We all (hopefully) know Walter White a.k.a Heisenberg, as the drug lord in the humble town of Albuquerque from one of the best TV shows in history – Breaking Bad.
But, all that aside, what are the lessons we can learn from the anti-hero when it comes to business, and entrepreneurship ?
After all, Walt started an enterprise too and took it to its heights; made a lot of money, but with a lot of hiccups in between. Sounds familiar ? Entrepreneurship and business has these elements too, but with less violence maybe.
10 lessons from Breaking Bad’s Walter White –
1. Guts –
Walter White, who was usually a humble, kind person learned to be gutsy as the show progressed.
Why? The business he was into had competitors and other experienced players. The only way he could make a mark was by changing his personality into a more gutsy one.
When you look at the real world, we have a similar kind of competition when you’re running a business. Being kind all the time is just not going to get you anywhere. Business men are usually ruthless to a certain extent; maybe not with everyone, but they definitely are.
2. Patience –
Walter White , using his manipulative strength, gets Jesse Pinkman on his side, after implementing a plan he thought about, and waiting a long time for it to happen. He implements it in such a way that all he had to do was just push one domino, while the other dominoes would fall on its own. This entire process required a lot of patience, and he had it !
It’s a no-brainer for business men to have patience as a default trait. It not only helps you cope with the enormous amount of stress that befalls you, but also makes you more credible in the eyes of people. This only builds yours, and your company’s growth.
3. Perfection –
Walter White is obsessed with his product being absolutely pure. He doesn’t allow any kind of substance affect the purity of his product. One whole episode is based around this little fact, when a fly manages to sneak into the manufacturing plant and he tries to get rid of it !
All he wants is for his product to be as pure as possible, without any contamination during the manufacturing process. The customers wouldn’t even care, nor would they know about it even if there were contaminants during manufacturing, but he still thinks like a good businessman.
Now apply this in real life business.
4. Intellect –
Even though Walt is a beginner in the business he gets into, he partners with a guy who actually knows the business. Then, he learns the whole process throughout the show. He applies his intellect in battling his competition in ways he would never have if it wasn’t for his business.
In the real world, wit and intellect is a no-brainer for every businessman. One can’t possibly hope to earn profits if there is no element of intellect in thyself. Be it marketing, sales, human resource, your business will fail if you are not smart enough.
5. The “what” , the “when” and the “how” –
I’m not going to spoil the TV show for you if you haven’t watched it yet, but I’ll tell you this – Walt knows exactly what to do to his competition/enemy, how to do what he planned, and also when he must do it. This is the same while expanding his business too. His precision in the show about things that revolve around this topic is mind bending !
Sometimes, now is too early; the next minute might be too late. When it comes to business, precision about executing your plans matter a lot, along with the knowledge about what the plan is, and how to execute it. Otherwise, it’ll just blow up in your face. And this takes us right back to point number 4.
6. Communication –
Have you ever faced a loved one right in the face after doing something wrong, and found it extremely hard to lie ? There’s always that nervous twitch in your face, right ?
Not for Walt. He can convince the most strong person to do something he wants and get away with it ( for a while atleast ). His communication skills make him one of the best businessmen in modern TV history. The pace of his speech, the clarity, the way he states lies like as if those are facts makes him an incredible communicator, which in turn builds his businessman persona.
I’ve actually written a whole article about building your communication skills. Take a look here – Becoming a great speaker.
7. Instincts –
There are many instances in the show where Walt suddenly faces the most deadly situation, or even the most life altering situation, and he fights it with his instincts. There are facts in his head, but there isn’t any time to process them completely and think of a safe, risk-free solution. That’s when his instinct kicks in and makes a decision which aids his growth.
This isn’t something people are born with. Some people do have a way with tough situations in business, but others learn through experience. When it comes to decision making in a full fledged business, experience is definitely not overrated.
8. Getting the job done, no matter what –
Needless to say, there is a lot of violence and bloodshed in the show, and a good chunk of the bloodshed is by Walt himself. But why does he want to kill people ? Only to get the job done. In his line of business, it seems like killing is just part of the sport. No matter how much he tries to avoid killing, he is driven to do it.
Now, I’m not telling you to kill someone to get a job done; I’m merely telling you that whatever your goals are, they aren’t impossible to do. And like Walter White, you can figure out a ( legal ) way to achieve your goals. All you have to do is be smart about it, and have the will to take risks.
9. Knows the technical aspects of the industry –
Although Walt mostly deals with the business aspects of his business later in the show, he never parts with his strength – the technical stuff. No matter what happened, he always leveraged his technical skills to beat the odds.
What this should tell us all is that regardless of what your profession is; be it a marketing professional, a salesman or a manager, knowing the technical aspects of your business will pay.
10. Adaptive –
As the title of the show tells you, it’s the story of Walt who eventually breaks bad. A whole series of events, both good and bad ( mostly bad ) turns him into the monster he becomes. But when you look at it from his perspective, it’s actually justifiable, except the killings ofcourse. He adapts to those bricks being thrown at him and deals with them effectively.
Now, I’m going to assume that your business isn’t similar to his. Your business life will also expose you to threats and vulnerabilities, which are both short-lived, and those which seem to just hang around for a long time. You can deal with both of them by adapting to the kind of situation you’re in. That’s what being smart really is.
Darwin’s theory actually states that the ones who adapt survive, not the strongest.
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