5 Career Lessons From Scarface That You Probably Missed

I had an interesting conversation with a friend tonight, and as with many of the conversations I have with people, it got me thinking towards writing an entry here that might benefit others.  So I’m going to try something new here.  Maybe it’ll spawn a new series of articles for us, and maybe it’ll suck and we’ll never do another…but it’s worth a shot.

See, we were discussing a mutual acquaintance who had just spectacularly flamed out both personally and professionally within the same week.  And as you know, analogies are always coming to my mind, and so one from Scarface jumped right to the forefront of my brain and we started talking about the mistakes he’d made in the context of the movie and what lessons people can…and should…take away while watching it.

Both what to do…and, more importantly…what not to do.

So here are 5 career lessons from Scarface that you may or may not have picked up on, but that you can use to your advantage…


fg52fWho you are at your core is what matters more than anything else.  Your beliefs, your inner rules, that inner voice that guides you…that’s what you always have to remember.  For all of his faults – the heavy drug use that made him extremely paranoid, the murders, the drug distribution, having people killed, and even turning on friends who he felt had wronged him…Tony Mantana ultimately died because he refused to kill an innocent woman and her children by shooting the bomber before he could blow up the car and kill the journalist as he was riding along with his family.  There were lines he would not cross, things he would not allow to happen.  Crimes that violated even his sense of right and wrong, and could not be a part of.  You have to have those lines, too.  You have to have personal boundaries.  And you cannot compromise them for anything, because as the saying goes, if you stand for nothing, then you fall for everything.


fg4r5…and not just because you think they have your best interests at heart, but they can also be the ones who hurt you the most.  Your friends are the ones that you’re the most vulnerable with, the most dependent upon, and those are exactly the qualities that make them the ones that can cut you the deepest.  If you bring your friends along for the ride, make sure you know how to keep business and personal separate, and decide which matters to you more – having them in business with you, or having them as a friend, because odds are better than even that one of them won’t make it.  But that’s the rub – you bring them with you because you trust them, because you’ve known them, and because you feel safe with them…but everyone has an agenda.  Remember that.


fg5msWish I had a hard and fast rule for you here to tell you when you can or can’t, or should or shouldn’t, make this move…but you’ll just have to trust your instincts.  Sometimes you have to make a play that involves going over your boss’s head to get things done if you’re ever going to get anywhere.  Said boss might be holding you back, or stealing your ideas and claiming them as their own, or maybe just doing things in a way that you feel you could do better and make the company better as a result…but always understand the landscape, environment and the rules before you go making this move.  If your boss is the owner’s family and they’re tight, you’re probably an idiot for even thinking this. But if they’ve already started to alienate themselves and you see an opening…take it.  But know that things are forever changed once you take that step.  There’s no recovery, no going back, no apology will soothe that ego bruise.  If you’re going after the king, you’d damned well better be sure you can finish the job.


fg5ylWhen you hit the point where you’ve got more money laying around the house than sits in most bank vaults, the person you coveted from afar for years on your arm and by your side, an entire empire sitting beneath you…you’d think that’d be good enough.  But it wasn’t.  If you find yourself at the point in your career where there just simply always has to be more, and when the only way to “more” means you start violating the first lesson – staying true to yourself – then it’s time to take a giant “Mother May I?” step back and ask a few questions.  Or at least start listening more closely to those around you…assuming any are left that you can actually trust.


fg66iThis may seem like an odd lesson, but it’s actually the most important one from the entire film.

I laugh when I see people post Scarface memes on their Facebook walls, or quote him like they’re so thug or so “gangsta” by doing so.

You don’t want to be Tony Mantana, you idiots.

You want to be Alejandro Sosa.

scflessonTony Mantana was a flash in the pan.  Sure, he shot up through the ranks and became a big fish…but in doing so, he made even bigger fish angry.  Yeah, Tony had the money and women and power…for a little bit…until the guy with the real money and the real power and the real influence had enough of his crap and decided it was time for Tony to go bye-bye…permanently.

So you can save your “the world is mine” memes, Skippy – unless you’re just making sure everyone knows what you want on your tombstone when the inevitable happens.

That’s all for this time.  Let us know what you think in the comments, and go read something else…