business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

As a movie buff, it’s been wonderful to see all the tributes to the now classic film, The Shawshank Redemption, on the 25th anniversary of its original release. I’ve always thought is a great movie for business lessons, especially the repeated admonition that you have to get busy living or get busy dying.

It’s not a small choice. If you aren’t trying to actively grow these day, to actively understand and employ new technologies and not actively talking to your people about the need to rise to a new level, you are, sadly, getting busy preparing for death. Sorry but it’s true.

News comes so fast at us these days that you’d be easily forgiven for missing a single important line in a recent "Your View" note here at MNB last week. In response to Kevin’s article about Zupan’s, one reader compared the company to another local Oregon retailer, Bale’s. As the reader said, at one time Zupan’s and Bale’s were on par with each other.

No longer though. While Zupan’s (in the reader’s eyes) “acted on a changing consumer, Bale’s didn’t. I’m not sure they even tried. The results are in.” As the reader pointed out, Bale’s isn’t around any more; Zupan’s is thriving.

That’s the world in a nutshell. The story is pretty simple. You change or you die.

To simply be in business today means you and your company have already been changing in countless ways. Every one of us, no matter how limited our computer skills, can navigate countless programs and apps these days to run our lives. We’ve also learned the reality that what used to be good enough to succeed is no longer near close enough.

So let’s go back to Shawshank prison and that simple philosophy. To get busy living we need to put ourselves in positions of discomfort. We need to challenge ourselves to make sure our strengths become even more pronounced and that our weaknesses are minimized. We need open ourselves to new ideas and new directions. It starts simply by courting opinions from all parts of our teams, including those young Gen X staffers who annoy us. It includes our trading partners and, if you’re lucky, your share group members or other folks you trust.

The wisdom isn't just found in The Shawshank Redemption. Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway musical "Hamilton," has a moment in which George Washington sings to the titular character, "Dying is easy, living is harder."


Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.

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