Oscar season is almost upon us, and the 2018 crop of Best Picture nominees certainly doesn’t disappoint — whether you enjoy …
- Quirky films (such as "Lady Bird")
- Stories of intrigue ("The Post")
- Nail-biting war dramas ("Dunkirk")
However, movies can do more than just entertain. They can also inspire us to try harder or reach further.
This is obviously true when it comes to finding love (which is why romance is a cinematic genre that will never go away), but movies can also guide us along the path to wealth, whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned executive.
Below is our list of inspiring movies that can help you grow your business.
1. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Set in the fast-talking world of big-city real estate, Glengarry Glen Ross provides an inside peek into the greed, stress and uncertainty of high-stakes salesmanship:
- First place receives a Cadillac El Dorado.
- Second place gets a set of steak knives.
- Third place is summarily fired on the spot.
In some industries, the competition really is this cutthroat. Before diving headfirst into the fray, it’s important to understand what you’re up against.
With an all-star cast and brilliant writing by David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross is a film that every business professional should see — even those who don’t work directly in sales.
2. The Social Network (2010)
This film chronicles the rise of Facebook — from its early days as an untested “dorm room” idea to its dominance as one of the most powerful businesses on the globe.
There are many things that make this movie stand out, including the fact that nearly everyone who sees it has a Facebook account.
What’s truly remarkable is that the company managed to carve out a niche in a market that was already quite saturated. With Friendster, Myspace, Second Life and Orkut, the world didn’t really need another social network. But thanks to a well-executed launch and a healthy dose of business savvy (aka greed), Facebook managed to chip away at these more established competitors.
The core takeaway is that you don’t need an innovative idea to find business success. You simply have to find opportunities that your rivals keep overlooking.
3. Office Space (1999)
Work and fun rarely go hand in hand, and few movies capture this dichotomy better than Office Space. With staff meetings, TPS reports and gray cubicles, the characters in this film feel like they’re on a never-ending treadmill of drudgery.
But with the right approach, it’s possible to mitigate some of this monotony. For example, celebrating National Fun at Work Day can lift people’s moods. In the movie itself, employers use a range of strategies — from “flair” to office parties.
However, a far better approach is to design your working environment from the ground up — with employee happiness in mind. Flextime scheduling and telecommuting, for example, have been shown to improve worker satisfaction. This, in turn, can make your teams both more productive and more profitable.
4. Moneyball (2011)
Your competitors have bigger war chests, better talent and an insurmountable head start. How can you possibly compete when you’re outmatched?
Take a lesson from the Oakland Athletics, a baseball franchise whose best players wouldn’t even make most other clubs.
Despite being the underdog, however, the Oakland A’s (in Moneyball) managed to cobble together a winning roster. Although no individual player stood out, together they created a cohesive team that played with a single, unified spirit.
The takeaway? You might come to the table with far fewer resources than your competitors, but if you play to your strengths (and shore up your weaknesses), it’s possible to compete with the big boys.
In fact, you might even become the top dog if you play your cards right.
5. Pay It Forward (2000)
Most of the movies on this list deal directly with business success — usually defined as profits, or in the case of Glengarry Glen Ross, a brand-new Cadillac.
That makes sense. Entrepreneurs go into business in order to make money, but the landscape doesn’t always have to be cutthroat or calculating.
True, you might have a fiduciary duty to maximize earnings for investors, but you also have a civic duty to your community. And in many ways, taking care of all your stakeholders can be the best way to ensure long-term business success.
Pay It Forward is an inspiring movie that outlines these benefits beautifully. Strictly speaking, it isn’t a business film at all, but it does show how interconnected we all truly are. Whether selfish or selfless, what we do in our daily lives has ripple effects throughout society. By engaging in random acts of kindness, we can inspire others to do the same.
As a result, everyone is better off.
How to apply this to the business world ultimately depends on your business. Community activism, environmental protection, social justice and charitable contributions represent some of the ways you can positively impact the world around you.
As an added benefit, these acts of kindness can actually attract more business. This is why compassion is best thought of as an investment — rather than as a cost.
What Movies Inspire You?
No movie list is perfect. There are plenty of films we could have covered, from Pursuit of Happyness[KQ1] to The Godfather to Wall Street. The ultimate goal is to find movies that inspire you to try harder. They don’t have to be business-related films. As long as they provide valuable lessons you can apply to your work, they’re worth adding to your list.