The Breaking Bad season finale aired one month ago, and is being hailed by IMDB as the best drama series of all time. Throughout the 5 seasons, 62 episodes and over 50 hours of tumultuous, nail biting tension, there are some key lessons – and more specifically business lessons – that we can take away. Each character deals with the world of crystal meth very differently and with varying success. Some of these methods can be applied, or definitely should NOT be applied to your business strategy. (Please note this article comes with a spoiler warning!)
As the leading character throughout the series, Walt has the most important and obvious lesson to teach – find your passion. It doesn’t feel like work when you are doing what you love. For Walt, he strived towards the purest crystal meth the market had ever seen, and revelled in the respect and power that this bought him.
Gus is a major drug kingpin throughout the series who originally doesn’t want to deal with Walt, despite his amazingly pure crystal meth, because of his erratic, drug-using partner Jesse Pinkman. Gus’s drug business as well as his chain of restaurants Pollos Hermanos which act as a cover, is run meticulously and he can’t afford to have anything uncontrollable get in his way or blow his cover. Gus teaches us that systems and processes is a key part of business – and you are only as strong as your weakest link.
A classic case of what NOT to do. When Gus finally does agree to take Walt and Jesse on as his cooks, they are paid very handsomely and are well looked after. But Jesse decides to skim some of the product to sell and use on the side, which eventually leads to the complete unravelling of the Walt/Gus relationship and the end of Gus’ drug empire. Which shows that Gus was right to have reservations about Jesse in the first place, and that knowing when you’re on to a good thing and recognising when enough is enough is key.
Allocated to Walt by Gus as his right hand man, Gale is keen to learn from the master of crystal meth production, and treats Walter as a kind of god. Gale shows us that choosing who to trust is an important business lesson, as Walter eventually orders Jesse to kill Gale to save their own skins.
The quick thinking and slightly dodgy lawyer that helps Walt out of a huge number of sticky situations shows us the importance of being very well versed in your line of work. Without his extensive knowledge of the law, Saul would not have been able to keep his clients – and most likely himself – out of jail.
The antagonist of the final series, Lydia shows us the importance of not burning your bridges. Throughout the series she places a hit on or sends to jail 12 different people – including Walt – and eventually pays with her life.