Tony Montana’s Six Rules of Success

We’re all familiar with Arnold’s six rules of success. Many of us have applied them to our own lives to reach our goals. We decided to take a look at the life of our favorite “Bad guy”, Tony Montana aka Scarface to see if the six rules helped him achieve his success. We’ll also tell you how you can apply some of these lessons yourself.


Rule 1. Trust Yourself

Tony Montana, fresh out the refugee camp, lands a job washing dishes in some small diner. He’s earning minimum wage, his hands are wrinkled, and he hates working there. But he knows his skillset and that he is worth a lot more than $2 an hour.

In this scene, he negotiates a big deal, the deal that starts his meteoric rise, and he quits the diner right on the spot without even waiting to see if this deal will pay off. He trusts himself and he knows that this is the start of something big. Not even his best friend Manolo knows it yet.

How you can apply it: If you’re looking for a job, it’s tempting to want to take the first offer that comes your way (and in this climate, who can blame you) but to paraphrase The Joker and Rocky, “if you’re good at something, never do it for free,”- “you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth.” Sometimes you have to work the crummy job as a dishwasher but don’t let that stop you from looking for other opportunities while you’re there- go back to school, learn a skill, perfect an existing skill. Many of the greatest minds in history have all held other professions than the thing they are known for. For example, Einstein wrote and published three of his most famous theories while working as a patent clerk because he couldn’t get hired at a university and wasn’t considered a scholar.



Rule 2. Break Some Rules

First, we’d like to point out that Arnold makes it very clear, “break the rules, not the law,” and Tony breaks quite a few laws in this movie (which we in no way condone).

That being said, he was not afraid of breaking the rules to get what he wanted. He had a very clear vision of what he wanted: “the world, chico, and everything in it,” and nothing was going to get in the way of that. Whether it was negotiating a deal with Sosa so that he could vastly increase his income, or whether he was chasing the love of his life who just happened to be “the boss’s lady.”

In this scene, we watch as Tony negotiates a deal with Sosa, as his associate Omar reminds him that he does not have the authority to speak for Frank. It is also a good example of “trust yourself,” as Tony understands the market and is able to again negotiate a higher price.

How you can apply it: Arnold tells the story of how he couldn’t get permission from the army to go and compete in a bodybuilding competition but he went anyway. Sometimes, you gotta just “go anyway.” Have an audition for a part you know is just right for you but can’t get off work?- that’s what sick days are for (just make sure you’re aware of the attendance policy because if you’re on a final warning, you better be damn sure you’re gonna get that part).



Rule 3. Don’t be afraid to fail

Tony understood that in order to win big he needed to take big risks, whether it was in working with the Colombians (who he is not too fond of), making the deal with Sosa when he’s not supposed to, and especially when chasing after that white gold, Elvira (Michelle Pfeifer).

In this scene, we watch as Tony tries and fails to court Elvira.

How you can apply it: this one is probably the easiest to explain but the hardest to pull off. Remember George Mcfly, “I’m afraid I can’t deal with that type of rejection.” Many people are afraid to fail, they’re afraid of being told “no,” so they just don’t take the chance. You want to do something, do it.


Rule 4. Ignore the Naysayers

From the moment Tony arrived in the country, he’s been dealing with naysayers.

First, they said he was a criminal. Well, that part was true. Later, Omar said he was just a peasant, and Frank thought he’d finally found somebody who could handle all the dirty work. I think they were both just surprised that he survived his encounter with the Colombians, and figured anybody who could do that might as well be on their side. His mother said he was a loser, and I’m sure even Manolo must’ve thought he was crazy at times. Still, Tony didn’t let anything deter him from the vision of success that he already had in his head.

How you can apply it: Everybody should be experienced with this. The world is full of people who will tell you what you can or can’t do. Sometimes, they’re even your closest friends and family. Block them out. You know what you want and you know what you need to do to get there. Do it.



Rule 5. Work like Hell

Tony was not lazy. He was ambitious. He was hungry. His buddy Manolo would rather spend all his time at the club chasing girls, but Tony spent his time planning and working. It paid off.

How to apply it: Gym rats are experienced at this one. Only the dedicated show up to the gym on a Friday night while the rest of the world is out partying and getting drunk. Meanwhile you’re at the gym working on the biggest biceps anybody’s ever seen. Your friends go to the bar every day after work, but you went back to school. Again, you know what you want, and you know what you need to do. Do it.


Rule 6. Give something Back

Tony was a criminal, the bad guy, but he had a soft spot for his sister Gina. He would do anything for her. As soon as he came into money, he paid for her school and even gave her the funds to open up her own beauty shop. He also gave her money to take care of all the bills around the house and to take care of her mom. I’m also sure that he donated to countless charities, foundations, and political campaigns but that was purely for tax purposes, so it may not necessarily apply.

Some might even argue that he was killed because of his kindness.

How to apply it: If you watch any gangster movie, you know that kindness usually ends up blowing up in the hero’s face (remember Benny Blanco from the Bronx?). However, in real life, kindness, courtesy, and building good relationships will take you far. Give back to your community, and especially to the people in your life who supported you on your journey. Heck, even Al Capone- the inspiration for Scarface, opened up a bunch of soup kitchens during the Great Depression. One of American History’s most notorious gangster’s knew that you need to give something back. Besides, I think we all know the real reason why Scarface got killed… he broke the biggest rule of them all: Never get high on your own supply!

Tony Montana Scarface

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