Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Bikeriders

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The Bikeriders is a film inspired by real-life events detailed in the book of the same name. A group of motorcycle lovers join together to form the Vandals MC. They’re a fictional characterization of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. This club is the oldest outlaw motorcycle club in the world.

Starring Austin Butler as Benny, Jodie Comer as Kathy, Tom Hardy (remember him as Eddie Brock in Venom?) as Johnny, Michael Shannon as Zipco, Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon in Walking Dead) as Funny Sonny, and others, the story weaves in and out through the years as journalist Danny Lyon (Mike Faist) chronicles their adventures. He followed the Bikeriders from 1963-1967.

Austin Butler, a man in a leather jacket with Vandals written on it, sitting on a motorcycle. The sky is blue and bright.

The film pieces together segments of his interviews while also showing interactions between club members and rival clubs. It’s a thrill ride you won’t forget.

It’s also packed full of life and leadership lessons. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to grow yourself and others.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From The Bikeriders

1. Kathy:

I’ve had nothin’ but trouble since I married Benny.

The movie opens with Kathy, Benny’s wife, sharing this quote. We also see Benny being attacked by two men in a bar because he was wearing the colors of the Vandals MC.

Kathy went through a lot after meeting Benny. The movie chronicles her troubled life along with the troubled lives of the club members. 

Things spiraled out of control, and eventually, we see death enter the equation.

There are times when we bring people into our organizations who are nothing but trouble. We want to help them, we want to fix them, yet all they do is bring trouble.

Beware of these people. They will bring you and your organization down with them.

2. Things can move rapidly:

Benny brought Kathy home from the bar. Her boyfriend was there waiting for Kathy. He wasn’t happy to see another man drop off his girl.

What made matters worse was that Benny stayed outside on his motorcycle all night until the boyfriend returned from work the next day. The boyfriend was furious, as he had every right to be. He packed his bags and left.

Next came a whirlwind romance between Benny and Kathy. Within five months, the pair were married. 

Things moved rapidly.

You see this regularly in business. Something changes, an innovation is introduced, or people shuffle around. Things begin to change and then they cascade.

Be ready for rapid change. Once things start to happen, it can quickly evolve and change.

3. TV and movies can inspire leaders:

Danny was interviewing Kathy when he asked her how Johnny formed the Vandals MC. She shared with Danny how Johnny had been watching a Marlon Brando movie (The Wild One).

The film inspired him to form the club. He wanted to do something cool and have fun and form community.

We often think movies and TV shows are junk food for the mind. They can’t be a positive influence.

Movies and TV shows can be influential in our lives. Or the lives of those we lead. We must be willing to watch them with an open mind and eye as to what they can teach us.

4. Brucie (Damon Herriman):

Everyone wants to be a part of something.

Brucie was talking to Danny, the reporter. He shared why someone would want to join the Vandals MC.

He saw the need to be a part of something bigger than themselves as the reason people joined. They wanted to say there was something important behind what they did. There were others with them.

People long to be part of something big. They want to say they accomplished great things, but they also want it to be with others.

Great leaders understand how to pull people in by showing them what could be. That they could belong to something bigger than themselves.

Create something bigger. Create something people want to be a part of.

5. We need others to step in to stop our bad decisions:

The Vandals MC got into a brawl with another motorcycle club from Gary, Indiana. Benny goes to punch one of the rival gang members. He misses and hits the window of a truck.

Benny’s fist goes through the glass. When he pulls it out, a large piece of glass is embedded in his hand. He proceeds to beat the living daylights out of the other gang member. It looks as if Benny is going to kill the man.

This is when Johnny steps in. He pulls Benny off of the other biker.

We can get hot-headed in situations. We can forget that leaders keep their cool and their emotions in check.

It’s invaluable to have someone who can step in and calm us down. Someone who can talk us off the ledge. Someone who can pull us back from making bad decisions.

Find that person.

6. Kathy:

I used to be respectable.

Danny and Kathy are talking. As they leave the house, Kathy sees two motorcycles parked on her sidewalk and grass. She becomes upset.

She breaks down after yelling at the riders to get their bikes off her lawn. She’s frustrated that her neighbors see the messes the gang creates. They no longer respect her. 

Leaders who fail to contain their team members will begin to lose the respect of not only those they lead but also of the business community. People will start to see the mess the organization is becoming. They’ll see you don’t have the proper influence over your people.

Make sure you’re not losing the respect of those around you. It will cost you dearly if you do.

7. Kathy:

That’s a lot of power to have.

Benny got into a fight with the two men at the bar that was mentioned earlier in this post. The two men fought back with everything they had. One of the men grabbed a shovel and shoved it into Benny’s ankle.

Benny’s ankle broke almost clean through. The doctors thought he might lose his foot. He was grateful when they were able to save it.

This is when things started to change. Johnny went to the bar where Benny was attacked. He torched the place after getting the names and addresses of the two men who attacked Benny. As the gang was standing outside the bar, police and firefighters showed up. They were too scared to do anything to the Vandals MC. 

It appears this was the start of the downfall of the club. Things began to become more dangerous than ever.

Leaders have to be cautious of the power they wield. The more power you get, the more dangerous you become. You can forget where you come from. You forget why you do what you do. You may even begin to act in an inauthentic manner.

Power will change a person.

8. Great leaders stick with their people:

Another motorcycle club, The Renegades, shows up at a bar where the Vandals MC are. The leader, known only as The Kid (Toby Wallace), tells Johnny they want to join the Vandals. 

Johnny tells The Kid that he can join but the other members of The Renegades cannot. The Kid steps forward, ready to leave his crew behind. 

This changes Johnny’s mind. He tells The Kid he can’t join. He asks him what kind of person leaves his people.

Your people matter. More than how quickly you can rise up the rank, earn more money, or be seen as someone powerful, your people matter.

Be slow to leave the people who have helped bring you up. They’re the ones who have been with you. 

9. Culture changes as new people join, if we’re not careful:

A lot of new people and clubs joined up with the Vandals MC. As new members joined, the club shifted focus.

This culture change scared people. One of the club members, Cockroach (Emory Cohen), tells Johnny he wants to leave. Yet he is afraid to do this because of the crazy new members and the new culture that comes with them.

We must be vigilant about the culture we’ve created within our organizations. As new people come in, we must make sure they align with our cultures and values.

If they don’t, they will transform your organization. The values you once held will be gone.

10. Johnny:

You can give everything you got to a thing and it’s still just gonna do what it’s gonna do.

Johnny was talking to Kathy. He was frustrated with where the club was headed.

While he had founded the club, gave everything he had, and hoped to see the club flourish, the club took on a mind of its own. The club did what it was going to do.

We believe that we can force our organization to be something specific. If we pour enough blood, sweat, and tears into it, the organization will go where we want it to.

There’s only so much we can do to mold and guide the organizations we lead. Eventually, the organization will go its own way. We must be prepared for what will come, even if it is not what we desire.

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