This post might just be the ultimate example of link bait, but I just couldn’t help myself.
Because there’s this little show on AMC that entertains and inspires me.
And it just so happens that its protagonist cooks meth.
Yep. You got it. Not kidding.
If you don’t know, I’m talking about AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” It’s centered around a high school chemistry teacher and his metamorphosis from nebbish to kingpin.
At the start of the series his singular focus is providing for his family. To set them up financially before he dies. He decides to use his knowledge to sell methamphetamine with that aim in mind. Since he’s terminal, turning to a life of crime means nothing, but his family means everything. This is how he justifies his actions.
And the most fascinating thing about the show is the evolution of our main character, Walter White. But it’s more like a downward spiral, as the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan has stated his goal was to turn Walter from Mr. Chips into Scarface.
Securing his family’s financial future is his sole intent in the start, but he becomes increasingly immoral and sinister as his cancer subsides.
Gilligan stated: “He’s going from being a protagonist to an antagonist.”
Mild-mannered chemistry teacher becomes complete badass.
The drug itself and beautiful New Mexico are the backdrops, but the crafty Mr. White takes us for a ride. And strangely enough, I constantly root for a guy with morally questionable behavior.
He’s both hero and anti-hero. A gentleman turned demon, and Brian Cranston delivers.
But how does this character and such a unique show relate to the world of business and creativity?
I’ll try and explain.
I’m not endorsing drug dealers or methamphetamine, but I am endorsing a show that is a true original. No duh, right?
Here I wrote about the importance of crafting compelling content, which often involves investing in a scary concept.
When the show was pitched, I’m guessing the terms “unpopular,” “polarizing” and “offensive” might have come up.
Gilligan put some blood, sweat and tears into a show that could have pissed off many and been a ratings bomb, even if it did make it past the execs.
He created a TV drama that certain people might just hate for all the right reasons. Why? Because he’s attracted a group that anticipates every new season and every new show with bated breath.
And I’m guessing he was pretty fearless in his resolve to see it through.
I love the idea of embracing a chancy formula and making it work. And this did work, because we found him and his Emmy-winning show and can’t seem to get enough.
If it works in entertainment it can surely work in business, no?
Your own little “Breaking Bad” concept might help you on your way in this digital realm.
Trying to please everyone often translates to milquetoast.
If you’re instead focusing on your own “killer swag” and are proudly displaying your own special form of genius, well, your essence might just be that key to a message that truly resonates.
So what if it ticks off a few.
“Breaking Bad” resonates. I can only imagine how many people it turns off, but that’s the beauty of it.
Gilligan’s fearless approach and dedication to the concept, inspire me much like the show Mad Men but for different reasons.
For me, it’s all about being the Anti-Sheep, which is like a dazzling black sheep cast from the flock.
So what does the show represent and why is it so successful?
1. It’s an unpopular concept. The power of the show comes from an unusual script fully realized. This was not accomplished by worrying about audience response or TV executives. I’ve heard there’s power in “unpopular.”
2. Originality reigns supreme. Mr. Gilligan took a taboo subject even further and turned it on it’s head, creating something artful and original. He really was thinking outside of the box.
3. The creator has Integrity. He stuck to the concept and didn’t dilute it or dumb it down. He made it through the pitch meetings and somehow got’er done.
He took an original idea and made it happen by embracing a risky topic, not diluting it and sticking to his guns throughout the process.
And in my world, where small business people and bloggers need advice, this is some great sauce. Why not live by these three practices when you start your next project? Be a Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.
I wanna here about your favorite black sheep.
How have you applied these practices in the real world?
What is “killer swag” to you?