend and bask in the selflessness of that crew! Everyone from Joel and Bill to you and Sean, lighting folks, makeup, actors, directors and everyone in between. I’m so happy for you and your family and every individual that worked on this film. It will change lives!

Any time I ever spend time with you,
I leave feeling just as you, Beth, and Jack felt when you left Willian H. Macy.
Now, I can hardly wait for the podcast.
Thanks for your amazing goodness.

Such an impressive story! Macy is a formidable actor, but his life is obviously not an act, but rather a genuine testimony to his gratitude, humility, and a love for others. I had not realized he plays Buck in your upcoming film. Especially as a St. Louisan, well familiar with names and sites in your story, John, I eagerly anticipate its release. Moreover, I am grateful to know the real inspiration behind the story–you, certainly, and, moreover, God, and your reliance on Him. He has infused your life with courage and purpose, and now you have watched Him “work all things together for good” in your life and to use transform tragedy to triumph, so you are helping others!

God’s richest blessings to you, to your family, and to your cast. Macy is amazing. Thank you for sharing!

Lynn Morrissey

Oh John!! Just beautiful!!! And you didn’t even touch on how he can be such an awesome individual and play the character he played on “Shameless”!!!!🤣 Now I KNOW what a fabulous actor he is as well!!! AND WHO KNEW we could come here for drink recipes too!!🤣🤣🤣 A full-service blog, Sir!!! Question….. was it a thumbs up from Jack on the tea?? 🤣🤣🤣 Thank you for putting more beautiful out into the world!! An adoring fan!🤣

Simply beautiful! I’ve always heard he was a stellar individual and have deep respect for him (and his wife)… and now it runs deeper. I will keep the practice of “true hospitality” at the forefront today and beyond. Thank you, John! #livinginspired

John, you are spot on with your description of William Macy. I had the privilege of meeting him on set and I was so impressed with his warmth and genuineness. A big movie star who has lived amongst the rich and famous and all the glitz and glam was truly interested in hearing about what it was like taking care of you in the hospital. He was genuinely interested. When it was time to leave the set and I was saying my good-byes to my new friends William was getting ready to shoot a scene and talking to a few people. I didn’t want to interrupt so I hovered in the background with a wave good-bye. He actually walked away from the small group and gave me a hug good-bye. He could have easily given me a wave good-bye, yet made it a point to make me feel like the special one!

Tea with maple syrup and a squeeze of fresh orange! I will try for sure and forever will remember the key to true hospitality. Thank you for sharing once again. Kindness is where the heart is at when we move beyond ourselves.

Great message John! I just made me “a cup of tea”, peppermint with pure honey! Don’t have any fresh oranges to squeeze. Ps great photo!

John, I am so grateful and blessed by you. We first met at the Federal government’s Unity Day here in Kansas City where I attended your workshop probably 20 years ago. I retired from FAA in 2012 and became an ordained Unity minister in 2013. I mention you often in my messages and so hope I can get you to come and speak someday. Every podcast and story you share is inspiring. This one about William H. Macy is one of the best. I can hardly wait to see the movie. Congratulations!! Just FYI a member of my church is bears a striking resemblance to him. I’ll he will allow me to send you his picture, I think you will agree.

Lovely, easy, and a email message this Monday morning to be grateful and humble. Not critical, and worried, and conflicted about all the harshness in the world! Thank you – what a wonderful visit for you and some of your crew.

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