We recently decided to “cut the chord” at our house, meaning we spend a lot less time watching live TV and more time watching movies. Recently while watching some of my all-time favorite movies, I picked up on some great quotes that extend beyond the plot of the movie to my real life and my personal journey while working at a startup over the past two years.
If you are thinking about joining a startup or creating your own business, here are 14 quotes that will surely transfer from the silver screen to the startup stage.
Lights, camera, STARTUP!
1. "Find a truly original idea. It is the only way I will ever distinguish myself. It is the only way I will ever matter."
-- John Nash in A Beautiful Mind
If you are going to build a company, set out to do something nobody else has done before. If you are working to solve real pain for real people, you will truly distinguish yourself from the competition.
Related: 12 Ways to Find Inspiration
2. "Do, or do not. There is no try.”
-- Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back
Either you will or you won’t. You are not in a position to try. Your employees, customers, partners and shareholders need you to do a lot more than try. You will succeed or fail based on how well you are able to execute your vision -- and that requires a lot of “do”.
3. “Don’t tell me I can’t do it; don’t tell me it can't be done!"
-- Howard Hughes in The Aviator
Along the way you are going to hear from a lot of naysayers. People who are skeptical or don’t have the fortitude to do what you are trying to do. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Don’t let the insecurities of others hold you back.
4. “This sh*t’s chess, it ain’t checkers!”
-- Alonzo Harris in Training Day
One of two chess related quotes on this list, and that is because chess is grounded in your ability to execute on a well-thought strategy. You are in a battle of strategy when you begin your company. Is your strategy going to play better than others? Do you have the right pieces in the right places at the right time on the board? If you understand the game you are playing and how you win, you will be around to play a lot longer than your competition.
5. “The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”
-- Frank Lucas in American Gangster
You will find out soon that talk is cheap and actions are what you should value. The person who is loudest, the person who tries to “own the room” and generally just loves to hear themselves talk, often is the one who produces the least amount of value. Look for and build around the people who stay focused solving problems with others (vs. just talking about them).
6. “Just keep swimming.”
-- Dory in Finding Nemo
You will have good days and you will have bad days. Some days, you just need to keep swimming. Even if you are swimming against the currents, and it feels like you are not making progress, you are in fact moving forward.
7. “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
-- Don Corleone in The Godfather
You are going to be doing a lot of negotiating. You will be securing new partnerships and working to recruit top talent. What can you offer that nobody else can offer? If you are selling
8. “If you build it, he will come.”
-- The Voice in Field of Dreams
If you build something truly great, you will find that your customers will not only use your products, they will rave about it to others. That is why you need to focus so much on what you are building and the value you provide. Once you can provide long-term value you will be able to scale your business in a very robust and meaningful way.
9. “The key to this business is personal relationships.”
-- Dickie Fox in Jerry McGuire
From customers to partners to employees, many times success comes down to one thing: the people. To build a great company you need to find great people. If you don’t nail that you are going to be fighting an uphill battle.
10. “Life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small -- I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.”
-- Tony D'Amato in Any Given Sunday
On any given day, the success of a startup hinges on so many different factors, with the margin for error being incredibly small. You need to understand the decisions that will make our break your business so you can put yourself in a position to execute them with precision and focus. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted.
11. “Even a good decision if made for the wrong reasons can be a bad decision”
-- Governor Swann in Pirates of Caribbean
The decision-making process of a startup is one of the most important parts of the culture. How do you make decisions? What are your principles? Are you making decisions that yield short-term gain but create long-term pain? If you are not making decisions for the right reasons, then you may find that decision will create more trouble later on.
12. “Don’t move until you see it.”
-- Bruce Pandolfini in Searching for Bobby Fischer
Patience is not always an easy trait to maintain. Sometimes you need to be opportunistic and strike at a moment’s notice. But you also need to have the patience to see the pieces come together. Look beyond the existing move, so you can see the ones that come after it.
13. "Well, if you'll excuse me, I must leave now. Mr. Corleone insists on hearing bad news as soon as possible.”
-- Tom Hagen in The Godfather
At Porch one of the values we admire most is transparency. The runway to success is too short to waste time not sharing everything people need to run the business. If you miss on a key performance indicator or you get critical product feedback from a customer that could improve your business, don’t hide it or sweep it under the rug. Embrace it, acknowledge it and grow from it.
14. “We’re going to change the game."
-- Billy Beane in Moneyball
At a startup one of the greatest feelings you will have is knowing your product, service or business is going to change the world. As noted in the first quote, if you are solving real pain for real people, you have the chance to create something long lasting and durable that will literally change how people live their lives.