Entrepreneurial Lessons from The Guilt Trip

A while back, I watched The Guilt Trip starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. I would classify it as a modern drama comedy, the type of movie that seems to be based in some permutation of reality. Along with some mild humor, it presents some gritty, emotional, true-to-life circumstances and events.

As I was getting ready for bed, my mind was still processing the movie. Intentional or not, I suddenly realized that this film actually offers several important entrepreneurial lessons. I’d like to share those with you.

  • Beware of working alone: in this movie, it is clear that Andrew Brewster (played by Seth Rogen) is an intelligent young scientist with a good idea (a nontoxic organic cleaner). However, as he seeks to get his product carried by various stores, he continually fails because he is lacking some much needed perspective. Ironically, breakthrough comes from suggestions made by his mother Joyce (played by Barbra Streisand), who doesn’t have much of a filter for her mouth and can never keep quiet. Good ideas sometimes come from unexpected places. If you want a holistic picture of your enterprise, you should team up with others who can help you to see the bigger picture.
  • Don’t focus too heavily on the feature set of your business proposition: intelligent or not, people can sometimes get too caught up in the details of their product or service. As has been said so many times before, potential buyers and business partners are more interested in the why than they are in the what. Until Andrew makes an effort to relate to the people around him and connect their need to his solution (product), he fails to make any sales. In his final presentation, he generates interest by demonstrating how safe his product is (he drinks it) and how that could go towards protecting one’s children or pet(s). Become good at identifying the problems people are experiencing as you look to present your offering as a solution.
  • Relate to others: until you figure out how to relate to your target demographic — the people that should be interested in your service or product — you may not be as effective as you could be in your marketing efforts. Andrew had to do this in his final presentation. While I cannot speak for others, I often take issue with salespeople who don’t first attempt to create a personal connection with me. Either their training or work environment does not allow for that type of interfacing, or their mind is in full-on “job mode” and they just see every interaction as a means to an end. I have absolutely nothing against salespeople. However, I definitely take issue with people in sales who fail to build a relationship and flesh out a sense of who they are talking to at the outset.

What do you think? Do you try to understand your market before selling to them? Leave a comment and let me know!

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