In the past, I’ve written blog posts about what people in the promotional products industry can learn from movies; specifically, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Road House. In that spirit, I recently had the opportunity to watch The Breakfast Club which, as hard as it is to believe, is now 30 years old.
If you haven’t seen the movie (which would be a crime), the story revolves around five high school students with varied backgrounds who have to endure a Saturday detention under the ever-watchful eye of a bitter principal. Each member of this oddball group has a different role that others have chosen for them: the rebel, the princess, the brain, the basket case, and the jock. During the course of the day, they all learn to see each other very differently and question how their lives will be impacted by being part of the Breakfast Club.
Throughout the film, there are some great quotes that not only have relevance in business, but in life.
“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”
Andrew Clark (the jock)
This line is said to the entire group of students as they are sharing their innermost fears and secrets. Each of us has something unique to offer if only we felt comfortable sharing it. When you think of the people in our industry – or in any industry – that have made an impact, they are individually different and are comfortable in their own skin. If you want to stand out and make a difference with your clients, you have to get comfortable letting people see the real – and, at times, bizarre – you.
“Screws fall out all the time; the world is an imperfect place”
John Bender (the rebel)
This is said to the principal immediately after John Bender has removed a screw from a heavy door to ensure that the principal would not be able to see the students in the library. Bender is right, the world is indeed an imperfect place. There are multiple opportunities for failure with every promotional product order. The best distributors work collaboratively with suppliers to anticipate issues and mitigate them before the proverbial screw falls out of the door.
“You ought to spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.”
Richard Vernon (the principal)
This quote is directed to John Bender (the rebel) who is clearly putting on a show for his fellow students by continually antagonizing the principal. Too many distributors invest time and resources in a vain attempt to emulate a company they aspire to be rather than focusing on creating their own success. It’s always better to be the best version of you, rather than a slightly different copy of someone else.
Three different lines by three very different characters, but all contain some very good advice: Be bizarre, accept that the world is imperfect, and focus on yourself, not others. The Breakfast Club is one of a select few films made for teens in the 1980’s that made people look inward and the lessons are just as relevant today as they were in 1985.