Five B2B Truths From Walter and "The Dude"

When Ethan and Joel Coen created The Big Lebowski in 1998, I’m guessing they didn’t set out to teach the world about anything more serious than bowling with your buddies. But if this is “just” a movie about strikes and spares, then Jaws is “just” a documentary about a big fish.

Through the years, a few timeless films achieve more than mere cult status — they become quotable in daily life. Just ask my father, who always says there’s a line from The Godfather for nearly every situation. When I applied that logic to the Coen Brothers’ classic, I realized that Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) weren’t just talking about the next round of league play down at the lanes — they were sharing life lessons for every situation.

Don’t believe me? Here are five pearls of B2B marketing wisdom, as delivered by Walter and The Dude:

“Yeah, well, that’s just like… your opinion, man.” -The Dude

We’re in a subjective business, and we shouldn’t forget that. There will always be guidelines and best practices that influence our thoughts and actions — but whether we’re reviewing creative concepts or debating future strategy, everybody brings a different set of skills, opinions and perspectives to the table. The team that most effectively distills and implements all that thinking will be successful.

“This is bowling. There are rules.” -Walter

Yes, there are rules — as well as circumstances we can’t control, variables we can’t dictate and market forces that drive what we do to a large degree. But these realities don’t have to be prohibitive (see #1).

“This aggression will not stand, man.” -The Dude

You have to stand for something, right? It informs the way you view the competition and the way you feel about your own work. It means knowing where you draw the line and fighting for it. Don’t like what the other guys did? Do it better. Think their strategy was off? Show the world you’ve got the right one.

“Donny, you’re out of your element!” -Walter

It can be tempting to stick to what you know — and it can be easy to point fingers when someone seemingly speaks out of turn — but the truth is that great ideas come from all corners. Some of the most successful projects I’ve ever been involved with featured design cues from writers and headline ideas from artists. In the end, “out of your element” can be a very rewarding space to explore.

“The Dude abides.” -The Dude

Taken from the final scene of the film, this famously vague line has been the subject of great debate among the Lebowski faithful. What exactly does it mean? I’ll take a crack at it. It means having confidence in who you are — weathering the storm, whether it’s criticism or some other challenge. Great work comes from confident people, confident teams and confident companies. But, you know, that’s just like… my opinion, man.

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