Brando’s Advice on Being a Better Human Being


He was angry and cold according to those who knew him.

He also rarely followed his own advice, ignored his children and led what some would call a reckless life. But despite all of his personal failings, actor Marlon Brando was someone who believed life is much more than working for a pay check.

Brando’s beliefs are worth examining so we can lead a more genuine, meaningful life and career.

  1. Learn from the past but don’t dwell upon it.

“Regret is useless in life. It’s in the past. All we have is now.”

We can spend all of our time fussing about past transgressions, dragging us down into the abyss and turning us into miserable souls – or we can move on. Many unhappy people are that way because of previous experience they cannot shed. But if we release the impact of the past, while retaining the lessons learned, we can literally renew ourselves – becoming stronger, wiser and yes, more compassionate. Regret can hold you back and also hold back your family relationships, your friendships and your career.

Resolution: Drop regret. 

  1. Refuse to label yourself and others

“There is a sickness in America – that you have to think in terms of who wins, who loses, who’s good, who’s bad, who’s best, who’s worst. I don’t like to think that way. Everybody has their own value in different ways, and I don’t like to think who’s the best at this. I mean, what’s the point of it?”

Too often, we dismiss people based on what others say about them, or on very little information. You may, for example, have read something written by a LinkedIn author that you did not like, choosing to dismiss them from that point on. Yet – everyone has value. Everyone has something they can bring to the table. At work, and in our personal lives, everyone deserves a second look. Rather than putting a label on people, let’s try to keep an open mind. The funny thing is – by doing that, we stand to gain, by learning from them. Maybe even one day being their friend, business partner or spouse!

When it comes to competition, the best way to rise to the top in life is to know yourself and compete with yourself – not with others. It’s not about being better than other people. It’s about being the best you can be.

Resolution: View everyone as having value and compete with yourself, not others.

  1. Focus less on materialistic things and more on relationships

“We have lost the capacity to produce people who are joyful. The pursuit of the material has become our reason for living, not enjoyment of living itself.”

Many observers believe that Brando, despite being a brilliant actor, was unhappy. He disliked his profession, believing that being an actor was like being a con artist (lying to make a living). It’s believed that whatever pleasure he did get in life came from personal relationships and things as simple as a walk in the park. The gifts we receive from others are appreciated, but the bond they create between us and the giver can have far greater impact, long after the gifts have broken and become discarded.

Resolution: Less time on things, more time with people.

  1. Show the real you

“Most of the successful people in Hollywood are failures as human beings.”

Brando didn’t like Hollywood much. While he was likely too dark, resentful and critical, he was also likely right to assume that the directors who hired him, and the industry people who said they loved him, were really looking at him as an object of profit. Lady Gaga recently took a similar position, threatening to leave the music industry as a result. Nobody likes to be seen as a thing to be taken advantage of.  In business and in life, treat others as people, not as profit tools to manipulate.

Resolution: Show that you care about others.

It can be argued that Marlon Brando failed at being the kind of human being he wanted us all to be. But as time passes, his words of wisdom are becoming more relevant.

Be yourself, never look back and focus on personal relationships more than things.

© 2016 Cory Robert Galbraith, All Rights Reserved.


In this 1970s TV interview clip, Brando struggles to explain to host Dick Cavett that in his view, we are all actors in one way or another. In that sense, he believed anyone could do what he did.

Like many aging actors of today, Marlon Brando, in the last phase of his 50-year career, did exactly what he said nobody should do – he worked just for a pay check. To see his true genius, one must go back to his early performances in the 1950s and of course, his role as Mafia boss Don Corleone in 1972’s The Godfather. Brando died in 2004 at the age of 80.

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