A few months ago, I did a post about the five business books every small business owner should read. I pulled those recommendations from the experts—the founder of a Web startup, an editor at Entrepreneur magazine—and I hope they were helpful.
This week, I thought we’d take the same approach to movies. There are countless business movies: Boiler Room, Wall Street, Office Space (Joking...sort of. You could certainly use it as an example of how not to run a company). Where should you spend your limited time and attention? Again, I asked the experts, and here’s what they had to say:
- Command Decision. This is the recommendation from Quentin Fleming, a professor in USC’s Marshall School of Business and the author of Keep the Family Baggage Out of the Family Business (you might remember him from thepost I wrote about a business partner who’s too close for comfort). A non-traditional choice, yes, but he says he shows the World War II movie in one of his university courses because it centers on a tough decision that must be made, one that has a significant impact on the outcome of the war. Each of the main characters in the movie has a different perspective. “The lesson is that people can come to differing and equally valid perspectives depending on where they are in the organization. This can lead to conflict. The leader has to be able to recognize and filter these conflicting viewpoints by understanding where these people are coming from,” says Fleming.
- The Pursuit of Happyness. You may have seen this one, but if you haven’t, it’s a good one and the recommendation comes by way of Faisal Qureshi, the co-founder and CEO of Offermatic (the company pulled in $4.5 million from investors earlier this year, so he must be doing something right). Why this movie, in particular? “It’s the classic tale of a man with very little who defies all odds and achieves success through sheer will and determination. I think the message of hope and the power of belief is a very empowering one that every person—including business owners—can benefit from,” says Qureshi. In other words, watch this when you’re feeling like the odds are against you.
- Startup.com. Siamak Taghaddos brought this one to my attention. He’s the co-founder of Grasshopper Group, which supports entrepreneurs and small businesses. He says the documentary was shown at Babson College, his alma mater, because it helps viewers understand the real story behind a startup. He threw another recommendation my way as well: The Thomas Crown Affair, which he says inspired him to step up his game so he can enjoy a good life. He calls it a “less cliché” version of Bond.
- Daddy Day Care. Another out of the box pick, this time from Andrew Jensen, a business efficiency expert. “It teaches persistence, even when going against the flow (dads running a child care business). It emphasizes keeping your priorities straight (investing time into your family, even in the hectic world of work). It encourages ingenuity (the dads observed the mundane culture at other child care facilities and created an atmosphere at their own that pleased both children and parents). And it promotes tenacity (the dads reopened the day care even though continuing the business had seemed to be almost impossible).”
- The Hudsucker Proxy. “I’ve watched this Coen brothers comedy a few times and it never disappoints. It’s about Norville Barnes, a naïve small town boy tapped to run a corporation by greedy shareholders trying to drive down the stock price so they can snap up shares cheaply. Norville defies everyone’s expectations by coming up with a simple yet brilliant invention that becomes a hit with kids. His idea, plainly sketched on a small piece of paper, makes me think of Giotto, an Italian painter and architect in the Middle Ages who drew a perfect free-hand circle to demonstrate his skill to the Pope. In both cases, keeping things simple paid off,” says Nadine Heintz, senior editor of Inc. magazine. The movie is set in 1950s New York City, but Heintz says it would resonate with any business owner who has struggled with ambition and success, and the complications that often result.
Jean Chatzky is financial editor of NBC's "Today" show, a contributing editor at More magazine and author of "Money 911: Your Most Pressing Money Questions Answered, Your Money Emergencies Solved." She recently launched the Jean Chatzky Score Builder in partnership with smartcredit.com. Check out her blog at jeanchatzky.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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