To mark my 20th anniversary with OMS, I tasked myself with an interesting communications exercise. I looked at quotes from 20 of my favorite movies and then tried to apply them to the world of business or marketing. Thus, this blog post is a ‘cinematic reel’ with my point of view on how these quotes are either ‘lessons learned’ or ‘lessons-to-be-learned’ in our everyday career lives.
I had some fun with it…see what you think:
- “Pay me a compliment, Melvin.” (As Good As it Gets) This quote is my hands-down favorite. In the movie, Jack Nicholson simply can’t give Helen Hunt a compliment. I’ll never understand why not. In business, compliments go a long way – yet why is it so hard for us to hand them out? Whether you’re new to business, mid-career or a veteran, positive feedback is powerful and can drive better results.
2. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” (Jaws) Can’t you just hear the Jaws music? Then Roy Schneider gets the first look at the shark and utters those famous words. My business take on this quote is that when starting a project, make sure your ‘infrastructure’ (team, tech tools, timeline) can scale to accommodate unforeseen changes. Also, it’s a good idea to have a ‘Plan B’ in place before you leave shore.
3. “Life is like a box of chocolates…You never know what you’re gonna get.” (Forrest Gump). This one is among the best movie quotes of all time. It plays well to accepting diverse types of people at work. After all, a good pound of candy can come in all shapes and sizes. Why not embrace it?
4. “I just can’t wait to be king.” (Lion King) This song lyric from the movie carries a “be careful what you wish for” message for the young lion Simba, the future king. “Not so fast,” his little bird friend tells him. Unfortunately, it’s not till his father is killed that Simba is thrown into the job. The message: When moving into career positions with greater responsibility, accepting a little advice from those with practical experience never hurts.
5. “Houston, we have a problem.” (Apollo 13). Yes, Tom Hanks again! This quote is perfect for crisis communications. Best to admit you have a problem, work with your team to resolve the issue and communicate your solution.
6. “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” (Wizard of Oz). This one is all about change. Dorothy gets hit on the head during a Kansas twister and wakes in the Land of Oz. She does a great job of adapting to the situation, meeting new friends and moving on down the yellow brick road. When change comes, we should adapt too.
7. “Let’s go. While we’re young.” (Caddy Shack) Rodney Dangerfield yells this one-liner to the rich country club guy who is slow to tee off on the golf course. It plays well when applied to the decision making process. If you take too long, you’ll start second guessing yourself and you might duff it.
8. “WILSON!!!” (Cast Away). Who can forget Tom Hanks crying out to his poor volleyball ball friend ‘Wilson’ as he floats away from the raft? For marketers, this is a great example of being open to new and innovative ways to promote your brand. In this case the Wilson brand turns up as a ‘character’ in a hit movie.
9. “We could not talk forever and still find things to not talk about” (Best in Show) This one is a little more obscure. It comes from the blonde bombshell married to the rich old man when she’s describing their relationship. Lesson: Sometimes it’s okay not to talk, just to sit and listen.
10. “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” (Sound of Music) Another favorite. My answer: You don’t. In the movie, Maria was in the wrong job (a nun). When given a ‘better fit’ opportunity, she was a wonderful governess and later a beloved mother to the Von Trapp family. The same holds true at work. Sometimes people aren’t right for one job, but are perfect for another.
11. “Fill your hand you son of a bitch” (True Grit) Sometimes situations really upset you and to survive you have to come out guns drawn just like John Wayne, right? Clearly not a good business strategy. The flip side: it’s okay to fly off the handle and vent once in a while. Just keep it to yourself, let off the steam and move on.
12. “I am not going to meet some woman I don’t even know at the top of the Empire State Building…didn’t you see Fatal Attraction?” (Sleepless in Seattle) Here, Tom Hanks scolds his young son for even suggesting such a thing. In the end he does go on the blind date, meets Meg Ryan and wonderful things happen. ‘Lovey-dovey-ness’ aside, the advice here is to take a chance now and then. While risk is scary, it can lead to unexpected rewards.
13. “Don’t you get sick of being right all of the time?” (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). In this clip, Robert Redford confronts his ‘smarter’ partner Paul Newman on their approach to a gun battle. The take: collaboration works much better when nobody’s always right.
14. “I’ll have what she’s having.” (When Harry Met Sally). Okay, we all know that Meg Ryan was ‘faking it.’ Even so, her performance certainly caught on. Message: A good performance (i.e. presentation) can grab the attention of your target audience and ‘sell’ a story.
15. “Try not to play anything that reminds them they’re in prison”… “You think they forgot?” (Walk the Line) Unbelievably, the warden says this to Johnny Cash before he busts out a song for the inmates at Folsom Prison. Applied to business: even though you’re in a position of ‘authority,’ don’t ever lose sight of the perspective of others.
16. “Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Actually, I’m not a witch at all.” (Wizard of Oz). The assumption here came from the munchkins who worried that Dorothy might be a witch when she landed in Oz. Lesson: Don’t assume anything when sizing someone up. In marketing, this can especially apply to messaging.
17. “Hakuna Matata” (Lion King) Another classic. It means no worries. Great mantra for everyday business life. We can get paralyzed from taking action if we’re constantly worrying about the ‘what ifs.’
18. “What’s my destiny, Momma? Actually, you’re going to have to figure that out for yourself.” (Forrest Gump) Another great one. Forrest looks to his dying mom for some direction, and she gently lets him know he’s got it within himself to figure it out. Solid advice for all of us as we chart or change our career course.
19. “Louise, no matter what happens…I’m glad I came with you.” (Thelma and Louise). This one’s from the classic breakout movie when Geena Davis tells Susan Sarandon how she feels about their wild ride. In business, it’s so important to let others know how you feel. Looking back to 20 years ago when I joined Outlook Marketing, I wasn’t sure where the road would take me, but I’m forever grateful to all the people who’ve shared the ride!
20. So in closing, “Here’s looking at you kid” (Casablanca) A toast to all the clients, colleagues and friends I’ve met along the way!
Author: Suzette Sexton, Senior Vice President, Outlook Marketing Services