HR 31 March 2017

Over 50s cite Breaking Bad’s Walter White as self-employment inspiration

Walter White: Redefining self-employment for workers of a certain age

When it comes to self-employment inspiration for the over 50s, they’re not looking to the likes of Bill Gates or Richard Branson, but Breaking Bad drug baron Walter White.

Breaking Bad ran from 2008 to 2013, but four years later and it continues to receive praise and is considered one of the best pieces of television ever made. 

For those who haven’t seen it, the show follows chemistry-teaching family man Walter White – played superbly by Bryan Cranston – who turns to a life of drug-related crime to support his wife and children after learning he has terminal cancer.

In the beginning, you feel for White, but along the way he makes increasingly questionable choices and the audience is forced to question where his moral compass is pointing.

However, his behaviour is of little concern for 62 per cent of self-employed Brits aged over 50. A study found the group hailed Breaking Bad legend White as inspiration for quitting their jobs where they were treated like jokes.

Elsewhere, Mr Burns from The Simpsons was another fictional TV character that over 50s felt a connection to, with 19 per cent claiming the boss of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant was their inspiration.

With White and Burns both on the list in the top spots, it seems that respondents have little time to play Mr. Nice Guy, since both characters are known for being cold and detached, instead preferring to achieve success by any means necessary.

“The feedback to our research has been phenomenal. The consensus we had from respondents is that they were tired of being taken for fools by their employers,” said Belle-Eve Disschitt, chief of research at Hagotya.

“Breaking Bad lit a fire within 62 per cent of older employees, which they never knew they had, prompting them to set up their own self-employment agenda after becoming tired of being treated like jokes.

“Although some of them have been quite secretive about their plans, we’re sure it’s not because they’ve gone down the Breaking Bad route and followed Walter into narcotics. They probably just want to keep competition guessing.”

Some leaders have been more vocal about their ventures, however. One has launched a carpet cleaning service called Tread Lightly and another is managing door fittings under the brand The One Who Knocks.

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