Movies are a great way to learn from others as stories, fiction, and non-fiction, are taught to the viewer in an easy-to-understand way. There’s a lot to be learned from these stories as they show you how exceptional people who have come before you have done it. These must-watch movies for all aspiring entrepreneurs are:
1. The Godfather
An offer you can’t refuse.
One of the greatest films in the world based on the best book I’ve ever read. The Godfather is the story about the growth of a small family business as it becomes the largest organized crime family in New York, fighting off opposition at any expense. The Godfather and his son Michael Corleone are the brains behind the family and this film gives you an insight into what it takes to become one of the most powerful family businesses in the country.
2. Glengarry Glen Ross
Lie. Cheat. Steal. All In A Day’s Work.
In the fast paced world of Chicago real estate, competition and incentive is what decides who’s the best. That’s why they’re having a little sales competition – First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado, second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is you’re fired. With stakes that high, and the pressure on, the salesmen show that they’re willing to do anything it takes to succeed in business, but the most interesting part of this is film, is what exactly that is.
3. Wall Street
Every dream has its price.
In the life of an ambitious young stockbroker, Bud Fox will do just about anything it takes to succeed, and for him, that includes a little bit of insider trading. See what happens when the desire to succeed takes over your life and the motto of ‘Greed is good’ directs how you do business. But what happens when you’re pushed to your limits and asked to do something you can’t or won’t do? Suddenly everything comes to a head when Fox is asked to help do something, not only illegal, but morally reprehensible.
4. The Game
There are no rules in The Game.
What do you get the guy who has everything? Nicholas Van Orton (played by Michael Douglas) is a wealthy San Francisco banker who’s life is wrapped up in his business, which has left him as somewhat of a loner. His brother Conrad gives him the gift of a lifetime, which would prove to change his perspective on the world and the way that he’s going to live it. When bad things start to happen to you, you start to question what’s really important in live, business, success and money, or actually living?
5. Boiler Room
Motion creates Emotion!
After entering the stockbroking profession to impress his father, Seth Davis, a Queens College dropout, soon realizes the huge earning potential ahead of him. But with commissions much larger than any other company, Seth soon learns that not everything is what it’s cracked up to be and he’s forced to face the dilemma of money and greed vs. morals and legality. For any young entrepreneur starting out in business, it’s a very real possibility that you’re going to face moral dilemmas and the way that they’re dealt with in this film is very eye opening.
6. Jerry Maguire
The rest of his life begins now.
This is a story about a man who’s at the top of his game; beautiful partner, the biggest clients, lots of respect. But then he decides to step back and question it all and proposes his new thoughts to the rest of the company, which ultimately ends in him losing it all. Everyone turns his back on him, except for one, very volatile client, Rod Tidwell. From here you see Jerry examine what it really important to his business and life and works towards bringing it all back together again, only this time, the way it should be.
7. Trading Places
Take two complete strangers, make one of them rich the other poor… just watch the fun while they’re… Trading Places.
What happens when you take the rich and the poor and make them switch places? A social experiment ran by Mortimer and Randolph Duke, brother and owners of a commodities brokerage firm, proves to be very interesting when the switched pair run into each other. A life changing event for both of them, poses the question of what’s more important in life, friends and love, or money and power?
8. Office Space
When your hypnotist dies just after they’ve put you in a state of complete bliss, you can’t help but have a refreshing outlook on life. If there’s ever a film to make you want to get out of a desk job in the corporate world, then this is it. Peter Gibbons is a man who can’t help but be promoted as he consistently starts to slack off and do things his own way, but trouble starts to arise when his new careless nature starts to lead to him stealing from the company in a much bigger way than he expected.
9. Pursuit of Happyness
Based on a true story.
This is a real life story of a man who believes so badly in a product that he can’t sell that he ends up losing his house, his wife and his money, being left with just himself and his son. This in itself is an important lesson to be learnt, but it’s the steps that he takes from here that really shape him into who he becomes. Against all odds, he takes an unpaid internship to become a stockbroker, fighting against his peers for a single job at the end of it. This is a powerful true story that sticks with you as you face your own personal struggles in business.
10. Catch Me If You Can
The true story of a real fake.
Again, this is another true story, about a young conman who successfully impersonated an airline pilot, doctor, lawyer and history professor during his stint as fraudulent cheque casher. What’s amazing about this film and the life of Frank Abegnale Jr. is how much he managed to achieve in a much tougher environment and under more stress than most people are used to. Whether it’s legal or not, business is business and Frank was one of the best at what he did.
11. Wolf of Wall Street
There’s no nobility in poverty.
This is a story of a man who went from nothing tom something, and something very big at that. It’s an inspirational film for the amount of perseverance Jordan Belfort puts into it, but that’s not what I love the most about this film. This movie does a great job at depicting how business cultures are created in fast-growth companies (minus the corruption seen in this one).
Belfort’s rallying cry of “Don’t take no for an answer” is specific to the mission of his company. My team and I use the rallying cry “total contact” which means all team members own the solution to any problems brought to their attention — no passing off to somebody else.
12. Shawshank Redemption
Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.
This is one of the greatest films of all time, and one I’m sure that the majority of readers have seen before, purely because of its undeniable greatness. It’s the story of a man who manages to succeed in the worst possible conditions imaginable – false imprisonment for the murder of his cheating wife and lover. From making friends with another con inside the prison, Andy manages to make the best out of a very bad situation and through perseverance manages to achieve more than he ever thought possible.
13. The Social Network
You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies
This is another story of the young, successful and intelligent man, only this time, it’s based on a true story of the world’s youngest billionaire – Mark Zuckerberg, the creator and owner of Facebook. The story is pretty amazing and has been made famous by this film, he starts off as a Harvard student with a strong streak of arrogance and huge potential, he creates a new social network based upon the most prestigious email address in the country, the Harvard email address. The rest, as they say, is history.
14. Pirates of Silicon Valley
Good artists copy… Great artists steal.
There are no two bigger names in technology than Microsoft and Apple and this is their story. This is an amusing documentary style film about their competition and their rise to the enormous companies that they are today. It’s slightly dated today, and perhaps The Social Network is a little bit more relevant, but it still holds some very valuable information and pointers to learn from. After all, you’re gotta be a pretty special person to become as powerful as they have.
15. Forrest Gump
The story of a lifetime.
This is a simple man with good intentions, who accidentally becomes phenomenally successful from living his life the best way he knows how. He wins medals, becomes a professional ping-pong player, takes up running, owns a huge shrimping company and inspires people all across the country. The simple nature of Forrest makes him very appealing to world as he proves that you don’t have to be a super genius to make something work, you just have to try.
Based on a true story.
Another great film based on a true story, this time only slightly more illegal than the last, it’s a film based on George Jung and his career as a cocaine dealer. What started off as a small time operation working with pot, he is eventually imprisoned and introduced to cocaine and that’s where things start to explode. He’s rumored to have handled about 85% of all of the supply of cocaine in the 1970’s, making him an incredibly powerful and successful man, and this film is all about exactly how he did it.
17. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Nice guys finish last. Meet the winners.
This is the story about two con men, big time and small time, and their struggle to compete together in a small French town which isn’t big enough for the both of them. So they decide to take part in a bet in which the loser leaves town and allows the other to carry on with their business. The only problem is that the bet is to see who can extract $50,o00 from a young female target – a pretty high stake. Of course hilarity ensues as you get to watch how the minds of con men work as they compete against each other to reach the goal first.
18. The Aviator
Some men dream the future. He built it.
A biopic depicting the early years of director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career from the late 1920’s to mid 40’s. It wasn’t the money he made or the time he spent that made him so great, it was the attention to detail and perfection that he strived for that set him apart from his competition. He faced many obstacles along the way from rival companies and malicious rumors, but nothing stopped him from becoming exactly who he wanted to be.
19. Risky Business
There’s a time for playing it safe and a time for Risky Business.
A good story about what you have to do when you take your dad’s Porsche out for a trip and start to realize that you’re going to need a lot of money, which you’re going to have to raise in a very creative way. With his parents away and responsibility out of the window, Joel starts to realize that it’s not all as easy as he was expecting, having to look after friends and source cash any way he can. An interesting look at what people can come up with when they’re put on the spot to come up with some fast cash.
20. The Corporation
This film takes a good, long look at what happens when you take a business and you model it to be legally a person – a corporation. What happens though when the sole purpose of this person is to make money for its shareholders though? It starts to act without a conscience which threatens the world, our future and the people working for it. This isn’t just a film about evil corporations though, it’s also about what we can do to stop them from taking over everything that we know. I saw this film in the cinema and it’s well worth seeing again, it’s completely eye opening.
Now you know which 20 movies you should definitely watch as an aspiring entrepreneur!
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