July 7, 2019

Rachel Strella

3 Business Lessons Learned from a Low-Rated 80s Movie

business lessons

I love the movie, Road House. To this day, I am not sure why it received less than mediocre reviews, but as one friend said, “Most good movies get bad reviews.”  True. In any event, the movie has a few scenes – and some overall takeaways – that apply to business in many fashions. Here are just a few.

Lesson #1. It’s nothing personal. In the movie, Patrick Swayze plays a cooler, named Dalton, who was hired to clean up a bar called the Double Deuce. In the first meeting with the bouncers, he establishes some rules for handling unruly patrons.  A classic scene…

Cooler: "Nothing is personal."

Bouncer: "What if someone calls my Momma a whore?"

Cooler: "Is she?"

Dalton says that with a straight face to emphasize his point. It’s hard not to take things personally, but in business, we must remove emotion from our decisions (and our reactions).

Lesson #2. Doing what’s right usually isn’t easy. Brad Wesley, the poster child of TV bad guys, had a reputation for doing whatever he wanted. Anyone would be a fool to challenge him. I recall a scene where Dalton challenged him and someone said, “I think I am looking at a dead man.” Dalton was unphased by the remark. Indeed, doing what’s right trumps what’s easy. But, then how would real change ever occur?

Our client, Chad Harvey, talks about this concept in his e-book, Leadership in Real Life and in this post. He says that making the harder choice is usually the right choice because that’s what a leader does.

Lesson #3. Opinions vary. In the film, there’s an ongoing tease about Dalton’s size. As a cooler, most people would think he would be bigger. Again, he is unphased. He was certain about who he was and he didn’t let anyone change that view of himself. When someone made a poor remark, his response was ‘opinions vary.’ We all have critics and we all know we are sometimes our own worst critic. Everyone will have an opinion, especially those who are not invested in your success. Be true to who you are and ignore those opinions.

There are so many leadership nuggets in the movie. It’s worth the two hours to absorb those takeaways – and it’s highly entertaining!

As Dalton’s mentor says in an exit scene, “Stay cool, kid.”

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