Moments of Conception 195: The Business Card Scene from American Psycho

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

Based on my books in The Prolific Series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the business card scene from American Psycho:

One good idea
does not a career make.
Patrick is a textbook perfectionist. In fact, after
becoming embarrassed by the superiority of his coworker’s business card, he runs
out murders a homeless man and his dog in an alleyway in a fit of frustrated
rage. Perfectly normal, perfectly
Proving, that perfectionists believe, whether they admit it or
not, that there is no level at which they will feel safe putting things into
the world, because there’s always something that’s not right about it. And so, they
end up spending a ton of time perfecting what they do, and doing it over and
over for years until they get it right. I have colleagues who write second,
third, fourth and even fifth editions of their first books. And it drives me
crazy. Because they’re just tilling the same earth. They’re not creating
anything out of whole cloth, they’re just building a time machine and recycling
themselves. That way, their idea never has to come to an end. But the reality
is, you have to end something to get to the next level. As my mentor used to
say, when you let go of what you are, you become what you might be.
Perfectionism, then, isn’t a fear of failure or mistakes or criticism or
rejection, it’s a fear of death. Because everything has a lifecycle. Everything
dies. Even a good idea. And so, our job as creators is to land a good idea,
follow it to success, celebrate the victory, then go back to the workbench and
find another one to land us at an even higher level. Otherwise we’re just
another one hit wonder. Are you working
on one piece, or contributing to an ongoing body of work?

Too busy
feeding the monster.
Keep your overhead low, and you’ll never have to compromise.
Because the risk is minimal. You’ll free up enough financial space to bankroll
your capacity to experiment. And you’ll have the surplus energy to awaken
alternative ways of thinking. Maybe even say no to the work that doesn’t serve
your creative evolution. But live above your means, and you’ll price yourself
out of doing interesting things. Because the risk is too high. You’ll be too
busy feeding the monster. And you’ll expend all your energy keeping the furnace
up to operating temperature. Making it harder and harder to do what you believe
in. When I was just getting started as an entrepreneur, I lived with my parents
for two years, eight months and twenty nine days. Which made it difficult to
get dates, but it certainly kept my overhead insanely low. And so, this
afforded me the opportunity to save money be brave and take chances and hone my
craft and most importantly, fail quickly and quietly. All of which cemented the
foundation from which I was able to acquire, perpetuate and expand new business. Had I
maintained overhead costs of administrative items, office expenses and other
indirect responsibilities, I never would have had the personal or financial
resources available for the direct actions that led to business growth. What is the
cost of the way you’re working?

Talent is not
the measure of man.
This movie perfectly epitomizes the sheer materialism,
narcissism and greed of the eighties culture. But it also fetishizes success.
To the point of pathological obsession. And it’s a reminder that, not matter
what decade it is, we’re all still parishioners at the church of continuous
improvement, worshipping at the altar of better, feeding our addiction to the
pursuit of excellence. And it breaks my heart. Spend five minutes perusing the
bestseller list, and it appears we’ve turned mastery into some kind of fetish.
As if the sole purpose of existence was to become the best at things. I’m
sorry, but there’s more to life than achieving supremacy. What good is putting
in your ten thousand hours if it robs you of the very capacity for joy and
wonder that makes life worth living? What good is barreling down the road to
greatness if you don’t even look around to take in scenery? Talent is not the
measure of man. Enough with all the goddamn pressure and rhetoric on becoming a
world class expert. Just express yourself. Honestly and prolifically. Forget about
being good, forget about being number one, and just focus on creating an
exhibition of love. That’s enough. You’re enough. All yardsticks are illusions. Would you rather be the best at what you do
or the best of who you are?


What did you learn from this movie clip?


For a copy of the list called, “11 Ways to Out Market the Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2016-2017.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!


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