Can We Actually Learn About Business From Watching Movies and TV Shows?


The short answer is: yes.

As you probably already know, if you follow my work online, these last couple of months, I’ve been writing all sorts of different business related blog posts that focus on fictional characters from popular tv shows and movies. 5 Leadership Lessons From The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes, 3 Business Lessons from Vince Vaughn’s Character from True Detective, There Will Be Blood: 4 Business Lessons From Daniel Plainview – these are just some of the more popular ones that grabbed people’s attention.

When I was in junior high, my teacher used to play movies for us. Some of the parents despised that. They thought she was only doing that to get us to shut up and avoid actually doing her job. Even though I was a kid back then, I truly loved her for making it possible for us to see all sorts of  films in our classroom and then discuss what we actually saw on the screen. Thanks to her, I developed a habit of watching movies with both of my eyes wide open.

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I think that most films, especially those that focus on the human mind and condition, are highly educational to viewers who really open themselves up to the content that’s being presented to them. Why? – Well, because most movies carry all types of different lessons and motives that try to teach people right from wrong.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen a lot of films. When I say a lot, I mean a loooooooooot. People often criticize me for that. They say that I have the tendency to waste my time on mindless entertainment.

I beg to differ. I think I’ve learned quite a lot from films about people, business and life itself.

Films Are Nothing More Than Great Case Studies

Although they’re not always truthful to its source, I still tend to see movies and tv shows as great, compelling and highly-educative case studies.

It doesn’t really matter if they’re one or six hours long, if they’re cheap or expensive, mainstream or underground, most movies, at least the ones that are actually worth your time, offer up-close, in-depth and detailed examinations of a particular subject (case), as well as its contextual conditions.
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Their sole purpose is to present us with a world or a particular situation that looks and feels plausible through our eyes.

Walk a Mile In Someone Else’s Shoes

Much like case studies, most movies are presenting us, the consumers, with details about a particular setting or scenario. They introduce us to key players, their challenges and their desires from which we can learn and grow on a both personal and professional level.

It’s a well-known fact that most people learn much more from case studies than anything else, especially if content of it is presented to them through a visually engaging medium.

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Why? – Well, because case studies put issues into relatable situations. They enhance the learning experience by allowing us to feel like we’re part of the process that’s laid down for us through a particular piece content. It’s a problem-based learning where you first present a problematic situation, and then offer a solution to it through undeniable examples of good practice.

Open Your Eyes and Really See What’s Being Shown To You

Movies, tv shows and case studies are almost always based on situations or scenarios that, at least from one perspective, could happen to actual people. That’s why they tend to steal our attention. They make us critically think about the information that’s placed in front of our eyes and actually adopt the method that led this particular case from point A to point B.

For example, I remember when I first watched Tucker: The Man and His Dream. In case you haven’t seen it, you definitely should, because I believe it’s one of the best business movies ever made.

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This film focuses on the inventor Preston Tucker, a revolutionary car designer and his fight with the Detroit’s auto manufacturers, who forced him to defend his futuristic car for the masses, The Tucker Torpedo, in the US court.

Starring Jeff Bridges as Preston Tucker, this film presents us with all the key elements that make a good entrepreneurial story – business that started in the barn, naysayers, believers, creative design, bold choices and investments, scrappy prototypes, giant corporate advertising, creative differences and, of course, failure. If you, like me, own a small business, you’ll probably gonna learn a lot from this film.

Although I have never worked in the car industry, I was still able to relate to everything that was shown in this film.

Inspired by true events, Tucker: The Man and His Dream made me think about business in a whole different light. Directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, this film shows what it means to follow your dreams in this highly-competitive corporate world, and where and when to make sacrifices if you want to see your visions come to life.

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One particular moment from the film really got under my skin. In the last 20 minutes, when Tucker steps to testify, he says:

“The prosecution claims that I never had any intention of building any cars, that all I wanted was to take the money and run. If you decide that they’re right, well, I’m guilty. But according to the law, if I tried to make the cars, even if they weren’t any good, even if I didn’t make any, but if you believe that I tried, well, then, I’m not guilty. Because it is not against the law, thank God, to be wrong or stupid which I was, building that prototype. But what nobody has said is that after the prototype, I built the car that I said I would and there are 50 of them, right now, parked down there on Adam Street. All the judge have to do is to let you walk down there and take a ride in one of them and that’s it, the trial’s over. OK, your honor?”

I know this might sound a bit strange to some of you, but this scene, this speech, helped me overcome my fear of failure.

This film also helped me embrace my mistakes and actually see that there’s nothing worse than abandoning your dreams before you even tried to make them become reality.

How come? – Well, because I presented with a relatable situation in which a person, although fictional, showed me why it’s of crucial importance to stand your ground and protect your vision.

As Abe Karatz said in the film: “Captains go down with their ships, not businessmen.

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Naturally, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of different business lessons you could learn from watching such films as Wall Street, Citizen Kane, Office Space, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Insider, Smartest Guy In The Room, The Godfather, so on, and so….

If you share my opinion that films can be quite educational for all types of big, medium and small business, feel free to recommend (in the comments sections below) a couple of movie titles every entrepreneur should see in his or her lifetime.

That’s it for now,

Thank you so much for reading this blog post,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.

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