I’ve been doing this personal challenge to watch AFI’s 100 Best Films in 100 Years and I have been doing pretty well with it. It’s amazing to see how many of the older films have been redone multiple times now and yet the original is still 100 times better. I have been thinking about how I can update my blog more often and really give some insightful advice from my own experience and perspective. So I thought I would do it in line with the movies I’ve seen. I’m not going to give a giant synopsis of the movie or tell you the deep, dark mysteries of what the filmmaker meant to say but only how I relate it to the business world.
My first movie I’m throwing out there is “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” This was a fun movie, I had no idea going into what it was even about except that it wasn’t an anticipated film, Liz Taylor took a risk on the role, and it was one of the last films to be made in black and white.
George and Martha are a middle aged married couple, whose charged relationship is defined by vitriolic verbal battles, which underlies what seems like an emotional dependence upon each other. This verbal abuse is fueled by an excessive consumption of alcohol. George being an associate History professor in a New Carthage university where Martha’s father is the President adds an extra dimension to their relationship. Late one Saturday evening after a faculty mixer, Martha invites Nick and Honey, an ambitious young Biology professor new to the university and his mousy wife, over for a nightcap. As the evening progresses, Nick and Honey, plied with more alcohol, get caught up in George and Martha’s games of needing to hurt each other and everyone around them. The ultimate abuse comes in the form of talk of George and Martha’s unseen sixteen year old son, whose birthday is the following day. (Source: IMDB)
What I Learned:
1) This film was actually supposed to be made in color but at the last moment it was decided to be done in black and white. The detail, the dynamic ranges of gray is stunning. It is hands down one of the best black and white films I’ve seen so far. From the 20’s through 60’s many black and white films have issues with focus or saturation or contrast; not this film. I learned that when telling a story that is about the ride more than the ugly lesson the details matter A LOT. I kept getting lost in the scene where George and Nick are out by the tree talking. The tree is the star of that scene, you can see the details so vividly, the swing so perfect. This is all about making you remember that while the story was moving forward the details of the world help tell the story just as much as the characters do. Too often we go straight for the goal of what we want. We stop telling a story, we want to take a shortcut to the end and get what we want. We leave out the romance and the only way to create lasting relationships is to build up the romance and that’s found in the details. It shows we give a shit about our customers.
2) This movie is all about the verbal bantering, of course it’s no where near playful but the exchanges fly by so fast you better pay attention. You can’t help but keep watching awaiting the next dig, a tribute gingerly offered followed by a slanderous slap across the face. While we should ignore the malice intent, the verbal exchanges are something we should learn from. This skill is something that should be practiced, in business. We rarely find customers who are exactly like us, we must be well-versed in all forms of communication. Bantering is truly a skill that must be exercised regularly to use it effectively in the heat of the moment. It helps you stay quick on your feet, forces you to be educated on a wide range of topics and equips you to articulate yourself in a way that is uncomfortable but quickly becomes second-nature. Whether we are dealing with customers, prospects, or vendors it is imperative that we know how to execute our words just as much as we want to make a deal. It’s not always easy but whenever we can put someone else at ease it will always help us get closer to achieving what we want.
3) This movie isn’t an exciting location movie, it primarily resides in three locations for the entire movie but it is the details that keeps it interesting. That’s why details matter, when we have something boring or less flashy to show or explain we must dig into the details of the story to help sell. People don’t want to hear features they want your story to become their own. In storytelling, when we bridge to the story instead of hearing it is when transference is made. The story becomes our story, we connect with the characters, we want to be the characters or want to avoid some of them. When we own the story is when we buy into the idea until then we’re only selling features. People have often said that my job is just sitting down with clients and talking and for the most part that is true. When I sit with clients it is the details that begin enchanting. When language changes from you and us to we things start changing. When what could be turns to what will be clients feel at ease. I heard this saying once that we buy for only two reasons: to be happy or to solve a problem. When we can do both for a client that is a relationship that will last a long time. That is a relationship clients are willing to pay extra for.
This movie was a real eye-opener for me, I really enjoyed it and couldn’t believe that was done in black and white in 1968, relatively late in the game but well worth the effort. Obviously you should see it, whether you have or not let’s discuss!!