Best Small Biz Owners on TV
1) Captain Malcolm Reynolds – Firefly
Skill: Use Grit as a Management Tool. I relate to Mal more than anyone else on the list. Occasionally cranky, constantly screwing up, and holding his rag-tag crew with nothing more than emotional duct-tape and grit.
Malcolm Reynolds: I mean to confound these bungers. Take my shot at getting to Miranda. Maybe find something I can use to get clear of this. So I hear a word out of any of you that ain’t helping me out or taking your leave, I will shoot you down. Get to work!
2) Jet Black – Cowboy Bepop
Skill: Nudge don’t Shove. Jet has this uncanny ability to keep some WACKY personalities subtly nudged in the right direction just long enough to get paid. Despite his own ability to kick ass, he spends a lot of time keeping the ship running and the projects coming.
Quote: Jet Black: Everything has a beginning and an end. Life is just a cycle of starts and stops. There are ends we don’t desire, but they’re inevitable, we have to face them. It’s what being human is all about.
ASIDE: Oh, and I *have* to give an Honorable Mention to the brilliant show inside of a show, announcing the Bounty of the Week. Frigging hilarious.
3) Kenichi Kurokawa – Mezzo Forte
Quality: Keep ’em Fed. Kurokawa leading the DSA (Danger Service Agency) is a hoot. Street savvy and a brilliant logistician, he always makes sure his team stays fed (though it’s usually just noodles). He knows a hungry employee is a liability.
[to Harada] You know, when you set your mind to it you aren’t half bad. – Kurokawa
4) Hannibal – The A-Team
Quality: Stay Calm. No list would be complete without Hannibal. You never see him worried or stressed out or tense. He just smiles knowing that his plan will come together (or will be manhandled back together by his A-Team).
I love it when a plan comes together. – Hannibal
5) Deb – Napoleon Dynamite
Quality: Stay Nimble. Deb is introduced as an enterprising young entrepreuneur selling bracelets door-to-door. But then she spots opportunity to grow her glamour-shots business. She meets her customers where they are and adapts beautifully to market shifts
Deb: Kay, hold still right there. Now, just imagine you’re weightless, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by tiny little seahorses.
[Uncle Rico pictures it and give a gleaming look at the camera]
Deb: [takes the picture] That was the one. I think that’s gonna come out really nice.
Uncle Rico: Ah, how you did it… wow… well I felt really relaxed. Thanks Deb.
6) John and Jeremy – Wedding Crashers
Quality: Optimism. John and Jeremy are dynamic duo as divorce mediators. Skillfully bantering with each other to diffuse the tension, and aggressively yanking the conversation back to the positive, their forthright optimism is a fantastic business skill – and sales technique.
Jeremy: A bad idea would be to let your client walk outta here today and drag this thing out for another year, wasting more time and wasting more money. The only good idea is to let me and John do our job and mediate this thing right here.
John: You wanna hear the crazy thing? I know it doesn’t feel like it, but we’re making progress.
ASIDE: Check out this fantastic how-to article on Mediate.com based on the film: Wedding Crashers’ Mediation & Negotiation Lessons.
7) German – Gattaca
Quality: Relentlessly Honest. German runs a consulting agency helping the genetically inferior “de-gene-arates” establish new identities. A relentless negotiator, and master salesmen – both essential skills for the small biz owner – he annihilates any objections and grills his prospective at their emotional core. Very “George Lois”.
German: You serious about this? I hope you’re not wasting my time.
Vincent: No, I… I’d give 100 percent.
German: That’ll get you half way there.
8) John Constantine – Constantine
Quality: Rocking the Niche. Talk about finding a niche and rocking it. Warren Buffet preaches the importance of building a ‘moat’ around your business to discourage copycat competitions, but Constantine took it to the extreme running a business model ringed by hell.
He can use some work when it comes to employee retention though:
Chas Kramer: How much longer do I have to be your slave, John?
John Constantine: You’re not my slave, Chas, you’re my very appreciated apprentice, like Tonto, or Robin, or that skinny fellow with the fat friend.
9) Rob Gordon – High Fidelity
Quality: Focus on your Strengths, Ignore your Weaknesses. In the film’s turning point, record store owner Rob Gordon plays DJ to the crowd and sells a bunch of records. No salesmanship, just putting a fantastic product under their noses and letting the smell linger.
He’s not a great supervisor and certainly not a great salesman. Just a man with amazing taste in music. Sometimes all you need is good taste to connect with your customers.
Rob Gordon: I will now sell five copies of “The Three EPs” by The Beta Band.
Dick: Go for it. [Rob plays the record]
Beta Band Customer: Who is this?
Rob Gordon: The Beta Band.
Beta Band Customer: It’s good.
Rob Gordon: I know.
10) Mr. Furious – Mystery Men
Quality: Stubborn Confidence. Ben Stiller as Mr. Furious channels a rare quality among small business owners – stubborness. Even after his usually loyal ‘super’ friends dismissed his grand ideas for competing in the local superhero market, he just knew it was the right direction and kept trucking along until the market softened (or his competitor died) and he gained the foothold needed to really grow his small business.
Mr. Furious: “Someone must have ripped the “Q” section out of my dictionary, ’cause I don’t know the meaning of the word “quit”.”
— Nate Wright (@SmallBizTriage) October 27, 2012
So who’s missing from this list? Comment below.