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How Breaking Bad is a TV Series About Startups

Breaking Bad

There have been a number of great TV shows over the years that have provided us with both entertainment and lessons. Lessons in life, lessons in love, and, surprisingly, lessons in business. And there’s something to be said about what lessons came with the smash hit series Breaking Bad.

The series debuted in 2008 and ran for five seasons through 2013, telling the story of a simple man named Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston). White begins the story as a dispirited high-school chemistry teacher unhappy with his family life. What’s worse, he just got diagnosed with stage-three lung cancer. As a result, he can’t quite afford the bills and what he’s going through at home. What is a man to do? Why, start a business.

And that business involves drugs, which he produces alongside his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). What follows, however, is not a typical success story. Instead, we see some interesting lessons that come from all this. And even though it all unfolds in a different way in the end, there’s some interesting stuff to take away from Breaking Bad when it comes to startups and business.

Let’s look at some of the lessons available here.

It’s Never Too Late to Change Your Image

When we first meet Walter White, he’s a bit underconfident and wondering what he’s going to do. Same with Jesse Pinkman, in a way. However, as the years pass we see transformations from both men – and it shows growth.

Granted, that’s not to say you should become a drug dealer tomorrow and grow the same way. Far from it. White becomes vicious and calculated while still keeping some family fundamentals in mind. Pinkman becomes a bit more nervous, but also eager to do things to keep the business operating.

Meanwhile, new characters enter the picture as well, like drug kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Walter’s own brother-in-law, Hank, who’s a DEA agent. There are also others like Saul Goodman, portrayed by Bob Odenkirk – whose story still continues today with Better Call Saul.

New people enter our lives, and they can leave an effect on both us and the business that’s operating. Sometimes they can leave a bad effect as we see with White and his sadistic ways. But we also get an idea of what these characters can do with the right push and motivation. With that, Breaking Bad teaches us that, even with a later start in life, it’s not too late to find success with something new. Just, um, maybe don’t delve into crime as easily as these guys, yeah?

Breaking Bad Teaching Us About Enterprise? Yep

It’s one thing to make a product and start off small as you see in Breaking Bad. But obviously, White figured out that in order for something to work, you need the right distribution. Even if that means finding unconventional partners to provide not only the workforce but also the means.

That allows certain people to come in and help complete the team as it were. Obviously, White chose to stick with his right-hand man Pinkman for the most part, because he trusts him the most. (Well, most of the time, anyway.) But it doesn’t hurt to build up other partners within the business.

That said, it also helps to keep in mind what those partners need. Obviously, a drug kingpin may not be the most ideal partner for general business. However, someone with more experience and knowledge can help it go much further than expected. White learns a lot from the people he deals with. And even if that means making some drastic decisions down the road, the lessons remain with him.

That’s something that’s fundamental for your business that you can take away from Breaking Bad. Not everyone will be the best for your business. But the lessons you learn from them? Those are priceless and help you move forward in the best way possible.

Not Forgetting Where You Come From

*Spoilers Ahead*

Finally, there’s something to be said about remembering who you are. In the end, before eventually meeting his end, White remembered all the stuff he loved about chemistry with one final walk-through. This is after a vicious attack on some kidnappers that leave them dead, mind you. But it all comes full circle.

That doesn’t mean you should set up a similar attack. Not in the least, don’t do this! However, do remember who you are. Remember what you bring into the business, and don’t lose too much focus as you transform into a role of power. People will remember the best stuff about you, so don’t let it slip away under a blanket of profit. Remember who you are, and it’ll come back to you.

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