Business Lesson #3:Communicate well–don’t get bogged down in jargon.
If you can’t connect with your audience, no matter how much you talk, they’ll never hear you. Any government agency–whether it’s MI5, CIA, FBI or the USMC is steeped in acronyms and cryptic nomenclature, says Lovas, who thinks a small part of the success of the Bond movies is that they don’t become too steeped in government-speak. “Bond speaks in ‘common people’ talk.
“In my business–coaching and training financial professionals–we’ve identified 62 words and phrases to never say to a client. They include things like ‘split-dollar plan,’ ‘trustee,’ ‘unified credit,’ ‘yield’ and ‘zero-coupon bond.’ “
Lovas says that entrepreneurs should think about the same issues when talking to customers, whether on the phone or through a brochure. What about you? he asks. What terminology confuses your target market?
Business Lesson 4:Image is everything.
All customers have an expectation of a product or service, and that’s why a year before Casino Royale was released, there was such a backlash against the idea of casting actor Daniel Craig as James Bond. He had blond hair. He had blue eyes. Nobody knew who he was. Those who knew who him had seen him in movies like Road to Perdition where he played the psychotic son of a hit man or Sylvia, in which he played a poet. Whatever Craig was, the fans of Bond felt, he wasn’t the ideal man for the job.
Kowal explains it this way: I think there’s a security and comfort to predictability, particularly for a new customer. You may sometimes have to change your product to attract new customers, but people like some sense of consistency, and that’s why they’ve managed to change the actor six times. They’ve made changes, but they’ve made them well, embracing consistency.
“I think there’s a certain way we want our products to performas promised,” Kowal adds. “It’s created by advertising, word of mouth, and our previous interactions with them. If Alka-Seltzer’s formula was changed where it had the same effect on someone and maybe even cured a headache or indigestion better than before but it didn’t fizz, it wouldn’t be Alka-Seltzer.
Casino Royale, arguably, has become a hit because while the formula was tinkered with, the movie and the character still delivered what audiences have come to expect and love from the films.
Business Lesson #5: Understand the art of the business deal.
When Bond is strapped down to a table and about to be done in by an industrial laser in Goldfinger, his arch enemy suggests, Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond. It may be your last.
Do you expect me to talk? Bond asks, visibly nervous but not so much that he isn’t going to strike up a bargain.
No, I expect you to die, says Goldfinger.
Then Bond brings up ‘Operation Grand Slam’ and suggests that not only does he know too much, but perhaps his colleagues do, too, and maybe it would be better to keep him alive. Goldfinger agrees, and Bond is saved. This negotiating is something you see in just about every film, to some degree. Bond needs something and has to leverage what he has–whether that’s information or exploiting a competitor’s weakness–to make progress towards his goal.
Business leaders do the same thing every day, too, although it’s usually over e-mail or in a conference room, instead of in a seedy bar with several machine-gun-wielding thugs ominously watching the proceedings–but, still, you get the idea. Being able to give something away to get something in return is crucial in business. It’s why McDonald’s frequently partners with movie studios and toy manufacturers to create more value in their Happy Meals–McDonald’s abundant customers and locations are obviously a persuasive draw for the partners. The Bond franchise frequently partners with numerous products as well. In Casino Royale, for instance, the martinis are made by Smirnoff, the car is an Aston Martin, and the camera phone is a Sony Ericsson.
For Bond, the right business deal, whether made by him or an ally, can save his life and the world. For an entrepreneur, the right deal can save anything from time to money, even the company.
Business Lesson 6: Network, network, network.
One of the characteristics that makes Bond the world’s greatest spy is his expertise at networking. For instance, when Pierce Brosnan’s Bond searches for the missing GoldenEye satellite weapon in GoldenEye, he starts off in St. Petersburg, using a CIA contact to meet Valentin Zukovsky, a Russian mafia leader. In exchange for an arms deal, Zukovsky sets up a meeting in a deserted graveyard in the dead of night with the head of a Russian crime organization called Janus Syndicate, who turns out to be a rogue agent turned bad guy well, you get the picture.
The point is, whether it’s his close associates like M, Q, Felix or Miss Moneypenny or some far-flung romantic interest or associate he encountered long ago, Bond understands the importance of knowing people, staying in touch and not being afraid to ask for access and information. The same should be true for anyone in business. The chamber of commerce might connect you to someone at the nonprofit organization S.C.O.R.E., which might hook you up with a mentor who ends up finding you an expert in marketing who helps you increase your sales by 25 percent.
Business Lesson 7: Be proactive.
Just get it done, says Lovas, who believes that the world is split into two halves when it comes to activity: those who are proactive and those who are reactive. The proactive person jumps right in–fire, ready, aim. The reactive person hesitates and ponders–ready, ready, ready, aim, ready, aim, ready
Lovas isn’t making fun of reactive executives or entrepreneurs, necessarily. The reactives are hesitating because they want to make sure they’re right before they take the action, explains Lovas. Bond is an ideal for both sides, because he always takes action, and it’s always the right action.
Well, almost always, although it always works out for Bond in the end. In the real world–the world of business–we may not have scriptwriters ensuring that we always make the correct decisions, but the Bond method is preferable to dwelling and pondering on strategies for an indeterminable amount of time. Businesses don’t begin, hands aren’t shaken and contracts signed because someone wants a few months to daydream a decision over. Business happens because people make it their business to happen. Be glad James Bond is sticking to humanity on the big screen, instead of invading our corporate world, trying to improve profit margins and customer service. We wouldn’t stand a chance.
By Geoff Williams