7 Career Lessons You Missed From The Breakfast Club

“You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…and a princess…and a criminal…” – Brian Johnson, Andrew Clark, Allison Reynolds, Claire Standish, and John Bender.

If you’ve listened to our show at all, then you know that we exist in a world primarily made up of John Hughes movies, the soundtracks from those movies, and the quotes from those movies.

You know why?  And no, it’s not only because we’re all idiots trapped in days gone by…it’s also because there are some pretty powerful lessons that we’ve carried forward into our adult lives from those movies that shaped our childhoods.

Like The Breakfast Club…

snapshot201307271452441. Everybody has a part to play. And they are all important.

We’ve touched on this a few times in the past.  Geeks write the software that sales guys go sell.  Sales guys make the deals that keep the company afloat and employing people.  Without project managers, clients would scope-creep things to death.  Without analysts, there’s no telling would come out of the compilers.  Without designers, websites would still look like they did in 1995.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the newest developer on the team or the CIO…everyone has their role and purpose, and deserves some respect for the role they play.  Perfectly illustrated by this exchange: “Do you know without trigonometry, there’d be no engineering?” said by Brian and countered with “Without lamps, there’d be no light.” by Bender

the-breakfast-club-vernon2. Some battles aren’t worth fighting. / Take it offline.

Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, and so even when you’re dealing with someone who seems to be a power-crazed mid-level nobody in the grand scheme of things…well, it’s better to heed this warning: “Don’t mess with the bull. You’ll get the horns.” – Richard Vernon

It just is what it is – it’s like pedestrian crosswalks.  Sure, if you’re walking out into one, you absolutely have the right of way over that oncoming van, but is it more important for you to be in the right…or in the intensive care unit for the next 6 to 12 weeks?  Additionally, people with power going to their head hate to be challenged publicly.  So if you have an issue with your boss, or a client…it’s best not to air that out during a public meeting.  Nothing good can come of that.  Take them out to lunch, ask for some 1:1 time, do what you need to do…but take the high road and take it offline.

makeoverclaire3. Be confident in who you are…but sometimes change is okay, too.

The world keeps spinning, whether you want it to or not.  And while you should absolutely be confident in you, your skills, and what you bring to the table…you should also absolutely temper all of that with reality.  Yep, there’s still a need out out there for ASP version 1 developers.  Somewhere.  But there’s a much bigger demand for .NET devs.  Or better yet, .NET devs with some mainframe experience as well.  There was nothing wrong with Allison before Claire’s makeover (hey, I liked that black sh%t around her eyes, too), but there was nothing wrong with Allison after Claire’s makeover either…especially since the change that got introduced got Allison what she wanted – Andrew.

aa121247ac5bc4f0ca8cbad4f8c2dfec4. Do what makes you uncomfortable.

You have to get out of your comfort zone sometimes if you’re going to grow as a person, or in your career.  You have to be willing to accept that the new person in your life might know more than you based on their prior experiences and so you might want to listen to them.  Be open and honest with those around you, even if it makes you squirm a bit.  Run through the hallways, cause a little misdirection and distraction to get your team to safety, and, most importantly, have a little fun sometimes.  “Being bad feels pretty good, huh?” – Bender

7bfast5. Be ready to take one for the team

You need to realize that part of being a team is having each other’s back…even if it means you have to throw yourself on a hand grenade in order to spare everyone else.

Nope, it might not be all your fault, but you were a part of it.  Yep, it might not be completely fair, but neither is life in general.  Besides, people tend to remember those who step up and take heat on their behalf, and you never know when the risk you take might just wind up with a diamond ear ring in your hand and a new outlook on life.

You guys, we’re dead” – Brian

Not you, just me” – Bender

26. Your words have meaning, and will come back to you.

What do you care what I think anyway? I don’t even count, right? I could disappear forever and it wouldn’t make any difference. I might as well not even exist at this school, remember?” – Bender

People may appear to forgive, or get over things…but they hardly ever forget.  Be prepared to defend yourself against your own words at any time, even when they’re taken out of context.  That email you fire off when angry might be exhibit A when HR calls you in for your termination meeting.  That “reply all” snafu where you thought you were being witty, but really just came off snarky and condescending, might get you relegated to lesser projects if not walked out.  You absolutely have every right to your own opinions and to speak your mind, but that doesn’t free you from the consequences of doing so, nor does it demand that everyone agree with you, either.

Never forget that.

breakfast-club_17. Never judge a book by it’s cover.

Yep, painfully obvious, right?  Sure it is.  But it’s the most important lesson to take away from this.  Did anyone think the brain was going to reveal a suicide attempt because of parental pressure?  Or that the jock would wind up with the closet case? (let’s be real – who *didn’t* see Bender winding up with Claire, after all)  But it’s the most obvious because it’s hammered home through the entire film, but it’s also the most important because it’s true.  Don’t assume you know someone solely based on a first impression, or what your assumptions are about them.  “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” – Andrew Clark

That’s all for this time.  Let us know what you think in the comments, and go read something else, maybe even the one we wrote about career lessons from Scarface…but don’t you…forget about me…or these lessons…