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I will be showing you five entrepreneurial lessons from 12 Angry Men. If you haven’t seen this movie, go watch it; I promise you won’t regret it. As at the time of writing this, I’ve watched it about 8 times. The movie is amazing. But even if you haven’t watched the movie, don’t worry; read on, you won’t find it hard catching up with the whole gist.

12 Angry Men is a 1957 American courtroom drama film following the closing arguments in a murder trial. The 12 members of the jury had to sweat over the case and decide if the accused, an inner-city teen is guilty; thus, sending him to the electric chair. However, they all had to vote unanimously i.e. all 12 jurors would conclude if he was guilty or not and wouldn’t leave the room until a verdict is reached. Interestingly, a major part of the movie was shot in a room. In the movie, they didn’t have names. They were all just called jurors 1 – 12.

The whole thing started, and they all had to vote to decide if the boy was guilty. The main character, juror 8, was the only one who voted not guilty and went on later in the movie to prove the boy’s innocence; winning all remaining 11 jurors to his side. An epic movie, a must-watch. Without further ado, let’s get down to the five lessons from 12 Angry Men.


1. Don’t be scared to stand out.

“Now, okay you ready? All those voting guilty, please raise your hands.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…”

Looking at Juror 8 were angry men who were furious he didn’t raise his hand and save all of the Jurors time so they can go home.

“…nine, ten, and eleven.

Now those voting not guilty, please raise your hands.”

Confidently, juror 8 signified by raising his hand.

“Boy, o boy, there’s always one”, said Juror 2 in an irritated tone.

So many people are too scared these days to be different, for fear of resistance – for fear of their ‘Juror 2’. Earl Nightingale said that the problem with most people today is people acting like the wrong crowd, people acting like the wrong percentage group. Why not be comfortable in your skin? Why not dare to be different? Irrespective of how juror 8 was looked at or talked to; he didn’t cave in, he was okay standing out. Always ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?

2. Try to give excuses for people.

“Look, this kid has been kicked around all his life. Born in the slum, mother dead since he was nine, and father in jail for forgery for a year and a half, he’s had a miserable 18 years.” – Juror 8.

Your life would be so much better if you had this under your belt – giving excuses for people. When the shreds of evidence were presented in the movie, it seemed too glaring that the boy had killed his dad. But one man said, “We can’t send this kid off to die, at least without talking about it first; without a fair trial.”

You would definitely experience disappointments in your Entrepreneurial journey, people will definitely do stuff you never expected would come from them, even if you have been really helpful to them. Understand one thing, no one owes you anything! Learn what you can about an experience, and then keep moving on.

3. Don’t make conclusions about certain people in certain places.

“Slums are breeding grounds for criminals. It’s no secret that children born here are potential menaces to society. Now I think…”

Said Juror 3 before Juror 11 quickly interrupted;

“Brother you can say that again, the kids who crawl of these places are real trash.”

Very irritated, Juror 4 retorted;

“I lived in a slum all my life. I mean, I’ve played with garbage, I’ve played with trash, maybe you can still smell them on me”.

This reminds me of Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk on the dangers of a single story. We risk a critical misunderstanding when we listen and believe only one part of a plethora of possibilities. I hear this a lot; “don’t do business with people from XYZ”, “XYZs are just frauds”. But you may have just said that because of a few bad experiences, that should not cause you to totally condemn a certain group of people.

Most of the best relationships I have now are with people who I was advised not to roll with. Don’t lose great opportunities by being racial.

4. Most people will never change no matter how hard you try. Their problem may be beyond your diagnosis. Some people will remain haters, don’t try to change or convince them.

“I don’t care whether I’m alone or not, it’s my right; you’re not going to intimidate me, I’m entitled to my opinion.

These were the words of the only juror not convinced that the boy was innocent even after all the evidence. A boy’s life was on the line and what he cared about was his opinion. Somewhere in the movie, he revealed to another juror during a conversation that he had issues with his son. Well, he later broke down, cried and voted not guilty after a picture of his son fell off of his wallet. There I realized that his pain wasn’t the accused, but his own son that he had issues with.

On your part, don’t fight wars that you can’t identify your motivation behind; you only cause more harm than good, that’s if any good comes out of it at all. We’re emotional beings, every one of our actions is a result of an underlying issue or experience that we may not be able to grab at that moment; or even explain.

And also, you would definitely have “haters” who will never like anything that you do. Understand that you may not be the problem, take the hint and keep your sanity.

5. Valuable relationships.

“Hey!” Juror 9 exclaimed as he approached juror 8 outside the courtroom.

“What’s your name?” “My name is Davis.” “I’m Ricardo.”

“Well, so long,” “So long.”

Davis dared to be different, he didn’t care what the others did or how they felt, what he cared about was to do the right thing, and that earned him a valuable friend in the process. If your fear is being rejected by a certain group of people because of the person you are, then whoever is with after you change your attitude may not really be with you. They may just leave when you start being you. Don’t be in the bid to get the right people in your life, change your attitude to be accepted. Don’t waste your time on a group of maybe 5-10 people when a world of 9 billion is waiting to hear from you. Stand out!

Here you go, five lessons from 12 Angry Men. I hope you were inspired by this article to stand out. If you didn’t get anything else, it’d be my joy if you grabbed this lesson. Give excuses for people, don’t make conclusions about a certain group of people, don’t go crazy trying to win people over, and form valuable relationships. See you at the top!

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