Life Lessons Learned from the Films Director John Hughes

This past Monday marked the three-year anniversary of the untimely death of 80s film director John Hughes. And, while many of us who grew up with his movies learned a lot about our personal lives, there are lessons that can translate to our professional efforts as well. Some of those include:

  • Don’t put anything in writing you wouldn’t want read. (Sixteen CandlesAs Samantha found out when she filled out the quiz that fell into the wrong (read: Mr. Right’s) hands, everything is on the record — and that is even more clear when you put something in writing (or post something online).  Sure, things turned out great for her (complete with birthday cake and happy ending) but most of us mere mortals need to be cognizant that everything we say, write and post can and will be used against us. In our speaking engagements and workshops for Be Your Own Best Publicist, we remind people not to put anything in writing you wouldn’t want your grandmother, boss or rabbi/priest/shaman/spiritual guide to read.
  • Help can come from the least likely of sources. (The Breakfast Club) A criminal…a princess…a brain…a jock…a basketcase….What started as a group of strangers turned into the ultimate powerful network by the end of the film. And what they learned as their detention day rolled on is that, despite their surface differences, they could rely on one another for advice (Claire giving Allison makeup tips), to help dodge a bullet (Bender distracts while the others get back to the library), for attention (Andy listens to Allison) and to communicate the message (Brian writes the pithy note that summarizes the film). In work, too, support can come from anywhere. Don’t dismiss the people who seem less powerful than you (i.e. security, mailroom workers, secretaries) because sometimes they’re the ones who can help you most. Be nice, lend a helping hand to others and be open to making connections wherever you go.

  • Be able to mobilize your forces at a moment’s notice. (Some Kind of Wonderful) And speaking of your network (which we always say is your “net worth”), just as Keith used friends and connections to impress Amanda Jones (by getting her into the museum after hours, among other things) and, ultimately, to help manage a potentially volatile situation later the film, you need to be able to generate support from friends or professional contacts. Stay in touch with people throughout the year and offer your assistance so you can to remain in good stead.
  • In the end, you just need to believe in yourself and what makes you unique. (Pretty in Pink) Blaine (“That’s not a name, it’s an appliance”) explains his wussy ways to Andie at the prom by saying, “I always believed in you.  I just didn’t believe in myself.”  Alternatively, Andie was consistently true to herself and what she stood for — and that made all the difference in the end.  Showing that “They didn’t break her” AND ending up  with the Prince Charming character — the lesson is to be yourself and don’t be afraid to stand out (in a good way). And, while we’re still not sure about her homespun prom dress or some of her clothing choices, they did create a signature style that was memorable. Think about what makes you unique and play it up as a way to remain memorable in a crowded marketplace.

What lessons did you learn from Hughes? Share with us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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