There is nothing like a weekend movie and especially now when there are no football games. While most of us watch movie to be entertained, some are filled with great lessons. Last weekend I decided to re-watch ‘American Gangster’ and there are some great business lessons from the movie I learnt.
The movie is about a drug dealer, Frank Lucas(Played by Denzel Washington) who rises to be the most dangerous man in US surpassing even the Mafia families. On the other side is an honest cop dedicated to take Lucas from the streets.
Here are the lessons:
1. Cut Out The Middle Man
In business profit is all that counts. Cutting out the middleman ensures means you get a lot more from your sales. Bumpy, Frank Lucas’ boss and Mentor, laments big stores taking over Harlem, cutting out the suppliers just before he dies. On his part, Frank sees an opening in their drug business and when Bumpy dies, Frank cuts out the middleman. He ends up becoming very rich and powerful.
2. Mentors Matter
Never underestimate the power of a mentor. Mentor-ship can enable one exceed their life’s goals and aspirations. Mentoring is not easy and both the mentor and mentee must be committed. While sometimes it may feel like a burden, simple gestures such as sharing an article with a mentee and seeing their reactions work.
In the movie, Frank spends about 15 years with his mentor and in them, he comes out smarter than Bumpy. He is able to polish all the mistakes he saw his mentor do and create a path for himself that leads to his ‘greatness’.
3. Loyalty is Everything
As a business person you need to surround yourself with loyal people. The same has to be seen of you. Let others know that when you are there, you they don’t have worries because no matter what, you will stick to what it is that you believe in.
Were it not for one cop, Ritchie Roberts, being loyal to the course, the war on drugs and more so Lucas would never have been caught. But it was not just Lucas, he chose a team of men who he knew they had the same conviction as he and no amount of money would buy them.
4. Never Dilute a Brand
Once you establish a brand, don’t try to get more from it by diluting it. If you are known for a particular quality, no matter what stick to it. In case you feel that you just need to make an extra by diluting, just get a new name and sell the other product as a different brand. People hate change and being short-changed.
5. Sell Better Quality at a Better Price Point
Apple is a great product and so is Samsung. However, this year has seen Huawei surpass the two as the most bought smartphone. Reason, it is better quality and is cheaper. Now I know some of you might want to argue with that but, well, make online research and you will find that.
Selling better heroin at a better price point makes Frank’s ‘Blue Chip Magic’ the most used drug. He is even approached by other drug kingpins to let them be distributors in other regions. Basically, he outsells everyone and makes him very rich.
6. Quitting while You are Ahead is Not A Bad Thing
“Quitting while you are still ahead, is not the same as quitting”, that’s the advice Frank is given before his empire crushes. In business you have to know when to quit selling a product or the best time to sell your business. Whenever things don’t look great you have to re-evaluate things and see what direction your business will take.
You’ve probably heard the ‘Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers. In his words, ”
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run…
The last thing that I will add to the business lessons I learnt is ‘ ‘The Loudest is the weakest’. The best businessmen will in most instances be laid back, observing and trying to understand things. Rarely will they be out showing what they have and how good they are because they don’t need validation. They are here to make money.
If you haven’t watched the movie, well, make a point of doing so. You won’t regret I promise you.
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