What we could all learn from Jack in Titanic

Mike Taylor | 18 June 2019

Jesus. Hodor. Jack in Titanic.

The poor bastards had it rough, didn’t they?

And whilst I’m not talking about being able to fit onto a floating door in the middle of the freezing North Atlantic Ocean here (am I?) I am talking about something that is often overlooked in our industry: sacrifice.

Defined as ‘to give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations’ in the Oxford Dictionary, the word comes with a shit load of its own biblical, political and cultural baggage. But in business? It feels raw. Moderately untouched. Fresh-out-the-box.

So, what can we learn here? All hail the 3 S’s of sacrifice:  

Sacrifice as story

It can be terrifying to sacrifice something that is potentially valuable or unique. But, by sacrificing something in your storyboard, campaign, or business strategy, it forces you to centre your energy on something else. A shift in focus. A shift in the storytelling. Trying to do too much is holding you back – so strip it back. Even when you’re winning, the bravest amongst us ask: what needs to be sacrificed to open up new narratives?

It is those whittled-down, honed-in ideas that will be remembered. That’s where you find your diamonds.

Sacrifice as success

Business is, at its very core, a give-and-take process. The more you invest and the more you’re willing to part with, the more you’ll reap the rewards. That can mean you working late a few evenings a week, identifying the people that aren’t serving your organisation and showing them the door, or just recognising the organisational structures that simply aren’t working. Sometimes, if sacrifices aren’t made, success simply isn’t possible.

Detect the static. If it isn’t evolving then you probably just found why your business isn’t moving forward.

Sacrifice as strategy

Some brands have danced with the big S; Tesla not initiating patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use their technology; Patigonia forsaking short-term sales by asking consumers not to buy their jacket in order to help our environmental crisis. Communications that negated immediate business adjectives, but contributed to long-term sales. Sacrifice can refine brand meaning. A defiant act that can take your relationship with consumer above functionality, and into a deep and emotional connection.


Sacrifice is all about articulation, ie. if you come across a good idea, don’t keep adding things to it. And if you find you have, take a step back, assess and lose anything unnecessary. You’ll save on resources, time and fundamentally – cost.

In a crowded marketplace where everyone is overwhelmed with choice, we need to learn a new way: in how we do business, in how we create, in how we speak to one another. Could sacrifice be the answer? I get the feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg (sorry Jack).