With the entire country under mandatory shelter-in-place orders for the past few months, you might have noticed a significant increase in your Netflix consumption.
And while there’s nothing wrong with reruns of Friends, you can also take the guilt out of that TV time by watching these six legendary films that offer inspiration and insights to help you build an even strong business.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of good old persistence. Talent won’t. Nothing’s more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius won’t. Unrecognized genius in practically a cliche. Education won’t. That’s why the world is full of educated fools. Persistence and determination alone are all-powerful.” – Ray Kroc
This biographical comedy-drama is set in 1954 and follows the life of Ray Kroc. A struggling traveling milkshake mixer salesman, Kroc would eventually go on to help the McDonald brothers grow their restaurant business into the multi-billion-dollar fast-food titan it is today.
The Founder is chock-full of incredible business lessons.
For one, it shows the importance of being customer-centric. Unlike many of the other restaurants Ray Kroc would visit in his milkshake mixer sales journey, McDonald’s thrived because it was able to serve high-quality food at lighting speed. It was supplying the right product in a customer-focused way which meant customers sought out McDonald’s and not the other way around.
It also exemplifies why entrepreneurs can’t be afraid to think big. Taking on goals that other people might see as unrealistic can allow you to expand your scope of what’s possible. While the McDonald brothers had a small established fast-food chain, Kroc was the mastermind in helping them expand it into a global business.
And most importantly, this movie offers a crash course in why persistence pays off. At first, the McDonald brothers were hesitant to buy into Kroc’s vision. But his persistence pays off when they finally get on board — and the rest is history.
“The musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.”
Another excellent biographical movie, Steve Jobs depicts the turbulent life of the visionary behind Apple.
There are few business success stories more inspiring than this one. But the movie serves as a stark reminder that it wasn’t a straight and smooth road to building the world’s biggest business. And the journey that Steve Jobs — and everyone around him — had to embark upon to get there was jam-packed with lessons for today’s entrepreneurs.
For one, it truly illustrates the fact that nothing successful is built overnight. Building a business takes hard work and dedication. It’s easy to admire Apple today, but the process of building the business took 20 years. For more than a decade, Apple struggled as a business, as a technology, and as a company. There was internal turmoil that wasn’t necessarily seen by the public, and before Apple became a pioneer at shifting consumer behavior, it struggled to find its stride.
The movie is also a testament to the importance of leaders surrounding themselves with smart and capable people. While Steve Jobs was a visionary, he didn’t know how to code, he wasn’t an engineer, and he wasn’t a marketer. But he was able to find and motivate people who were skilled in the areas where he wasn’t and to lead them to success. He had the uncanny ability to compel people to buy into his vision and to help him achieve it.
“We lived on farms and then we lived in cities and now we are going to live on the internet.” – Sean Parker
Directed by David Fincher (who is widely known for his work on crime thrillers like Fight Club and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), The Social Network is a biographical movie that depicts the story of how computer genius Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook during his time as a Harvard undergrad in 2003.
While it was dramatized for entertainment’s sake, the movie is based entirely on the real story and shows the tumultuous road that it took for Zuckerberg to take Facebook from a small-time tech start-up to one of the ten biggest businesses in the world.
For entrepreneurs, this story is a great demonstration of why your primary focus should be to create a great product or service first and foremost. In the movie, Mark Zuckerberg rejects the idea of implementing ads to drive revenue and instead opts for creating a platform that people loved. In his mind, a better platform meant more users which ultimately equated to more revenue.
It also showcases the importance of taking calculated risks. Zuckerberg dropped out of one of the world’s most prestigious universities to pursue his passion for creating Facebook because he knew it was the right risk for him to take. And while not all risks pay off, the reality is that as an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to take a few at some point in your professional journey.
“I’ve been in this game a long time. I’m not in it for a record. I’m not in it for a ring. That’s when people get hurt. If we don’t win the last game of the series, they’ll dismiss us. I know these guys, I know the way they think, and they will erase us. And everything we’ve done here, none of it will matter. If any other team wins the World Series, good for them. They’re drinking champagne, they’ll get a ring. But if we win, on our budget, with this team, we’ll change the game. And that’s what I want. I want it to mean something.”
Moneyball is the true story of Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team.
In 2002, Beane had his back against the wall with a budget that was negligible in comparison to some of the MLB behemoths of the time. So, in an effort to build a championship team with a shoestring budget, Beane has to reinvent his team by outsmarting the richer ball clubs and taking an unorthodox — and often ridiculed — approach.
This movie is a clear-cut example of the importance of thinking outside the box. It proves that just because something has always been done in a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s the only way it can be done.
Sometimes you just need to look at challenges through a new lens, believe that the most effective path to success might be the least traveled one, and go with your gut — even if it means defying traditional ways of doing things.
“Put. That. Coffee. Down! Coffee’s for closers only.” – The man known only as Blake
In Glengarry Glenn Ross, Alec Baldwin delivers one of the most searing and infamous speeches in movie history.
Based on Pulitzer-prize winning play, this movie depicts two days in the lives of four real estate salesmen who are desperately trying to save their jobs after their corporate office sends a trainer to “motivate” them.
Their motivation? All but the two highest performers will be fired.
Alec Baldwin’s infamous monologue is the “motivational” speech the salesmen receive. And while it’s harsh, brash, and aggressive, it does convey one critical lesson for professionals in every industry: in order to succeed in business, you need to be focused, hungry, and unrelenting.
“Money is not the prime commodity in our lives… time is.” – Gordon Gekko
In comparison to the business lessons from the other movies, the 1987 movie Wall Street serves more as a cautionary tale for professionals.
In the film, junior stockbroker Bud Fox will do anything to work with his hero, legendary Wall Street player Gordon Gekko. But this ultimately leads to him getting caught up in a deep plot of insider trading and financial crimes.
In addition to being exceptionally entertaining (and to Michael Douglas Oscar-winning performance), Wall Street provides a few big reminders for entrepreneurs.
The first takes the form of a warning about the high price of sacrificing your morals and principles in the pursuit of financial gain. The movie clearly illustrates the importance of working with honesty and integrity — something that’s critical for professionals in every industry and stage of their career.
The second lesson is that time quite literally is money. While it’s cloaked in a bit of a dark cloud, the movie serves as a reminder for entrepreneurs about the value of putting in the time because for every hour you spend on activities that serve your goals, the closer you’ll get to achieving financial success in business.
Take the guilt out of your Netflix binging by watching movies that inspire you professionally and offer some valuable business lessons. Can you think of any great business movies we might’ve missed? Hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter to tell us your favorites.
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