Are you looking to kill some free time and to be inspired at the same time? I understand running your own business is hard work, and it can be quite stressful at times. Entrepreneurs do need to relax too. Even if you aren’t running your own business, but want to be one day, it is a good idea to watch business themed movies rather wasting time on useless tv shows. Who knows, you might be able to learn something new or get inspired with new ideas.
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Down below is a list of 18 best inspiring business movies you should watch:
The Social Network (2010)
In The Social Network, the witty screenwriting of Aaron Sorkin is combined with David Fincher’s flawless direction and a star-studded cast. Based on the true story, the movie tells how Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) created Facebook while he was studying at Harvard. Drama ensues when two brothers, the Winklevoss twins, claim he stole their idea – and Mark’s best friend gets expelled from the fledgling company.
Wall Street (1987)
This movie is the source of the infamous “Greed is good” speech, masterfully delivered by Gordon Gekko. Under the direction of Oliver Stone, Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas show what happens when men give themselves to the seductive powers of ambition and greed. Bud Fox, the protagonist, idolizes Gekko (Douglas) and his high-class lifestyle; as a result, he becomes ensnared in his insider trading ring. Greed can easily cause inexperienced entrepreneurs to make immoral or illegal decisions. As a movie, Wall Street provides a picture of what happens when ambition takes precedence over doing right.
Steve Jobs (2015)
In the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, a handful of biopics were made on his life. Steve Jobs, the movie, stars Michael Fassbender as the cofounder of Apple. Another one of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant screenwriting masterpieces, Steve Jobs does not follow the traditional biopic formula. It only has three “scenes” – the unveiling of three products at Apple – each of which is used to depict a different facet of Jobs’ persona. The movie simultaneously reveals both the dent Steve made in the universe, as well as the price he paid to make it.
Thank You for Smoking (2005)
To be an entrepreneur, you must know how to sell. Thank You for Smoking teaches you that as long as you have empirical evidence and charismatic persuasiveness, you can sell anything. In the movie, Nick Naylor (played by Aaron Ekchart), Big Tobacco’s chief spokesman, is forced to defend the cigarette industry. However, he encounters a moral quandary when he must also defend his job to his young son.
Premiering to mixed reviews in 2015, Joy tells the true story of a single mom who overcame insurmountable odds to become a wildly successful businesswoman. Using a single product – the Miracle Mop – she dealt with backstabbing business partners, tragic life events, constant rejection, and many other personal challenges to fight her way to success. This movie is one of those stories that will leave you feeling as if you need to go out and start a business all over again; but the biggest takeaway is that perseverance trumps all other skills in business. Even when defeat seems inevitable, and even when it seems as if utter defeat has already happened, Joy just keeps fighting in order to build her Home Shopping Network empire.
The Company Men (2010)
Company Men begins with a focus on Bobby Walker (played by Ben Affleck), who is a young hotshot executive at a company named General Transportation Systems. Then the Great Recession hits, and Bobby is laid off. The layoffs also hit his colleagues, Phil (played by Chris Cooper) and Gene (played by Tommy Lee Jones). All three struggle with their promising careers coming to a sudden conclusion. They are forced to redefine the values behind how they live their lives as they try to find work in a post-career world. One of the great lessons from this movie is that adaptability – especially in the current career climate – is vital for sustained career success. Without it, you are one round of layoffs away from the unemployment line. If your promising corporate career did not turn out how you thought it would, then this is the movie for you.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Another movie based on a true story, The Pursuit of Happyness stars Will Smith as a salesman named Chris who is bright, talented – and barely employed. However, it is quite possibly one of the most motivational and heartwarming films you can watch. When he loses everything he has except for his five-year-old son, Chris does not bow out. Instead, he doubles down, taking on an internship with a stockbroker in addition to continuing to be a salesman. As you watch him overcome incredible odds, you will be inspired to embrace your passion and sacrifice everything you have to achieve success. Chris says it best himself: “Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period. All right?” Prepare to be inspired.
The Intern (2015)
The Intern throws the age-old story of experienced boss and naive intern on its head. This time, it’s young Anne Hathaway as the executive of an online fashion site, and older Robert DeNiro as a retiree who has grown bored of retirement and wants to do something – anything – to escape his boredom. The setup allows for a unique exploration of the disparate experiences and philosophies the two characters have, as well as how they can work together as the company grows and changes.
Despite what their positions (and ages) might suggest, Hathaway and DeNiro’s characters are at their best and strongest when they bring their unique strengths together, executing with exceptional astuteness and helping each other to learn more about life. The movie deftly conveys strong inspirational messages surrounding age, integrity, team value and a healthy perspective on work. It is filled with hope for people who are encountering challenges in a multigenerational workplace or who are struggling to build their own business from scratch.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
“Show me the money!” In Jerry Maguire, the title character, played by Tom Cruise, has everything a man could want: a beautiful fiancé, a budding career, and great friends. But one day, he realizes that sports agents should not be all about just getting money; instead, they should be genuinely caring for their clients. His epiphany leads him to write a heartfelt memo and send it out to the whole company – which results in him getting fired. Like Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happyness, Jerry loses everything. Instead of giving up, he embarks on a new journey towards success. Jerry Maguire is an inspirational story of loyalty, principle and success that will cause you to redefine success for yourself and to take a stand for what you believe in. As a bonus, it has a mushy love story as a subplot.
Unfinished Business (2015)
Vince Vaughn is impossible not to like. In Unfinished Business, Vince Vaughn plays a businessman named Dan Trunkman who is sick and tired of being kicked around by his horrible boss. So he quits to start up a competing mineral sales company. His hires – a retiring associate played by Tom Wilkinson and an inexperienced salesman played by Dave Franco – do not exactly shout success. After a year and a half of working out of coffee shops and barely making payroll, a promising deal finally comes down the pipeline… and dies, thanks to Dan’s ex-boss. But Dan does not give up so easily. In order to keep the deal from falling through, Dan and his motley crew fly to Germany. The obstacles they encounter there are outrageous, but how they deal with them is inspirational. If you like a good underdog story, you will love Unfinished Business.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort (played by Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio). While this movie may not have been the one that finally got DiCaprio his Academy Award, it has plenty of lessons to teach you about success, fame, fortune and greed. Although Belfort lived a highly illegal and immoral lifestyle, and conducted his business in the same manner, the things he accomplished were inspiring. In this outrageous – but true – rags-to-riches story, Wall Street investor Jordan Belfort suffers through the market crash and a layoff, founds an investment firm, then grows it into internationally renowned firm Stratton Oakmont. The movie is basically the extreme parts of every other finance movie on this list.
The Big Short (2015)
I love this movie. It may have something to do with the fact that I am still not over having my home foreclosed on, or maybe it’s because I am still frustrated with the lack of mortgages available for the self-employed. Regardless, it is a fantastic film. Half comedy, half drama, the movie traces the stories of four men who predicted that the credit and housing bubble would burst. Based on Michael Lewis’s book which told the story of the subprime mortgage crisis – which itself was based on a true story – The Big Short reveals the four men who saw something no one else in the international economic community did – and cashed in on it. If you are still reeling from the aftershocks of the Great Recession, this movie will help you understand why and how everything unfolded… or crashed… the way it did.
The Aviator (2004)
Elon Musk before there was an Elon Musk, Howard Hughes was the eminent director, aviator and inventor from the 1920s through the mid-1940s. In The Aviator, Leonardo DiCaprio fully portrays Hughes’ delusion, inventiveness, self-confidence, narcissism, and spunk.
Many movies on entrepreneurs barely depict the lows in favor of showing all of the highs; The Aviator takes a long, lasting look at the private struggles behind even the most famous, successful entrepreneurs. Defiant to the very last, Hughes stood by his entrepreneurial pursuits. When his life’s work, the Hercules airplane, looked as if it might not work, he said, “If the Hercules does not fly, I will leave America and never come back again, and I mean it.”
Horrible Bosses (2011)
Horrible Bosses is unlike any other movie on this list in that it is light-hearted and hilarious. However, it still has lessons to teach. Three workers, played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis are three workers who are constantly beat up by their… horrible bosses. The catch is that they cannot quit their jobs. So with help from alcohol and an un-criminal criminal played by Jamie Fox, the men come up with a plan to get rid of their bosses. As you might expect, nothing goes as planned. If you are ever frustrated by the stability of your own employment or the stresses of running your own business, watch this movie.
“I had come this close to making an impact on the world. And now the only thing I was going to make an impact on was the sidewalk.” – Eddie Morra. Morra (played by Bradley Cooper) is a struggling writer faced with unemployment and rejection from his girlfriend. But things take a turn for the better when he starts taking a pill that gives him access to 100% of his brain’s capabilities. Eddie figures out how to leverage the untested drug to the top of the financial realm. Then the terrible side effects start to reveal themselves, and he has trouble getting more of the drug. This movie has powerful lessons about taking shortcuts in your company, finding quick fixes and taking the easy path to success. If you are facing seemingly insurmountable career challenges or an ethical dilemma at work, this is the movie for you.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump (starring Tom Hanks in the title role) covers the gamut of human issues, from love to war, from success to failure, from life to death. Watching it will give you a new lens through which to view culturally accepted norms. Forrest is – in his words – a “simple man” with good intentions; he just happens to become phenomenally successful simply by saying yes to new opportunities. Over the course of the story, he is given medals by the military, wins a college football championship, becomes an international ping-pong player, runs across the United States (twice), builds a shrimp company and inspires people nationwide. Forrest Gump will inspire you to overcome the odds, maintain an optimistic outlook no matter your circumstances, treat others with the respect they deserve, and prioritize what matter in your life. And maybe, just maybe, you can become a professional ping-pong player too.
Lord of War (2005)
Lord of War is Nicolas Cage at his finest. Combining dark comedy with action, this war-crime film depicts the story of Yuri Orlov (played by Cage), who tries to find success in life through trading guns illegally. Putting aside his immoral and illegal actions, Yuri amply demonstrates the ambition, tenacity and ability to tolerate risk that entrepreneurs must have in order to succeed. Unexpectedly, this film also delves into growth hacking, building customer loyalty and negotiation techniques. For a crash course on entrepreneurship skills, emerging markets, creative problem solving, crisis management, negotiation techniques, building customer loyalty, competitive strategies and geopolitics, all in the context of one man’s pursuit of success, watch the Lord of War.
How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)
Imagine sitting at a desk, trying to concoct a slogan for a new pimple cream. That was the problem facing Dennis Dimbleby Bagley, an upstart advertising executive. As he struggles to overcome his writer’s block, his constant worrying begins to deteriorate his relationships with his family, friends and colleagues. Then, it affects his body in the form of a stress-related boil on his shoulder. Bagley really thinks he’s lost it when the boil grows a face and starts to talk to him.
Even if you do not work in advertising or are not looking for advertising advice, How to Get Ahead in Advertising will help you explore creative problem solving. Although it flopped at the box office when it was first released, it has gained a cult following over the three decades since it was released. Now, it is known as a brilliant, entertaining satire of the advertising industry. Watch it, and you will think differently about business and advertising.
Still not enough for you? Check this list of the “Top 10 Business TV Shows For Entrepreneurs That Will Keep You Busy For The Rest of 2018 and 2019“