ÒThe Princess BrideÓ: Movie or Mini-MBA?

The following article, written by Jim Foxworthy, appears in the newly relaunched Pragmatic Marketer magazine.

During normal conversations, either at home or at work, I often find that the reply that comes to mind is actually a quote from a movie. And more often than not, that movie is ÒThe Princess Bride.Ó

You may have this experience yourself. Perhaps in a meeting, listening to the latest version of your organizationÕs strategy, your buddy turns to you and asks, ÒThink it will work?Ó And all you can think is: ÒIt would take a miracle!Ó

Or your boss tells your team that the organization must have Òfocus,Ó and you think, ÒYou keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.Ó

IÕve applied eight of my other favorites to the product management and marketing world. See if any of these situations sound familiar to you:

1. ÒYou rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.Ó The lead engineer says the product will miss the release date by six months. You may want to strangle this person, but keep this quote in mind. YouÕve got to collaborate with your counterparts in development, because what they do isnÕt immediate. ItÕs not throwing a light switch.

2. ÒWe are men of action. Lies do not become us.Ó Telling the truth, especially when itÕs not popular, is one of the most challenging things to do in business or at home. We know what we believe, but do we have the courage to say it? Even when the audience is the president of the organization? ItÕs difficult to strike that balance between telling the truth and rocking the boat. At the end of the day, though, you have to look yourself in the eye and know you did what was right, that you spoke what you believed was true. And hopefully, you can make it through without your boss saying, ÒDo you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed, in Greenland?Ó

3. ÒI wonder if he is using the same wind we are using?Ó Competitive threat is a constant part of any successful business. If you are successful, there is always someone trying to take your market share away from you. You donÕt want to obsess about the competition or build a product that mirrors what the competition has. But by the same token, youÕve got to pay attention to them. YouÕve got to make sure that if there is a new wind out there, you get that in your sails too.

4. ÒYou know how much I love watching you work, but IÕve got my countryÕs 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it. IÕm swamped.Ó Ever have one of those days when you just cannot seem to get all the work done? Product management and marketing are jobs where youÕre just not going to finish everything. There are no clear priorities, and you have got to be really good at picking the things that youÕre going to work on and letting the other ones hit the floor.

5. ÒLife is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.Ó Many years ago, I decided that the word ÒfairÓ should be stricken from the dictionary. If you expect life to treat you fairly, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Move past those ÒunfairÓ situations as quickly as possible, because the longer you cling to them, the more time youÕre wasting. The lessons youÕre learning from whatÕs unfair today could be something you can apply somewhere elseÑand thatÕs okay.

6. ÒItÕs not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I donÕt even exercise.Ó Do you work beside supermarketer? ThatÕs the fellow employee who always manages to work on products that exceed their revenue goals; who gets invited to every sales team quota club; and who has the best hair, the best clothes and the nice car. ThereÕs always going to be someone else who knows things that you donÕt.

7. ÒHa ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blundersÑthe most famous of which is Ônever get involved in a land war in AsiaÕÑbut only slightly less well-known is this: ÔNever go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!ÕÓ Try as you may, there is always one more business rule, one more experience that you havenÕt had yet. And it seems as if the rule you need today is the one you donÕt know. ThereÕs always more to learn. Quotes 6 and 7 together, knowing that thereÕs always someone bigger and stronger and that thereÕs some classic blunder that IÕll always commit, keep me humbleÑand sometimes you need that.

8. ÒSonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLTÑmutton, lettuce and tomato sandwichÑwhere the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. TheyÕre so perky! I love that.Ó At the end of the day, most stuff doesnÕt matter. When emotions are high, and the release is late and everyone is screaming at each other, the successful marketer keeps perspective. Because life is not about this release or that customer or that deal. Life is much more, but is often as simple as a delicious sandwich.

Thanks for reading to the end. Good night. Good work. Sleep well. IÕll most likely kill you in the morning.

For the full new issue of Pragmatic Marketer magazine, please click here.

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