What Breaking Bad Can Teach You About Business Success

Photo by Flickr user Pop Culture Geek

If you haven’t been watching Breaking Bad over the last few seasons, you’re missing out on one of the greatest things to happen to television since MASH. It’s the story of a struggling high school chemistry teacher who was diagnosed with lung cancer and turns to a life of crime to start producing and selling meth.

The teacher, Walter White, has the sole intention of securing his families financial future before he dies. Yet, as his business starts to develop and progress, he gains a bit of notoriety under the alias, Heisenberg.

Now, if you haven’t watched Breaking Bad in the past, this post might have a few spoilers that give away some of the plot. That said, it also has a few key lessons that can help you in developing a successful business career.

Here are a few lessons that you can take from watching Breaking Bad:

You’re Never To Old for a New Career

For many years, professionals were known to stay with the same company in the same industry for years. It was very uncommon to see someone with years of experience pack up their bags and walk out the door and try something new. As seen when White decided to make his own mid-life career change, the ability to make a jump from one career to the next isn’t dependent on age.
While White’s friends were off making millions of dollars with their own chemical company, Gray Matter, he was stuck teaching high school chemistry. Overtime he realized he was wasting his skills in the classroom and could be better off doing something else. As such, he made the jump and took his skills to an entire new career and started an entire new lifestyle.

Build Business Relationships Carefully

Between Tuco and Gustavo Fring, it’s very clear that White has learned the hard way that not all relationships are created equal. As such, it’s important to find relationships that are mutually beneficial and that are built on trust and respect. While White was making lots of money with these partners, he quickly realized that these folks weren’t people he could trust or wanted to be associated with.

As you go through your career, build relationships carefully. Give your trust to people who deserve it and you have worked with in past. While it’s unlikely that the man at the boardroom table is a derange cold-blooded killer, it’s easy to get caught up with someone who doesn’t share the same ethics or goals as you do.

Never Be “Too Good” for The Dirty Work

Delegation and outsourcing are two of the most important aspects of business. When you’re crunched for time and are firing on all cylinders, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a busy day. But sometimes If you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself.

More than once we’ve watched Walter do what he needed to do without getting others involved. He’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get messy when necessary and you need to be willing to do the same. In sales, it’s important to recognize that sometimes you have to do the heavy lifting to help a client understand the value of your product and truly build your client relationship.

Your Reputation is Their Perception

Walter recognizes the importance of being seen as a chemistry teacher. He’s made a few stupid mistakes but he doesn’t get caught because no one is expecting him to be a drug dealer. People are too busy looking for Heisenberg that they ignore Walter White because of his existing reputation and lifestyle.

The ability to control your reputation is a value that all great sales professionals understand. It’s why we spend thousands of dollars on suits, ties and company cars. Businesses along with professionals understand the importance of having a strong reputation among partners, clients, colleagues and employers.

Professionals who are known for being late, unprepared and sloppy with their work are less likely to climb the corporate ladder. If you’re known for turning your back on clients once they sign the deal, it’s easy to be branded as such and have potential leads stop returning your phone calls.

What else can you learn from Walter White of Breaking Bad?

Comments (1)

Very insightful points Ross. I especially like the one that says you are never too old 🙂

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