5 Surprising Business Takeaways From 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air'

by Ross Simmonds
Warner Bros. Television

A successful entrepreneur strives to constantly bring a fresh perspective to every obstacle and challenge.

He or she recognizes personal weaknesses and strengths and brings in a wide variety of talent to help his or her business grow and become as successful as possible.

One of the most successful TV sitcoms in history was "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."

The show found success through a compelling cast of characters and a variety of awesome punch lines.

"The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" was a 90s sitcom that was a hit sensation across North America.

It kickstarted the career of Will Smith and provided us with the famous Carlton dance.

While filled with humor and comedy, the show also offered us a chance to reflect on our own lives and learn a variety of key lessons we could apply to life and even business.

Knowing these lessons for business can make you a successful person, especially if you're an entrepreneur or business founder.

When I got started as an entrepreneur, the idea of telling a rich story was one of the many lessons I learned from studying the Fresh Prince.

A few other lessons I learned from watching this show reflect business as a whole and how I can optimize my life for happiness.

Here are the five most important lessons I learned from watching "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air":

1. Get Thrown Out, Like Jazz, But Never Give Up

Everyone knew it was coming. We all waited for it, and we all laughed when it happened.

Remember the moment when Uncle Phil gets so annoyed with Jazz, he throws him out the front door, then we hear that beloved “aahh” scream from Jazz?

Jazz is Will's best friend, and from season to season, he never stops loving Hilary Banks, Will's cousin.

She wasn't interested in Jazz, but week after week, he showed up and tried to win the girl of his dreams with smooth pick-up lines and a variety of shenanigans.

Every time Jazz would bug Hilary just a wee bit too much, Hilary would call her father's name and have Jazz removed from the building.

As an entrepreneur, you'll meet rejection time and time again. I have yet to become fully comfortable with rejection, but it's something I've learned to take in stride.

The key is to not fear rejection. Our fear of rejection comes from the fear of humiliation, imperfections and self-perception.

Jazz knew he had a strong chance of being rejected time and time again but still, he never gave up.

As an entrepreneur, you need to recognize and embrace the idea of rejection because it will definitely happen.

Several banks rejected Mark Zuckerberg's team at Facebook when they were looking for investors, and several networks rejected Oprah when she was looking for somewhere to do her show.

The key is to use rejection to motivate yourself to prove people wrong.

2. Money Rules Everything -- Hustle, Hustle, Hustle

Will Smith and Carlton were always getting themselves into some kind of trouble.

Whether it was Carlton becoming a gang leader or Will getting everyone hypnotized, these two were constantly pushing the limits of friendship.

In one episode, Will and Carlton were tasked with taking Aunt Viv's most prized bracelet to the jeweler to be reset, but instead decided to sell it to a pawn shop to invest in a company that later went bankrupt.

In order to buy back the bracelet, the boys got the brilliant idea of becoming male strippers.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be resourceful and optimize your revenue stream to keep the doors of your business open.

Some of the greatest entrepreneurs have come very close to going belly up, but found ways to generate additional income to keep business alive.

An example of a resourceful CEO and team are the guys from Airbnb, who bought a bulk supply of generic cheerios and made up cereal boxes to generate seed capital for their startup.

Here's how one of the founders, Joe Gebbia, describes it:

"We made 500 of each (Obama O's and Cap'n McCains). They were a numbered edition on the top of each box, and sold for $40 each. "The Obama O's sold out, netting the funds we needed to keep Airbnb alive. The Cap'n McCains ... they didn't sell quite as well, and we ended up eating them to save money on food."

As Fred Wilson put it, this is a story of pure unadulterated hustle.

If you're willing to put in the hustle, you have the ability to come out on top.

Hustle is the biggest differentiator between talented individuals who become successful and talent that goes wasted.

3. Never Forget Where You Came From

The Fresh Prince was born and raised in the slums of West Philadelphia before he moved to his luxurious life in Bel-Air.

Yet, he never forgets his humble beginnings, and always felt connected to the city he called home.

In one episode, Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil organize a cleanup effort in the riot-torn remains of their old LA neighborhood, where they raised Hilary and Carlton, before having Ashley and moving to Bel-Air.

Phil flashes back to when they used to live in the community and how connected and committed he was to the neighborhood.

He remembers how he promised he would never leave the community and immediately starts to recognize the importance of continuing to give back in this way.

As an entrepreneur, you are good at what you do. Your mom knows it, your customers know it, your colleagues know it and you know it.

That said, don't get so caught up in your success that you forget about your own humble beginnings and those who helped you find success.

The moment you do that, the confidence that you had as you built your business will turn into arrogance.

Take the time to help out others who can't necessarily help you and give yourself the time to reflect on your past and those who helped you achieve success.

4. Always Be Ready To Make The Sale

The most memorable moments of "Fresh Prince" are the various pick-up lines delivered over the course of the show.

Whether it was Will attempting to sweet talk his way out of a jam or sweet talk his way into a lady's heart, the pick-up lines were always fresh and delivered quickly.

The Fresh Prince was always on his toes, ready to make his elevator pitch to a woman, with respect to his value proposition and what he could offer her as a mate.

While some of the lines were ridiculous, others actually worked and demonstrated a clear understanding of his audience.

As an entrepreneur, you need to constantly be selling.

And, when I say, "making the sale," I'm not referencing the importance of selling your actual product; I'm talking about selling your ideas, your vision, your team and your value proposition.

No matter whom you interact with in business, you're selling.

You could be selling someone on an idea about your business or your business as a whole.

One way or another, you must identify the key lines that will connect with people and what your businesses value proposition will look like.

Understand who you're targeting and optimize this value proposition to act as the best pick-up line possible.

As Ben Affleck once said "Boiler Room,"

"A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock, or he sells you a reason he can't. "Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is gonna close? You or him? Now be relentless, that's it, I'm done."

So tell me, will you be selling or will you be sold to?

5. Understand That Haters Are Gonna Hate

Carlton was one of the most hated, yet simultaneously adored characters on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air." Whether it was his corny jokes or silly dance moves, Carlton was always the butt of the jokes in the Banks' household.

Will would often make fun of Carlton because of his height or because he was challenged when it came putting the moves on the opposite sex.

As much as they poked fun and teased him, Carlton stayed true to his love of Sonny the Seal and Tom Jones music.

As an entrepreneur, you will be subject to a lot of criticism.

The biggest challenge an entrepreneur will face with criticism is in his or her ability to differentiate between constructive criticism (the good stuff) and destructive criticism (the haters).

It's important to push yourself to understand and identify the difference.

Constructive criticism is great for actually making improvements to yourself or your business.

The destructive criticism has no value and is simply someone who doesn't want to see you succeed or is being negative.

How do you deal with the haters?

If you're confident in what you're doing and are focused on providing value to your customers, ignore the haters. Focus on what you do well and embrace your strengths along with your weaknesses.

We all have our little quirks, and no one is perfect. As an entrepreneur, you need to have the confidence of Tony Stark to persistently push through criticism.

While I haven't done the statistical analysis, I have a feeling the more successful you are, the more haters you have.

In different ways, Will and Carlton showed the world how it's okay to be different.

Will embraced his street swagger and Carlton embraced his book smarts.

No matter who you are or where you come from, you have an opportunity to be successful and stay true to yourself.

But, if you're chasing success, you must commit, as a business or an entrepreneur, to be willing to hustle, fail and put in an unwavering effort.

You need to accept that failure is possible, but that the chances decrease if you're delivering value.

What lessons have you learned from the Fresh Prince? Do you have a favorite episode? I'd love to hear it in the comments!

Ross Simmonds writes at RossSimmonds.com, where he shares a research-backed studies and his personal perspective on entrepreneurship, life, communications and technology.

Ross is also the author of The Hustle Manifesto: How to Escape the 9 to 5. To get his thoughts and insight delivered directly to your inbox to help your career and life go from 0 to 100, join his free newsletter.

This article was originally published on RossSimmonds.com.