Breaking Bad as a Metaphor For Entrepreneurship

Breaking Bad as a Metaphor For Entrepreneurship
  • I'm sure Breaking Bad resonates with everyone a little differently, but to me, it is a story of entrepreneurship, not a failed venture mind you (Walt does come out with quite a bit of money), but entrepreneurship gone wrong.

    Let me know if any of this sounds similar. You have a great idea -- a disruptive idea -- like 92% purity on meth. Like Walter White, you learn on the fly how to do things you never knew how to do. You're constantly putting out fires and coming up with innovative solutions like Jesse Pinkman's magnets.

    Sure, it's exciting, but it comes with significant risk. It takes you away from your family who goes from being neglected to being collateral damage in your attempt to succeed. You justify it, just like Walter White, by saying, "This isn't about me, this is about giving my family a better life." But who are you kidding?

    Maybe Walter White's greatest flaw was making it about family, and not just admitting up front, "This is about me."
  • I'm loving the premise, but it doesn't seem like you are motivating at the end that the motivation is selfish vs. simply misguided; in fact, it isn't even entirely clear to me that his motivation is wrong even in his own head, given that a lot of what got him into the situation in the first place was the idea that he had limited time and thereby his life wasn't even important anymore. Please: do say more.
  • I think you raise an interesting point re: Walt's health. I think Walt's original reasons for why he became entrepreneurial in the first place were well intentioned. And remember, WW was someone who had been part of a start-up company but ultimately gave it up so that he could focus on his family.

    But the reason someone gets into a business are not necessarily why they try to make that business into a disruptive global enterprise. And that's where I think the intentions and the narcissism start to play a role.

    I think the real moment where WW breaks bad (at least the one that resonates with me) is where he tells Jesse Pinkman how he passed up one venture and he's not going to do it again. That's where the "for my family" excuse just turns into bullshit.
  • I don't think trying to build a business that's global & disruptive is misguided or narcissistic. Could a startup entrepreneur go into a business that's smaller in nature in order to make more time for family? Possibly, but the fact that an entrepreneur instead pursues a business path with much larger aspirations doesn't make him/her selfish.

    Was Elliot a narcissist for building Gray Matters into a highly successful company? Should he instead have endeavored to build a smaller business?
  • Tom Bielecki
    Tom Bielecki Added by: Ari Gold
    In the finale he does say "This is about me", and this is where your analogy shines.

    For most entrepreneurs, it's not about the money, it's about the challenge.
  • I like this spin better. It's about something more than the money and more than the practical consequences associated with the money.

    But I still can't help but feel that WW's driving ego is a negative force. And wanting to be a part of something bigger might lead to innovation or a growing business, but when your judgement is clouded by your pride it can lead to poor decision making along the way.
  • Hansb
    Hansb Added by: Zach Abramowitz
    huh? When did you write this in your local time? It's like you knew what would happen in yesterdays episode.. I'm referring to Walt's conversation to Skyler.
  • Hansb, I didn't want to gloat, but since you brought it up, I wrote this yesterday afternoon. Was something I was thinking about all weekend.

    Ari, I don't think all entrepreneurship is ill intentioned. But it's so easy to delude yourself about motivations, and, at least for WW, self delusion was dangerous as hell.
  • aez Added by: Zach Abramowitz
    Someone should warn Zach's brother-in-law...
  • I actually wrote about the business lessons of Breaking Bad on VentureBeat a couple weeks ago. But it was a very ironic article. In reality, while I really loved Breaking Bad, I think Walter White is a terrible model for an entrepreneur. The one thing that seems to be worth emulating is that he really knew how to execute, once he found a product that sold. He didn't have a great idea -- he stumbled onto a world-beating product more or less by accident, and out of complete desperation. When it took off, he pretty much just hung on for the ride. But everything else he did was pretty despicable. He lied (to his business partner and his family, repeatedly), he stole, he cheated business partners, he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, and directly killed or ordered the executions of about 12-15. Also, he had no plan for laundering the money, and his risk analysis was way out of whack -- he could easily have worked for Gus for years, making zillions in complete safety, if he hadn't A) chained himself to a highly unreliable business partner, and B) been a complete greedy control freak. Finally: His product wasn't any good for anybody. Meth freaks loved it. But the show did a good job of showing how destructive the product really is, in the real world, for those in the industry, consumers, innocent bystanders, etc. Not a good model at all!
  • Link to Dylan's article here.

    Where my focus is really on WWs poor intentions, Dylan points out that the results weren't that great either.
  • speaking of all this BB stuff, let this side point sit in your mind of a little bit. Norm MacDonald Thinks The ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale Was A Fantasy That Played Out In Walter White’s Sick Mind.

    Read here: