Do not read any further if you have not seen
Cobra Kai Seasons 1 and 2 (available on Netflix.)
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7. You can ALWAYS re-invent yourself.
One of the reasons why Cobrai Kai is such a popular series is because it challenges the viewer to see the past from another person’s perspective.
What if that bully who beat you up in high school was really just misunderstood? What if the popular guy was actually an entitled ass? If Johnny can re-invent himself 34 years after the Karate Kid movie, you can re-invent yourself at any time. There’s no better time than right now.
6. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Don’t let your success or perceived failures go to your head. Both are fleeting. When Eli re-invents himself as HAWK (and starts sporting a tall red mohawk) he becomes HIS version of success. He is confident. He gets the cute POPULAR girl. He is POWERFUL. But he takes it a step too far and the power threatens to destroy him and make him into just another bully, like the ones who picked on him and his friends in the first place. Never forget your inner nerd. It will keep you humble.
5. “You Don’t Know What It’s Like to Be Us.”
You are NOT your client/customer.
You may understand your customer extremely well. You might be inside the head of your “ideal avatar.” But you are not them. We, as viewers, understand that Johnny is mentoring Miguel because he screwed up with his own son Robby and he is looking for redemption.
Johnny wants to show Miguel a better way. That’s why it is surprising when Miguel tells Johnny, “You Don’t Know What It’s Like to Be Us.” And Miguel is right. Johnny doesn’t understand social media or texting or the crappy music the kids are listening to today. But Johnny DOES understand what it’s like to feel like a loser and he’ll do whatever it takes to save Miguel from feeling that way.
4. Better to have one loyal student than 20 posers.
“It’s NOT lame ass karate, it’s Cobra Kai.” —Miguel
I’m not sure why, but here’s a 10 minute loop of this clip. You only need to watch the first 15 seconds to get the idea.
While Johnny tries to attract everyone to his dojo in the beginning, (by printing and handing out flyers) he soon realizes he needs to focus on his most loyal niche–students like Miguel. It’s better to have one loyal client like Miguel than 20 “Mean Girls” like whatever that blonde girl’s name is. Mean Girls have no loyalty and won’t be good clients.
3. Success Will Bring the Vultures to Your Door:
When Johnny gets the Cobrai Kai Dojo up and running, it brings an old enemy straight to his door. Johnny has been looking for a second chance with his son, so he is willing to give a second chance to this old enemy. And it could cost him everything.
When Daniel LaRusso gets the Miyagi-Do dogo up and running, the vultures swoop in and destroy all of his hard work. Daniel says: “It’s a lot easier to knock something down than to lift it up.” Be careful of the clients/customers you allow into your dojo. If you choose the wrong “students,” it will cost you far more than the small membership fees you were able to collect from them.
2. Choose your Sensei carefully.
If you want to learn karate, you could choose John Kreese, Johnny Lawrence or Daniel LaRusso as your teachers. (I guess you could choose Mr. Miyagi too, if you don’t mind traveling to the after-life to get your lessons.) Any of these senseis could train you to win the All Valley trophy, but they each have their own moral compass and beliefs about HOW you should go about winning.
If you are looking to get sales for your business “by any means necessary” John Kreese is definitely your guy. If you are more focused on the journey and living a balanced life with your business, you could choose Daniel LaRusso.
Looking for one hell of a roller coaster ride in your life and business? Choose to work with Johnny. If you choose the wrong sensai, it will do you more harm than good. Notice how some of the Cobra Kai students quit and go to the rival Miyagi-Do Dojo.
You see this all of the time when people run from one business guru to the next, never stopping to think about how THEIR OWN business process and sense of morality comes into play. They end up spending a ton of money and getting few tangible results. Choose your Sensei carefully and commit to their dojo for the long haul.
1. Be Real. Be YOU. (Johnny’s BADASS video pitch.)
Pitch the way you talk in REAL LIFE to attract your best clients. Don’t try to be AUTHENTIC, whatever that means. Just be YOU.
“Get your ass over to Cobra Kai!”–Johnny
Johnny’s student Aisha records him doing a video pitch to join Cobra Kai. It is not polished or politically correct, but it is all heart and 1000% Johnny. He pitches exactly how he talks in real life. Many students may not relate to Johnny or his pitch, but he is earnest and only cares about attracting HIS kind of student. There are several episodes where we see a bunch of his students leave to join the rival Miyagi-Do dojo. Johnny is not bothered by this. He is focused on students like Miguel and Aisha who are loyal.
Johnny also has his eye on students like Hawk who believe in winning at all costs since Johnny is shifting his focus from that kind of black and white thinking.
BONUS: “Throw Thunderstruck Under It”
Johnny wants to add Thunderstruck to his video pitch.
— Cobra Kai (@CobraKaiSeries) September 9, 2020
You are the expert. Don’t be Afraid to say NO to your clients.
I was once at any event where there were several prominent entertainment lawyers. The topic of conversation came around to “music licensing” in films and TV shows. I asked, “What is the MOST EXPENSIVE song to license?” One lawyer said, without a moment of hesitation, “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. This surprised me. “It’s not ‘Back in Black’?” I asked. He explained that “Back in Black” was also very expensive to licence, but it was “Thunderstruck” that took the cake.
When Johnny is making his “tv commercial” (it’s really more of a video pitch) he tells Aisha to “throw Thunderstuck under it” meaning, use the AC/DC song “Thunderstruck” as the soundtrack for Johnny’s commercial. Aisha knows this won’t fly and says: “I’m pretty sure the rights for that song will cost too much.” Johnny says: “No, I already own it. Cassette’s in the car.”
Even though Johnny is pretty sure that he “owns” the rights because he owns the cassette, it will be up to Aisha to let him know that’s not actually the case. Aisha may not be an expert yet, but she knows more than Johnny in this instance and needs to explain how licensing works.
This may be some kind of inside joke from the writers and it is an awesome one. They do use “Back in Black” as the opening song for Season 2, episode 2, so they probably know all about how expensive it is to license songs from AC/DC.
It’s up to you to educate your clients about things they may not understand. Don’t be afraid to say NO to them if they are about to make a huge mistake. Even if they are unhappy learning a hard lesson in the moment, (Wax On. Wax Off.) they’ll keep coming back to your Dojo, as long as it continues to kick ass.