This week we’ve decided to look at some of our favorite quotes from famous pop culture icons from film, television, and literature, to see how those quotes can be applied to career philosophy. While you may have heard some of these popular quotes before, looking at them from a career perspective can be extremely eye opening and helpful.

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”

– Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

While this quote was Dumbledore’s effort to show that muggle and mudblood should be treated well, it also can be applied to a career path. Just because you started out thinking you’re going to stay in one industry, doesn’t mean you can’t change if you find a knack for another!

“Success is reliant on standing out, not fitting in.”

-Don Draper, Mad Men

It’s easy to get comfortable in a job, or tell yourself you’re hitting all the objectives set for you by your boss. However, what this quote is saying is that meeting lowest expectations will get you nowhere. Going beyond what is expected, standing out amongst a group of other workers is what will bring you success and satisfaction.

“I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

-Michael Scott- The Office

Every quote from Michael Scott is usually goofy or a lead-in to another bad joke, and while this response falls somewhere in the middle, it’s not without value. As a manager, being able to inspire your employees to do better is something that can bring loyalty and trust. Building this kind of relationship can go a long way, although hopefully there is no fear involved in the equation.

“It’s time like these when I realize what a superhero I am.”

-Tony Stark- Iron Man 3

Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is anything but humble, and he’d be the first to brag about his own accomplishments. Since we’re not superhuman, we as workers have a tendency to hesitate when it comes to advocating for ourselves or making people aware of our accomplishments. You shouldn’t be afraid to self advocate and champion your own work; just don’t go around claiming you’re Iron Man.

“Pass on what you have learned.”

-Yoda- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

While you were likely expecting “Do or do not, there is no try” I think that quote is overused, and opted for another helpful piece of advice. When workers leave jobs for a better offer, it’s easy to say goodbye and not look back. It’s tempting to do, but ensuring that your future replacement has a handle on how things run will be appreciated by your coworkers. It’s a nice professional courtesy, and may help securing a good recommendation from your past boss.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

-Uncle Ben, Any Spider-Man Movie or Comic, Take Your Pick

Good ol’ Uncle Ben has died multiple times on the silver screen and comic pages to make sure we get this one through our heads, and it’s with good reason. When we take on more responsibilities at work, it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly even if you’re extremely confidant in your abilities. Taking extra steps to make sure you’re performing up to and perhaps beyond expectations should be something you demand from yourself.

“What if fine isn’t good enough, what if I want extraordinary?”

-Alex Hitchins- Hitch

Will Smith shouts this desperately at Eva Mendez in a proclamation of love, but this is a good attitude to have in all aspects of life. While nothing will ever be perfect, it’s okay to always strive for better. You should want to love your job, and do everything possible to find yourself in a situation where you can look forward to work everyday.

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”

-Alfred- Batman Begins

Getting let go, or getting chewed out at work can be an extremely ugly wake up call. Previously mentioned Robert Downey Jr. was, only a few years ago, a burn out actor with a drug problem, and today he is a flagship character in one of the largest grossing franchises ever. Sometimes it takes an ugly wake up call to realize we aren’t doing our best, or being who we should be. Use this as a chance to get back up and come back better.

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

-John Keating- Dead Poets Society

This entire film is full of great motivational quotes, but this one does a great job of closing out our post. Only you are capable of determining what your role in the workforce and greater world will be. Figuring out what role you want to play can help you find happiness and lead a better life.


We hope you enjoyed looking at a few quotes from a new perspective, and hopefully have some new-found drive to excel in the work place and all you do. Thanks for reading! We’ll also be starting up a new blog series on career lessons to be learned from movies, so look out for that to begin soon!