I know that this title seems a bit odd to some of you, but hey, people find inspiration for all sorts of different things in completely unusual places. I don’t know how this exactly happened, but watching Tarantino films helped me see things about business I never thought I would when I started watching them.
Ranked 8th on Empire magazine’s greatest directors ever poll back in 2005 and considered by many as one of the most interesting film professionals of our time, for 23 years now Quentin Tarantino’s work has been celebrated all over the world. With only 8 feature films behind his name, Mr. Tarantino has so far won exactly 128 awards in his currently active career.
Although he never went to film school, this extraordinary man made it big as a film director and screenwriter. How? – By pursuing his passion and investing all of his being into doing what he loved the most.
Growing up, Mr. Tarantino’s films had a strong influence on me. They got under my skin at a very early age and made me watch them over and over again. Every time I replayed his projects, I saw something more in them, something I missed out on before. I started recognizing patterns in his work that go beyond just filmmaking.
Reading more about him, how he started, where does he find inspiration for his films and how come his work is so popular, I came into contact with things that I found to be of great use for mine line of work, although it has nothing to do with making films.
Lesson No.1: Find Your Own Voice
In January of 1992, first-time writer-director Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) appeared at the Sundance Film Festival. The film garnered critical acclaim and the director became a legend immediately.
Since then, Tarantino has helmed many critically and financially successful films, including Pulp Fiction (1994), Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Inglourious Basterds (2009), and Django Unchained (2012). This man made an army of fans who are more than willing to pay for the opportunity to see his work return over and over again to the big screen.
How? – By having a different voice. Filled with extreme violence, much of which is suggested off screen, and unconventional storytelling, his films are enjoyed by all types of moviegoers. Why? – Because they’re unique. For anyone who has seen at least two of his films, it takes just a glance at the screen to identify if a certain flick is a Tarantino flick.
Thinking about this sort of thing, I came to an understanding that in order to succeed, we must provide our users and potential clientele with something that our current direct competitors aren’t already offering. We must work on branding and position ourselves as an entity with its own story to tell. Hence, we started investing in the quality of our service and network. Afterwards, we started investing in content marketing, which none of our direct competitors do.
Looking over the numbers, we found out that 80% of our clients are small and medium online businessmen. These results inspired us to create content that educates every single one of our users about the importance of owning a great hosting solution for your professional website. Next to that, we started providing them various types of tricks and tips on how to improve their web marketing and content.
So far, it’s been going great. People have started to recognize our voice. With more than 10.000 active users, I think we’re doing a great job here.
Lesson No.2: You Don’t Need a Masters Degree to Be Successful In a Particular Line of Work
When asked by people did he go to film school, Mr. Tarantino always responds the same: “No, I went to films.”
It’s not that you don’t ‘need’ a college degree to be successful in your line of work (if you’re not involved with medicine or something like that), it’s that you need a competitive advantage, such as an excellent talent, or the willingness to push more than the next guy, to be successful in business.
Not everyone can become successful in every line of business. There are just some occupations that make more sense to us than others.
If you are really into something and you’re willing to invest all your time and energy in mastering every single thing about that specific subject, you don’t really need a degree to start with. Read about all the dropouts who made it as successful entrepreneurs: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, etc.
In this day and age where everything is shared online and where you don’t need to leave the comfort of your home in order to gain knowledge, there are plenty of blogs, courses, tutorials and websites online that could teach you everything you want to know about anything. Marketing, programming, advertising, writing – everything is available for free over the internet. All you gotta do is look.
I’ve learned everything I know about web hosting by reading tons of content online. I don’t even have a background in web development or anything similar. I’ve got a Masters in finance and banking. Was that going to stop me? No, I sat down, started Googling, and learned. Seven years later, there you have it – a successful web hosting company behind my name.
Lessons No.3: Never Do Anything You Don’t Feel Strongly About
I read this great quote of Tarantino’s once on Taste of Cinema: “If you truly love cinema with all your heart and with enough passion you can’t help but make a good movie. You don’t have to go to school. You don’t have to know a lens — you know, a 40 and a 50 and a — fuck all that shit — crossing the line — none of that shit’s important. If you just truly love cinema with enough passion — and you really love it, then you can’t help but make a good movie.”
I think that this way of thinking transcends filmmaking and applies to basically almost anything you want it to apply to. If you feel strongly about something, your thirst for knowledge about that specific subject will never be satisfied.
Like he told a group of young aspiring filmmakers at the 1994 Independent Spirit Awards: “If you want to make a movie, make it. Don’t wait for a grant, don’t wait for the perfect circumstances, just make it.” – I couldn’t agree more. There’s no time like the present. Don’t waste your time doubting yourself. Go out there and fight for your place in the world.
Lesson No.4: Always Be Confident About Your Work and Harness Your Experiences
“I’m my worst enemy.” – How many times have we heard this saying? Most people fail at business because they don’t really believe in themselves. When things get rough, and at some point they always do, no matter in what kind of work you’re involved, people start to lose their edge.
Apropos of this, Mr. Tarantino said in one of his interviews: “I’m never going to be shy about anything, what I write about is what I know; it’s more about my version of the truth as I know it. That’s part of my talent, really – putting the way people really speak into the things I write. My only obligation is to my characters. And they came from where I have been.”
Web hosting is a very competitive industry. There are tons of companies out there that offer great service. Unlike many who have tried to make a name for themselves and failed, we weren’t afraid of the competition. We knew we had a great product, we believed in ourselves, and we knew that if we really give our 110%, nothing could stop us.
Lesson No. 5: Don’t Let Rejection Discourage Your Efforts
If you’ve seen True Romance, I’ll assume that you at least consider it to be an interesting movie. Claimed by many as one of the hottest films of the nineties, this script was a hard sell for Tarantino. He wrote it even before Reservoir Dogs, but for years, he struggled to make it into a film.
Although it became a global hit once it finally got the green light and entered the cinemas all over the world, initially, the Hollywood Studios and major production companies didn’t like the script. Cathryn James sent it out to over a hundred sources and it was met with lukewarm responses at best, vicious rejection at the worst.
One rejection letter from a Studio Executive stated: “How dare you send me this f… piece of shit? You must be out of your f… mind. You want to know how I feel about it? Here is your f… piece of shit back. F… you.”
I don’t know about you, but if I received a letter like this, I probably wouldn’t take it too it well. It would have bummed me beyond belief and I would have probably started thinking if should change my line of work.
The lesson to be drawn here is even the most celebrated people of our times had a hard time getting their foot in the door. No matter what they see, never doubt yourself and don’t let anyone discourage you, if you truly believe in your work. As a group of young entrepreneurs in this web hosting, we faced extreme difficulty in getting people to see us a trusted source. My advice is to build a thick skin and learn how to roll with the punches. Learning how to recognize true criticism and how to deal with disapproval is of crucial value for you as a person who lives and acts in this cruel and highly competitive business world.
Lesson No. 6: It Takes Time and A Lot of Practice To Become Good At What You Do
There’s an expression: You have to drink a lot of milk before you can appreciate cream. I heard Mr. Tarantino recite this particular saying in numerous of interviews over the last ten years. If somehow you already didn’t know, Quentin Tarantino has been interested in telling stories since he was born. I read at this article that his mother claims that her son used to write her compelling Mother’s Day short pieces that brought her to tears every time she read them.
Lesson No. 7: It’s Ok to Steal Ideas As Long As You Provide Some Additional Twist or Value to Them
When asked where does his find ideas for him movies, Mr. Tarantino said for Film School Rejects: “I steal from every movie ever made.”
Over the years, Mr. Tarantino has been accused numerous of times of stealing from other directors. There are a lot of people who still think that his Reservoir Dogs is a complete ripoff of Ringo Lam’s 1987 classic City of Fire. Provoked by these claims, I set down and watched Mr.Lam’s film. Yes, the plot is the same, but the movie is totally different. It just is.
The same thing happened with Four Rooms. He stole an idea from Alfred Hitchcock and adapted it into his own story. I see no harm in that. Actually, I see this sort of thing more as an homage than plain ol’ theft. I think there’s a double standard here. Would you call a DJ who samples someone else’s music to make his own a thief? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Everyone who has ever seen Mr. Tarantino talk knows that he’s a cinephile. He worked in a video store when he was younger, and all of his movies are basically a mix of genres and titles that he enjoyed over the years. He’s transparent from where he drains his inspiration, and I came to an understanding that this kind of recycling is something that I see everyday in marketing.
Let’s be honest. We are all pretty thin on new ideas. Each and every one of us recycles their own and their competitors’ works. And that’s okay. Why? – Because you don’t need to reinvent the steel to sell it. All you need to do is put in a slightly different context or add some new value to it. There you have it, marketing done right.
These are the seven lessons I’ve taken out of Quentin Tarantino’s work and applied to my line of business. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post as much as I enjoyed reading it.
Thank you for your time and patience,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.