Entrepreneurs and successful salespeople have almost unlimited chances to enhance their skills and abilities. With so much innovative thought and fresh research available, the opportunities to learn and improve are greater than ever.
Inspiring Movies for Entrepreneurs:
1. The Social Network.
This film tells the story of Facebook - or as it was called way back in 2004, "Thefacebook." It flashes between Zuckerberg and his friends-turned-partners developing the platform and present-day litigation between Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, his friend who he partnered with to found the site who eventually sued him for diluting his Facebook shares and removing his name from the company masthead.
Love Facebook or hate it, viewers can't deny the power of Zuckerberg's story. He doesn't emerge from the movie looking like a hero, but in real life, he's the world's youngest self-made billionaire, and Facebook boasts an impressive 2.27 billion global users.
Startup.com is a 2001 documentary film that examines the rise and fall of the real-life startup GovWorks that raised $60 million from Hearst Interactive Media, KKR, the New York Investment Fund, and Sapient. It's good viewing to better understand the boom and bust of the dotcom period and serves as a cautionary tale on how friendships can easily be threatened by business partnerships.
Topics covered: financing, capital raising, growth management, entrepreneurship skills, team building, and management skills
3. Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort. It follows his rise and fall as an entrepreneur and shows how his firm Stratton Oakmont engaged in penny stock trading and securities scam, drawing the attention of the FBI.
Brilliantly directed by Martin Scorsese with stellar performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, and a spectacular cameo by Matthew McConaughey (right at the peak of his “McConaissance.”)
Why watch it? Jordan Belfort is the perfect example of what an entrepreneur shouldn’t be. He was driven by greed, having little to no empathy towards the people he was duping, and lived a life of extreme debauchery which eventually led to his downfall.
Best Scene in the Movie: Matthew McConaughey describes what it takes to be a stockbroker.
(Interesting Trivia – The chest-thumping and humming performed by McConaughey was improvised and actually a warm-up rite that he performs before shooting a scene.)
4. The Founder
In The Founder, we learn the incredible true story of struggling salesman Ray Kroc, whose fateful encounter with the McDonald brothers changed his life -- and the way we eat food in America.
This movie tells the story of two brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, who started a burger stand that eventually became the McDonald's fast-food chain that dots almost every highway in the United States. But it didn't grow that big by chance -- it grew because Ray Kroc partnered with the brothers to open franchises, grew unsatisfied with his contract, and eventually bought out the McDonald brothers to grow the business and become a multi-millionaire.
While this movie doesn't leave you exactly rooting for its main character, it tells the story of how a simple idea for a product sold at a fair price can explode with popularity. (It also teaches a good lesson about contract negotiating with any partners you go into business with.)
Why watch it? Despite being a controversial figure, Ray Kroc’s story is an inspiring one for entrepreneurs. He was a traveling milkshake mixer salesman who eventually transformed McDonald’s into a global franchise, making it the most successful fast-food company in the world. It’s the biopic that narrates the rise of one of America’s most influential businessmen and perhaps the most recognizable fast-food brands in the world. At the same time, you feel for the original founders of McDonald’s, the McDonald brothers, who were dealt a bad hand and eventually forced out of business.
Best Scene in the Movie: Ray Kroc orders a meal at McDonald’s for the first time.
Topics covered: starting a business, perseverance, scaling a business
5. Twelve Angry Men
Possibly my all-time favorite film, Twelve Angry Men is a brilliant courtroom drama that has several layers of insight on leadership, the psychology of group behavior, and conflicting value systems. This is a must-watch and will leave you thinking about the way you make important decisions.
Topics covered: negotiations techniques, persuasion methods, conflict resolution, and consensus-building
6. The Godfather Trilogy
The Godfather trilogy is possibly the all-time best cinema for entrepreneurs, highlighting why relationships and building networks matter, why helping people lends itself to good business, and why understanding competition is non-negotiable. The movies are intensely entertaining, packed with thrilling and thought-provoking scenes that will leave you better prepared to handle your next business challenge.
Topics covered: competitive strategies, key personnel retention, corporate take-overs (friendly and hostile), alliances, mergers and acquisitions, corporate succession and long-term corporate diversification.
When you hear Catch Me If You Can, you picture the successful con artist Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) deceptively charming just about anyone with his skill mastery. Based on a true story, Catch me if You Can is a classic film that exemplifies the entrepreneurial journey. It touches upon important themes like creative problem solving, turning something good out of a bad situation, and the good old' hustle to reach success.
Topics covered: entrepreneurship skills, creativity and innovation, perseverance, business vision, personal sales techniques, and entrepreneurial funding sources
The Pursuit of Happyness is a true story based on the life of entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s nearly one-year struggle of being homeless with his son while going through a grueling 6-month unpaid internship as a stockbroker. Will Smith’s portrayal of Gardner earned him an Oscar nomination.
Why watch it? Chris Gardner overcame unbelievable circumstances to achieve his dreams. Circumstances that are not much different from what early-stage entrepreneurs face.
Best Scene in the Movie: After months of struggle, Chris Gardner is finally hired by Dean Witter Reynolds.
This is the movie with the famous “Greed is good” speech, delivered by the charismatic Gordon Gekko played brilliantly by Michael Douglas, who won an academy award for his performance.
Directed by Oliver Stone, Wall Street tells the story of ambition and greed, portrayed brilliantly by Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas respectively. The main protagonist, Bud Fox, idolizes Gekko and gets carried away by his glamorous lifestyle, only to get entangled in the vicious web of insider trading.
More telling is the story of a young, susceptible mind, showing how easy it is to get carried away with the glamorous lifestyle that accompanies wealth. Plus, if you thought The Wolf of Wall Street was a bit too much, this movie is a tamer, more socially-critical version.
Why watch it? As young entrepreneurs, it’s often easy to be lured by greed and make morally reprehensible decisions. Wall Street serves as a cautionary tale of how ambition can sometimes lead us down an unethical path.
Best Scene in the Movie: The famous, or rather infamous, Gordon Gekko speech.
My favorite quote from this movie? "We got here from hard work, patience, and humility. Don't think the world owes you anything because the world owes you nothing."
This movie is all about real-life entrepreneur Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop and Huggable Hangers, who overcomes immense personal struggle to go on to patent more than 100 inventions and make millions as a successful seller on Home Shopping Network's QVC.
Beyond the business success Mangano enjoys, this movie also tells the story of the power of a supportive family, the struggles women in business have to overcome, and the success a product that meets a need can achieve.
11. The Big Short
Based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same title, The Big Short tells three separate but parallel stories of individuals who were able to predict and profit from the American financial crisis of 2007-08.
Directed by Adam McKay (best known for the Anchorman franchise prior to this movie), the movie features Oscar-worthy performances from Christian Bale and Steve Carell.
The film is also noted for employing unconventional techniques to explain complex and supposedly boring financial concepts like subprime mortgages and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).
Why watch it? If you ever wanted to learn the real reasons behind the financial crisis of 2007-08 and not be bored to death at the same time, then you need to watch The Big Short.
While it serves as a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs, it also highlights the importance of risk-taking and conviction. Very few individuals would bet against the gigantic housing market at the time, but the characters in this movie (based on real people) do just that, despite facing mockery and ridicule from the entire financial community.
Best Scene in the Movie: Mark Baum (Steve Carell’s character) meets a shady CDO manager.
The Devil Wears Prada will motivate you to take the plunge and pursue your dream job. It's a movie that shows how to handle uncomfortable situations, how to navigate worlds that seem unfamiliar, and how hard work pays off eventually. It's also an interesting window into the fashion industry and will teach you a thing or two on how to work your way up the corporate ladder.
This film, based on a memoir written by a woman who worked under Vogue's editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Wintour's fictitious likeness, Miranda Priestly, is powerful, influential, and commands an entire industry at her fingertips, and she uses her experience and expertise to negotiate and consolidate her power and fight for what she believes in.
Priestly is another anti-hero, but she definitely embodies the power of hard work, knowing your industry, and speaking quietly to deliver a strong, clear message.
Topics covered: branding, sales techniques, the importance of media and career development
13. Jerry Maguire
Ready to root for the good guy? Jerry shows that, against all the odds, success can be driven by values and virtue. With only two people on his side, we see how the little guy can succeed when his abilities are put to the test.