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Friday, November 04, 2016

Business lessons I learned from binging on ‘Breaking Bad’

I’m always on the lookout for principles that we can learn from many sources. One place we can learn a lot is by watching good stories.

I had heard many people talking about the television series Breaking Bad, which originally appeared on AMC TV (2008-2013) and is now available on Netflix.

The story features a brilliant high school chemistry teacher. He had earlier helped to start a company that turned into a multibillion-dollar firm after he left, settling for $5,000. The teacher, Walter White, portrayed by actor Bryan Cranston, was disappointed in the amount of money he was making to provide for his family.

To add to his misery, his doctor informed Walter that he had cancer. In desperation, he looked for alternative means of income generation.

Walter White bumped into a former student of his who was making a lot more money than he was by selling crystal methamphetamine (meth). This gave him the idea to use his knowledge of chemistry to get some much-needed money.

1. Be the best in your profession

We certainly do not recommend getting involved in that particular business (way too dangerous and deadly). However, it is important to be the best in your profession. Walter White’s crystal meth became known for its superior quality, and its blue color, which was different than the competition.

You have to come up with something that the market sees as the very best. They respect what you create. They value your product so much they are willing to pay a premium.

This relates to Cal Newport’s idea where he quoted Steve Martin saying you have to be “so good they can’t ignore you.” You have to be willing to pay the price. You have to put forth the effort. No, it doesn’t come easy. You have to put in the hours. You have to put in the money. You have to put in the effort.

2. Build a team you can trust

Another important lesson from Breaking Bad is to be careful about building your team and who you trust. Walter White trusted people who did not have the same principles and values as he did. He ultimately paid a steep price for that lack of carefulness.

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