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5 Mindset Shifts You Can Steal From the Movies to Have Blockbuster Success

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If only our clients had the passion of Potterheads. Remember the midnight premiers? Potterheads lined up for hours, dressed in full costume, wands a-blazin’. When the doors finally opened, they couldn’t throw their money at the ticket booth fast enough. How do you create that kind of enthusiasm for your own business?

I’m going to share five mindset shifts straight out of the movie business that you can use to fuel lifelong fanatics. Some of it is going to be tough love, but hey, nobody said getting your own fan club was easy.

1. Stay humble, stay hungry

Working actors audition an average of 67 times before booking a gig. 67 times! And that’s working actors—people who earn their entire livelihood from acting. Most entrepreneurs will hear this stat and say, “I get it. I need to accept failure 66 times.” But this isn’t about that. It’s about showing up 67.

Accepting failure is passive. You can accept failure from your couch. Showing up and trying, however, is active. When you show up, you commit to taking a step forward. And 66 times, you’ll get knocked down. It’s humbling. But on attempt 67, that step forward might finally stick.

Mindset shift: You have an insatiable appetite for success. You know that every failure is one failure down and that, soon, you’ll knock it out of the park.

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Treat your audience as kings

The box office doesn’t care what the director’s intentions were, how cool the writer is, or if the lead actor was featured in some fancy magazine, it cares about people in seats. And when thematic costumes clothe them (ala Potterheads), there are more of them.

In movies and entrepreneurship, your most critical metrics depend on your audience’s choices. So, the sooner you start treating your audience as kings and making everything about them, the sooner your metrics will start climbing.

How does the Harry Potter franchise treat Potterheads as kings? Movie premiers are 100% about the fans. They get to feel cool in costume, show off to friends, be among the first, hang out with other super-fans, and more. No matter what, putting your audience’s desire ahead of your own will always pay off in the long run.

Mindset shifts: Other entrepreneurs pursue immediate recognition. But you know that the more special you make your audience feel, the more success you’ll have down the road.

3. Depict compelling transformations

Humans have a fundamental desire for transformation. We love watching movies about redemption, growing up, settling down, overcoming adversity, underdogs, and more. Harry Potter is full of that stuff. Heck, the series even allowed a generation of readers to transform into adults alongside Harry.

This is why Before and After pictures are so incredibly persuasive. They help us to visualize the change we crave. And every single product or service on the market offers some form of transformation. All you have to do is call it out.  

Mindset shift: Bad entrepreneurs sell products. Good entrepreneurs sell solutions. Entrepreneurs who create rabid fans sell transformation.

4. Trust the fundamentals

When I took my first screenwriting class, the number of hyper-specific rules shocked me. Did you know that about 20 minutes into every movie, something dramatic changes in the protagonist’s life and propels them into a new world?

Don’t believe me? Time it. Unsurprisingly, one kid in my class completely ignored the rules. Even more unsurprisingly, his scripts sucked. When my professor called him out, the kid blubbered, “But Tarantino—” To which my professor replied, “Are you Tarantino?” No. No, he was not Tarantino.

The difference between you, me, that kid, and Tarantino is that Tarantino paid his dues. It’s extremely rare to find someone who became successful by completely ignoring the conventions of their craft. And the same is true for entrepreneurship.

Mindset shift: Nobody is “above” learning the fundamentals. You know that by appreciating the current structures and systems, you will be better poised to disrupt them in the future.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs

5. Kill your darlings

Once upon a time, an animation studio was four years into creating a film about the ocean. They had sunk thousands of hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the project. Then, the unthinkable happened… Finding Nemo. You know what the studio did with their ocean movie? They scrapped it.

As entrepreneurs, once we invest a lot of time and energy into something, we’re afraid to abandon it—even if the circumstances that made it worth pursuing in the first place don’t exist anymore. It’s the sunk cost fallacy. It’s important to remember that regardless of if you keep chugging along, the investment you made is unrecoverable. On the flip side, the gains you made are still valuable. The only choice you have is how you move forward—and sometimes, that means changing course.

Mindset shift: No effort goes to waste, even if the resulting work becomes irrelevant. Instead of letting your ego rule your decisions, you choose the best course of action and move on.

Building enthusiasm for your business is a slow but crucial process. What techniques have you pulled from other fields to help connect with your audience?

Alexie Basil is a screenwriter-copywriter who spends way too much time with words. She founded SPACE K9, where entrepreneurs learn how to use storytelling and psychology to write copy that converts.

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Life

What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values

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Who am I? The ultimate question many of us try to answer. When I think of values, I think of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book, “Les’ Miserables”. In Hugo’s book, Jean Valjean, is used as a protagonist to highlight the power in redemptive love and compassion. Valjean goes into prison for stealing a loaf of bread, entering as a simple and decent man. His time in jail seems to have an unrepairable effect, where he emerges from the chain gang as a tough, bitter criminal who hates society for what it has done to him. (more…)

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7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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