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Watching a movie can be a great way to relax and take your mind off work. But movies can serve a greater purpose beyond entertainment. They have the power to inspire us and give us the opportunity to see things from a new perspective.
From light-hearted comedies to award-winning dramas, there are plenty of movies out there that every entrepreneur can relate to. Sometimes these films inspire us, other times they can serve as cautionary tales. Either way, there is a lesson to be learned from each of the films on this list.
Winner of three Academy Awards, The Social Network chronicles the rise of Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. As with any biopic, the film may not always be factually accurate, but that doesn’t make it any less inspiring. This film offers an insider look at what it takes to scale a business from a dorm room into the largest social media company in the world. It is also a cautionary tale of how success can jeopardize personal relationships. Full of valuable lessons for entrepreneurs, The Social Network is an absolute must-watch.
“When you go fishing you can catch a lot of fish, or you can catch a big fish. You ever walk into a
guy's den and see a picture of him standing next to fourteen trout?”
Based on the true story of how Billy Beane, the manager for the Oakland A’s, took a huge risk in order to build a successful team when the odds were completely against him. Moneyball is an inspiring film that can teach entrepreneurs about the power of innovation, resourcefulness, and having the courage to take risks.
“But if we win, on our budget, with this team...we'll have changed the game. And that's what I
want. I want it to mean something.”
Winner of 5 Academy Awards, The Aviator follows the career of director and aviator, Howard Hughes. Facing many obstacles—from rival companies to his own internal battle with OCD—Hughes was able to overcome the odds and build an incredible legacy. This film serves as a reminder to entrepreneurs to never be afraid to take on big competition.
“Don't tell me I can't do it. Don't tell me it can't be done!”
This biographical drama offers an unflinching look at the successes and failures of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Since the film doesn’t shy away from depicting the early setbacks in Jobs’ career, it is an inspiring reminder to never abandon your vision. The film also serves as a warning to entrepreneurs on what can happen when one man becomes the face of the company.
“I sat in a garage with Wozniak and invented the future, because artists lead and hacks ask for a
show of hands.”
One of the most popular films of the 1990s, Jerry Maguire tells the story of a successful sports agent who has it all, until a moral epiphany causes him to have second thoughts. He then needs to reinvent himself and his career while staying true to what he believes. It’s a story many people identify with and offers plenty of valuable lessons for entrepreneurs.
“Success consists of simply getting up one more time than you fall.”
Molly’s Game is the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, whose screenwriting work appears several times throughout this list (The Social Network, Steve Jobs, and Moneyball). The film is based on the memoir of entrepreneur and author, Molly Bloom. Given the illegal aspects of the film, there are plenty of what-not-to-do lessons to be found here. Yet the film can also be a great inspiration for entrepreneurs through its depiction of Molly’s resiliency.
“I was raised to be a champion. My goal was to win. At what and against whom, those were just details.”
Featuring an all-star cast and based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross portrays the high-stakes, fast-paced lives of a group of real estate salesmen whose jobs are on the line. It’s a must-watch for anyone who’s ever worked in a high-pressure or cutthroat sales environment. Some companies even use this film to train their salespeople, because it’s full of lessons on how and how not to sell (but mostly the latter).
“When you die, you're going to regret the things that you don't do.”
Want to learn how to sell just about anything? Then be sure to check out this satirical comedy. Thank You for Smoking is about a tobacco lobbyist who cleverly spins arguments in defense of the cigarette industry. This is a must-see for anyone looking to learn more about public relations, marketing, negotiation tactics, and the power of persuasion.
“That's the beauty of argument. When you argue correctly, you're never wrong.”
Based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir, this black comedy film is a good reminder of what not to do when you’re an entrepreneur. Despite being a cautionary tale, The Wolf of Wall Street can also inspire some persuasive sales techniques.
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to
why you can't achieve it.”
While not directly about entrepreneurship, Nightcrawler is about a man struggling to find a job who ultimately discovers an opportunity to become a crime journalist. The film can get dark at times and Jake Gyllenhaal’s character might take things a bit too far, but Nightcrawler shows how persuasion and determination can help anyone become whatever they want to be.
“People such as yourself, who reached the top of the mountain didn't just fall there. My motto is, if
you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy the ticket.”
A film about con artist Frank Abagnale might not seem like a film that’s relevant to entrepreneurs, but Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me if You Can touches on themes like creative problem solving, innovation, perseverance, sales techniques, and countless entrepreneurial skills. Despite plenty of illegal and immoral actions, Frank was an undeniably exceptional businessman.
“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The
second mouse, wouldn't quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into
butter and crawled out. Gentlemen, as of this moment, I am that second mouse.”
The focus of The Big Short is the 2007 housing market crash and the fund managers and investors who profited from the crisis. This surprisingly hilarious yet sobering film provides important lessons on following your instincts and knowing exactly where you’re investing your money.
“For fifteen thousand years, fraud and short-sighted thinking have never, ever worked. Not once.
Eventually you get caught, things go south.”
Working Girl is a romantic comedy that details a woman’s struggle to get ahead in the business world. This movie was ahead of its time in its depiction of gender issues and discrimination in the workplace. It’s an inspiring film and a definite must-see, especially for female entrepreneurs.
“You can bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you're trying to get there.
And if you're someone like me, you can't get there without bending the rules.”
This hilarious film satirizes corporate culture through its depiction of a software company. Entrepreneurs can relate to the notion of escaping a mind-numbing job in order to follow their own path. Office Space is definitely good for a laugh and might get you thinking about career development, leadership, and team-building.
“My only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know,
Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.”
The Founder is based on the true story of Ray Kroc, the man who turned McDonald’s into a global franchise. There are a lot of things entrepreneurs can learn from this film. The Founder can inspire entrepreneurs to think big, and can also serve as an important reminder to carefully negotiate contracts.
“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 is practically a
cliché. Education won't. Why the world is full of educated fools. Persistence and determination
alone are all powerful.”
Based on the true story of entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s struggle with homelessness, The Pursuit of Happyness is a powerful and poignant look at the importance of maintaining a strong worth ethic and a positive attitude. If you’re in need of a reminder to never give up, then this is the film for you.
“If you want something, go get it. Period.”
This comedy is a reminder that hard work eventually pays off. The Devil Wears Prada focuses on an aspiring journalist who takes a job as a junior personal assistant to the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine. This film can teach entrepreneurs about career development and how to handle uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations.
“Okay she's tough. But if Miranda were a man, no one would notice anything about her except
how great she is at her job.”
You might be wondering what Forrest Gump has to do with entrepreneurship, but it’s easy to forget that Forrest became a small business owner when he co-founded the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Forrest Gump can be a source of inspiration for entrepreneurs by acting as a reminder to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.
“I happened to believe you make your own destiny.”
Wall Street is about ambition and greed, centered around a young stockbroker who is willing to do anything to succeed, even if that involves insider trading. The film provides a valuable lesson on the dangers of greed and how ambition can sometimes lead you down an unethical—or even illegal—path.
“The most valuable commodity I know of is information.”
Joy is far from the greatest movie on the list and wasn’t well-received by critics or audiences, but it is sure to motivate and inspire entrepreneurs. Based on the true story of how Joy Mangano went from single mother to millionaire by revolutionizing the mop industry in the 1990s. Joy shows how believing in yourself and your product can lead to success. If you believe in what you’re selling or consider yourself a market disruptor, then Joy is worth checking out.
“We got here from hard work, patience, and humility, so I want to tell you: Don’t ever think that the
world owes you anything, because it doesn’t. The world doesn’t owe you a thing.”
What are your favorite movies to watch for entrepreneurial inspiration? Are there any films we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
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