Business lessons we can learn from movies

As well as being entertaining, movies can also be used to learn important lessons that you can apply to your own business.

Business lessons we can learn from movies

Business lessons we can learn from movies 

As well as being entertaining, movies can also be used to learn important lessons that you can apply to your own business. 

The films I talk about below are all somewhat dramatised stories of some very successful entrepreneurs from different areas of business: motor car racing, music, technology, science, and politics. This article isn’t a detailed breakdown of how to do business, but instead offers a perspective on some of the most important qualities and behaviours that some of our world’s most successful entrepreneurs have demonstrated for us to be inspired, motivated and empowered by.

Ford v Ferrari aka Le Mans ’66 (2019): Driven to succeed

Ford v Ferrari tells the true story of Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), a visionary car designer who in 1966 collaborated with Ken Miles (Christian Bale), a fearless race car driver from Britain, in order to design, build, test, and modify a revolutionary race car for the Ford Motor Company that can challenge the dominant Ferrari team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Without giving too much away, Shelby and Miles have to battle corporate interference as well as the laws of physics to try and succeed in their joint mission.

Having watched many films and documentaries and read many books about different people’s success stories, certain personality traits become apparent: the desire, drive and determination to succeed; the ability to focus intensely on achieving one’s goals, including making reasonable sacrifices in order to devote the necessary time, energy and resources to be successful; the resilience to withstand and overcome setbacks; the wisdom to reach out to other people when it would be foolish not to; and if you have great passion for what you do, then you and your business may become bigger and better than you ever imagined.

Rocketman (2019): Fuel your growth

A musical biopic exploring the legendary singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer Sir Elton John’s rise from a modest life to global stardom. If you don’t already think of Sir John as an entrepreneur, this film may change your mind. For example, driven to succeed in the music industry, which like the motor car racing industry is extremely competitive, we see how he teams up with lyricist Bernie Taupin to great effect. Just as Shelby’s partnership with Miles in 1966 was life-changing for both men, Sir John’s working partnership with Taupin, which started in 1967 and continued for many, many years, changed both men immeasurably. To put some numbers on it, they collaborated on more than thirty albums; Elton John has sold over three-hundred million records and has had more than fifty Top 40 hits in the UK Singles Chart and US Billboard Hot 100, thereby making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

Bottom line: reflect honestly on what your own abilities, gifts and talents are; choose your collaborator(s) wisely; work hard every day to fuel your business’ growth and development; and remember to exude your passion for your business as you share your own story with others.

Jobs (2013): An Apple a day keeps IBM away

Less popular than the 2015 biographical drama Steve Jobs, Jobs is perhaps a somewhat more accurate movie about the American business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor. Interestingly, there are over a dozen films about Jobs out there, some non-fiction and some of them somewhat fictional. 

In Jobs, an entertaining and inspiring film, Ashton Kutcher convincingly portrays Jobs from his early days as a college dropout to his rise as the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Computer Inc. and forced departure from the company. As well as being jointly responsible for the i products, Jobs was also the chairman and majority shareholder of Pixar, a member of The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors and the founder, chairman and CEO of NeXT? No wonder, then, that Jobs is widely recognised as a pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, not to mention one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

Here, again, we can see the importance of collaborating closely with other like-minded businesspeople; the only thing to fear is fear itself; and, as important as it is to respect the past and to live in the present, true visionaries are always curious as to how our here and now can be even better.

The Theory of Everything (2014): To infinity and beyond

This romantic drama about the legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking won multiple awards and rightfully so; for one thing, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are both brilliant as Stephen and Jane Hawking. Set at the University of Cambridge, The Theory of Everything chronicles the fascinating life and career of the man who gave so much to the field of science, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and who sadly never lived long enough to enjoy his free ride into space with Virgin Galactic. (Sir Richard Branson waived the two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar ticket price due to his contribution to cosmology.)

Top tips: you have to be curious every day, whether that’s about theoretical physics or what your clients think about your products or services, and, any setbacks and limitations, including those to do with your health and relationships, needn’t prevent you from charging on and becoming successful.

The Iron Lady (2011): Once, twice, three times a PM

This political drama is about the life and career of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first female Prime Minister and the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century. How fitting, then, that Thatcher is played by a lady often described as the best actress of her generation, the multiple award-winning actress and singer Meryl Streep. Streep expertly portrays Thatcher as she navigates a career destined to change the rules of leadership and politics in Britain from her tenure to this day.

Pearls of wisdom from Thatcher herself: It might look easy, but it takes some practice and discipline to be competitive; “Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the high road to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction; We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate.

So, reader, may these films and the real pioneers they are based on, inspire you to make your business and life bigger and better than ever before.


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