Four Movie Quotes with Lessons for Business Professionals
The ideas and themes in cinema—being part of the global collective knowledge base—contains a number of truths that you can apply to your role as a business leader or entrepreneur, regardless of where you are in your career.
Calling on the wisdom of those who experienced adversity before is almost always a wise decision, even if you disagree with what they have to say. The point is to analyze their knowledge to discover how you can incorporate (or eliminate) those ideas from your life, and ultimately, make better business decisions.
For your consideration, here are four mentally stimulating movie quotes with lessons that apply your personal and business life:
“If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?” – Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men
In No Country for Old Men, this quote was spoken by bounty hunter Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) moments before killing rival hunter Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson). Wells bargains for his life by attempting to convince Chigurh that his methods were too brutal for... well, humanity. Chigurh—who views himself as a force of nature—points out that the “rules” that Wells followed ultimately led to his death.
It’s a thought-provoking notion, one we can apply to our own lives—without killing anyway, that is.
We often engage in dangerous thought cycles, repeating the same mistakes over and over to avoid moving beyond our comfort zone. It takes a bit of objectivity to break this pattern, to realize that the “rules” we’ve established to govern our personal and/or business decisions may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.
For example, if your marketing campaigns are continually producing lackluster results, or your business decisions keep ending in complete catastrophe, it may be time to take a step back and analyze the “rules” you employ to make business decisions.
The consumer market is a force of nature; it’s always changing. You must remain fluid and be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. If an object crashes into a concrete wall at a fast enough velocity, the wall crumbles. But what if the wall were made of rubber? It would instead bend and flex, absorbing the energy before reflecting it in a near equal reaction—thus, returning to a state of normalcy. You don’t have to completely compromise your core values and ideas, but you must be able to adapt to an ever-evolving marketplace.
“We can’t retract the decisions we’ve made. We can only affect the decisions we’re going to make from here.” – Nick Rice, Law Abiding Citizen
We are all subject to the effects of the eternal pendulum, swinging between cycles of success and failure, and as a society, we’ve been conditioned to fear the latter. However, “failure” is one of the most important tools we have to encourage internal growth. “Failure” provides us with an opportunity to critically analyze what went wrong and determine how to adapt in the future. The next time you experience failure, instead of shutting down, meditate and ask yourself these three questions:
- What did I learn from this experience?
- How will I react in future similar situations?
- What did I gain from this experience?
Some may have a hard time stomaching the third question, as those experience what they perceived to be an abject failure tends to focus what they’ve lost. There’s always something to gain from any experience, however, whether it’s the acquisition knowledge or motivation to push forward and succeed. Those who truly understand the relationship between success and failure will find the pendulum swing easier to bear.
“If you want to be understood—listen.” – Tagline for the movie Babel
One of the most detrimental ways you can react to advice or help is to say, “I already know this.” Whether you possess the knowledge or not, simply listen. The individual may be trying to connect with you on a deeper level, and claiming that the ideas they want to share is essentially useless is not only insulting, but may also prevent you from learning something new. Unless you can read the future, you cannot possibly know how the conversation will end and you’re bound to learn something new by the conclusion of the exchange.
A much better strategy is acknowledging the advice, offering examples of how you’ve incorporated that wisdom into your life. Sharing how that knowledge helped or harmed you in specific instances will enrich the conversation and ensure that you come across as genuine instead of elitist.
“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try.’” Yoda, Star Wars
There’s great wisdom in this iconic line from our backwards-speaking Jedi master. The word “try” insinuates an expectation of failure—which is a possibility—however, as stated before, failure is nothing more than a misunderstood friend. We should plan and then act, not “try” to act, as we’re then allowing the fear of failure to govern our actions. How can one be bold and charge forward if we’re allowing a hypothetical situation—the consequences of which we tend to over-exaggerate anyway—to paralyze us?
Instead, simply make your plan and “do,” adapting to the aftermath later. This isn’t a call for recklessness. It’s a call to overcome your fears and create the destiny you want for yourself and your business.
While we shouldn’t distill all our life experiences down to a single quip, it’s always good to arm ourselves with a few inspirational quotes to wield against fearsome times. Just remember to stay positive, driven and use objectivity to make decisions.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.