Wise Career Advice From the Movie Pretty Woman

Likeability and respect lead to success in business and life

No matter what you do for a living, there is a skill you can learn that will give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. That skill is likeability. People do business with people they like.

As Warren Buffett once said: “After some other mistakes, I learned to go into business only with people whom I like.”

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Even if you offer a superior product or service, if people don’t like you, they’re not going to do business with you. Likeability is so powerful that you can offer an inferior product or service and still have a lot people doing business with you because they like you.

If you want to be likeable, you need to treat people with respect. People don’t want to feel important. They need to feel important!

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone where you didn’t feel important to that person? It could be a parent, spouse, family member, dating relationship or just a friend. How did that person’s attitude of indifference make you feel?

A great example of this comes from the movie, “Pretty Woman.” Julia Roberts is Vivian. She is staying at the fancy Beverly Wilshire Hotel with Richard Gere’s character, the very rich Edward Lewis. In one scene, Edward tells Vivian that they are going out, so she needs to go and buy herself a nice dress.

Very excited, Vivian goes shopping on Rodeo Drive. But unfortunately, Vivian is not dressed like other people in Beverly Hills. So when she goes into a boutique, the salespeople don’t want to do business with her. In fact, they ask her to leave. Talk about not feeling important!

Vivian, heartbroken and humiliated, goes back to the hotel. When Edward comes back and asks how her shopping went, like a hurt child, Vivian said: “They were mean to me.”

Upset over this disrespectful treatment, Edward personally escorts Vivian back to Rodeo Drive. But this time, Edward makes sure that Vivian is treated with great respect. Edward lets the boutique manager know that Vivian is to be treated like royalty. With Ray Orbison’s song, “Pretty Woman,” playing in the background, Vivian is having the time of her life. She’s trying on all sorts of outfits. She’s ordering pizza. Vivian feels very important!

A great real-life example is David Geffen, who is now one of the richest men in Hollywood. While he has been involved in almost every area of the entertainment business, Geffen really built his net worth by building several successful record companies. The reason he was able to recruit and keep legends like the Eagles, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana was because he knew his artists needed to feel important.

Back in the 1990s, Geffen was on the phone with one of his clients when his personal friend, President Bill Clinton, called. Now the typical person would have said to his client: “I’ll call you back. I’ve got President Clinton on the line.” But Geffen did the opposite. He had his secretary tell Clinton that he would call him back.

As you go through your daily business dealings, keep in mind that people need — not want — to feel important. One way to make them feel important is to treat them with respect. You’ll find that this respectful treatment will be returned to you in more ways than you can imagine.